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The Crater by James Fenimore Cooper

Part 4 out of 9

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Tacking the Bridget, he stood in that direction, and on reaching the
place, found that there was a passage through the rock of about a
hundred yards in width. The wind permitting, the boat shot through this
passage, and was immediately heaving and setting in the long swells of
the open ocean. At first Mark was startled by the roar of the waves that
plunged into the caverns of the rocks, and trembled lest his boat might
be hove up against that hard and iron-bound coast, where one toss would
shatter his little craft into splinters. Too steady a seaman, however,
to abandon his object unnecessarily, he stood on, and soon found he
could weather the rocks under his lee, tacking in time. After two or
three short stretches were made, Mark found himself half a mile to
windward of a long line, or coast, of dark rock, that rose from twenty
to twenty-five feet above the level of the water, and beyond all
question in the open ocean. He hove-to to sound, and let forty fathoms
of line out without reaching bottom. But everywhere to leeward of him
was land, or rock; while everywhere to windward, as well as ahead and
astern, it was clear water. This, then, was the eastern limit of the old
shoals, now converted into dry land. Here the Rancocus had, unknown to
her officers, first run into the midst of these shoals, by which she had
ever since been environed.

It was not easy to compute the precise distance from the outlet or inlet
of Oval Harbour, to the crater. Mark thought it might be five-and-twenty
miles, in a straight line, judging equally by the eye, and the time he
had been in running it. The Summit was not to be seen, however, any more
than the masts of the ship; though the distant Peak, and the column of
dark smoke, remained in sight, as eternal land-marks. The young man
might have been an hour in the open sea, gradually hauling off the land,
in order to keep clear of the coast, when he bethought him of returning.
It required a good deal of nerve to run in towards those rocks, under
all the circumstances of the case. The wind blew fresh, so much indeed
as to induce Mark to reef, but there must always be a heavy swell
rolling in upon that iron-bound shore. The shock of such waves expending
their whole force on perpendicular rocks may be imagined better than it
can be described. There was an undying roar all along that coast,
produced by these incessant collisions of the elements; and
occasionally, when a sea entered a cavern, in a way suddenly to expel
its air, the sound resembled that which some huge animal might be
supposed to utter in its agony, or its anger. Of course, the spray was
flying high, and the entire line of black rocks was white with its

Mark had unwittingly omitted to take any land-marks to his inlet, or
strait. He had no other means of finding it, therefore, than to discover
a spot in which the line of white was broken. This inlet, however, he
remembered did not open at right angles to the coast, but obliquely; and
it was very possible to be within a hundred yards of it, and not see it.
This fact, our young sailor was not long in ascertaining; for standing
in towards the point where he expected to find the entrance, and going
as close to the shore as he dared, he could see nothing of the desired
passage. For an hour did he search, passing to and fro, but without
success. The idea of remaining out in the open sea for the night, and to
windward of such an inhospitable coast, was anything but pleasant to
Mark, and he determined to stand to the northward, now, while it was
day, and look for some other entrance.

For four hours did Mark Woolston run along those dark rocks, whitened
only by the spray of the wide ocean, without perceiving a point at which
a boat might even land. As he was now running off the wind, and had
turned out his reef, he supposed he must have gone at least
five-and-twenty miles, if not thirty, in that time; and thus had he some
means of judging of the extent of his new territories. About five in the
afternoon a cape, or headland, was reached, when the coast suddenly
trended to the westward. This, then, was the north-eastern angle of the
entire formation, and Mark named it Cape North-East. The boat was now
jibed, and ran off west, a little northerly, for another hour, keeping
quite close in to the coast, which was no longer dangerous as soon as
the Cape was doubled. The seas broke upon the rocks, as a matter of
course; but there being a lee, it was only under the power of the
ceaseless undulations of the ocean. Even the force of the wind was now
much less felt, the Bridget carrying whole sail when hauled up, as Mark
placed her several times, in order to examine apparent inlets.

It was getting to be too late to think of reaching home that night, for
running in those unknown channels after dark was not a desirable course
for an explorer to adopt. Our young man, therefore, limited his search
to some place where he might lie until the return of light. It is true,
the lee formed by the rocks was now such as to enable him to remain
outside, with safety, until morning; but he preferred greatly to get
within the islands, if possible, to trusting himself, while asleep, to
the mercy of the open ocean. Just as the sun was setting, leaving the
evening cool and pleasant, after the warmth of an exceedingly hot day,
the boat doubled a piece of low headland; and Mark had half made up his
mind to get under its lee, and heave a grapnel ashore in order to ride
by his cable during the approaching night, when an opening in the coast
greeted his eyes. It was just as he doubled the cape. This opening
appeared to be a quarter of a mile in width, and it had perfectly smooth
water, a half-gunshot within its mouth. The helm was put down, the
sheets hauled aft, and the Bridget luffed into this creek, estuary,
sound, or harbour, whichever it might prove to be. For twenty minutes
did Mark stand on through this passage, when suddenly it expanded into a
basin, or bay, of considerable extent. This was at a distance of about a
league within the coast. This bay was a league long, and half a league
in width, the boat entering it close to its weather side. A long and
wide sandy beach offered on that side, and the young man stood along it
a short distance, until the sight of a spring induced him to put his
helm down. The boat luffed short round, and came gently upon the beach.
A grapnel was thrown on the sands, and Mark leaped ashore.

The water proved to be sweet, cool, and every way delicious. This was at
least the twentieth spring which had been seen that day, though it was
the first of which the waters had been tasted. This new-born beach had
every appearance of having been exposed to the air a thousand years.
The sand was perfectly clean, and of a bright golden colour, and it was
well strewed with shells of the most magnificent colours and size. The
odour of their late tenants alone proclaimed the fact of their recent
shipwreck. This, however, was an evil that a single month would repair;
and our sailor determined to make another voyage to this bay, which he
called Shell Bay, in order to procure some of its treasures. It was true
he could not place them before the delighted eyes of Bridget, but he
might arrange them in his cabin, and fancy that she was gazing at their
beauties. After drinking at the spring, and supping on the rocks above,
Mark arranged a mattress, provided for that purpose, in the boat, and
went to sleep.

Early next morning the Bridget was again under way, but not until her
owner had both bathed and broken his fast. Bathe he did every morning
throughout the year, and occasionally at night also. A day of exertion
usually ended with a bath, as did a night of sweet repose also. In all
these respects no one could be more fortunate. From the first, food had
been abundant; and now he possessed it in superfluity, including the
wants of all dependent on him. Of clothes, also, he had an inexhaustible
supply, a small portion of the cargo consisting of coarse cotton jackets
and trousers, with which to purchase sandal-wood. To these means,
delicious water was now added in inexhaustible quantities. The late
changes had given to Mark's possession territory sufficient to occupy
him months, even in exploring it thoroughly, as it was his purpose to
do. God was there, also, as he is everywhere. This our secluded man
found to be a most precious consolation. Again and again, each day, was
he now in the practice of communing in spirit, directly with his
Creator; not in cold and unmeaning forms and commonplaces, but with such
yearning of the soul, and such feelings of love and reverence, as an
active and living faith can alone, by the aid of the Divine Spirit,
awaken in the human breast.

After crossing Shell Bay, the Bridget continued on for a couple of
hours, running south, westerly, through a passage of a good width, until
it met another channel, at a point which Mark at once recognized as the
Forks. When at Point Fork, he had only to follow the track he had come
the previous day, in order to arrive at the Reef. The crater could be
seen from the Forks, and there was consequently a beacon in sight, to
direct the adventurer, had he wanted such assistance; which he did not,
however, since he now recognized objects perfectly well as he advanced,
About ten o'clock he ran alongside of the ship, where he found
everything, as he had left it. Lighting the fire, he put on food
sufficient to last him for another cruise, and then went up into the
cross-trees in order to take a better look than he had yet obtained, of
the state of things to the southward.

By this time the vast, murky cloud that had so long overhung the new
outlet of the volcano, was dispersed. It was succeeded by one of
ordinary size, in which the thread of smoke that arose from the crater,
terminated. Of course the surrounding atmosphere was clear, and nothing
but distance obstructed the view. The Peak was indeed a sublime sight,
issuing, as it did, from the ocean without any relief. Mark now began to
think he had miscalculated its height, and that it might be _two_
thousand feet, instead of one, above the water. There it was, in all its
glory, blue and misty, but ragged and noble. The crater was clearly many
miles beyond it, the young man being satisfied, after this look, that he
had not yet seen its summit. He also increased his distance from
Vulcan's Peak, as he named the mountain, to ten leagues, at least. After
sitting in the cross-trees for fully an hour, gazing at this height with
as much pleasure as the connoisseur ever studied picture, or statue, the
young man determined to attempt a voyage to that place, in the Bridget.
To him, such an expedition had the charm of the novelty and change which
a journey from country to town could bring to the wearied worldling, who
sighed for the enjoyment of his old haunts, after a season passed in the
ennui of his country-house. It is true, great novelties had been
presented to our solitary youth, by the great changes wrought
immediately in his neighbourhood, and they had now kept him for a week
in a condition of high excitement; but nothing they presented could
equal the interest he felt in that distant mountain, which had arisen so
suddenly in a horizon that he had been accustomed to see bare of any
object but clouds, for near eighteen months.

That afternoon Mark made all his preparations for a voyage that he felt
might be one of great moment to him. All the symptoms of convulsions in
the earth, however, had ceased; even the rumbling sounds which he had
heard, or imagined, in the stillness of the night, being no longer
audible. From that source, therefore, he had no great apprehensions of
danger; though there was a sort of dread majesty in the exhibition of
the power of nature that he had so lately witnessed, which disposed him
to approach the scene of its greatest effort with secret awe. So much
did he think of the morrow and its possible consequences, that he did
not get asleep for two or three hours, though he awoke in the morning
unconscious of any want of rest. An hour later, he was in his boat, and
under way.

Mark had now to steer in an entirely new direction, believing, from what
he had seen while aloft the day before, that he could make his way out
into the open ocean by proceeding a due south course. In order to do
this, and to get into the most promising-looking channel in that
direction, he was obliged to pass through the narrow strait that
separated the Reef from the large range of rock over which he had roamed
the day succeeding the earthquake. Of course, the bridge was removed, in
order to allow the boat's mast to pass; but for this, Mark did not care.
He had seen his stock the previous evening, and saw that it wanted for
nothing. Even the fowls had gone across to the new territory, on
exploring expeditions; and Kitty herself had left her sweet pastures on
the Summit, to see of what the world was made beyond her old range. It
is true she had made one journey in that quarter, in the company, of her
master; but, one journey no more satisfied her than it would have
satisfied the curiosity of any other female.

After passing the bridge, the boat entered a long narrow reach, that
extended at least two leagues, in nearly a direct line towards Vulcan's
Peak. As it approached the end of this piece of water, Mark saw that he
must enter a bay of considerable extent; one, indeed, that was much
larger than any he had yet seen in his island, or, to speak more
accurately, his group of islands. On one side of this bay appeared a
large piece of level land, or a plain, which Mark supposed, might cover
one or two thousand acres. Its colour was so different from anything he
had yet seen, that our young man was induced to land, and to walk a
short distance to examine it. On reaching its margin, it was found to be
a very shallow basin, of which the bottom was mud, with a foot or two of
salt water still remaining, and in which sea weed, some ten or twelve
inches in thickness, was floating. It was almost possible for Mark to
walk on this weed, the green appearance of which induced him to name the
place the Prairie. Such a collection of weed could only have been owing
to the currents, which must have brought it into this basin, where it
was probably retained even previously to the late eruption. The presence
of the deposit of mud, as well as the height of the surrounding rocks,
many of which were doubtless out of water previously to the phenomenon,
went to corroborate this opinion.

After working her way through a great many channels, some wide and some
narrow, some true and some false, the Bridget reached the southern verge
of the group, about noon. Mark then supposed himself to be quite twenty
miles from the Reef, and the Peak appeared very little nearer than when
he left it. This startled him on the score of distance; and, after
meditating on all his chances, the young man determined to pass the
remainder of that day where he was, in order to put to sea with as much
daylight before him as possible. He desired also to explore the coast
and islands in that vicinity, in order to complete his survey of the
cluster. He looked for a convenient place to anchor his boat,
accordingly, ate his dinner, and set out on foot to explore, armed as
usual with a fowling-piece.

