Part 7 out of 10
allow; but can we do anything with the launch?"
"For the first time, dearest Miss Effingham, I see a little chance of
rescuing ourselves from the grasp of these barbarians. There is no time to
lose, but everything must be passed into the boat with as little delay as
"Bless you, bless you, Powis, for this gleam of hope! Your words are
cordials, and our lives can scarcely serve to prove the gratitude we
This was said naturally, and as one expresses a strong feeling, without
reflection, or much weighing of words; but even at that fearful moment, it
thrilled on every pulse of the young man. The ardent look that he gave the
beautiful girl caused her to redden to the temples, and she
The gentlemen now began to pass into the boat the different things that
had been provided, principally by the foresight of Mademoiselle Viefville,
where they were received by Paul who thrust them beneath the roof without
stopping to lose the precious moments in stowage. They included
mattresses, the trunks that contained their ordinary sea-attire, or those
that were not stowed in the baggage-room, blankets, counterpanes, potted
meats, bread, wine, various condiments and prepared food, from the stores
of Saunders, and generally such things as had presented themselves in the
hurry of the moment. Nearly half of the articles were rejected by Paul,
as unnecessary, though he received many in consideration of the delicacy
of his feebler companions, which would otherwise have been cast aside.
When he found, however, that food enough had been passed into the boat to
supply the wants of the whole party for several weeks, he solicited a
truce, declaring it indiscreet to render themselves uselessly
uncomfortable in this manner, to say nothing of the effect on the boat.
The great requisite, water, was still wanting, and he now desired that the
two domestics might get into the boat to arrange the different articles,
while he endeavoured to find something that might serve as a substitute
for sails, and obtain the all-important supply.
His attention was first given to the water, without which all the other
preparations would be rendered totally useless. Before setting about this,
however, he stole a moment to look into the state of things among the
Arabs. It was indeed time, for the tide had now fallen so low as to leave
the rocks nearly bare, and several hundreds of the barbarians were
advancing along the reef, towing their bridge, the slow progress of which
alone prevented them from coming up at once to the point opposite the
ship. Paul saw there was not a moment to lose, and, calling Saunders, he
Three or four small casks were soon found, when the steward brought them
to the tank to be filled. Luckily the water had not to be pumped off, but
it ran in a stream into the vessel that was placed to receive it. As soon
as one cask was ready, it was carried on deck by the gentlemen, and was
struck into the boat with as little delay as possible. The shouts of the
Arabs now became audible, even to those who were below, and it required
great steadiness of nerve to continue the all-important preparation. At
length the last of the casks was filled, when Paul rushed on deck, for, by
this time, the cries of the barbarians proclaimed their presence near the
ship. When he reached the rail, he found the reef covered with them, some
hailing the vessel, others menacing, hundreds still busied with their
floating bridge, while a few endeavoured to frighten those on board by
discharging their muskets over their heads. Happily, aim was impossible,
so long as care was taken not to expose the body above the bulwarks.
"We have not a moment to lose!" cried Mr. Effingham, on whose bosom Eve
lay, nearly incapable of motion. "The food and water are in the boat, and
in the name of a merciful God, let us escape from this scene of frightful
"The danger is not yet so inevitable," returned Paul, steadily. "Frightful
and pressing as it truly seems, we have a few minutes to think in. Let me
entreat that Miss Effingham and Mademoiselle Viefville will receive a drop
of this cordial."
He poured into a glass a restorative from a bottle that had been left on
the capstan as superfluous, in the confusion of providing stores, and held
it to the pallid lips of Eve. As she swallowed a mouthful, nearly as
helpless as the infant that receives nourishment from the hand of its
nurse, the blood returned, and raising herself from her father's arms, she
smiled, though with an effort, and thanked him for his care.
"It was a dread moment," she said, passing a hand over her brow; "but it
is past, and I am better. Mademoiselle Viefville will be obliged to you,
also, for a little of this."
The firm-minded and spirited Frenchwoman, though pale as death, and
evidently suffering under extreme apprehension, put aside the glass
courteously, declining its contents.
"We are sixty fathoms from the rocks," said Paul calmly, "and they must
cross this ditch yet, to reach us. None of them seem disposed to attempt
it by swimming, and their bridge, though ingeniously put together, may not
prove long enough."
"Would it be safe for the ladies to get into the boat where she lies,
exposed as they would be to the muskets of the Arabs?" inquired Mr. Sharp.
"All that shall be remedied," returned Paul. "I cannot quit the deck;
would you," slightly bowing to Mr. Sharp, "go below again, with Saunders,
and look for some light sail? without one, we cannot move away from the
ship, even when in the boat. I see a suitable spar and necessary rigging
on deck; but the canvas must be looked for in the sail-room. It is a
nervous thing, I confess, to be below at such a moment; but you have too
much faith in us to dread being deserted."
Mr. Sharp grasped the hand as a pledge of a perfect reliance on the
other's faith, but he could not speak. Calling Saunders, the steward
received his instructions, when the two went hastily below.
"I could wish the ladies were in the boat with their women," said Paul,
for Ann Sidley and the _femme de chambre_ were still in the launch, busied
in disposing of its mixed cargo of stores, though concealed from the Arabs
by the roof and shutters; "but it would be hazardous to attempt it while
exposed to the fire from the reef. We shall have to change the position of
the ship in the end, and it may as well be done at once."
Beckoning to John Effingham to follow, he went forward to examine into the
movements of the Arabs, once more, before he took any decided step. The
two gentlemen placed themselves behind the high defences of the
forecastle, where they had a fair opportunity of reconnoitring their
assailants, the greater height of the ship's deck completely concealing
all that had passed on it from the sight of those on the rocks.
The barbarians, who seemed to be, and who in truth were, fully apprised of
the defenceless and feeble condition of the party on board, were at work
without the smallest apprehension of receiving any injury from that
quarter. Their great object was to get possession of the ship, before the
returning water should again drive them from the rocks. In order to effect
this, they had placed all who were willing and sufficiently subordinate on
the bridge, though a hundred were idle, shouting, clapping their hands,
menacing, and occasionally discharging a musket, of which there were
probably fifty in their possession.
"They work with judgment at their pontoon," said Paul, after he had
examined the proceedings of those on the reef for a few minutes. "You may
perceive that they have dragged the outer end of the bridge up to
windward, and have just shoved it from the rocks, with the intention to
permit it to drift round, until it shall bring up against the bows of the
ship, when they will pour on board like so many tigers. It is a disjointed
and loose contrivance, that the least sea would derange; but in this
perfectly smooth water it will answer their purpose. It moves slowly, but
will surely drift round upon us in the course of fifteen or twenty minutes
more; and of this they appear to be quite certain themselves, for they
seem as well satisfied with their work as if already assured of its
"It is, then, important to us to be prompt, since our time will be so
"We will be prompt, but in another mode. If you will assist me a little, I
think this effort, at least, may be easily defeated, after which it will
be time enough to think of escape."
Paul, aided by John Effingham, now loosened the chains altogether from the
bitts, and suffered the ship to drop astern. As this was done silently and
stealthily, it occupied several minutes; but the wind being by this time
fresh, the huge mass yielded to its power with certainty; and when the
bridge had floated round in a direct line from the reef, or dead to
leeward, there was a space of water between its end and the ship of more
than a hundred feet. The Arabs had rushed on it in readiness to board; but
they set up a yell of disappointment as soon as the truth was discovered.
A tumult followed; several fell from the wet and slippery spars; but,
after a short time wasted in confusion and clamour, the directions of
their chiefs were obeyed, and they set to work with energy to break up
their bridge, in order to convert its materials into a raft.
By this time Mr. Sharp and Saunders had returned, bringing with them
several light sails, such as spare royals and top-gallant studding-sails.
Paul next ordered a spare mizzen-top-gallant mast, with a top-gallant
studding-sail boom, and a quantity of light rope to be laid in the
gangway, after which he set about the final step. As time now pressed in
earnest, the Arabs working rapidly and with increasing shouts, he called
upon all the gentlemen for assistance, giving such directions as should
enable them to work with intelligence.
"Bear a hand, Saunders," he said, having taken the steward forward with
him, as one more accustomed to ships than the others; "bear a hand my fine
fellow, and light up this chain. Ten minutes just now are of more value
than a year at another time."
"'Tis awful, Mr. Blunt, sir--werry awful, I do confirm," returned the
steward, blubbering and wiping his eyes between the drags at the chains.
"Such a fate to befall such cabins, sir!--And the crockery of the werry
best quality out of London or New York! Had I diwined such an issue for
the Montauk, sir, I never would have counselled Captain Truck to lay in
half the stores we did, and most essentially not the new lots of vines.
Oh! sir, it is truly awful to have such a calamity wisit so much elegant
"Forget it all, my fine fellow, and light up the chain. Ha!--she touches
abaft! Ten or fifteen fathoms more will answer."
"I've paid great dewotion to the silver, Mr. Blunt, sir, for it's all in
the launch, even to the broken mustard-spoon; and I do hope, if Captain
Truck's soul is permitted to superintend the pantry any longer, it will be
quite beatified and encouraged with my prudence and oversight. I left all
the rest of the table furniture, sir; though I suppose these _muscle_-men
will not have much use for any but the oyster-knives, as I am informed
they eat with their fingers. I declare it is quite oppressive and unhuman
to have such wagabonds rummaging one's lockers!"
"Rouse away, my man, and light up! the ship has caught the breeze on her
larboard bow, and begins to take the chain more freely. Remember that
precious beings depend on us for safety!"
"Ay, ay, sir; light up, it is. I feel quite a concern for the ladies, sir,
and more especially for the stores we abandon to the underwriters. A
better-found ship never came out of St. Catherine's Docks or the East
River, particularly in the pantry department; and I wonder what these
wretches will do with her. They will be quite abashed with her
conveniences, sir, and unable to enjoy them. Poor Toast, too! he will have
a monstrous unpleasant time with the _muscle_-men; for he never eats fish;
and has quite a genteel and ameliorated way with him. I shouldn't wonder
if he forgot all I have taken so much pains to teach him, sir, unless he's
dead; in which case it will be of no use to him in another world."
"That will do," interrupted Paul, ceasing his labour, "the ship is aground
from forward aft. We will now hurry the spars and sails into the boat, and
let the ladies get into her."
In order that the reader may better understand the present situation of
the ship, it may be necessary to explain what Mr. Powis and the steward
had been doing all this time. By paying out the chains, the ship had
fallen farther astern, until she took the ground abaft on the edge of the
sand-bank so often mentioned; and, once fast at that end, her bows had
fallen off, pressed by the wind, as long as the depth of the water would
allow. She now lay aground forward and aft, with her starboard side to the
reef, and the launch between the vessel and the naked sands was completely
covered from the observations and assaults of the barbarians by
Eve, Mademoiselle Viefville, and Mr. Effingham now got into the launch,
while the others still remained in the ship to complete the preparations.
