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The Crater by James Fenimore Cooper

Part 3 out of 9

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depth of two feet each. Gunpowder, in very small quantities, was used,
or these holes could not have been made in a twelvemonth. But by
drilling with a crowbar a foot or two into the rock, and charging the
cavity with a very small portion of powder, the lava was cracked, when
the stones rather easily were raised by means of the picks and crows.
Some idea may be formed of the amount of labour that was expended on
this, the first step in the new task, by the circumstance that a month
was passed in setting those eight awning-posts alone. When up, however,
they perfectly answered the purpose, everything having been done in a
thorough, seaman-like manner. At the top of each post, itself a portion
of solid spar, a watch-tackle was lashed, by means of which the sail was
bowsed up to its place. To prevent the bagging unavoidable, in an awning
of that size, several uprights were set in the centre, on end, answering
their purpose sufficiently without boring into the rocks.

Bob was in raptures with the new 'ship-yard.' It was as large as the
mainsail of a ship of four hundred tons, was complete as to shade, with
the advantage of letting the breeze circulate, and had a reasonable
chance of escaping from the calamities of a flood. Mark, too, was
satisfied with the result, and the very next day after this task was
completed, our shipwrights set to work to lay their keel. That day was
memorable on another account. Bob had gone to the Summit in quest of a
tool left there, in fitting up the boat of Mark, and while on the mount,
he ascertained the important fact that the melons were beginning to
ripen. He brought down three or four of these delicious fruits, and Mark
had the gratification of tasting some of the bounties of Providence,
which had been bestowed, as a reward of his own industry and
forethought. It was necessary to eat of these melons in moderation,
however; but it was a great relief to get them at all, after subsisting
for so long a time on salted meats, principally, with no other
vegetables but such as were dry, and had been long in the ship. It was
not the melons alone, however, that were getting to be ripe; for, on
examining himself, among the vines which now covered fully an acre of
the Summit, Mark found squashes, cucumbers, onions, sweet-potatoes,
tomatoes, string-beans, and two or three other vegetables, all equally
fit to be used. From that time, some of these plants were put into the
pot daily, and certain slight apprehensions which Woolston had begun
again to entertain on the subject of scurvy, were soon dissipated. As
for the garden within the crater, which was much the most extensive and
artistical, it was somewhat behind that on the Summit, having been later
tilled; but everything, there, looked equally promising, and Mark saw
that one acre, well worked, would produce more than he and Betts could
consume in a twelvemonth.

It was an important day on the Reef when the keel of the pinnace was
laid. On examining his materials, Mark ascertained that the
boat-builders had marked and numbered each portion of the frame, each
plank, and everything else that belonged to the pinnace. Holes were
bored, and everything had been done in the boat-yard that could be
useful to those who, it was expected, were to put the work together in a
distant part of the world. This greatly facilitated our new
boat-builders' labours in the way of skill, besides having done so much
of the actual toil to their hands. As soon as the keel was laid, Mark
set up the frame, which came together with very little trouble. The
wailes were then got out, and were fitted, each piece being bolted in
its allotted place. As the work had already been put together, there was
little or no dubbing necessary. Aware that the parts had once been
accurately fitted to each other, Mark was careful not to disturb their
arrangement by an unnecessary use of the adze, or broad-axe,
experimenting and altering the positions of the timbers and planks; but,
whenever he met with any obstacle, in preference to cutting and changing
the materials themselves, he persevered until the parts came together as
had been contemplated. By observing this caution, the whole frame was
set up, the wailes were fitted and bolted, and the garboard-streak got
on and secured, without taking off a particle of the wood, though a week
was necessary to effect these desired objects.

Our mariners now measured their new frame. The keel was just
four-and-twenty feet long, the distance between the knight-heads and the
taffrail being six feet greater; the beam, from outside to outside, was
nine feet, and the hold might be computed at five feet in depth. This
gave something like a measurement of eleven tons; the pinnace having
been intended for a craft a trifle smaller than this. As a vessel of
eleven tons might make very good weather in a sea-way, if properly
handled, the result gave great satisfaction, Mark cheering Bob with
accounts of crafts, of much smaller dimensions, that had navigated the
more stormy seas, with entire safety, on various occasions.

The planking of the Neshamony was no great matter, being completed the
week it was commenced. The caulking, however, gave more trouble, though
Bob had done a good deal of that sort of work in his day. It took a
fortnight for the honest fellow to do the caulking to his own mind, and
before it was finished another great discovery was made by rummaging in
the ship's hold, in quest of some of the fastenings which had not at
first been found. A quantity of old sheet-copper, that had run its time
on a vessel's bottom, was brought to light, marked "copper for the
pinnace." Friend Abraham White had bethought him of the worms of the low
latitudes, and had sent out enough of the refuse copper of a vessel that
had been broken up to cover the bottom of this little craft fairly up to
her bends. To work, then, Mark and Bob went to put on the
sheathing-paper and copper that had thus bountifully been provided for
them, as soon as the seams were well payed. This done, and it was no
great job, the paint-brush was set to work, and the hull was completed!
In all, Mark and Betts were eight weeks, hard at work, putting their
pinnace together. When she was painted, the summer was more than half
gone. The laying of the deck had given more trouble than any other
portion of the work on the boat, and this because it was not a plain,
full deck, or one that covered the whole of the vessel, but left small
stern-sheets aft, which was absolutely necessary to the comfort and
safety of those she was to carry. The whole was got together, however,
leaving Mark and Bob to rejoice in their success thus far, and to puzzle
their heads about the means of getting their craft into the water, now
she was built. In a word, it was far easier to put together a vessel
often tons, that had been thus ready fitted to their hands, than it was
to launch her.

As each of our mariners had necessarily seen many vessels in their
cradles, each had some idea of what it was now necessary to do. Mark had
laid the keel as near the water as he could get it, and by this
precaution had saved himself a good deal of labour. It was very easy to
find materials for the ways, many heavy planks still remaining; but the
difficulty was to lay them so that they would not spread. Here the
awning-posts were found of good service, plank being set on their edges
against them, which, in their turn, were made to sustain the props of
the ways. In order to save materials in the cradle, the ways themselves
were laid on blocks, and they were secured as well as the skill of our
self-formed shipwrights could do it. They had some trouble in making the
cradle, and had once to undo all they had done, in consequence of a
mistake. At length Mark was of opinion they had taken all the necessary
precautions, and told Betts that he thought they might venture to
attempt launching the next day. But Bob made a suggestion which changed
this plan, and caused a delay that was attended with very serious

The weather had become cloudy, and a little menacing, for the last, few
days, and Bob proposed that they should lower the awning, get up shears
on the rock, and step the mast of the pinnace before they launched her,
as a means of saving some labour. The spar was not very heavy, it was
true, and it might be stepped by crossing a couple of the oars in the
boat itself; but a couple of light spars--top-gallant studding-sail
booms for instance--would enable them to do it much more readily, before
the craft was put into the water, than it could be done afterwards. Mark
listened to the suggestion, and acquiesced. The awning was consequently
lowered, and got out of the way. To prevent the hogs from tearing the
sail, it was placed on two of the wheelbarrows and wheeled up into the
crater, whither those animals had never yet found their way. Then the
shears were got up, and the mast was stepped and rigged; the boat's
sails were found and bent. Mark now thought enough had been done, and
that, the next day, they might undertake the launch. But another
suggestion of Bob's delayed the proceedings.

The weather still continued clouded and menacing. Betts was of opinion,
therefore, that it might be well to stow the provisions and water they
intended to use in the pinnace, while she was on the stocks, as they
could work round her so much the more easily then than afterwards.
Accordingly, the breakers were got out, on board the ship, and filled
with fresh water. They were then stuck into the raft. A barrel of beef,
and one of pork followed, with a quantity of bread. At two trips the
raft carried all the provisions and stores that were wanted, and the
cargoes were landed, rolled up to the side of the pinnace, hoisted on
board of her, by means of the throat-halliard, and properly stowed. Two
grapnels, or rather one grapnel, and a small kedge, were found among the
pinnace's materials, everything belonging to her having been stowed in
the same part of the ship. These, too, were carried round to the
ship-yard, got on board, and their hawsers bent. In a word, every
preparation was made that might be necessary to make sail on the
pinnace, and to proceed to sea in her, at once.

It was rather late in the afternoon of the third clouded day, that Betts
himself admitted no more could be done to the Neshamony, previously to
putting her into the water When our two mariners ceased the business of
the day, therefore, it was with the understanding that they would turn
out early in the morning, wedge up, and launch. An hour of daylight
remaining, Mark went up to the Summit to select a few melons, and to
take a look at the state of the plantations and gardens. Before
ascending the hill, the young man walked through his garden in the
crater, where everything was flourishing and doing well. Many of the
vegetables were by this time fit to eat, and there was every prospect of
there being a sufficient quantity raised to meet the wants of two or
three persons for a long period ahead. The sight of these fruits of his
toil, and the luxuriance of the different plants, caused a momentary
feeling of regret in Mark at the thought of being about to quit the
place for ever. He even fancied he should have a certain pleasure in
returning to the Reef; and once a faint outline of a plan came over his
mind, in which he fancied that he might bring Bridget to this place, and
pass the rest of his life with her, in the midst of its peace and
tranquillity. This was but a passing thought, however, and was soon
forgotten in the pictures that crowded on his mind, in connection with
the great anticipated event of the next day.

While strolling about the little walks of his garden, the appearance of
verdure along the edge of the crater, or immediately beneath the cliff,
caught Mark's eye. Going hastily to the spot, he found that there was a
long row of plants of a new sort, not only appearing above the ground,
but already in leaf, and rising several inches in height. These were the
results of the seeds of the oranges, lemons, limes, shaddocks, figs, and
other fruits of the tropics, that he had planted there as an experiment,
and forgotten. While his mind was occupied with other things, these
seeds had sent forth their shoots, and the several trees were growing
with the rapidity and luxuriance that distinguish vegetation within the
tropics. As Mark's imagination pictured what might be the effects of
cultivation and care on that singular spot, a sigh of regret mingled
with his hopes for the future, as he recollected he was so soon to
abandon the place for ever; while on the Summit, too, this feeling of
regret was increased, rather than diminished. So much of the grass-seed
had taken, and the roots had already so far extended, that acres were
beginning to look verdant and smiling. Two or three months had brought
everything forward prodigiously, and the frequency of the rains in
showers, added to the genial warmth of the sun, gave to vegetation a
quickness and force that surprised, as much as it delighted our young

That night Mark and Betts both slept in the ship. They had a fancy it
might be the last in which they could ever have any chance of doing so,
and attachment to the vessel induced both to return to their old berths;
for latterly they had slept in hammocks, swung beneath the ship-yard
awning, in order to be near their work. Mark was awoke at a very early
hour, by the howling of a gale among the rigging and spars of the
Rancocus, sounds that he had not heard for many a day, and which, at
first, were actually pleasant to his ears. Throwing on his clothes, and
going out on the quarter-deck, he found that a tempest was upon them.
The storm far exceeded anything that he had ever before witnessed in the
Pacific. The ocean was violently agitated, and the rollers came in over
the reef, to windward, with a force and majesty that seemed to disregard
the presence of the rocks. It was just light, and Mark called Bob, in
alarm. The aspect of things was really serious, and, at first, our
mariners had great apprehensions for the safety of the ship. It was
true, the sea-wall resisted every shock of the rollers that reached it,
but even the billows after they were broken by this obstacle, came down
upon the vessel with a violence that brought a powerful strain on every
rope-yarn in the sheet-cable. Fortunately, the ground-tackle, on which
the safety of the vessel depended, was of the very best quality, and the
anchor was known to have an excellent hold. Then, the preservation of
the ship was no longer a motive of the first consideration with them;
that of the pinnace being the thing now most to be regarded. It might
grieve them both to see the Rancocus thrown upon the rocks, and broken
up; but of far greater account was it to their future prospects that the
Neshamony should not be injured. Nor were the signs of the danger that
menaced the boat to be disregarded. The water of the ocean appeared to
be piling in among these reefs, the rocks of which resisted its passage
to leeward, and already was washing up on the surface of the Reef, in
places, threatening them with a general inundation. It was necessary to
look after the security of various articles that were scattered about on
the outer plain, and our mariners went ashore to do so.