In the first place, an outlet to the sea very different from that on the
eastern side of the group, was found here, on its southern. The channel
opened into a bay of some size, with an arm of rock reaching well off on
the weather side, so that no broken water was encountered in passing
into or out of it, provided one kept sufficiently clear of the point
itself. As there was abundance of room, Mark saw he should have no
difficulty in getting out into open water, here, or in getting back
again. What was more, the arm, or promontory of rock just mentioned, had
a hummock near a hundred feet in height on its extremity, that answered
admirably for a land-mark. Most of this hummock must have been above
water previously to the late eruption, though it appeared to our
explorer, that all the visible land, as he proceeded south, was lifted
higher and on a gradually-increasing scale, as if the eruption had
exerted its force at a certain point, the new crater for instance, and
raised the earth to the northward of that point, on an inclined plane.
This might account, in a measure, for the altitude of the Peak, which
was near the great crevice that must have been left somewhere, unless
materials on its opposite side had fallen to fill it up again. Most of
these views were merely speculative, though the fact of the greater
elevation of all the rocks, in this part of the group, over those
further north, was beyond dispute. Thus the coast, here, was generally
fifty or eighty feet high; whereas, at the Reef, even now, the surface
of the common rock was not much more than twenty feet above the water.
The rise seemed to be gradual, moreover, which certainly favoured this

As a great deal of sand and mud had been brought up by the eruption,
there was no want of fresh water. Mark found even a little brook, of as
perfectly sweet a stream as he had ever tasted in America, running into
the little harbour where he had secured the boat. He followed this
stream two miles, ere he reached its source, or sources; for it came
from at least, a dozen copious springs, that poured their tribute from a
bed of clean sand several miles in length, and which had every sign of
having been bare for ages. In saying this, however, it is not to be
supposed that the signs, as to time, were very apparent anywhere. Lava,
known to have been ejected from the bowels of the earth thousands of
years, has just as fresh an appearance, to the ordinary observer, as
that which was thrown out ten years ago; and, had it not been for the
deposits of moist mud, the remains of fish, sea-weed that was still
undecayed, pools of salt water, and a few other peculiarities of the
same sort, Mark would have been puzzled to find any difference between
the rocks recently thrown up, and those which were formerly exposed to
the air. Even the mud was fast changing its appearance, cracking and
drying under the sun of the tropics. In a month or two, should as much
rain as usual fall, it was probable the sea-weed would be far gone in

It was still early when our adventurer kneeled on the sand, near his
boat, to hold his last direct communication with his Creator, ere he
slept. Those communications were now quite frequent with Mark, it being
no unusual thing for him to hold them when sailing in his boat, on the
deck of the ship, or in the soft salubrious air of the Summit. He slept
none the less soundly for having commended his soul to God, asking
support against temptations, and forgiveness for past sins. These
prayers were usually very short. More than half the time they were
expressed in the compendious and beautiful words given to man by Christ
himself, the model and substance of all petitions of this nature. But
the words were devoutly uttered, the heart keeping even pace with them,
and the soul fully submitting to their influence.

Mark arose, next morning, two hours before the light appeared, and at
once left the group. Time, was now important to him; for, while he
anticipated the possibility of remaining under the lee of the mountain
during the succeeding night, he also anticipated the possibility of
being compelled to return. In a favourable time, with the wind a little
free, five knots in the hour was about the maximum of the boat's rate of
sailing, though it was affected by the greater or less height of the sea
that was on. When the waves ran heavily, the Bridget's low sails got
becalmed in the troughs, and she consequently lost much of her way. On
the whole, however, five knots might be set down as her average speed,
under the pressure of the ordinary trades, and with whole canvas, and a
little off the wind. Close-hauled, she scarcely made more than three;
while, with the wind on the quarter, she often went seven, especially in
smooth water.

The course steered was about a point to the westward of south, the boat
running altogether by compass, for the first two hours. At the end of
that time day returned and the dark, frowning Peak itself became
visible. The sun had no sooner risen, than Mark felt satisfied with his
boat's performance. Objects began to come out of the mass of the
mountain, which no longer appeared a pile of dark outline, without
detail. He expected this, and was even disappointed that his eyes could
not command more, for he now saw that he had materially underrated the
distance between the crater and the Peak, which must be nearer sixty
than fifty miles. The channel between the group and this isolated mass
was, at least, twelve leagues in width. These twelve leagues were now to
be run, and our young navigator thought he had made fully three of them,
when light returned.

From that moment every mile made a sensible difference in the face of
the mountain. Light and shadow first became visible; then ravines,
cliffs, and colours, came into the view. Each league that he advanced
increased Mark's admiration and awe; and by the time that the boat was
on the last of those leagues which had appeared so long, he began to
have a more accurate idea of the sublime nature of the phenomenon that
had been wrought so near him. Vulcan's Peak, as an island, could not be
less than eight or nine miles in length, though its breadth did not much
exceed two. Running north and south, it offered its narrow side to the
group of the crater, which had deceived its solitary observer. Yes! of
the millions on earth, Mark Woolston, alone, had been so situated as to
become a witness of this grand display of the powers of the elements.
Yet, what was this in comparison with the thousand vast globes that were
rolling about in space, objects so familiar as to be seen daily and
nightly without raising a thought, in the minds of many, from the
created to the creator? Even these globes come and go, and men remain
indifferent to the mighty change!

The wind had been fresh in crossing the strait, and Mark was not sorry
when his pigmy boat came under the shadow of the vast cliffs which
formed the northern extremity of the Peak. When still a mile distant, he
thought he was close on the rocks; nor did he get a perfectly true idea
of the scale on which this rare mountain had been formed until running
along at its base, within a hundred yards of its rocks. Coming in to
leeward, as a matter of course, Mark found comparatively smooth water,
though the unceasing heaving and setting of the ocean rendered it a
little hazardous to go nearer to the shore. For some time our explorer
was fearful he should not be able to land at all; and he was actually
thinking of putting about, to make the best of his way back, while light
remained to do so, when he came off a place that seemed fitted by art,
rather than by nature, to meet his wishes. A narrow opening appeared
between two cliffs, of about equal height, or some hundred feet in
elevation, one of which extended further into the ocean than its
neighbour. The water being quite smooth in this inlet, Mark ventured to
enter it, the wind favouring his advance. On passing this gateway, he
found himself nearly becalmed, in a basin that might be a hundred yards
in diameter, which was not only surrounded by a sandy beach, but which
had also a sandy bottom. The water was several fathoms deep, and it was
very easy to run the bows of the boat anywhere on the beach. This was
done, the sails were furled, and Mark sprang ashore, taking the grapnel
with him. Like Columbus, he knelt on the sands, and returned his thanks
to God.

Not only did a ravine open from this basin, winding its way up the
entire ascent, but a copious stream of water ran through it, foaming and
roaring amid its glens. At first, Mark supposed this was sea-water,
still finding its way from some lake on the Peak; but, on tasting it, he
found it was perfectly sweet. Provided with his gun, and carrying his
pack, our young man entered this ravine, and following the course of the
brook, he at once commenced an ascent. The route was difficult only in
the labour of moving upwards, and by no means as difficult in that as he
had expected to find it. It was, nevertheless, fortunate that this
climbing was to be done in the shade, the sun seldom penetrating into
those cool and somewhat damp crevices through which the brook found its

Notwithstanding his great activity, Mark Woolston was just an hour in
ascending to the Peak. In no place had he found the path difficult,
though almost always upward; but he believed he had walked more than two
miles before he came out on level ground. When he had got up about
three-fourths of the way, the appearances of things around him suddenly
changed. Although the rock itself looked no older than that below, it
had, occasionally, a covering that clearly could never have emerged from
the sea within the last few days. From that point everything denoted an
older existence in the air, from which our young man inferred that the
summit of Vulcan's Peak had been an island long prior to the late
eruption. Every foot he advanced confirmed this opinion, and the
conclusion was that the ancient island had lain too low to be visible to
one on the Reef.

An exclamation of delight escaped from our explorer, as he suddenly came
out on the broken plain of the Peak. It was not absolutely covered, but
was richly garnished with wood; cocoa-nut, bread-fruits, and other
tropical trees; and it was delightfully verdant with young grasses. The
latter were still wet with a recent shower that Mark had seen pass over
the mountain, while standing for the island; and on examining them more
closely, the traces of the former shower of volcanic ashes were yet to
be seen. The warmth in the sun, after so sharp a walk, caused the young
man to plunge into the nearest grove, where he had no difficulty in
helping himself to as many cocoa-nuts, fresh from the trees, as a
thousand men could have consumed. Every one has heard of the delicious
beverage that the milk of the cocoa-nut, and of the delicious food that
its pulp furnishes, when each is taken from the fruit before it hardens.
How these trees came there, Mark did not know. The common theory is that
birds convey the seeds from island to island; though some suppose that
the earth contains the elements of all vegetation, and that this or that
is quickened, as particular influences are brought to bear by means of
climate and other agents.

After resting himself for an hour in that delicious grove, Mark began to
roam around the plain, to get an idea of its beauties and extent. The
former were inexhaustible, offering every variety of landscape, from the
bold and magnificent to the soft and bewitching. There were birds
innumerable, of the most brilliant plumage, and some that Mark imagined
must be good to eat. In particular did he observe an immense number of
a very small sort that were constantly pecking at a wild fig, of which
there was a grove of considerable extent. The fig itself, he did not
find as palatable as he had hoped, though it was refreshing, and served
to vary the diet; but the bird struck him to be of the same kind as the
celebrated reed-bird, of the Philadelphia market, which we suppose to be
much the same as the _becca fichi_ of Italy. Being provided with
mustard-seed shot, Mark loaded his piece properly, and killed at least
twenty of these little creatures at one discharge. After cleaning them,
he struck a light by means of the pan and some powder, and kindled a
fire. Here was wood, too, in any quantity, an article of which he had
feared in time he might be in want, and which he had already begun to
husband, though used only in his simple cookery. Spitting half-a-dozen
of the birds, they were soon roasted. At the same time he roasted a
bunch of plantain, and, being provided with pepper and salt in his pack,
as well as with some pilot-bread, and a pint-bottle of rum, we are
almost ashamed to relate how our young explorer dined. Nothing was
wanting to such a meal but the sweets of social converse. Mark fancied,
as he sat enjoying that solitary repast, so delicious of itself, and
which was just enough sweetened with toil to render it every way
acceptable, that he could gladly give up all the rest of the world, for
the enjoyment of a paradise like that before him, with Bridget for his

The elevation of the mountain rendered the air far more grateful and
cool than he was accustomed to find it, at mid-summer, down on the Reef,
and the young man was in a sort of gentle intoxication while breathing
it. Then it was that he most longed for a companion, though little did
he imagine how near he was to some of his species, at that very moment;
and how soon that, the dearest wish of his heart, was to be met by an
adventure altogether so unexpected to him, that we must commence a new
chapter, in order to relate it.

Chapter XIII.

"The merry homes of England!
Around their hearths by night,
What gladsome looks of household love
Meet in the ruddy light!
There woman's voice flows forth in song,
Or childhood's tale is told,
Or lips move tunefully along
Some glorious page of old."

Mrs. Hemans.

The peak, or highest part of the island, was at its northern extremity,
and within two miles of the grove in which Mark Woolston had eaten his
dinner. Unlike most of the plain, it had no woods whatever, but rising
somewhat abruptly to a considerable elevation, it was naked of
everything but grass. On the peak itself, there was very little of the
last even, and it was obvious that it must command a full view of the
whole plain of the island, as well as of the surrounding sea, for a wide
distance. Resuming his pack, our young adventurer, greatly refreshed by
the delicious repast he had just made, left the pleasant grove in which
he had first rested, to undertake this somewhat sharp acclivity. He was
not long in effecting it, however, standing on the highest point of his
new discovery within an hour after he had commenced its ascent.

Here, Mark found all his expectations realized touching the character of
the view. The whole plain of the island, with the exceptions of the
covers made by intervening woods, lay spread before him like a map. All
its beauties, its shades, its fruits, and its verdant glades, were
placed beneath his eye, as if purposely to delight him with their
glories. A more enchanting rural scene the young man had never beheld,
the island having so much the air of cultivation and art about it, that
he expected, at each instant, to see bodies of men running across its
surface. He carried the best glass of the Rancocus with him, in all his
excursions, not knowing at what moment Providence might bring a vessel
in sight, and he had it now slung from his shoulders. With this glass,
therefore, was every part of the visible surface of the island swept, in
anxious and almost alarmed search for the abodes of inhabitants. Nothing
of this sort, however, could be discovered. The island was
unquestionably without a human being, our young man alone excepted. Nor
could he see any trace of beast, reptile, or of any animal but birds.
Creatures gifted with wings had been able to reach that little paradise;
but to all others, since it first arose from the sea, had it probably
been unapproached, if not unapproachable, until that day. It appeared to
be the very Elysium of Birds!

