Part 6 out of 10
prevent an alarm, each man was called off by name, and in this manner the
whole party had got within the prescribed limits, before the Arabs, who
were vociferating and talking altogether, seemed to be aware of the
movement. When some of the latter attempted to follow, they were gently
repulsed by the sentinels. All this time Captain Truck maintained the
utmost cordiality towards the sheik, keeping near him, and amongst the
Arabs himself. The work of plunder, in the meantime, had begun in earnest
in the wreck, and this he thought a favourable symptom, as men thus
employed would be less likely to make a hostile attack. Still he knew that
prisoners were of great account among these barbarians, and that an
attempt to tow the raft off from the land, in open boats, where his people
would be exposed to every shot from the wreck, would subject them to he
greatest danger of defeat, were the former disposed to prevent it.
Having reflected a few minutes on his situation. Captain Truck issued his
final orders. The jolly-boat might carry a dozen men at need, though they
would be crowded and much exposed to fire; and he, therefore, caused eight
to get into her, and to pull out to the launch. Mr. Leach went with this
party, for the double purpose of directing its movements, and of being
separated from his commander, in order that one of those who were of so
much importance to the packet, might at least stand a chance of being
saved. This separation also was effected without alarming the Arabs,
though Captain Truck observed that the sheik watched the
As soon as Mr. Leach had reached the launch, he caused a light kedge to be
put into the jolly-boat, and coils of the lightest rigging he had were
laid on the top of it, or were made on the bows of the launch. As soon as
this was done, the boat was pulled a long distance off from the land,
paying out the ropes first from the launch, and then from the boat itself,
until no more of the latter remained. The kedge was then dropped, and the
men in the launch began to haul in upon the ropes that were attached to
it. As the jolly-boat returned immediately, and her crew joined in the
work, the line of boats, the kedge by which they had previously ridden
having been first raised, began slowly to recede from the shore.
Captain Truck had rightly conjectured the effect of this movement. It was
so unusual and so gradual, that the launch and the raft were warped up to
the kedge, before the Arabs fully comprehended its nature. The boats were
now more than a quarter of a mile from the wreck, for Mr. Leach had run
out quite two hundred fathoms of small rope, and of course, so distant as
greatly to diminish the danger from the muskets of the Arabs, though still
within reach of their range. Near an hour was passed in effecting this
point, which, as the sea and wind were both rising, could not probably
have been effected in any other manner, half as soon, if at all.
The state of the weather, and the increasing turbulence of the barbarians,
now rendered it extremely desirable to all on the rocks to be in their
boats again. A very moderate blow would compel them to abandon their
hard-earned advantages, and it began to be pretty evident, from the
manners of those around them, that amity could not much longer be
maintained. Even the old sheik retired, and, instead of going to the
wreck, he joined the party on the beach, where he was seen in earnest
conversation with several other old men, all of whom gesticulated
vehemently, as they pointed towards the boats and to the party on
Mr. Leach now pulled in towards the bar, with both the jolly-boats and the
cutter, having only two oars each, half his men being left in the launch.
This was done that the people might not be crowded at the critical moment,
and that, at need, there might be room to fight as well as to row; all
these precautions having been taken in consequence of Captain Truck's
previous orders. When the boats reached the rocks, the people did not
hurry into them; but a quarter of an hour was passed in preparations, as
if they were indifferent about proceeding, and even then the jolly-boat
alone took in a portion, and pulled leisurely without the bar. Here she
lay on her oars, in order to cover the passage of the other boats, if
necessary, with her fire. The cutter imitated this manoeuvre, and the boat
of the wreck went last. Captain Truck quitted the rock after all the
others, though his embarkation was made rapidly by a prompt and
Not a shot was fired, however, and, contrary to his own most ardent hopes,
the captain found himself at the launch, with all his people unhurt, and
with all the spars he had so much desired to obtain. The forbearance of
the Arabs was a mystery to him, for he had fully expected hostilities
would commence, every moment, for the last two hours. Nor was he yet
absolutely out of danger, though there was time to pause and look about
him, and to take his succeeding measures more deliberately. The first
report was a scarcity of both food and water. For both these essentials
the men had depended on the wreck, and, in the eagerness to secure the
foremast, and subsequently to take care of themselves, these important
requisites had been overlooked, quite probably, too, as much from a
knowledge that the Montauk was so near, as from hurry. Still both were
extremely desirable, if not indispensable, to men who had the prospect of
many hours' hard work before them; and Captain Truck's first impulse was
to despatch a boat to the ship for supplies. This intention was
reluctantly abandoned, however, on account of the threatening appearance
of the weather.
There was no danger of a gale, but a smart sea breeze was beginning to set
in, and the surface of the ocean was, as usual, getting to be agitated.
Changing all his plans therefore, the Captain turned his immediate
attention to the safety of the all-important spars.
"We can eat to-morrow, men," he said; "but if we lose these sticks, our
chance for getting any more will indeed be small. Take a gang on the raft,
Mr. Leach, and double all the lashings, while I see that we get an offing.
If the wind rises any more, we shall need it, and even then be worse off
than we could wish."
The mate passed upon the raft, and set about securing all the spars by
additional fastenings; for the working, occasioned by the sea, already
rendered them loose, and liable to separate. While this was in train, the
two jolly-boats took in lines and kedges, of which, luckily, they had one
that was brought from the packet, besides two found in the wreck, and
pulled off into the ocean. As soon as one kedge was dropped, that by which
the launch rode was tripped, and the boats were hauled up to it, the other
jolly-boat proceeding on to renew the process. In this manner, in the
course of two more hours, the whole, raft and all, were warped broad off
from the land, and to windward, quite two miles, when the water became so
deep that Captain Truck reluctantly gave the order to cease.
"I would gladly work our way into the offing in this mode, three or four
leagues," he said, "by which means we might make a fair wind of it. As it
is, we must get all clear, and do as well as we can. Rig the masts in the
launch, Mr. Leach, and we will see what can be done with this dull craft
we have in tow."
While this order was in course of execution, the glass was used to
ascertain the manner in which the Arabs were occupied. To the surprise of
all in the boats, every soul of them had disappeared. The closest scrutiny
could not detect one near the wreck, on the beach, nor even at the spot
where the tents had so lately stood.
"They are all off, by George!" cried Captain Truck, when fully satisfied
of the fact. "Camels, tents, and Arabs! The rascals have loaded their
beasts already, and most probably have gone to hide their plunder, that
they may be back and make sure of a second haul, before any of their
precious brother vultures, up in the sands, get a scent of the carrion.
D--n the rogues; I thought at one time they had me in a category! Well,
joy be with them! Mr. Monday, I return you my hearty thanks for the manly,
frank, and diplomatic manner in which you have discharged the duties of
your mission. Without you, we might not have succeeded in getting the
foremast. Mr. Dodge, you have the high consolation of knowing that,
throughout this trying occasion, you have conducted yourself in a way no
other man of the party could have done."
Mr. Monday was sleeping off the fumes of the _schnaps_, but Mr. Dodge
bowed to the compliment, and foresaw many capital things for the journal,
and for the columns of the Active Inquirer. He even began to meditate
Now commenced much the most laborious and critical part of the service
that Captain Truck had undertaken, if we except the collision with the
Arabs--that of towing all the heavy spars of a large ship, in one raft, in
the open sea, near a coast, and with the wind blowing on shore. It is true
he was strong-handed, being able to put ten oars in the launch, and four
in all the other boats; but, after making sail, and pulling steadily for
an hour, it was discovered that all their exertions would not enable them
to reach the ship, if the wind stood, before the succeeding day. The drift
to leeward, or towards the beach, was seriously great, every heave of the
sea setting them bodily down before it; and by the time they were half a
mile to the southward, they were obliged to anchor, in order to keep clear
of the breakers, which by this time extended fully a mile from shore.
Decision was fortunately Captain Truck's leading quality. He foresaw the
length and severity of the struggle that was before them, and the men had
not been pulling ten minutes, before he ordered Mr. Leach, who was in the
cutter, to cast off his line and to come alongside the launch.
"Pull back to the wreck, sir," he said, "and bring off all you can lay
hands on, in the way of bread, water, and other comforts. We shall make a
night of it, I see. We will keep a look-out for you, and if any Arabs
heave in sight on the plain, a musket will be fired; if so many as to
render a hint to abscond necessary, two muskets will be fired, and the
mainsail of the launch will be furled for two minutes; more time than that
we cannot spare you."
Mr. Leach obeyed this order, and with great success. Luckily the cook had
left the coppers full of food, enough to last twenty-four hours, and this
had escaped the Arabs, who were ignorant where to look for it. In
addition, there was plenty of bread and water, and "a bull of Jamaica" had
been discovered, by the instinct of one of the hands, which served
admirably to keep the people in good humour. This timely supply had
arrived just as the launch anchored, and Mr. Truck welcomed it with all
his heart; for without it, he foresaw he should soon be obliged to abandon
his precious prize.
When the people were refreshed, the long and laborious process of warping
off the land was resumed, and, in the course of two hours more, the raft
was got fully a league into the offing, a shoal permitting the kedges to
be used farther out this time than before. Then sail was again made, and
the oars were once more plied. But the sea still proved their enemy,
though they had struck the current which began to set them south. Had
there been no wind and sea, the progress of the boats would now have been
comparatively easy and quick; but these two adverse powers drove them in
towards the beach so fast, that they had scarcely made two miles from the
wreck when they were compelled a second time to anchor.
No alternative remained but to keep warping off in this manner, and then
to profit by the offing they had made as well as they could, the result
bringing them at sunset nearly up with the headland that shut out the view
of their own vessel, from which Captain Truck now calculated that he was
distant a little less than two leagues. The wind had freshened, and though
it was not by any means so strong as to render the sea dangerous, it
increased the toil of the men to such a degree, that he reluctantly
determined to seek out a proper anchorage, and to give his wearied people
It was not in the power of the seamen to carry their raft into any haven,
for to the northward of the headland, or on the side on which they were,
there was no reef, nor any bay to afford them shelter. The coast was one
continued waving line of sand-banks, and in most places, when there was a
wind, the water broke at the distance of a mile from the beach; the
precise spot where the Dane had stranded his vessel, having most probably
been chosen for that purpose, with a view to save the lives of the people.
Under these circumstances nothing remained but to warp off again to a safe
distance, and to secure the boats as well as they could for the night.
This was effected by eight o'clock, and Captain Truck gave the order to
let go two additional kedges, being determined not to strike adrift in the
darkness, if it was in his power to prevent it. When this was done, the
people had their suppers, a watch was set, and the remainder went
As the three passengers had been exempted from the toil, they volunteered
to look out for the safety of the boats until midnight, in order that the
men might obtain as much rest as possible; and half an hour after the crew
were lost in the deep slumber of seamen, Captain Truck and these gentlemen
were seated in the launch, holding a dialogue on the events of the day.
"You found the Arabs conversable and ready at the cup, Mr. Monday?"
observed the captain, lighting a cigar, which with him was a never-failing
sign for a gossip. "Men that, if they had been sent to school young,
taught to dance, and were otherwise civilized, might make reasonably good
ship mates, in this roving world of ours?"
