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Miles Wallingford by James Fenimore Cooper

Part 6 out of 8

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Of course, we then knew no more than we could see; and we were not slow to
perceive how fast the pursuers were gaining on the pursued, I really began
to tremble for the result; and this so much the more, as the larger
cutter was near enough, by this time, to permit me to discover, by means
of the glass, the ends-of several muskets, rising out of her stern-sheets.
Could she get near enough for her officers to use these weapons, the
chance of our people was gone,--since it was not to be even hoped they
had any arms.

The end approached. The Dawn had got good way on her--Marble and Diogenes
having dragged down the main-top-gallant sheets, and hoisted the sail.
The water foamed under our bows; and the boat was soon so near, it became
indispensable to haul our wind. This we did with the ship's head to the
westward, without touching a brace, though we luffed sufficiently to throw
the wind out of all the square sails. The last was done to deaden the
vessel's way, in order that the fugitives might reach her.

The struggle became frightful for its intenseness! Our men were so near,
we could recognise them without the aid of a glass; with it, I could read
the glowing anxiety that was in my second-mate's countenance. Each
instant, the pursuers closed, until they were actually much nearer to the
pursued than the latter were to the Dawn. For the first time, now, I
suspected the truth, by the heavy movement of the flying cutter, and the
water that the second-mate was constantly bailing out of her, using his
hat. Marble brought up the muskets left by the privateersmen, and began to
renew their primings. He wished to fire at once on the pursuing boat--she
being within range of a bullet; but this I knew would not be legal. I
promised to use them should the English attempt to board the ship, but did
not dare to anticipate that movement.

Nearer and nearer came the boats, the chasing gaining always on the
chased; and now, the Black Prince and the Speedy each threw a shot quite
over us. We were about a mile from the three frigates--rather increasing
than lessening that distance, however, as they drifted to leeward, while
we were slightly luffing, with our yards a little braced up, the leeches
lifting. Neb steered the ship, as one would have guided a pilot-boat. He
had an eye for the boats, as well as for the sails--knew all that was
wanted, and all that to be done. I never saw him touch a wheel with so
delicate a hand, or one that better did its duty. The Dawn's way was so
much deadened as to give the fugitives every opportunity to close, while
she was steadily coming up abreast of their course, in readiness to
meet them.

At this instant, the officer in the Black Prince's cutter fired into that
of the Speedy; and one of our men suddenly dropped his oar. He was hit. I
thought the poor fellow's arm was broken, for I could see him lay a hand
on the injured part, like a man who suffered pain. He instantly changed
places with the second-mate, who, however, seized his oar, and began to
use it, with great power. Three more muskets were fired, seemingly without
doing any harm. But the leading boat lost by this delay, while its
pursuers held steadily on. Our own people were within a hundred and fifty
yards of us--the English less than twenty behind them. Why the latter did
not now fire, I do not actually know; but I suppose it to be, because
their muskets were all discharged, and the race was now too sharp to allow
their officer to re-load. Possibly he did not wish to take life
unnecessarily, the chances fast turning to his side.

I called out to Marble to stand by with a rope. The ship was slowly
drawing ahead, and there was no time to be lost. I then shouted to my
second-mate to be of good heart, and he answered with a cheer. The English
hurrahed, and we sent back the cry from the ship.

"Stand by in the boat, for the rope!" I cried--"Heave, Moses--Heave!"

Marble hove from the mizen chains, the rope was caught, and a motion of my
hand told Neb to keep the ship off, until everything drew. This was done,
and the rattling of the clew-garnet blocks announced that Diogenes was
hauling down the main-tack with the strength of a giant. The sail opened,
and Moses and I hauled in the sheet, until the ship felt the enormous
additional pressure of this broad breadth of canvass. At this instant
there was a cheer from the boat. Leaping upon the taffrail, I saw the men
erect, waving their hats, and looking toward the pursuing cutter, then
within a hundred feet of them, vainly attempting to come up with a boat
that was now dragging nearly bows under, and feeling all the strength of
our tow. The officer cheered his men to renewed exertion, and he began to
load a musket. At this moment the tow-line slipped from the thwart of the
boat, and we shot away, as it seemed to me, a hundred feet, on the send of
the very next sea. There was not time for the Americans to get seated at
their oars again, before the other cutter grappled. All that had been
gained was lost, and, after so near and close a chance of recovering the
most valuable portion of my crew, was I again left on the ocean with the
old four to manage the Dawn!

The English lieutenant knew his business too well, to abandon the ship
while there was a chance of recovering her. The wind lulled a little, and
he thought the hope of success worth an effort. Merely taking all the oars
out of the Speedy's cutter, he dashed on in our wake. At first he gained,
nor was I unwilling he should, for I wished to speak him. The main and
fore-sheets were eased off, and Neb was told to keep the top-sails
lifting. Thus favoured, he soon got within fifty yards of us, straining
every nerve to get nearer. The officer pointed a musket at me, and ordered
me to heave-to. I jumped off the taffrail, and, with my body covered to
the shoulders, pointed one of the French muskets at him, and warned him
to keep off.

"What have you done with the prize-crew put on board you from the Speedy,
the other day?" called out the lieutenant.

"Sent them adrift," I answered. "We've had enough of prize-crews in this
ship, and want no more."

"Heave-to, sir, on the pain of being treated as a pirate also."

"Ay, ay--" shouted Marble, who could keep silent no longer--"first catch
a pirate. Fire, if you are tired of your cruise. I wish them bloody
Frenchmen had stopped all your grog!"

This was neither dignified nor politic, and I ordered my mate to be
silent. In a good-natured tone I inquired for the names of the late
combatants, and the losses of the different ships, but this was too cool
for our pursuer's humour, and I got no answer. He did not dare fire,
however, finding we were armed, and, as I supposed, seeing there was no
prospect of his getting easily on board us, even should he get alongside,
he gave up the chase, returning to the captured boat. We again filled and
trimmed everything, and went dashing through the water at the rate of
seven knots.

The frigates did not fire at us, after the guns already mentioned. Why, I
cannot positively say; but I thought, at the time, that they had too many
other things to attend to, besides seeing the little chance there was of
overtaking us, should they even happen to cripple a spar or two.

Great was the disappointment on board the Dawn, at the result of the final
incidents of this eventful day. Marble swore outright; for no
remonstrances of mine could cure him of indulging in this habit,
especially when a little excited. Diogenes grinned defiance, and fairly
shook his fists at the boat; while Neb laughed and half-cried in a
breath--the sure sign the fellow's feelings were keenly aroused.

As for myself, I felt as much as any of the party, but preserved more
self-command. I saw it was now necessary to quit that vicinity, and to
take some definite steps for the preservation of my own ship and property.
There was little to apprehend, however, from the frigates, unless indeed
it should fall calm. In the latter case, they might board us with their
boats, which an hour or two's work would probably enable them to use
again. But I had no intention of remaining in their neighbourhood, being
desirous of profiting by the present wind.

The sails were trimmed accordingly, and the ship was steered
northwesterly, on a course that took us past the three vessels of war,
giving them so wide a berth as to avoid all danger from their batteries.
As soon as this was done, and the Dawn was travelling her road at a good
rate, I beckoned to Marble to come near the wheel, for I had taken the
helmsman's duty on myself for an hour or two: in other words, I was doing
that which, from my boyish experience on the Hudson, I had once fancied it
was not only the duty, but the _pleasure_, of every ship-master to do,
viz: steering! Little did I understand, before practice taught me the
lesson, that of all the work on board ship, which Jack is required to do,
his trick at the wheel is that which he least covets, unless indeed it may
be the office of stowing the jib in heavy weather.

"Well, Moses," I began, "this affair is over, and we've the Atlantic
before us again, with all the ports of Europe to select from, and a
captain, one mate, the cook, and one man to carry the ship where we please
to take her."

"Ay, ay--'t has been a bad job, this last. I was as sure of them lads,
until the lieutenant fired his musket, as ever I was of a good land-fall
with a fair wind. I can't describe to you, Miles, the natur' of the
disapp'intment I felt, when I saw 'em give up. I can best compare it to
that which came over me, when I discovered I was nothing but a bloody
hermit, after all my generalizing about being a governor and a lord high
admiral of an island, all to myself, as it might be."

"It can't be helped, and we must take things as we find them. The question
is, what is to be done with the ship? Should we venture into the channel,
yonder chaps will be after us with the news of a Yankee, on board of whom
they put a prize-crew, being adrift without the men; and there are fifty
cruisers ready to pick us up. The news will spread all over the channel in
a week, and our chances of getting through the Straits of Dover will be so
small as not to be worth naming: nay, these fellows will soon repair
damages, and might possibly overtake us themselves. The Speedy is only

"I see--I see. You've a trick with you, Miles, that makes a few words go a
great way. I see, and I agree. But an idee has come to my mind, that
you're welcome to, and after turning it over, do what you please with it.
Instead of going to the eastward of Scilly, what say you to passing to the
westward, and shaping our course for the Irish Channel? The news will not
follow us that-a-way, for some time; and we may meet with some American,
or other, bound to Liverpool. Should the worst come to the worst, we can
pass through between Ireland and Scotland, and work our way round Cape
Wrath, and go into our port of destination. It is a long road, I know, and
a hard one in certain seasons of the year, but it may be travelled in
midsummer, comfortably enough."

"I like your notion well enough, Marble, and am ready to carry it out, as
far as we are able. It must be a hard fortune, indeed, that will not throw
us in the way of some fisherman, or coaster, who will be willing to let us
have a bend or two, for double wages."

"Why, on that p'int, Miles, the difficulty is in the war, and the hot
press that must now be going. The English will be shy in visiting the
opposite coast; and good men are hard to find, just now, I'm thinking,
floating about the coasts of England, unless they are under a pennant."

"A hand, or two, that can steer, will be an immense relief to us, Moses,
even though unable to go aloft. Call Neb to the wheel, then, and we'll go
look at the chart, so as to lay our course."

All was done, accordingly. In half an hour, the Dawn was steering for the
western coast of England, with everything set we thought it prudent to
carry. Two hours after we began to move away from the spot where they lay,
the frigates had sunk behind the curvature of the earth, and we lost sight
of them altogether. The weather continued good, the breeze steady and
fresh, and the Dawn did her duty admirably. We began to get accustomed to
our situations, and found them less arduous than had been apprehended. The
direction of the wind was so favourable, that it kept hope alive; though
we trebled our distance by going round the British islands, instead of
passing directly up channel. Twenty-four hours were necessary to carry us
as far north as the Land's End, however; and I determined to be then
governed by circumstances. Should the wind shift, we always had the direct
route before us; and I had my doubts whether putting a bold face on the
matter, running close in with the English shore, and appearing to be bound
for London, were not the wisest course. There certainly was the danger of
the Speedy's telling our story, in which case there would be a sharp
look-out for us; while there was the equal chance that she might speak
nothing for a week. Eight-and-forty hours ahead of her, I should not have
feared much from her account of us.

It is unnecessary to dwell minutely on the events of the next few days.
The weather continued good, the wind fair and our progress was in
proportion. We saw nothing until we got within two leagues of Scilly
Light, when we were boarded by a pilot-boat out from those islands. This
occurred at sunrise, with the wind light at north-east, and one sail in
sight to windward, that had the appearance of a brig-of-war, though she
was still hull down, and not heading for us.

I saw that the smallness of our crew, and the course we were steering,
struck these pilots, the moment they had time to ascertain the first fact.
It was not usual, in that day, nor do I suppose it is now, for deep-laden
Americans to pass so near England, coming from the south-east and steering
to the north-west. A remark to this effect fell from the mouth of the
principal pilot, as soon as I told him I did not wish to go in to any of
the neighbouring ports.

"I am short of hands, and am desirous of obtaining three or four good
men," I said, "who shall be well paid for their services, and sent back,
without cost, to the place whence they came."

"Ay, I see you've a small crew for so stout a craft, master," the pilot
answered. "May I ask what has happened to bring you down so low?"

"Why, you know how it is among your cruisers, in war-time--an English
frigate carried away all hands, with the exception of these you see."

Now, this was true to the ear, at least, though I saw, plainly enough,
that I was not believed.

"It's not often His Majesty's officers shave so close," the pilot
answered, with a sort of sneer I did not like. "They commonly send in
hands with a ship, when they find it necessary to take her own men."

"Ay, I suppose the laws require this with English vessels; with Americans,
they are less particular; at all events, you see the whole of us, and I
should be very glad to get a hand or two, if possible, out of
your cutter."