Although intending so soon to abandon the Reef altogether, a sense of
caution induced Mark to take everything he could within the crater. All
the lower portions of the outer plain were already covered with water,
and those sagacious creatures, the hogs, showed by their snuffing and
disturbed manner of running about, that they had internal as well as
external warnings of danger. Mark pulled aside the curtain, and let all
the animals into the crater. Poor Kitty was delighted to get on the
Summit, whither she soon found her way, by ascending the steps commonly
used by her masters. Fortunately for the plants, the grass was in too
great abundance, and too grateful to her, not to be her choice in
preference to any other food. As for the pigs, they got at work in a
pile of sea-weed, and overlooked the garden, which was at some distance,
until fairly glutted, and ready to lie down.

In the meanwhile the tempest increased in violence, the sea continued to
pile among the rocks, and the water actually covered the whole of the
outer plain of the Reef Now it was that Mark comprehended how the base
of the crater had been worn by water, the waves washing past it with
tremendous violence. There was actually a strong current running over
the whole of the reef, without the crater; the water rushing to leeward,
as if glad to get past the obstacle of the island on any terms, in order
to hasten away before the tempest. Mark was fully half an hour engaged
in looking to his marquee and its contents, all of which were exposed,
more or less, to the power of the gale. After securing his books,
furniture, &c., and seeing that the stays of the marquee itself were
likely to hold out, he cast an eye to the ship, which was on that side
of the island, also. The staunch old 'Cocus, as Bob called her, was
rising and falling with the waves that now disturbed her usually placid
basin; but, as yet, her cable and anchor held her, and no harm was done.
Fortunately, our mariners, when they unbent the sails, had sent down all
the upper and lighter spars, and had lowered the fore and main yards on
the gunwale, measures of precaution that greatly lessened the strain on
her ground-tackle. The top-gallant-masts had also been lowered, and the
vessel was what seamen usually term 'snug.' Mark would have been very,
very sorry to see her lost, even though he did expect to have very
little more use out of her; for he loved the craft from habit.

After taking this look at the ship, our mate passed round the Summit,
having two or three tumbles on his way in consequence of puffs of wind,
until he reached the point over the gate-way, which was that nearest to
the ship-yard. It now occurred to him that possibly it might become
necessary to look a little to the security of the Neshamony, for by this
time the water on the reef was two or three feet deep. To his surprise,
on looking round for Bob, whom he thought to be at work securing
property near the gateway, he ascertained that the honest fellow had
waded down to the ship-yard, and clambered on board the pinnace, with a
view to take care of her. The distance between the point where Mark now
stood and the Neshamony exceeded half a mile, and communication with the
voice would have been next to impossible, had the wind not blown as it
did. With the roaring of the seas, and the howling of the gale, it was
of course entirely out of the question. Mark, however, could see his
friend, and see that he was gesticulating, in the most earnest manner,
for himself to join him. Then it was he first perceived that the pinnace
was in motion, seeming to move on her ways. Presently the blockings were
washed from under her, and the boat went astern half her length at a
single surge. Mark made a bound down the hill, intending to throw
himself into the racing surf, and to swim off to the aid of Betts; but,
pausing an instant to choose a spot at which to get down the steep, he
looked towards the ship-yard, and saw the pinnace lifted on a sea, and
washed fairly clear of the land!

Chapter IX.

"Man's rich with little, were his judgments true;
Nature is frugal, and her wants are few;
These few wants answered bring sincere delights,
But fools create themselves new appetites."


It would have been madness in Mark to pursue his intention. A boat, or
craft of any sort, once adrift in such a gale, could not have been
overtaken by even one of those islanders who are known to pass half
their lives in the water; and the young man sunk down on the rock,
almost gasping for breath in the intensity of his distress. He felt more
for Bob than he did for himself, for escape with life appeared to him to
be a forlorn hope for his friend. Nevertheless, the sturdy old sea-dog
who was cast adrift, amid the raging of the elements, comported himself
in a way to do credit to his training. There was nothing like despair in
his manner of proceeding; but so coolly and intelligently did he set
about taking care of his craft, that Mark soon found himself a curious
and interested observer of all he did, feeling quite as much of
admiration for Bob's steadiness and skill, as concern for his danger.

Betts knew too well the uselessness of throwing over his kedge to
attempt anchoring. Nor was it safe to keep the boat in the trough of the
sea, his wisest course being to run before the gale until he was clear
of the rocks, when he might endeavour to lie-to, if his craft would bear
it. In driving off the Reef the Neshamony had gone stern foremost,
almost as a matter of course, vessels usually being laid down with their
bows towards the land. No sooner did the honest old salt find he was
fairly adrift, therefore, than he jumped into the stern-sheets and put
the helm down. With stern-way on her, this caused the bows of the craft
to fall off; and, as she came broadside to the gale, Mark thought she
would fall over, also. Some idea could be formed of the power of the
wind, in the fact that this sloop-rigged craft, without a rag of sail
set, and with scarce any hamper aloft, no sooner caught the currents of
air abeam, than she lay down to it, as one commonly sees such craft do
under their canvas in stiff breezes.

It was a proof that the Neshamony was well modelled, that she began to
draw ahead as soon as the wind took her fairly on her broadside, when
Betts shifted the helm, and the pinnace fell slowly off. When she had
got nearly before the wind, she came up and rolled to-windward like a
ship, and Mark scarce breathed as he saw her plunging down upon the
reefs, like a frantic steed that knows not whither he is rushing in his
terror. From the elevated position he occupied, Mark could see the ocean
as far as the spray, which filled the atmosphere, would allow of
anything being seen at all. Places which were usually white with the
foam of breakers, could not now be distinguished from any of the raging
cauldron around them, and it was evident that Bob must run at hazard.
Twenty times did Mark expect to see the pinnace disappear in the foaming
waves, as it drove furiously onward; but, in each instance, the light
and buoyant boat came up from cavities where our young man fancied it
must be dashed to pieces, scudding away to leeward like the sea-fowl
that makes its flight with wings nearly dipping. Mark now began to hope
that his friend might pass over the many reefs that lay in his track,
and gain the open water to leeward. The rise in the ocean favoured such
an expectation, and no doubt was the reason why the Neshamony was not
dashed to pieces within the first five minutes after she was washed off
her ways. Once to leeward of the vast shoals that surrounded the crater,
there was the probability of Bob's finding smoother water, and the
chance of his riding out the tempest by bringing his little sloop up
head to sea. The water through which the boat was then running was more
like a cauldron, bubbling and boiling under some intense heat produced
by subterranean fires, than the regular, rolling billows of the ocean
when piled up by gales. Under the lee of the shoals this cauldron would
disappear, while the mountain waves of the open ocean could not rise
until a certain distance from the shallow water enabled them to 'get
up,' as sailors express it. Mark saw the Neshamony for about a quarter
of an hour after she was adrift, though long before the expiration of
even that brief period she was invisible for many moments at a time, in
consequence of the distance, her want of sail, her lowness in the water,
and the troubled state of the element through which she was driving. The
last look he got of her was at an instant when the spray was filling the
atmosphere like a passing cloud; when it had driven away, the boat could
no longer be seen!

Here was a sudden and a most unexpected change for the worse in the
situation of Mark Woolston! Not only had he lost the means of getting
off the island, but he had lost his friend and companion. It was true,
Bob was a rough and an uncultivated associate; but he was honest as
human frailty could leave a human being, true as steel in his
attachments, strong in body, and of great professional skill. So great,
indeed, was the last, that our young man was not without the hope he
would be able to keep under the lee of the shoals until the gale broke,
and then beat up through them, and still come to his rescue. There was
one point, in particular, on which Mark felt unusual concern. Bob knew
nothing whatever of navigation. It was impossible to teach him anything
on that subject. He knew the points of the compass, but had no notion of
the variations, of latitude or longitude, or of anything belonging to
the purely mathematical part of the business. Twenty times had he asked
Mark to give him the latitude and longitude of the crater; twenty times
had he been told what they were, and just as often had he forgotten
them. When questioned by his young friend, twenty-four hours after a
lesson of this sort, if he remembered the figures at all, he was apt to
give the latitude for the longitude, or the longitude for the latitude,
the degrees for the minutes, or the minutes for the degrees. Ordinarily,
however, he forgot all about the numbers themselves. Mark had in vain
endeavoured to impress on his mind the single fact that any number which
exceeded ninety must necessarily refer to longitude, and not to
latitude; for Bob could not be made to remember even this simple
distinction. He was just as likely to believe the Reef lay in the
hundred and twentieth degree of latitude, as he was to fancy it lay in
the twentieth. With such a head, therefore, it was but little to be
expected Bob could give the information to others necessary to find the
reef, even in the almost hopeless event of his ever being placed in
circumstances to do so. Still, while so completely ignorant of
mathematics and arithmetic, in all their details, few mariners could
find their way better than Bob Betts by the simple signs of the ocean.
He understood the compass perfectly, the variations excepted; and his
eye was as true as that of the most experienced artist could be, when it
became necessary to judge of the colour of the water. On many occasions
had Mark known him intimate that the ship was in a current, and had a
weatherly or a lee set, when the fact had escaped not only the officers,
but the manufacturers of the charts. He judged by ripples, and sea-weed,
and the other familiar signs of the seas, and these seldom failed him.
While, therefore, there was not a seaman living less likely to find the
Reef again, when driven off from its vicinity, by means of observations
and the charts, there was not a seaman living more likely to find it, by
resorting to the other helps of the navigator. On this last peculiarity
Mark hung all his hopes of seeing his friend again, when the gale should

Since the moment when all the charge of the ship fell upon his
shoulders, by the loss of Captain Crutchely, Mark had never felt so
desolate, as when he lost sight of Bob and the Neshamony. Then, indeed,
did he truly feel himself to be alone, with none between him and his God
with whom to commune. It is not surprising, therefore, that one so much
disposed to cherish his intercourse with the Divine Spirit, knelt on the
naked rock and prayed. After this act of duty and devotion, the young
man arose, and endeavoured to turn his attention to the state of things
around him.

The gale still continued with unabated fury. Each instant the water rose
higher and higher on the Reef, until it began to enter within the
crater, by means of the gutters that had been worn in the lava, covering
two or three acres of the lower part of its plain. As for the Rancocus,
though occasionally pitching more heavily than our young man could have
believed possible behind the sea-wall, her anchor still held, and no
harm had yet come to her. Finding it impossible to do any more, Mark
descended into the crater, where it was a perfect lull, though the wind
fairly howled on every side, and got into one of the South American
hammocks, of which there had been two or three in the ship, and of which
he had caused one to be suspended beneath the sort of tent he and poor
Bob had erected near the garden. Here Mark remained all the rest of that
day, and during the whole of the succeeding night. But for what he had
himself previously seen, the roar of the ocean on the other side of his
rocky shelter, and the scuffling of the winds about the Summit, he might
not have been made conscious of the violence of the tempest that was
raging so near him. Once and awhile, however, a puff of air would pass
over him; but, on the whole, he was little affected by the storm, until
near morning, when it rained violently. Fortunately, Mark had taken the
precaution to give a low ridge to all his awnings and tent-coverings,
which turned the water perfectly. When, therefore, he heard the
pattering of the drops on the canvas, he did not rise, but remained in
his hammock until the day returned. Previously to that moment, however,
he dropped into a deep sleep, in which he lay several hours.

When consciousness returned to Mark, he lay half a minute trying to
recall the past. Then he listened for the sounds of the tempest. All was
still without, and, rising, he found that the sun was shining, and that
a perfect calm reigned in the outer world. Water was lying in spots, in
holes on the surface of the crater, where the pigs were drinking and the
ducks bathing. Kitty stood in sight, on the topmost knoll of the Summit,
cropping the young sweet grass that had so lately been refreshed by
rain, disliking it none the less, probably, from the circumstance that a
few particles of salt were to be found among it, the deposit of the
spray. The garden looked smiling, the plants refreshed, and nothing as
yet touched in it, by the visitors who had necessarily been introduced.

Our young man washed himself in one of the pools, and then crossed the
plain to drive out the pigs and poultry, the necessity of husbanding his
stores pressing even pain fully on his mind. As he approached the
gate-way, he saw that the sea had retired; and, certain that the animals
would take care of themselves, he drove them through the hole, and
dropped the sail before it. Then he sought one of the ascents, and was
soon on the top of the hill. The trades had returned, but scarce blew in
zephyrs; the sea was calm; the points in the reefs were easily to be
seen; the ship was at rest and seemingly uninjured, and the whole view
was one of the sweetest tranquillity and security. Already had the pent
and piled waters diffused themselves, leaving the Reef as before, with
the exception that those cavities which contained rain-water, during
most of the year, now contained that which was not quite so palatable.
This was a great temporary inconvenience, though the heavy showers of
the past night had done a good deal towards sweetening the face of the
rock, and had reduced most of the pools to a liquid that was brackish
rather than salt. A great many fish lay scattered about, on the island,
and Mark hastened down to examine their qualities.