"They get on fast with their raft," said Paul, while he both worked
himself and directed the labour of the others, "though we shall be safe
here until they actually quit the rocks. Their spars will be certain to
float down upon the ship; but the movement will necessarily be slow, as
the water is too deep to admit of setting, even if they had poles, of
which I see none. Throw these spare sails on the roof of the launch,
Saunders. They may be wanted before we reach a port, should God protect us
long enough to effect so much. Pass two compasses also into the boat, with
all the carpenter's tools that have been collected."
While giving these orders, Paul was busied in sawing off the larger end of
the pole-mizzen-top-gallant-mast, to convert it into a spar for the
launch. This was done by the time he ceased speaking; a step was made,
and, jumping down on the roof of the boat, he cut out a hole to receive
it, at a spot he had previously marked for that purpose. By the time he
had done, the spar was ready to be entered, and in another minute they had
the satisfaction of seeing a very sufficient mast in its place. A royal
was also stretched to its yard, and halyards, tack and sheet, being bent,
everything was ready to run up a sail at a moment's warning. As this
supplied the means of motion, the gentlemen began to breathe more freely,
and to bethink them of those minor comforts and essentials that in the
hurry of such a scene would be likely to be overlooked. After a few more
busy minutes, all was pronounced to be ready, and John Effingham began
seriously to urge the party to quit the ship; but Paul still hesitated. He
strained his eyes in the direction of the wreck, in the vain hope of yet
receiving succour from that quarter; but, of course, uselessly, as it was
about the time when Captain Truck was warping off with his raft, in order
to obtain an offing. Just at this moment a party of twenty Arabs got upon
the spars, which they had brought together into a single body, and began
to drift down slowly upon the ship.
Paul cast a look about him to see if anything else that was useful could
be found, and his eyes fell upon the gun. It struck him that it might be
made serviceable as a scarecrow in forcing their way through the inlet,
and he determined to lodge it on the roof of the launch, for the present,
at least, and to throw it overboard as soon as they got into rough water,
if indeed they should be so fortunate as to get outside of the reef at
all. The stay and yard tackles offered the necessary facilities, and he
instantly slung the piece. A few rounds of the capstan lifted it from the
deck, a few more bore it clear of the side, and then it was easily lowered
on the roof, Saunders being sent into the boat to set up a stanchion
beneath, in order that its weight might do no injury.
The gentlemen at last got into the launch, with the exception of Paul, who
still lingered in the ship watching the progress of the Arabs, and making
his calculations for the future.
It required great steadiness of nerve, perfect self-reliance, and an
entire confidence in his resources and knowledge, for one to remain a
passive spectator of the slow drift of the raft, while it gradually
settled down on the ship. As it approached, Paul was seen by those on it,
and, with the usual duplicity of barbarians, they made signs of amity and
encouragement. These signs did not deceive the young man, however, who
only remained to be a close observer of their conduct, thinking some
useful hint might thus be obtained, though his calmness so far imposed on
the Arabs that they even made signs to him to throw them a rope. Believing
it now time to depart, he answered the signal favourably, and disappeared
from their sight.
Even in descending to the boat, this trained and cool young seaman
betrayed no haste. His movements were quick, and everything was done with
readiness and knowledge certainly, but no confusion or trepidation
occasioned the loss of a moment. He hoisted the sail, brought down the
tack, and then descended beneath the roof, having first hauled in the
painter, and given the boat a long and vigorous shove, to force it from
the side of the vessel. By this last expedient he at once placed thirty
feet of water between the boat and the Montauk, a space that the Arabs had
no means of overcoming. As soon as he was beneath the roof the sheet was
hauled in, and Paul seized the tiller; which had been made, by means of a
narrow cut in the boards, to play in one of the shutters. Mr. Sharp took a
position in the bows, where he could see the sands and channels through
the crevices, directing the other how to steer; and just as a shout
announced the arrival of the raft at the other side of the ship, the flap
of their sail gave those in the boat the welcome intelligence that they
had got so far from her cover as to feel the force of the wind.
Speed, gallant bark! richer cargo is thine,
Than Brazilian gem, or Peruvian mine;
And the treasures thou bearest thy destiny wait,
For they, if thou perish, must share in thy fate.
The departure of the boat was excellently timed. Had it left the side of
the ship while the Arabs on the raft were unoccupied, and at a little
distance, it would have been exposed to their fire; for at least a dozen
of those who boarded had muskets; whereas the boat now glided away to
leeward, while they were busy in getting up her side, or were so near the
ship as not to be able to see the launch at all. When Paul Powis, who was
looking astern through a crevice, saw the first Arab on the deck of the
Montauk, the launch was already near a cable's length from her, running
with a fresh and free wind into one of the numerous little channels that
intersected the naked banks of sand. The unusual construction of the boat,
with its enclosed roof, and the circumstance that no one was visible on
board her, had the effect to keep the barbarians passive, until distance
put her beyond the reach of danger. A few muskets were discharged, but
they were fired at random, and in the bravado of a semi-savage state
Paul kept the launch running off free, until he was near a mile from the
ship, when, finding he was approaching the reef to the northward and
eastward, and that a favourable sand-bank lay a short distance ahead, he
put down the helm, let the sheet fly, and the boat's forefoot shot upon
the sands. By a little management, the launch was got broadside to the
bank, the water being sufficiently deep, and, when it was secured, the
females were enabled to land through the opening of a shutter.
The change from the apparent hopelessness of their situation, was so
great, as to render the whole party comparatively happy. Paul and John
Effingham united in affirming it would be quite possible to reach one of
the islands to leeward in so good a boat, and that they ought to deem
themselves fortunate, under the circumstances, in being the masters of a
little bark so well found in every essential. Eve and Mademoiselle
Viefville, who had fervently returned their thanks to the Great Ruler of
events, while in the boat, walked about the hard sand with even a sense of
enjoyment, and smiles began again to brighten the beautiful features of
the first. Mr. Effingham declared, with a grateful heart, that in no park,
or garden, had he ever before met with a promenade that seemed so
delightful as this spot of naked and moistened sand, on the sterile coast
of the Great Desert. Its charm was its security, for its distance from
every point that could be approached by the Arabs, rendered it, in their
eyes, a paradise.
Paul Powis, however, though he maintained a cheerful air, and the
knowledge that he had been so instrumental in saving the party lightened
his heart of a load, and disposed him even to gaiety, was not without some
lingering remains of uneasiness. He remembered the boats of the Dane, and,
as he thought it more than probable Captain Truck had fallen into the
hands of the barbarians, he feared that the latter might yet find the
means to lay hands on themselves. While he was at work fitting the
rigging, and preparing a jigger, with a view to render the launch more
manageable, he cast frequent uneasy glances to the northward, with a
feverish apprehension that one of the so-long-wished-for boats might at
length appear. Their friends he no longer expected, but his fears were all
directed towards the premature arrival of enemies from that quarter. None
appeared, however, and Saunders actually lighted a fire on the bank, and
prepared the grateful refreshment of tea for the whole party; none of
which had tasted food since morning, though it was now drawing near night.
"Our caterers," said Paul, smiling, as he cast his eyes over the repast
which Ann Sidley had spread on the roof of the boat, where they were all
seated on stools, boxes, and trunks, "our caterers have been of the
gentler sex, as any one may see, for we have delicacies that are fitter
for a banquet than a desert."
"I thought Miss Eve would relish them, sir," Nanny meekly excused herself
by saying; "she is not much accustomed to a coarse diet; and mamerzelle,
too, likes niceties, as I believe is the case with all of French
Eve's eyes glistened, though she felt it necessary to say something by way
"Poor Ann has been so long accustomed to humour the caprices of a petted
girl," she said, "that I fear those who will have occasion for all their
strength may be the sufferers. I should regret it for ever, Mr. Powis, if
_you_, who are every way of so much importance to us, should not find the
food you required."
"I have very inadvertently and unwittingly drawn down upon myself the
suspicion of being one of Mr. Monday's _gourmets_, a plain roast and
boiled person," the young man answered laughingly, "when it was merely my
desire to express the pleasure I had in perceiving that those whose
comfort and ease are of more account than any thing else, have been so
well cared for. I could almost starve with satisfaction, Miss Effingham,
if I saw you free from suffering under the extraordinary circumstances in
which we are placed."
Eve looked grateful, and the emotion excited by this speech restored all
that beauty which had so lately been chilled by fear.
"Did I not hear a dialogue between you and Mr. Saunders touching the
merits of sundry stores that had been left in the ship?" asked John
Effingham, turning to Paul by way of relieving his cousin's distress.
"Indeed you might; he relieved the time we were rousing at the chains with
a beautiful Jeremiad on the calamities of the lockers. I fancy, steward,
that you consider the misfortunes of the pantry as the heaviest disaster
that has befallen the Montauk!"
Saunders seldom smiled. In this particular he resembled Captain Truck; the
one subduing all light emotions from an inveterate habit of serious
comicality, and the responsibility of command; and the other having lost
most of his disposition to merriment, as the cart-horse loses his
propensity to kick, from being overworked. The steward, moreover, had
taken up the conceit that it was indicative of a "nigger" to be merry;
and, between dignity, a proper regard to his colour--which was about
half-way between that of a Gold Coast importation, and a rice-plantation
overseer, down with the fever in his third season--and dodged submission
to unmitigated calls on his time, the prevailing character of the poor
fellow's physiognomy was that of a dolorous sentimentality He believed
himself to be materially refined by having had so much intimate
communication with gentlemen and ladies, suffering under sea-sickness, and
he knew that no man in the ship could use language like that he had always
at his finger's ends. While so strongly addicted to melancholy, therefore,
he was fond of hearing himself talk; and, palpably encouraged as he had
now been by John Effingham and Paul, and a little emboldened by the
familiarity of a shipwreck, he did not hesitate about mingling in the
discourse, though holding the Effinghams habitually in awe.
"I esteem it a great privilege, ladies and gentlemen," he observed, as
soon as Paul ceased, "to have the honour of being _wracked_ (for so the
steward, in conformity with the Doric of the forecastle, pronounced the
word,) in such company. I should deem it a disgrace to be cast away in
some society I could name, although I will predicate, as we say in
America, nothing on their absence. As to what inwolves the stores, it
surgested itself to me that the ladies would like delicate diet, and I
intermated as much to Mrs. Sidley and t'other French waiting-woman. Do you
imagine, gentlemen, that the souls of the dead are permitted to look back
at such ewents of this life as touches their own private concerns and
"That would depend, I should think, steward, on the nature of the
employment of the souls themselves," returned John Effingham. "There must
be certain souls to which any occupation would be more agreeable than that
of looking behind them. But, may I ask why you inquire?"