"Where are you bound, master?--Before we ship, we'd like to know the port
we sail for."


"Hamburg! Why, master, you're not heading for Hamburg, at all, which lies
up the _English_, not up the _Irish_ channel."

"I am well aware of all that. But I am afraid to go into the English
channel so short-handed. Those narrow waters give a man trouble, unless he
has a full crew."

"The channel is a good place to find men, master. However, none of us can
go with you, and no words be necessary. As you've no occasion for a
pilot, we must be off a'ter something else."

The fellow now left me, without more words, and I saw there was no use in
attempting to detain him. He had got a league from us, and we were jogging
on our course, before we discovered he was making signals to the brig,
which had kept dead away, and had set studding-sails on both sides. As
this was carrying much more sail than we could venture to show, I thought
our chance of escape small indeed. There was the whole day before us, with
a light, and doubtless fast-sailing cruiser in chase of a heavily-loaded
merchantman. As a stern-chase is, proverbially, a long chase, however, I
determined to do all we could to avoid the gentleman. Sail was made,
accordingly, so far as we dared, and the ship was steered a little off, as
her best mode of sailing, in her present trim. We saw the brig speak the
pilot-boat, and, from that moment, were certain her commander had all the
conjectures of the Scilly man added to his own. The effect was soon to be
noted, for when the two separated, the cutter stood in for her own rocks,
while the brig renewed her chase.

That was an uneasy day. The man-of-war gained, but it was quite slowly.
She might beat us by a knot in the hour, and, being ten miles astern,
there was still the hope of its falling dark before she could close. The
wind, too, was unsteady, and towards noon it grew so light, as to reduce
both vessels to only two or three knots way. Of course, this greatly
lessened the difference in our rate of sailing, and I had now strong hopes
that night might come, before our pursuers could close.

Nor was I disappointed. The wind continued light until sunset, when it
came out a fine breeze at north-west, bringing us dead to windward of the
brig, which was then distant some six miles. We got the proper sail on the
ship, as fast as we could, though the cruiser was dashing ahead under
everything she could carry, long before we could get through with the
necessary work. When we did get at it, notwithstanding, I found she had
not much the advantage of us, and now began to entertain some hopes of
shaking her off in the course of the night. Marble was confident of it,
and his confidence, on points of seamanship, was always entitled
to respect.

About ten, both vessels were on the starboard tack, standing to the
southward and westward, or out towards the broad Atlantic, with the brig
about a league under the Dawn's lee, and a little forward of her beam.
This was the most favourable position for us to be in, in order to effect
our purpose, since the cruiser had already passed her nearest point to us,
on that tack. The horizon to windward, and all along the margin of the sea
at the northward, was covered with clouds, which threatened, by the way, a
capfull of wind. This dark back-ground would be likely to prevent our
being seen; and the instant the night shut in the outline of the brig's
canvass, I ordered our helm put down.

It was lively business, tacking such a ship as the Dawn, under so much
canvass, and in such a breeze, with four men! The helm was lashed hard
down, and at it we went, like so many tigers. The after-yards swung
themselves though the main-tack and sheet gave us a good deal of trouble.
We braced everything aft, sharp up, before we left it, having first
managed to get the fore-yard square. When this was done, we filled all
forward, and dragged the yards and bow-lines to their places, with a will
that seemed irresistible.

There were no means of knowing whether the brig came round, about this
time, or not. Agreeably to the rule of chasing, she should have tacked
when directly abeam, unless she fancied she could eat us out of the wind
by standing on. We knew she did not tack when directly abeam, but we could
not see whether she came round after us, or not. At all events, tack or
not, she must still be near a league under our lee; and we drove on,
towards the English coast, until the day reappeared, not a man of us all
sleeping a wink that night. How anxiously we watched the ocean astern, and
to leeward, as the returning light slowly raised the veil of obscurity
from before us! Nothing was in sight, even when the sun appeared, to bathe
the entire ocean in a flood of glory. Not even a white speck in-shore; and
as for the brig, we never saw or heard more of her. Doubtless she stood
on, on the old course, hoping gradually to close with us, or to draw so
far ahead and to windward, as to make certain of her prey in the morning.

According to our reckoning, the ship was now heading well up towards the
coast of Wales, which we might expect to make in the course of the next
four-and-twenty hours, should the wind stand. I determined, therefore, to
make the best of the matter, and to go directly up the Irish channel,
hoping to fall in with some boat from the north shore, that might not have
as apt intellects on board it, as those of our Scilly pilot had proved to
be. We stood on, consequently, all that day; and another sun set without
our making the land. We saw several vessels at a distance, in the
afternoon; but we were now in a part of the ocean where an American ship
would be as little likely to be disturbed as in any I know. It was the
regular track of vessels bound to Liverpool,--and these last were as
little molested as the want of men would at all permit. Could we get past
that port, we should then be in the way of picking up half a
dozen Irishmen.

Chapter XX.

"Och! botheration--'T is a beautiful coost
All made up of rocks and deep bays;
Ye may sail up and down, a marvellous host,
And admire all its beautiful ways."

Irish Song.

Little did we, or could we, anticipate all that lay before us. The wind
held at north-west until the ship had got within twenty miles of the Welsh
coast; then, it came out light, again, at the southward. We were now so
near Liverpool, that I expected, every hour, to make some American bound
in. None was seen, notwithstanding, and we stood up channel, edging over
towards the Irish coast at the same time, determined to work our way to
the northward as well as we could. This sort of weather continued for two
days and nights, during which we managed to get up as high as Whitehaven,
when the wind came dead ahead, blowing a stiff breeze. I foresaw from the
commencement of this new wind, that it would probably drive us down
channel, and out into the Atlantic once more, unless we could anchor. I
thought I would attempt the last, somewhere under the Irish coast, in the
hope of getting some assistance from among the children of St. Patrick. We
all knew that Irish sailors, half the time, were not very well trained,
but anything that could pull and haul would be invaluable to us, in heavy
weather. We had now been more than a week, four of us in all, working the
ship, and, instead of being in the least fagged, we had rather got settled
into our places, as it might be, getting along without much trouble;
still, there were moments when a little extra force would be of great
moment to us, and I could see by the angry look of the skies, that these
moments were likely to increase in frequency and in the magnitude of their
importance to us.

The waters we were in were so narrow, that it was not long before we drew
close in with the Irish coast. Here, to my great joy, we saw a large
fishing-boat, well out in the offing, and under circumstances that
rendered it easy for those in it to run close under our lee. We made a
signal, therefore, and soon had the strangers lying-to, in the smooth
water we made for them, with our own main-yard aback. It is scarcely
necessary to say, that we had gradually diminished our own canvass, as it
became necessary, until the ship was under double-reefed top-sails, the
fore-course, jib and spanker. We had brought the top-sails down lower than
was necessary, in order to anticipate the time when it might be

The first of the men who came on board us was named Terence O' something.
His countenance was the droll medley of fun, shrewdness, and blundering,
that is so often found in the Irish peasant, and which appears to be
characteristic of entire races in the island.

"A fine marnin', yer honour," he began, with a self-possession that
nothing could disturb, though it was some time past noon, and the day was
anything but such a one as a seaman likes. "A fine marnin', yer honour,
and _as_ fine a ship! Is it fish that yer honour will be asking for?"

"I will take some of your fish, my friend, and pay you well for them."

"Long life to yees!"

"I was about to say, I will pay you much better if you can show me any
lee, hereabouts, which has good holding-ground, where a ship might ride
out the gale that is coming."

"Shure yer honour!--will I _not_? Shure, there's nivver the lad on the
coost, that knows betther what it is yer honour wants, or who'll supply
yees, with half the good will."

"Of course you know the coast; probably were born hereabouts?"

"Of coorse, is it? Whereabouts should Terence O' something, be born, if
it's not hereabouts? Is it know the coost, too? Ah, we're ould

"And where do you intend to take the ship, Terence?"

"It's houlding ground, yer honour asked for?"

"Certainly.--A bottom on which an anchor will not drag."

"Och! is it _that_? Well, _all_ the bottom in this counthry is of that
same natur'. None of it will drag, without pulling mighty hard. I'll swear
to any part of it."

"You surely would not think of anchoring a ship out here, a league from
the land, with nothing to break either wind or sea, and a gale

"I anchor! Divil the bit did I ever anchor a ship, or a brig, or even a
cutther. I've not got so high up as that, yer honour: but yon's ould
Michael Sweeny, now; many's the anchor he's cast out, miles at a time,
sayin' he's been a sayman, and knows the says from top to bottom. It's
Michael ye'll want, and Michael ye shall have."

Michael was spoken to, and he clambered up out of the boat, as well as he
could; the task not being very easy, since the fishermen with difficulty
kept their dull, heavy boat out of our mizen chains. In the mean time,
Marble and I found time to compare notes. We agreed that Mr. Terence
McScale, or O' something,--for I forget the fellow's surname,--would
probably turn out a more useful man in hauling in mackerel and John Dorys,
than in helping us to take care of the Dawn. Nor did Michael, at the first
glance promise anything much better. He was very old,--eighty. I should
think,--and appeared to have nullified all the brains he ever had, by the
constant use of whiskey; the scent of which accompanied him with a sort of
parasitical odour, as that of tannin attends the leather-dresser. He was
not drunk just then, however, but seemed cool and collected. I explained
my wishes to this man; and was glad to find he had a tolerable notion of
nautical terms, and that he would not be likely to get us into difficulty,
like Terence, through any ignorance on this score.

"Is it anchor ye would, yer honour?" answered Michael, when I had
concluded. "Sure, that's aisy enough, and the saison is good for that
same; for the wind is getting up like a giant. As for the guineas yer
honour mintions, it's of no avail atween fri'nds. I'll take 'em, to
obleege ye, if yer honour so wills: but the ship should be anchored if
there niver was a grain of goold in the wur-r-r-ld. Would ye like a berth
pratty well out, or would yer honour choose to go in among the rocks, and
lie like a babby in its cradhle?"

"I should prefer a safe roadstead, to venturing too far in, without a
professed pilot. By the look of the land in-shore, I should think it would
be easy to find a lee against this wind, provided we can get good
holding-grounds That is the difficulty I most apprehend."

"Trust ould Ireland for that, yer honour, yes, put faith in us, for that
same. Ye've only to fill your top-sail, and stand in; ould Michael and
ould Ireland together, will take care of yees."

I confess I greatly disliked the aspect of things in-shore, with such a
pilot; but the aspect of things outside was still worse. Short-handed as
we were, it would be impossible to keep the ship in the channel, should
the gale come on as heavily as it threatened; and a single experiment
satisfied me, the four men in the boat would be of very little use in
working her: for I never saw persons who knew anything of the water, more
awkward than they turned out to be on our decks. Michael knew something,
it is true; but he was too old to turn his knowledge to much practical
account, for when I sent him to the wheel, Neb had to remain there to
assist him in steering. There was no choice, therefore, and I determined
to stand close in, when, should no suitable offer, it would always be in
our power to ware offshore. The fishing-boat was dropped astern,
accordingly, the men were all kept in the ship, and we stood in nearer to
the coast: the Dawn bending to the blasts, under the sail we carried, in a
way to render it difficult to stand erect on her decks.

The coast promised well as to formation, though there was much to
apprehend on the subject of the bottom. Among rocks an anchor is a
ticklish thing to confide in, and I feared it might be a difficult matter
to find a proper bottom, as far out as I deemed it prudent to remain. But
Michael, and Terence, and Pat, and Murphy, or whatever were the names of
our protesting confident friends, insisted that 'ould Ireland' would never
fail us. Marble and I stood on the forecastle, watching the formation of
the coast, and making our comments, as the ship drove through the short
seas, buried to her figure-head. At length, we thought a head-land that was
discernible a little under our lee-bow, looked promising, and Michael was
called from the wheel and questioned concerning it. The fellow affirmed he
knew the place well, and that the holding-ground on each side of it was
excellent, consenting at once to a proposition of mine to bring up under
its lee. We edged off, therefore, for this point, making the necessary
preparations for bringing up.

I was too busy in getting in canvas to note the progress of the ship for
the next twenty minutes. It took all four of us to stow the jib, leaving
Michael at the wheel the while. And a tremendous job it was, though (I say
it in humility) four better men never lay out on a spar, than those who
set about the task on this occasion. We got it in, however, but, I need
scarcely tell the seaman, it was not "stowed in the skin." Marble insisted
on leading the party, and never before had I seen the old fellow work as
he did on that day. He had a faculty of incorporating his body and limbs
with the wood and ropes, standing, as it might be, on air, working and
dragging with his arms and broad shoulders, in a way that appeared to give
him just as much command of his entire strength, as another man would
possess on the ground.