"Upon my word, sir, I look upon the sheik as uncommon gentleman-like, and
altogether as a good fellow. He took his glass without any grimaces,
smiled whenever he said any thing, though I could not understand a word he
said, and answered all my remarks quite as civilly as if he spoke English.
I must say, I think Mr. Dodge manifested a want of consideration in
quitting his company with so little ceremony. The gentleman was hurt, I'll
answer for it, and he would say as much if he could only make out to
explain himself on the subject. Sir George, I regret we had not the
honour of your company on the occasion, for I have been told these Arabs
have a proper respect for the nobility and gentry. Mr. Dodge and myself
were but poor substitutes for a gentleman like yourself."
The trained humility of Mr. Monday was little to the liking of Mr. Dodge,
who by the sheer force of the workings of envy had so long been
endeavouring to persuade others that he was the equal of any and every
other man--a delusion, however, in which he could not succeed in
persuading himself to fall into--and he was not slow in exhibiting the
feeling it awakened.
"Sir George Templemore has too just a sense of the rights of nations to
make this distinction, Mr. Monday," he said. "If I left the Arab sheik a
little abruptly, it was because I disliked his ways; for I take it Africa
is a free country, and that no man is obliged to remain longer in a tent
than it suits his own convenience. Captain Truck knows that I was merely
running down the beach to inform him that the sheik intended to follow,
and he no doubt appreciates my motive."
"If not, Mr. Dodge," put in the captain, "like other patriots, you must
trust to posterity to do you justice. The joints and sinews are so
differently constructed in different men, that one never knows exactly how
to calculate on speed; but this much I will make affidavit to, if you wish
it, on reaching home, and that is, that a better messenger could not be
found than Mr. Steadfast Dodge, for a man in a hurry. Sir George
Templemore, we have had but a few of your opinions since you came out on
this expedition, and I should be gratified to hear your sentiments
concerning the Arabs, and any thing else that may suggest itself at
"Oh, captain! I think the wretches odiously dirty, and judging from
appearances, I should say sadly deficient in comforts."
"In the way of breeches in particular; for I am inclined to think, Sir
George, you are master of more than are to be found in their whole nation.
Well, gentlemen, one must certainly travel who wishes to see the world;
but for this sheer down here upon the coast of Africa, neither of us might
have ever known how an Arab lives, and what a nimble wrecker he makes. For
my own part, if the choice lay between filling the office of Jemmy Ducks,
on board the Montauk, and that of sheik in this tribe, I should, as we say
in America, Mr. Dodge, leave it to the people, and do all in my power to
obtain the first situation. Sir George, I'm afraid all these _county
tongues_, as Mr. Dodge calls them, in the way of wind and weather, will
quite knock the buffalo hunt on the Prairies in the head, for this fall
"I beg, Captain Truck, you will not discredit my French in this way. I do
not call a disappointment '_county tongues_,' but '_contra toms_;' the
phrase probably coming from some person of the name of _tom_, who was
_contra_, or opposed to every one else."
"Perfectly explained, and as clear as bilge-water. Sir George, has Mr.
Dodge mentioned to you the manner in which these Arabs enjoy life? The
gentlemen, by way of saving; dish-water, eat half-a-dozen at a time out of
the same plate. Quite republican, and altogether without pride, Mr. Dodge,
in their notions!"
"Why, sir, many of their habits struck me as being simple and
praiseworthy, during the short time I remained in their country; and I
dare say, one who had leisure to study them might find materials for
admiration. I can readily imagine situations in which a man has no right
to appropriate a whole dish to himself."
"No doubt, and he who wishes a thing so unreasonable must be a great hog!
What a thing is sleep! Here are these fine fellows as much lost to their
dangers and toils as if at home, and tucked in by their careful and pious
mothers. Little did the good souls who nursed them, and sung pious songs
over their cradles, fancy the hardships they were bringing them up to! But
we never know our fates, or miserable dogs most of us would be. Is it not
so, Sir George?"
The baronet started at this appeal, which crossed the quaint mind of the
captain as a cloud darkens a sunny view, and he muttered a hasty
expression of hope that there was now no particular reason to expect any
more serious obstacles to their reaching the ship.
"It is not an easy thing to tow a heavy raft in light boats like these,
exactly in the direction you wish it to go," returned the captain, gaping.
"He who trusts to the winds and waves, trusts an uncertain friend, and one
who may fail him at the very moment when there is most need of their
services. Fair as things now seem, I would give a thousand dollars of a
small stock, in which no single dollar has been lightly earned, to see
these spars safely on board the Montauk, and snugly fitted to their proper
places. Sticks, gentlemen, are to a ship what limbs are to a man. Without
them she rolls and tumbles about as winds, currents, and seas will; while
with them she walks, and dances, and jumps Jim Crow; ay, almost talks. The
standing rigging are the bones and gristle; the running gear the veins in
which her life circulates; and the blocks the joints."
"And which is the heart?" asked Sir George.
"Her heart is the master. With a sufficient commander no stout ship is
ever lost, so long as she has a foot of water beneath her false keel, or a
ropeyarn left to turn to account."
"And yet the Dane had all these."
"All but the water. The best craft that was ever launched, is of less use
than a single camel, if laid high and dry on the sands of Africa. These
poor wretches truly! And yet their fate might have been ours, though I
thought little of the risk while we were in the midst of the Arabs. It is
still a mystery to me why they let us escape, especially as they so soon
deserted the wreck. They were strong-handed, too; counting all who came
and went, I think not less than several hundreds."
The captain now became silent and thoughtful, and, as the wind continued
to rise, he began to feel uneasiness about his ship. Once or twice he
expressed a half-formed determination to pull to her in one of the light
boats, in order to look after her safety in person, and then he abandoned
it, as he witnessed the rising of the sea, and the manner in which the
massive raft caused the cordage by which it was held to strain. At length
he too fell asleep, and we shall leave him and his party for awhile, and
return to the Montauk, to give an account of what occurred on board
Nothing beside remains! Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
As Captain Truck was so fully aware of the importance of rapid movements
to the success of his enterprise, it will be remembered that he left in
the ship no seaman, no servant, except Saunders the steward, and, in
short, no men but the two Messrs. Effingham, Mr. Sharp, Mr. Blunt, and the
other person just mentioned. If to these be added, Eve Effingham,
Mademoiselle Viefville, Ann Sidley, and a French _femme de chambre_, the
whole party will be enumerated. At first, it had been the intention of the
master to leave one of his mates behind him, but, encouraged by the secure
berth he had found for his vessel, the great strength of his moorings, the
little hold the winds and waves could get of spars so robbed of their
proportions, and of a hull so protected by the reef, and feeling a certain
confidence in the knowledge of Mr. Blunt, who, several times during the
passage, had betrayed a great familiarity with ships, he came to the
decision named, and had formally placed the last named gentleman in full
charge, _ad interim_, of the Montauk.
There was a solemn and exciting interest in the situation of those who
remained in the vessel, after the party of bustling seamen had left them.
The night came in bland and tranquil, and although there was no moon, they
walked the deck for hours with strange sensations of enjoyment, mingled
with those of loneliness and desertion. Mr. Effingham and his cousin
retired to their rooms long before the others, who continued their
exercise with a freedom and an absence of restraint, that they had not
before felt, since subjected to the confinement of the ship.
"Our situation is at least novel," Eve observed, "for a party of
Parisians, Viennois, Romans, or by whatever name we may be
"Say Swiss, then," returned Mr. Blunt; "for I believe that even the
cosmopolite has a claim to choose his favourite residence."
Eve understood the allusion, which carried her back to the weeks they had
passed in company, among the grand scenery of the Alps; but she would not
betray the consciousness, for, whatever may be the ingenuousness of a
female, she seldom loses her sensitiveness on the subject of her more
"And do you prefer Switzerland to all the other countries of your
acquaintance?" asked Mr. Sharp: "England I leave out of the question, for,
though we, who belong to the island, see so many charms in it, it must be
conceded that strangers seldom join us very heartily in its praises. I
think most travellers would give the palm to Italy."
"I am quite of the same opinion," returned the other; "and were I to be
confined to a choice of a residence for life, Italy should be my home.
Still, I think, that we like change in our residence, as well as in the
seasons. Italy is summer, and one, I fear, would weary of even an
"Is not Italy rather autumn, a country in which the harvest is gathered
and where one begins already to see the fall of the leaf?"
"To me," said Eve, "it would be an eternal summer; as things are eternal
with young ladies. My ignorance would be always receiving instruction, and
my tastes improvement. But, if Italy be summer, or autumn, what is
"Spring of course," civilly answered Mr. Sharp.
"And, do you, Mr. Blunt, who seem to know all parts of the world equally
well, agree in giving _our_ country, _my_ country at least, this
"It is merited in many respects, though there are others in which the term
winter would, perhaps, be better applied. America is a country not easily
understood; for, in some particulars, like Minerva, it has been born
full-grown: while, in others, it is certainly still an infant."
"In what particulars do you especially class it with the latter?" inquired
"In strength, to commence," answered the other, slightly smiling; "in
opinions, too, and in tastes, and perhaps in knowledge. As to the latter
essential, however, and practical things as well as in the commoner
comforts, America may well claim to be in midsummer, when compared with
other nations. I do not think you Americans, Miss Effingham, at the head
of civilisation, certainly, as so many of your own people fancy; nor yet
at the bottom, as so many of those of Mademoiselle Viefville and Mr. Sharp
so piously believe."
"And what are the notions of the countrymen of Mr. Blunt, on the subject?"
"As far from the truth, perhaps, as any other. I perceive there exist some
doubts as to the place of my nativity," he added, after a pause that
denoted a hesitation, which all hoped was to end in his setting the matter
at rest, by a simple statement of the fact; "and I believe I shall profit
by the circumstance, to praise and condemn at pleasure, since no one can
impeach my candour, or impute either to partialities or prejudices."
"That must depend on the justice of your judgments. In one thing, however,
you will have me on your side, and that is in giving the _pas_ to
delicious, dreamy Italy! Though Mademoiselle Viefville will set this down
as _lèse majesté_ against _cher Paris_; and I fear, Mr. Sharp will think
even London injured."
"Do you really hold London so cheap?" inquired the latter gentleman, with
more interest than he himself was quite aware of betraying.
"Indeed, no. This would be to discredit my own tastes and knowledge. In a
hundred things, I think London quite the finest town of Christendom. It is
not Rome, certainly, and were it in ruins fifteen centuries, I question if
people would flock to the banks of the Thames to dream away existence
among its crumbling walls; but, in conveniences, beauty of verdure, a
mixture of park-like scenery and architecture, and in magnificence of a
certain sort, one would hardly know where to go to find the equal
"You say nothing of its society, Miss Effingham?"
"It would be presuming, in a girl of my limited experience to speak of
this. I hear so much of the good sense of the nation, that I dare not say
aught against its society, and it would be affectation for me to pretend
to commend it; but as for your females, judging by my own poor means, they
strike me as being singularly well cultivated and accomplished;
"Go on, I entreat you. Recollect we have solemnly decided in a general
congress of states to be cosmopolites, until safe within Sandy Hook, and
that _la franchise_ is the _mot d'ordre_."