"Because, Mr. John Effingham, sir, I do not believe Captain Truck can ever
be happy in heaven, as long as the ship is in the hands of the Arabs! If
she had been honourably and fairly wracked, and the captain suffercated by
drowning, he could go to sleep like another Christian; but, I do think,
sir, if there be any special perdition for seamen, it must be to see their
vessel rummaged by Arabs. I'll warrant, now, those blackguards have had
their fingers in everything already; sugar, chocolate, raisins, coffee,
cakes, and all! I wonder who they think would like to use articles they
have handled! And there is poor Toast, gentlemen, an aspiring and
improving young man; one who had the materials of a good steward in him,
though I can hardly say they were completely deweloped. I did look forward
to the day when I could consign him to Mr. Leach as my own predecessor,
when Captain Truck and I should retire, as I have no doubt we should have
done on the same day, but for this distressing accident. I dewoutly pray
that Toast is deceased, for I would rather any misfortune should befall
him in the other world than that he should be compelled to associate with
Arab niggers in this. Dead or alive, ladies, I am an advocate for a man's
keeping himself respectable, and in proper company."
So elastic had the spirits of the whole become by their unlooked-for
escape, that Saunders was indulged to the top of his humour, and while he
served the meal, passing between his fire on the sands and the roof of the
launch, he enjoyed a heartier gossip than any he had had since they left
the dock; not even excepting those sniggering scenes with Mr. Toast in the
pantry, in which he used to unbend himself a little, forgetting his
dignity as steward in the native propensities of the black.
Paul Powis entered but a moment into the trifling, for on him rested the
safety of all. He alone could navigate, or even manage the boat in rough
water; and, while the others confided so implicitly in his steadiness and
skill, he felt the usual burden of responsibility. When the supper was
ended, and the party were walking up and down the little islet of sand, he
took his station on the roof therefore, and examined the proceedings of
the Arabs with the glass; Mr. Sharp, with a species of chivalrous
self-denial that was not lost on his companion, foregoing the happiness of
walking at the side of Eve, to remain near him.
"The wretches have laid waste the cabins already!" observed Mr. Sharp,
when Paul had been looking at the ship some little time. "That which it
took months to produce they will destroy in an hour."
"I do not see that," returned Paul; "there are but about fifty in the
ship, and their efforts seem to be directed to hauling her over against
the rocks. They have no means of landing their plunder where she lies; and
I suspect there is a sort of convention that all are to start fair. One or
two, who appear to be chiefs, go in and out of the cabins; but the rest
are actively engaged in endeavouring to move the ship."
"And with what success?"
"None, apparently. It exceeds their knowledge of mechanics to force so
heavy a mass from its position. The wind has driven the ship firmly on the
bank, and nothing short of the windlass, or capstan, can remove her. These
ignorant creatures have got two or three small ropes between the vessel
and the reef, and are pulling fruitlessly at both ends! But _our_ chief
concern will be to find an outlet into the ocean, when we will make the
best of our way towards the Cape de Verds."
Paul now commenced a long and close examination of the reef, to ascertain
by what openings he might get the launch on the outside. To the northward
of the great inlet there was a continued line of rocks, on which he was
sorry to perceive armed Arabs beginning to show themselves; a sign that
the barbarians still entertained the hope of capturing the party.
Southward of the inlet there were many places in which a boat might pass
at half-tide, and he trusted to getting through one of them as soon as it
became dark. As the escape in the boat could not have been foreseen, the
Arabs had not yet brought down upon them the boats of the wreck; but
should morning dawn and find them still within the reef, he saw no hope of
final escape against boats that would posess the advantage of oars,
ignorant as the barbarians might be of their proper use.
Every thing was now ready. The interior of the launch was divided into two
apartments by counterpanes, trunks, and boxes; the females spreading their
mattresses in the forward room, and the males in the other. Some of those
profound interpreters of the law, who illustrate legislation by the
devices of trade, had shipped in the Montauk several hundred rude leaden
busts of Napoleon, with a view to save the distinction in duties between
the metal manufactured and the metal unmanufactured. Four or five of these
busts had been struck into the launch as ballast. They were now snugly
stowed, together with the water, and all the heavier articles, in the
bottom of the boat. The jigger had been made and bent, and a suitable mast
was stepped by means of the roof. In short, every provision for comfort or
safety that Paul could think of had been attended to: and every thing was
in readiness to re-embark as soon as the proper hour should arrive.
The gentler portion of the party were seated on the edge of the roof,
watching the setting sun, and engaged in a discourse with feelings more
attempered to their actual condition than had been the case immediately
after their escape. The evening had a little of that wild and watery
aspect which, about the same hour, had given Captain Truck so much
concern, but the sun dipped gorgeously into the liquid world of the West,
and the whole scene, including the endless desert, the black reef, the
stranded ship, and the movements of the bustling Arabs, was one of
"Could we foretell the events of a month," said John Effingham, "with what
different feelings from the present would life be chequered! When we left
London, the twenty days since, our eyes and minds were filled with the
movements, cares, refinements, and interest of a great and polished
capital, and here we sit, houseless wanderers, gazing at an eventide on
the coast of Africa! In this way, young men, and young ladies too, will
you find, as life glides away that the future will disappoint the
expectations of the present moment!"
"All futures are not gloomy, cousin Jack," said Eve; "nor is all hope
doomed to meet with disappointment. A merciful God cares for us when we
are reduced to despair on our own account, and throws a ray of unexpected
light on our darkest hours. Certainly we, of all his creatures, ought not
to deny this!"
"I do not deny it. We have been rescued in a manner so simple as to seem
unavoidable, and yet so unexpected as to be almost miraculous. Had not Mr.
Blunt, or Mr. Powis, as you call him--although I am not in the secret of
the masquerade--but, had not this gentleman been a seaman, it would have
surpassed all our means to get this boat into the water, or even to use
her properly were she even launched. I look upon his profession as being
the first great providential interference, or provision, in our behalf;
and his superior skill and readiness in that profession as a circumstance
of no less importance to us."
Eve was silent; but the glow in the western sky was scarcely more radiant
and bright than the look she cast on the subject of the remark.
"It is no great merit to be a seaman, for the trade is like another, a
mere matter of practice and education," observed Paul, after a moment of
awkward hesitation. "If, as you say, I have been instrumental in serving
you, I shall never regret the accidents--cruel accidents of my early life
I had almost called them--that cast my fortunes so early on the ocean."
A falling pin would have been heard, and all hoped the young man would
proceed; but he chose to be silent. Saunders happened to overhear the
remark, for he was aiding Ann Sidley in the boat, and he took up the
subject where it was left by the other, in a little aside with his
"It is a misfortune that Mr. Dodge is not here to question the gentleman,"
said the steward to his assistant, "and then we might hear more of his
adwentures, which, I make no doubt, have been werry pathetic and
romantical. Mr. Dodge is a genuine inquisitor, Mistress Ann; not such an
inquisitor as burns people and flays them in Spain, where I have been, but
such an inquisitor as torments people, and of whom we have lots
"Let the poor man rest in peace," said Nanny, sighing. "He's gone to his
great account, steward; and I fear we shall none of us make as good a
figure as we might at the final settling. Besides Miss Eve, I never knew a
mortal that wasn't more or less a sinner."
"So they all say; and I must allow that my experience leans to the wicked
side of the question. Captain Truck, now, was a worthy man; but he had his
faults, as well as Toast. In the first place he would swear when things
took him aback; and then, he had no prewarication about speaking his mind
of a fellow-creature, if the coffee happened to be thick, or the poultry
didn't take fat kindly. I've known him box the compass with oaths if the
ship was got in irons."
"It's very sinful; and it is to be feared that the poor man was made to
think of all this in his latter moments."
"If the Arabs undertook to cannibalize him, I think he must have given it
to them right and left," continued Saunders, wiping an eye, for between
him and the captain there had existed some such affection as the prisoner
comes to feel for the handcuffs with which he amuses his _ennui_, "some of
his oaths would choke a dog."
"Well, let him rest--let him rest. Providence is kind, and the poor man
may have repented in season."
"And Toast, too! I'm sure, Mrs. Ann, I forgive Toast all the little
mistakes he made, from the bottom of my heart, and particularly that
affair of the beefsteak that he let fall into the coffee the morning that
Captain Truck took me so flat aback about it; and I pray most dewoutly
that the captain, now he has dropped this mortal coil, and that there is
nothing left of him but soul, may not find it out, lest it should breed
ill-blood between them in heaven."
"Steward, you scarcely know what you say," interrupted Ann, shocked at his
ignorance, "and I will speak of it no more."
Mr. Saunders was compelled to acquiesce, and he amused himself by
listening to what was said by those on the roof. As Paul did not choose to
explain farther, however, the conversation was resumed as if he had said
nothing. They talked of their escape, their hopes, and of the supposed
fate of the rest of the party; the discourse leaving a feeling of sadness
on all, that harmonized with the melancholy, but not unpicturesque, scene
in which they were placed. At length the night set in; and as it
threatened to be dark and damp, the ladies early made their arrangements
to retire. The gentlemen remained on the sands much later; and it was ten
o clock before Paul Powis and Mr. Sharp, who had assumed the watch, were
This was about an hour later than the period already described as the
moment when Captain Truck disposed himself to sleep in the launch of the
Dane. The weather had sensibly altered in the brief interval, and there
were signs that, to the understanding of our young seaman, denoted a
change. The darkness was intense. So, deep and pitchy black, indeed, had
the night become, that even the land was no longer to be distinguished,
and the only clues the two gentlemen had to its position were the
mouldering watch-fires of the Arab camp, and the direction of the wind.
"We will now make an attempt," said Paul, stopping in his short walk on
the sand, and examining the murky vault over head. "Midnight is near; and
by two o'clock the tide will be entirely up. It is a dark night to thread
these narrow channels in, and to go out upon the ocean, too, in so frail a
bark! But the alternative is worse."
"Would it not be better to allow the water to rise still higher? I see by
these sands that it has not yet done coming in."
"There is not much tide in these low latitudes, and the little rise that
is left may help us off a bank, should we strike one. If you will get upon
the roof, I will bring in the grapnels and force the boat off."
Mr. Sharp complied, and in a few minutes the launch was floating slowly
away from the hospitable bank of sand. Paul hauled out the jigger, a small
sprit-sail, that kept itself close-hauled from being fastened to a
stationary boom, and a little mast stepped quite aft, the effect of which
was to press the boat against the wind. This brought the launch's head up,
and it was just possible to see, by close attention, that they had a
slight motion through the water.
"I quit that bank of sand as one quits a tried friend," said Paul, all the
conversation now being in little more than whispers: "when near it, I know
where we are; but presently we shall be absolutely lost in this intense
"We have the fires of the Arabs for lighthouses still."
"They may give us some faint notions of our position but light like that
is a very treacherous guide in so dark a night. We have little else to do
but to keep an eye on the water, and to endeavour to get to windward."
