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The Crater by James Fenimore Cooper

Part 5 out of 9

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consisted of reed-birds, in large quantities, several other varieties of
birds, bread-fruits, bananas, yams, cocoa-nuts, and a fruit that Heaton
discovered, which was of a most delicious flavour, resembling
strawberries and cream, and which was afterwards ascertained to be the
charra-moya, the fruit that, of all others, when good, is thought to
surpass everything else of that nature. Bridget also picked a basket of
famously large wild strawberries on the Summit, and sent them to Anne.
In return. Anne sent her sister, not only cream and milk, by each
passage, but a little fresh butter. The calves had been weaned, and the
two cows were now giving their largest quantity of milk, furnishing
almost as much butter as was wanted.

At the crater, Socrates put everything in order. He mowed the grass, and
made a neat stack of it, in the centre of the meadow. He cleaned the
garden thoroughly, and made some arrangements for enlarging it, though
the yield, now, was quite as great as all the colonists could consume;
for, no sooner was one vegetable dug, or cut, than another was put in
its place. On the Peak, Peters, who was half a farmer, dug over an acre
or two of rich loam, and made a fence of brush, with a view of having a
garden in Eden. Really, it almost seemed superfluous; though those who
had been accustomed to salads, and beans, and beets, and onions, and
cucumbers, and all the other common vegetables of a civilized kitchen,
soon began to weary of the more luscious fruits of the tropics. With the
wild figs, however, Heaton, who was a capital horticulturist, fancied he
could do something. He picked out three or four thriving young trees of
that class, which bore fruit a little better flavoured than most around
them, and cut away all their neighbours, letting in the sun and air
freely. He also trimmed their branches, and dug around the roots, which
he refreshed with guano; the use of which had been imparted by Mark to
his fellow-colonists, though Bigelow knew all about it from-having lived
in Peru, and Bob had early let the governor himself into the secret.

The governor and his lady, as the community now began to term Mr. and
Mrs. Mark Woolston, were on the point of embarking in the Neshamony, to
visit Vulcan's Peak, after a residence on the Reef of more than a month,
when the orders for sailing were countermanded, in consequence of
certain signs in the atmosphere, which indicated something like another
hurricane. The tempest came, and in good earnest, but without any of the
disastrous consequences which had attended that of the previous year. It
blew fearfully, and the water was driven into all the sounds, creeks,
channels and bays of the group, bringing many of the islands, isthmuses,
peninsulas, and plains of rock, what the seamen call 'awash,' though no
material portion was actually overflowed. At the Reef itself, the water
rose a fathom, but it did not reach the surface of the island by several
feet, and all passed off without any other consequences than giving the
new colonists a taste of the climate.

Mark, on this occasion, for the first time, noted a change that was
gradually taking place on the surface of the Reef, without the crater.
Most of its cavities were collecting deposits, that were derived from
various sources. Sea-weed, offals, refuse stuff of all kinds, the
remains of the deluge of fish that occurred the past year, and all the
indescribable atoms that ever contribute to form soil in the
neighbourhood of man. There were many spots on the Reef, of acres in
extent, that formed shallow basins, in which the surface might be two or
three inches lower than the surrounding rocks, and, in these spots in
particular, the accumulations of an incipient earthy matter were plainly
visible. As these cavities collected and retained the moisture, usually
from rain to rain, Mark had some of Friend Abraham White's grass-seed
sown over them, in order to aid nature in working out her own benevolent
designs. In less than a month, patches of green began to appear on the
dusky rocks, and there was good reason to hope that a few years would
convert the whole Reef into a smiling, verdant plain. It was true, the
soil could not soon obtain any useful depth, except in limited spots;
but, in that climate, where warmth and moisture united to push
vegetation to the utmost, it was an easy thing to obtain a bottom for
grasses of almost all kinds.