"Well, then, I should not certainly describe you English as a talking
people," continued Eve, laughing. "In the way of society, you are quite as
agreeable as a people, who never laugh and seldom speak, can possibly make
"_Et les jeunes Americaines_?" said Mademoiselle Viefville, laconically.
"My dear mademoiselle, your question is terrific! Mr. Blunt has informed
me that _they_ actually giggle!"
"It is bad enough, certainly; but I ascribe the report to calumny. No; if
I must speak, let me have Paris for its society, and Naples for its
nature. As respects New York, Mr. Blunt, I suspend my judgment."
"Whatever may be the particular merit which shall most attract your
admiration in favour of the great emporium, as the grandiloquent writers
term the capital of your own state, I think I can venture to predict it
will be neither of those just mentioned. Of society, indeed, New York has
positively none: like London, it has plenty of company, which is
disciplined something like a regiment of militia composed of drafts from
different brigades, and which sometimes mistakes the drum-major for
"I had fancied you a New Yorker, until now," observed Mr. Sharp.
"And why not now? Is a man to be blind to facts as evident as the noon-day
sun, because he was born here or there? If I have told you an unpleasant
truth, Miss Effingham, you must accuse _la franchise_ of the offence. I
believe _you_ are not a Manhattanese?"
"I am a mountaineer; having been born at my father's country residence."
"This gives me courage then, for no one here will have his filial piety
"Not even yourself?"
"As for myself," returned Paul Blunt, "it is settled I am a cosmopolite in
fact, while you are only a cosmopolite by convention. Indeed, I question
if I might take the same liberties with either Paris or London, that I am
about to take with palmy Manhattan. I should have little confidence in the
forbearance of my auditors: Mademoiselle Viefville would hardly forgive
me: were I to attempt a criticism on the first, for instance."
"_C'est impossible_! you could not, Monsieur Blunt; _vous parlez trop bien
Français_ not to love _Paris_."
"I _do_ love _Paris_, mademoiselle; and, what is more, I love _Londres_,
or even _la Nouvelle Yorck_. As a cosmopolite, I claim this privilege, at
least, though I can see defects in all. If you will recollect, Miss
Effingham, that New York is a social bivouac, a place in which families
encamp instead of troops, you will see the impossibility of its possessing
a graceful, well-ordered, and cultivated society. Then the town is
commercial; and no place of mere commerce can well have a reputation for
its society. Such an anomaly, I believe, never existed. Whatever may be
the usefulness of trade, I fancy few will contend that it is very
"Florence of old?" said Eve.
"Florence and her commerce were peculiar, and the relations of things
change with circumstances. When Florence was great, trade was a monopoly,
in a few hands, and so conducted as to remove the principals from
immediate contact with its affairs. The Medici traded in spices and silks,
as men traded in politics, through agents. They probably never saw their
ships, or had any farther connexion with their commerce, than to direct
its spirit. They were more like the legislator who enacts laws to regulate
trade, than the dealer who fingers a sample, smells at a wine, or nibbles
a grain. The Medici were merchants, a class of men altogether different
from the mere factors, who buy of one to sell to another, at a stated
advance in price, and all of whose enterprise consists in extending the
list of safe customers, and of doing what is called a 'regular business.'
Monopolies do harm on the whole, but they certainly elevate the favoured
few. The Medici and the Strozzi were both princes and merchants, while
those around them were principally dependants. Competition, in our day,
has let in thousands to share in the benefits; and the pursuit, while it
is enlarged as a whole, has suffered in its parts by division."
"You surely do not complain that a thousand are comfortable and
respectable to-day, for one that was _il magnifico_ three hundred
"Certainly not. I rejoice in the change; but we must not confound names
with things. If we have a thousand mere factors for one merchant, society,
in the general signification of the word, is clearly a gainer; but if we
had one Medici for a thousand factors, society, in its particular
signfication, might also be a gainer. All I mean is, that, in lowering the
pursuit, we have necessarily lowered its qualifications; in other words,
every man in trade in New York, is no more a Lorenzo, than every printer's
devil is a Franklin."
"Mr. Blunt cannot be an American!" cried Mr. Sharp; "for these opinions
would be heresy."
"_Jamais, jamais_" joined the governess.
"You constantly forget the treaty of cosmopolitism. But a capital error is
abroad concerning America on this very subject of commerce. In the way of
merchandise alone, there is not a Christian maritime nation of any extent,
that has a smaller portion of its population engaged in trade of this sort
than the United States of America. The nation, as a nation, is
agricultural, though the state of transition, in which a country in the
course of rapid settlement must always exist, causes more buying and
selling of real property than is usual. Apart from this peculiarity, the
Americans, as a whole people, have not the common European proportions of
"This is not the prevalent opinion," said Mr. Sharp.
"It is not, and the reason is, that all American towns, or nearly all that
are at all known in other countries, are purely commercial towns. The
trading portion of a community is always the concentrated portion, too,
and of course, in the absence of a court, of a political, or of a social
capital, it has the greatest power to make itself heard and felt, until
there is a direct appeal to the other classes. The elections commonly
show quite as little sympathy between the majority and the commercial
class as is consistent with the public welfare. In point of fact, America
has but a very small class of real merchants, men who are the cause and
not a consequence of commerce, though she has exceeding activity in the
way of ordinary traffic. The portion of her people who are engaged as
factors,--for this is the true calling of the man who is a regular agent
between the common producer and the common consumer,--are of _a_ high
class as factors, but not of _the_ high class of merchants. The man who
orders a piece of silk to be manufactured at Lyons, at three francs a
yard, to sell it in the regular course of the season to the retailer at
three francs and a half, is no more a true merchant, than the attorney,
who goes through the prescribed forms of the court in his pleadings, is a
"I do not think these sentiments will be very popular at home, as Mr.
Dodge says," Eve laughingly remarked; "but when shall we reach that home!
While we are talking of these things, here are we, in an almost deserted
ship, within a mile of the great Desert of Sahara! How beautiful are the
stars, mademoiselle! we have never before seen a vault so studded with
"That must be owing to the latitude," Mr. Sharp observed.
"Certainly. Can any one say in what latitude we are precisely?" As Eve
asked this question, she unconsciously turned towards Mr. Blunt; for the
whole party had silently come to the conclusion that he knew more of ships
and navigation than all of them united.
"I believe we are not far from twenty-four, which is bringing us near the
tropics, and places us quite sixteen degrees to the southward of our port.
These two affairs of the chase and of the gale have driven us fully twelve
hundred miles from the course we ought to have taken."
"Fortunately, mademoiselle, there are none to feel apprehensions on our
account, or, none whose interest will be so keen as to create a very
lively distress. I hope, gentlemen, you are equally at ease on
This was the first time Eve had ever trusted herself to out an
interrogatory that might draw from Paul Blunt any communication that
would directly touch upon his connexions. She repented of the speech as
soon as made, but causelessly, as it drew from the young man no answer.
Mr. Sharp observed that his friends in England could scarcely know of
their situation, until his own letters would arrive to relieve their
minds. As for Mademoiselle Viefville, the hard fortune which reduced her
to the office of a governess, had almost left her without natural ties.
"I believe we are to have watch and ward to-night," resumed Eve, after the
general pause had continued some little time. "Is it not possible for the
elements to put us in the same predicament as that in which we found the
"Possible, certainly, but scarcely probable," returned Mr. Blunt. "The
ship is well moored, and this narrow ledge of rocks, between us and the
ocean, serves admirably for a break-water. One would not like to be
stranded, helpless as we are, at this moment, on a coast like this!"
"Why so particularly helpless? You allude to the absence of our crew?"
"To that, and to the fact that, I believe, we could not muster as much as
a pocket-pistol to defend ourselves with, everything in the shape of
fire-arms having been sent with the party in the boats."
"Might we not lie on the beach, here, for days, even weeks," inquired Mr.
Sharp, "without being discovered by the Arabs?"
"I fear not. Mariners have told me that the barbarians hover along the
shores, especially after gales, in the hope of meeting with wrecks, and
that it is surprising how soon they gain intelligence of any disaster. It
is seldom there is even an opportunity to escape in a boat."
"I hope here, at least, we are safe?" cried Eve, in a little terror, and
shuddering, as much in playfulness as in real alarm.
"I see no grounds of concern where we are, so long as we can keep the ship
off the shore. The Arabs have no boats, and if they had, they would not
dare to attack a vessel that floated, in one, unless aware of her being as
truly helpless as we happen at this moment to be."
"This is a chilling consolation, but I shall trust in your good care,
gentlemen. Mademoiselle, it is drawing near midnight, I believe."
Eve and her companion then courteously wished the two young men good
night, and retired to their state-rooms; Mr. Sharp remained an hour longer
with Mr. Blunt, who had undertaken to watch the first few hours,
conversing with a light heart, and gaily; for, though there was a secret
consciousness of rivalry between these two young men on the subject of
Eve's favour, it was a generous and manly competition, in which each did
the other ample justice. They talked of their travels, their views of
customs and nations, their adventures in different countries, and of the
pleasure each had felt in visiting spots renowned by association or the
arts; but not a word was hazarded by either concerning the young creature
who had just left them, and whom each still saw in his mind's eye, long
after her light and graceful form had disappeared. At length Mr. Sharp
went below, his companion insisting on being left alone, under the penalty
of remaining up himself during the second watch. From this time, for
several hours, there was no other noise in the ship than the tread of the
solitary watchman. At the appointed period of the night, a change took
place, and he who had watched, slept; while he who had slept, watched.
Just as day dawned, however, Paul Blunt, who was in a deep sleep, felt a
shake at his shoulder.
"Pardon me," cautiously whispered Mr. Sharp: "I fear we are about to have
a most unpleasant interruption to our solitude."
"Heavenly powers!--Not the Arabs?"
"I fear no less: but it is still too dark to be certain of the fact. If
you will rise, we can consult on the situation in which we are placed. I
beg you to be quick."
Paui Blunt had hastily risen on an arm, and he now passed a hand over his
brow, as if to make certain that he was awake. He had not undressed
himself, and in another moment he stood on his feet in the middle of the
"This is too serious to allow of mistake. We will not alarm her, then; we
will not give any alarm, sir, until certain of the calamity."
"In that I entirely agree with you," returned Mr. Sharp who was perfectly
calm, though evidently distressed. "I may be mistaken, and wish your
opinion. All on board but us two are in a profound sleep."
The other drew on his coat, and in a minute both were on deck. The day had
not yet dawned, and the light was scarce sufficient to distinguish objects
even near as those on the reef, particularly when they were stationary.
The rocks, themselves, however, were visible in places, for the tide was
out, and most of the upper portion of the ledge was bare. The two
gentlemen moved cautiously to the bows of the vessel, and, concealed by
the bulwarks, Mr. Sharp pointed out to his companion the objects that had
given him the alarm.
"Do you see the pointed rock a little to the right of the spot where the
kedge is placed?" he said, pointing in the direction that he meant. "It is
now naked, and I am quite cenain there was an object on it, when I went
below, that has since moved away."