The pigs and poultry were already at work on the game that was so
liberally thrown in their way, and Mark felt indebted to these
scavengers for aiding him in what he perceived was now a task
indispensable to his comfort. After going to the ship, and breaking his
fast, he returned to the crater, obtained a wheelbarrow, and set to work
in earnest to collect the fish, which a very few hours' exposure to the
sun of that climate would render so offensive as to make the island next
to intolerable. Never in his life did our young friend work harder than
he did all that morning. Each load of fish, as it was-wheeled into the
crater, was thrown into a trench already prepared for that purpose, and
the ashes were hauled over it, by means of the hoe. Feeling the
necessity of occupation to lessen his sorrow, as well as that of getting
rid of pestilence, which he seriously apprehended from this inroad of
animal substances, Mark toiled two whole days at this work, until fairly
driven from it by the intolerable effluvium which arose, notwithstanding
all he had done, on every side of the island. It is impossible to say
what would have been consequences had not the birds come, in thousands,
to his relief. They made quick work of it, clearing off the fish in
numbers that would be nearly incredible. As it was, however, our young
hermit was driven into the ship, where-he passed a whole week, the
steadiness of the trades driving the disagreeable odours to leeward. At
the end of that time he ventured ashore, where he found it possible to
remain, though the Reef did not get purified for more than a month.
Finding a great many fish still remaining that neither hog nor bird
would touch, Mark made a couple of voyages to Loam Island, whence he
brought two cargoes of the deposit, and landed at the usual place. This
he wheeled about the Reef, throwing two or three-shovels full on each
offensive creature, thus getting rid of the effluvium and preparing a
considerable store of excellent manure for his future husbandry. It may
be as well said here, that, at odd times, he threw these little deposits
into large heaps, and subsequently wheeled them into the crater, where
they were mixed with the principal pile of compost that had now been,
for months, collecting there.

It is a proof of the waywardness of human nature that we bear great
misfortunes better than small ones. So it proved with Mark, on this
occasion; for, much as he really regarded Bob, and serious as was the
loss of his friend to himself, the effects of the inundation occupied
his thoughts, and disturbed him more, just at that time, than the
disappearance of the Neshamony. Nevertheless, our young man had not
forgotten to look out for the missing boat, in readiness to hail its
return with joy. He passed much of the week he was shut up in the ship
in her topmast-cross-trees, vainly examining the sea to leeward, in the
hope of catching a distant view of the pinnace endeavouring to bear up
through the reefs. Several times he actually fancied he saw her; but it
always turned out to be the wing of some gull, or the cap of a distant
breaker. It was when Mark had come ashore again, and commenced the toil
of covering the decayed fish, and of gathering them into piles, that
these smaller matters supplanted the deep griefs of his solitude.

One of the annoyances to which our solitary man found himself most
subject, was the glare produced by a burning sun on rocks and ashes of
the drab colour of the crater. The spots of verdure that he had
succeeded in producing on the Summit, not only relieved and refreshed
his eyes, but they were truly delightful as aids to the view, as well as
grateful to Kitty, which poor creature had, by this time, cropped them
down to a pretty short herbage. This Mark knew, however, was an
advantage to the grass, making it finer, and causing it to thicken at
the roots. The success of this experiment, the annoyance to his eyes,
and a feverish desire to be doing, which succeeded the disappearance of
Botts, set Mark upon the project of sowing grass-seed over as much of
the plain of the crater as he thought he should not have occasion to use
for the purposes of tillage. To work he went then, scattering the seed
in as much profusion as the quantity to be found in the ship would
justify. Friend Abraham White had provided two barrels of the seed, and
this went a good way. While thus employed a heavy shower fell, and
thinking the rain a most favourable time to commit his grass-seeds to
the earth, Mark worked through the whole of it, or for several hours,
perspiring with the warmth and exercise.

This done, a look at the garden, with a free use of the hoe, was the
next thing undertaken. That night Mark slept in his hammock, under the
crater-awning, and when he awoke in the morning it was to experience a
weight, like that of lead in his forehead, a raging thirst, and a
burning fever. Now it was that our poor solitary hermit felt the
magnitude of his imprudence and the weight of the evils of his peculiar
situation. That he was about to be seriously ill he knew, and it behoved
him to improve the time that remained to him, to the utmost. Everything
useful to him was in the ship, and thither it became indispensable for
him to repair, if he wished to retain even a chance for life. Opening an
umbrella, then, and supporting his tottering legs by a cane, Mark
commenced a walk of very near a mile, under an almost perpendicular sun,
at the hottest season of the year. Twenty times did the young man think
he should be compelled to sink on the bare rock, where there is little
question he would soon have expired, under the united influence of the
fever within and the burning heat without. Despair urged him on, and,
after pausing often to rest, he succeeded in entering the cabin, at the
end of the most perilous hour he had ever yet passed.

No words of ours can describe the grateful sense of coolness, in spite
of the boiling blood in his veins, that Mark Woolston experienced when
he stepped beneath the shade of the poop-deck of the Rancocus. The young
man knew that he was about to be seriously ill and his life might depend
on the use he made of the next hour, or half-hour, even. He threw
himself on a settee, to get a little rest, and while there he
endeavoured to reflect on his situation, and to remember what he ought
to do. The medicine-chest always stood in the cabin, and he had used its
contents too often among the crew, not to have some knowledge of their
general nature and uses. Potions were kept prepared in that depository,
and he staggered to the table, opened the chest, took a ready-mixed dose
of the sort he believed best for him, poured water on it from the
filterer, and swallowed it. Our mate ever afterwards believed that
draught saved his life. It soon made him deadly sick, and produced an
action in his whole system. For an hour he was under its influence, when
he was enabled to get into his berth, exhausted and literally unable any
longer to stand. How long he remained in that berth, or near it
rather--for he was conscious of having crawled from it in quest of
water, and for other purposes, on several occasions--but, how long he
was confined to his cabin, Mark Woolston never knew. The period was
certainly to be measured by days, and he sometimes fancied by weeks. The
first probably was the truth, though it might have been a fortnight.
Most of that time his head was light with fever, though there were
intervals when reason was, at least partially, restored to him, and he
became painfully conscious of the horrors of his situation. Of food and
water he had a sufficiency, the filterer and a bread-bag being quite
near him, and he helped himself often from the first, in particular; a
single mouthful of the ship's biscuit commonly proving more than he
could swallow, even after it was softened in the water. At length he
found himself indisposed to rise at all, and he certainly remained
eight-and-forty hours in his berth, without quitting it, and almost
without sleeping, though most of the time in a sort of doze.

At length the fever abated in its violence, though it began to assume,
what for a man in Mark Woolston's situation was perhaps more dangerous,
a character of a low type, lingering in his system and killing him by
inches. Mark was aware of his condition, and though: of the means of
relief. The ship had some good Philadelphia porter in her, and a bottle
of it stood on a shelf over his berth. This object caught his eye, and
he actually longed for a draught of that porter. He had sufficient
strength to raise himself high enough to reach it, but it far exceeded
his powers to draw the cork, even had the ordinary means been at hand,
which they were not. There was a hammer on the shelf, however, and with
that instrument he did succeed in making a hole in the side of the
bottle, and in filling a tumbler. This liquor he swallowed at a single
draught. It tasted deliciously to him, and he took a second tumbler
full, when he lay down, uncertain as to the consequences. That his head
was affected by these two glasses of porter, Mark himself was soon
aware, and shortly after drowsiness followed. After lying in an uneasy
slumber for half an hour, his whole person was covered with a gentle
perspiration, in which condition, after drawing the sheet around him,
the sick man fell asleep.

Our patient never knew how long he slept, on this all-important
occasion. The period certainly included part of two days and one entire
night; but, afterwards, when Mark endeavoured to correct his calendar,
and to regain something, like a record of the time, he was inclined to
think he must have lain there two nights with the intervening day. When
he awoke, Mark was immediately sensible that he was free from disease.
He was not immediately sensible, nevertheless, how extremely feeble
disease had left him. At first, he fancied he had only to rise, take
nourishment, and go about his ordinary pursuits. But the sight of his
emaciated limbs, and the first effort he made to get up, convinced him
that he had a long state of probation to go through, before he became
the man he had been a week or two before. It was well, perhaps, that his
head was so clear, and his judgment so unobscured at this, his first
return to consciousness.

Mark deemed it a good symptom that he felt disposed to eat. How many
days he had been altogether without nourishment he could not say, but
they must have been several; nor had he received more than could be
obtained from a single ship's biscuit since his attack. All this came to
his mind, with a distinct recollection that he must be his own physician
and nurse. For a few minutes he lay still, during which he addressed
himself to God, with thanks for having spared his life until reason was
restored. Then he bethought him, well as his feeble state would allow,
of the course he ought to pursue. On a table in the cabin, and in sight
of his berth, through the state-room door, was a liquor-case, containing
wines, brandy, and gin. Our sick man thought all might yet go well,
could he get a few spoonsfull of an excellent port wine which that case,
contained, and which had been provided expressly for cases of sickness.
To do this, however, it was necessary to obtain the key, to open the
case, and to pour out the liquor; three things, of which he distrusted
his powers to perform that which was the least difficult.

The key of the liquor-case was in the draw of an open secretary, which,
fortunately, stood between him and the table. Another effort was made to
rise, which so far succeeded as to enable the invalid to sit up in his
bed. The cool breeze which aired the cabin revived him a little, and he
was able to stretch out a hand and turn the cock of the filterer, which
he had himself drawn near his berth, while under the excitement of
fever, in order to obtain easy access to water. Accidentally this
filterer stood in a draught, and the quart or two of water that had not
yet evaporated was cool and palatable; that is, cool for a ship and such
a climate. One swallow of the water was all Mark ventured on, but it
revived him more than he could believe possible. Near the glass into
which he had drawn the water, lay a small piece of pilot bread, and this
he dropped into the tumbler. Then he ventured to try his feet, when he
found a dizziness come over him, that compelled him to fall back on his
berth. Recovering from this in a minute or two, a second attempt
succeeded better, and the poor fellow, by supporting himself against the
bulkheads, and by leaning on chairs, was enabled to reach the desk. The
key was easily obtained, and the table was next reached. Here Mark sunk
into a chair, as much exhausted as he would have been, previously to his
illness, by a desperate effort to defend life.

The invalid was in his shirt, and the cool sea-breeze had the effect of
an air-bath on him. It revived him in a little while, when he applied
the key, opened the case, got out the bottle by using both hands, though
it was nearly empty, and poured out a wine-glass of the liquor. With
these little exertions he was so much exhausted as almost to faint.
Nothing saved him, probably, but a sip of the wine which he took from
the glass as it stood on the table. It has been much the fashion, of
late years, to decry wine, and this because it is a gift of Providence
that has been greatly abused. In Mark Woolston's instance it proved,
what it was designed to be, a blessing instead of a curse. That single
sip of wine produced an effect on him like that of magic. It enabled him
soon to obtain his tumbler of water, into which he poured the remainder
of the liquor. With the tumbler in his hand, the invalid next essayed to
cross the cabin, and to reach the berth in the other state-room. He was
two or three minutes in making this passage, sustained by a chair, into
which he sunk not less than three times, and revived by a few more sips
of the wine and water. In this state-room was a bed with clean cool
linen, that had been prepared for Bob, but which that worthy fellow had
pertinaciously refused to use, out of respect to his officer. On these
sheets Mark now sank, almost exhausted. He had made a happy exchange,
however, the freshness and sweetness of the new bed, of itself, acting
as delicious restoratives.

After resting a few minutes, the solitary invalid formed a new plan of
proceeding. He knew the importance of not over-exerting himself, but he
also knew the importance of cleanliness and of a renovation of his
strength. By this time the biscuit had got to be softened in the wine
and water, and he took a piece, and after masticating it well, swallowed
it. This was positively the first food the sick and desolate young man
had received in a week. Fully aware of this, he abstained from taking a
second mouthful, though sorely pressed to it by hunger. So strong was
the temptation, and so sweet did that morse taste, that Mark felt he
might not refrain unless he had something to occupy his mind for a few
minutes. Taking a small swallow of the wine and water, he again got on
his feet, and staggered to the drawer in which poor Captain Crutchely
had kept his linen. Here he got a shirt, and tottered on as far as the
quarter-deck. Beneath the awning Mark had kept the section of a
hogshead, as a bathing-tub, and for the purpose of catching the
rain-water that ran from the awning, Kitty often visiting the ship and
drinking from this reservoir.