At length we reduced the canvass to the fore-top-mast stay-sail, and
main-top-sail, the latter double-reefed. It was getting to be time that
the last should be close reefed, (and we carried four reefs in the Dawn),
but we hoped the cloth would hold out until we wanted to roll it up
altogether. The puffs, however, began to come gale-fashion, and I foresaw
we should get it presently in a style that would require good looking to.

The ship soon drove within the extremity of the head-land, the lead giving
us forty fathoms of water. I had previously asked Michael what water we
might expect, but this he frankly owned he could not tell. He was certain
that ships sometimes anchored there, but what water they found was more
than he knew. He was no conjuror, and guessing might be dangerous, so he
chose to say nothing about it. It was nervous work for a ship-master to
carry his vessel on a coast, under such pilotage as this. I certainly
would have wore round as it was, were it not for the fact that there was a
clear sea to leeward, and that it would always be as easy to run out into
the open water, as the wind was at that moment.

Marble and I now began to question our fisherman as to the precise point
where he intended to fetch up. Michael was bothered, and it was plain
enough his knowledge was of the most general character. As for the
particulars of his calling, he treated them with the coolest indifference.
He had been much at sea in his younger days, it is true; but it was in
ships of war, where the ropes were put into his hands by captains of the
mast, and where his superiors did all the thinking. He could tell whether
ships did or did not anchor near a particular spot, but he knew no reason
for the one, or for the other. In a word, he had just that sort of
knowledge of seamanship as one gets of the world by living in a province,
where we all learn the leading principles of humanity, and trust to
magazines and works of fiction for the finesse of life.

The lead proved a better guide than Michael, and seeing some breakers
in-shore of us, I gave the order to clew up the main-top-sail, and to luff
to the wind, before the ship should lose her way. Our Irishmen pulled and
hauled well enough, as soon as they were directed what to do; which
enabled Marble and myself each to stand by a stopper. We had previously
got the two bowers a-cock-bill, (the cables were bent as soon as we made
the land); and nothing remained but to let run. Neb was at the wheel,
with orders to spring to the cables as soon as he heard them running out,
and everything was in readiness. I shouted the order to "let run," and
down both our anchors went, at the same instant, in twenty-two fathoms'
water. The ship took cable at a fearful rate; but Marble and Diogenes
being at one bower, and Neb and I at the other, we succeeded in snubbing
her, with something like twenty fathoms within the hawse-holes. There was
a minute, when I thought the old bark would get away from us; and when, by
desperate efforts, we did succeed in checking the mass, it seemed as if
she would shake the windlass out of her. No time was lost in stoppering
the cables, and in rolling up the main-top-sail.

Michael and his companions now came to wish us good luck, get the guineas,
and to take their leave. The sea was already so rough that the only mode
that remained of getting into their boat was by dropping from the end of
the spanker boom. I endeavoured to persuade two or three of these fellows
to stick by the ship, but in vain. They were all married, and they had a
certain protection against impressment in their present manner of life;
whereas, should they be found at large, some man-of-war would probably
pick them up; and Michael's tales of the past had not given them any great
zest for the sort of life he described.

When these Irish fishermen left us, and ran in-shore, we were thrown again
altogether on our own resources. I had explained to Michael our want of
hands, however, attributing it to accidents and impressments, and he
thought he could persuade four or five young fellows to come off, as soon
as the gale abated, on condition we would take them to America, after
discharging at Hamburg. These were to be mere peasants, it is true, for
seamen were scarce in that part of the world; but they would be better
than nothing. Half a dozen athletic young Irishmen would relieve us seamen
from a vast deal of the heavy, lugging work of the ship, and leave us
strength and spirits to do that which unavoidably fell to our share. With
the understanding that he was to receive, himself, a guinea a-head for
each sound man thus brought us, we parted from old Michael, who probably
has never piloted a ship since, as I strongly suspect he had never
done before.

Chapter XXI.

"The power of God is everywhere,
Pervades all space and time:
The power of God can still the air,
And rules in every clime;--
Then bow the heart, and bend the knee,
And worship o'er both land and sea."


I never knew precisely the point on the coast of Ireland where we
anchored. It was somewhere between Strangford and Dundrum Bay; though the
name of the head-land which gave us a sort of protection, I did not learn.
In this part of the island, the coast trends north and south, generally;
though at the place where we anchored, its direction was nearly from
north-north-east to south-south-west,--which, in the early part of the
gale, was as close as might be the course in which the wind blew. At the
moment we brought up, the wind had hauled a little further to the
northward, giving us a better lee; but, to my great regret, Michael had
scarcely left us, when it shifted to due north-east, making a fair rake of
the channel. This left us very little of a lee--the point ahead of us
being no great matter, and we barely within it. I consulted such maps as I
had, and came to the conclusion that we were off the county Down, a part
of the kingdom that was at least civilized, and where we should be apt to
receive good treatment, in the event of being wrecked. Our fishermen told
us that they belonged to a Bally-something; but what the something was I
have forgotten, if I ever understood them. "_Told_ us," I say out of
complaisance, but "_tould_" would be the better word, as all they uttered
savoured so much of the brogue, that it was not always easy to get at
their meaning.

It was past noon when the Dawn anchored; and the wind got more to the
eastward, about half an hour afterwards. It was out of the question to
think of getting under way again, with so strong a wind, and with our
feeble crew. Had it been perfectly smooth water, and had there been
neither tide, nor air, it would have taken us half a day, at least, to
get out two bowers. It was folly, therefore, to think of it, situated as
we were. It only remained, to ride out the gale in the best manner
we could.

Nothing occurred, for several hours, except that the gale increased
sensibly in violence. Like an active disease, it was fast coming to a
crisis. Towards sunset, however, a little incident took place, that gave
me great uneasiness of itself, though I had forebodings of evil from the
commencement of that tempest. Two sail appeared in sight, to windward,
being quite near us, close in with the Irish coast before either was
observed on board the Dawn. The leading vessel of the two was a
man-of-war cutter, running nearly before it, under a close-reefed
square-sail,--canvass so low that it might easily be confounded with the
foam of the sea, at a little distance. She rounded the head-land, and was
edging away from the coast, apparently for sea-room, when she took a
sudden sheer in our direction. As if curious to ascertain what could have
taken so large a square-rigged vessel as the Dawn, into her present berth,
this cutter actually ran athwart our hawse, passing inside of us, at a
distance of some fifty yards. We were examined; but no attempt was made to
speak us. I felt no uneasiness at the proximity of these two cruisers, for
I knew a boat could not live,--our ship fairly pitching her martingale
into the water at her anchors.

The frigate followed the cutter, though she passed us outside, even nearer
than her consort. I got my first accurate notion of the weight of the
gale, by seeing this large ship drive past us, under a reefed fore-sail,
and a close-reefed main-top-sail, running nearly dead before it. As she
came down, she took a sheer, like a vessel scudding in the open ocean;
and, at one moment, I feared she would plunge directly into us, though she
minded her helm in time to clear everything. A dozen officers on board her
were looking at us, from her gangway, her quarter-deck guns, and rigging.
All were compelled to hold on with firm grasps; and wonder seemed painted
in every countenance. I could see their features for half a minute only,
or even a less time; but I could discern this expression in each face.
Some looked up at our spars, as if to ascertain whether all were right;
while others looked back at the head-land they had just rounded, like
those who examined the roadstead. Most shook their heads, as remarks
passed from one to the other. The captain, as I took him to be, spoke us.
"What are you doing here?" came to me through a trumpet, plainly enough;
but answering was out of the question. Before I could even get a trumpet
to my mouth, the frigate had gone foaming by, and was already beyond the
reach of the voice. Heads appeared over her taffrail for some time, and we
fancied these man-of-war's men regarded us as the instructed are apt to
regard the ignorant, whom they fancy to be in danger. Marble sneered a
little at the curiosity betrayed by these two crafts; but, as for myself,
it caused great uneasiness. I fancied they acted like those who were
acquainted with the coast, manifesting surprise at seeing a stranger
anchored in the berth we occupied.

I slept little that night. Marble kept me company most of the time, but
Neb and Diogenes were as tranquil as if sleeping on good French
mattresses--made of hair, not down--within the walls of a citadel. Little
disturbed these negroes, who followed our fortunes with the implicit
reliance that habit and education had bred in them, as it might be, in and
in. In this particular, they were literally dyed in the wool, to use one
of the shop expressions so common among us.

There was a little relaxation in the force of the gale in the middle of
the night; but, with the return of day, came the winds howling down upon
us, in a way that announced a more than common storm. All hands of us were
now up, and paying every attention to the vessel. My greatest concern had
been lest some of the sails should get adrift, for they had been furled by
few and fatigued men. This did not happen, however, our gaskets and
lashings doing all of their duty. We got our breakfasts, therefore, in the
ordinary way, and Marble and myself went and stood on the forecastle, to
watch the signs of the times, like faithful guardians, who were anxious to
get as near as possible to the danger.

It was wonderful how the ship pitched! Frequently her Aurora was
completely submerged, and tons of water would come in upon the forecastle,
washing entirely aft at the next send, so that our only means of keeping
above water was to stand on the windlass-bitts, or to get upon the heart
of the main-stay. Dry we were not, nor did we think of attempting to be
so, but such expedients were necessary to enable us to remain stationary;
often to enable us to breathe. I no longer wondered at the manner in which
the cutter and frigate had examined our position. It was quite clear the
fishermen knew very little about finding a proper berth for a ship, and
that we might pretty nearly as well have brought up in the middle of St.
George's channel, could our ground-tackle reach the bottom, as to have
brought up where we were.

Just about nine o'clock, Marble and I had got near each other on the
fife-rail, and held a consultation on the subject of our prospects.
Although we both clung to the same top-sail-sheet, we were obliged to
hallow to make ourselves heard, the howling of the wind through the
rigging converting the hamper into a sort of tremendous Eolian Harp, while
the roar of the water kept up a species of bass accompaniment to this
music of the ocean. Marble was the one who had brought about this
communication, and he was the first to speak.

"I say, Miles," he called out, his mouth within three feet of my ear--"she
jumps about like a whale with a harpoon in it! I've been afraid she'd jerk
the stem out of her."

"Not much fear of that, Moses--my great concern is that starboard
bower-cable; it has a good deal more strain on it than the larboard, and
you can see how the strands are stretched."

"Ay, ay--'t is generalizing its strength, as one may say. S'pose we clap
the helm a-port, and try the effects of a sheer?"

"I've thought of that; as there is a strong tide going, it may possibly

These words were scarcely out of my mouth, when three seas of enormous
height came rolling down upon us, like three great roistering companions
in a crowd of sullen men, the first of which raised the Dawn's bows so
high in the air, as to cause us both to watch the result in breathless
silence. The plunge into the trough was in a just proportion to the toss
into the air; and I felt a surge, as if something gave way under the
violent strain that succeeded. The torrent of water that came on the
forecastle prevented any thing from being seen; but again the bows rose,
again they sunk, and then the ship seemed easier.

"We are all adrift, Miles!" Marble shouted, leaning forward to be heard.
"Both bowers have snapped like thread, and here we go, head-foremost, in
for the land!"

All this was true enough! The cables had parted, and the ship's head was
falling off fast from the gale, like the steed that has slipped his
bridle, before he commences his furious and headlong career. I looked
round for the negroes; but Neb was already at the wheel. That noble
fellow, true as steel, had perceived the accident as soon as any of us,
and he sprang to the very part of the vessel where he was most needed. He
had a seaman's faculties in perfection, though ratiocination was certainly
not his forte. A motion of my hand ordered him to put the helm hard up,
and the answering sign let me know that I was obeyed. We could do no more
just then, but the result was awaited in awful expectation.

The Dawn's bows fell off until the ship lay broadside to the gale, which
made her reel until her lee lower yard-arms nearly dipped. Then she
overcame the cauldron of water that was boiling around her, and began to
draw heavily ahead. Three seas swept athwart her decks, before she minded
her helm in the least, carrying with them every thing that was not most
firmly lashed, or which had not animal life to direct its movements, away
to leeward. They swept off the hen-coops, and ripped four or five
water-casks from their lashings, even, as if the latter had been
pack-thread. The camboose-house went also, at the last of these terrific
seas; and nothing saved the camboose itself, but its great weight, added
to the strength of its fastenings. In a word, little was left, that could
very well go, but the launch, the gripes of which fortunately held on.