"It may have been a sea-bird; for we are so near the day, some of them are
probably in motion. Was it large?"
"Of the size of a man's head, apparently; but this is by no means all.
Here, farther to the north, I distinguished three objects in motion,
wading in the water, near the point where the rocks are never bare."
"They may have been herons; the bird is often found in these low
latitudes, I believe. I can discover nothing."
"I would to God, I may have been mistaken, though I do not think I could
be so much deceived."
Paul Blunt caught his arm, and held it like one who listened intently.
"Heard you that?" he whispered hurriedly.
"It sounded like the clanking of iron."
Looking around, the other found a handspike, and passing swiftly up the
heel of the bowsprit, he stood between the knight-heads. Here he bent
forward, and looked intently towards the lines of chains which lay over
the bulwarks, as bow-fasts. Of these chains the parts led quite near each
other, in parallel lines, and as the ship's moorings were taut, they were
hanging in merely a slight curve. From the rocks, or the place where the
kedges were laid to a point within thirty feet of the ship, these chains
were dotted with living beings crawling cautiously upward. It was even
easy, at a second look, to perceive that they were men stealthily
advancing on their hands and feet.
Raising the handspike, Mr. Blunt struck the chains several violent blows.
The effect was to cause the whole of the Arabs--for it could be no
others--suddenly to cease advancing, and to seat themselves astride
"This is fearful," said Mr. Sharp; "but we must die, rather than permit
them to reach the ship."
"We must. Stand you here, and if they advance, strike the chains. There is
not an instant to lose."
Paul Blunt spoke hurriedly, and, giving the other the handspike, he ran
down to the bitts, and commenced loosening the chains from their
fastenings. The Arabs heard the clanking of the iron-rings, as he threw
coil after coil on the deck, and they did not advance. Presently two parts
yielded together beneath them, and then two more. These were the signals
for a common retreat, and Mr. Sharp now plainly counted fifteen human
forms as they scrambled back towards the reef, some hanging by their arms,
some half in the water, and others lying along the chains, as best they
might. Mr. Blunt having loosened the chains, so as to let their bights
fall into the sea, the ship slowly drifted astern, and rode by her cables.
When this was done, the two young men stood together in silence on the
forecastle, as if each felt that all which had just occurred was
"This is indeed terrible," exclaimed Paul Blunt. "We have not even a
pistol left! No means of defence--nothing but this narrow belt of water
between us and these barbarians! No doubt, too, they have fire-arms; and,
as soon as it is light, they will render it unsafe to remain on deck."
Mr. Sharp took the hand of his companion and pressed it fervently. "God
bless you!" he said in a stifled voice. "God bless you, for even this
brief delay. But for this happy thought of yours, Miss Effingham--the
others--we should _all_ have been, by this time, at the mercy of these
remorseless wretches. This is not a moment for false pride or pitiful
deceptions. I think either of us would willingly die to rescue that
beautiful and innocent creature from a fate like this which threatens her
in common with ourselves?"
"Cheerfully would I lay down my life to be assured that she was, at this
instant, safe in a civilized and Christian country."
These generous young men squeezed each other's hands, and at that moment
no feeling of rivalry, or of competition even, entered the heart of
either. Both were influenced by a pure and ardent desire to serve the
woman they loved, and it would be true to say, that scarce a thought of
any but Eve was uppermost in their minds. Indeed so engrossing was their
common care in her behalf, so much more terrible than that of any other
person did her fate appear on being captured, that they forgot, for the
moment, there were others in the ship, and others, too, who might be
serviceable in arresting the very calamity they dreaded.
"They may not be a strong party," said Paul Blunt, after a little thought,
"in which case, failing of a surprise, they may not be able to muster a
force sufficient to hazard an open attack until the return of the boats.
We have, God be praised! escaped being seized in our sleep, and made
unconscious victims of so cruel a fate. Fifteen or twenty will scarcely
dare attempt a ship of this size, without a perfect knowledge of our
feebleness, and particularly of our want of arms. There is a light gun on
board, and it is loaded; with this, too, we may hold them at bay, by not
betraying our weakness. Let us awake the others, for this is not a moment
for sleep. We are safe, at least, for an hour or two; since, without
boats, they cannot possibly find the means to board us in less than
The two young men went below, unconsciously treading lightly, like those
who moved about in the presence of an impending danger. Paul Blunt was in
advance, and to his great surprise he met Eve at the door of the ladies'
cabin, apparently awaiting their approach. She was dressed, for
apprehension, and the novelty of their situation, had caused her to sleep
in most of her clothes, and a few moments had sufficed for a hasty
adjustment of the toilet. Miss Effingham was pale, but a concentration of
all her energies seemed to prevent the exhibition of any womanly terror.
"Something is wrong!" she said, trembling in spite of herself, and laying
her hand unwittingly on the arm of Paul Blunt: "I heard the heavy fall of
iron on the deck."
"Compose yourself, dearest Miss Effingham, compose yourself, I entreat
you. I mean, that we have come to awaken the gentlemen."
"Tell me the worst, Powis, I implore you. I am equal,--I think I am equal,
to hearing it."
"I fear your imagination has exaggerated the danger."
"Of that there is no cause for apprehension. The sea is calm, and our
fasts are perfectly good."
"Will doubtless be back in good time."
"Surely--surely," said Eve, recoiling a step, as if she saw a monster,
"not the Arabs?"
"They cannot enter the ship, though a few of them are hovering about us.
But for the vigilance of Mr. Sharp, indeed, we might have all been
captured in our sleep. As it is, we have warning, and there is now little
doubt of our being able to intimidate the few barbarians who have shown
themselves, until Captain Truck shall return."
"Then from my soul, I thank you, Sir George Templemore, and for this good
office will you receive the thanks of a father, and the prayers of all
whom you have so signally served."
"Nay, Miss Effingham, although I find this interest in me so grateful that
I have hardly the heart to lessen your gratitude, truth compels me to give
it a juster direction. But for the promptitude of Mr. Blunt--or as I now
find I ought to address him, Mr. Powis--we should truly have all
"We will not dispute about your merits, gentlemen. You have both deserved
our most heartfelt thanks, and if you will awaken my father and Mr. John
Effingham, I will arouse Mademoiselle Viefville and my own women. Surely,
surely, this is no time to sleep!"
The summons was given at the state-room doors, and the two young men
returned to the deck, for they felt it was not safe to leave it long at
such a moment. All was quite tranquil above, however, nor could the utmost
scrutiny now detect the presence of any person on the reef.
"The rocks are cut off from the shore, farther to the southward by deeper
water," said Paul Blunt--for we shall continue to call both gentlemen,
except on particular occasions, by their _noms de guerre_--"and when the
tide is up the place cannot be forded. Of this the Arabs are probably
aware; and having failed in their first attempt, they will probably retire
to the beach as the water is rising, for they might not like to be left on
the riband of rock that will remain in face of the force that would be
likely to be found in such a vessel."
"May they not be acquainted with the absence of most of our people, and be
bent upon seizing the vessel before they can return?"
"That indeed is the gloomy side of the conjecture, and it may possibly be
too true; but as the day is beginning to break, we shall soon learn the
worst, and anything is better than vague distrust."
For some time the two gentlemen paced the quarter-deck together in
silence. Mr. Sharp was the first to speak.
"The emotions natural to such an alarm," he said, "have caused Miss
Effingham to betray an incognito of mine, that I fear you find
sufficiently absurd. It was quite accidental, I do assure you; as much so,
perhaps, as it was motiveless."
"Except as you might distrust American democracy," returned Paul, smiling,
"and feel disposed to propitiate it by a temporary sacrifice of rank
"I declare you do me injustice. My man, whose name _is_ Sharp, had taken
the state-room, and, finding myself addressed by his appellation, I had
the weakness to adopt it, under the impression it might be convenient in a
packet. Had I anticipated, in the least, meeting with the Effinghams, I
should not have been guilty of the folly, for Mr. and Miss Effingham are
"While you are thus apologising for a venial offence, you forget it is to
a man guilty of the same error. I knew your person, from having seen you
on the Continent; and finding you disposed to go by the homely name of
Sharp, in a moment of thoughtlessness, I took its counterpart, Blunt. A
travelling name is sometimes convenient, though sooner or later I fancy
all deceptions bring with them their own punishments."
"It is certain that falsehood requires to be supported by falsehood.
Having commenced in untruth, would it not be expedient to persevere until
we reach America? I, at least, cannot now assert a right to my proper
name, without deposing an usurper!"
"It _will_ be expedient for you, certainly, if it be only to escape the
homage of that double-distilled democrat, Mr. Dodge. As for myself, few
care enough about me to render it a matter of moment how I am styled;
though, on the whole, I should prefer to let things stand as they are, for
reasons I cannot well explain."
No more was said on the subject, though both understood that the old
appellations were to be temporarily continued. Just as this brief dialogue
ended, the rest of the party appeared on deck. All preserved a forced
calmness, though the paleness of the ladies betrayed the intense anxiety
they felt. Eve struggled with her fears on account of her father, who had
trembled so violently, when the truth was first told him, as to be quite
unmanned, but who now comported himself with dignity, though oppressed
with apprehension almost to anguish. John Effingham was stern, and in the
bitterness of his first sensations he had muttered a few imprecations on
his own folly, in suffering himself to be thus caught without arms. Once
the terrible idea of the necessity of sacrificing Eve, in the last resort,
as an expedient preferable to captivity, had flashed across his mind; but
the real tenderness he felt for her, and his better nature, soon banished
the unnatural thought. Still, when he joined the party on deck, it was
with a general but vague impression, that the moment was at hand when
circumstances had required that they were all to die together. No one was
more seemingly collected than Mademoiselle Viefville. Her life had been
one of sacrifices, and she had now made up her mind that it was to pass
away in a scene of violence; and, with a species of heroism that is
national, her feelings had been aroused to a sort of Roman firmness, and
she was prepared to meet her fate with a composure equal to that of
These were the first feelings and impressions of those who had been
awakened from the security of the night, to hear the tale of their danger;
but they lessened as the party collected in the open air, and began to
examine into their situation by means of the steadily increasing light.
As the day advanced, Paul Blunt, in particular, carefully examined the
rocks near the ship, even ascending to the fore-top, from which elevation
he overlooked the whole line of the reef; and something like hope revived
in every bosom, when he proclaimed the joyful intelligence that nothing
having life was visible in that direction.
"God be praised!" he said with fervour, as his foot touched the deck again
on descending; "we have at least a respite from the attacks of these
barbarians. The tide has risen so high that they dare not stay on the
rocks, lest they might be cut off; for they probably think us stronger
than we are, and armed. The light gun on the forecastle is loaded,
gentlemen, though not shotted; for there are no shot in the vessel,
Saunders tells me; and I would suggest the propriety of firing it, both to
alarm the Arabs, and as a signal to our friends. The distance from the
wreck is not so great but it might be heard, and I think they would at
least send a boat to our relief. Sound flies fast, and a short time may
bring us succour. The water will not be low enough for our enemies to
venture on the reef again, under six or eight hours, and all may yet
This proposal was discussed, and it proving, on inquiry, that all the
powder in the ship, after loading the gun for this very purpose of firing
a signal, had been taken in the boats, and that no second discharge could
be made, it was decided to lose no more time, but to let their danger be
known to their friends at once, if it were possible to send the sound so
far. When this decision was come to, Mr. Blunt, aided by Mr. Sharp, made
the necessary preparations without delay. The latter, though doing all he
could to assist, envied the readiness, practical skill and intelligence,
with which his companion, a man of cultivated and polished mind in higher
things, performed every requisite act that was necessary to effect their
purpose. Instead of hastily discharging the piece, an iron four-pound gun,
Mr. Blunt first doubled the wad, which he drove home with all his force,
and then he greased the muzzle, as he said, to increase the report.