Nor did Mark's provident care limit itself to this one instance of
forethought. Socrates was sent in the dinghy to the prairie, over which
the hogs had now been rooting for fully two months, mixing together mud
and sea-weed, somewhat loosely it is true, but very extensively; and
there he scattered Timothy-seed in tolerable profusion. Socrates was a
long-headed, as well as a long-footed fellow, and he brought back from
this expedition a report that was of material importance to the future
husbandry of the colonists. According to his statement, this large
deposit of mud and sea-weed lay on a peninsula, that might be barricaded
against the inroads of hogs, cattle, &c., by a fence of some two or
three rods in length. This was a very favourable circumstance, where
wood was to be imported for many years to come, if not for ever; though
the black had brought the seeds of certain timbers, from the Peak, and
put them into the ground in a hundred places on the Reef, where the
depth of deposit, and other circumstances, seemed favourable to their
growth. As for the Prairie, could it be made to grow grasses, it would
be a treasure to the colony, inasmuch as its extent reached fully to a
thousand acres. The examination of Socrates was flattering in other
respects. The mud was already dry, and the deposit of salt did riot seem
to be very great; little water having been left there after the
eruption, or lifting of the earth's crust. The rains had done much, and
certain coarse, natural grasses, were beginning to show themselves in
various parts of the field. As the hogs would not be likely to root over
the same spot twice, it was not proposed to exclude them, but they were
permitted to range over the field at pleasure, in the hope that they
would add to its fertility by mixing the materials for soil. In such a
climate, every change of a vegetable character was extremely rapid, and
now that no one thought of abandoning the settlement, it was very
desirable to obtain the different benefits of civilization as soon as

All the blacks remained at the Reef, where Mark himself passed a good
deal of his time. In their next visit to the Peak, they found things
flourishing, and the garden looking particularly well. The Vulcanists
had their melons in any quantity, as well as most vegetables without
limits. It was determined to divide the cows, leaving one on the Peak,
and sending the other to the crater, where there was now sufficient
grass to keep two or three such animals. With a view to this
arrangement, Bob had been directed to fence in the garden and stack, by
means of ropes and stanchions let into the ground. When the Anne
returned to the Reef, therefore, from her first voyage to the Peak, a
cow was sent over in her. This change was made solely for the
convenience of the milk, all the rest of the large stock being retained
on the plain, where there was sufficient grass to sustain thousands of

But the return cargo of the Anne, on this her first voyage, was composed
mainly of ship-timber. Heaton had found a variety of the teak in the
forests that skirted the plain, and Bigelow had got out of the trees the
frame of a schooner that was intended to measure about eighty tons. A
craft of that size would be of the greatest service to them, as it would
enable the colonists to visit any part of the Pacific they pleased, and
obtain such supplies as they might find necessary. Nor was this all; by
mounting on her two of the carronades, she would effectually give them
the command of their own seas, so far as the natives were concerned at
least. Mark had some books on the draughting of vessels, and Bigelow had
once before laid down a brig of more than a hundred tons in dimensions.
Then the stores, rigging, copper, &c., of the ship, could never be
turned to better account than in the construction of another vessel, and
it was believed she could furnish materials enough for two or three such
craft. Out of compliment to his old owner, Mark named this schooner in
embryo, the 'Friend Abraham White,' though she was commonly known
afterwards as the 'Abraham.'

The cutting of the frame of the intended schooner was a thing easy
enough, with expert American axemen, and with that glorious implement of
civilization, the American axe. But it was not quite so easy to get the
timber down to the cove. The keel, in particular, gave a good deal of
trouble. Heaton had brought along with him both cart and wagon wheels,
and without that it is questionable if the stick could have been moved
by any force then at the command of the colony. By suspending it in
chains beneath the axles, however, it was found possible to draw it,
though several of the women had to lend their aid in moving the mass.
When at the head of the Stairs, the timber was lowered on the rock, and
was slid downwards, with occasional lifts by the crowbar and handspike.
When it reached the water it was found to be much too heavy to float,
and it was by no means an easy matter to buoy it up in such a way that
it might be towed. The Anne was three times as long making her passage
with this keel in tow, as she was without it. It was done, however, and
the laying of the keel was effected with some little ceremony, in the
presence of nearly every soul belonging to the colony.

The getting out and raising of the frame of the 'Friend Abraham White'
took six weeks. Great importance was attached to success in this matter,
and everybody assisted in the work with right good will. At one time it
was doubted if stuff enough could be found in the ship to plank her up
with, and it was thought it might become necessary to break up the
Rancocus, in order to complete the job. To Bridgets great joy, however,
the good _old_ Rancocus--so they called her, though she was even then
only eight years old--the good old Rancocus' time had not yet come, and
she was able to live in her cabin for some months longer. Enough planks
were found by using those of the 'twixt decks, a part of which were not
bolted down at all to accomplish all that was wanted.