Paul set the lug-sail, into which he had converted the royal, and seated
himself directly in the eyes of the boat, with a leg hanging down on each
side of the cutwater. He had rigged lines to the tiller, and with one in
each hand he steered, as if managing a boat with yoke-lines. Mr. Sharp was
seated at hand, holding the sheet of the mainsail; a boat-hook and a light
spar lying on the roof near by, in readiness to be used should
While on the bank, Paul had observed that, by keeping the boat near the
wind, he might stretch through one of the widest of the channels for near
two miles unless disturbed by currents, and that, when at its southern
end, he should be far enough to windward to fetch the inlet, but for the
banks of sand that might lie in his way. The distance had prevented his
discerning any passage through the reef at the farther end of this
channel; but, the boat drawing only two feet of water, he was not without
hopes of being able to find one. A chasm, that was deep enough to prevent
the passage of the Arabs when the tide was in, would, he thought,
certainly suffice for their purpose. The progress of the boat was steady,
and reasonably fast; but it was like moving in a mass of obscurity. The
gentleman watched the water ahead intently, with a view to avoid the
banks, but with little success; for, as they advanced, it was merely one
pile of gloom succeeding another. Fortunately the previous observation of
Paul availed them, and for more than half an hour their progress was
"They sleep in security beneath us," said Paul, "while we are steering
almost at random. This is a strange and hazardous situation in which we
are placed. The obscurity renders all the risks double."
"By the watch-fires, we must have nearly crossed the bay, and I should
think we are now quite near the southern reef."
"I think the same; but I like not this baffling of the wind. It comes
fresher at moments, but it is in puffs, and fear there will be a shift It
is now my best pilot."
"That and the fires."
"The fires are treacherous always. It looks darker than ever ahead!"
The wind ceased blowing altogether, and the sail fell in heavily. Almost
at the same moment the launch lost its way, and Paul had time to thrust
the boot-hook forward just in season to prevent its striking a rock.
"This is a part of the reef, then, that is never covered," said he. "If
you will get on the rocks and hold the boat, I will endeavour to examine
the place for a passage. Were we one hundred feet to the southward and
westward, we should be in the open ocean, and comparatively safe."
Mr. Sharp complied, and Paul descended carefully on the reef, feeling his
way in the intense darkness by means of the boat-hook. He was absent ten
minutes, moving with great caution, as there was the danger of his falling
into the sea at every step. His friend began to be uneasy, and the whole
of the jeopardy of their situation presented itself vividly to his mind in
that brief space of time, should accident befall their only guide. He was
looking anxiously in the direction in which Paul had disappeared, when he
felt a gripe of his arm.
"Breathe even with care!" whispered Paul hurriedly. "These rocks are
covered with Arabs, who have chosen to remain on the dry parts of the
reef, in readiness for their plunder in the morning. Thank Heaven! I have
found you again; for I was beginning to despair. To have called to you
would have been certain capture, as eight or ten of the barbarians are
sleeping within fifty feet of us. Get on the roof with the least possible
noise, and leave the rest to me."
As soon as Mr. Sharp was in the boat, Paul gave it a violent shove from
the rocks, and sprang on the roof at the same moment. This forced the
launch astern, and procured a momentary safety. But the wind had shifted.
It now came baffling, and in puffs, from the Desert, a circumstance that
brought them again to leeward.
"This is the commencement of the trades," said Paul, "they have been
interrupted by the late gale, but are returning. Were we outside the reef,
our prayers could not be more kindly answered than by giving us this very
wind but here, where we are, it comes unseasonably. Ha!--this, at least,
A puff from the land filled the sails, and the ripple of the water at the
stern was just audible. The helm was attended to, and the boat drew slowly
from the reef and ahead.
"We have all reason for gratitude! That danger, at least, is avoided. Ha!
the boat is aground!"
Sure enough the launch was on the sands. They were still so near the
rocks, as to require the utmost caution in their proceedings. Using the
spar with great care, the gentlemen discovered that the boat hung astern,
and there remained no choice but patience.
"It is fortunate the Arabs have no dogs with them on the rocks: you hear
them howling incessantly in their camps."
"It is, truly. Think you we can ever find the inlet in this deep
"It is our only course. By following the rocks we should be certain to
discover it; but you perceive they are already out of sight, though they
cannot be thirty fathoms from us. The helm is free, and the boat must be
clear of the bottom again. This last puff has helped us."
Another silence succeeded, during which the launch moved slowly onward,
though whither, neither of the gentlemen could tell. But a single fire
remained in sight, and that glimmered like a dying blaze. At times the
wind came hot and arid, savouring of the Desert, and then intervals of
death-like calm would follow. Paul watched the boat narrowly for half an
hour, turning every breath of air to the best account, though he was
absolutely ignorant of his position. The reef had not been seen again, and
three several times they grounded, the tide as often floating them off.
The course, too, had been repeatedly varied. The result was that painful
and profound sensation of helplessness that overcomes us all when the
chain of association is broken, and reason becomes an agent less useful
"The last fire is out," whispered Paul. "I fear that the day will dawn
and find us still within the reef."
"I see an object near us. Can it be a high bank?"
The wind had entirely ceased, and the boat was almost without motion. Paul
saw a darkness more intense even than common ahead of him, and he leaned
forward, naturally raising a hand before him in precaution. Something he
touched, he knew not what; but feeling a hard smooth surface, that he at
first mistook for a rock, he raised his eyes slowly, and discerned, by the
little light that lingered in the vault of heaven, a dim tracery that he
recognized. His hand was on the quarter of the ship!
"'Tis the Montauk!" he whispered breathlessly, "and her decks must be
covered with Arabs. Hist!--do you hear nothing?"
They listened, and smothered voices, those of the watch, mingled with low
laughter, were quite audible. This was a crisis to disturb the coolness of
one less trained and steady than Paul; but he preserved his
"There is good as well as evil in this," he whispered. "I now know our
precise position; and, God be praised! the inlet is near, could we but
reach it.--By a strong shove we can always force the launch from the
vessel's side, and prevent their boarding us; and I think, with extreme
caution, we may even haul the boat past the ship undetected."
This delicate task was undertaken. It was necessary to avoid even a tread
heavier than common, a fall of the boat-hook, or a collision with the
vessel, as the slightest noise became distinctly audible in the profound
stillness of deep night. Once enlightened as to his real position,
however, Paul saw with his mind's eye obstructions that another might not
have avoided. He knew exactly where to lay his hand, when to bear off, and
when to approach nearer to the side of the ship, as he warily drew the
boat along the massive hull.--The yard of the launch luckily leaned
towards the reef, and offered no impediment. In this manner, then, the two
gentlemen hauled their boat as far as the bows of the ship, and Paul was
on the point of giving a last push, with a view to shove it to as great a
distance possible ahead of the packet, when its movement was suddenly and
And when the hours of rest
Come, like a calm upon the mid-sea brine
Hushing its billowy breast--
The quiet of that moment, too, is thine;
It breathes of him who keeps
The vast and helpless city while it sleeps.
It was chilling to meet with this unexpected and sudden check at so
critical a moment. The first impression was, that some one of the hundreds
of Arabs, who were known to be near, had laid a hand on the launch; but
this fear vanished on examination. No one was visible, and the side of the
boat was untouched. The boat-hook could find no impediment in the water,
and it was not possible that they could again be aground. Raising the
boat-hook over his head, Paul soon detected the obstacle. The line used by
the barbarians in their efforts to move the ship was stretched from the
forecastle to the reef, and it lay against the boat's mast. It was severed
with caution; but the short end slipped from the hand of Mr. Sharp, who
cut the rope, and fell into the water. The noise was heard, and the watch
on the deck of the ship made a rush towards her side.
No time was to be lost; but Paul, who still held the outer end of the
line, pulled on it vigorously, hauling the boat swiftly from the ship,
and, at the same time, a little in advance. As soon as this was done, he
dropped the line and seized the tiller-ropes, in order to keep the
launch's head in a direction between the two dangers--the ship and the
reef. This was not done without some little noise; the footfall on the
roof, and the plash of the water when it received the line, were audible;
and even the element washing under the bows of the boat was heard. The
Arabs of the ship called to those on the reef, and the latter answered.
They took the alarm, and awoke their comrades, for, knowing as they did,
that the party of Captain Truck was still at liberty, they apprehended
The clamour and uproar that succeeded were terrific. Muskets were
discharged at random, and the noises from the camp echoed the cries and
tumult from the vessel and the rocks. Those who had been sleeping in the
boat were rudely awaked, and Saunders joined in the cries through sheer
fright. But the two gentlemen on deck soon caused their companions to
understand their situation, and to observe a profound silence.
"They do not appear to see us," whispered Paul to Eve as he bent over, so
as to put his head at an open window; "and a return of the breeze may
still save us. There is a great alarm among them and no doubt they know we
are not distant; but so long as they cannot tell precisely where, we are
comparatively safe.--Their cries do us good service as landmarks, and you
may be certain I shall not approach the spots were they are heard. Pray
Heaven for a wind, dearest Miss Effingham, pray Heaven for a wind!"
Eve silently, but fervently did pray, while the young man gave all his
attention again to the boat.--As soon as they were clear of the lee of the
ship, the baffling puffs returned, and there were several minutes of a
steady little breeze, during which the boat sensibly moved away from the
noises of the ship. On the reef, however, the clamour still continued, and
the gentlemen were soon satisfied that the Arabs had stationed themselves
along the whole line of rocks, wherever the latter were bare at high
water, as was now nearly the case, to the northward as well as to the
southward of the opening.
"The tide is still entering by the inlet," said Paul, "and we have its
current to contend with. It is not strong, but a trifle is important at a
moment like this!"
"Would it not be possible to reach the bank inside of us, and to shove the
boat ahead by means of these light spars?" asked Mr. Sharp.
The suggestion was a good one; but Paul was afraid the noise in the water
might reach the Arabs, and expose the party to their fire, as the utmost
distance between the reef and the inner bank at that particular spot did
not exceed a hundred fathoms. At length another puff of air from the land
pressed upon their sails, and the water once more rippled beneath the
bows of the boat. Paul's heart beat hard, and as he managed the
tiller-lines, he strained his eyes uselessly in order to penetrate the
"Surely," he said to Mr. Sharp, who stood constantly at his elbow, "these
cries are directly ahead of us! We are steering for the Arabs!"
"We have got wrong in the dark then. Lose not a moment to keep the boat
away, for here to leeward there are noises."
As all this was self-evident, though confused in his reckoning, Paul put
up the helm, and the boat fell off nearly dead before the wind. Her motion
being now comparatively rapid, a few minutes produced an obvious change in
the direction of the different groups of clamorous Arabs, though they also
brought a material lessening in the force of the air.
"I have it!" said Paul, grasping his companion almost convulsively by the
arm. "We are at the inlet, and heading, I trust, directly through it! You
hear the cries on our right; they come from the end of the northern reef,
while these on our left are from the end of the southern. The sounds from
the ship, the direction of the land breeze, our distance--all confirm it,
and Providence again befriends us!"