"I shall not attempt to explain the philosophy of this," he added with a
mournful smile, "but all lovers of salutes and salvos will maintain that
it is useful; and be it so or not, too much depends on our making
ourselves heard, to neglect any thing that has even a chance of aiding
that one great object. If you will now assist me, Sir George, we will run
the gun over to starboard, in order that it may be fired on the side next
"Judging from the readiness you have shown on several occasions, as well
as your familiarity with the terms, I should think you had served,"
returned the real baronet, as he helped his companion to place the gun at
a port on the northern side of the vessel.
"You have not mistaken my trade. I was certainly bred, almost born, a
seaman; and though as a traveller I have now been many years severed from
my early habits, little of what I knew has been lost. Were there five
others here, who had as much familiarity as myself with vessels, I think
we could carry the ship outside the reef, crippled as she is, and set the
Arabs at defiance. Would to God our worthy captain had never brought
"He did all for the best, no doubt?"
"Beyond a question; and no more than a commendable prudence required.
Still he has left us in a most critical position. This priming is a little
damp, and I distrust it. The coal, if you please."
"Why do you not fire?"
"At the last moment, I almost repent of my own expedient. Is it quite
certain no pistols remain among any of our effects?"
"I fear not. Saunders reports that all, even to those of the smallest
size, were put in requisition for the boats."
"The charge in this gun might serve for many pistols, or for several
fowling-pieces. I might even sweep the reef, on an emergency, by using old
iron for shot! It appears like parting with a last friend, to part with
this single precious charge of gunpowder."
"Nay, you certainly know best; though I rather think the Messrs. Effingham
are of your first opinion."
"It is puerile to waver on such a subject, and I will hesitate no longer.
There are moments when the air seems to float in the direction of our
friends; on the first return of one of those currents, I will fire."
A minute brought the opportunity, and Paul Blunt, or Paul Powis, as his
real name would now appear to be, applied the coal. The report was sharp
and lively; but as the smoke floated away, he again expressed his doubts
of the wisdom of what had just been done. Had he then known that the
struggling sounds had diffused themselves in their radii, without reaching
the wreck, his regrets would have been increased fourfold. This was a
fact, however, that could not be then ascertained, and those in the packet
were compelled to wait two or three hours before they even got the
certainty of their failure.
As the light increased a view was obtained of the shore, which seemed as
silent and deserted as the reef. For half an hour the whole party
experienced the revulsion of feeling that accompanies all great changes of
emotion, and the conversation had even got to be again cheerful, and to
turn into its former channels, when suddenly a cry from Saunders renewed
the alarm. The steward was preparing the breakfast in the galley, from
which he gave occasional glances towards the land, and his quick eye had
been the first to detect a new and still more serious danger that now
A long train of camels was visible, travelling across the desert, and
holding its way towards the part of the reef which touched the shore. At
this point, too, were now to be seen some twenty Arabs, waiting the
arrival, of their friends; among whom it was fair to conclude were those
who had attempted to carry the ship by surprise. As the events which next
followed were closely connected with the policy and forbearance of the
party of barbarians near the wreck, this will be a suitable occasion to
explain the motives of the latter, in not assailing Captain Truck, and the
real state of things among these children of the desert.
The Dane had been driven ashore, as conjectured, in the last gale, and the
crew had immediately been captured by a small wandering party of the
Arabs, with whom the coast was then lined; as is usually the case
immediately after tempestuous weather. Unable to carry off much of the
cargo, this party had secured the prisoners, and hurried inland to an
oasis, to give the important intelligence to their friends; leaving scouts
on the shore, however, that they might be early apprised of any similar
disaster, or of any change in the situation of their present prize. These
scouts had discovered the Montauk, drifting along the coast, dismasted
and crippled, and they had watched her to her anchorage within the reef.
The departure of her boats had been witnessed, and though unable to
foresee the whole object of this expedition, the direction taken pointed
out the wreck as the point of destination. All this, of course, had been
communicated to the chief men of the different parties on the coast, of
which there were several, who had agreed to unite their forces to secure
the second ship, and then to divide the spoils.
When the Arabs reached the coast near the wreck, that morning, the elders
among them were not slow in comprehending the motives of the expedition;
and having gained a pretty accurate idea of the number of men employed
about the Dane, they had come to the just conclusion that few were left in
the vessel at anchor. They had carried off the spy-glass of their prize
too, and several among them knew its use, from having seen similar things
in other stranded ships. By means of this glass, they discovered the
number and quality of those on board the Montauk, as soon as there was
sufficient light, and directed their own operations accordingly. The
parties that had appeared and disappeared behind the sandy ridges of the
desert, about the time at which we have now arrived in the narrative, and
those who have been already mentioned in a previous chapter, were those
who came from the interior, and those who went in the direction of the
reef; the first of the latter of which Saunders had just discovered. Owing
to the rounded formation of the coast, and to the intervention of a
headland, the distance by water between the two ships was quite double
that by land between the two encampments, and those who now arrived
abreast of the packet, deliberately pitched their tents, as if they
depended more on a display of their numbers for success than on
concealment and as if they felt no apprehension of the return of the crew.
When the gentlemen had taken a survey of this strong party, which numbered
more than a hundred, they held a consultation of the course it would be
necessary to pursue. To Paul Blunt, as an avowed seaman, and as one who
had already shown the promptitude and efficiency of his resources, all
eyes were turned in expectation of an opinion.
"So long as the tide keeps in," this gentleman observed, "I see no cause
for apprehensions. We are beyond the reach of musketry, or at all events,
any fire of the Arabs, at this distance, must be uncertain and harmless;
and we have always the hope of the arrival of the boats. Should this fail
us, and the tide fall this afternoon as low as it fell in the morning, our
situation will indeed become critical. The water around the ship may
possibly serve as a temporary protection, but the distance to the reef is
so small that it might be passed by swimming."
"Surely we could make good the vessel against men raising themselves out
of the water, and clambering up a vessel's side?" said Mr. Sharp.
"It is probable we might, if unmolested from the shore. But, imagine
twenty or thirty resolute swimmers to put off together for different parts
of the vessel, protected by the long muskets these Arabs carry, and you
will easily conceive the hopelessness of any defence. The first man among
us, who should show his person to meet the boarders, would be shot down
like a dog."
"It was a cruel oversight to expose us to this horrible fate!" exclaimed
the appalled father.
"This is easier seen now than when the mistake was committed," observed
John Effingham. "As a seaman, and with his important object in view,
Captain Truck acted for the best, and we should acquit him of all blame,
let the result be what it may. Regrets are useless, and it remains for us
to devise some means to arrest the danger by which we are menaced, before
it be too late. Mr. Blunt, you must be our leader and counsellor: is it
not possible for us to carry the ship outside of the reef, and to anchor
her beyond the danger of our being boarded?"
"I have thought of this expedient, and if we had a boat it might possibly
be done, in this mild weather; without a boat, it is impossible."
"But we have a boat," glancing his eye towards the launch that stood in
the chocks or chucks.
"One that would be too unwieldy for our purposes, could it be got into the
water; a thing in itself that would be almost impracticable for us
A long silence succeeded, during which the gentlemen were occupied in the
bootless effort of endeavouring to devise expedients to escape the Arabs;
bootless, because on such occasions, the successful measure is commonly
the result of a sort of sudden inspiration, rather than of continued and
With religious awe
Grief heard the voice of Virtue. No complaint
The solemn silence broke. Tears ceased to flow.
Hope is the most treacherous of all human fancies. So long as there is a
plausible ground to expect relief from any particular quarter, men will
relax their exertions in the face of the most imminent danger, and they
cling to their expectations long after reason has begun to place the
chances of success on the adverse side of the scale. Thus it was with the
party in the Montauk. Two or three precious hours were lost in the idle
belief that the gun would be heard by Captain Truck, and that they might
momentarily look for the appearance of, at least, one of the boats.
Paul Blunt was the first to relinquish this delusion. He knew that, if it
reached their friends at all, the report must have been heard in a few
seconds, and he knew, also, that it peculiarly belonged to the profession
of a seaman to come to quick decisions. An hour of smart rowing would
bring the cutter from the wreck to the headland, where it would be
visible, by means of a glass, from the fore-top. Two hours had now passed
away and no signs of any boat were to be discovered, and the young man
felt reluctantly compelled to yield all the strong hopes of timely aid
that he had anticipated from this quarter. John Effingham, who had much
more energy of character than his kinsman, though not more personal
fortitude and firmness, was watching the movements of their young leader,
and he read the severe disappointment in his face, as he descended the
last time from the top, where he had often been since the consultation,
to look out for the expected succour.
"I see it in your countenance," said that gentleman, "we have nothing to
look for from the boats. Our signal has not been heard."
"There is no hope, and we are now thrown altogether on our own exertions,
aided by the kind providence of God."
"This calamity is so sudden and so dire, that I can scarcely credit it!
Are we then truly in danger of becoming prisoners to barbarians? Is Eve
Effingham, the beautiful, innocent, good, angelic daughter of my cousin,
to be their victim!--perhaps the inmate of a seraglio!"
"There is the pang! Had I a thousand bodies, a thousand lives, I could
give all of the first to unmitigated suffering, lay down all the last to
avert so shocking a calamity. Do you think the ladies are sensible of
their real situation?"
"They are uneasy rather than terrified. In common with us all, they have
strong hopes from the boats, though the continued arrival of the
barbarians, who are constantly coming into their camp, has helped to
render them a little more conscious of the true nature of the danger."
Here Mr. Sharp, who stood on the hurricane-house, called out for the
glass, in order to ascertain what a party of the Arabs, who were collected
near the in-shore end of the reef, were about. Paul Blunt went up to him,
and made the examination. His countenance fell as he gazed, and an
expression like that of hopelessness was again apparent on his fine
features, when he lowered the glass.
"Here is some new cause of uneasiness!"
"The wretches have got a number of spars, and are lashing them together to
form a raft. They are bent on our capture, and I see no means of
"Were we alone, men only, we might have the bitter consolation of selling
our lives dearly; but it is terrible to have those with us whom we can
neither save nor yet devote to a common destruction with our enemies!"
"It is indeed terrible, and the helplessness of our situation adds to its
"Can we not offer terms?--Might not a promise of ransom, with hostages, do
something? I would cheerfully remain in the hands of the barbarians, in
order to effect the release of the rest of the party."