Heaton was a man of singular tastes, which led him to as remarkable
acquirements. Among other accomplishments, he was a very good general
mechanician, having an idea of the manner in which most of the ordinary
machinery ought to be, not only used, but fabricated. At the point where
the rivulet descended the cliff into the sea, he discovered as noble a
mill-seat as the heart of man could desire to possess. To have such a
mill-seat at command, and not to use it, would, of itself, have made him
unhappy, and he could not be easy until he and Peters, who had also a
great taste and some skill in that sort of thing, were hard at work
building a saw-mill. The saw had been brought from America, as a thing
very likely to be wanted, and three months after these, two ingenious
men had commenced their work, the saw was going, cutting teak, as well
as a species of excellent yellow pine that was found in considerable
quantities, and of very respectable size, along the cliffs in the
immediate vicinity of the mill. The great difficulty to be overcome in
that undertaking, was the transportation of the timber. By cutting the
trees most favourably situated first, logs were got into the pond
without much labour; but after they were in planks, or boards, or
joists, they were quite seven miles horn the head of the Stairs, in the
vicinity of which it was, on several accounts, the most desirable to
dwell. Had the Abraham been kept on the stocks, until the necessary
timber was brought from the mill, across the plain of Eden, she would
have been well seasoned before launching; but, fortunately, that was not
necessary--materials sufficient for her were got on board the ship, as
mentioned, with some small additions of inch boards that were cut to
finish her joiners' work.

Months passed, as a matter of course, while the schooner and the mill
were in the course of construction. The work on the first was frequently
intermitted, by little voyages in the other craft, and by labour
necessary to be done in preparing dwellings on the Peak, to meet the
rainy season, which was now again near at hand. Past experience had told
Mark that the winter months in his islands, if winter a season could be
termed, during which most of the trees, all the grasses, and many of the
fruits continued to grow and ripen as in summer, were not very
formidable. It is true it then rained nearly every day, but it was very
far from raining all day. Most of the rain, in fact, fell at night,
commencing a little after the turn in the day, and terminating about
midnight. Still it must be very unpleasant to pass such a season beneath
canvass, and, about six weeks ere the wet time commenced, everybody
turned to, with a will, to erect, proper framed houses. Now that the
mill was sawing, this was no great task, the pine working beautifully
and easily into almost every article required.

Heaton laid out his house with some attention to taste, and more to
comfort. It was of one story, but fully a hundred feet in length, and of
half that in depth. Being a common American dwelling that was
clap-boarded, it was soon put up and enclosed, the climate requiring
very little attention to warmth. There were windows, and even glass, a
small quantity of that article having been brought along by the
colonists. The floors were beautiful, and extremely well laid down; nor
were the doors, window-shutters, &c., neglected. The whole, moreover,
was painted, the stores of the ship still furnishing the necessary
materials. But there was neither chimney nor plastering, for Heaton had
neither bricks nor lime. Bricks he insisted he could and would make, and
did, though in no great number; but lime, for some time, baffled his
ingenuity. At last, Socrates suggested the burning of oyster-shells, and
by dint of fishing a good deal, among the channels of the reef, a noble
oyster-bed was found, and the boats brought in enough of the shells to
furnish as much lime as would put up a chimney for the kitchen; one
apartment for that sort of work being made, as yet, to suffice for the
wants of all who dwelt in Eden.

These various occupations and interests consumed many months, and
carried the new-comers through the first wet season which they
encountered as a colony. As everybody was busy, plenty reigned, and the
climate being so very delicious as to produce a sense of enjoyment in
the very fact of existence, everybody but Peters was happy. He, poor
fellow, mourned much for his Peggy, as he called the pretty young
heathen wife he had left behind him in Waally's country.

Chapter XVI.

"Forthwith a guard at every gun
Was placed along the wall;
The beacon blazed upon the roof
Of Edgecombe's lofty hall;
And many a fishing bark put out,
To pry along the coast;
And with loose rein, and bloody spur
Rode inland many a post."

_The Spanish Armada._ Macauley.

The building of the houses, and of the schooner, was occupation for
everybody, for a long time. The first were completed in season to escape
the rains; but the last was on the stocks fully six months after her
keel had been laid. The fine weather had returned, even, and she was not
yet launched. So long a period had intervened since Waally's visit to
Rancocus Island without bringing any results, that the council began to
hope the Indians had given up their enterprises, from the consciousness
of not having the means to carry them out; and almost every one ceased
to apprehend danger from that quarter. In a word, so smoothly did the
current of life flow, on the Reef and at Vulcan's Peak, that there was
probably more danger of their inhabitants falling into the common and
fatal error of men in prosperity, than of anything else; or, of their
beginning to fancy that they deserved all the blessings that were
conferred on them, and forgetting the hand that bestowed them. As if to
recall them to a better sense of things, events now occurred which it is
our business to relate, and which aroused the whole colony from the
sort of pleasing trance into which they had fallen, by the united
influence of security, abundance, and a most seductive climate.