The invalid found the tub full of fresh and sweet water, and throwing
aside the shirt in which he had lain so long, he rather fell than seated
himself in the water. After remaining a sufficient, time to recover his
breath, Mark washed his head, and long matted beard, and all parts of
his frame, as well as his strength would allow. He must have remained in
the water several minutes, when he managed to tear himself from it, as
fearful of excess from this indulgence as from eating. The invalid now
felt like a new man! It is scarcely possible to express the change that
came over his feelings, when he found himself purified from the effects
of so long a confinement in a feverish bed, without change, or nursing
of any sort. After drying himself as well as he could with a towel,
though the breeze and the climate did that office for him pretty
effectually, Mark put on the clean, fresh shirt, and tottered back to
his own berth, where he fell on the mattress, nearly exhausted. It was
half-an-hour before he moved again, though all that time experiencing
the benefits of the nourishment taken, and the purification undergone.
The bath, moreover, had acted as a tonic, giving a stimulus to the whole
system. At the end^of the half hour, the young man took another mouthful
of the biscuit, half emptied the tumbler, fell back on his pillow, and
was soon in a sweet sleep.

It was near sunset when Mark lost his consciousness on this occasion,
nor did he recover it until the light of day was once more cheering the
cabin. He had slept profoundly twelve hours, and this so much the more
readily from the circumstance that he had previously refreshed himself
with a bath and clean linen. The first consciousness of his situation
was accompanied with the bleat of poor Kitty. That gentle animal,
intended by nature to mix with herds, had visited the cabin daily, and
had been at the sick man's side, when his fever was at its height; and
had now come again, as if to inquire after his night's rest. Mark held
out his hand, and spoke to his companion, for such she was, and thought
she was rejoiced to hear his voice again, and to be allowed to lick his
hand. There was great consolation in this mute intercourse, poor Mark
feeling the want of sympathy so much as to find a deep pleasure in this
proof of affection even in a brute.

Mark now arose, and found himself sensibly improved by his night's rest,
the washing, and the nourishment received, little as the last had been.
His first step was to empty the tumbler, bread and all. Then he took
another bath, the last doing quite as much good, he fancied, as his
breakfast. All that day, the young man managed his case with the same
self-denial and prudence, consuming a ship's biscuit in the course of
the next twenty-four hours, and taking two or three glasses of the wine,
mixed with water and sweetened with sugar. In the afternoon he
endeavoured to shave, but the first effort convinced him he was getting
well too fast.

It was thrice twenty-four hours after his first bath, before Mark
Woolston had sufficient strength to reach the galley and light a fire.
In this he then succeeded, and he treated himself to a cup of good warm
tea. He concocted some dishes of arrow-root and cocoa, too, in the
course of that and the next day, continuing his baths, and changing his
linen repeatedly. On the fifth day, he got off his beard, which was a
vast relief to him, and by the end of the week he actually crawled up on
the poop, where he could get a sight of his domains.

The Summit was fast getting to be really green in considerable patches,
for the whole rock was now covered with grass. Kitty was feeding quietly
enough on the hillside, the gentle creature having learned to pass the
curtain at the gate, and go up and down the ascents at pleasure. Mark
scarce dared to look for his hogs, but there they were rooting and
grunting about the Reef, actually fat and contented. He knew that this
foreboded evil to his garden, for the creatures must have died for want
of food during his illness, had not some such relief been found. As yet,
his strength would not allow him to go ashore, and he was obliged to
content himself with this distant view of his estate. The poultry
appeared to be well, and the invalid fancied he saw chickens running at
the side of one of the hens.

It was a week later before Mark ventured to go as far as the crater. On
entering it, he found that his conjectures concerning the garden were
true. Two-thirds of it had been dug over by the snouts of his pigs,
quite as effectually as he could have done it, in his vigour, with the
spade. Tops and roots had been demolished alike, and about as much
wasted as had been consumed, Kitty was found, _flagrante delictu_,
nibbling at the beans, which, by this time, were dead ripe. The peas,
and beans, and Indian corn had made good picking for the poultry; and
everything possessing life had actually been living in abundance, while
the sick man had lain unconscious of even his own, existence, in a state
as near death as life.

Mark found his awning standing, and was glad to rest an hour or two in
his hammock, after looking at the garden. While there the hogs entered
the crater, and made a meal before his eyes. To his surprise, the sow
was followed by ten little creatures, that were already getting to be of
the proper size for eating. A ravenous appetite was now Mark's greatest
torment, and the coarse food of the ship was rather too heavy for him.
He had exhausted his wit in contriving dishes of flour, and pined for
something more grateful than salted beef, or pork. Although he somewhat
distrusted his strength, yet longing induced him to make an experiment.
A fowling-piece, loaded with ball, was under the awning; and freshening
the priming, the young man watched his opportunity when one of the
grunters was in a good position, and shot it in the head. Then cutting
its throat with a knife, he allowed it to bleed, when he cleaned, and
_skinned it_. This last operation was not very artistical, but it was
necessary in the situation of our invalid. With the carcase of this pig,
which was quite as much as he could even then carry back to the ship,
though the animal was not yet six weeks old, Mark made certain savoury
and nourishing dishes, that contributed essentially to the restoration
of his strength. In the course of the ensuing month three more of the
pigs shared the same fate, as did half-a-dozen of the brood of chickens
already mentioned, though the last were not yet half-grown. But Mark
felt, now, as if he could eat the crater, though as yet he had not been
able to clamber to the Summit.

Chapter X.

"Yea! long as nature's humblest child
Hath kept her temple undefiled
By sinful sacrifice,
Earth's fairest scenes are all his own,
He is a monarch, and his throne
Is built amid the skies."


Our youthful hermit was quite two months in regaining his strength,
though, by the end of one he was able to look about him, and turn his
hand to many little necessary jobs. The first thing he undertook was to
set up a gate that would keep the animals on the outside of the crater.
The pigs had not only consumed much the largest portion of his garden
truck, but they had taken a fancy to break up the crust of that part of
the crater where the grass was showing itself, and to this inroad upon
his meadows, Mark had no disposition to submit. He had now ascertained
that the surface of the plain, though of a rocky appearance, was so far
shelly and porous that the seeds had taken very generally; and as soon
as their roots worked their way into the minute crevices, he felt
certain they would of themselves convert the whole surface into a soil
sufficiently rich to nourish the plants he wished to produce there.
Under such circumstances he did not desire the assistance of the hogs.
As yet, however, the animals had done good, rather than harm to the
garden, by stirring the soil up, and mixing the sea-weed and decayed
fish with it; but among the grass they threatened to be more
destructive; than useful. In most places the crust of the plain was just
thick enough to bear the weight of a man, and Mark, no geologist, by the
way, came to the conclusion that it existed at all more through the
agency of the salt deposited in ancient floods, than from any other
cause. According to the great general law of the earth, soil should have
been formed from rock, and not rock from soil: though there certainly
are cases in which the earths indurate, as well as become disintegrated.
As we are not professing to give a scientific account of these matters,
we shall simply state the facts, leaving better scholars than ourselves
to account for their existence.

Mark made his gate out of the fife-rail, at the foot of the mainmast,
sawing off the stanchions for that purpose. With a little alteration it
answered perfectly, being made to swing from a post that was wedged into
the arch, by cutting it to the proper length. As this was the first
attack upon the Rancocus that had yet been made, by axe or saw, it made
the young man melancholy; and it was only with great reluctance that he
could prevail on himself to begin what appeared like the commencement of
breaking up the good craft. It was done, however, and the gate was hung,
thereby saving the rest of the crop. It was high time; the hogs and
poultry, to say nothing of Kitty, having already got their full share.
The inroads of the first, however, were of use in more ways than one,
since they taught our young cultivator a process by which he could get
his garden turned up at a cheap rate. They also suggested to him an idea
that he subsequently turned to good account. Having dug his roots so
early, it occurred to Mark that, in so low a climate, and with such a
store of manure, he might raise two crops in a year, those which came in
the cooler months varying a little in their properties from those which
came in the warmer. On this hint he endeavoured to improve, commencing
anew beds that, without it, would probably have lain fallow some months

In this way did our young man employ-himself until he found his strength
perfectly restored. But the severe illness he had gone through, with the
sad views it had given him of some future day, when he might be
compelled to give up life itself, without a friendly hand to smooth his
pillow, or to close his eyes, led him to think far more seriously than
he had done before, on the subject of the true character of our
probationary condition here on earth, and on the unknown and awful
future to which it leads us. Mark had been carefully educated on the
subject of religion, and was well enough disposed to enter into the
inquiry in a suitable spirit of humility; but, the grave circumstances
in which he was now placed, contributed largely to the clearness of his
views of the necessity of preparing for the final change. Cut off, as he
was, from all communion with his kind; cast on what was, when he first
knew it, literally a barren rock in the midst of the vast Pacific Ocean,
Mark found himself, by a very natural operation of causes, in much
closer communion with his Creator, than he might have been in the haunts
of the world. On the Reef, there was little to divert his thoughts from
their true course; and the very ills that pressed upon him, became so
many guides to his gratitude by showing, through the contrasts, the many
blessings which had been left him by the mercy of the hand that had
struck him. The nights in that climate and season were much the
pleasantest portions of the four-and-twenty hours. There were no
exhalations from decayed vegetable substances or stagnant pools, to
create miasma, but the air was as pure and little to be feared under a
placid moon as under a noon-day sun. The first hours of night,
therefore, were those in which our solitary man chose to take most of
his exercise, previously to his complete restoration to strength; and
then it was that he naturally fell into an obvious and healthful
communion with the stars.

So far as the human mind has as yet been able to penetrate the mysteries
of our condition here on-earth, with the double connection between the
past and the future, all its just inferences tend to the belief in an
existence of a vast and beneficent design. We have somewhere heard, or
read, that the gipsies believe that men are the fallen angels, oiling
their way backward on the fatal path along which hey formerly rushed to
perdition. This may not be, probably is not true in its special detail;
but that men are placed here to prepare themselves for a future and
higher condition of existence, is not only agreeable to our
consciousness, but is in harmony with revelation. Among the many things
that have been revealed to us, where so many are hid, we are told that
our information is to increase, as we draw nearer to the millennium,
until "The whole earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the Lord,
as the waters cover the sea." We may be far from that blessed day;
probably are; but he has lived in vain, who has dwelt his half century
in the midst of the civilization of this our own age, and does not see
around him the thousand proofs of the tendency of things to the
fulfilment of the decrees, announced to us ages ago by the pens of holy
men. Rome, Greece, Egypt, and all that we know of the past, which comes
purely of man and his passions; empires, dynasties, heresies and
novelties, come and go like the changes of the seasons; while the only
thing that can be termed stable, is the slow but sure progress of
prophecy. The agencies that have been employed to bring about the great
ends foretold so many centuries since, are so very natural, that we
often lose sight of the mighty truth in its seeming simplicity. But, the
signs of the times are not to be mistaken. Let any man of fifty, for
instance, turn his eyes toward the East, the land of Judea, and compare
its condition, its promises of to-day, with those that existed in his
own youth, and ask himself how the change has been produced. That which
the Richards and Sts. Louis of the middle ages could not effect with
their armed hosts, is about to happen as a consequence of causes so
obvious and simple that they are actually overlooked by the multitude.
The Ottoman power and Ottoman prejudices are melting away, as it might
be under the heat of divine truth, which is clearing for itself a path
that will lead to the fulfilment of its own predictions.

Among the agents that are to be employed, in impressing the human race
with a sense of the power and benevolence of the Deity, we think the
science of astronomy, with its mechanical auxiliaries, is to act its
full share. The more deeply we penetrate into the arcana of nature, the
stronger becomes the proofs of design; and a deity thus obviously,
tangibly admitted, the more profound will become the reverence for his
character and power. In Mark Woolston's youth, the great progress which
has since been made in astronomy, more especially in the way of its
details through observations, had but just commenced. A vast deal, it is
true, had been accomplished in the way of pure science, though but
little that came home to the understandings and feelings of the mass.
Mark's education had given him an outline of what Herschel and his
contemporaries had been about, however; and when he sat on the Summit,
communing with the stars, and through those distant and still unknown
worlds, with their Divine First Cause, it was with as much familiarity
with the subject as usually belongs to the liberally educated, without
carrying a particular branch of learning into its recesses. He had
increased his school acquisitions a little, by the study and practice of
Navigation, and had several works that he was fond of reading, which may
have made him a somewhat more accurate astronomer than those who get
only leading ideas on the subject. Hours at a time did Mark linger on
the Summit, studying the stars in the clear, transparent atmosphere of
the tropics, his spirit struggling the while to get into closer
communion with that dread Being which had produced all these mighty
results; among which the existence of the earth, its revolutions, its
heats and colds, its misery and happiness, are but specks in the
incidents of a universe. Previously to this period, he had looked into
these things from curiosity and a love of science; now, they impressed
him with the deepest sense of the power and wisdom of the Deity, and
caused him the better to understand his own position in the scale of
created beings.