Mr. Blunt grasped his hand, and for a moment he envied the other the
generous thought. But smiling bitterly, he shook his head, as if conscious
of the futility of even this desperate self-devotion.
"Gladly would I be your companion; but the project is, in every sense,
impracticable. Ransom they might consent to receive with us all in their
power, but not on the condition of our being permitted to depart. Indeed,
no means of quitting them would be left; for, once in possession of the
ship, as in a few hours they must be, Captain Truck, though having the
boats, will be obliged to surrender for want of food, or to run the
frightful hazard of attempting to reach the islands, on an allowance
scarcely sufficient to sustain life under the most favourable
circumstances. These flint-hearted monsters are surrounded by the
desolation of their desert, and they are aware of all their appalling
"The real state of things ought to be communicated to our friends, in
order that they may be prepared for the worst."
To this Mr. Blunt agreed, and they went together to inform John Effingham
of the new discovery. This stern-minded man was, in a manner, prepared for
the worst, and he now agreed on the melancholy propriety of letting his
kinsman know the actual nature of the new danger that threatened them.
"I will undertake this unpleasant office," he said, "though I could, in my
inmost soul, pray that the necessity for it might pass away. Should the
worst arrive, I have still hopes of effecting something by means of a
ransom; but what will have been the fate of the youthful, and delicate,
and lovely, ere we can make ourselves even comprehended by the barbarians?
A journey in the desert, as these journeys have been described to me,
would be almost certain death to all but the strongest of our party, and
even gold may fail of its usual power, when weighed against the evil
nature of savages."
"Is there no hope, then, really left us?" demanded Mr. Sharp, when the
last speaker had left them to descend to the cabins. "Is it not possible
to get the boat into the water, and to make our escape in that?"
"That is an expedient of which I have thought, but it is next to
impracticable. As anything is better than capture, however, I will make
one more close examination of the proceedings of the demons, and look
nearer into our own means."
Paul Blunt now got a lead and dropped it over the side of the ship, in the
almost forlorn hope that possibly she might lie over some hole on the
bottom. The soundings proved to be, as indeed he expected, but a little
more than three fathoms.
"I had no reason to expect otherwise," he said, as he drew in the line,
though he spoke like a disappointed man. "Had there been sufficient water
the ship might have been scuttled, and the launch would have floated off
the deck; but as it is, we should lose the vessel without a sufficient
object. It would appear heroic were you and I to contrive to get on the
reef, and to proceed to the shore with a view to make terms with the
Arabs; but there could be no real use in it, as the treachery of their
character is too well established to look for any benefit from such
"Might they not be kept in play, until our friends returned? Providence
may befriend us in some unexpected manner in our uttermost peril."
"We will examine them once more with the glass. By a movement among the
Arabs, there has probably been a new accession to their numbers."
The two gentlemen now ascended to the top of the hurricane-house again, in
feverish haste, and once more they applied the instrument. A minute of
close study induced Mr. Blunt to drop the glass, with an expression that
denoted increased concern.
"Can any thing possibly make our prospects worse?" eagerly inquired his
"Do you not remember a flag that was on board the Dane--that by which we
identified his nation?"
"Certainly: it was attached to the halyards, and lay on the quarter-deck."
"That flag is now flying in the camp of these barbarians! You may see it,
here, among the tents last pitched by the party that arrived while we were
"And from this, you infer--"
"That our people are captives! That flag was in the ship when we left it;
had the Arabs returned before our party got there, the captain would have
been back long ere this; and in order to obtain this ensign they must have
obtained possession of the wreck, after the arrival of the boats; an event
that could scarcely occur without a struggle; I fear the flag is a proof
on which side the victory has fallen."
"This then would seem to consummate our misfortunes!"
"It does indeed; for the faint hope that existed, of being relieved by the
boats, must now be entirely abandoned."
"In the name of God, look again, and see in what condition the wretches
have got their raft!"
A long examination followed, for on this point did the fate of all in the
ship now truly seem to depend.
"They work with spirit," said Mr. Blunt, when his examination had
continued a long time; "but it seems less like a raft than before--they
are lashing spars together lengthwise--here is a dawning of hope, or what
would be hope, rather, if the boats had escaped their fangs!"
"God bless you for the words!--what is there encouraging?"
"It is not much," returned Paul Blunt, with a mournful smile; "but trifles
become of account in moments of extreme jeopardy. They are making a
floating stage, doubtless with the intention to pass from the reef to the
ship, and by veering on the chains we may possibly drop astern
sufficiently to disappoint them in the length of their bridge. If I saw a
hope of the final return of the boats, this expedient would not be without
its use, particularly if delayed to the last moment, as it might cause the
Arabs to lose another tide, and a reprieve of eight or ten hours is an age
to men in our situation."
Mr. Sharp caught eagerly at this suggestion and the young men walked the
deck together for half an hour, discussing its chances, and suggesting
various means of turning it to the best account. Still, both felt
convinced that the trifling delay which might thus be obtained, would, in
the end, be perfectly useless, should Captain Truck and his party have
really fallen into the hands of the common enemy. They were thus engaged,
sometimes in deep despondency, and sometimes buoyant with revived
expectations, when Saunders, on the part of Mr. Effingham summoned
On reaching the cabin, whither both immediately hastened, the two
gentlemen found the family party in the distress that the circumstances
would naturally create. Mr. Effingham was seated, his daughter's head
resting on a knee, for she had thrown herself on the carpet, by his side.
Mademoiselle Viefville paced the cabin, occasionally stopping to utter a
few words of consolation to her young charge, and then again reverting in
her mind to the true dangers of their situation, with a force that
completely undid all she had said, by betraying the extent of her own
apprehensions. Ann Sidley knelt near her young mistress, sometimes praying
fervently, though in silence, and at other moments folding her beloved in
her arms, as if to protect her from the ruffian grasp of the barbarians.
The _femme de chambre_ was sobbing in a state-room, while John Effingham
leaned, with his arms folded against a bulk-head, a picture of stern
submission rather than of despair. The whole party was now assembled, with
the exception of the steward, whose lamentations throughout the morning
had not been noiseless, but who was left on deck to watch the movements of
The moment was not one of idle forms, and Eve Effingham, who would have
recoiled, under other circumstances, at being seen by her fellow
travellers in her present situation, scarce raised her head, in
acknowledgement of their melancholy salute, as they entered. She had been
weeping, and her hair had fallen in profusion around her shoulders. The
tears fell no longer, but a warm flushed look, one which denoted that a
struggle of the mind had gotten the better of womanly emotions, had
succeeded to deadly paleness, and rendered her loveliness of feature and
expression bright and angelic. Both of the young men thought she had never
seemed so beautiful, and both felt a secret pang, as the conviction forced
itself on them, at the same instant, that this surpassing beauty was now
likely to prove her most dangerous enemy.
"Gentlemen," said Mr. Effingham, with apparent calmness, and a dignity
that no uneasiness could disturb, "my kinsman has acquainted us with the
hopeless nature of our condition, and I have begged the favour of this
visit on your own account. _We_ cannot separate; the ties of blood and
affection unite us, and our fate must be common; but, on _you_ there is no
such obligation. Young, bold, and active, some plan may suggest itself, by
which you may possibly escape the barbarians, and at least save
yourselves, I know that generous temperaments like yours will not be
disposed to listen, at first, to such a suggestion: but reflection will
tell you that it is for the interest of us all. You may let our fate be
known, earlier than it otherwise would be, to those who will take
immediate measures to procure our ransoms."
"This is impossible!" Mr. Sharp said firmly. "We can never quit you; could
never enjoy a moment's peace under the consciousness of having been guilty
of an act so selfish!"
"Mr. Blunt is silent," continued Mr. Effingham, after a short pause, in
which he looked from one of the young men to the other. "He thinks better
of my proposition, and will listen to his own best interests."
Eve raised her head quickly, but without being conscious of the anxiety
she betrayed, and gazed with melancholy intentness at the subject of
"I do credit to the generous feelings of Mr. Sharp," Paul Blunt now
hurriedly answered, "and should be sorry to admit that my own first
impulses were less disinterested; but I confess I have already thought of
this, and have reflected on all the chances of success or failure. It
might be practicable for one who can swim easily to reach the reef; thence
to cross the inlet, and possibly to gain the shore under cover of the
opposite range of rocks, which are higher than those near us; after which,
by following the coast, one might communicate with the boats by signal, or
even go quite to the wreck if necessary. All of this I have deliberated
on, and once I had determined to propose it; but--"
"But what?" demanded Eve quickly. "Why not execute this plan, and save
yourself? Is it a reason, because case is hopeless, that you should
perish?" Go, then, at once, for the moments are precious; an hour hence,
it may be too late."
"Were it merely to save myself, Miss Effingham, do you really think me
capable of this baseness?"
"I do not call it baseness. Why should we draw you down with us in our
misery? You have already served us, Powis, in a situation of terrible
trial, and it is not just that you should always devote yourself in behalf
of those who seem fated never to do you good. My father will tell you he
thinks it your duty now to save yourself if possible."
"I think it the duty of every man," mildly resumed Mr. Effingham, "when no
imperious obligation requires otherwise, to save the life and liberty
which God has bestowed. These gentlemen have doubtless ties and claims on
them that are independent of us, and why should they inflict a pang on
those who love them, in order to share in our disaster?"
"This is placing useless speculations before a miserable certainty,"
observed John Effingham. "As there can be no hope of reaching the boats,
it is vain to discuss the propriety of the step."
"Is this true, Powis? Is there truly no chance of your escaping. You will
not deceive us--deceive yourself--on a vain point of empty pride!"
"I can say with truth, almost with joy, for I thank God I am spared the
conflict of judging between my duty and my feelings, that there can no
longer be any chance of finding the wreck in the possession of our
friends," returned Paul fervently. "There were moments when I thought the
attempt should be made; and it would perhaps have properly fallen to my
lot to be the adventurer; but we have now proof that the Arabs are
masters, and if Captain Truck has escaped at all, it is under
circumstances that scarcely admit the possibility of his being near the
land. The whole coast must be watched and in possession of the barbarians,
and one passing along it could hardly escape being seen."
"Might you not escape into the interior, notwithstanding?" asked Eve,
"With what motive? To separate myself from those who have been my fellows
in misfortune, only to die of want, or to fall into the hands of another
set of masters? It is every way our interest to keep together, and to let
those already on the coast become our captors, as the booty of two ships
may dispose them to be less exacting with their prisoners."
"Slaves!" muttered John Effingham.
His cousin bowed his head over the delicate form of Eve, which he folded
with his arms, as if to shield it from the blasts and evils of the desert.
"As we may be separated immediately on being taken," resumed Paul Blunt,
"it will be well to adopt some common mode of acting, and a uniform
account of ourselves, in order that we may impress the barbarians with the
policy of carrying us, as soon as possible, into the vicinity of Mogadore,
with a view to obtaining a speedy ransom."
"Can any thing be better than the holy truth?" exclaimed Eve. "No, no, no!
Let us not deform this chastening act of God by colouring any thought or
word with deception."