"It will be a fearful error should we be mistaken!"
"We cannot be deceived, since nothing else will explain the circumstances.
There!--the boat feels the ground-swell--a blessed and certain sign that
we are at the inlet! Would that this tide were done, or that we had
Fifteen feverish minutes succeeded. At moments the puffs of night-air
would force the boat ahead, and then again it was evident by the cries
that she fell astern under the influence of an adverse current. Neither
was it easy to keep her on the true course, for the slightest variation
from the direct line in a tide's way causes a vessel to sheer. To remedy
the latter danger, Paul was obliged to watch his helm closely, having no
other guide than the noisy and continued vociferations of the Arabs.
"These liftings of the boat are full of hope," resumed Paul; "I think,
too, that they increase."
"I perceive but little difference, though I would gladly see all you
"I am certain the swell increases, and that the boat rises and falls more
frequently. You will allow there is a swell?"
"Quite obviously: I perceived it before we kept the boat away. This
variable air is cruelly tantalizing!"
"Sir George Templemore--Mr. Powis," said a soft voice at a window beneath
"Miss Effingham!" said Paul, so eager that he suffered the tiller-line to
"These are frightful cries!--Shall we never be rid of them!"
"If it depended on me--on either of us--they should distress you no more.
The boat is slowly entering the inlet, but has to struggle with a
head-tide. The wind baffles, and is light, or in ten minutes we should be
out of danger."
"Out of this danger, but only to encounter another!"
"Nay, I do not think much of the risk of the ocean in so stout a boat. At
the most, we may be compelled to cut away the roof, which makes our little
bark somewhat clumsy in appearance, though it adds infinitely to its
comfort. I think we shall soon get the trades, before which our launch,
with its house even, will be able to make good weather."
"We are certainly nearer those cries than before!"
Paul felt his cheek glow, and his hand hurriedly sought the tiller-line,
for the boat had sensibly sheered towards the northern reef. A puff of air
helped to repair his oversight, and all in the launch soon perceived that
the cries were gradually but distinctly drawing more aft.
"The current lessens," said Paul, "and it is full time; for it must be
near high water. We shall soon feel it in our favour, when all will
"This is indeed blessed tidings! and no gratitude can ever repay the debt
we owe you, Mr. Powis!"
The puffs of air now required all the attention of Paul, for they again
became variable, and at last the wind drew directly ahead in a continued
current for half an hour. As soon as this change was felt, the sails were
trimmed to it, and the boat began to stir the water under her bows.
"The shift was so sudden, that we cannot be mistaken in its direction,"
Paul remarked; "besides, those cries still serve as pilots. Never was
uproar more agreeable."
"I feel the bottom with this spar!" said Mr. Sharp suddenly.
"Merciful Providence protect and shield the weak and lovely----"
"Nay, I feel it no longer: we are already in deeper water."
"It was the rock on which the seamen stood when we entered!" Paul
exclaimed, breathing more freely. "I like those voices settling more under
our lee, too. We will keep this tack" (the boat's head was to the
northward) "until we hit the reef, unless warned off again by the cries."
The boat now moved at the rate of five miles in the hour, or faster than a
man walks, even when in quick motion. Its rising and falling denoted the
long heavy swell of the ocean, and the wash of water began to be more and
more audible, as she settled into the sluggish swells.
"That sounds like the surf on the reef," continued Paul; "every thing
denotes the outside of the rocks."
"God send it prove so!"
"That is clearly a sea breaking on a rock! It is awkwardly near, and to
leeward, and yet it is sweet to the ear as music."
The boat stood steadily on, making narrow escapes from jutting rocks, as
was evinced by the sounds, and once or twice by the sight even; but the
cries shifted gradually, and were soon quite astern. Paul knew that the
reef trended east soon after passing the inlet, and he felt the hope that
they were fast leaving its western extremity, or the part that ran the
farthest into the ocean; after effecting which, there would be more water
to leeward, his own course being nearly north, as he supposed.
The cries drew still farther aft, and more distant, and the sullen wash of
the surf was no longer so near as to seem fresh and tangible.
"Hand me the lead and line, that lie at the foot of the mast, it you
please," said Paul. "Our water seems sensibly to deepen, and the seas have
become more regular."
He hove a cast, and found six fathoms of water; a proof, he thought, that
they were quite clear of the reef.
"Now, dear Mr. Effingham, Miss Effingham, Mademoiselle," he cried
cheerfully, "now I believe we may indeed deem ourselves beyond the reach
of the Arabs, unless a gale force us again on their inhospitable shores."
"Is it permitted to speak?" asked Mr. Effingham, who had maintained a
steady but almost breathless silence.
"Freely: we are quite beyond the reach of the voice; and this wind, though
blowing from a quarter I do not like, is carrying us away from the
It was not safe in the darkness, and under the occasional heaves of the
boat, for the others to come on the roof; but they opened the shutters,
and looked out upon the gloomy water with a sense of security they could
not have deemed possible for people in their situation. The worst was over
for the moment, and there is a relief in present escape that temporarily
conceals future dangers. They could converse without the fear of alarming
their enemies, and Paul spoke encouragingly of their prospects. It was his
intention to stand to the northward until he reached the wreck, when,
failing to get any tidings of their friends, they might make the best of
their way to the nearest island to leeward.
With this cheering news the party below again disposed themselves to
sleep, while the two young men maintained their posts on the roof.
"We must resemble an ark," said Paul laughing, as he seated himself on a
box near the stem of the boat, "and I should think would frighten the
Arabs from an attack, had they even the opportunity to make one. This
house we carry will prove a troublesome companion, should we encounter a
heavy and a head sea."
"You say it may easily be gotten rid of."
"Nothing would be easier, the whole apparatus being made to ship and
unship. _Before_ the wind we might carry it a long time, and it would even
help us along; but _on_ a wind it makes us a little top-heavy, besides
giving us a leeward set. In the event of rain, or of bad weather of any
sort, it would be a treasure to us all, more especially to the females,
and I think we had better keep it as long as possible."
The half hour of breeze already mentioned sufficed to carry the boat some
distance to the northward, when it failed, and the puffs from the land
returned. Paul supposed they were quite two miles from the inlet, and,
trying the lead, he found ten fathoms of water, a proof that they had also
gradually receded from the shore. Still nothing but a dense darkness
surrounded them, though there could no longer be the smallest doubt of
their being in the open ocean.
For near an hour the light baffling air came in puffs, as before, during
which time the launch's head was kept, as near as the two gentlemen could
judge, to the northward, making but little progress; and then the breeze
drew gradually round into one quarter, and commenced blowing with a
steadiness that they had not experienced before that night. Paul suspected
this change, though he had no certain means of knowing it; for as soon as
the wind baffled, his course had got to be conjectural again. As the
breeze freshened, the speed of the boat necessarily augmented, though she
was kept always on a wind; and after half an hour's progress, the
gentlemen became once more uneasy as to the direction.
"It would be a cruel and awkward fate to hit the reef again," said Paul;
"and yet I cannot be sure that we are not running directly for it."
"We have compasses: let us strike a light and look into the matter."
"It were better had we done this more early, for a light might now prove
dangerous, should we really have altered the course in this intense
darkness. There is no remedy, however, and the risk must be taken. I will
first try the lead again."
A cast was made, and the result was two and a half fathoms of water.
"Put the helm down!" cried Paul, springing to the sheet: "lose not a
moment, but down with the helm!"
The boat did not work freely under her imperfect sail and with the roof
she carried, and a moment of painful anxiety succeeded. Paul managed,
however, to get a part of the sail aback, and he felt more secure.
"The boat has stern-way: shift the helm, Mr. Sharp."
This was done, the yard was dipped, and the two young men felt a relief
almost equal to that they had experienced on clearing the inlet, when they
found the launch again drawing ahead, obedient to her rudder.
"We are near something, reef or shore," said Paul, standing with the
lead-line in his hand, in readiness to heave. "I think it can hardly be
the first, as we hear no Arabs."
Waiting a few minutes, he hove the lead, and, to his infinite joy, got
three fathoms fairly.
"That is good news. We are hauling off the danger, whatever it may be," he
said, as he felt the mark: "and now for the compass."
Saunders was called, a light was struck, and the compasses were both
examined. These faithful but mysterious guides, which have so long served
man while they have baffled all his ingenuity to discover the sources of
their power, were, as usual, true to their governing principle. The boat
was heading north-north-west; the wind was at north-east, and before they
tacked they had doubtless been standing directly for the beach, from which
they could not have been distant a half quarter of a mile, if so much. A
few more minutes would have carried them into the breakers, capsized the
boat, and most probably drowned all below the roof, if not those on it.
Paul shuddered as these facts forced themselves on his attention, and he
determined to stand on his present course for two hours, when daylight
would render his return towards the land without danger.
"This is the trade," he said, "and it will probably stand. We have a
current to contend with, as well as a head-wind; but I think we can
weather the cape by morning, when we can get a survey of the wreck by
means of the glass. If we discover nothing, I shall bear up at once for
the Cape de Verds."
The two gentlemen now took the helm in turns, he who slept fastening
himself to the mast, as a precaution against being rolled into the sea by
the motion of the boat. In fifteen fathoms water they tacked again, and
stood to the east-south-east, having made certain, by a fresh examination
of the compass, that the wind stood in the same quarter as before. The
moon rose soon after, and, although the morning was clouded and lowering,
there was then sufficient light to remove all danger from the darkness. At
length this long and anxious night terminated in the usual streak of day,
which gleamed across the desert.
Paul was at the helm, steering more by instinct than any thing else, and
occasionally nodding at his post; for two successive nights of watching
and a day of severe toil had overcome his sense of danger, and his care
for others. Strange fancies beset men at such moments; and his busy
imagination was running over some of the scenes of his early youth, when
either his sense or his wandering faculties made him hear the usual brief,
spirited hail of,
Paul opened his eyes, felt that the tiller was in his hand, and was about
to close the first again, when the words were more sternly repeated,
"Boat ahoy!--what craft's that? Answer, or expect a shot!"
This was plain English, and Paul was wide awake in an instant. Rubbing his
eyes, he saw a line of boats anchored directly on his weather bow, with a
raft of spars riding astern.
"Hurrah!" shouted the young man. "This is Heaven's own tidings! Are these
"Ay, ay. Who the devil are you?"
The truth is, Captain Truck did not recognize his own launch in the royal,
roof, and jigger. He had never before seen a boat afloat in such a guise;
and in the obscurity of the hour, and fresh awakened from a profound
sleep, like Paul, his faculties were a little confused. But the latter
soon comprehended the whole matter. He clapped his helm down, let fly the
sheet, and in a minute the launch of the packet was riding alongside of
the launch of the Dane. Heads were out of the shutters, and every boat
gave up its sleepers, for the cry was general throughout the
The party just arrived alone felt joy. They found those whom they had
believed dead, or captives, alive and free, whereas the others now learned
the extent of the misfortune that had befallen them. For a few minutes
this contrast in feeling produced an awkward meeting; but the truth soon
brought all down to the same sober level. Captain Truck received the
congratulations of his friends like one in a stupor; Toast looked amazed
as his friend Saunders shook his hand; and the gentlemen who had been to
the wreck met the cheerful greetings of those who had just escaped the
Arabs like men who fancied the others mad.