Mark next examined the peak itself. There was a vast deposit of very
ancient guano on it, the washings of which for ages, had doubtless
largely contributed to the great fertility of the plain below. A stream
of more size than one would expect to find on so small an island,
meandered through the plain, and could be traced to a very copious
spring that burst from the earth at the base of the peak. Ample as this
spring was, however, it could never of itself have supplied the water of
the brook, or rivulet, which received the contributions of some fifty
other springs, that reached it in rills, as it wound its way down the
gently inclined plane of the island. At one point, about two leagues
from the Peak, there was actually a little lake visible, and Mark could
even trace its outlet, winding its way beyond it. He supposed that the
surplus tumbled into the sea in a cascade.

It will readily be imagined that our young man turned his glass to the
northward, in search of the group he had left that morning, with a most
lively interest. It was easy enough to see it from the great elevation
at which he was now placed. There it lay, stretched far and wide,
extending nearly a degree of latitude, north and south, and another of
longitude, east and west, most truly resembling a vast dark-looking map,
spread upon the face of the waters for his special examination. It
reminded Mark of the moon, with its ragged outlines of imaginary
continents, as seen by the naked eye, while the island he was now on,
bore a fancied resemblance to the same object viewed through a
telescope; not that it had the look of molten silver which is observed
in the earth's satellite, but that it appeared gloriously bright and
brilliant. Mark could easily see many of the sheets of water that were
to be found among the rocks, though his naked eye could distinguish
neither crater nor ship. By the aid of the glass, however, the first was
to be seen, though the distance was too great to leave the poor deserted
Rancocus visible, even with the assistance of magnifying-glasses.

When he had taken a good look at his old possessions, Mark made a sweep
of the horizon with the glass, in order to ascertain if any other land
were visible, from the great elevation on which he now stood. While
arranging the focus of the instrument, an object first met his eye that
caused his heart almost to leap into his mouth. Land was looming up, in
the western board, so distinctly as to admit of no cavil about its
presence. It was an island, mountainous, and Mark supposed it must be
fully a hundred miles distant. Still it was land, and strange land, and
might prove to be the abode of human beings. The glass told him very
little more than his eye, though he could discern a mountainous form
through it, and saw that it was an island of no great size. Beyond this
mountain, again, the young man fancied that he could detect the haze of
more land; but, if he did, it was too low, too distant, and too
indistinct, to be certain of it. It is not easy to give a clear idea of
the tumult of feeling with which Mark Woolston beheld these unknown
regions, though it might best be compared with the emotions of the
astronomer who discovers a new planet. It would scarce exceed the truth
to say that he regarded that dim, blue mountain, which arose in the
midst of a watery waste, with as much of admiration, mysterious awe and
gratification united, as Herschel may have been supposed to feel when he
established the character of Uranus. It was fully an hour before our
hermit could turn his eyes in any other direction.

And when our young mariner did look aside, it was more with the
intention of relieving eyes that had grown dim with gazing, than of not
returning to the same objects again, as soon as restored to their power.
It was while walking to and fro on the peak, with this intent, that a
new subject of interest caused him almost to leap into the air, and to
shout aloud. He saw a sail! For the first time since Betts disappeared
from his anxious looks, his eyes now surely rested on a vessel. What was
more, it was quite near the island he was on, and seemed to be beating
up to get under its lee. It appeared but a speck on the blue waves of
the ocean, seen from that height, it is true; but Mark was too well
practised in his craft to be mistaken. It was a vessel, under more or
less canvas, how much he could not then tell, or even see--but it was
most decidedly a vessel. Mark's limbs trembled so much that he was
compelled to throw himself upon the earth to find the support he wanted.
There he lay several minutes, mentally returning thanks to God for this
unexpected favour; and when his strength revived, these signs of
gratitude were renewed on his knees. Then he arose, almost in terror
lest the vessel should have disappeared, or it should turn out that he
was the subject of a cruel illusion.

There was no error. There was the little white speck, and he levelled
the glass to get a better look at it. An exclamation now clearly broke
from his lips, and for a minute or two the young man actually appeared
to be out of his senses. "The pinnace," "the Neshamony," however, were
words that escaped him, and, had there been a witness, might have given
an insight into this extraordinary conduct. Mark had, in fact,
ascertained that the sail beneath the peak was no other than the little
craft that had been swept away, as already described, with Betts in it.
Fourteen months had elapsed since that occurrence, and here it was
again, seemingly endeavouring to return to the place where it had been
launched! Mark adopted perhaps the best expedient in his power to
attract attention to himself, and to let his presence be known. He fired
both barrels of his fowling-piece, and repeated the discharges several
times, or until a flag was shown on board the sloop, which was now just
beneath the cliff, a certain sign that he had succeeded. A musket was
also fired from the vessel.

Our young man rather flew than ran to the ravine, down which he went at
a pace that several times placed his neck in jeopardy. It was a very
different thing to descend from ascending such a mountain. In less than
a quarter of an hour the half-distracted hermit was in his boat, nearly
crazy with the apprehension that he might yet not meet with his friend;
for, that it was Bob looking for the Reef and himself, he did not now
entertain the least doubt. The most plausible course for him to adopt
was precisely that which he followed. He pushed off in the Bridget,
making sail on the boat, and getting out of the cove in the shortest
time he could. On quitting his little haven, and coming out clear of all
the rocks, another shout burst out of his very soul, when he saw the
Neshamony, beyond all cavil, within a hundred fathoms of him, running
along the shore in search of a place to land. That shout was returned,
and Mark and Bob recognised each other at the next instant. As for the
last, he just off tarpaulin, and gave three hearty cheers, while the
former sank on a seat, literally unable to stand. The sheet of the sail
got away from him, nor could he be said to know what he was about, until
some little time after he was in the arms of his friend, and on board
the pinnace.

It was half-an-hour before Mark was master of himself again. At length
tears relieved him; nor was he ashamed to indulge in them, when he saw
his old companion not only alive and well, but restored to him. He
perceived another in the boat; but as he was of a dark skin, he
naturally inferred this second person was a native of some neighbouring
island where Bob had been, and who had consented to come with him in
this, his search after the shipwrecked mariner. At length Bob began to

"Well, Mr. Mark, the sight of you is the pleasantest prospect that has
met my eyes this many a day," exclaimed the honest fellow. "It was with
fear and trembling that I set out on the search, and little did I hope
to fall in with you so early in the cruise."

"Thank you, thank you, Bob, and God be praised for this great mercy! You
have been to some other island, I see, by your companion; but the
miraculous part of all is, that you should find your way back to the
Reef, since you are no navigator."

"The Reef! If this here mountain is the Reef, the country has greatly
altered since I left it," answered Bob. Mark then briefly explained the
great change that had actually occurred, and told his own story touching
his boat and his late voyages of discovery. Betts listened with the
greatest attention, casting occasional glances upward at the immense
mass that had been so suddenly lifted out of the sea, as well as turning
his head to regard the smoke of the more distant volcano.

"Well, this explains our 'arthquake," he answered, as soon as Mark was
done. "I must have been as good as a hundred and fifty leagues from this
very spot at the time you mention, and we had tremblings there that
would scarce let a body stand on his feet. A ship came in two days
arterwards, that must have been a hundred leagues further to the nor'ard
when it happened, and her people reported that they thought heaven and
'arth was a coming together, out there in open water."

"It has been a mighty earthquake--must have been, to have wrought these
vast changes; though I had supposed that Providence had confined a
knowledge of its existence to myself. But, you spoke of a ship,
Bob--surely we are not in the neighbourhood of vessels."

"Sartain--but, I may as well tell you my adventures at once, Mr. Mark;
though I own I should like to land first, as it is a long story, and
take a look at this island that you praise so much, and taste them
reed-birds of which you give so good an account. I'm Jarsey-born and
bred, and know what the little things be."

Mark was dying to hear Bob's story, more especially since he understood
a ship was connected with it, but he could not refuse his friend's
demand for sweet water and a dinner. The entrance of the cove was quite
near and the boats entered that harbour and were secured; after which
the three men commenced the ascent, Mark picking up by the way the
spy-glass, fowling-piece, and other articles that he had dropped in the
haste of his descent. While going up this sharp acclivity, but little
was said; but, when they reached the summit, or the plain rather,
exclamations of delight burst from the mouths of both of Mark's
companions. To the young man's great surprise, those which came from
Bob's dark-skinned associate were in English, as well as those which
came from Bob himself. This induced him to take a good look at the man,
when he discovered a face that he knew!

"How is this, Bob?" cried Mark, almost gasping for breath--"whom have
you here? Is not this Socrates?"

"Ay, ay, sir; that's Soc; and Dido, his wife, is within a hundred miles
of you."

This answer, simple as it was, nearly overcame our young man again.
Socrates and Dido had been the slaves of Bridget, when he left home; a
part of the estate she had received from her grandmother. They dwelt in
the house with her, and uniformly called her mistress. Mark knew them
both very well, as a matter of course; and Dido, with the archness of a
favourite domestic, was often in the habit of calling him her 'young
master.' A flood of expectations, conjectures and apprehensions came
over our hero, and he refrained from putting any questions immediately,
out of pure astonishment. He was almost afraid indeed to ask any.

Nearly unconscious of what he was about, he led the way to the grove
where he had dined two or three hours before, and where the remainder of
the reed-birds were suspended from the branch of a tree. The embers of
the fire were ready, and in a few minutes Socrates handed Betts his

Bob ate and drank heartily. He loved a tin-pot of rum and-water, or
grog, as it used to be called--though even the word is getting to be
obsolete in these temperance times--and he liked good eating. It was not
epicurism, however, or a love of the stomach, that induced him to defer
his explanations on the present occasion. He saw that Mark must hear
what he had to relate gradually, and was not sorry that the recognition
of the negro had prepared him to expect something wonderful. Wonderful
it was, indeed; and at last Betts, having finished his dinner, and given
half-a-dozen preparatory hints, in order to lessen the intensity of his
young friend's feelings, yielded to an appeal from the other's eyes, and
commenced his narrative. Bob told his story, as a matter of course,
with a great deal of circumlocution, and in his own language. There was
a good deal of unnecessary prolixity in it, and some irrelative
digressions touching currents, and the trades, and the weather; but, on
the whole, it was given intelligibly, and with sufficient brevity for
one who devoured every syllable he uttered. The reader, however, would
most probably prefer to hear an abridgement of the tale in our own

When Robert Betts was driven off the Reef, by the hurricane of the
preceding year, he had no choice but to let the Neshamony drive to
leeward with him. As soon as he could, he got the pinnace before the
wind, and, whenever he saw broken water ahead, he endeavoured to steer
clear of it. This he sometimes succeeded in effecting; while at others
he passed through it, or over it, at the mercy of the tempest.
Fortunately the wind had piled up the element in such a way as to carry
the craft clear of the rocks, and in three hours after the Neshamony was
lifted out of her cradle, she was in the open ocean, to leeward of all
the dangers. It blew too hard, however, to make sail on her, and Bob was
obliged to scud until the gale broke. Then, indeed, he passed a week in
endeavouring to beat back and rejoin his friend, but without success,
'losing all he made in the day, while asleep at night.' Such, at least,
was Bob's account of his failure to find the Reef again; though Mark
thought it probable that he was a little out in his reckoning, and did
not look in exactly the right place for it.

At the end of this week high land was made to leeward, and Betts ran
down for it, in the hope of finding inhabitants. In this last
expectation, however, he did not succeed. It was a volcanic mountain, of
a good many resources, and of a character not unlike that of Vulcan's
Peak, but entirely unpeopled. He named it after his old ship, and passed
several days on it. On describing its appearance, and its bearings from
the place where they then were, Mark had no doubt it was the island that
was visible from the peak near them, and at which he had been gazing
that very afternoon, for fully an hour with longing eyes. On describing
its form to Bob, the latter coincided in this opinion, which was in fact
the true one.