Not only did our young hermit study the stars with his own eyes, but he
had the aid of instruments. The ship had two very good spy-glasses, and
Mark himself was the owner of a very neat reflecting telescope, which he
had purchased with his wages, and had brought with him as a source of
amusement and instruction. To this telescope there was a brass stand,
and he conveyed it to the tent on the Summit, where it was kept for use.
Aided by this instrument, Mark could see the satellites of Jupiter and
Saturn, the ring of the latter, the belts of the former, and many of
the phenomena of the moon. Of course, the spherical forms of all the
nearer planets, then known to astronomers, were plainly to be seen by
the assistance of this instrument; and there is no one familiar fact
connected with our observations of the heavenly bodies, that strikes the
human mind, through the senses, as forcibly as this. For near a month,
Mark almost passed the nights' gazing at the stars, and reflecting on
their origin and uses. He had no expectations of making discoveries, or
of even adding to his own stores of knowledge: but his thoughts were
brought nearer to his Divine Creator by investigations of this sort; for
where a zealous mathematician might have merely exulted in the
confirmation of some theory by means of a fact, he saw the hand of God
instead of the solution of a problem. Thrice happy would it be for the
man of science, could he ever thus hold his powers in subjection to the
great object for which they were brought into existence; and, instead of
exulting in, and quarrelling about the pride of human reason, be brought
to humble himself and his utmost learning, at the feet of Infinite
Knowledge and power, and wisdom, as they are thus to be traced in the
path of the Ancient of Days!

By the time his strength returned, Mark had given up, altogether, the
hope of ever seeing Betts again. It was just possible that the poor
fellow might fall in with a ship, or find his way to some of the
islands; but, if he did so, it would be the result of chance and not of
calculations. The pinnace was well provisioned, had plenty of water,
and, tempests excepted, was quite equal to navigating the Pacific; and
there was a faint hope that Bob might continue his course to the
eastward, with a certainty of reaching some part of South America in
time. If he should lake this course, and succeed, what would be the
consequence? Who would put sufficient faith in the story of a simple
seaman, like Robert Betts, and send a ship to look for Mark Woolston? In
these later times, the government would doubtless despatch a vessel of
war on such an errand, did no other means of rescuing the man offer;
but, at the close of the last century, government did not exercise that
much of power. It scarcely protected its seamen from the English
press-gang and the Algerine slave-driver; much less did it think of
rescuing a solitary individual from a rock in the midst of the Pacific.
American vessels did then roam over that distant ocean, but it was
comparatively in small numbers, and under circumstances that promised
but little to the hopes of the hermit. It was a subject he did not like
to dwell on, and he kept his thoughts as much diverted from it as it was
in his power so to do.

The season had now advanced into as much of autumn as could be found
within the tropics, and on land so low. Everything in the garden had
ripened, and much had been thrown out to the pigs and poultry, in
anticipation of its decay. Mark saw that it was time to re-commence his
beds, selecting such seed as would best support the winter of that
climate, if winter it could be called. In looking around him, he made a
regular survey of all his possessions, inquiring into the state of each
plant he had put into the ground, as well as into that of the ground
itself. First, then, as respects the plants.

The growth of the oranges, lemons, cocoa-nuts, limes, figs, &c., placed
in rows beneath the cliffs, had been prodigious. The water had run off
the adjacent rocks and kept them well moistened most of the season,
though a want of rain was seldom known on the Reef. Of the two, too
much, rather than too little water fell; a circumstance that was of
great service, however, in preserving the stock, which had used little
beside that it found in the pools, for the last ten months. The shrubs,
or little trees, were quite a foot high, and of an excellent colour.
Mark gave each of them a dressing with the hoe, and manured all with a
sufficient quantity of the guano. About half he transplanted to spots
more favourable, putting the cocoa-nuts, in particular, as near the sea
as he could get them.

With respect to the other plants, it was found that each had flourished
precisely in proportion to its adaptation to the climate. The products
of some were increased in size, while those of others had dwindled. Mark
took note of these facts, determining to cultivate those most which
succeeded best. The melons of both sorts, the tomatoes, the egg-plants,
the peppers, cucumbers, onions, beans, corn, sweet-potatoes, &c. &c.,
had all flourished; while the Irish potato, in particular, had scarce
produced a tuber at all.

As for the soil, on examination Mark found it had beer, greatly
improved by the manure, tillage and water it had received. The hogs were
again let in to turn it over with their snouts, and this they did most
effectually in the course of two or three days. By this time, in
addition to the three grown porkers our young man possessed, there were
no less than nine young ones. This number was getting to be formidable,
and he saw the necessity of killing off, in order to keep them within
reasonable limits. One of the fattest and best he converted into pickled
pork, not from any want of that article, there being still enough left
in the ship to last him several years, but because he preferred it
corned to that which had been in the salt so long a time. He saw the
mistake he had made in allowing the pigs to get to be so large, since
the meat would spoil long before he could consume even the
smallest-sized shoats. For their own good, however, he was compelled to
shoot no less than five, and these he buried entire, in deep places in
his garden, having heard that earth which had imbibed animal substances,
in this way, was converted into excellent manure.

Mark now made a voyage to Loam Island, in quest of a cargo, using the
raft, and towing the dingui. It was on this occasion that our young man
was made to feel how much he had lost, in the way of labour, in being
deprived of the assistance of Bob. He succeeded in loading his raft,
however, and was just about to sail for home again, when it occurred to
him that possibly the seeds and roots of the asparagus he had put into a
corner of the deposit might have come to something. Sure enough, on
going to the spot, Mark found that the seed had taken well, and hundreds
of young plants were growing flourishingly, while plants fit to eat had
pushed their tops through the loam, from the roots. This was an
important discovery, asparagus being a vegetable of which Mark was
exceedingly fond, and one easily cultivated. In that climate, and in a
soil sufficiently rich, it might be made to send up new shoots the
entire year; and there was little fear of scurvy so long as he could
obtain plenty of this plant to eat. The melons and other vegetables,
however, had removed all Mark's dread of that formidable disease; more
especially as he had now eggs, chickens, and fresh fish, the latter in
quantities that were almost oppressive. In a word, the means of
subsistence now gave the young man no concern whatever. When he first
found himself on a barren rock, indeed, the idea had almost struck
terror into his mind; but, now that he had ascertained that his crater
could be cultivated, and promised, like most other extinct volcanoes,
unbounded fertility, he could no longer apprehend a disease which is
commonly owing to salted provisions.

When Mark found his health completely re-established, he sat down and
drew up a regular plan of dividing his time between work, contemplation,
and amusement. Fortunately, perhaps, for one who lived in a climate
where vegetation was so luxuriant when it could be produced at all, work
was pressed into his service as an amusement. Of the last, there was
certainly very little, in the common acceptation of the word; but our
hermit was not without it altogether. He studied the habits of the
sea-birds that congregated in thousands around so many of the rocks of
the Reef, though so few scarce ever ventured on the crater island. He
made voyages to and fro, usually connecting business with pleasure.
Taking favourable times for such purposes, he floated several cargoes of
loam to the Reef, as well as two enormous rafts of sea-weed. Mark was
quite a month in getting these materials into his compost heap, which he
intended should lie in a pile during the winter, in order that it might
be ready for spading in the spring. We use these terms by way of
distinguishing the seasons, though of winter, strictly speaking, there
was none. Of the two, the grass grew better at mid-winter than at
mid-summer, the absence of the burning heat of the last being favourable
to its growth. As the season advanced, Mark saw his grass very sensibly
increase, not only in surface, but in thickness. There were now spots of
some size, where a turf was forming, nature performing all her tasks in
that genial climate, in about a fourth of the time it would take to
effect the same object in the temperate zone. On examining these places,
Mark came to the conclusion that the roots of his grasses acted as
cultivators, by working their way into the almost insensible crevices of
the crust, letting in air and water to places whence they had hitherto
been excluded. This seemed, in particular, to be the case with the grass
that grew within the crater, which had increased so much in the course
of what may be termed the winter, that it was really fast converting a
plain of a light drab colour, that was often painful to the eyes, into a
plot of as lovely verdure as ever adorned the meadows of a Swiss
cottage. It became desirable to keep this grass down, and Kitty being
unable to crop a meadow of so many acres, Mark was compelled to admit
his pigs and poultry again. This he did at stated times only, however;
or when he was at work himself in the garden, and could prevent their
depredations on his beds. The rooting gave him the most trouble; but
this he contrived in a great measure to prevent, by admitting his hogs
only when they were eager for grass, and turning them out as soon as
they began to generalize, like an epicure picking his nuts after dinner.

It was somewhere near mid-winter, by Mark's calculations, when the young
man commenced a new task that was of great importance to his comfort,
and which _might_ affect his future life. He had long determined to lay
down a boat, one of sufficient size to explore the whole reef in, if not
large enough to carry him out to sea. The dingui was altogether too
small for labour; though exceedingly useful in its way, and capable of
being managed even in pretty rough water by a skilful hand, it wanted
both weight and room. It was difficult to float in, even a raft of
sea-weed, with so light a boat; and as for towing the raft, it was next
to impossible. But the raft was unwieldy, and when loaded down, besides
carrying very little for its great weight, it was very much at the mercy
of the currents and waves. Then the construction of a boat was having an
important purpose in view, and, in that sense, was a desirable

Mark had learned so much in putting the pinnace together, that he
believed himself equal to this new undertaking. Materials enough
remained in the ship to make half-a-dozen boats, and in tumbling over
the lumber he had found a quantity of stuff that had evidently been
taken in with a view to repair boats, if not absolutely to construct
them. A ship's hold is such an omnium gatherum, stowage being
necessarily so close, that it usually requires time for who does not
know where to put his hand on everything, to ascertain how much or how
little is to be found in it. Such was the fact with Mark, whose
courtship and marriage had made a considerable inroad on his duties as a
mate. As he overhauled the hold, he daily found fresh reasons for
believing that Friend Abraham White had made provisions, of one sort and
another, of which he was profoundly ignorant, but which, as the voyage
had terminated, proved to be of the greatest utility. Thus it was, that
just as he was about to commence getting out these great requisites from
new planks, he came across a stem, stern-frame, and keel of a boat, that
was intended to be eighteen feet long. Of course our young man profited
by this discovery, getting the materials of all sorts, including these,
round to the ship-yard by means of the raft.

For the next two months, or until he had reason to believe spring had
fairly set in, Mark toiled faithfully at his boat. Portions of his work
gave him a great deal of trouble; some of it on account of ignorance of
the craft, and some on account of his being alone. Getting the awning up
anew cost poor Mark the toil of several days, and this because his
single strength was not sufficient to hoist the corners of that heavy
course, even when aided by watch-tackles. He was compelled to rig a
crab, with which he effected his purpose, reserving the machine to aid
him on other occasions. Then the model of the boat cost him a great deal
of time and labour. Mark knew a good bottom when he saw it, but that was
a very different thing from knowing how to make one. Of the rules of
draughting he was altogether ignorant, and his eye was his only guide.
He adopted a plan that was sufficiently ingenious, though it would never
do to build a navy on the same principle.

Having a great plenty of deal, Mark got out in the rough about twice as
many timbers for one side of his boat as would be required, in this thin
stuff, when he set them up in their places. Aided by this beginning, the
young man began to dub and cut away, until he got each piece into
something very near the shape his eye told him it ought to be. Even
after he had got as far as this, our boat-builder passed a week in
shaving, and planing, and squinting, and in otherwise reducing his lines
to fair proportions. Satisfied, at length, with the bottom he had thus
fashioned, Mark took out just one half of his pieces, leaving the other
half standing. After these moulds did he saw and cut his boat's timbers,
making, in each instance, duplicates. When the ribs and floors of his
craft were ready, he set them up in the vacancies, and secured them,
after making an accurate fit with the pieces left standing. On knocking
away the deal portions of his work, Mark had the frame of his boat
complete. This was much the most troublesome part of the whole job; nor
was it finished, when the young man was obliged, by the progress of the
seasons, to quit the ship-yard for the garden.