As time rolled on, in the first place, the number of the colony had
begun to augment by natural means. Friend Martha had presented Friend
Robert with a little Robert; and Bridget made Mark the happy parent of a
very charming girl. This last event occurred about the commencement of
the summer, and just a twelvemonth after the happy reunion of the young
couple. According to Mark's prophecy, Jones had succeeded with Joan, and
they were married even before the expiration of the six months
mentioned. On the subject of a marriage ceremony there was no
difficulty, Robert and Martha holding a Friends' meeting especially to
quiet the scruples of the bride, though she was assured the form could
do no good, since the bridegroom did not belong to meeting. The governor
read the church service on the occasion, too, which did no harm, if it
did no good. About this time, poor Peters, envying the happiness of all
around him, and still pining for his Petrina, or Peggy, as he called her
himself, begged of the governor the use of the Dido, in order that he
might make a voyage to Wally's group in quest of his lost companion.
Mark knew how to feel for one in the poor fellow's situation, and he
could not think of letting him go alone on an expedition of so much
peril. After deliberating on the matter, he determined to visit Rancocus
Island himself--not having been in that direction, now, for months--and
to go in the Neshamony, in order to take a couple of hogs over; it
having long been decided to commence breeding that valuable animal, in
the wild state, on the hills of that uninhabited land.

The intelligence that a voyage was to be made to Rancocus Island seemed
to infuse new life into the men of the colony, every one of whom wished
to be of the party. The governor had no objection to indulging as many
as it might be prudent to permit to go; but he saw the necessity of
putting some restraint on the movement. After canvassing the matter in
the council, it was determined that, in addition to Mark and Peters, who
went of course, the party should consist of Bob, Bigelow, and Socrates.
The carpenter was taken to look for trees that might serve to make the
ways of the schooner, which was yet to be launched; and the latter was
thought necessary in his capacity of a cook. As for Betts, he went along
as the governor's counsellor and companion.

Bridget's little girl was born in the cabin of the ship; and the week
preceding that set for the voyage, she and the child were taken across
to the Peak, that the former might spend the period of her husband's
absence with Anne, in the Garden of Eden. These absences and occasional
visits gave a zest to lives that might otherwise have become too
monotonous, and were rather encouraged than avoided. It was, perhaps, a
little strange that Bridget rather preferred the Reef than the Peak for
a permanent residence; but there was her much-beloved ship, and there
she ever had her still more beloved husband for a companion.

On the appointed day, the Neshamony set sail, having on board a family
of three of the swine. The plan for the excursion included a trip to the
volcano, which had not yet been actually visited by any of the
colonists. Mark had been within a league of it, and Bob had passed quite
near to it in his voyage to the Peak; but no one had ever positively
landed, or made any of those close examinations of the place, which,
besides being of interest in a general way, was doubly so to those who
were such near neighbours to a place of the kind. This visit Mark now
decided to make on his way to leeward, taking the volcano in his course
to Rancocus Island. The _detour_ would lead the Neshamony some fifteen
or eighteen leagues on one side; but there was abundance of time, and
the volcano ought to be no longer neglected.

The wind did not blow as fresh as in common, and the Neshamony did not
draw near to the volcano until late in the afternoon of the day she
sailed. The party approached this place with due caution, and not
without a good deal of awe. As the lead was used, it was found that the
water shoaled gradually for several leagues, becoming less and less,
deep as the boat drew near to the cone, which was itself a circular and
very regular mountain, of some six or eight hundred feet in height,
with a foundation of dry rock and lava, that might have contained a
thousand acres. Everything seemed solid and permanent; and our mariners
were of opinion there was very little danger of this formation ever
disappearing below the surface of the sea again.