From the highest point of Rancocus Island, land was to be seen to the
northward and westward, and Bob now determined to make the best of his
way in that direction, in the hope of falling in with some vessel after
sandal-wood or beche-le-mar. He fell in with a group of low islands, of
a coral formation, about a hundred leagues from his volcanic mountain,
and on them he found inhabitants. These. people were accustomed to see
white men, and turned out to be exceedingly mild and just. It is
probable that they connected the sudden appearance of a vessel like the
Neshamony, having but one man in it, with some miraculous interposition
of their gods, for they paid Bob the highest honours, and when he
landed, solemnly tabooed his sloop. Bob was a long-headed fellow in the
main, and was not slow to perceive the advantage of such a ceremony, and
encouraged it. He also formed a great intimacy with the chief,
exchanging names and rubbing noses with him. This chief was styled
Betto, after the exchange, and Bob was called Ooroony by the natives.
Ooroony stayed a month with Betto, when he undertook a voyage with him
in a large canoe, to another group, that was distant two or three
hundred miles, still further to the northward, and where Bob was told he
should find a ship. This account proved to be true, the ship turning out
to be a Spaniard, from South America, engaged in the pearl fishery, and
on the eve of sailing for her port. From some misunderstanding with the
Spanish captain, that Bob never comprehended and of course could not
explain, and which he did not attempt to explain, Betto left the group
in haste, and without taking leave of his new friend, though he sent him
a message of apology, one-half of which was lost on Bob, in consequence
of not understanding the language. The result was, however, to satisfy
the latter that his friend was quite as sorry to abandon _him_, as he
was glad to get away from the Spanish captain.

This desertion left Betts no choice between remaining on the pearl
island, or of sailing in the brig, which went to sea next day. He
decided to do the last. In due time he was landed at Panama, whence he
made his way across the isthmus, actually reaching Philadelphia in less
than five months after he was driven off the Reef. In all this he was
much favoured by circumstances; though an old salt, like Bob, will
usually make his way where a landsman would be brought up.

The owners of the Rancocus gave up their ship, as soon as Betts had told
his story, manifesting no disposition to send good money after bad. They
looked to the underwriters, and got Bob to make oath to the loss of the
vessel; which said oath, by the way, was the ground-work of a law-suit
that lasted Friend Abraham White as long as he lived. Bob next sought
Bridget with his tale. The young wife received the poor fellow with
floods of tears, and the most eager attention to his story, as indeed
did our hero's sister Anne. It would seem that Betts's arrival was most
opportune. In consequence of the non-arrival of the ship, which was then
past due two or three months, Doctor Yardley had endeavoured to persuade
his daughter that she was a widow, if indeed, as he had of late been
somewhat disposed to maintain, she had ever been legally married at all.
The truth was, that the medical war in Bristol had broken out afresh, in
consequence of certain cases that had been transferred to that village,
during one of the fever-seasons in Philadelphia. Greater cleanliness,
and the free use of fresh water, appear to have now arrested the course
of this formidable disease, in the northern cities of America; but, in
that day, it was of very frequent occurrence. Theories prevailed among
the doctors concerning it, which were bitterly antagonistical to each
other; and Doctor Woolston headed one party in Bucks, while Doctor
Yardley headed another. Which was right, or whether either was right, is
more than we shall pretend to say, though we think it probable that both
were wrong. Anne Woolston had been married to a young physician but a
short time, when this new outbreak concerning yellow fever occurred. Her
husband, whose name was Heaton, unfortunately took the side of this
grave question that was opposed to his father-in-law, for a reason no
better than that he believed in the truth of the opposing theory, and
this occasioned another breach. Doctor Yardley could not, and did not
wholly agree with Doctor Heaton, because the latter was Doctor
Woolston's son-in-law, and he altered his theory a little to create a
respectable point of disagreement; while Doctor. Woolston could not
pardon a disaffection that took place, as it might be, in the height of
a war. About this time too, Mrs. Yardley died.

All these occurrences, united to the protracted absence of Mark, made
Bridget and Anne extremely unhappy. To increase this unhappiness, Doctor
Yardley took it into his head to dispute the legality of a marriage that
had been solemnized on board a ship. This was an entirely new legal
crotchet, but the federal government was then young, and jurisdictions
had not been determined as clearly as has since been the case. Had it
been the fortune of Doctor Yardley to live in these later times, he
would not have given himself the trouble to put violent constructions on
anything; but, getting a few female friends to go before the necessary
judge, with tears in their eye's, anything would be granted to their
requests, very much as a matter of course. Failing of this, moreover,
there is always the resource of the legislature, which will usually pass
a law taking away a man's wife, or his children, and sometimes his
estate, if a pretty pathetic appeal can be made to it, in the way of
gossip. We have certainly made great progress in this country, within
the last twenty years; but whether it has been in a direction towards
the summit of human perfection, or one downward towards the destruction
of all principles, the next generation will probably be better able to
say than this. Even the government is getting to be gossipian.

In the case of Bridget, however, public sympathy was with her, as it
always will be with a pretty woman. Nevertheless, her father had great
influence in Bucks county, more especially with the federalists and the
anti-depletionists, and it was in his power to give his daughter great
uneasiness, if not absolutely to divorce her. So violent did he become,
that he actually caused proceedings to be commenced in Bridget's name,
to effect a legal separation, taking the grounds that the marriage had
never been consummated, that the ceremony had occurred on board a ship,
that the wife was of tender years, and lastly, that she was an heiress.
Some persons thought the Doctor's proceedings were instigated by the
circumstance that another relative had just died, and left Bridget five
thousand dollars, which were to be paid to her the day she was eighteen,
the period of a female's reaching her majority, according to popular
notions. The possession of this money, which Bridget received and,
placed in the hands of a friend in town, almost made her father frantic
for the divorce, or a decree against the marriage, he contending there
was no marriage, and that a divorce was unnecessary. The young wife had
not abandoned the hope of seeing her husband return, all this time,
although uneasiness concerning the fate of the ship, was extending from
her owners into the families of those who had sailed in her. She wished
to meet Mark with a sum of money that would enable him, at once, to
commence life respectably, and place him above the necessity of
following the seas.

Betts reached Bristol the very day that a decision was made, on a
preliminary point, in the case of Yardley versus Woolson, that greatly
encouraged the father in his hopes of final success, and as greatly
terrified his daughter. It was, in fact, a mere question of practice,
and had no real connection with the merits of the matter at issue; but
it frightened Bridget and her friend Anna enormously. In point of fact,
there was not the smallest danger of the marriage being declared void,
should any one oppose the decision; but this was more than any one of
the parties then knew, and Doctor Yardley seemed so much in earnest,
that Bridget and Anne got into the most serious state of alarm on the
subject. To increase their distress, a suitor for the hand of the former
appeared in the person of a student of medicine, of very fair
expectations and who supported every one of Doctor Yardley's theories,
in all their niceties and distinctions; and what is more, would have
supported them, had they been ten times as untenable as they actually
were, in reason.

Had the situation of Doctor Heaton been more pleasant than it was, it is
probable that the step taken by himself, his wife, and Bridget, would
never have been thought of. But it was highly unpleasant. He was poor,
and dependent altogether on his practice for a support. Now, it was in
Doctor Woolston's power to be of great service to the young couple, by
introducing the son-in-law to his own patients, but this he could not
think of doing with a depletionist; and John, as Anne affectionately
styled her husband, was left to starve on his system of depletion. Such
was the state of things when Bob appeared in Bristol, to announce to the
young wife not only the existence but the deserted and lone condition of
her husband. The honest fellow knew there was something clandestine
about the marriage, and he used proper precautions not to betray his
presence to the wrong persons. By means of a little management he saw
Bridget privately, and told his story. As Bob had been present at the
wedding, and was known to stand high in Mark's favour, he was believed,
quite as a matter of course, and questioned in a thousand ways, until
the poor fellow had not really another syllable to communicate.

The sisters shed floods of tears at the thought of poor Mark's
situation. For several days they did little besides weep and pray. Then
Bridget suddenly dried her tears, and announced an intention to go in
person to the rescue of her husband. Not only was she determined on
this, but, as a means of giving a death-blow to all expectations of a
separation and to the hopes of her new suitor, she was resolved to go in
a way that should enable her to remain on the Reef with Mark, and, if
necessary, to pass the remainder of her days there. Bob had given a very
glowing description of the charms of the residence, as well as of the
climate, the latter quite justly, and declared his readiness to
accompany this faithful wife in the pursuit of her lost partner. The
whole affair was communicated to Doctor and Mrs. Heaton, who not only
came into the scheme, but enlisted in its execution in person. The idea
pleased the former in particular, who had a love of adventure, and a
desire to see other lands, while Anne was as ready to follow her husband
to the ends of the earth, as Bridget was to go to the same place in
quest of Mark. In a word, the whole project was deliberately framed, and
ingeniously carried out.

Doctor Heaton had a brother, a resident of New York, and often visited
him. Bridget was permitted to accompany Anne to that place, whither her
money was transferred to her. A vessel was found that was about to sail
for the North-west Coast, and passages were privately engaged. A great
many useful necessaries were laid in, and, at the proper time, letters
of leave-taking were sent to Bristol, and the whole party sailed.
Previously to the embarkation, Bob appeared to accompany the
adventurers. He was attended by Socrates, and Dido, and Juno, who had
stolen away by order of their young mistress, as well as by a certain
Friend Martha Waters, who had stood up in 'meeting' with Friend Robert
Betts, and had become "bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh;" and her
maiden sister, Joan Waters, who was to share their fortunes. In a word,
Bob had brought an early attachment to the test of matrimony.

So well had the necessary combinations been made, that the ship sailed
with our adventurers, nine in number, without meeting with the slightest
obstacle. Once at sea, of course nothing but that caused by the elements
was to be anticipated. Cape Horn was doubled in due time, are Doctor
Heaton, with all under his care, was landed at Panama, just five months,
to a day, after leaving New York. Here passages were taken in the same
brig that Bob had returned in, which was again bound out, on a
pearl-fishing voyage. Previously to quitting Panama, however, a recruit
was engaged in the person of a young American shipwright, of the name of
Bigelow, who had run from his ship a twelvemonth before, to marry a
Spanish girl, and who had become heartily tired of his life in Panama.
He and his wife and child joined the party, engaging to serve the
Heatons, for a stipulated sum, for the term of two years.

The voyage from Panama to, the pearl islands was a long one, but far
from unpleasant. Sixty days after leaving port the adventurers were
safely landed, with all their effects. These included two cows, with a
young bull, two yearling colts, several goats obtained in South America,
and various implements of husbandry that it had not entered into the
views of Friend Abraham White to send to even the people of Fejee. With
the natives of the pearl island, Bob, already known to them and a
favourite, had no difficulty in negotiating. He had brought them
suitable and ample presents, and soon effected an arrangement, by which
they agreed to transport him and all his stores, the animals included,
to Betto's Islands, a distance of fully three hundred miles. The horses
and cows were taken on a species of catamaran, or large raft, that is
much used in those mild seas, and which sail reasonably well a little
off the wind, and not very badly on. At Betto's Islands a new bargain
was struck, and the whole party proceeded to Rancocus Island, Bob making
his land-fall without any difficulty, from having observed the course
steered in coming from it.

At Betto's group, however, Bob found the Neshamony, covered with mats,
and tabooed, precisely as he had left her to a rope-yarn. Not a human
hand had touched anything belonging to the boat, or a human foot
approached it, during the whole time of his absence. Ooroony, or Betto,
was rewarded for his fidelity by the present of a musket and some
ammunition, articles that were really of the last importance to his
dignity and power. They were as good as a standing army to him, actually
deciding summarily a point of disputed authority, that had long been in
controversy between himself and another chief, in his favour. The voyage
between Betto's group and Rancocus Island was made in the Neshamony, so
far as the human portion of the freight was concerned, The catamarans
and canoes, however, came on with the other animals, and all the
utensils and stores.

The appearance of Rancocus Island created quite as much astonishment
among the native mariners, as had that of the horses, cows, &c. Until
they saw it, not one of them had any notion of its existence, or of a
mountain at all. They dwelt themselves on low coral islands, and quite
beyond the volcanic formation, and a hill was a thing scarcely known to
them. At this island Heaton and Betts deemed it prudent to dismiss their
attendants, not wishing them to know anything of the Reef, as they were
not sure what sort of neighbours they, might prove, on a longer
acquaintance. The mountain, however, possessed so many advantages over
the Reef, as the latter was when Bob left it, that the honest fellow
frankly admitted its general superiority, and suggested the possibility
of its becoming their permanent residence. In some respects it was not
equal to the Reef, as a residence, however, the fishing in particular
turning out to be infinitely inferior. But it had trees and fruits,
being very much of the same character as Vulcan's Peak, in this respect.
Nevertheless, there was no comparison between the two islands as places
of residence, the last having infinitely the most advantages. It was
larger, had more and better fruits, better water, and richer grasses. It
had also a more even surface, and a more accessible plain. Rancocus
Island was higher and more broken, and, while it might be a pleasanter
place of residence than the Reef during the warm months, it never could
be a place as pleasant as the plain of the Peak.