"Deception in our case will hardly be needed; but by understanding those
facts which will most probably influence the Arabs, we may dwell the most
on them. We cannot do better than by impressing on the minds of our
captors the circumstance that this is no common ship, a fact their own
eyes will corroborate, and that we are not mere mariners, but passengers,
who will be likely to reward their forbearance and moderation."
"I think, sir," interrupted Ann Sidley, looking up with tearful eyes from
the spot where she still knelt, "that if these people knew how much Miss
Eve is sought and beloved, they might be led to respect her as she
deserves, and this at least would 'temper the wind to the shorn lamb!'"
"Poor Nanny!" murmured Eve, stretching forth a hand towards her old nurse,
though her face was still buried in her own hair, "thou wilt soon learn
that there is another leveller beside the grave!"
"Thou wilt find that Eve, in the hands of barbarians, is not thy Eve. It
will now become my turn to become a handmaiden, and to perform for others
offices a thousand times more humiliating than any thou hast ever
performed for me."
Such a consummation of their misery had never struck the imagination of
the simple-minded Ann, and she gazed at her child with tender concern, as
if she distrusted her senses.
"This is too improbable, dear Miss Eve," she said, "and you will distress
your father by talking so wildly. The Arabs are human beings though they
are barbarians, and they will never dream of anything so wicked as this."
Mademoiselle Viefville made a rapid and fervent ejaculation in her own
language, that was keenly expressive of her own sense of misery, and Ann
Sidley, who always felt uneasiness when anything was said affecting Eve
that she could not understand, looked from one to the other, as if she
demanded an explanation.
"I'm sure Mamerzelle cannot think any such thing likely to take place,"
she continued more positively; "and, sir, you at least will not permit
Miss Eve to torment herself with any notions as unreasonable, as
monstrous as this!"
"We are in the hands of God, my worthy Ann, and you may live to see all
your fixed ideas of propriety violated," returned Mr. Effingham. "Let us
pray that we may not be separated, for there will at least be a tender
consolation in being permitted to share our misery in company. Should we
be torn asunder, then indeed will the infliction be one of
"And who will think of such a cruelty, sir? _Me_ they cannot separate from
Miss Eve, for I am her servant, her own long-tried, faithful attendant,
who first held her in arms, and nursed her when a helpless infant; and you
too, sir, you are her father, her own beloved revered parent; and Mr.
John, is he not her kinsman, of her blood and name? And even Mamerzelle
also has claims to remain with Miss Eve, for she has taught her many
things, I dare say, that it is good to know. Oh! no, no, no! no one has a
right to tear us asunder, and no one will have the heart to do it."
"Nanny, Nanny," murmured Eve, "you do not, cannot know the cruel Arabs!"
"They cannot be crueller and more unforgiving than our own savages, ma'am,
and they keep the mother with the child; and when they spare life, they
take the prisoners into their huts, and treat them as they treat their
own. God has caused so many of the wicked to perish for their sins, in
these eastern lands, that I do not think a man can be left that is wretch
enough to harm one like Miss Eve. Take courage then, sir, and put your
trust in his Holy Providence. I know the trial is hard to a tender
father's heart, but should their customs require them to keep the men and
women asunder, and to separate you from your daughter, for a short time,
remember that I shall be with her, as I was in her childhood, when, by the
mercy of God, we carried her through so many mortal diseases in safety,
and have got her, in the pride of her youth, without a blemish or a
defect, the perfect creature she is."
"If the world had no other tenants but such as you, devoted and
simple-hearted woman, there would indeed be little cause for apprehension;
for you are equally unable to imagine wrong yourself, or to conceive it in
others. It would remove a mountain from my heart, could I indeed believe
that even you will be permitted to remain near this dependent and fragile
girl during the months of suffering and anguish that are likely to occur."
"Father," said Eve, hurriedly drying her eyes, and rising to her feet with
a motion so easy, and an effort so slight, that it appeared like the power
of mere volition,--the superiority of the spirit over her light
frame,--"father, do not let a thought of me distress you at this awful
moment. You have known me only in happiness and prosperity,--an indulged
and indolent girl; but I feel a force which is capable of sustaining me,
even in this blank desert. The Arabs can have no other motive than to
preserve us all, as captives likely to repay their care with a rich
ransom. I know that a journey, according to their habits, will be painful
and arduous, but it may be borne. Trust, then, more to my spirit than to
my feeble body, and you will find that I am not as worthless as I fear
Mr. Effingham passed his arm round the slender waist of his child, and
folded her almost frantically to his bosom. But Eve was aroused, and
gently extricating herself, with bright tearless eyes, she looked round at
her companions, as if she would reverse the order of their sympathies,
and drive them to their own wants and hazards.
"I know you think me the most exposed by this dreadful disaster," she
said; "that I may not be able to bear up against the probable suffering,
and that I shall sink first, because I am the feeblest and frailest in
frame; but God permits the reed to bend, when the oak is destroyed. I am
stronger, able to bear more than you imagine, and we shall all live to
meet again, in happier scenes, should it be our present hard fortune to be
As Eve spoke, she cast affectionate looks on those dear to her by habit,
and blood, and services; nor did she permit an unnecessary reserve at such
a moment to prevent glances of friendly interest towards the two young
men, whose very souls seemed wrapped in her movements. Words of
encouragement from such a source, however, only served to set the
frightful truth more vividly before the minds of her auditors, and not one
of them heard what she said who did not feel an awful presentiment that a
few weeks of the suffering of which she made so light, did she even escape
a crueller fate, would consign that form, now so winning and lovely, to
the sands. Mr. Effingham now rose, and for the first time the flood of
sensations that had been so long gathering in his bosom, seemed ready to
burst through the restraints of manhood. Struggling to command himself, he
turned to his two young male companions, and spoke with an impressiveness
and dignity that carried with them a double force, from the fact of his
ordinary manners being so tempered and calm.
"Gentlemen," he said, "we may serve each other, by coming to an
understanding in time; or at least you may confer on me a favour that a
life of gratitude would not repay. You are young and vigorous, bold and
intelligent, qualities that will command the respect of even savages. The
chances that one of you will survive to reach a Christian land are much
greater than those of a man of my years, borne down as I shall be with the
never-dying anxieties of a parent."
"Hush! darling: let me entreat these gentlemen to bear us in mind, should
they reach a place of safety; for, after all, youth may do that in your
behalf, which time will deny to John and myself. Money will be of no
account, you know, to rescue my child from a fate far worse than death,
and it may be some consolation to you, young men, to recollect, at the
close of your own careers, which I trust will yet be long and happy, that
a parent, in his last moments, found a consolation in the justifiable
hopes he had placed on your generous exertions."
"Father, I cannot bear this! For you to be the victim of these barbarians
is too much; and I would prefer trusting all to a raft on the terrible
ocean, to incurring the smallest chance of such a calamity. Mademoiselle,
you will join me in the entreaty to the gentlemen to prepare a few planks
to receive us, where we can perish together, and at least have the
consolation of knowing that our eyes will be closed by friends. The
longest survivor will be surrounded and supported by the spirits of those
who have gone before, into a world devoid of care."
"I have thought this from the first," returned Mademoiselle Viefville in
French, with an energy of manner that betokened a high and resolved
character: "I would not expose gentlewomen to the insults and outrages of
barbarians; but did not wish to make a proposition that the feelings of
others might reject."
"It is a thousand times preferable to capture, if indeed it be
practicable," said John Effingham, looking inquiringly towards Paul. The
latter, however, shook his head in the negative, for, the wind blowing on
shore, he knew it would be merely meeting captivity without the appearance
of a self-reliance and dignity, that might serve to impress their captors
"It is impossible," said Eve, reading the meaning of the glances, and
dropping on her knees before Mr. Effingham; "well, then, may our trust be
in God! We have yet a few minutes of liberty, and let them not be wasted
idly, in vain regrets. Father, kiss me, and give me once more that holy
and cherished blessing, with which you used to consign me to sleep, in
those days when we scarce dreamed of, never realised, misfortune."
"Bless you, bless you, my babe; my beloved, my cherished Eve!" said the
father solemnly, but with a quivering lip. "May that dread Being whose
ways, though mysterious, are perfect wisdom and mercy, sustain you in this
trial, and bring you at last, spotless in spirit and person, to his own
mansions of peace. God took from me early thy sainted mother, and I had
impiously trusted in the hope that thou wert left to be my solace in age.
Bless you, my Eve; I shall pray God, without ceasing, that thou mayest
pass away as pure and as worthy of His love, as her to whom thou owest
John Effingham groaned; the effort he made to repress his feelings causing
the out-breaking of his soul to be deep though smothered.
"Father, let us pray together. Ann, my good Ann, thou who first taught me
to lisp a thanksgiving and a request, kneel here by my side--and you, too,
mademoiselle; though of a different creed, we have a common God! Cousin
John, you pray often, I know, though so little apt to show your emotions;
there is a place for you, too, with those of your blood. I know not
whether these gentlemen are too proud to pray."
Both the young men knelt with the others, and there was a long pause in
which the whole party put up their supplications, each according to his or
her habits of thought.
"Father!" resumed Eve, looking up as she still knelt between the knees of
Mr. Effingham, and smiling fondly in the face of him she so piously loved;
"there is one precious hope of which even the barbarians cannot rob us: we
may be separated here, but our final meeting rests only with God!"
Mademoiselle Viefville passed an arm round the waist of her sweet pupil,
and pressed her against her heart.
"There is but one abode for the blessed, my dear mademoiselle, and one
expiation for us all." Then rising from her knees, Eve said with the grace
and dignity of a gentlewoman, "Cousin Jack, kiss me; we know not when
another occasion may offer to manifest to each other our mutual regard.
You have been a dear and an indulgent kinsman to me, and should I live
these twenty years a slave, I shall not cease to think of you with
kindness and regret."
John Effingham folded the beautiful and ardent girl in his arms, with the
freedom and fondness of a parent.
"Gentlemen," continued Eve, with a deepening colour, but eyes that were
kind and grateful, "I thank you, too, for lending your supplications to
ours. I know that young men in the pride of their security, seldom fancy
such a dependence on God necessary; but the strongest are overturned, and
pride is a poor substitute for the hope of the meek, I believe you have
thought better of me than I merit, and I should never cease to reproach
myself with a want of consideration, did I believe that any thing more
than accident has brought you into this ill-fated vessel. Will you permit
me to add one more obligation to the many I feel to you both?" advancing
nearer to them, and speaking lower; "you are young, and likely to endure
bodily exposure better than my father--that we shall be separated I feel
persuaded--and it might be in your power to solace a heart-broken
parent.--I see, I know, I may depend on your good offices."
"Eve--my blessed daughter--my only, my beloved child!" exclaimed Mr.
Effingham, who overheard her lowest syllable, so death-like was the
stillness of the cabin--"come to me, dearest; no power on earth shall ever
tear us asunder!"
Eve turned quickly, and beheld the arms of her parent extended. She threw
herself into them, when the pent and irresistible emotions broke loose in
both, for they wept together, as she lay on his bosom, with a violence
that in a man it was awfully painful to witness.
Mr. Sharp had advanced to take the offered hand of Eve when she suddenly
left him for the purpose just mentioned, and he now felt the grasp of
Paul's fingers on his arm, as if they were about to penetrate the bone.