Mark had adopted a system of diet and a care of his person, that kept
him in perfect health, illness being the evil that he most dreaded. His
food was more than half vegetable, several plants having come forward
even in the winter; and the asparagus, in particular, yielding at a rate
that would have made the fortune of a London gardener. The size of the
plants he cut was really astounding, a dozen stems actually making a
meal. The hens laid all winter, and eggs were never wanting. The corned
pork gave substance, as well as a relish, to all the dishes the young
man cooked; and the tea, sugar and coffee, promising to hold out years
longer, the table still gave him little concern. Once in a month, or so,
he treated himself to a bean-soup, or a pea-soup, using the stores of
the Rancocus for that purpose, foreseeing that the salted meats would
spoil after a time, and the dried vegetables get to be worthless, by
means of insects and worms. By this time, however, there were fresh
crops of both those vegetables, which grew better in the winter than
they could in the summer, in that hot climate. Fish, too, were used as a
change, whenever the young man had an inclination for that sort of food,
which was as often as three or four times a week; the little pan-fish
already mentioned, being of a sort of which one would scarcely ever

It being a matter of some moment to save unnecessary labour, Mark seldom
cooked more than once in twenty-four hours, and then barely enough to
last for that day. In consequence of this rule, he soon learned how
little was really necessary for the wants of one person, it being his
opinion that a quarter of an acre of such soil as that which now
composed his garden, would more than furnish all the vegetables he could
consume. The soil, it is true, was of a very superior quality. Although
it had lain so long unproductive and seemingly barren, now that it had
been stirred, and air and water were admitted, and guano, and sea-weed,
and loam, and dead fish had been applied, and all in quantities that
would have been deemed very ample in the best wrought gardens of
christendom, the acre he had under tillage might be said to have been
brought to the highest stage of fertility. It wanted a little in
consistency, perhaps; but the compost heap was very large, containing
enough of all the materials just mentioned to give the garden another
good dressing. As for the grass, Mark was convinced the guano was
all-sufficient for that, and this he took care to apply as often as once
in two or three months.

Our young man was never tired, indeed, with feasting his eyes with the
manner in which the grass had spread over the mount. It is true, that he
had scattered seed, at odd and favourable moments, over most of it, by
this time; but he was persuaded the roots of those first sown would have
extended themselves, in the course of a year or two, over the whole
Summit. Nor were these grasses thin and sickly, threatening as early an
extinction as they had been quick in coming to maturity. On the
contrary, after breaking what might be called the crust of the rock with
their vigorous though nearly invisible roots, they made a bed for
themselves, on which they promised to repose for ages. The great
frequency of the rains favoured their growth, and Mark was of opinion
after the experience of one summer, that his little mountain might be
green the year round.

We have called the mount of the crater little, but the term ought not to
be used in reference to such a hill, when the extent of the island
itself was considered. By actual measurement, Mark had ascertained that
there was one knoll on the Summit which was just seventy-two feet above
the level of the rock. The average height, however, might be given as
somewhat less than fifty. Of surface, the rocky barrier of the crater
had almost as much as the plain within it, though it was so broken and
uneven as not to appear near as large. Kitty had long since determined
that the hill was more than large enough for all her wants; and glad
enough did she seem when Mark succeeded, after a great deal of
difficulty, in driving the hogs up a flight of steps he had made within
the crater, to help her crop the herbage. As for the rooting of the
last, so long as they were on the Summit, it was so much the better;
since, in that climate, it was next to impossible to kill grass that was
once fairly in growth, and the more the crust of the ashes was broken,
the more rapid and abundant would be the vegetation.

Mark had, of course, abandoned the idea of continuing to cultivate his
melons, or any other vegetables, on the Summit, or he never would have
driven his hogs there. He was unwilling, notwithstanding, to lose the
benefit of the deposits of soil and manure which he and Bob had made
there with so much labour to themselves. After reflecting what he could
do with them, he came to the conclusion that he would make small
enclosures around some fifteen or twenty of the places, and transplant
some of the fig-trees, orange-trees, limes, lemons, &c., which still
stood rather too thick within the crater to ripen their fruits to
advantage. In order to make these little enclosures, Mark merely drove
into the earth short posts, passing around them old rope, of which there
was a superabundance on board the ship. This arrangement suggested the
idea of fencing in the garden, by the same means, in order to admit the
pigs to eat the grass, when he was not watching them. By the time these
dispositions were made, it was necessary to begin again to put in the

On this occasion Mark determined to have a succession of crops, and not
to bring on everything at once, as he had done the first year of his
tillage. Accordingly, he would manure and break up a bed, and plant or
sow it, waiting a few days before he began another. Experience had told
him that there was never an end to vegetation in that climate, and he
saw no use in pushing his labours faster than he might require their
fruits. It was true, certain plants did better if permitted to come to
maturity in particular periods, but the season was so long as very well
to allow of the arrangement just mentioned. As this distribution of his
time gave the young man a good deal of leisure, he employed it in the
ship-yard. Thus the boat and the garden were made to advance together,
and when the last was sown and planted, the first was planked. When the
last bed was got in, moreover, those first set in order were already
giving forth their increase. Mark had abundance of delicious salad,
young onions, radishes that seemed to grow like mushrooms, young peas,
beans, &c., in quantities that enabled him to turn the hogs out on the
Reef, and keep them well on the refuse of his garden, assisted a little
by what was always to be picked up on the rocks.

By this time Mark had settled on a system which he thought to pursue.
There was no use in his raising more pigs than he could use. Taking care
to preserve the breed, therefore, he killed off the pigs, of which he
had fresh litters, from time to time; and when he found the old hogs
getting to be troublesome, as swine will become with years, he just shot
them, and buried their bodies in his compost heap, or in his garden,
where one common-sized hog would render highly fertile several yards
square of earth, or ashes. This practice he continued ever after,
extending it to his fowls and ducks, the latter of which produced a
great many eggs. By rigidly observing this rule, Mark avoided an evil
which is very common even in inhabited countries, that of keeping more
stock than is good for their owner. Six or eight hens laid more eggs
than he could consume, and there was always a sufficient supply of
chickens for his wants. In short, our hermit had everything he actually
required, and most things that could contribute to his living in great
abundance. The necessity of cooking for himself, and the want of pure,
cold spring water, were the two greatest physical hardships he endured.
There were moments, indeed, when Mark would have gladly yielded one-half
of the advantages he actually possessed, to have a good spring of living
water. Then he quelled the repinings of his spirit at this privation, by
endeavouring to recall how many blessings were left at his command,
compared to the wants and sufferings of many another shipwrecked
mariner of whom he had read or heard.

The spring passed as pleasantly as thoughts of home and Bridget would
allow, and his beds and plantations flourished to a degree that
surprised him. As for the grass, as soon as it once got root, it became
a most beneficial assistant to his plans of husbandry. Nor was it grass
alone that rewarded Mark's labours and forethought in his meadows and
pastures. Various flowers appeared in the herbage; and he was delighted
at finding a little patch of the common wild strawberry, the seed of
which had doubtless got mixed with those of the grasses. Instead of
indulging his palate with a taste of this delicious and most salubrious
fruit, Mark carefully collected it all, made a bed in his garden, and
included the cultivation of this among his other plants. He would not
disturb a single root of the twenty or thirty different shoots that he
found, all being together, and coming from the same cast of his hand
while sowing, lest it might die; but, with the seed of the fruit, he was
less chary. One thing struck Mark as singular. Thus far his garden was
absolutely free from weeds of every sort. The seed that he put into the
ground came up, and nothing else. This greatly simplified his toil,
though he had no doubt that, in the course of time, he should meet with
intruders in his beds. He could only account for this circumstance by
the facts, that the ashes of the volcano contained of themselves no
combination of the elements necessary to produce plants, and that the
manures he used, in their nature, were free from weeds.

Chapter XI.

"The globe around earth's hollow surface shakes,
And is the ceiling of her sleeping sons:
O'er devastation we blind revels keep;
While buried towns support the dancer's heel."


It was again mid-summer ere Mark Woolston had his boat ready for
launching. He had taken things leisurely, and completed his work in all
its parts, before he thought of putting the craft into the water. Afraid
of worms, he used some of the old copper on this boat, too; and he
painted her, inside and out, not only with fidelity, but with taste.
Although there was no one but Kitty to talk to, he did not forget to
paint the name which he had given to his new vessel, in her
stern-sheets, where he could always see it. She was called the "Bridget
Yardley;" and, notwithstanding the unfavourable circumstances in which
she had been put together, Mark thought she did no discredit to her
beautiful namesake, when completed. When he had everything finished,
even to mast and sails, of the last of which he fitted her with mainsail
and jib, the young man set about his preparations for getting his vessel

There was no process by which one man could move a boat of the size of
the Bridget, while out of its proper element, but to launch it by means
of regular ways. With a view to this contingency, the keel had been laid
between the ways of the Neshamony, which were now all ready to be used.
Of course it was no great job to make a cradle for a boat, and our
boat-builder had 'wedged up,' and got the keel of his craft off the
'blocks,' within eight-and-forty hours after he had begun upon that part
of his task. It only remained to knock away the spur-shores and start
the boat. Until that instant, Mark had pursued his work on the Bridget
as mechanically and steadily as if hired by the day When, however, he
perceived that he was so near his goal, a flood of sensations came over
the young man, and his limbs trembled to a degree that compelled him to
be seated. Who could tell the consequences to which that boat might
lead? Who knew but the 'Bridget' might prove the means of carrying him
to his own Bridget, and restoring him to civilized life? At that
instant, if appeared to Mark as if his existence depended on the
launching of his boat, and he was fearful some unforeseen accident might
prevent it. He was obliged to wait several minutes in order to recover
his self-possession.

At length Mark succeeded in subduing this feeling, and he resumed his
work with most of his former self-command. Everything being ready, he
knocked away the spur-shores, and, finding the boat did not start, he
gave it a blow with a mawl. This set the mass in motion, and the little
craft slid down the ways without any interruption, until it became
water-born, when it shot out from the Reef like a duck. Mark was
delighted with his new vessel, now that it was fairly afloat, and saw
that it sat on an even keel, according to his best hopes. Of course he
had not neglected to secure it with a line, by which he hauled it in
towards the rock, securing it in a natural basin which was just large
enough for such a purpose. So great, indeed, were his apprehensions of
losing his boat, which now seemed so precious to him, that he had worked
some ringbolts out of the ship and let them into the rock, where he had
secured them by means of melted lead, in order to make fast to.

The Bridget was not more than a fourth of the size of the Neshamony,
though rather more than half as long. Nevertheless, she was a good boat;
and Mark, knowing that he must depend on sails principally to move her,
had built a short deck forward to prevent the seas from breaking aboard
her, as well as to give him a place in which he might stow away various
articles, under cover from the rain. Her ballast was breakers, filled
with fresh water, of which there still remained several in the ship. All
these, as well as her masts, sails, oars, &c., were in her when she was
launched; and that important event having taken place early in the
morning, Mark could not restrain his impatience for a cruise, but
determined to go out on the reef at once, further than he had ever yet
ventured in the dingui, in order to explore the seas around him.
Accordingly, he put some food on board, loosened his fasts, and made

The instant the boat moved ahead, and began to obey her helm, Mark felt
as if he had found a new companion. Hitherto Kitty had, in a measure,
filled this place; but a boat had been the young man's delight on the
Delaware, in his boyhood, and he had not tacked his present craft more
than two or three times, before he caught himself talking to it, and
commending it, as he would a human being. As the wind usually blew in
the same direction, and generally a good stiff breeze, Mark beat up
between the Reef and Guano Island, working round the weather end of the
former, until he came out at the anchorage of the Rancocus. After
beating about in that basin a little while, as if merely to show off the
Bridget to the ship, Mark put the former close by the wind, and stood
off in the channel by which he and Bob had brought the latter into her
present berth.

It was easy enough to avoid all such breakers as would be dangerous to a
boat, by simply keeping out of white water; but the Bridget could pass
over most of the reefs with impunity, on account of the depth of the sea
on them. Mark beat up, on short tacks, therefore, until he found the two
buoys between which he had brought the ship, and passing to windward of
them, he stood off in the direction where he expected to find the reef
over which the Rancocus had beaten. He was not long in making this
discovery. There still floated the buoy of the bower, watching as
faithfully as the seaman on his look-out! Mark ran the boat up to this
well-tried sentinel, and caught the lanyard, holding on by it, after
lowering his sails.