We pass over the explanations that followed, as every one will readily
understand them. Captain Truck listened to Paul like one in a trance, and
it was some time after the young man had done before he spoke. With a wish
to cheer him, he was told of the ample provision of stores that had been
brought off in the launch, of the trade winds that had now apparently set
in, and of the great probability of their all reaching the islands in
safety. Still the old man made no reply; he got on the roof of his own
launch, and paced backwards and forwards rapidly, heeding nothing. Even
Eve spoke to him unnoticed, and the consolations offered by her father
were not attended to. At length he stopped suddenly, and called for
"Here is a category for you!"
"Ay, ay, sir; it's bad enough in its way; still we are better off than the
"You tell me, sir," turning to Paul, "that these foul blackguards were
actually on the deck of the ship?"
"Certainly, Captain Truck. They took complete possession; for we had no
means of keeping them off."
"And the ship is ashore?"
"Beyond a question."
"I think not. There is no swell within the reef, and she lies on sand."
"We might have spared ourselves the trouble, Leach, of culling these
cursed spars, as if they had been so many toothpicks."
"That we might, sir; for they will not now serve as oven-wood, for want
of the oven."
"A damnable category, Mr. Effingham! I'm glad you are safe, sir; and you,
too, my dear young lady--God bless you!--God bless you!--It were better
the whole line should be in their power than one like you!"
The old seaman's eyes filled as he shook Eve by the hand, and for a moment
he forgot the ship.
"Let the people have their breakfasts, and bear a hand about it. We are
likely to have a busy morning, sir. Lift the kedge, too, and let us drift
down towards these gentry, and take a look at them. We have both wind and
current with us now, and shall make quick work of it."
The kedge was raised, the sails were all set, and, with the two launches
lashed together, the whole line of boats and spars began to set to the
southward at a rate that would bring them up with the inlet in about
"This is the course for the Cape de Verds, gentlemen," said the captain
bitterly. "We shall have to pass before our own door to go and ask
hospitality of strangers. But let the people get their breakfasts, Mr.
Leach; just let the boys have one comfortable meal before they take to
Eat himself, however, Mr. Truck would not. He chewed the end of a cigar,
and continued walking up and down the roof.
In half an hour the people had ended their meal, the day had fairly
opened, and the boats and raft had made good progress.
"Splice the main-brace, Mr. Leach," said the captain, "for we are a
littled jammed. And you, gentlemen, do me the favour to step this way for
a consultation. This much is due to your situation."
Captain Truck assembled his male passengers in the stern of the Dane's
launch, where he commenced the following address:
"Gentlemen," he said, "every thing in this world has its nature and its
principles. This truth I hold you all to be too well informed and well
educated to deny. The nature of a traveller is to travel, and see
curiosities; the nature of old men is to think on the past, of a young man
to hope for the future. The nature of a seaman is to stick by his ship,
and of a ship to be treated like a vessel, and not to be ransacked like a
town taken by storm, or a nunnery that is rifled,--You are but passengers,
and doubtless have your own wishes and occupations, as I have mine. Your
wishes are, beyond question, to be safe in New York among your friends;
and mine are to get the Montauk there too, in as little time and with as
little injury as possible. You have a good navigator among you; and I now
propose that you take the Montauk's launch, with such stores as are
necessary, and fill away at once for the islands, where, I pray God, you
may all arrive in safety, and that when you reach America you may find all
your relations in good health, and in no manner uneasy at this little
delay. Your effects shall be safely delivered to your respective orders,
should it please God to put it in the power of the line to honour
"You intend to attempt recapturing the ship!" exclaimed Paul,
"I do, sir," returned Mr. Truck, who, having thus far opened his mind, for
the first time that morning gave a vigorous hem! and set about lighting a
cigar.--"We may do it, gentlemen, or we may not do it. If we do it, you
will hear farther from me; if we fail, why, tell them at home that we
carried sail as long as a stitch would draw."
The gentlemen looked at each other, the young waiting in respect for the
counsel of the old, the old hesitating in deference to the pride and
feelings of the young.
"We must join you in this enterprise, captain," said Mr. Sharp quietly,
but with the manner of a man of spirit and nerve.
"Certainly, certainly," cried Mr. Monday; "we ought to make a common
affair of it; as I dare say Sir George Templemore will agree with me in
maintaining; the nobility and gentry are not often backward when their
persons are to be risked."
The spurious baronet acquiesced in the proposal as readily as it had been
made by him whom he had temporarily deposed; for, though a weak and a
vain young man, he was far from being a dastard.
"This is a serious business," observed Paul, "and it ought to be ordered
with method and intelligence. If we have a ship to care for, we have those
also who are infinitely more precious."
"Very true, Mr. Blunt, very true," interrupted Mr. Dodge, a little
eagerly. "It is my maxim to let well alone; and I am certain shipwrecked
people can hardly be better off and more comfortable than we are at this
very moment. I dare say these gallant sailors, if the question was fairly
put to them, would give it by a handsome majority in favour of things as
they are. I am a conservative, captain--and I think an appeal ought to be
made to the ballot-boxes before we decide on a measure of so much
The occasion was too grave for the ordinary pleasantry, and this singular
proposition was heard in silence, to Mr. Dodge's great disgust.
"I think it the duty of Captain Truck to endeavour to retake his vessel,"
continued Paul; "but the affair will be serious, and success is far from
certain. The Montauk's launch ought to be left at a safe distance with all
the females, and in prudent keeping; for any disaster to the boarding
party would probably throw the rest of the boats into the hands of the
barbarians, and endanger the safety of those left in the launch.--Mr.
Effingham and Mr. John Effingham will of course remain with the ladies."
The father assented with the simplicity of one who did not distrust his
own motives, but the eagle-shaped features of his kinsman curled with a
cool and sarcastic smile.
"Will _you_ remain in the launch?" the latter asked pointedly, turning
"Certainly it would be greatly out of character were to think of it. My
trade is war; and I trust that Captain Truck means to honour me with the
command of one of the boats."
"I thought as much, by Jove!" exclaimed the captain, seizing a hand which
he shook with the utmost cordiality. 'I should as soon expect to see the
sheet-anchor wink, or the best-bower give a mournful smile, as to see you
duck.' Still, gentlemen, I am well aware of the difference in our
situations. I ask no man to forget his duties to those on shore on my
account; and I fancy that my regular people, aided by Mr. Blunt, who can
really serve me by his knowledge, will be as likely to do all that can be
done as all of us united. It is not numbers that carry ships as much as
spirit, promptitude, and resolution."
"But the question has not yet been put to the people," said Mr. Dodge, who
was a little mystified by the word last used, which he had yet to learn
was strictly technical as applied to a vessel's crew.
"It shall, sir," returned Captain Truck, "and I beg you to note the
majority. My lads," he continued, rising on a thwart, and speaking aloud,
"you know the history of the ship. As to the Arabs, now they have got her,
they do not know how to sail her, and it is no more than a kindness to
take her out of their hands. For this business I want volunteers; those
who are for the reef, and an attack, will rise up and cheer; while they
who like an offing have only to sit still and stay where they are."
The words were no sooner spoken than Mr. Leach jumped up on the gunwale
and waved his hat. The people rose as one man, and taking the signal from
the mate, they gave three as hearty cheers as ever rung over the bottle.
"Dead against you, sir!" observed the captain, nodding to the editor; "and
I hope you are now satisfied."
"The ballot might have given it the other way," muttered Mr. Dodge; "there
can be no freedom of election without the ballot."
No one, however, thought any longer of Mr. Dodge or his scruples; but the
whole disposition for the attack was made with promptitude and caution. It
was decided that Mr. Effingham and his own servant should remain in the
launch; while the captain compelled his two mates to draw lots which of
them should stay behind also, a navigator being indispensable. The chance
fell on the second mate, who submitted to his luck with an ill grace.
A bust of Napoleon was cut up, and the pieces of lead were beaten as
nearly round as possible, so as to form a dozen leaden balls, and a
quantity of slugs, or langrage. The latter were put in canvas bags; while
the keg of powder was opened, a flannel shirt or two were torn, and cart
ridges were filled. Ammunition was also distributed to the people, and Mr.
Sharp examined their arms. The gun was got off the roof of the Montauk's
launch, and placed on a grating forward in that of the Dane. The sails and
rigging were cleared out of the boat and secured on the raft when she was
properly manned, and the command of her was given to Paul.
The three other boats received their crews, with John Effingham at the
head of one, the captain and his mate commanding the others. Mr. Dodge
felt compelled to volunteer to go in the launch of the Dane, where Paul
had now taken his station, though he did it with a reluctance that escaped
the observation of no one who took the pains to observe him. Mr, Sharp and
Mr. Monday were with the captain, and the false Sir George Templemore went
with Mr. Leach. These arrangements completed, the whole party waited
impatiently for the wind and current to set them down towards the reef,
the rocks of which by this time were plainly visible, even from the
thwarts of the several boats.
Hark! was it not the trumpet's voice I heard?
The soul of battle is awake within me.
The fate of ages and of empires hangs
On this dread hour.
The two launches were still sailing side by side, and Eve now appeared at
the open window next the seat of Paul. Her face was pale as when the scene
of the cabin occurred, and her lip trembled.
"I do not understand these warlike proceedings" she said, "but I trust,
Mr. Blunt, _we_ have no concern with the present movement."
"Put your mind at ease on this head, dearest Miss Effingham, for what we
now do we do in compliance with a general law of manhood. Were your
interests and the interests of those with you alone consulted, we might
come to a very different decision: but I think you are in safe hands
should our adventure prove unfortunate."
"Unfortunate! It is fearful to be so near a scene like this! I cannot ask
you to do any thing unworthy of yourself; but, all that we owe you impels
me to say, I trust you have too much wisdom, too much true courage, to
incur unnecessary risks."
The young man looked volumes of gratitude; but the presence of the others
kept its expression within due bounds.
"We old sea dogs," he answered, smiling, "are rather noted for taking care
of ourselves. They who are trained to a business like this usually set
about it too much in a business-like manner to hazard anything for
"And very wisely; Mr. Sharp, too,"--Eve's colour deepened with a
consciousness that Paul would have given worlds to understand--"he has a
claim on us we shall never forge. My father can say all this better
Mr. Effingham now expressed his thanks for all that had passed, and
earnestly enjoined prudence on the young men. After which Eve withdrew her
head, and was seen no more. Most of the next hour was passed in prayer by
those in the launch.