By the time this desolation was completed, the ship began to fall off, and
her movement through the water became very perceptible. At first, she
dashed in toward the land, running, I make no doubt, quite half a mile
obliquely in that direction, ere she got fairly before the wind; a course
which carried her nearly in a line with the coast. Marble and myself now
got aft without much trouble, and put the helm a little to starboard,
with a view to edge off to the passage as far as possible. The wind blew
so nearly down channel, that there would have been no immediate danger,
had we an offing; but the ship had not driven before the gale more than
three or four hours, when we made land ahead; the coast trending in this
part of the island nearly north and south. Marble suggested the prudence
of taking time by the forelock, and of getting the main-top-sail on the
ship, to force her off the land, the coast in the neighbourhood of Dublin
lying under our lee-bow. We had taken the precaution to close-reef
everything before it was furled, and I went aloft myself to lower this
sail. If I had formed a very respectful opinion of the power of the gale,
while on deck, that opinion was materially heightened when I came to feel
its gusts, on the main-top-sail-yard. It was not an easy matter to hold on
at all; and to work, required great readiness and strength. Nevertheless,
I got the sail loose, and then I went down and aided Marble and the cook
to drag home the sheets. Home, they could not be dragged by us,
notwithstanding we got up a luff; but we made the sail stand
reasonably well.

The ship immediately felt the effect of even this rag of canvass. She
drove ahead at a prodigious rate, running, I make no question, some eleven
or twelve knots, under the united power collected by her hamper and this
one fragment of a sail. Her drift was unavoidably great, and I thought the
current sucked her in towards the land; but, on the whole, she kept at
about the same distance from the shore, foaming along it, much as we had
seen the frigate do, the day before. At the rate we were going, twelve or
fifteen hours would carry us down to the passage between Holy Head and
Ireland, when we should get more sea-room, on account of the land's
trending again to the westward.

Long, long hours did Marble and I watch the progress of our ship that day
and the succeeding night, each of us taking our tricks at the wheel, and
doing seaman's duty, as well as that of mate and master. All this time,
the vessel was dashing furiously out towards the Atlantic, which she
reached ere the morning of the succeeding day. Just before he light
returned we were whirled past a large ship that was lying-to, under a
single storm-stay-sail, and which I recognised as the frigate that had
taken a look at us at our anchorage. The cutter was close at hand, and the
fearful manner in which these two strong-handed vessels pitched and
lurched, gave me some idea of what must be our situation, should we be
compelled to luff to the wind. I supposed they had done so, in order to
keep as long as possible, on their cruising ground, near the chops of the
Irish channel.

A wild scene lay around us, at the return of light. The Atlantic resembled
a chaos of waters, the portions of the rolling sheet that were not white
with foam, looking green and angry. The clouds hid the sun, and the gale
seemed to be fast coming to its height. At ten, we drove past an American,
with nothing standing but his foremast. Like us, he was running off,
though we went three feet to his two. Half an hour later, we had the awful
sight before our eyes of witnessing the sudden disappearance of an English
brig. She was lying-to, directly on our course, and I was looking at her
from the windlass, trying to form some opinion as to the expediency of our
luffing-to, in order to hold our own. Of a sudden, this brig gave a
plunge, and she went down like a porpoise diving. What caused this
disaster I never knew; but, in five minutes we passed as near as possible
over the spot, and not a trace of her was to be seen. I could not discover
so much as a handspike floating, though I looked with intense anxiety, in
the hope of picking up some fellow-creature clinging to a spar. As for
stopping to examine, one who did not understand the language might as well
hope to read the German character on a mile-stone, while flying past it in
a rail-road car.

At noon, precisely, away went our fore-top-sail out of the gaskets. One
fastening snapped after another, until the whole sail was adrift. The tugs
that this large sheet of canvass gave upon the spars, as it shook in the
wind, threatened to jerk the foremast out of the ship. They lasted about
three minutes, when, after a report almost as loud as that of a small
piece of ordnance, the sail split in ribands. Ten minutes later, our
main-top-sail went. This sail left us as it might be bodily, and I
actually thought that a gun of distress was fired near us, by some vessel
that was unseen, The bolt-rope was left set; the sheets, earings, and reef
points all holding on, the cloth tearing at a single rent around the four
sides of the sail. The scene that followed I scarcely know how to
describe. The torn part of the main-top-sail flew forward, and caught in
the after-part of the fore-top, where it stood spread, as one might say,
held by the top, cat-harpins, rigging, and other obstacles. This was the
feather to break the camel's back. Bolt after bolt of the fore-rigging
drew or broke, each parting with a loud report, and away went everything
belonging to the foremast over the bows, from the deck up. The
main-top-mast was dragged down by this fearful pull, and that brought the
mizen-top-gallant-mast after it. The pitching of so much hamper under the
bows of the ship, while her after-masts stood, threw the stern round, in
spite of the manner in which Marble steered; and the ship broached-to. In
doing this, the sea made a fair breach over her, sweeping the deck of even
the launch and camboose, and carrying all the lee-bulwarks, in the waist,
with them. Neb was in the launch at the time, hunting for some article
kept there; and the last I saw of the poor fellow, he was standing erect
in the bows of the boat, as the latter drove over the vessel's side, on
the summit of a wave, like a bubble floating in a furious current.
Diogenes, it seems, had that moment gone to his camboose, to look after
the plain dinner he was trying to boil, when probably seizing the iron as
the most solid object near him, he was carried overboard with it, and
never reappeared. Marble was in a tolerably safe part of the vessel, at
the wheel, and he kept his feet, though the water rose above his waist; as
high, indeed, as his arms. As for myself, I was saved only by the
main-rigging, into which I was driven, and where I lodged.

I could not but admire the coolness and conduct of Marble even at that
terrific moment! In the first place, he put the helm hard down, and lashed
the wheel, the wisest thing that could be done by men in our situation.
This he did by means of that nautical instinct, which enables a seaman to
act, in the direst emergencies, almost without reflection, or, as one
closes his eyes to avoid danger to the pupils. Then he gave one glance at
the state of things in-board, running forward with the end of a rope to
throw to Diogenes, should the cook rise near the ship. By the time he was
satisfied the hope of doing anything in that way, was vain, I was on
deck, and we two stood facing each other, in the midst of the scene of
desolation and ruin that was around us. Marble caught my hand with a look
that spoke as plainly as words. It told me the joy he felt at seeing I was
spared, his determination to stick by me to the last; yet, how low were
his hopes of ultimate preservation! It was such a look as any man would be
glad to receive from a comrade in the heat of battle; nevertheless, it was
not a look that promised victory.

The situation of the ship would now have been much better than it had
been, in many respects, were it not for the wreck. All the masts forward
had gone over the lee bow, and would have lain in a sufficiently
favourable situation for a strong crew to get rid of them; but in our case
we were compelled to let things take their course. It is true, we could
cut away, and this we began to do pretty freely, but the lower-end of the
foremast lay on the forecastle, where it was grinding everything near it
to pieces, with the heaving and setting of the waves. All the bulwarks in.
that part of the ship threatened soon to be beaten down, and I felt afraid
the cat-head would be torn violently out of the ship, leaving a bad leak.
Leaks enough there were, as it was. The launch, camboose, water-casks, and
spare spars, in driving overboard, having forced out timber-heads, and
other supports, in a way to split the plank sheer, which let in the water
fast, every time the lee gunwale went under. I gave up my sugars and
coffees from the first, bringing my hopes down as low as the saving of the
ship, the instant I saw the state of the upper works.

Marble and I had not been educated in a school that is apt to despair. As
for my mate, had he found himself on a plank in the middle of the
Atlantic, I do believe he would have set about rigging a jury-mast, by
splitting off a piece of the hull of his craft and spreading his shirt by
way of sail. I never knew a more in-and-in-bred seaman, who, when one
resource failed, invariably set about the next best visible expedient. We
were at a loss, however, whether to make an effort to get rid of the
foremast, or not. With the exception of the damages it did on the
forecastle, it was of use to us, keeping the ship's bow up to the wind,
and making better weather for us, on deck. The after-masts standing,
while those forward were gone, had the effect to press the stern of the
vessel to leeward, while this support in the water prevented her bows from
falling off, and we rode much nearer to the wind, than is usual with a
ship that is lying-to. It is true, the outer end of the fallen spars began
to drive to leeward; and, acting as a long lever, they were gradually
working the broken end of the foremast athwart the forecastle, ripping and
tearing away everything on the gunwale, and threatening the foot of the
main-stay. This made it desirable to be rid of the wreck, while on the
other hand, there was the danger of the ship's bottom beating against the
end of the mast, did the latter get overboard. Under all these
circumstances, however, we determined to cut as much of the gear as
possible, and let the fallen spars work themselves clear of us, if they
could. Our job was by no means easy. It was difficult to stand, even, on
the deck of the Dawn, in a time like that; and this difficulty was greatly
increased forward, by having so little to hold on by. But work we did, and
in a way that cleared most of the rigging from the ship, in the course of
the next half hour. We were encouraged by the appearances of the weather
too, the gale having broken, and promising to abate. The ship grew a
little easier, I thought, and we moved about with more confidence of not
being washed away by the seas that came on board us. After a time, we took
some refreshments, eating the remains of a former meal, and cheered our
hearts a little with a glass or two of good Sherry. Temperance may be very
useful, but so is a glass of good wine, when properly used. Then we went
at it, again, working with a will and with spirit. The wreck aft wanted
very little to carry it over the side, and going aloft with an axe, I
watched my opportunity, cut one or two of the shrouds and stays, just as
the ship lurched heavily to leeward, and got rid of the whole in the sea
handsomely, without further injury to the ship. This was a good
deliverance, the manner in which the spars had threshed about, having
menaced our lives, before. We now attacked the wreck forward, for the last
time, feeling certain we should get it adrift, could we sever the
connection formed by one or two of the larger ropes. The lee-shrouds, in
particular, gave us trouble, it being impossible to get at them, in-board,
the fore channels being half the time under water and the bulwarks in
their wake being all gone. It was, in fact, impossible to stand there to
work long enough to clear, or cut, all the lanyards. Marble was an
adventurous fellow aloft, on all occasions; and seeing good footing about
the top, without saying a word to me, he seized an axe, and literally ran
out on the mast, where he began to cut the collars of the rigging at the
mast-head. This was soon done; but the spars were no sooner clear, than,
impelled by a wave that nearly drowned the mate, the end of the foremast
slid off the forecastle into the sea, leaving the ship virtually clear of
the wreck, but my mate adrift on the last; I say virtually clear, for the
lee fore-top-sail-brace still remained fast to the ship, by some oversight
in clearing away the smaller ropes. The effect of this restraint was to
cause the whole body of the wreck to swing slowly round, until it rode by
this rope, alone.

Here was a new and a most serious state of things! I knew that my mate
would do all that man could perform, situated as he was, but what man
could swim against such a sea, even the short distance that interposed
between the, spars and the ship? The point of the wreck nearest the
vessel, was the end of the top-sail-yard, to which the brace led, and this
was raised from the water by the strain (the other end of the brace
leading aloft), fathoms at a time, rendering it extremely difficult for
Marble to reach the rope, by means of which I could now see,
notwithstanding all the difficulties, he hoped to regain the vessel. The
voice could be heard by one directly to leeward, the howling of the winds
and the roar of the waters having materially lessened within the last few
hours. I shouted to Marble, therefore, my intentions--

"Stand by to get the brace as I ease it off, in-board," I cried; "then you
will be safe!"

The mate understood me, giving a gesture of assent with his arm. When both
were ready, I eased off the rope suddenly, and Marble, partly by crawling,
and partly by floating and dragging himself by the hands, actually got to
the yard-arm, which was immediately raised from the water, however, by the
drift made by the spars, while he was achieving his object. I trembled as
I saw this stout seaman, the water dripping from his clothes, thus
elevated in the air, with the angry billows rolling beneath him, like
lions leaping upward to catch the adventurer in their grasp. Marble's hand
was actually extended to reach the brace, when its block gave way with the
strain. The eye of the strap slipping from the yard, down went the spar
into the water. Next the trough of the sea hid everything from my sight,
and I was left in the most painful doubt of the result, when I perceived
the mate lashing himself to the top, as the portion of the wreck that
floated the most buoyantly. He had managed to get in again, and coolly
went to work to secure himself in the best berth he could find, the
instant he regained the main mass of the wreck. As he rose on the crest of
a sea, the poor fellow made a gesture of adieu to me; the leave-taking of
the mariner!