The boat was now moored by the buoy-rope of the ship's anchor, and it
occurred to our young man that a certain use might be made of this
melancholy memorial of the calamity that had befallen the Rancocus. The
anchor lay quite near a reef, on it indeed in one sense; and it was in
such places that fish most abounded. Fishing-tackle was in the boat, and
Mark let down a line. His success was prodigious. The fish were hauled
in almost as fast as he could bait and lower his hook, and what was
more they proved to be larger and finer than those taken at the old
fishing-grounds. By the experience of the half hour he passed at the
spot, Mark felt certain that he could fill his boat there in a day's
fishing. After hauling in some twenty or thirty, however, he cast off
from the lanyard, hoisted his sails, and crossed the reef, still working
to windward.

It was Mark's wish to learn something of the nature and extent of the
shoals in this direction. With this object in view, he continued beating
up, sometimes passing boldly through shallow water, at others going
about to avoid that which he thought might be dangerous, until he
believed himself to be about ten miles to windward of the island. The
ship's masts were his beacon, for the crater had sunk below the horizon,
or if visible at all, it was only at intervals, as the boat was lifted
on a swell, when it appeared a low hummock, nearly awash. It was with
difficulty that the naked spars could be seen at that distance; nor
could they be, except at moments, and that because the compass told the
young man exactly where to look for them.

As for the appearance of the reefs, no naked rock was anywhere to be
seen in this direction, though there were abundant evidences of the
existence of shoals. As well as he could judge, Mark was of opinion that
these shoals extended at least twenty miles in this direction, he having
turned up fully five leagues without getting clear of them. At that
distance from his solitary home, and out of sight of everything like
land, did the young man eat his frugal, but good and nourishing dinner,
with his jib-sheet to windward and the boat hove-to. The freshness of
the breeze had induced him to reef, and under that short sail, he found
the Bridget everything he could wish. It was now about the middle of the
afternoon, and Mark thought it prudent to turn out his reef, and run
down for the crater. In half an hour he caught a sight of the spars of
the ship; and ten minutes later, the Summit appeared above the horizon.

It had been the intention of our young sailor to stay out all night, had
the weather been promising. His wish was to ascertain how he might
manage the boat, single-handed, while he slept, and also to learn the
extent of the shoals. As the extraordinary fertility of the crater
superseded the necessity of his labouring much to keep himself supplied
with food, he had formed a plan of cruising off the shoals, for days at
a time, in the hope of falling in with something that was passing, and
which might carry him back to the haunts of men. No vessel would or
could come in sight of the crater, so long as the existence of the reefs
was known; but the course steered by the Rancocus was a proof that ships
did occasionally pass in that quarter of the Pacific. Mark had indulged
in no visionary hopes on this subject, for he knew he might keep in the
offing a twelvemonth and see nothing; but an additional twenty-four
hours might realize all his hopes.

The weather, however on this his first experiment, did not encourage him
to remain out the whole night. On the contrary, by the time the crater
was in sight, Mark thought he had not seen a more portentous-looking sky
since he had been on the Reef. There was a fiery redness in the
atmosphere that alarmed him, and he would have rejoiced to be at home,
in order to secure his stock within the crater. From the appearances, he
anticipated another tempest with its flood. It is true, it was not the
season when the last occurred, but the climate might admit of these
changes. The difference between summer and winter was very trifling on
that reef, and a hurricane, or a gale, was as likely to occur in the one
as in the other.

Just as the Bridget was passing the two buoys by which the ship-channel
had been marked, her sail flapped. This was a bad omen, for it betokened
a shift of wind, which rarely happened, unless it might be from six
months to six months, without being the precursor of some sort of a
storm. Mark was still two miles from the Reef, and the little wind there
was soon came ahead. Luckily, it was smooth water, and very little air
sufficed to force that light craft ahead, while there was usually a
current setting from that point towards the crater. The birds, moreover,
seemed uneasy, the air being filled with them, thousands flying over the
boat, around which they wheeled, screaming and apparently terrified. At
first Mark ascribed this unusual behaviour of his feathered neighbours
to the circumstance of their now seeing a boat for the commencement of
such an acquaintance; but, recollecting how often he had passed their
haunts, in the dingui, when they would hardly get out of the way, he
soon felt certain there must be another reason for this singular

The sun went down in a bank of lurid fire, and the Bridget was still a
mile from the ship. A new apprehension now came over our hermit. Should
a tempest bring the wind violently from the westward, as was very likely
to be the case under actual circumstances, he might be driven out to
sea, and, did the little craft resist the waves, forced so far off as to
make him lose the Reef altogether. Then it was that Mark deeply felt how
much had been left him, by casting his lot on that beautiful and
luxuriant crater, instead of reducing him to those dregs of misery which
so many shipwrecked mariners are compelled to swallow! How much, or how
many of the blessings that he enjoyed on the Reef, would he not have
been willing to part with, that evening, in order to secure a safe
arrival at the side of the Rancocus! By the utmost care to profit by
every puff of air, and by handling the boat with the greatest skill,
this happy result was obtained, however, without any sacrifice.

About nine o'clock, and not sooner, the boat was well secured, and Mark
went into his cabin. Here he knelt and returned thanks to God, for his
safe return to a place that was getting to be as precious to him as the
love of life could render it. After this, tired with his day's work, the
young man got into his berth and endeavoured to sleep.

The fatigue of the day, notwithstanding the invigorating freshness of
the breeze, acted as an anodyne, and our young man soon forgot his
adventures and his boat, in profound slumbers. It was many hours ere
Mark awoke, and when he did, it was with a sense of suffocation. At
first he thought the ship had taken fire, a lurid light gleaming in at
the open door of the cabin, and he sprang to his feet in recollection of
the danger he ran from the magazine, as well as from being burned. But
no cracking of flames reaching his ears, he dressed hastily and went out
on the poop. He had just reached this deck, when he felt the whole ship
tremble from her truck to her keel, and a rushing of water was heard on
all sides of him, as if a flood were coming. Hissing sounds were heard,
and streams of fire, and gleams of lurid light were seen in the air. It
was a terrible moment, and one that might well induce any man to imagine
that time was drawing to its close.

Mark Woolston now comprehended his situation, notwithstanding the
intense darkness which prevailed, except in those brief intervals of
lurid light. He had felt the shock of an earthquake, and the volcano had
suddenly become active. Smoke and ashes certainly filled the air, and
our poor hermit instinctively looked towards his crater, already so
verdant and lively, in the expectation of seeing it vomit flames.
Everything there was tranquil; the danger, if danger there was, was
assuredly more remote. But the murky vapour which rendered breathing
exceedingly difficult, also obstructed the view, and prevented his
seeing where the explosion really was. For a brief space our young man
fancied he must certainly be suffocated; but a shift of wind came, and
blew away the oppressive vapour, clearing the atmosphere of its
sulphurous and most offensive gases and odours. Never did feverish
tongue enjoy the cooling and healthful draught, more than Mark rejoiced
in this change. The wind had got back to its old quarter, and the air he
respired soon became pure and refreshing. Had the impure atmosphere
lasted ten minutes longer, Mark felt persuaded he could not have
breathed it with any safety.

The light was now most impatiently expected by our young man. The
minutes seemed to drag; but, at length, the usual signs of returning day
became apparent to him, and he got on the bowsprit of the ship, as if to
meet it in its approach. There he stood looking to the eastward, eager
to have ray after ray shoot into the firmament, when he was suddenly
struck with a change in that quarter of the ocean, which at once
proclaimed the power of the effort which the earth had made in its
subterranean throes. Naked rocks appeared in places where Mark was
certain water in abundance had existed a few hours before. The sea-wall,
directly ahead of the ship, and which never showed itself above the
surface more than two or three inches, in any part of it, and that only
at exceedingly neap tides, was now not only bare for a long distance,
but parts rose ten and fifteen feet above the surrounding sea. This
proved, at once, that the earthquake had thrust upward a vast surface
of the reef, completely altering the whole appearance of the shoal! In a
word, nature had made another effort, and islands had been created, as
it might be in the twinkling of an eye.

Mark was no sooner assured of this stupendous fact, than he hurried on
to the poop, in order to ascertain what changes had occurred in and
about the crater. It had been pushed upward, in common with all the
rocks for miles on every side of it, though without disturbing its
surface! By the computation of our young man, the Reef, which previously
lay about six feet above the level of the ocean, was now fully twenty,
so many cubits having been, by one single but mighty effort of nature,
added to its stature. The planks which led from the stern of the vessel
to the shore, and which had formed a descent, were now nearly level, so
much water having left the basin as to produce this change. Still the
ship floated, enough remaining to keep her keel clear of the bottom.

Impatient to learn all, Mark ran ashore, for by this time it was broad
daylight, and hastened into the crater, with an intention to ascend at
once to the Summit. As he passed along, he could detect no change
whatever on the surface of the Reef; everything lying just as it had
been left, and the pigs and poultry were at their usual business of
providing for their own wants. Ashes, however, were strewn over the
rocks to a depth that left his footprints as distinct as they could have
been made in a light snow. Within the crater the same appearances were
observed, fully an inch of ashes covering its verdant pastures and the
whole garden. This gave Mark very little concern, for he knew that the
first rain would wash this drab-looking mantle into the earth, where it
would answer all the purposes of a rich dressing of manure.

On reaching the Summit, our young man was enabled to form a better
opinion of the vast changes which had been wrought around him, by this
sudden elevation of the earth's crust. Everywhere sea seemed to be
converted into land, or, at least, into rock. All the white water had
disappeared, and in its place arose islands of rock, or mud, or sand. A
good deal of the last was to be seen, and some quite near the Reef, as
we shall still continue to call the island of the crater. Island,
however, it could now hardly be termed. It is true that ribands of water
approached it on all sides, resembling creeks, and rivers and small
sounds; but, as Mark stood there on the Summit, it seemed to him that it
was now possible to walk for leagues, in every direction, commencing at
the crater and following the lines of reefs, and rocks, and sands, that
had been laid bare by the late upheaving. The extent of this change gave
him confidence in its permanency, and the young man had hopes that what
had thus been produced by the Providence of God would be permitted to
remain, to answer his own benevolent purposes. It certainly made an
immense difference in his own situation. The boat could still be used,
but it was now possible for him to ramble for hours, if not for days,
along the necks, and banks, and hummocks, and swales that had been
formed, and that with a dry foot. His limits were so much enlarged as to
offer something like a new world to his enterprise and curiosity.

The crater, nevertheless, was apparently about the centre of this new
creation. To the south, it is true, the eye could not penetrate more
than two or three leagues. A vast, dun-looking cloud, still covered the
sea in that direction, veiling its surface far and wide, and mingling
with the vapours of the upper atmosphere. Somewhere within this cloud,
how far or how near from him he knew not, Mark made no doubt a new
outlet to the pent forces of the inner earth was to be found, forming
another and an active crater for the exit of the fires beneath. Geology
was a science that had not made its present progress in the day of Mark
Woolston, but his education had been too good to leave him totally
without a theory for what had happened. He supposed that the internal
fires had produced so much gas, just beneath this spot, as to open
crevices at the bottom of the ocean, through which water had flowed in
sufficient quantities to create a vast body of steam, which steam had
been the immediate agent of lifting so much of the rock and land, and of
causing the earthquake. At the same time, the internal fires had acted
in concert; and following an opening, they had got so near the surface
as to force a chimney for their own exit, in the form of this new
crater, of the existence of which, from all the signs to the southward,
Mark did not entertain the smallest doubt.

This theory may have been true, in whole or in part, or it may have been
altogether erroneous. Such speculations seldom turn out to be minutely
accurate. So many unknown causes exist in so many unexpected forms, as
to render precise estimates of their effects, in cases of physical
phenomena, almost as uncertain as those which follow similar attempts at
any analysis of human motives and human conduct. The man who has been
much the subject of the conjectures and opinions of his
fellow-creatures, in this way, must have many occasions to wonder, and
some to smile, when he sees how completely those around him misjudge his
wishes and impulses. Although formed of the same substance, influenced
by the same selfishness, and governed by the same passions, in nothing
do men oftener err than in this portion of the exercise of their
intellects. The errors arise from one man's rigidly judging his fellow
by himself, and that which he would do he fancies others would do also.
This rule would be pretty safe, could we always penetrate into the wants
and longings of others, which quite as often fail to correspond closely
with our own, as do their characters, fortunes, and hopes.