By this time the boats and rail were within half a mile of the inlet; and
Captain Truck ordered the kedge, which had been transferred to the launch
of the Montauk, to be let go. As soon as this was done, the old seaman
threw down his hat, and stood on a thwart in his grey hair.
"Gentlemen, you have your orders," he said with dignity; for from that
moment his manner rose with the occasion, and had something of the
grandeur of the warrior. "You see the enemy. The reef must first be
cleared, and then the ship shall be carried. God knows who will live to
see the end; but that end must be success, on the bones of John Truck
shall bleach on these sands! Our cry is 'The Montauk and our own!' which
is a principle Vattel will sustain us in. Give way, men! a long pull, a
strong pull, and a pull altogether; each boat in its station!"
He waved his hand, and the oars fell into the water at the same instant.
The heavy launch was the last, for she had double-fasts to the other boat.
While loosening that forward the second mate deserted his post, stepping
nimbly on board the departing boat, and concealing himself behind the
foremost of the two lug-sails she carried. Almost at the same instant Mr.
Dodge reversed this manoeuvre by pretending to be left clinging to the
boat of the Montauk, in his zeal to shove off. As the sails were drawing;
hard, and the oars dashed the spray aside, it was too late to rectify
either of these mistakes, had it been desirable.
A few minutes of a stern calm succeeded, each boat keeping its place with
beautiful precision. The Arabs had left the northern reef with the light;
but, the tide being out, hundreds were strung along the southern range of
rocks, especially near the ship. The wind carried the launch ahead, as had
been intended, and she soon drew near the inlet.
"Take in the sails," said Mr. Blunt. "See your gun clear forward."
A fine, tall, straight, athletic young seaman stood near the grating, with
a heated iron lying in a vessel of live coals before him, in lieu of a
loggerhead, the fire being covered with a tarpaulin. As Paul spoke, this
young mariner turned towards him with the peculiar grace of a
man-of-war's-man, and touched his hat.
"Ay, ay, sir. All ready, Mr. Powis."
Paul started, while the other smiled proudly, like one who knew more than
"We have met before," said the first.
"That have we sir, and in boat-duty, too. You were the first on board the
pirate on the coast of Cuba, and I was second."
A look of recognition and a wave of the hand passed between them, the men
cheering involuntarily. It was too late for more, the launch being fairly
in the inlet, where she received a general but harmless fire from the
Arabs. An order had been given to fire the first shot over the heads of
the barbarians; but this assault changed the plan.
"Depress the piece, Brooks," said Paul, "and throw in a bag of slugs."
"All ready, sir," was uttered in another minute.
"Hold water, men--the boat is steady--let them have it."
Men fell at that discharge; but how many was never known, as the bodies
were hurried off the reef by those who fled. A few concealed themselves
along the rocks, but most scampered towards the shore.
"Bravely done!" cried Captain Truck, as his boat swept past. "Now for the
The people cheered again, and dashed their oars into the water. To clear
the reef was nothing; but to carry the ship was a serious affair. She was
defended by four times the number of those in the boats, and there was no
retreat. The Arabs, as has already been seen, had suspended their labour
during the night, having fruitlessly endeavoured to haul the vessel over
to the reef before the tide rose. More by accident than by calculation,
they had made such arrangements by getting a line to the rocks as would
probably have set the ship off the sands, when she floated at high water;
but this line had been cut by Paul in passing, and the wind coming on
shore again, during the confusion and clamour of the barbarians, or at a
moment when they thought they were to be attacked, no attention was paid
to the circumstance, and the Montauk was suffered to drive up still higher
on the sands, where she effectually grounded at the very top of the tide.
As it was now dead low water, the ship had sewed materially, and was now
lying on her bilge partly sustained by the water, and partly by
During the short pause that succeeded, Saunders, who was seated in the
captain's boat as a small-arms-man, addressed his subordinate in a
"Now, Toast," he said, "you are about to contend in battle for the first
time; and I diwine, from experience, that the ewent gives you some
sentiments that are werry original. My adwice to you is, to shut both eyes
until the word is given to fire, and then to open them suddenly, as if
just awaking from sleep; after which you may present and pull the
trigger. Above all, Toast, take care not to kill any of our own friends,
most especially not Captain Truck, just at this werry moment."
"I shall do my endeavours, Mr. Saunders," muttered Toast, with the apathy
and submissive dependence on others with which the American black usually
goes into action. "If I do any harm, I hope it will be overlooked, on
account of my want of experience."
"Imitate me, Toast, in coolness and propriety, and you'll be certain not
to offend. I do not mean that you too are to kill the werry same
_Muscle_-men that I kill, but that when I kill one you are to kill
another. And be werry careful not to hurt Captain Truck, who'll be certain
to run right afore the muzzle of our guns, if he sees any thing to be
Toast growled an assent, and then there was no other noise in the boat
than that which was produced by the steady and vigorous falling of the
oars. An attempt had been made to lighten the vessel by unloading her, and
the bank of sand was already covered with bales and boxes, which had been
brought up from the hold by means of a stage, and by sheer animal force.
The raft had been extended in size, and brought round to the bank by the
stern of the vessel, with the intention to load it, and to transfer the
articles already landed to the rocks.
Such was the state of things about the Montauk when the boats came into
the channel that ran directly up to the bank. The launch led again, her
sails having been set as soon as the reef was swept, and she now made
another discharge on the deck of the ship, which, inclining towards the
gun, offered no shelter. The effect was to bring every Arab, in the
twinkling of an eye, down upon the bank.
"Hurrah!" shouted Captain Truck; "that grist has purified the old bark!
And now to see who is to own her! 'The thieves are out of the temple,' as
my good father would have said."
The four boats were in a line abreast, the launch under one sail only. A
good deal of confusion existed on the bank but the Arabs sought the cover
of the bales and boxes, and opened a sharp though irregular fire. Three
times, as they advanced, the second mate and that gallant-looking young
seaman called Brooks discharged the gun, and at each discharge the Arabs
were dislodged and driven to the raft. The cheers of the seamen became
animated, though they still plied the oars.
"Steadily, men," said Captain Truck, "and prepare to board."
At this moment the launch grounded, though still twenty yards from the
bank, the other boats passing her with loud cheers.
"We are all ready, sir," cried Brooks.
"Let 'em have it. Take in the sail, boys."
The gun was fired, and the tall young seaman sprang upon the grating and
cheered. As he looked backward, with a smile of triumph, Paul saw his eyes
roll. He leaped into the air, and fell at his length dead upon the water;
for such is the passage of a man in battle, from one state of existence
"Where do we hang?" asked Paul steadily; "forward or aft?"
It was forward, and deeper water lay ahead of them. The sail was set
again, and the people were called aft. The boat tipped, and shot ahead
towards the sands, like a courser released from a sudden pull.
All this time the others were not idle. Not a musket was fired from either
boat until the whole three struck the bank, almost, at the same instant,
though at as many different points. Then all leaped ashore, and threw in a
fire so close, that the boxes served as much for a cover to the assailants
as to the assailed. It was at this critical moment, when the seamen paused
to load, that Paul, just clear of the bottom, with his own hand applying
the loggerhead, swept the rear of the bank with a most opportune
"Yard-arm and yard-arm!" shouted Captain Truck. "Lay 'em aboard, boys, and
give 'em Jack's play!"
The whole party sprang forward, and from that moment all order ceased.
Fists, hand-spikes, of which many were on the bank, and the butts of
muskets, were freely used, and in a way that set the spears and weapons of
the Arabs at defiance. The Captain, Mr. Sharp, John Effingham, Mr.
Monday, the _soi-disant_ Sir George Templemore, and the chief mate, formed
a sort of Macedonian phalanx, which penetrated the centre of the
barbarians, and which kept close to the enemy, following up its advantages
with a spirit that admitted of no rallying. On their right and left
pressed the men, an athletic, hearty, well-fed gang. The superiority of
the Arabs was in their powers of endurance; for, trained to the whip-cord
rigidity of racers, force was less their peculiar merit than bottom. Had
they acted in concert, how ever, or had they been on their own desert,
mounted, and with room for their subtle evolutions, the result might have
been very different; but, unused to contend with an enemy who brought them
within reach of the arm, their tactics were deranged, and all their habits
violated. Still, their numbers were formidable, and it is probable that
the accident to the launch, after all, decided the matter. From the moment
the _mêlée_ began not a shot was fired, but the assailants pressed upon
the assailed, until a large body of the latter had collected near the
raft. This was just as the launch reached the shore, and Paul perceived
there was great danger that the tide might roll backward from sheer
necessity. The gun was loaded, and filled nearly to the muzzle with slugs.
He caused the men to raise it on their oars, and to carry it to a large
box, a little apart from the confusion of the fight. All this was done in
a moment, for three minutes had not yet passed since the captain landed.
Instead of firing, Paul called aloud to his friends to cease fighting.
Though chafing like a vexed lion, Captain Truck complied, surprise
effecting quite as much as obedience. The Arabs, hardest pressed upon,
profited by the pause to fall back on the main body of their friends, near
the raft. This was all Paul could ask, and he ordered the gun to be
pointed at the centre of the group, while he advanced himself towards the
enemy, making a sign of peace.
"Damn 'em, lay 'em aboard!" cried the captain: "no quarter to the
"I rather think we had better charge again," added Mr. Sharp, who was
thoroughly warmed with his late employment.
"Hold, gentlemen; you risk all needlessly. I will show these poor
wretches what they have to expect, and they will probably retire. We want
the ship, not their blood."
"Well, well," returned the impatient captain, "give 'em plenty of Vattel,
for we have 'em now in a category."
The men of the wilderness and of the desert seem to act as much by
instinct as by reason. An old sheik advanced, smiling, towards Paul, when
the latter was a few yards in advance of his friends, offering his hand
with as much cordiality as if they met merely to exchange courtesies. Paul
led him quietly to the gun, put his hand in, and drew out a bag of slugs,
replaced it, and pointed significantly at the dense crowd of exposed
Arabs, and at the heated iron that was ready to discharge the piece. At
all this the old Arab smiled, and seemed to express his admiration. He was
then showed the strong and well-armed party, all of whom by this time had
a musket or a pistol ready to use. Paul then signed to the raft and to the
reef, as much as to tell the other to withdraw his party.
The sheik exhibited great coolness and sagacity, and, unused to frays so
desperate, he signified his disposition to comply. Truces, Paul knew, were
common in the African combats, which are seldom bloody, and he hoped the
best from the manner of the sheik, who was now permitted to return to his
friends. A short conference succeeded among the Arabs, when several of
them smilingly waved their hands, and most of the party crowded on the
raft. Others advanced, and asked permission to bear away their wounded,
and the bodies of the dead, in both of which offices they were assisted by
the seamen, as far as was prudent; for it was all-important to be on the
guard against treachery.