Bob found it necessary to leave his friends, and most of his stores, at
Rancocus Island; Mrs. Heaton becoming a mother two days after their
arrival at it, and the cows both increasing their families in the course
of the same week. It was, moreover, impossible to transport everybody
and everything in the Neshamony, at the same time. As Doctor Heaton
would not leave Anne at such a moment, and Bridget was of the same way
of thinking, it was thought best to improve the time by sending out
Betts to explore. It will be remembered that he was uncertain where the
Reef was to be found exactly, though convinced it was to windward, and
within a hundred miles of him. While roaming over the rocks of Rancocus,
however, Vulcan's Peak had been seen, as much to Bob's surprise as to
his delight. To his surprise, inasmuch as he had no notion of the great
physical change that had recently been wrought by the earthquake, yet
could scarce believe he had overlooked such an object in his former
examinations; and to his delight, because he was now satisfied that the
Reef must be to the northward of that strange mountain, and a long
distance from it, because no such peak had been visible from the former
when he left it. It was a good place to steer for, nevertheless, on this
new voyage, since it carried him a hundred miles to wind ward; and when
Bob, with Socrates for a companion, left Rancocus to look for the Reef,
he steered as near the course for the Peak as the wind would permit. He
had made the island from the boat, after a run of ten hours; and, at the
same time, he made the crater of the active volcano. For the latter, he
stood that night, actually going within a mile of it, and, next
morning, he altered his course, and beat up for the strange island. When
Mark first discovered him, he had nearly made the circuit of Vulcan's
Peak, in a vain endeavour to land, and he would actually have gone on
his way, had it not been for the firing of the fowling-piece, the report
of which he heard, and the smoke of which he saw.

Chapter XIV.

"Compell the hawke to sit, that is unmanned,
Or make the hound, untaught, to draw the deere,
Or bring the free, against his will, in band,
Or move the sad, a pleasant tale to heere,
Your time is lost, and you no whit the neere!
So love ne learnes, of force, the heart to knit:
She serves but those, that feels sweet fancie's fit."


We leave the reader to imagine with what feelings Mark heard these
facts. Bridget, for whom his tenderness was unabated; Bridget, who had
been the subject of so many of his thoughts since his shipwreck, had
shown herself worthy to be thus loved, and was now on an island that he
might easily reach in a run of a few hours! The young man retired
further within the grove, leaving Bob and Socrates behind, and
endeavoured to regain his composure by himself. Before rejoining his
companions, he knelt and returned thanks to God for this instance of his
great kindness. It was a long time, notwithstanding before he could
become accustomed to the idea of having associates, at all. Time and
again, within the next month or two, did he _dream_ that all this
fancied happiness was only a _dream_, and awoke under a sense of having
been the subject of an agreeable illusion. It took months perfectly to
restore the tone of his mind in this respect, and to bring it back into
the placid current of habitual happiness. The deep sense of gratitude to
God he never lost; but the recollection of what he had suffered, and
from what he had been relieved by the Divine mercy, remained indelibly
impressed on his heart, and influenced his future life to a degree that
increased the favour a thousand-fold.

The mode of proceeding was next discussed, in the course of doing which
Mark communicated to Bob, somewhat in detail, the circumstance of the
recent convulsion, and the changes which it had produced. After talking
the matter over, both agreed it would be every way desirable to bring
the whole party, and as much of the property as could be easily moved,
up to windward at once. Now, that the natives knew of the existence of
Rancocus Island, their visits might be often expected, and nothing was
more uncertain than their policy and friendship. Once on Rancocus Island
the Peak could be seen, and from the Peak the Reef was visible. In this
way, then, there was every reason to believe that the existence of their
little colony would soon become known, and the property they possessed
the object of cupidity and violence. Against such consequences it would
be necessary to guard with the strictest care, and the first step should
be to get everything of value up to windward, with the least possible
delay. The natives often went a long distance, in their canoes and on
their rafts, with the wind abeam, but it was not often they undertook to
go directly to windward. Then the activity of the volcano might be
counted on as something in favour of the colonists, since those
uninstructed children of nature would be almost certain to set the
phenomenon down to the credit of some god, or some demon, neither of
whom would be likely to permit his special domains to be trespassed on
with impunity.

While Mark and Bob were talking these matters over, Socrates had been
shooting and cleaning a few dozen more of the reed-birds. This provision
of the delicacy was made, because Betts affirmed no such delicious
little creature was to be met with on Rancocus, though they were to be
found on Vulcan's Peak literally in tens of thousands. This difference
could be accounted for in no other way, than by supposing that some of
the birds had originally found their way to the latter, favoured by
accidental circumstances, driven by a hurricane, transported on
sea-weed, or attending the drift of some plants, and that the same, or
similar circumstances, had never contributed to carry them the
additional hundred miles to leeward.

It was near sunset when the Neshamony left Snug Cove, as Mark had named
his little haven, at the foot of the ravine, which, by the way, he
called the Stairs, and put to sea, on her way to Rancocus Island. The
bearings of the last had been accurately taken, and our mariners were
just as able to run by night as by day. It may as well be said here,
moreover, that the black was a capital boatman, and a good fresh-water
sailor in general, a proficiency that he had acquired in consequence of
having been born and brought up on the banks of the Delaware. But it
would have been very possible to run from one of these islands to the
other, by observing the direction of the wind alone, since it blew very
steadily in the same quarter, and changes in the course were always to
be noted by changes in the violence or freshness of the breeze. In that
quarter of the ocean the trades blew with very little variation from the
south-east, though in general the Pacific Trades are from the

Mark was delighted with the performances of the Neshamony. Bob gave a
good account of her qualities, and said he should not hesitate to make
sail in her for either of the continents, in a case of necessity.
Accustomed, as he had been of late, to the little Bridget, the pinnace
appeared a considerable craft to Mark, and he greatly exalted in this
acquisition. No seaman could hesitate about passing from the Reef to the
islands, at any time when it did not absolutely blow a gale, in a boat
of this size and of such qualities; and, even in a gale, it might be
possible to make pretty good weather of it. Away she now went, leaving
the Bridget moored in Snug Cove, to await their return. Of course, Mark
and Bob had much discourse, while running down before the wind that
night, in which each communicated to the other many things that still
remained to be said. Mark was never tired of asking questions about
Bridget; her looks, her smiles, her tears, her hopes, her fears, her
health, her spirits, and her resolution, being themes of which he never
got weary. A watch was set, nevertheless, and each person in the pinnace
had his turn of sleep, if sleep he could.

At the rising of the sun Mark was awake. Springing to his feet, he saw
that Rancocus Island was plainly in view. In the course of the ten hours
she had been out, the Neshamony had run about seventy miles, having a
square-sail set, in addition to her jib and mainsail. This brought the
mountain for which she was steering within ten leagues, and directly to
leeward. A little impatience was betrayed by the young husband, but, on
the whole, he behaved reasonably well. Mark had never neglected his
person, notwithstanding his solitude. Daily baths, and the most
scrupulous attention to his attire, so far as neatness went, had kept
him not only in health, but in spirits, the frame of the mind depending
most intimately on the condition of the body. Among other habits, he
preserved that of shaving daily. The cutting of his hair gave him the
most trouble, and he had half a mind to get Bob to act as barber on the
present occasion. Then he remembered having seen Bridget once cut the
hair of a child, and he could not but fancy how pleasant it would be to
have her moving about him, in the performance of the same office on
himself. He decided, consequently, to remain as he was, as regarded his
looks, until his charming bride could act as his hair-dresser. The
toilette, however, was not neglected, and, on the whole, there was no
reason to complain of the young man's appearance. The ship furnished him
clothes at will, and the climate rendered so few necessary, that even a
much smaller stock than he possessed, would probably have supplied him
for life.

When about a league from the northern end of Rancocus Island, Bob set a
little flag at his mast-head, the signal, previously arranged, of his
having been successful. Among the stores brought by the party from
America, were three regular tents, or marquees, which Heaton purchased
at a sale of old military stores, and had prudently brought with him, to
be used as occasion might demand. These marquees were now pitched on a
broad piece of low land, that lay between the cliffs and the beach, and
where the colony had temporarily established itself. Mark's heart beat
violently as Bob pointed out these little canvas dwellings to him. They
were the abodes of his friends, including his young wife. Next the cows
appeared, quietly grazing near by, with a pleasant home look, and the
goats and colts were not far off, cropping the grass. Altogether our
young man was profoundly overcome again, and it was some time ere he
could regain his self-command. On a point that proved to be the
landing-place, stood a solitary female figure. As the boat drew nearer
she extended her arms, and then, as if unable to stand, she sunk on a
rock which had served her for a seat ever since the distant sail was
visible. In two more minutes Mark Woolston had his charming young bride
encircled in his arms. The delicacy which kept the others aloof from
this meeting, was imitated by Bob, who, merely causing the boat, to
brush near the rock, so as to allow of Mark's jumping ashore, passed on
to a distant landing, where he was met by most of his party, including
'Friend Martha,' who rejoiced not a little in the safe return of Friend
Robert Betts. In half-an-hour Mark and Bridget came up to the marquees,
when the former made the acquaintance of his brother-in-law, and had the
happiness of embracing his sister. It was a morning of the purest joy,
and deepest gratitude. On the one side, the solitary man found himself
restored to the delights of social life, in the persons of those on
earth whom he most loved and, on the other hand, the numberless
apprehensions of those who looked for him, and his place of retirement,
had all their anxiety rewarded by complete success. Little was done that
day but to ask and answer questions. Mark had to recount all that had
happened since Bob was taken from him, and not trifling was the
trepidation created among his female listeners, when he related the
history of the earthquake. Their fears, however, were somewhat appeased
by his assurances of security; the circumstance that a volcano was in
activity near by, being almost a pledge that no very extensive
convulsions could follow.

The colonists remained a week at Rancocus Island, being actually too
happy to give themselves the disturbance of a removal. At the end of
that time, however, Anne was so far recovered that they began to talk of
a voyage, Bridget, in particular, dying to see the place where Mark had
passed so many solitary hours; and, as he had assured her more than
once, where her image had scarcely ever been absent from his thoughts
an hour at a time. As it would be impossible to embark all the effects
at once, in the Neshamony, some method was to be observed in the
removal. The transportation of the cows and horses was the most serious
part of the undertaking, the pinnace not being constructed to receive
such animals. Room, nevertheless, could be made for one at a time, and
still leave sufficient space in the stern-sheets for the accommodation
of five or six persons. It was very desirable to get the females away
first, lest the rumour of the mountain, hitherto unknown, should spread
among the islands, and bring them visitors who might prove to be
troublesome, if not dangerous. Parties existed in Betto's group, as we
believe they exist everywhere else; and Bob knew very well that nothing
but the ascendancy of his friend, the chief, Ooroony, had been the means
of his escaping as well as he did, in the land-fall among them that he
had made. The smallest reverse of fortune might put Betto down, and some
bitter foe up, and then there was the certainty that war canoes might
come off in quest of the mountain, at any time, without asking the leave
of the friendly chief, even while he remained in power. On the whole,
therefore, it was determined to freight the pinnace with the most
valuable of the effects, put all the females on board, and send her off
under the care of Mark, Heaton, and Socrates, leaving Bob and Bigelow to
look after the stock and the rest of the property. It was supposed the
boat might be absent a week. This was done accordingly, Bob, on taking
leave of Friend Martha, particularly recommending to her attention the
Vulcan's Peak reed-birds, throwing in a hint that he should be glad to
find a string of them in the pinnace, on her return.

The voyage to windward was a much more serious business than the run to
leeward. By Bob's advice Mark reefed his mainsail, and took the bonnet
off the jib. Following the same instructions, he stood away to the
southward, letting the boat go through the water freely, intending to
tack when he came near the volcano, and not before. This was what Bob
himself had done, and that which had turned out so well with him, he
fancied might succeed with his friend. The Neshamony left Rancocus
Island just at sunset. Next morning Mark saw the smoke of the Volcano,
and stood for it. After making two stretches he came up within a league
of this spot, when he tacked and stood to the northward and eastward,
Vulcan's Peak having been in plain view the entire day. As respects the
volcano, it was in a comparatively quiet state, though rumbling sounds
were heard, and stones were cast into the air in considerable
quantities, while the boat was nearest in. One thing, moreover, Mark
ascertained, which greatly increased his confidence in the permanency of
the changes that had lately occurred in the physical formation of all
that region. He found himself in comparatively shoal water, when fully a
league from this new crater. Shoal in a seaman's sense, though not in
shallow water; the soundings being from fifteen to twenty fathoms, with
a rocky bottom.