In this manner did it please Divine Providence to separate us four, who
had already gone through so much in company! With what moody melancholy
did I watch the wreck, as it slowly drifted from the ship. I no longer
thought of making further efforts to save the Dawn, and I can truly say,
that scarce a thought in connection with my own life, crossed my mind.
There I stood for quite an hour, leaning against the foot of the
mizen-mast, with folded arms and riveted eyes, regardless of the pitches,
and lurches, and rolling of the ship, with all my faculties and thoughts
fastened on the form of Marble, expecting each time that the top rose to
view to find it empty. He was too securely lashed, however, to strike
adrift, though he was nearly half the time under water. It was impossible
to do anything to save him. No boat was left; had there been one, it could
not have lived, nor could I have managed it alone. Spars he had already,
but what must become of him without food or water? I threw two breakers of
the last into the sea, and a box of bread, in a sort of idle hope they
might drift down near the wreck, and help to prolong the sufferer's life.
They were all tossed about in the cauldron of the ocean, and disappeared
to leeward, I knew not whither. When Marble was no longer visible from
deck, I went into the main-top and watched the mass of spars and rigging,
so long as any portion of it could be seen. Then I set it by compass, in
order to know its bearing, and an hour before the sun went down, or as
soon as the diminished power of the wind would permit, I showed an ensign
aloft, as a signal that I bore my mate in mind.

"He knows I will not desert him as long as there is hope--so long as I
have life!" I muttered to myself; and this thought was a relief to my
mind, in that bitter moment.

Bitter moment, truly! Time has scarcely lessened the keenness of the
sensations I endured, as memory traces the feelings and incidents of that
day. From the hour when I sailed from home, Lucy's image was seldom absent
from my imagination, ten minutes at a time; I thought of her, sleeping and
waking; in all my troubles; the interest of the sea-fight I had seen could
not prevent this recurrence of my ideas to their polar star, their
powerful magnet; but I do not remember to have thought of Lucy, even, once
after Marble was thus carried away from my side. Neb, too, with his
patient servitude, his virtues, his faults, his dauntless courage, his
unbounded devotion to myself, had taken a strong hold on my heart, and his
loss had greatly troubled me, since the time it occurred. But I remember
to have thought much of Lucy, even after Neb was swept away, though her
image became temporarily lost to my mind, during the first few hours I was
thus separated from Marble.

By the time the sun set, the wind had so far abated, and the sea had gone
down so much, as to remove all further apprehensions from the gale. The
ship lay-to easily, and I had no occasion to give myself any trouble on
her account. Had there been light, I should now have put the helm up, and
run to leeward, in the hope of finding the spars, and at least of keeping
near Marble; but, fearful of passing him in the darkness, I deferred that
duty until the morning. All I could do was to watch the weather, in order
to make this effort, before the wind should shift.

What a night I passed! As soon as it was dark, I sounded the pumps, and
found six feet water in the hold. It was idle for one man to attempt
clearing a vessel of the Dawn's size; and I gave myself no further thought
in the matter. So much injury had been done the upper works of the ship,
that I had a sort of conviction she must go down, unless fallen in with by
some other craft. I cannot say apprehension for my own fate troubled me
any, or that I thought of the rum to my fortunes that was involved in the
loss of the ship. My mind reverted constantly to my companions; could I
have recovered them, I should have been happy, for a time, at least.

I slept two or three hours, towards morning, overcome will fatigue. When I
awoke, it was in consequence of receiving the sun's rays in my face.
Springing to my feet, I cast a confused and hurried glance around me. The
wind was still at north-east, but it barely blew a good whole-sail breeze.
The sea had gone down, to the regular roll of the ocean; and a finer day
never shone upon the Atlantic. I hurried eagerly on deck, and gazed on the
ocean to leeward, with longing eyes, to ascertain if anything could be
seen of the wreck of our spars. Nothing was visible. From the main-top, I
could command a pretty wide horizon; but the ocean lay a bright,
glittering blank, the crests of its own waves excepted. I felt certain the
Dawn was so weatherly, that the spars were to leeward; but the ship must
have forged miles ahead, during the last twelve hours; and there was
almost the equal certainty of her being a long distance to the southward
of the floating hamper, her head having lain in that direction since the
time she broached-to. To get her off before the wind, then, was my first
concern, after which I could endeavour to force her to the northward,
running the chance of falling in with the spars. Could I find my mate, we
might still die together, which would hove been a melancholy consolation
just then.

Chapter XXII.

Father of all! In every age,
In every clime, adored;
By saint, by savage, or by sage--
Jehovah! Jove! or Lord!


Feeling the necessity of possessing all my strength I ate a breakfast
before I commenced work. It was with a heavy heart, and but little
appetite, that I took this solitary meal; but I felt that its effects were
good. When finished, I knelt on the deck, and prayed to God, fervently,
asking his divine assistance in my extremity. Why should an old man, whose
race is nearly run, hesitate to own, that in the pride of his youth and
strength, he was made to feel how insufficient we all are for our wants?
Yes, I prayed; and I hope in a fitting spirit, for I felt that this
spiritual sustenance did me even more good than the material of which I
had just before partaken. When I rose from my knees, it was with a sense
of hope, that I endeavoured to suppress a little, as both unreasonable and
dangerous. Perhaps the spirit of my sainted sister was permitted to look
down on me, in that awful strait, and to offer up its own pure petitions
in behalf of a brother she had so warmly loved. I began to feel myself
less alone, and the work advanced the better from this mysterious sort of
consciousness of the presence of the souls of those who had felt an
interest in me, while in the body.

My first measure was to lead the jib-stay, which had parted near the head
of its own mast, to the head of the main-mast. This I did by bending on a
piece of another rope. I then got up the halyards, and loosened and set
the jib; a job that consumed quite two hours. Of course, this sail did not
set very well, but it was the only mode I had of getting forward canvass
on the ship at all. As soon as the jib was set, in this imperfect manner,
I put the helm up, and got the ship before the wind. I then hauled out the
spanker, and gave it sheet. By these means, aided by the action of the
breeze on the hull and spars, I succeeded in getting something like three
knots' way on the ship, keeping off a little northerly, in which
direction I felt sensible it was necessary to proceed in quest of the
spars. I estimated the drift of the wreck at a knot an hour, including the
good and moderate weather; and, allowing for that of the ship itself, I
supposed it must be, by that time, some twelve miles to leeward of
me. These twelve miles I managed to run by noon, when I hauled up
sufficiently to bring the wind abeam, heading northwardly. As
the ship would now steer herself, that is as small as it was necessary for
me to go, I collected some food, took a glass, and went up into the
main-top, to dine, and to examine the ocean.

The anxious, anxious hours I passed in that top! Not an object of any sort
appeared on the surface of the wide ocean. It seemed as if the birds and
the fishes had abandoned me to my loneliness. I watched and examined the
surrounding sea, until my hands were tired with holding the glass, and my
eyes became weary with their office. Fortunately, the breeze stood, though
the sea went down fast; giving me every opportunity I could desire of
effecting my object. The ship yawed about a good deal, it is true; but, on
the whole, she made a very tolerable course. I could see by the water that
she had a motion of about two knots, for most of the time; though, as the
day advanced, the wind began to fall, and her rate of going diminished
quite one half.

At length, after passing hours aloft, I went below, to look after things
there. On sounding the pumps, I found ten feet water in the hold; though
the upper works were now not at all submerged, and the motion of the
vessel was very easy. That the Dawn was gradually sinking under me, was a
fact too evident to be denied; and all the concerns of thir life began to
narrow into a circle of some four-and-twenty hours. That time the ship
would probably float,--possibly a little longer, should the weather
continue moderate. The wind was decreasing still, and, thinking I might
have a tranquil night, I determined to pass that time in preparing for the
last great change. I had no will to make--little to leave, indeed, after
my vessel was gone: for the debt due to John Wallingford would go far
towards absorbing all my property. When his $40,000 were paid, under a
forced sale, little, indeed, would be the residue.

The state of things would have been somewhat different, under a fair sale,
perhaps; but a forced sale would probably sweep away everything. It is true
my creditor was my heir; for, a legacy to Lucy and a few bequests to
my slaves excepted, I had fairly bequeathed all I owned to my cousin.
As for the blacks themselves, under the new policy of New York, they would
soon be free; and I had no other interest in their fate than that of habit
and affection.

But why speak of property, in the situation in which I was placed? Had I
owned the whole of Ulster county, my wishes, or any new will I might make,
must die with me. The ocean would soon engulf the whole. Had I no desire
to make an effort to save myself, or at least to prolong my existence, by
means of a raft?--of boat, there was none in the ship. The English had the
yawl, and the launch had been driven away. The spare spars were swept
overboard, as well as all the water-casks that had been lashed on deck. I
might have done something with the hatches, and mizen-top-mast, possibly,
could I have gotten the last into the water; but the expedient was so
desperate, it did not hold out any hopes to be encouraged. Even the
handspikes had gone in the launch, and two of the buoys had been left with
the anchors, on the Irish coast. Under all the circumstances, it appeared
to me, that it would be more manly and resigned, to meet my fate at once,
than to attempt any such feeble projects to prolong existence for a few
hours. I came to the resolution, therefore, to go down in my ship.

What was there to make life particularly dear to me?--My home, my
much-beloved Clawbonny, must go, at all events; and I will own that a
feeling of bitter distrust crossed my mind, as I thought of these things,
and that I began to fancy John Wallingford might have urged me to borrow
his money, expressly to obtain a chance of seizing an estate that was so
much prized by every Wallingford. I suppressed this feeling, however; and
in a clear voice I asked my cousin's pardon, the same as if he had been
within hearing. Of Lucy, I had no longer any hope;--Grace was already in
heaven; and the world contained few that cared for me. After Mr. Hardinge,
Lucy always excepted I now loved Marble and Neb the most; and these two
were probably both dead, or doomed, like myself. We must all yield up our
lives once; and, though my hour came rather early, it should be met as a
man meets everything, even to death itself.

Some time before the sun set, I went aloft to take a last look at the
ocean. I do not think any desire to prolong my existence carried me up the
mast, but there was a lingering wish to look after my mate. The ocean
beamed gloriously that eventide, and I fancied that it was faintly
reflecting the gracious countenance of its divine Creator, in a smile of
beneficent love. I felt my heart soften, as I gazed around me, and I
fancied heavenly music was singing the praises of God, on the face of the
great deep. Then I knelt in the top, and prayed.

Rising, I looked at the ocean, as I supposed, for the last time. Not a
sail was anywhere to be seen. I cannot say that I felt disappointed;--I
did not expect relief from that quarter. My object was, to find my mate,
that we might die together. Slowly I raised the glass, and the horizon was
swept with deliberation. Nothing appeared. I had shut the glass, and was
about to sling it, when my eye caught the appearance of something floating
on the surface of the ocean, within a mile of the ship; well to leeward,
and ahead. I had overlooked it, in consequence of ranging above it with
the glass, in the desire to sweep the horizon. I could not be mistaken: it
was the wreck. In a moment the glass was levelled, and I assured myself of
the fact. The top was plainly visible, floating quite high above the
surface, and portions of the yards and masts were occasionally seen, as
the undulations of the ocean left them bare. I saw an object, lying
motionless across the top-rim, which I supposed to be Marble. He was
either dead or asleep.

What a revulsion of feeling came over me at this sight! A minute before,
and I was completely isolated; cut off from the rest of my species, and
resigned to a fate that seemed to command my quitting this state of being,
without further communion with mankind. Everything was changed. Here was
the companion of so many former dangers, the man who had taught me my
profession, one that I can truly say I loved, quite near me, and possibly
dying for the want of that aid which I might render! I was on deck in the
twinkling of an eye; the sheets were eased off, and the helm put up.
Obedient to my wishes, the ship fell off, and I soon got a glimpse, from
the spot where I stood, at the wheel, of the wreck a little clear of the
weather cat-head. By this time, the wind was so light, and the ship had
got to be so deep in the water, that the motion of the last was very slow.
Even with the helm up, it scarce equalled half a knot; I began to fear I
should not be able to reach my goal, after all!