At first sight, Mark had a good deal of difficulty in understanding the
predominant nature of the very many bodies of water that were to be seen
on every side of him. On the whole, there still remained almost as much
of one element as of the other, in the view; which of itself, however,
was a vast change from what had previously been the condition of the
shoals. There were large bodies of water, little lakes in extent, which
it was obvious enough must disappear under the process of evaporation,
no communication existing between them and the open ocean. But, on the
other hand, many of these sheets were sounds, or arms of the sea, that
must always continue, since they might be traced, far as eye could
reach, towards the mighty Pacific. Such, Mark was induced to believe,
was the fact with the belt of water that still surrounded, or nearly
surrounded the Reef; for, placed where he was, the young man was unable
to ascertain whether the latter had, or had not, at a particular point,
any land communication with an extensive range of naked rock, sand,
mud, and deposit, that stretched away to the westward, for leagues. In
obvious connection with this broad reach of what might be termed bare
ground, were Guano and Loam Islands; neither of which was an island any
longer, except as it was a part of the whole formation around it.
Nevertheless, our young man was not sorry to see that the channel around
the Reef still washed the bases of both those important places of
deposit, leaving it in his power to transport their valuable manures by
means of the raft, or boat.

The situation of the ship next became the matter of Mark's most curious
and interested investigation. She was clearly afloat, and the basin in
which she rode had a communication on each side, of it, with the sound,
or inlet, that still encircled the Reef. Descending to the shore, our
young mariner got into the dingui, and pulled out round the vessel, to
make a more minute examination. So very limpid was the water of that
sea, it was easy enough to discern a bright object on the bottom, at a
depth of several fathoms. There were no streams in that part of the
world to pour their deposits into the ocean, and air itself is scarce
more transparent than the pure water of the ocean, when unpolluted with
any foreign substances. All it wants is light, to enable the eye to
reach into it's mysteries for a long way. Mark could very distinctly
perceive the sand beneath the Rancocus' keel, and saw that the ship
still floated two or three feet clear of the bottom. It was near high
water, however; and there being usually a tide of about twenty inches,
it was plain enough that, on certain winds, the good old craft would
come in pretty close contact with the bottom. All expectation of ever
getting the vessel out of the basin must now be certainly abandoned,
since she lay in a sort of cavity, where the water was six or eight feet
deeper than it was within a hundred yards on each side of her.

Having ascertained these facts, Mark provided himself with a
fowling-piece, provisions, &c., and set out to explore his newly
acquired territories on foot. His steps were first directed to the point
where it appeared to the eye, that the vast range of dry land to the
westward, extending both north and south, had become connected with the
Reef. If such connection existed at all, it was by two very narrow necks
of rock, of equal height, both of which had come up out of the water
under the late action, which action had considerably altered and
extended the shores of Crater Island. Sand appeared in various places
along these shores, now; whereas, previously to the earthquake, they had
everywhere been nearly perpendicular rocks.

Mark was walking, with an impatient step, towards the neck just
mentioned, and which was at no great distance from the ship-yard, when
his eye was attracted towards a sandy beach of several acres in extent,
that spread itself along the margin of the rocks, as clear from every
impurity as it was a few hours before, when it had been raised from out
of the bosom of the ocean. To him, it appeared that water was trickling
through this sand, coming from beneath the lava of the Reef. At first,
he supposed it was merely the remains of some small portion of the ocean
that had penetrated to a cavity within, and which was now trickling back
through the crevices of the rocks, to find its level, under the great
law of nature. But it looked so pleasant to see once more water of any
sort coming upwards from the earth, that the young man jumped down upon
the sands, and hastened to the spot for further inquiry. Scooping up a
little of the water in the hollow of his hand, he found it sweet, soft,
and deliciously cool. Here was a discovery, indeed! The physical comfort
for which he most pined was thus presented to him, as by a direct gift
from heaven; and no miser who had found a hoard of hidden gold, could
have felt so great pleasure, or a tenth part of the gratitude, of our
young hermit, if hermit we may call one who did not voluntarily seek his
seclusion from the world, and who worshipped God less as a penance than
from love and adoration.

Before quitting this new-found treasure, Mark opened a cavity in the
sand to receive the water, placing stone around it to make a convenient
and clean little basin. In ten minutes this place was filled with water
almost as limpid as air, and every way as delicious as the palate of man
could require. The young man could scarce tear himself away from the
spot, but fearful of drinking too much he did so, after a time. Before
quitting the spring, however, he placed a stone of some size at a gap
in the rock, a precaution that completely prevented the hogs, should
they stroll that way, from descending to the beach and defiling the
limpid basin. As soon as he had leisure, Mark resolved to sink a barrel
in the sand, and to build a fence around it; after which the stock might
descend and drink at a pool he should form below, at pleasure.

Mark proceeded. On reaching the narrowest part of the 'Neck,' he found
that the rocks did not meet, but the Reef still remained an island. The
channel that separated the two points of rock was only about twenty feet
wide, however, though it was of fully twice that depth. The young man
found it necessary to go back to the ship-yard (no great distance, by
the way), and to bring a plank with which to make a bridge. This done,
he passed on to the newly emerged territory. As might have been
expected, the rocks were found tolerably well furnished with fish, which
had got caught in pools and crevices when the water flowed into the sea;
and what was of still more importance, another and a much larger spring
of fresh water was found quite near the bridge, gushing through a
deposit of sand of some fifteen or twenty acres in extent. The water of
this spring had run down into a cavity, where it had already formed a
little lake of some two acres in surface, and whence it was already
running into the sea, by overflowing its banks. These two discoveries
induced Mark to return to the Reef again, in quest of the stock. After
laying another-plank at his bridge, he called every creature he had over
into the new territory; for so great was the command he had obtained
over even the ducks, that all came willingly at his call. As for Kitty,
she was never more happy than when trotting at his side, accompanying
him in his walks, like a dog.

Glad enough were the pigs, in particular, to obtain this new range. Here
was everything they could want; food in thousands, sand to root on,
fresh water to drink, pools to wallow in, and a range for their
migratory propensities. Mark had no sooner set them at work on the
sea-weed and shell-fish that abounded there, for the time being at
least, than he foresaw he should have to erect a gate at his bridge, and
keep the hogs here most of the time. With such a range, and the
deposits of the tides alone, would have no great difficulty in making
their own living. This would enable him to increase the number kept,
which he had hitherto been obliged to keep down with the most rigid
attention to the increase.

Mark now set out, in earnest, on his travels. He was absent from the
Reef the entire day. At one time, he thought he was quite two leagues in
a straight line from the ship, though he had been compelled to walk four
to get there. Everywhere he found large sheets of salt water, that had
been left on the rocks, in consequence of the cavities in the latter. In
several instances, these little lakes were near a mile in length, having
the most beautifully undulating outlines. None of them were deep, of
course, though their bottoms varied. Some of these bottoms were clean
rock; others contained large deposits of mud; and others, again, were of
a clean, dark-coloured sand. One, and one only, had a bottom of a
bright, light-coloured sand. As a matter of course, these lakes, or
pools, must shortly evaporate, leaving their bottoms bare, or encrusted
with salt. One thing gave the young man great satisfaction. He had kept
along the margin of the channel that communicated with the water that
surrounded the Reef, and, when at the greatest distance from the crater,
he ascended a rock that must have had an elevation of a hundred feet
above the sea. Of course most of this rock had been above water
previously to the late eruption, and Mark had often seen it at a
distance, though he had never ventured through the white water near so
far, in the dingui. When on its apex, Mark got an extensive view of the
scene around him. In the first place, he traced the channel just
mentioned, quite into open water, which now appeared distinctly not many
leagues further, towards the north-west. There were a great many other
channels, some mere ribands of water, others narrow sounds, and many
resembling broad, deep, serpenting creeks, which last was their true
character, being strictly inlets from the sea. The lakes or pools, could
be seen in hundreds, creating some confusion in the view; but all these
must soon disappear, in that climate.

Towards the southward, however, Mark found the objects of his greatest
wonder and admiration. By the time he reached the apex of the rock, the
smoke in that quarter of the horizon had, in a great measure, risen from
the sea; though a column of it continued to ascend towards a vast,
dun-coloured cloud that overhung the place. To Mark's astonishment he
had seen some dark, dense body first looming through the rising vapour.
When the last was sufficiently removed, a high, ragged mountain became
distinctly visible. He thought it arose at least a thousand feet above
the ocean, and that it could not be less than a league in extent. This
exhibition of the power of nature filled the young man's soul with
adoration and reverence for the mighty Being that could set such
elements at work. It did not alarm him, but rather tended to quiet his
longings to quit the place; for he who lives amid such scenes feels that
he is so much nearer to the arm of God than those who dwell in uniform
security, as to think less of ordinary advantages than is common.

Mark knew that there must have been a dislocation of the rocks, to
produce such a change as that he saw to the southward. It was well for
him it occurred there at a distance, as he then thought, of ten or
fifteen miles from the Reef, though in truth it was at quite fifty,
instead of happening beneath him. It was possible, however, for one to
have been on the top of that mountain, and to have lived through the
late change, could the lungs of man have breathed the atmosphere. Not
far from this mountain a column of smoke rose out of the sea, and Mark
fancied that, at moments, he could discern the summit of an active
crater at its base.

After gazing at these astonishing changes for a long time, our young man
descended from the height and retraced his steps homeward. Kitty gladly
preceded him, and some time after the sun had set, they regained the
Reef. About a mile short of home, Mark passed all the hogs, snugly
deposited in a bed of mud, where they had esconced themselves for the
night, as one draws himself beneath his blanket.

Chapter XII.

"All things in common nature should produce
Without sweat or endeavour: treason, felony,
Sword, pike, gun, or need of any engine
Would I not have; but nature should bring forth
Of its own kind, all foizen, all abundance
To feed my innocent people."


For the next ten days Mark Woolston did little but explore. By crossing
the channel around the Reef, which he had named the 'Armlet' (the young
man often talked to himself), he reached the sea-wall, and, once there,
he made a long excursion to the eastward. He now walked dryshod over
those very reefs among which he had so recently sailed in the Bridget,
though the ship-channel through which he and Bob had brought in the
Rancocus still remained. The two buoys that had marked the narrow
passage were found, high and dry; and the anchor of the ship, that by
which she rode after beating over the rocks into deep water, was to be
seen so near the surface, that the stock could be reached by the hand.

There was little difference in character between the newly-made land to
windward and that which Mark had found in the opposite direction. Large
pools, or lakes, of salt water, deposits of mud and sand, some of which
were of considerable extent and thickness, sounds, creeks, and arms of
the sea, with here and there a hummock of rock that rose fifteen or
twenty feet above the face of the main body, were the distinguishing
peculiarities. For two days Mark explored in this direction, or to
windward, reaching as far by his estimate of the distance, as the place
where he had bore up in his cruise in the Bridget. Finding a great many
obstacles in the way, channels, mud, &c., he determined, on the
afternoon of the second day, to return home, get a stock of supplies,
and come out in the boat, in order to ascertain if he could not now
reach the open water to windward.

On the morning of the fourth day after the earthquake, and the
occurrence of the mighty change that had altered the whole face of the
scene around him, the young man got under way in the Bridget. He shaped
his course to windward, beating out of the Armlet by a narrow passage,
that carried him into a reach that stretched away for several miles, to
the northward and eastward, in nearly a straight line. This passage, or
sound, was about half a mile in width, and there was water enough in
nearly all parts of it to float the largest sized vessel. By this
passage the poor hermit, small as was his chance of ever seeing such an
event occur, hoped it might be possible to come to the very side of the
Reef in a ship.

When about three leagues from the crater, the 'Hope Channel,' as Mark
named this long and direct passage, divided into two, one trending still
more to the northward, running nearly due north, indeed, while the other
might be followed in a south-easterly direction, far as the eye could
reach. Mark named the rock at the junction 'Point Fork,' and chose the
latter passage, which appeared the most promising, and the wind
permitting him to lay through it. The Bridget tacked in the Forks,
therefore, and stood away to the south-east, pretty close to the wind.
Various other channels communicated with this main passage, or the Hope;
and, about noon, Mark tacked into one of them, heading about north-east,
when trimmed up sharp to do so. The water was deep, and at first the
passage was half a mile in width; but after standing along it for a mile
or two, it seemed all at once to terminate in an oval basin, that might
have been a mile in its largest diameter, and which was bounded to the
eastward by a belt of rock that rose some twenty feet above the water.
The bottom of this basin was a clear beautiful sand, and its depth of
water, on sounding, Mark found was uniformly about eight fathoms. A more
safe or convenient basin for the anchorage of ships could not have been
formed by the art of man, had there been an entrance to it, and any
inducement for them to come there.

Mark had beaten about 'Oval Harbour,' as he named the place, for half
an hour, before he was struck by the circumstance that the even
character of its surface appeared to be a little disturbed by a slight
undulation which seemed to come from its north-eastern extremity.

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