Between the volcano and Vulcan's Peak it blew quite fresh, and Mark had
a good occasion to ascertain the qualities of the pinnace. A long, heavy
swell came rolling through the passage, which was near sixty miles in
width, seemingly with a sweep that extended to the Southern Ocean.
Notwithstanding all this, the little craft did wonders, struggling along
in a way one would hardly have expected from so small a vessel. She made
fully two knots' headway in the worst of it, and in general her rate of
sailing, close on a wind and under pretty short canvas, was about three.
The night was very dark, and there was nothing to steer by but the wind,
which gave some little embarrassment; but finding himself in much
smoothe water than he had been all the previous day, about midnight, our
young man felt satisfied that he was under the lee of the island, and at
no great distance from it. He made short tacks until daylight, when the
huge mass hove up out of the departing darkness, within a mile of the
boat. It only remained to run along the land for two or three miles, and
to enter the haven of Snug Cove. Mark had been telling his companions
what a secret place this haven was to conceal a vessel in, when he had a
practical confirmation of the truth of his statement that caused him to
be well laughed at. For ten minutes he could not discover the entrance
himself, having neglected to take the proper land-marks, that he might
have no difficulty in running for his port. After a time, however, he
caught sight of an object that he remembered, and found his way into the
cove. Here lay the little namesake of his pretty wife, just as he had
left her, the true Bridget smiling and blushing as the young husband
pointed out the poor substitute he had been compelled to receive for
herself, only ten days earlier.

Mark, and Socrates, and Dido, and Teresa, Bigelow's wife, all carried up
heavy loads; while Heaton had as much as he could do to help Anne and
the child up the sharp acclivity. Bridget, with her light active step,
and great eagerness to behold a scene that Mark had described with so
much eloquence, was the first, by a quarter of an hour, on the plain.
When the others reached the top, they saw the charming young thing
running about in the nearest grove, that in which her husband had dined,
collecting fruit, and apparently as enchanted as a child. Mark paused as
he gained the height, to gaze on this sight, so agreeable in his eyes,
and which rendered the place so very different from what it had been so
recently, while he was in possession of its glorious beauties, a
solitary man. Then, he had several times likened himself to Adam in the
garden of Eden, before woman was given to him for a companion. Now, now
he could feast his eyes on an Eve, who would have been highly attractive
in any part of the world.

The articles brought up on the plain, at this first trip, comprised all
that was necessary to prepare and to partake of a breakfast in comfort.
A fire was soon blazing, the kettle on, and the bread-fruit baking. It
was almost painful to destroy the reed-birds, or _becca fichi_ so
numerous were they, and so confiding. One discharge from each barrel of
the fowling-piece had enabled Heaton to bring in enough for the whole
party, and these were soon roasting. Mark had brought with him from the
Reef a basket of fresh eggs, and they had been Bridget's load, in
ascending the mountain. He had promised her an American breakfast, and
these eggs, boiled, did serve to remind everybody of a distant home,
that was still remembered with melancholy pleasure. A heartier, or a
happier meal, notwithstanding, was never made than was that breakfast.
The mountain air, invigorating though bland, the exercise, the absence
of care, the excellence of the food, which comprised fresh figs, a tree
or two of tolerable sweetness having been found, the milk of the
cocoa-nut, the birds, the eggs, the bread-fruit, &c., all contributed
their share to render the meal memorable.

The men, and the three labouring women, were employed two days in
getting the cargo of the Neshamony up on the plain; or to Eden, as
Bridget named the spot, unconscious how often she herself had been
likened to a lovely Eve, in the mind of her young husband. Two of the
marquees had been brought, and were properly erected, having board
floors, and everything comfortably arranged within and without them. A
roof, however, was scarcely necessary in that delicious climate, where
one could get into the shade of a grove; and a thatched shed was easily
prepared for a dwelling for the others. By the end of the third day the
whole party in Eden was comfortably established, and Mark took a short
leave of his bride, to sail for Rancocus again, Bridget shed fears at
this separation short as it was intended to be; and numberless were the
injunctions to be wary of the natives, should the latter have visited
Betts, in the time intervening between the departure of the Neshamony
and her return.

The voyage between the two islands lost something of its gravity each
time it was made. Mark learned a little every trip, of the courses to be
steered, the peculiarities of the currents, and the height of the seas.
He ran down to Rancocus, on this occasion, in three hours less time than
he had done it before, sailing at dusk, and reaching port next day at
noon. Nothing had occurred, and to work the men went at once, to load
the pinnace. Room was left for one of the cows and its calf: and Bob
being seriously impressed with the importance of improving every moment,
the little sloop put to sea again, the evening of the very day on which
it had arrived.

Bridget was standing on a rock, by the side of the limpid water of the
cove, when the Neshamony shot through its entrance into the little
haven, and her hand was in Mark's the instant he landed. Tears gushed
into the eyes of the young man as he recalled his year of solitude, and
felt how different was such a welcome from his many melancholy arrivals
and departures, previously to the recent events.

It was rather a troublesome matter to get the cow and calf up the
mountain. The first did not see enough that was attractive in naked
rocks, to induce her to mount in the best of humours. She drank freely,
however, at the brook, appearing to relish its waters particularly well.
At length the plan was adopted of carrying the calf up a good distance,
the cries of the little thing inducing its mother immediately to follow.
In this way both were got up into Eden, in the course of an hour. And
well did the poor cow vindicate the name, when she got a look at the
broad glades of the sweetest grasses, that were stretched before her. So
strongly was her imagination struck with the view--for we suppose that
some cows have even more imagination than many men--that she actually
kicked up her heels, and away she went, head down and tail erect,
scampering athwart the sward like a colt. It was not long, however,
before she began to graze, the voyage having been made on a somewhat
short allowance of both food and water. If there ever was a happy
animal, it was that cow! Her troubles were all over. Sea-sickness, dry
food, short allowances of water, narrow lodgings, and hard beds, were
all, doubtless, forgotten, as she roamed at pleasure over boundless
fields, on which the grass was perennial, seeming never to be longer or
shorter than was necessary to give a good bite; and among which
numberless rills of the purest waters were sparkling like crystal. The
great difficulty in possessing a dairy, in a warm climate, is the want
of pasture, the droughts usually being so long in the summer months. At
Vulcan's Peak, however, and indeed in all of that fine region, it rained
occasionally, throughout the year; more in winter than in summer, and
that was the sole distinction in the seasons, after allowing for a
trifling change in the temperature. These peculiarities appear to have
been owing to the direction of the prevalent winds, which not only
brought frequent showers, but which preserved a reasonable degree of
freshness in the atmosphere. _Within_ the crater, Mark had often found
the beat oppressive, even in the shade; but, _without_, scarcely ever,
provided his body was not directly exposed to the sun's rays. Nor was
the difference in the temperature between the Reef and the Peak, as
marked as might have been expected from the great elevation of the last.
This was owing to the circumstance that the sea air, and that usually in
swift motion, entered so intimately into the composition of the
atmosphere down on that low range of rocks, imparting its customary
freshness to everything it passed over.

Mark did not make the next trip to Rancocus. By this time Anne passed
half the day in the open air, and was so fast regaining her strength
that Heaton did not hesitate to leave her. The doctor had left many
things behind him that he much wished to see embarked in person, and he
volunteered to be the companion of Socrates, on this occasion, leaving
the bridegroom behind, with his bride. By this time Heaton himself was a
reasonably good sailor, and to him Mark confided the instructions as to
the course to be steered, and the distance to be run. All resulted
favourably, the Neshamony making the trip in very good time, bringing
into the cove, the fourth day after she had sailed, not only the
remaining cow, and her calf, but several of the goats. Convinced he
might now depend on Heaton and Socrates to sail the pinnace, and Anne
expressing a perfect willingness to remain on the Peak, in company with
Teresa and Dido, Mark resolved to proceed to the crater with his two
Bridgets, feeling the propriety of no longer neglecting the property in
that quarter of his dominions. There was nothing to excite apprehension,
and the women had all acquired a certain amount of resolution that more
properly belonged to their situation than to their sex or nature. Anne's
great object of concern was the baby. As long as that was safe,
everything with her was going on well; and Dido being a renowned baby
doctor, and all the simples for a child's ailings being in the
possession of the young mother, she raised no objection whatever to her
brother's quitting her.

Bridget had great impatience to make this voyage, for she longed to see
the spot where her husband had passed so many days in solitude.
Everything he had mentioned, in their many conferences on this subject,
was already familiar to her in imagination; but, she wished to become
more intimately acquainted with each and all. For Kitty she really
entertained a decided fondness, and even the pigs, as Mark's companions,
had a certain romantic value in her eyes.

The morning was taken for the departure, and just as the little craft
got out from under the lee of the Peak, and began to feel the true
breeze, the sun rose gloriously out of the eastern waves, lighting the
whole of the blue waters with his brilliant rays. Never did Vulcan's
Peak appear more grand or more soft--for grandeur or sublimity, blended
with softness, make the principal charm of noble tropical scenery--than
it did that morning; and Bridget looked up at the dark, overhanging
cliffs, with a smile, as she said--

"We may love the Reef, dear Mark, for what it did for you in your
distress, but I foresee that this Eden will eventually become our home."

"There are many things to render this mountain preferable to the Reef;
though, now we are seriously thinking of a colony, it may be well to
keep both. Even Rancocus would be of great value to us, as a pasture for
goats, and a range for cattle. It may be long before the space will be
wanted by human beings, for actual cultivation; but each of our present
possessions is now, and long will continue to be, of great use to us as
assistants. We shall live principally on the Peak, I think myself; but
we must fish, get our salt, and obtain most of our vegetables from the

"Oh! that Reef, that Reef--how long will it be, Mark, before we see it?"

The enamoured young husband laughed, and kissed his charming wife, and
told her to restrain her impatience. Several hours must elapse before
they could even come in sight of the rocks. These hours did pass, and
with the occurrence of no event worthy of being recorded. The Trades
usually blew fresh in that quarter of the ocean, but it was seldom that
they brought tempests. Occasionally squalls did occur, it is true; but a
prudent and experienced mariner could ordinarily guard against their
consequences, while the hurricane seldom failed, like most other great
physical phenomena, to have its precursors, that were easily seen and
understood. On the present occasion, the boat ran across the passage in
very good time, making the crater in about five hours, and the ship's
masts in six. Mark made a good land-fall coming in to leeward of the
cape, or low promontory already mentioned--Cape South he called
it--while there still remained several hours of day. Bridget was greatly
struck with the vast difference she could not help finding between the
appearance of these low, dark, and so often naked rocks, and that of the
Eden she had just left. Tears came into her eyes, as she pictured her
husband a solitary wanderer over these wastes, with no water, even, but
that which fell from the clouds, or which came from the casks of the
ship. When, however, she gave utterance to this feeling, one so natural
to her situation, Mark told her to have patience until they reached the
crater, when she would see that he had possessed a variety of blessings,
for which he had every reason to be grateful to God.

There was no difficulty in getting into the proper channel, when the
boat fairly flew along the rocks that lined the passages. So long as she
was in rough water, the sails of so small a craft were necessarily
becalmed a good deal of the time; but, now that there was nothing to
intercept the breeze, she caught it all, and made the most of it. To
Mark's surprise, as they passed the Prairie, he saw all of his swine on
it, now, including two half-unconsumed litters of well-grown pigs, some
seventeen in number. These animals had actually found their way along
the rocks, a distance of at least twenty miles from home, and by the
crooked path they had taken, probable one much greater. They all
appeared full, and contented. So much of the water had already
evaporated as to make it tolerable walking on the sea-weed; and Mark,
stopping to examine the progress of things, prognosticated that another
year, in that climate, would convert the whole of that wide plain into
dry land. In many places, the hogs had already found their way down,
through the sea-weed, into the mud; and there was one particular spot,
quite near the channel, where the water was all gone, and where the pigs
had rooted over so much of the surface, as to convert two or three
acres into a sort of half-tilled field, in which the sea-weed was nearly
turned under the mud. Nothing but drenching rains were wanting to render
such a place highly productive, and it was certain those rains would
come at the end of the season.