There were, now, intervals of dead calm; then the air would return in
little puffs, urging the great mass heavily onward. I whistled, I prayed,
I called aloud for wind; in short, I adopted all the expedients known,
from that of the most vulgar nautical superstition, up to profound
petitions to the Father of Mercies. I presume all this brought no change,
though the passage of time did. About half an hour before the sun dipped
into the ocean, the ship was within a hundred yards of the wreck. This I
could ascertain by stolen glances, for the direction I was now compelled
to steer, placed the forward part of the ship between me and my object,
and I did not dare quit the wheel to go forward, lest I should miss it
altogether. I had prepared a grapnel, by placing a small kedge in the
lee-waist, with a hawser bent, and, could I come within a few feet of the
floating hamper, I felt confident of being able to hook into something. It
appeared to me, now, as if the ship absolutely refused to move. Go ahead
she did, notwithstanding, though it was only her own length in five or six
minutes. My hasty glances told me that two more of these lengths would
effect my purpose. I scarce breathed, lest the vessel should not be
steered with sufficient accuracy. It was strange to me that Marble did not
hail, and, fancying him asleep, I shouted with all my energy, in order to
arouse him. 'What a joyful sound that will be in his ears,' I thought to
myself, though to me, my own voice seemed unearthly and alarming. No
answer came. Then I felt a slight shock, as if the cut-water had hit
something, and a low scraping sound against the copper announced that the
ship had hit the wreck. Quitting the wheel, I sprang into the waist,
raising the kedge in my arms. Then came the upper spars wheeling strongly
round, under the pressure of the vessel's bottom against the extremity of
the lower mast. I saw nothing but the great maze of hamper and wreck, and
could scarcely breathe in the anxiety not to miss my aim. There was much
reason to fear the whole mass would float off, leaving me no chance of
throwing the kedge, for the smaller masts no longer inclined in, and I
could see that the ship and wreck were slowly separating. A low thump on
the bottom, directly beneath me, drew my head over the side, and I found
the fore-yard, as it might be, a cock-bill, with one end actually scraping
along the ship's bottom. It was the only chance I had, or was likely to
have, and I threw the kedge athwart it. Luckily, the hawser as it
tautened, brought a fluke directly under the yard, within the Flemish
horse, the brace-block, and all the other ropes that are fitted to a lower
yard-arm. So slow was the motion of the ship, that my grapnel held, and
the entire body of the wreck began to yield to the pressure. I now jumped
to the jib-halyards and down-haul, getting that sail reduced; then I
half-brailed the spanker; this was done lest my hold on the yard
should give way.

I can say, that up to this instant, I had not even looked for Marble. So
intense had been my apprehensions of missing the wreck, that I thought of
nothing else, could see nothing else. Satisfied, however, that my fast
would hold, I ran forward to look down on the top, that the strain of the
hawser had brought directly under the very bow, over which it had fallen.
It was empty! The object I had mistaken for Marble, dead or asleep, was a
part of the bunt of the main-top-sail, that had been hauled down over the
top-rim, and secured there, either to form a sort of shelter against the
breaking seas, or a bed. Whatever may have been the intention of this
nest, it no longer had an occupant. Marble had probably been washed away,
in one of his adventurous efforts to make himself more secure or more

The disappointment that came over me, as I ascertained this fact, was
scarcely less painful than the anguish I had felt when I first saw my mate
carried off into the ocean There would have been a melancholy satisfaction
in finding his body, that we might have gone to the bottom together, at
least, and thus have slept in a common grave, in the depths of that ocean
over which we had sailed so many thousands of leagues in company. I went
and threw myself on the deck, regardless of my own fate, and wept in very
bitterness of heart. I had arranged a mattress on the quarter-deck, and it
was on that I now threw myself. Fatigue overcame me, in the end, and I
fell into a deep sleep. As my recollection left me, my last thought was
that I should go down with the ship, as I lay there. So complete was the
triumph of nature, that I did not even dream. I do not remember ever to
have enjoyed more profound and refreshing slumbers; slumbers that
continued until returning light awoke me. To that night's rest I am
probably indebted, under God, for having the means of relating these

It is scarcely necessary to say that the night had been tranquil;
otherwise, a seaman's ears would have given him the alarm. When I arose, I
found the ocean glittering like a mirror, with no other motion than that
which has so often been likened to the slumbering respiration of some
huge animal. The wreck was thumping against the ship's bottom, announcing
its presence, before I left the mattress. Of wind there was literally not
a breath. Once in a while, the ship would seem to come up to breathe, as a
heavy groundswell rolled along her sides, and the wash of the element told
the circumstance of such a visit; else, all was as still as the ocean in
its infancy. I knelt, again, and prayed to that dread Being, with whom, it
now appeared to me, I stood alone, in the centre of the universe.

Down to the moment when I arose from my knees, the thought of making an
effort to save myself, or to try to prolong existence a few hours, by
means of the wreck, did not occur to me. But, when I came to look about
me, to note the tranquil condition of the ocean, and to heed the chances,
small as they were, that offered, the love of life was renewed within me,
and I seriously set about the measures necessary to such an end.

The first step was to sound the pumps, anew. The water had not gained in
the night as rapidly as it had gained throughout the preceding day. But it
had gained; there being three feet more of it than when I last
sounded--the infallible evidence of the existence of a leak that no means
of mine could stop. It was, then, hopeless to think of saving the ship.
She had settled in the water, already, so as to bring the lower bolts of
both fore and main channels awash; and I supposed she might float for
four-and-twenty hours longer, unless an injury that I had discovered under
the larboard cat-head, and which had been received from the wreck, should
sooner get under water. It appeared to me that a butt had been started
there: such a leak would certainly hasten the fate of the vessel by some
hours, should it come fairly into the account.

Having made this calculation as to the time I had to do it in, I set
seriously about the job of making provisions with my raft. In one or two
particulars, I could not much improve the latter; for, the yards lying
underneath the masts, it rendered the last as buoyant as was desirable in
moderate weather. It struck me, however, that by getting the top-gallant
and royal masts, with their yards, in, around the top, I might rig a
staging, with the aid of the hatches, that would not only keep me entirely
out of water, in mild weather, but which would contain all one man could
consume, in the way of victuals and drink, for a month to come. To this
object, then, I next gave my attention.

I had no great difficulty in getting the spars I have mentioned, loose,
and in hauling them alongside of the top. It was a job that required time,
rather than strength; for my movements were greatly facilitated by the
presence of the top-mast rigging, which remained in its place, almost as
taut as when upright. The other rigging I cut, and having got out the fids
of the two masts, one at a time, I pushed the spars through their
respective caps with a foot. Of course, I was obliged to get into the
water to work; but I had thrown aside most of my clothes for the occasion,
and the weather being warm, I felt greatly refreshed with my bath. In two
hours' time, I had my top-gallant-mast and yard well secured to the
top-rim and the caps, having sawed them in pieces for the purpose. The
fastenings were both spikes and lashings, the carpenter's stores
furnishing plenty of the former, as well as all sorts of tools.

This part of the arrangement completed, I ate a hearty breakfast, when I
began to secure the hatches, as a sort of floor, on my primitive joists.
This was not difficult, the hatches being long, and the rings enabling me
to lash them, as well as to spike them. Long before the sun had reached
the meridian, I had a stout little platform, that was quite eighteen
inches above the water, and which was surrounded by a species of low
ridge-ropes, so placed as to keep articles from readily tumbling off it.
The next measure was to cut all the sails from the yards, and to cut loose
all the rigging and iron that did not serve to keep the wreck together.
The reader can easily imagine how much more buoyancy I obtained by these
expedients. The fore-sail alone weighed much more than I did myself, with
all the stores I might have occasion to put on my platform. As for the
fore-top-sail, there was little of it left, the canvass having mostly
blown from the yard, before the mast went.

My raft was completed by the time I felt the want of dinner; and a very
good raft it was. The platform was about ten feet square, and it now
floated quite two feet clear of the water. This was not much for a sea;
but, after the late violent gale, I had some reason to expect a
continuation of comparatively good weather. I should not have been a true
seaman not to have bethought me of a mast and a sail. I saved the
fore-royal-mast, and the yard, with its canvass, for such a purpose;
determining to rig them when I had nothing else to do. I then ate my
dinner, which consisted of the remnants of the old cold meat and fowls I
could find among the cabin eatables.

This meal taken, the duty that came next was to provision my raft. It took
but little time or labour. The cabin stores were quite accessible; and a
bag of pilot-bread, another of that peculiarly American invention, called
crackers--some smoked beef, a case of liquors, and two breakers of water,
formed my principal stock. To this I added a pot of butter, with some
capital smoked herrings, and some anchovies. We lived well in the cabin of
the Dawn, and there was no difficulty in making all the provision that six
or eight men would have needed for a month. Perceiving that the raft, now
it was relieved from the weight of the sails and rigging, was not much
affected by the stores, I began to look about me in quest of anything
valuable I might wish to save. The preparations I had been making created
a sort of confidence in their success; a confidence (hope might be the
better word) that was as natural, perhaps, as it was unreasonable. I
examined the different objects that offered, with a critical comparison
of their value and future usefulness, that would have been absurd, had it
not afforded a melancholy proof of the tenacity of our desires in matters
of this nature. It is certainly a sad thing to abandon a ship, at sea,
with all her appliances, and with a knowledge of the gold that she cost.
The Dawn, with her cargo, must have stood me in eighty thousand dollars,
or even more; and here was I about to quit her, out on the ocean, with an
almost moral certainty that not a cent of the money could be, or would be,
recovered from the insurers. These last only took risks against the
accidents of the ocean, fire included; and there was a legal obligation on
the insured to see that the vessel was properly found and manned. It was
my own opinion that no accident would have occurred to the ship, in the
late gale, had the full crew been on board; and that the ship was not
sufficiently manned was, in a legal sense my own fault. I was bound to let
the English carry her into port, and to await judgment,--the law supposing
that justice would have been done in the premises. The law might have been
greatly mistaken in this respect; but potentates never acknowledge their
blunders. If I was wronged in the detention, the law presumed suitable
damages. It is true, I might be ruined by the delay, through the debts
left behind me; but the law, with all its purity, cared nothing for that.
Could I have shown a loss by means of a falling market, I might have
obtained redress, provided the court chose to award it, and provided the
party did not appeal; or, if he did, that the subsequent decisions
supported the first; and provided,--all the decrees being in my
favour,--my Lord Harry Dermond could have paid a few thousands in
damages:--a problem to be solved, in itself.

I always carried to sea with me a handsome chest, that I had bought in one
of my earlier voyages, and which usually contained my money, clothes and
other valuables. This chest I managed to get on deck, by the aid of a
purchase, and over the ship's side, on the raft. It was much the most
troublesome task I had undertaken. To this I added my writing-desk, a
mattress, two or three counterpanes, and a few other light articles, which
it struck me might be of use--but, which I could cast into the sea at any
moment, should it become necessary. When all this was done, I conceived
that my useful preparations were closed.

It was near night, and I felt sufficiently fatigued to lie down and sleep.
The water had gained very slowly during the last few hours, but the ship
was now swimming so low, that I thought it unsafe to remain in the vessel,
while asleep. I determined, therefore, to take my leave of her, and go on
the raft for that purpose. It struck me too, it might be unsafe to be too
near the vessel when she went down, and I had barely time to get the spars
a short distance from the ship, before darkness would come. Still, I was
unwilling to abandon the Dawn altogether, since the spars that stood on
board her, would always be a more available signal to any passing vessel,
than the low sail I could set on the raft. Should she float during the
succeeding day, they would increase the chances of a rescue, and they
offered an advantage not to be lightly thrown away.

To force the spars away from the ship was not an easy task of itself.
There is an attraction in matter, that is known to bring vessels nearer
together in calms, and I had this principle of nature first to overcome;
then to neutralize it, without the adequate means for doing either. Still
I was very strong, and possessed all the resources of a seaman. The raft,
too, now its length was reduced, was much more manageable than it had been
originally, and in rummaging about the twixt-decks, I had found a set of
oars belonging to the launch, which had been stowed in the steerage, and
which of course were preserved. These I had taken to the raft, to
strengthen my staging, or deck, and two of them had been reserved for the
very purpose to which they were now applied.

Cutting away the kedge, then, and casting off the other ropes I had used
with which to breast-to the raft, I began to shove off, just as the sun
was dipping. So long as I could pull by the ship, I did very well, for I
adopted the expedient of hauling astern, instead of pushing broad off,
under the notion that I might get a better drift, if quite from under the
lee of the vessel, than if lying on her broadside. I say the 'lee,' though
there wasn't a breath of air, nor scarcely any motion of the water. I had
a line fast to a stern-davit, and placing myself with my feet braced
against the chest, I soon overcame the _vis inertia_ of the spars, and,
exerting all my force, when it was once in motion, I succeeded in giving
the raft an impetus that carried it completely past the ship. I confess I
felt no personal apprehension from the suction, supposing the ship to sink
while the raft was in absolute contact with it, but the agitation of the
water might weaken its parts, or it might wash most of my stores away.
This last consideration induced me, now, to go to work with the oars, and
try to do all I could, by that mode of propelling my dull craft. I worked
hard just one hour, by my watch; at the expiration of that time, the
nearest end of the raft, or the lower part of the foremast, was about a
hundred yards from the Dawn's taffrail. This was a slow movement, and did
not fail to satisfy me, that, if I were to be saved at all, it would be by
means of some passing vessel, and not by my own progress.