Fearful of betraying the extent of their feelings, the two young men
rushed on deck together, where they paced backward and forward for many
minutes, quite unable to exchange a word, or even a look.
O Domine Deus! speravi in te,
O care mi Jesu, nune libera me;--
In durâ catenâ,
In miserâ poenâ,
Adora, imploro, ut liberes me.
The sublime consolations of religion were little felt by either of the two
generous-minded and ardent young men who were pacing the deck of the
Montauk. The gentle and the plastic admit the most readily of the divine
influence; and of all on board the devoted vessel at that moment, they who
were the most resigned to their fate were those who by their physical
force were the least able to endure it.
"This heavenly resignation," said Mr. Sharp, half whispering, "is even
more heart-rending than the out-breakings of despair."
"It is frightful!" returned his companion. "Any thing is better than
passive submission in such circumstances. I see but little, indeed no hope
of escape; but idleness is torture. If I endeavour to raise this boat,
will you aid me?"
"Command me like your slave. Would to Heaven there were the faintest
prospects of success!"
"There is but little; and should we even succeed, there are no means of
getting far from the ship in the launch, as all the oars have been carried
off by the captain, and I can hear of neither masts nor sails. Had we the
latter, with this wind which is beginning to blow, we might indeed prolong
the uncertainty, by getting on some of those more distant spits of sand."
"Then, in the name of the blessed Maria!" exclaimed one behind them in
French, "delay not an instant, and all on board will join in the labour!"
The gentlemen turned in surprise, and beheld Mademoiselle Viefville
standing so near them as to have overheard their conversation. Accustomed
to depend on herself; coming of a people among whom woman is more
energetic and useful, perhaps, than in any other Christian nation, and
resolute of spirit naturally, this cultivated and generous female had come
on deck purposely to see if indeed there remained no means by which they
might yet escape the Arabs. Had her knowledge of a vessel at all equalled
her resolution, it is probable that many fruitless expedients would
already have been adopted; but finding herself in a situation so
completely novel as that of a ship, until now she had found no occasion to
suggest any thing to which her companions would be likely to lend
themselves. But, seizing the hint of Paul, she pressed it on him with
ardour, and, after a few minutes of urging, by her zeal and persuasion she
prevailed on the two gentlemen to commence the necessary preparations
without further delay. John Effingham and Saunders were immediately
summoned by Mademoiselle Viefville herself, who, once engaged in the
undertaking, pursued it fervently, while she went in person into the
cabins to make the necessary preparations connected with their subsistence
and comforts, should they actually succeed in quitting the vessel.
No experienced mariner could set about the work with more discretion, or
with a better knowledge of what was necessary to be done, than Mr, Blunt
now showed. Saunders was directed to clear the launch, which had a roof on
it, and still contained a respectable provision of poultry, sheep and
pigs. The roof he was told not to disturb, since it might answer as a
substitute for a deck; but everything was passed rapidly from the inside
of the boat, which the steward commenced scrubbing and cleaning with an
assiduity that he seldom manifested in his cabins. Fortunately, the
tackles with which Mr. Leach had raised the sheers and stepped the
jury-mast the previous morning were still lying on the deck, and Paul was
spared the labour of reeving new ones. He went to work, therefore, to get
up two on the substitute for a main-stay; a job that he had completed,
through the aid of the two gentlemen on deck, by the time Saunders
pronounced the boat to be in a fit condition to receive its cargo. The
gripes were now loosened, and the fall of one of the tackles was led to
By this time Mademoiselle Viefville, by her energy and decision, had so
far aroused Eve and her woman, that Mr. Effingham had left his daughter,
and appeared on deck among those who were assisting Paul. So intense was
the interest, however, which all took in the result, that the ladies, and
even Ann Sidley, with the _femme de chambre_, suspended their own efforts,
and stood clustering around the capstan as the gentlemen began to heave,
almost breathless between their doubts and hopes; for it was a matter of
serious question whether there was sufficient force to lift so heavy a
body at all. Turn after turn was made, the fall gradually tightening,
until those at the bars felt the full strain of their utmost force.
"Heave together, gentlemen," said Paul Blunt, who directed every thing,
besides doing so much with his own hands. "We have its weight now, and all
we gain is so much towards lifting the boat."
A steady effort was continued for two or three minutes, with but little
sensible advantage, when all stopped far breath.
"I fear it will surpass our strength," observed Mr. Sharp. "The boat seems
not to have moved, and the ropes are stretched in a way to
"We want but the force of a boy added to our own," said Paul, looking
doubtingly towards the females; "in such cases, a pound counts for a ton."
"_Allons_!" cried Mademoiselle Viefville, motioning to the _femme de
chambre_ to follow; "we will not be defeated for the want of such
These two resolute women applied their strength to the bars, and the
power, which had been so equally balanced, preponderated in favour of the
machine. The capstan, which a moment before was scarcely seen to turn, and
that only by short and violent efforts, now moved steadily but slowly
round, and the end of the launch rose. Eve was only prevented from joining
the labourers by Nanny, who held her folded in her arms, fearful that some
accident might occur to injure her.
Paul Blunt now cheerfully announced the certainty that they had a force
sufficient to raise the boat, though the operation would still be long and
laborious. We say, cheerfully; for while this almost unhoped-for success
promised little relief in the end, there is always something buoyant and
encouraging in success of any sort.
"We are masters of the boat," he said, "provided the Arabs do not molest
us; and we may drift away, by means of some contrivance of a sail, to such
a distance as will keep us out of their power, until all chance of seeing
our friends again is finally lost."
"This, then, is a blessed relief!" exclaimed Mr. Effingham; "and God may
yet avert from us the bitterest portion of this calamity!"
The pent emotions again flowed, and Eve once more wept in her father's
arms, a species of holy joy mingling with her tears. In the mean time,
Paul, having secured the fall by which they had just been heaving, brought
the other to the capstan, when the operation was renewed with the same
success. In this manner in the course of half an hour the launch hung
suspended from the stay, at a sufficient height to apply the yard-tackles.
As the latter, however, were not aloft, Paul having deemed it wise to
ascertain their ability to lift the boat at all, before he threw away so
much toil, the females renewed their preparations in the cabins, while the
gentlemen assisted the young sailor in getting up the purchases. During
this pause in the heaving, Saunders was sent below to search for sails and
masts, both of which Paul thought must be somewhere in the ship, as he
found the launch was fitted to receive them.
It was apparent, in the mean time, that the Arabs watched their
proceedings narrowly; for the moment Paul appeared on the yard a great
movement took place among them, and several muskets were discharged in the
direction of the ship, though the distance rendered the fire harmless. The
gentlemen observed with concern, however, that the balls passed the
vessel, a fearful proof of the extraordinary power of the arms used by
these barbarians. Luckily the reef, which by this time was nearly bare
ahead of the ship, was still covered in a few places nearer to the shore
to a depth that forbade a passage, except by swimming. John Effingham,
however, who was examining the proceedings of the Arabs with a glass,
announced that a party appeared disposed to get on the naked rocks nearest
the ship, as they had left the shore, dragging some light spars after
them, with which they seemed to be about to bridge the different spots of
deep water, most of which were sufficiently narrow to admit of being
passed in this manner.
Although the operation commenced by the Arabs would necessarily consume a
good deal of time, this intelligence quickened the movements of all in the
ship. Saunders, in particular, who had returned to report his want of
success, worked with redoubled zeal; for, as is usual with those who are
the least fortified by reason, he felt the greatest horror of falling into
the hands of barbarians. It was a slow and laborious thing,
notwithstanding, to get upon the yards the heavy blocks and falls; and had
not Paul Blunt been quite as conspicuous for personal strength as he was
ready and expert in a knowledge of his profession, he would not have
succeeded in the unaided effort;--unaided aloft, though the others, of
course, relieved him much by working at the whips on deck. At length this
important arrangement was effected, the young man descended, and the
capstan was again manned.
This time the females were not required, it being in the power of the
gentlemen to heave the launch out to the side of the ship, Paul managing
the different falls so adroitly, that the heavy boat was brought so near
and yet so much above the rail, as to promise to clear it. John Effingham
now stood at one of the stay-tackle falls, and Paul at the other, when the
latter made a signal to ease away. The launch settled slowly towards the
side of the vessel until it reached the rail, against which it lodged.
Catching a turn with his fall, Mr. Blunt sprang forward, and bending
beneath the boat, he saw that its keel had hit a belaying-pin. One blow
from a capstan-bar cleared away this obstruction, and the boat swung off.
The stay-tackle falls were let go entirely, and all on board saw, with an
exultation that words can scarcely describe, the important craft suspended
directly over the sea. No music ever sounded more sweetly to the
listeners than the first plash of the massive boat as it fell heavily upon
the surface of the water. Its size, its roof, and its great strength gave
it an appearance of security, that for the moment deceived them all; for,
in contemplating the advantage they had so unexpectedly gained, they
forgot the many obstacles that existed to their availing themselves of it.
It was not many minutes before Paul was on the roof of the launch, had
loosened the tackles, and had breasted the boat to, at the side of the
ship, in readiness to receive the stores that the females had collected.
In order that the reader may better understand the nature of the ark that
was about to receive those who remained in the Montauk, however, it may be
well to describe it.
The boat itself was large, strong, and capable of resisting a heavy sea
when well managed, and, of course, unwieldy in proportion. To pull it, at
a moderate rate, eight or ten large oars were necessary; whereas, all the
search of the gentlemen could not find one. They succeeded, however, in
discovering a rudder and tiller, appliances not always used in launches,
and Paul Blunt shipped them instantly. Around the gunwales of the boat,
stanchions, which sustained a slightly-rounded roof, were fitted; a
provision that it is usual to make in the packets, in order to, protect
the stock they carry against the weather. This stock having been turned
loose on the deck, and the interior cleaned, the latter now presented a
snug and respectable cabin; one coarse and cramped, compared with those of
the ship certainly, but on the other hand, one that might be well deemed a
palace by shipwrecked mariners. As it would be possible to retain this
roof until compelled by bad weather to throw it away, Paul, who had never
before seen a boat afloat with such a canopy, regarded it with delight;
for it promised a protection to that delicate form he so much cherished in
his inmost heart, that he had not even dared to hope for. Between the roof
and the gunwale of the boat, shutters buttoned in, so as to fill the
entire space and when these were in their places, the whole of the
interior formed an enclosed apartment, of a height sufficient to allow
even a man to stand erect without his hat. It is true, this arrangement
rendered the boat clumsy, and, to a certain extent, top-heavy and
unmanageable; but so long as it could be retained, it also rendered it
infinitely more comfortable than it could possibly be without it. The
roof, moreover, might be cut away in five minutes, at any time, should
circumstances require it.
Paul had just completed a hasty survey of his treasure, for such he now
began to consider the launch, when casting his eye upward, with the
intention to mount the ship's side, he saw Eve looking down at him, as if
to read their fate in the expression of his own countenance.
"The Arabs," she hurriedly remarked, "are moving along the reef, as my
father says, faster than he could wish, and all our hopes are centred in
you and the boat. The first, I know, will not fail us, so long as means