About the middle of the day, Mark ran the beat alongside of the Reef, at
the usual landing, and welcomed Bridget to his and her home, with a
kiss. Everything was in its place, and a glance sufficed to show that no
human foot had been there, during the weeks of his absence. Kitty was
browsing on the Summit, and no spaniel could have played more antics
than she did, at the sight of her master. At first, Mark had thought of
transferring this gentle and playful young goat to the Peak, and to
place her in the little flock collected there; but he had been induced
to change his mind, by recollecting how much she contributed to the
beauty of the Summit, by keeping down the grass. He had therefore
brought her a companion, which had no sooner been landed on the Reef,
than it bounded off to make acquaintance with the stranger on the

Bridget was almost overcome when she got on board the ship. There was
even a certain sublimity in the solitude that reigned over everything,
that impressed her imagination, and she wondered that any human being
could so long have dwelt there alone, uncheered by the hope of
deliverance. In the cabin of that vessel she had plighted her faith to
Mark, and a flood of recollections burst upon her as she entered it.
Mark was obliged to allow her to seek relief in tears. But, half an hour
brought her round again, and then she set about putting things in order,
and making this very important abode submit to the influence of woman's
love of comfort and order. By the time Mark came back from his garden,
whither he had gone to ascertain its condition, Bridget had his supper
ready for him, prepared with a neatness and method to which he had long
been a stranger. That was a very delicious meal to both. The husband had
lighted a fire in the galley, where the wife had cooked the meal, which
consisted principally of some pan-fish, taken in the narrow channels
between the rocks, and which had been cleaned by Mark himself, as they
sailed along. It was, indeed, a great point of solicitude with this
young husband to prevent his charming wife from performing duties for
which she was unfitted by education, while the wife herself was only too
solicitous to make herself useful. In one sense, Bridget was a very
knowing person about a household. She knew how to prepare many savoury
compounds, and had the whole culinary art at her fingers' ends, in the
way of giving directions. It was no wonder, then, that Mark found
everything she touched, or prepared, good, as everything she said
sounded pleasant and reasonable. The last is a highly important
ingredient in matrimonial life, but the first has its merit. And Bridget
Woolston was both pleasant and reasonable. Though a little romantic, and
inclined to hazard all for feeling, and what she conceived to be duty,
at the bottom of all ran a vein of excellent sense, which had been
reasonably attended to. Her temper was sweetness itself, and that is one
of the greatest requisites in married happiness. To this great quality
must be added affection, for she was devoted to Mark, and nothing he
wished would she hesitate about striving to obtain, even at painful
sacrifices to herself. One as generous-minded and manly as her husband,
could not fail to discover and appreciate such a disposition, which
entered very largely into the composition of their future happiness.

Our young couple did not visit the crater and the Summit until the sun
had lost most of its power. Then Mark introduced his wife into his
garden, and to his lawn. Exclamations of delight escaped the last, at
nearly every step; for, in addition to the accidental peculiarities of
such a place, the vegetation had advanced, as vegetation only can
advance within the tropics, favoured by frequent rains and a rich soil.
The radishes were half as large as Bridget's wrists, and as tender as
her heart. The lettuce was already heading; the beans were fit to pull;
the onions large enough to boil, and the peas even too old. On the
Summit Mark cut a couple of melons, which were of a flavour surpassing
any he had ever before tasted. With that spot Bridget was especially
delighted. It was, just then, as green as grass could be, and Kitty had
found its plants so very sweet, that she had scarce descended once to
trespass on the garden. Here and there the imprint of her little hoof
was to be traced on a bed, it is true, but she appeared to have gone
there more to look after the condition of the garden than to gratify her

While on the Summit, Mark pointed out to his wife the fowls, now
increased to something like fifty. Two or three broods of chickens had
come within the last month, making their living on the reef that was
separated from that of the crater by means of the bridge of planks. As
two or three flew across the narrow pass, however, he was aware that the
state of his garden must be owing to the fact that they still found a
plenty on those rocks for their support. In returning to the ship, he
visited a half-barrel prepared for that purpose, and, as he expected,
found a nest containing a dozen eggs. These he took the liberty of
appropriating to his own use, telling Bridget that they could eat some
of them for their breakfast.

But food never had been an interest to give our solitary man much
uneasiness. From the hour when he found muck, and sea-weed, and guano,
he felt assured of the means of subsistence; being in truth, though he
may not have known it himself, more in danger of falling behind hand, in
consequence of the indisposition to activity that almost ever
accompanies the abundance of a warm climate, than from the absolute want
of the means of advancing. That night Mark and Bridget knelt, side by
side, and returned thanks to God for all his mercies. How sweet the
former found it to see the light form of his beautiful companion moving
about the spacious cabin, giving it an air of home and happiness, no one
can fully appreciate who has not been cut off from these accustomed
joys, and then been suddenly restored to them.

Chapter XV.

"I beg, good Heaven, with just desires,
What need, not luxury, requires;
Give me, with sparing hands, but moderate wealth,
A little honour, and enough of health;
Free from the busy city life,
Near shady groves and purling streams confined,
A faithful friend, a pleasing wife;
And give me all in one, give a contented mind."


Mark and Bridget remained at the Reef a week, entirely alone. To them
the time seemed but a single day; and so completely were they engrossed
with each other, and their present happiness, that they almost dreaded
the hour of return. Everything was visited, however, even to the
abandoned anchor, and Mark made a trip to the eastward, carrying his
wife out into the open water, in that direction. But the ship and the
crater gave Bridget the greatest happiness. Of these she never tired,
though the first gave her the most pleasure. A ship was associated with
all her earliest impressions of Mark; on board that very ship she had
been married; and now it formed her home, temporarily, if not
permanently. Bridget had been living so long beneath a tent, and in
savage huts, that the accommodations of the Rancocus appeared like those
of a palace. They were not inelegant even, though it was not usual, in
that period of the republic, to fit up vessels with a magnificence
little short of royal yachts, as is done at present. In the way of
convenience, however, our ship could boast of a great deal. Her cabins
were on deck, or under a poop, and consequently enjoyed every advantage
of light and air. Beneath were store-rooms, still well supplied with
many articles of luxury, though time was beginning to make its usual
inroads on their qualities. The bread was not quite as sound as it was
once, nor did the teas retain all their strength and flavour. But the
sugar was just as sweet as the day it was shipped, and in the coffee
there was no apparent change. Of the butter, we do not choose to say
anything. Bridget, in the prettiest manner imaginable, declared that as
soon as she could set Dido at work the store-rooms should be closely
examined, and thoroughly cleaned. Then the galley made such a convenient
and airy kitchen! Mark had removed the house, the awning answering every
purpose, and his wife declared that it was a pleasure to cook a meal for
him, in so pleasant a place.

The first dish Bridget ever literally cooked for Mark, with her own
hands, or indeed for any one else, was a mess of 'grass,' as it was the
custom of even the most polished people of America then to call
asparagus. They had gone together to the asparagus bed on Loam Island,
and had found the plant absolutely luxuriating in its favourite soil.
The want of butter was the greatest defect in this mess, for, to say the
truth, Bridget refused the ship's butter on this occasion, but luckily,
enough oil remained to furnish a tolerable substitute. Mark declared he
had never tasted anything in his life half so good!

At the end of the week, the governor, as Heaton had styled Mark, and as
Bridget had begun playfully to term him, gave the opinion that it was
necessary for them to tear themselves away from their paradise. Never
before, most certainly, had the Reef appeared to the young husband a
spot as delightful as he now found it, and it did seem to him very
possible for one to pass a whole life on it without murmuring. His wife
again and again assured him she had never before been half as happy, and
that, much as she loved Anne and the baby, she could remain a month
longer, without being in the least wearied. But it was prudent to return
to the Peak, for Mark had never felt his former security against foreign
invasion, since he was acquainted with the proximity of peopled islands.

The passage was prosperous, and it gave the scene an air of civilization
and life, to fall in with the Neshamony off the cove. She was coming in
from Rancocus, on her last trip for the stores, having brought
everything away but two of the goats. These had been driven up into the
mountains, and there left. Bigelow had come away, and the whole party of
colonists were now assembled at Vulcan's Peak. But Betts had a
communication to make that gave the governor a good deal of concern. He
reported that after they had got the pinnace loaded, and were only
waiting for the proper time of day to quit Rancocus, they discovered a
fleet of canoes and catamarans, approaching the island from the
direction of the Group, as they familiarly termed the cluster of islands
that was known to be nearest to them, to the northward and westward. By
means of a glass, Betts had ascertained that a certain Waally was on
board the leading canoe, and he regarded this as an evil omen. Waally
was Ooroony's most formidable rival and most bitter foe; and the
circumstance that he was leading such a flotilla, of itself, Bob
thought, was an indication that he had prevailed over honest Betto, in
some recent encounter, and was now abroad, bent on further mischief.
Indeed, it seemed scarcely possible that men like the natives should
hear of the existence of such a mountain as that of Rancocus Island, in
their vicinity, and not wish to explore, if not to possess it.

Betts had pushed off, and made sail, as soon as assured of this fact. He
knew the pinnace could outsail anything the islanders possessed, more
especially on a wind, and he manoeuvred about the flotilla for an hour,
making his observations, before he left it. This was clearly a war
party, and Bob thought there were white men in it. At least, he saw two
individuals who appeared to him to be white sailors, attired in a
semi-savage way, and who were in the same canoe with the terrible
Waally. It was nothing out of the way for seamen to get adrift on the
islands scattered about in the Pacific, there being scarcely a group in
which more or less of them are not to be found. The presence of these
men, too, Bob regarded as another evil omen, and he felt the necessity
of throwing all the dust he could into their eyes. When the pinnace left
the flotilla, therefore, instead of passing out to windward of the
island, as was her true course, she steered in an almost contrary
direction, keeping off well to leeward of the land, in order not to get
becalmed under the heights, for Bob well knew the canoes, with paddles,
would soon overhaul him, should he lose the wind.

It was the practice of our colonists to quit Rancocus just before the
sun set, and to stand all night on a south-east course. This invariably
brought them in sight of the smoke of the volcano by morning, and
shortly after they made the Peak. All of the day that succeeded, was
commonly passed in beating up to the volcano, or as near to it as it was
thought prudent to go; and tacking to the northward and eastward, about
sunset of the second day, it was found on the following morning, that
the Neshamony was drawing near to the cliffs of Vulcan's Peak, if she
were not already beneath them. As a matter of course, then, Bob had not
far to go, before night shut in, and left him at liberty to steer in
whatever direction he pleased. Fortunately, that night had no moon,
though there was not much danger of so small a craft as the Neshamony
being seen at any great distance on the water, even by moonlight. Bob
consequently determined to beat up off the north end of the island, or
Low Cape, as it was named by the colonists, from the circumstance of its
having a mile or two of low land around it, before the mountains
commenced. Once off the cape again, and reasonably well in, he might
possibly make discoveries that would be of use.

It took two or three hours to regain the lost ground, by beating to
windward. By eleven o'clock, however, the Neshamony was not only off the
cape, but quite close in with the landing. The climate rendering fires
altogether unnecessary at that season, and indeed at nearly all seasons,
except for cooking, Bob could not trace the encampment of the savages,
by that means. Still, he obtained all the information he desired. This
was not done, however, without great risk, and by a most daring step on
his part. He lowered the sails of the boat and went alongside of the
rock, where the pinnace usually came to, the canoes, &c., having made
another, and a less eligible harbour. Bob then landed in person, and
stole along the shore in the direction of the sleeping savages. Unknown
to himself, he was watched, and was just crouching under some bushes, in
order to get a little nearer, when he felt a hand on his shoulder. There
was a moment when blood was in danger of being shed, but Betts's hand
was stayed by hearing, in good English, the words--

"Where are you bound, shipmate?"