Overcome by fatigue, I now lay down and slept. I took no precautions
against the wind's rising in the night; firstly, because I thought it
impossible from the tranquil aspects of the heavens and the ocean; and
secondly, because I felt no doubt that the wash of the water and the sound
of the winds would arouse me, should it occur differently. As on the
previous night, I slept sweetly, and obtained renewed strength for any
future trials. As on the preceding morning, too, I was awaked by the warm
rays of the rising sun falling on my face. On first awaking, I did not
know exactly where I was. A moment's reflection, however, sufficed to
recall the past to my mind, and I turned to examine my actual situation.

I looked for the ship, towards the end of the mast, or in the direction
where I had last seen her; but she was not visible. The raft had swung
round in the night, I thought, and I bent my eyes slowly round the entire
circle of the horizon, but no ship was to be seen. The Dawn had sunk in
the night, and so quietly as to give no alarm! I shuddered, for I could
not but imagine what would have been my fate, had I been aroused from the
sleep of the living, only to experience the last agony as I passed away
into the sleep of the dead. I cannot describe the sensation that came over
me, as I gazed around, and found myself on the broad ocean, floating on a
little deck that was only ten feet square, and which was raised less than
two feet above the surface of the waters. It was now that I felt the true
frailty of my position, and comprehended all its dangers. Before, it had
been shaded by the ship, as it might be, and I had found a species of
protection in her presence. But, the whole truth now stood before me. Even
a moderate breeze would raise a sea that could not fail to break over the
staging, and which must sweep everything away. The spars had a specific
lightness, it is true, and they would never sink; or, if they did sink, it
would only be at the end of ages, when saturated with water and covered
with barnacles; but, on the other hand, they possessed none of the
buoyancy of a vessel, and could riot rise above the rolling waters,
sufficiently to clear their breakers.

These were not comfortable reflections; they pressed on my mind even while
engaged at my morning devotions. After performing, in the best manner I
could, this never-ceasing duty, I ate a little, though I must admit it was
with a small appetite. Then I made the best stowage I could of my effects,
and rigged and stepped the mast, hoisting the sail, as a signal to any
vessel that might appear. I expected wind ere long; nor was I
disappointed; a moderate breeze springing up from the north-west, about
nine o'clock. This air was an immense relief to me, in more ways than one.
It cooled my person, which was suffering from the intense heat of a
summer's sun beating directly on a boundless expanse of water, and it
varied a scene that otherwise possessed an oppressively wearisome
sameness. Unfortunately this breeze met me in the bows; for I had stepped
my mast in the foremast, lashed it against the bottom of the top, which it
will be remembered was now perpendicular, and stayed it to the mast-heads
and dead-eyes of the top-mast rigging, all of which remained as when
erect, though now floating on the water. I intended the fractured part of
the foremast for my cut-water, and, of course, had to ware ship before I
could gather any way. This single manoeuvre occupied a quarter of an hour,
my braces, tacks, and sheets not working particularly well. At the end of
that time, however, I got round, and laid my yard square.

Chapter XXIII.

"There was speech in their dumbness, language in their very gesture;
they looked, as they had heard of a world ransomed, or one destroyed: A
notable passion of wonder appeared in them; but the wisest beholder,
that knew no more but seeing, could not say, if the importance were joy,
or sorrow;--but in the extremity of the one, it must needs be."

Winter's Tale.

As soon as the raft got fairly before the wind, and the breeze had
freshened, I had an opportunity of ascertaining what it would do. The
royal was a large one, and it stood well. I had brought a log-line and the
slow-glass with me, as well as my quadrant, slate, &c., and began to think
of keeping a reckoning. I had supposed the ship to be, when it fell calm,
about two hundred miles from the land, and I knew her to be in latitude
48 deg. 37''. The log-line told me, the raft moved through the water, all that
forenoon, at the rate of about half a knot in the hour; and could I keep
on for fifteen or sixteen days, in a straight course, I might yet hope to
get ashore. I was not so weak, however, as to expect any such miracle to
be wrought in my favour, though, had I been in the trades, the thing might
have occurred. By cutting adrift the two yards, or by getting them fore
and aft, in a line with the water, my rate of sailing might be doubled;
and I began seriously to think of effecting this great change. Cut the
yards adrift I did not like to do, their support in keeping me out of
water being very important. By hauling on the lift, I did get them in a
more oblique position, and in a measure thus lessened their resistance to
the element. I thought that even this improvement made a difference of
half a knot in my movement. Nevertheless, it was tedious work to be a
whole hour in going less than a single mile, when two hundred remained to
be travelled, and the risks of the ocean were thus constantly
impending over one!

What a day was that! It blew pretty fresh at one time, and I began to
tremble for my staging, or deck, which got washed several times, though
the top-sail-yard made for it a sort of lee, and helped to protect it.
Towards the decline of the day, the wind went down, and at sunset
everything was as tranquil as it had been the previous evening. I thought
I might have been eight or nine miles from the spot where the Dawn went
down, without computing the influence of the currents, which may have set
me all that distance back again, or so much further ahead, for anything I
knew of the matter. At sunset I took an anxious survey of the horizon, to
see if any sail were in sight; but nothing was visible.

Another tranquil night gave me another tranquil night's rest. I call the
last tranquil, as it proved to be in one sense, though I was sorely
troubled with dreams. Had I been suffering for nourishment, I certainly
should have dreamed of food; but, such not being the case, my thoughts
took the direction of home and friends. Much of the time, I lay half
asleep and half awake; then my mind would revert to my sister, to Lucy, to
Mr. Hardinge, and to Clawbonny--which I fancied already in the possession
of John Wallingford, who was triumphing in his ownership, and the success
of his arts. Then I thought Lucy had purchased the place, and was living
there with Andrew Drewett, in a handsome new house, built in the modern
taste. By modern taste, I do not mean one of the Grecian-temple school, as
I do no think that even all the vagaries of a diseased imagination that
was suffering under the calamities of shipwreck, could induce me to
imagine Lucy Hardinge silly enough to desire to live in such a structure.

Towards morning, I fell into a doze, the fourth or fifth renewal of my
slumbers that night; and I remember that I had that sort of curious
sensation which apprises us itself, it was a dream. In the course of the
events that passed through my mind, I fancied I overheard Marble and Neb
conversing. Their voices were low, and solemn, as I thought; and the words
so distinct, that I still remember every syllable.

"No, Neb," said Marble, or seemed to say, in a most sorrowful tone, one I
had never heard him use even in speaking of his hermitage. "There is
little hope for Miles, now. I felt as if the poor boy was lost when I saw
him swept away from me, by them bloody spars striking adrift, and set him
down as one gone from that moment. You've lost an A. No. 1. master,
Mister Neb, I can tell you, and you may sarve a hundred before you fall in
with his like ag'in."

"I nebber sarve anoder gentleum; Misser Marble," returned the black;
"_dat_ as sartain as gospel. I born in 'e Wallingford family, and I lib
an' die in 'e same family, or I don't want to lib and die, at all. My real
name be Wallingford, dough folk do call me Clawbonny."

"Ay, and a slim family it's got to be!" rejoined the mate. "The nicest,
and the handsomest, and the most virtuous young woman in all York State,
is gone out of it, first: I knew but little of her; but, how often did
poor Miles tell me all about her; and how he loved her, and how she loved
him, and the like of all that, as is becoming; and something in the way
that I love little Kitty, my niece you know, Neb, only a thousand times
more; and hearing so much of a person is all the same, or even better than
to know them up and down, if a body wants to feel respect with all his
heart. Secondly, as a person would say, now there's Miles, lost too, for
the ship is sartainly gone down, Neb: otherwise, she would have been seen
floating hereabouts, and we may log him as a man lost overboard."

"P'rhaps not, Misser Marble," said the negro. "Masser Mile swim like a
fish, and he isn't the gentleum to give up as soon as trouble come.
P'rhaps he swimming about all dis time."

"Miles could do all that man could do, Neb, but he can't swim two hundred
miles--a South sea-man might do something like that, I do suppose, but
they're onaccountably web-footed. No, no, Neb; I fear we shall have to
give him up. Providence swept him away from us, like, and we've lost him.
Ah's me!--well, I loved that boy better, even, than a Yankee loves

This may be thought an odd comparison to cross a drowsy imagination, but
it was one Marble often made; and if eating the fruit, morning, noon and
night, will vindicate its justice, the mate stood exonerated from
everything like exaggeration.

"Ebbry body lub Masser Mile," said the warm-hearted Neb, or I thought he
so said. "I nebber see dat we _can_ go home to good old Masser Hardinge,
and tell him how we lose Masser Mile!"

"It will be a hard job, Neb, but I greatly fear it must be done. However,
we will now turn in and try to catch a nap, for the wind will be rising
one of these times, and then we shall have need of keeping our eyes
wide open."

After this I heard no more; but every word of that which I have related,
sounded as plainly in my ears as if the speakers were within fifty feet of
me. I lay in the same state, some time longer, endeavouring, as I was
curious myself, of catching, or fancying, more words from those I loved so
well; but no more came. Then I believe I fell into a deeper sleep, for I
remember no more, for hours.

At dawn I awoke, the care on my mind answering for a call. This time, I
did not wait for the sun to shine in my eyes, but, of the two, I rather
preceded, than awaited the return of the light. On standing erect, I found
the sea as tranquil as it had been the previous night, and there was an
entire calm. It was still so dusky that a little examination was necessary
to be certain nothing was near. The horizon was scarcely clear, though,
making my first look towards the east, objects were plainest in that
quarter of the ocean. I then turned slowly round, examining the vast
expanse of water as I did so; until my back was towards the approaching
light, and I faced the west. I thought I saw a boat within ten yards of
me! At first, I took it for illusion, and rubbed my eyes to make sure that
I was awake. There it was, however, and another look satisfied me it was
my own launch, or that in which poor Neb had been carried overboard. What
was more, it was floating in the proper manner, appeared buoyant, and had
two masts rigged. It is true, that it looked dusky, as objects appear just
at dawn, but it was sufficiently distinct. I could not be mistaken; it was
my own launch thus thrown within my reach by the mercy of divine

This boat, then, had survived the gale, and the winds and currents had
brought it and the raft together. What had become of Neb? He must have
rigged the masts, for none were stepped, of course, when the boat was in
the chocks. Masts, and sails, and oars were always kept in the boat, it is
true; but the first could not be stepped without hands. A strange, wild
feeling came over me, as a man might be supposed to yield to the
appearance of supernatural agencies and, almost without intending it, I
shouted "boat ahoy!"

"Yo hoy!" answered Marble;--"who hails?"

The form of the mate appeared rising in the boat; at the next instant, Neb
stood at his side. The conversation of the previous night had been real,
and those whom I had mourned as lost stood within thirty feet of me, hale,
hearty, and unharmed. The boat and raft had approached each other in the
darkness; and, as I afterwards learned, the launch having fanned along for
several hours of the night, stopped for want of wind nearly where I now
saw her, and where the dialogue, part of which I overheard while half
asleep, had taken place. Had the launch continued on its course only ten
yards further, it would have hit the fore-top-mast. That attraction of
which I have already spoken, probably kept the boat and raft near each
other throughout the night, and quite likely had been slowly drawing them
together while we slept.

It would not be easy to say which party was the most astonished at this
recognition. There was Marble, whom I had supposed washed off the raft,
safe in the launch; and here was I, whom the other two had thought to have
gone down in the ship, safe on the raft! We appeared to have changed
places, without concert and without expectation of ever again meeting.
Though ignorant of the means through which all this had been brought
about, I very well know what we did, as soon as each man was certain that
he saw the other standing before him in the flesh. We sat down and wept
like three children. Then Neb, too impatient to wait for Marble's
movements, threw himself into the sea, and swam to the raft. When he got
on the staging, the honest fellow kissed my hands, again and again,
blubbering the whole time like a girl of three or four years of age. This
scene was interrupted only by the expostulations and proceedings of
the mate.