In this extraordinary manner the combatants separated, the Arabs hauling
themselves over to the reef by a line, their old men smiling, and making
signs of amity, until they were fairly on the rocks. Here they remained
but a very few minutes, for the camels and dromedaries were seen trotting
off towards the Dane on the shore; a sign that the compact between the
different parties of the barbarians was dissolved, and that each man was
about to plunder on his own account. This movement produced great
agitation among the old sheiks-and their followers on the reef, and set
them in motion with great activity towards the land. So great was their
hurry, indeed, that the bodies of all the dead, and of several of the
wounded, were fairly abandoned on the rocks, at some distance from
The first step of the victors, as a matter of course, was to inquire into
their own loss. This was much less than would have otherwise been, on
account of their good conduct. Every man, without a solitary exception,
had ostensibly behaved well; one of the most infallible means of lessening
danger. Several of the party had received slight hurts, and divers bullets
had passed through hats and jackets. Mr. Sharp, alone, had two through the
former, besides one through his coat. Paul had blood drawn on an arm, and
Captain Truck, to use his own language, resembled "a horse in fly-time,"
his skin having been rased in no less than five places. But all these
trifling hurts and hair-breadth escapes counted for nothing, as no one was
seriously injured by them, or felt sufficient inconvenience even to report
The felicitations were warm and general; even the seamen asking leave to
shake their sturdy old commander by the hand. Paul and Mr. Sharp fairly
embraced, each expressing his sincere pleasure that the other had escaped
unharmed. The latter even shook hands cordially with his counterfeit, who
had acted with spirit from the first to the last. John Effingham alone
maintained the same cool indifference after the affair that he had shown
in it, when it was seen that he had played his part with singular coolness
and discretion, dropping two Arabs with his fowling-piece on landing, with
a sort of sportsman-like coolness with which he was in the habit of
dropping woodcocks at home.
"I fear Mr. Monday is seriously hurt," this gentleman said to the captain,
in the midst of his congratulations: "he sits aloof on the box yonder, and
"Mr. Monday! I hope not, with all my heart and soul He is a capital
_diplomate_, and a stout boarder. And Mr Dodge, too! I miss Mr. Dodge."
"Mr. Dodge must have remained behind to console the ladies," returned
Paul, "finding that your second mate had abandoned them, like a recreant
that he is."
The captain shook his disobedient mate by the hand a second time, and
swore he was a mutineer for violating his orders, and ended by declaring
that the day was not distant when he and Mr. Leach should command two as
good liners as ever sailed out of America.
"I'll have nothing to do with either of you as soon as we reach home," he
concluded. "There was Leach a foot or two ahead of me the whole time; and,
as for the second officer, I should be justified in logging him as having
run. Well, well; young men will be young men; and so would old men too,
Mr. John Effingham, if they knew how. But Mr. Monday does look doleful;
and I am afraid we shall be obliged to overhaul the medicine-chest
Mr. Monday, however, was beyond the aid of medicine. A ball had passed
through his shoulder-blade in landing, notwithstanding which he had
pressed into the _mêlée_, where, unable to parry it, a spear had been
thrust into his chest. The last wound appeared grave, and Captain Truck
immediately ordered the sufferer to be carried into the ship: John
Effingham, with a tenderness and humanity that were singularly in contrast
to his ordinary sarcastic manner, volunteering to take charge of him.
"We have need of all our forces," said Captain Truck, as Mr. Monday was
borne away; "and yet it is due to our friends in the launch to let them
know the result. Set the ensign, Leach; that will tell them our success,
though a verbal communication can alone acquaint them with the
"If," interrupted Paul, eagerly, "you will lend me the launch of the Dane,
Mr. Sharp and myself will beat her up to the raft, let our friends know
the result, and bring the spars down to the inlet. This will save the
necessity of any of the men's being absent. We claim the privilege, too,
as belonging properly to the party that is now absent."
"Gentlemen, take any privilege you please. You have stood by me like
heroes; and I owe you all more than the heel of a worthless old life will
ever permit me to pay."
The two young men did not wait for a second invitation but in five minutes
the boat was stretching through one of the channels that led landward; and
in five more it was laying out of the inlet with a steady breeze.
The instant Captain Truck retrod the deck of his ship was one of
uncontrollable feeling with the weather-beaten old seaman. The ship had
sewed too much to admit of walking with ease, and he sat down on the
coaming of the main hatch, and fairly wept like an infant. So high had his
feelings been wrought that this out-breaking was violent, and the men
wondered to see their grey-headed, stern, old commander, so completely
unmanned. He seemed at length ashamed of the weakness himself, for, rising
like a worried tiger, he began to issue his orders as sternly and promptly
as was his wont.
"What the devil are you gaping at, men!" he growled; "did you never see a
ship on her bilge before? God knows, and for that matter you all know,
there is enough to do, that you stand like so many marines, with their
'eyes right!' and 'pipe-clay.'"
"Take it more kindly, Captain Truck," returned an old sea-dog, thrusting
out a hand that was all knobs, a fellow whose tobacco had not been
displaced even by the fray; "take it kindly, and look upon all these boxes
and bales as so much cargo that is to be struck in, in dock. We'll soon
stow it, and, barring a few slugs, and one four-pounder, that has cut up a
crate of crockery as if it had been a cat in a cupboard, no great harm is
done. I look upon this matter as no more than a sudden squall, that has
compelled us to bear up for a little while, but which will answer for a
winch to spin yarns on all the rest of our days. I have fit the French,
and the English, and the Turks, in my time; and now I can say I have had a
brush with the niggers."
"D--n me, but you are right, old Tom! and I'll make no more account of
the matter. Mr. Leach, give the people a little encouragement. There is
enough left in the jug that you'll find in the stern-sheets of the
pinnace; and then turn-to, and strike in all this dunnage, that the Arabs
have been scattering on the sands. We'll stow it when we get the ship into
an easier bed than the one in which she is now lying."
This was the signal for commencing work; and these straight-forward tars,
who had just been in the confusion and hazards of a fight, first took
their grog, and then commenced their labour in earnest. As they had only,
with their knowedge and readiness, to repair the damage done by the
ignorant and hurried Arabs, in a short time every thing was on board the
ship again, when their attention was directed to the situation of the
vessel itself. Not to anticipate events, however, we will now return to
the party in the launch.
The reader will readily imagine the feelings with which Mr. Effingham and
his party listened to the report of the first gun. As they all remained
below, they were ignorant who the individual really was that kept pacing
the roof over their heads, though it was believed to be the second mate,
agreeably to the arrangement made by Captain Truck.
"My eyes grow dim," said Mr. Effingham, who was looking through a glass;
"will you try to see what is passing, Eve?"
"Father, I cannot look," returned the pallid girl. "It is misery enough to
hear these frightful guns."
"It is awful!" said Nanny, folding her arms about her child, "and I wonder
that such gentlemen as Mr. John and Mr. Powis should go on an enterprise
"_Voulez-vous avoir la complaisance, monsieur_?" said Mademoiselle
Viefville, taking the glass from the unresisting hand of Mr. Effingham.
"_Ha! le combat commence en effet_!"
"Is it the Arabs who now fire?" demanded Eve, unable, in spite of terror,
to repress her interest.
"_Non, c'est cet admirable jeune homme, Monsieur Blunt, qui dévance tous
"And now, mademoiselle, _that_ must surely be the barbarians?"
"_Du tout. Les sauvages fuient. C'est encore du ba teau de Monsieur Blunt
qu'on tire. Quel beau courage! son bateau est toujours des premiers_!"
"That shout is frightful! Do they close?"
"_On crie des deux parts, je crois. Le vieux capitaine est en avant à
present, et Monsieur Blunt s'arrête_!"
"May Heaven avert the danger! Do you see the gentlemen at all,
"_La fumée est trop épaisse. Ah! les viola! On tire encore de son
"_Eh bien, mademoiselle_?" said Eve tremulously, after a long pause.
"_C'est déjà fini. Les Arabes se retirent et nos amis se sont emparés du
bâtiment. Cela a été l'affaire d'un moment, et que le combat a été
glorieux! Ces jeunes gens sont vraiment dignes d'être Français, et le
vieux capitaine, aussi_.'
"Are there no tidings for us, mademoiselle?" asked Eve, after another long
pause, during which she had poured out her gratitude in trembling, but
"_Non, pas encore. Ils se félicitent, je crois_."
"It's time, I'm sure, ma'am," said the meek-minded Ann, "to send forth the
dove, that it may find the olive branch. War and strife are too sinful to
be long indulged in."
"There is a boat making sail in this direction," said Mr. Effingham, who
had left the glass with the governess, in complaisance to her wish.
"_Oui, c'est le bateau de Monsieur Blunt_."
"And who is in it?" demanded the father, for the meed of a world could not
have enabled Eve to speak.
"_Je vois Monsieur Sharp--oui, c'est bien lui_."
"Is he alone?"
"_Non, il y en a deux--mais--oui--c'est Monsieur Blunt,--notre jeune
Eve bowed her face, and even while her soul melted in gratitude to God,
the feelings of her sex caused the tell-tale blood to suffuse her features
to the brightness of crimson.
Mr. Effingham now took the glass from the spirited Frenchwoman, whose
admiration of brilliant qualities had overcome her fears, and he gave a
more detailed and connected account of the situation of things near the
ship, as they presented themselves to a spectator at that distance.
Notwithstanding they already knew so much, it was a painful and feverish
half hour to those in the launch, the time that intervened between this
dialogue and the moment when the boat of the Dane came alongside of their
own. Every face was at the windows, and the young men were received like
deliverers, in whose safety all felt a deep concern.
"But, cousin Jack," said Eve, across whose speaking countenance
apprehension and joy cast their shadows and gleams like April clouds
driving athwart a brilliant sky, "my father has not been able to discover
his form among those who move about on the bank."
The gentlemen explained the misfortune of Mr. Monday, and related the
manner in which John Effingham had assumed the office of nurse. A few
delicious minutes passed; for nothing is more grateful than the happiness
that first succeeds a victory, and the young men proceeded to lift the
kedge, assisted by the servant of Mr. Effingham. The sails were set; and
in fifteen minutes the raft--the long-desired and much-coveted
raft--approached the inlet.
Paul steered the larger boat, and gave to Mr. Sharp directions how to
steer the other. The tide was flowing into the passage; and, by keeping
his weatherly position, the young man carried his long train of spars with
so much precision into its opening, that, favoured by the current, it was
drawn through without touching a rock, and brought in triumph to the very
margin of the bank. Here it was secured, the sails and cordage were
brought ashore, and the whole party landed.
The last twenty hours seemed like a dream to all the females, as they
again walked the solid sand in security and hope. They had now assembled
every material of safety, and all that remained was to get the ship off
the shore, and to rig her; Mr. Leach having already reported that she was
as tight as the day she left London.
Would I were in an ale-house in London!
I would give all my fame for a pot of ale and safety
Mademoiselle Viefville, with a decision and intelligence that rendered her
of great use in moments of need hastened to offer her services to the