This question was asked in a guarded, under-tone, a circumstance that
reassured Bob, quite as much as the language. He at once perceived that
the two men whom he had, rightly enough, taken for seamen, were in these
bushes, where it would seem they had long been on the watch, observing
the movements of the pinnace. They told Bob to have no apprehensions, as
all the savages were asleep, at some little distance, and accompanied
him back to the Neshamony. Here, to the surprise and joy of all parties,
Bigelow recognised both the sailors, who had not only been his former
shipmates, but were actually his townsmen in America, the whole three
having been born within a mile of each other. The history of these three
wanderers from home was very much alike. They had come to the Pacific in
a whaler, with a drunken captain, and had, in succession, left the ship.
Bigelow found his way to Panama, where he was caught by the dark eyes of
Theresa, as has been related. Peters had fallen in with Jones, in the
course of his wanderings, and they had been for the last two years among
the pearl islands, undecided what to do with themselves, when Waally
ordered both to accompany him in the present expedition. They had
gathered enough in hints given by different chiefs, to understand that a
party of Christians was to be massacred, or enslaved, and plundered of
course. They had heard of the 'canoe' that had been tabooed for twelve
moons, but were at a loss to comprehend one-half of the story, and were
left to the most anxious conjectures. They were not permitted to pass on
to the islands under the control of Ooroony, but were jealously detained
in Waally's part of the group, and consequently had not been in a
situation to learn all the particulars of the singular party of
colonists who had gone to the southward. Thus much did Peters relate, in
substance, when a call among the savages notified the whole of the
whites of the necessity of coming to some conclusion concerning the
future. Jones and Peters acknowledged it would not be safe to remain any
longer, though the last gave his opinion with an obvious reluctance. As
it afterwards appeared, Peters had married an Indian wife, to whom he
was much attached, and he did not like the idea of abandoning her. There
was but a moment for reflection, however, and almost without knowing it
himself, when he found the pinnace about to make sail in order to get
off the land, he followed Jones into her, and was half a mile from the
shore before he had time to reflect much on her he had left behind him.
His companion consoled him by telling him that an opportunity might
occur of sending a message to Petrina, as they had named the pretty
young savage, who would not fail to find her way to Rancocus, sooner or

With these important accessions to his forces, Bob did not hesitate
about putting to sea, leaving Waally to make what discoveries he might.
Should the natives ascend to the higher parts of the mountain, they
could hardly fail to see both the smoke of the volcano and the Peak,
though it would luckily not be in their power to see the Reef, or any
part of that low group of rocks. It was very possible they might attempt
to cross the passage between the two mountains, though the circumstance
that Vulcan's Peak lay so directly to windward of Rancocus offered a
very serious obstacle to their succeeding. Had the two sailors remained
with them, _they_, indeed, might have taught the Indians to overcome the
winds and waves; but these very men were of opinion, from what they had
seen of the natives and of their enterprises, that it rather exceeded
their skill and perseverance, to work their canoes a hundred miles dead
to windward, and against the sea that was usually on in that quarter of
the Pacific.

The colonists, generally, gave the two recruits a very welcome
reception. Bridget smiled when Mark suggested that Jones, who was a
well-looking lad enough, would make a very proper husband for Joan, and
that he doubted not his being called on, in his character of magistrate,
to unite them in the course of the next six months. The designs of the
savages, however, caused the party to think of anything but weddings,
just at that moment, and a council was held to devise a plan for their
future government. As Mark was considered the head of the colony, and
had every way the most experience, his opinion swayed those of his
companions, and all his recommendations were adopted. There were on
board the ship eight carronades, then quite a new gun, and mounted on
trucks. They were of the bore of twelve-pounders, but light and
manageable, There was also abundance of ammunition in the vessel's
magazine, no ship coming to the Fejees to trade without a proper regard
to the armament. Mark proposed going over to the Reef with the
Neshamony, the very next day, in order to transport two of the guns,
with a proper supply of powder and shot, to the Peak. Now there was one
place on the path, or Stairs, where it would be easy to defend the last
against an army, the rocks, which were absolutely perpendicular on each
side of it, coming so close together, as to render it practicable to
close the passage by a narrow gate. This gate Mark did not purpose to
erect now, for he thought it unnecessary. All he intended was to plant
the two guns at this pass; one on a piece of level rock directly over
it, and a little on one side, which would command the entrance of the
cove, and the cove itself, as well as the whole of the path beneath, and
the other on another natural platform, a short distance above, where it
could not only command the pass, but, by using the last as a sort of
embrasure, by firing through it, could not only sweep the ravine for
some distance down, but could also rake the entrance of the cove, and
quite half of the little basin itself.

Bob greatly approved of this arrangement, though all the seamen were too
much accustomed to obey their officers to raise the smallest objections
to anything that Mark proposed. Betts was the only person who had made
the circuit of the Peak; but he, and Mark, and Heaton, who had been a
good deal round the cliffs, on the side of the water, all agreed in
saying they did not believe it possible for a human being to reach the
plain, unless the ascent was made by the Stairs. This, of course,
rendered the fortifying of the last a matter of so much the greater
importance, since it converted the whole island into a second Gibraltar.
It was true, the Reef would remain exposed to depredations; though Mark
was of opinion that, by leaving a portion of their force in the ship,
with two or three of the guns at command, it would not be difficult to
beat off five hundred natives. As for the crater, it might very easily
be made impregnable.

At this meeting Heaton proposed the establishment of some sort of
government and authority, which they should all solemnly swear to
support. The idea was favourably received, and Mark was unanimously
chosen governor for life, the law being the rule of right, with such
special enactments as might, from time to time, issue from a council of
three, who were also elected for life. This council consisted of the
governor, Heaton, and Setts. Human society has little difficulty in
establishing itself on just principles, when the wants are few and
interests simple. It is the bias given by these last that perverts it
from the true direction. In our island community, most of its citizens
were accustomed to think that education and practice gave a man certain
claims to control, and, as yet, demagogueism had no place with them. A
few necessary rules, that were connected with their particular
situation, were enacted by the council and promulgated, when the meeting
adjourned. Happily they were as yet far, very far from that favourite
sophism of the day, which would teach the inexperienced to fancy it an
advantage to a legislator to commence his career as low as possible on
the scale of ignorance, in order that he might be what it is the
fashion, to term "a self-made man."

Mark now took the command, and issued his orders with a show of
authority. His attention was first turned to rendering the Peak
impregnable. There were a plenty of muskets and fowling-pieces already
there, Heaton having come well provided with arms and ammunition. As
respects the last, Peters and Jones were set to work to clear out a sort
of cavern in the rock, that was not only of a convenient size, but which
was conveniently placed for such a purpose, at no great distance from
the head of the Stairs, to receive the powder, &c. The cavity was
perfectly dry, an indispensable requisite, and it was equally well
protected against the admission of water.

The next thing was to collect a large pile of dry wood on the naked
height of the Peak. This was to be lighted, at night, in the event of
the canoes appearing while he was absent, Mark being of opinion that he
could see such a beacon-fire from the Reef, whither he was about to
proceed. Having made these arrangements, the governor set sail with
Betts, Bigelow, and Socrates for his companions; leaving Heaton, with
Peters and Jones, to take care of most of the females. We say of most,
since Dido and Juno went along, in order to cook, and to wash all the
clothes of the whole colony, a part of which were sent in the pinnace,
but most of which were on hoard the ship. This was a portion of his
duty, when a solitary man, to which Mark was exceedingly averse, and
having shirts almost _ad libitum_, Bridget had found nearly a hundred
ready for the 'buck-basket.' There was no danger, therefore, that the
'wash' would be too small.

Betts was deeply impressed with the change that he found in the rocks.
There, where he had left, water over which he had often floated his
raft, appeared dry land. Nor was he much less struck with the appearance
of the crater. It was now a hill of a bright, lively verdure, Kitty and
her new friend keeping it quite as closely cropped as was desirable. The
interior, too, struck him forcibly; for there, in addition to the
garden, now flourishing, though a little in want of the hoe, was a
meadow of acres in extent, in which the grass was fit to cut. Mark had
observed this circumstance when last at the crater, and Socrates had
brought his scythe and forks, to cut and cure the hay.

The morning after the arrival, everybody went to work. The women set up
their tubs, under an awning spread for that purpose, near the spring,
and were soon up to their elbows in suds. The scythe was set in motion,
and the pinnace was taken round to the ship. Three active seamen soon
hoisted out the carronades, and stowed them in the little sloop. The
ammunition followed, and half-a-dozen barrels of the beef and pork were,
put in the Neshamony also. Mark scarcely ever touched this food now, the
fish, eggs, chickens, and pigs, keeping his larder sufficiently well
supplied. But some of the men pined for _ship's_ provisions, beef and
pork that had now been packed more than two years, and the governor
thought it might be well enough to indulge them. The empty barrels would
be convenient on the Peak, and the salt would be acceptable, after being
dried and pulverized.

The day was passed in loading the Neshamony, and in looking after
various interests on the Reef. The hogs had all come in, and were fed.
Mark shot one, and had it dressed, putting most of its meat into the
pinnace. He also sent Bob out to his old place of resort, near Loam
Island, whence he brought back near a hundred hog-fish. These were
divided, also, some being given to Dido's mess, and the rest put in the
pinnace, after taking out enough for a good supper. About ten at night
the Neshamony sailed, Mark carrying her out into the open water, when he
placed Bob at the helm. Bigelow had remained in the ship, to overhaul
the lumber, of which there were still large piles both betwixt decks and
in the lower hold, as did the whole of the Socrates family, who were yet
occupied with the hay harvest and the 'wash.' Before he lay down to
catch his nap, Mark took a good look to the southward, in quest of the
beacon, but it was not burning, a sign the savages had not appeared in
the course of the day. With this assurance he fell asleep, and slept
until informed by Bob that the pinnace was running in beneath the
cliffs. Betts called him, because the honest fellow was absolutely at a
loss to know where to find the entrance of the cove. So closely did the
rocks lap, that this mouth of the harbour was most effectually concealed
from all but those who happened to get quite close in with the cliffs,
and in a particular position. Mark, himself, had caught a glimpse of
this narrow entrance accidentally, on his first voyage, else might he
have been obliged to abandon the hope of getting on the heights; for
subsequent examination showed that there was but that one spot, on the
whole circuit of Vulcan's Peak, where man could ascend to the plain,
without having recourse to engineering and the labour of months, if not
of years.

Bob had brought along one of the two swivels of the ship, as an armament
for the Neshamony, and he fired it under the cliffs, as a signal of her
return. This brought down all the men, who, with their united strength,
dragged the carronades up the Stairs, and placed them in position. With
a view to scale the guns, the governor now had each loaded, with a round
shot and a case of canister. The gun just above the pass, he pointed
himself, at the entrance of the cove, and touched it off. The whole of
the missiles went into the passage, making the water fairly foam again.
The other gun was depressed so as to sweep the Stairs and, on
examination, it was found that its shot had raked the path most
effectually for a distance exceeding a hundred yards. Small magazines
were made in the rocks, near each guy, when the most important part of
the arangements for defence were considered to be satisfactorily made
for the present. The remainder of the cargo was discharged, and got up
the mountain, though it took three days to effect the last. The
provisions were opened below and overhauled, quite one-half of the pork
being consigned to the soap-fat, though the beef proved to be still
sound and sweet. Such as was thought fit to be consumed was carried up
in baskets, and re-packed on the mountain, the labour of rolling up the
barrels satisfying everybody, after one experiment. This difficulty set
Mark to work with his wits, and he found a shelf that overhung the
landing, at a height of fully a hundred yards above it, where there was
a natural platform of rock, that would suffice for the parade of a
regiment of men. Here he determined to rig a derrick, for there was an
easy ascent and descent to this 'platform,' as the place was called, and
down which a cart might go without any difficulty, if a cart was to be
had. The 'platform' might also be used for musketeers, in an action, and
on examining it, Mark determined to bring over one of the two long
sixes, and mount it there, with a view to command the offing. From that
height a shot could be thrown in any direction, for more than a mile,
outside of the harbour.

Heaton had seen no signs of the canoes, nor could Mark, at any time
during the next four clays after his return, though he was each day on
the Peak itself, to examine the ocean. On the fifth day, therefore, he
and Bob crossed over to the Reef again, taking Bridget along this time.
The latter delighted in the ship, the cabins of which were so much more
agreeable and comfortable than the tents, and which had so long been her
husband's solitary abode.

On reaching the Reef, the governor was greatly surprised to find that
Bigelow had the frame of a boat even larger than the pinnace set up, one
that measured fourteen tons, though modelled to carry, rather than to
sail. In overhauling the 'stuff' in the ship, he had found not only all
the materials for this craft, but those necessary for a boat a little
larger than the Bridget, which, it seems, had been sent for the
ordinary service of the ship, should anything occur to occasion the loss
of the two she commonly used, in addition to the dingui. These were
treasures, indeed, vessels of this size being of the utmost use to the
colonists. For the next month, several hands were kept at work on these
two boats, when both were got into the water, rigged, and turned over
for duty. The largest boat of the little fleet, which had no deck at
all, not even forward, and which was not only lighter-built but
lighter-rigged, having one large sprit-sail that brailed, was called the
Mary, in honour of Heaton's mother; while the jolly-boat carried joy to
the hearts of the house of Socrates, by being named the Dido. As she was
painted black as a crow, this appellation was not altogether
inappropriate, Soc declaring, "dat 'e boat did a good deal favour his
ole woman."

While these things were in progress, the Neshamony was not idle. She
made six voyages between the Reef and the Peak in that month, carrying
to the last, fish, fresh pork, various necessaries from the ship, as
well as eggs and salt. Some of the fowls were caught and transferred to
the Peak, as well as half-a-dozen of the porkers. The return cargo

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