"What's this you're doing, you bloody nigger!" cried Marble. "Desarting
your station, and leaving me here, alone, to manage this heavy launch, by
myself. It might be the means of losing all hands of us again, should a
hurricane spring up suddenly, and wreck us over again."

The truth was, Marble began to be ashamed of the weakness he had
betrayed, and was ready to set upon anything, in order to conceal it. Neb
put an end to this sally, however, by plunging again into the water, and
swimming back to the boat, as readily as he had come to the raft.

"Ay, here you are, Neb, nigger-like, and not knowing whether to stay or to
go," growled the mate, busy the whole time in shipping two oars. "You put
me in mind of a great singer I once heard in Liverpool; a chap that would
keep shaking and quavering at the end of a varse, in such a style that he
sometimes did not know whether to let go or to hold on. It is onbecoming
in men to forget themselves, Neb; if we have found him we thought to be
lost, it is no reason for desarting our stations, or losing our
wits--Miles, my dear boy," springing on the raft, and sending Neb adrift
again, all alone, by the backward impetus of the leap--"Miles, my dear
boy, God be praised for this!" squeezing both my hands as in a vice--"I
don't know how it is--but ever since I 've fallen in with my mother and
little Kitty, I've got to be womanish. I suppose it's what you call
domestic affection."

Here, Marble gave in once more, blubbering just as hard as Neb, himself,
had done.

A few minutes later, all three began to know what we were about. The
launch was hauled up alongside of the stage, and we sat on the latter,
relating the manner in which each of us had been saved. First, then, as to
Neb: I have already told the mode in which the launch was swept overboard,
and I inferred its loss from the violence of the tempest, and the height
of the seas that were raging around us. It is true, neither Marble, nor I,
saw anything of the launch after it sunk behind the first hill of water to
leeward, for we had too much to attend to on board the ship, to have
leisure to look about us. But, it seems the black was enabled to maintain
the boat, the right side up, and, by bailing, to keep her afloat. He drove
to leeward, of course, and the poor fellow described in vivid terms his
sensations, as he saw the rate at which he was driving away from the ship,
and the manner in which he lost sight of her remaining spars. As soon as
the wind would permit, however, he stepped the masts, and set the two
luggs close-reefed, making stretches of three or four miles in length, to
windward. This timely decision was the probable means of saving all our
lives. In the course of a few hours, after he had got the boat under
command, he caught a glimpse of the fore-royal-masts sticking out from the
cap of a sea, and watching it eagerly, he next perceived the whole of the
raft, as it came up on the same swell, with Marble, half-drowned, lashed
to the top. It was quite an hour, before Neb could get near enough to the
raft, or spars, to make Marble conscious of his presence, and sometime
longer ere he could get the sufferer into the boat. This rescue did not
occur one minute too soon, for the mate admitted to me he was half
drowned, and that he did not think he could have held out much longer,
when Neb took him into the boat.

As for food and water, they fared well enough. A breaker of fresh water
was kept in each boat, by my standing orders, and it seems that the cook,
who was a bit of an epicure in his way, was in the habit of stowing a bag
of bread, and certain choice pieces of beef and pork, in the bows of the
launch, for his own special benefit. All these Neb had found, somewhat the
worse for salt-water, it is true, but still in a condition to be eaten.
There was sufficient in the launch, therefore, when we thus met, to
sustain Marble and Neb, in good heart, for a week.

As soon as the mate was got off the raft, he took direction of the launch.
Unluckily, he made a long stretch to the northward, intending to tack and
cross what he supposed must have been the position of the ship, and come
to my relief. While the launch was thus working its way to windward, I
fell in with, and took possession of, the raft, as has been described.
Marble's calculation was a good one, in the main; but it brought him near
the Dawn the night she sank, and the raft and boat were both too low to be
seen at any distance, the one from the other. It is probable we were not
more than ten or twelve miles asunder the most of the day I was on the
raft, Marble putting up his helm to cross the supposed position of the
ship, about three in the afternoon. This brought him down upon the raft,
about midnight, when the conversation I have related took place, within a
few yards of me, neither party having the least notion of the proximity of
the other.

I was touched by the manner in which Marble and Neb spoke of my supposed
fate. Neither seemed to remember that he was washed away from a ship, but
appeared to fancy that I was abandoned alone, on the high seas, in a
sinking vessel. While I had been regretting their misfortunes, they had
both thought of me as the party to be pitied; each fancying his own
fortune more happy than mine. In a word, their concern for me was so
great, that they altogether forgot to dwell on the hardships and dangers
of their own particular cases. I could not express all I felt on the
occasion; but the events of that morning, and the feelings betrayed by my
two old shipmates, made an impression on my heart, that time has not, nor
ever can, efface. Most men who had been washed overboard, would have
fancied themselves the suffering party; but during the remainder of the
long intercourse that succeeded, both Marble and Neb always alluded to
this occurrence as if I were the person lost and rescued.

We were an hour or more intently occupied in these explanations, before
either recollected the future. Then I felt it was time to have some
thought for our situation, which was sufficiently precarious, as it was;
though Marble and Neb made light of any risks that remained to be run. I
was saved, as it might be, by a miracle; and that was all that they could
remember, just then. But a breeze sprang up from the eastward, as the sun
appeared, and the agitation of the raft soon satisfied me that my berth
would have been most precarious, had I not been so providentially
relieved. It is true, Marble made light of the present state of things,
which, compared to those into which he had been so suddenly
launched,--without food, water, or provisions, of any sort,--was a species
of paradise. Nevertheless, no time was to be wasted; and we had a long
road to travel in the boat, ere we could deem ourselves in the least safe.

My two associates had got the launch in as good order as circumstances
would allow. But it wanted ballast to carry sail hard, and they had felt
this disadvantage; particularly Neb, when he first got the boat on a wind.
I could understand, by his account of the difficulties and dangers he
experienced,--though it came out incidentally, and without the smallest
design to magnify his own merits,--that nothing but his undying interest
in me, could have prevented him from running off before the wind, in
order to save his own life. An opportunity now offered to remedy this
evil, and we went to work to transfer all the effects I had placed on the
stage, to the launch. They made a little cargo that gave her stability at
once. As soon as this was done, we entered the boat, made sail, and hauled
close on a wind, under reefed luggs; it beginning to blow smartly
in puffs.

I did not part from the raft without melancholy regrets. The materials of
which it was composed were all that now remained of the Dawn. Then the few
hours of jeopardy and loneliness I had passed on it, were not to be
forgotten. They still recur vividly to my thoughts with deep, and, I
trust, profitable, reflections. The first hour after we cast off, we stood
to the southward. The wind continuing to increase in violence, and the sea
to get up, until it blew too fresh for the boat to make any headway, or
even to hold her own against it, Marble thought he might do better on the
other tack,--having some reason to suppose there was a current setting to
the southward and eastward,--and we wore round. After standing to the
northward for a sufficient length of time, we again fell in with the
spars; a proof that we were doing nothing towards working our way to
windward. I determined, at once, to make fast to them, and use them as a
sort of floating anchor, so long as the foul wind lasted. We had some
difficulty in effecting this object; but we finally succeeded in getting
near enough, under the lee of the top, to make fast to one of its
eye-bolts--using a bit of small hawser, that was in the boat, for that
purpose. The boat was then dropped a sufficient distance to leeward of the
spars, where it rode head to sea, like a duck. This was a fortunate
expedient; as it came on to blow hard, and we had something very like a
little gale of wind.

As soon as the launch was thus moored, we found its advantage. It shipped
no more water, or very little, and we were not compelled to be on the
look-out for squalls, which occurred every ten or fifteen minutes, with a
violence that it would not do to trifle with. The weather thickened at
these moments; and there were intervals of half an hour at a time, when we
could not see a hundred yards from the boat, on account of the drizzling,
misty rain that filled the atmosphere. There we sat, conversing sometimes
of the past, sometimes of the future, a bubble in the midst of the raging
waters of the Atlantic, filled with the confidence of seamen. With the
stout boat we possessed, the food and water we had, I do not think either
now felt any great concern for his fate; it being possible, in moderate
weather, to run the launch far enough to reach an English port in about a
week. Favoured by even a tolerably fair wind, the object might be effected
in even two or three days.

"I take it for granted, Miles," Marble remarked, as we pursued our
discourse, "that your insurance will completely cover your whole loss? You
did not forget to include freight in the risks?"

"So far from this, Moses, I believe myself to be nearly or quite a ruined
man. The loss of the ship is unquestionably owing to the act of the
Speedy, united to our own, in setting those Englishmen adrift on the
ocean. No insurers will meet a policy that has thus been voided."

"Ah! the blackguards!--This is worse than I had thought;--but you can
always make a harbour at Clawbonny?"

I was on the point of explaining to Marble how I stood in relation to the
paternal acres, when a sort of shadow was suddenly cast on the boat, and I
fancied the rushing of the water seemed to be increased at the same
instant. We all three sat with our faces to leeward, and all turned them
to windward under a common impulse. A shout burst from Marble's throat,
and a sight met my eyes, that caused the blood to rush in a torrent
through my heart. Literally within a hundred feet of us, was a large ship,
ploughing the ocean with a furrow that rose to her hawse-holes, and piling
before her, in her track, a mound of foam, as she came down upon us, with
top-mast and lower studding-sails set--overshadowing the sea, like some
huge cloud. There was scarcely time for more than a glance, ere this ship
was nearly upon us. As she rose on a swell, her black sides came up out of
the ocean, glittering and dripping, and the tine of frowning guns seemed
as if just lacquered. Neb was in the bow of the launch, while I was in the
stern. My arm was extended involuntarily, or instinctively would be the
better word, to avert the danger, when it seemed to me that the next send
of the ship would crush us beneath the bright copper of her bottom.
Without Neb's strength and presence of mind, we had been lost beyond a
hope; for swimming up to the spars against the sea that was on, would have
been next to hopeless; and even if there, without food, or water, our fate
would have been sealed. But Neb seized the hawser by which we were riding,
and hauled the launch ahead her length, or more, before the frigate's
larboard bower-anchor settled down in a way that menaced crushing us. As
it was, I actually laid a hand on the muzzle of the third gun, while the
ship went foaming by. At the next instant she was past; and we were safe.
Then all three of us shouted together. Until that moment, none in the
frigate were aware of our vicinity. But the shout gave the alarm, and as
the ship cleared us, her taffrail was covered with officers. Among them
was one grey-headed man, whom I recognised by his dress for the captain.
He made a gesture, turning an arm upward, and I knew an order was given
immediately after, by the instantaneous manner in which the taffrail
was cleared.

"By George!" exclaimed Marble, "I had a generalizing time of it, for half
a dozen seconds, Miles."

"There was more risk," I answered, "than time to reflect on it. However,
the ship is about to round-to, and we shall be picked up, at last. Let us
thank God for this."

It was indeed a beautiful sight for a seaman, to note the manner in which
that old captain handled his vessel. Although we found the wind and sea
too much for a boat that had to turn to windward, neither was of much
moment to a stout frigate, that carried fifty guns, and which was running
off, with the wind on her quarter.

She was hardly past us, when I could see preparations making to take in
canvass. At the instant she overshadowed us with her huge wings, this
vessel had top-gallant-sails set, with two top-mast, and a lower
studding-sail, besides carrying the lee-clew of her main-sail down, and
the other customary cloth spread. Up went her main-sail, almost as soon as
the captain made the signal with his arm; then all three of the
top-gallant-sails were flying at the same moment. Presently, the yards
were alive with men, and the loose canvass was rolled up, and the gaskets
passed. While this was doing, down came all the studding-sails together,
much as a bird shuts its wings. The booms disappeared immediately after.

"Look at that, Miles!" cried the delighted Marble. "Although a bloody
Englishman, that chap leaves nothing to be done over again. He puts
everything in its place, like an old woman stowing away her needles and
thread. I'll warrant you, the old blade is a keen one!"

"The ship is well handled, certainly, and her people work like mariners
who are trying to save the lives of mariners."

While this was passing between us, the frigate was stripped to her three
top-sails, spanker, jib, and fore-course Down came her yards, next; and
then they were covered with blue-jackets, like bees clustering around a
hive. We had scarcely time to note this, ere the men lay in, and the yards
were up again, with the sails reefed. This was no sooner done, than the
frigate, which had luffed the instant the steering-sails were in, was
trimmed close on a wind, and began to toss the water over her
sprit-sail-yard, as she met the waves like one that paid them no heed. No
sooner was the old seaman who directed all this, assured of the strength
of the wind he had to meet, than down went his main-sail again, and the
tack was hauled aboard.

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