The volcano being in activity, some care was necessary in landing. Mark
took the Neshamony to windward, and found a curvature in the rocks where
it was possible to get ashore without having the boat knocked to pieces.
He and Bob then went as near the cone as the falling stones would allow,
and took as good a survey of the place as could be done under the
circumstances. That there would be soil, and plenty of it, sooner or
later, was plain enough; and that the island might become a scene of
fertility and loveliness, in the course of ages, like so many others of
volcanic origin in that quarter of the world, was probable. But that day
was distant; and Mark was soon satisfied that the great use of the spot
was its being a vent to what would otherwise be the pent and dangerous
forces that were in the course of a constant accumulation beneath.

The party had been about an hour on the island, and was about to quit
it, when a most startling discovery was made. Bob saw a canoe drawn
close in among the rocks to leeward, and, on a further examination, a
man was seen near it. At first, this was taken as an indication of
hostilities, but, on getting a second look, our mariners were satisfied
that nothing of that sort was to be seriously apprehended. It was
determined to go nearer to the stranger, at once, and learn the whole

A cry from Peters, followed by his immediately springing forward to meet
a second person, who had left the canoe, and who was bounding like a
young antelope to meet him, rendered everything clear sooner even than
had been anticipated. All supposed that this eager visitor was a woman,
and no one doubted that it was Peggy, the poor fellow's Indian wife.
Peggy it proved to be; and after the weeping, and laughing, and
caressing of the meeting were a little abated, the following explanation
was made by Peters, who spoke the language of his wife with a good deal
of facility, and who acted as interpreter.

According to the accounts now given by Peggy, the warfare between
Ooroony and Waally had been kept up with renewed vigour, subsequently to
the escape of Jones and her own husband. Fortune had proved fickle, as
so often happens, and Waally got to be in the ascendant. His enemy was
reduced to great straits, and had been compelled to confine himself to
one of the smallest islands of the group, where he was barely able to
maintain his party, by means of the most vigilant watchfulness. This
left Waally at liberty to pursue his intention of following the party of
whites, which was known to have gone to the southward, with so much
valuable property, as well as to extend his conquests, by taking
possession of the mountain visited by him the year previously. A grand
expedition was accordingly planned, and a hundred canoes had actually
sailed from the group, with more than a thousand warriors on board, bent
on achieving a great exploit. In this expedition, Unus, the brother of
Peggy, had been compelled to join, being a warrior of some note, and the
sister had come along, in common with some fifty other women; the rank
of Unus and Peggy not being sufficient to attract attention to their
proceedings. Waally had postponed this, which he intended for the great
enterprise of a very turbulent life, to the most favourable season of
the year. There was a period of a few weeks every summer, when the
trades blew much less violently than was usually the case, and when,
indeed, it was no unusual thing to have shifts of wind, as well as light
breezes. All this the Indians perfectly well understood, for they were
bold navigators, when the sizes and qualities of their vessels were
considered. As it appeared, the voyage from the group to Rancocus
Island, a distance of fully a hundred leagues, was effected without any
accident, and the while of that formidable force was safely landed at
the very spot where Betts had encamped on his arrival out with the
colonists. Nearly a month had been passed in exploring the mountain, the
first considerable eminence most of the Indians had ever beheld; and in
making their preparations for further proceedings. During that time,
hundreds had seen Vulcan's Peak, as well as the smoke of the volcano,
though the reef, with all its islands, lay too low to be discerned from
such a distance. The Peak was now the great object to be attained, for
there it was universally believed that Betto (meaning Betts) and his
companions had concealed themselves and their much-coveted treasures.
Rancocus Island was well enough, and Waally made all his plans for
colonizing it at once, but the other, and distant mountain, no doubt was
the most desirable territory to possess, or white men would not have
brought their women so far in order to occupy it.

As a matter of course, Unus and Peggy learned the nature of the intended
proceedings. The last might have been content to wait for the slower
movements of the expedition, had she not ascertained that threats of
severely punishing the two deserters, one of whom was her own husband,
had been heard to fall from the lips of the dread Waally himself. No
sooner, therefore, did this faithful Indian girl become mistress of the
intended plan, than she gave her brother no peace until he consented to
put off into the ocean with her, in a canoe she had brought from home,
and which was her own property. Had not Unus been disaffected to his new
chief, this might not so easily have been done, but the young Indian was
deadly hostile to Waally, and was a secret friend of Ooroony: a state of
feeling which disposed him to desert the former, at the first good

The two adventurers put off from Rancocus Island just at dark, and
paddled in the direction that they believed would carry them to the
Peak. It will be remembered that the last could not be seen from the
ocean, until about half the passage between the islands was made, though
it was plainly apparent from the heights of Rancocus, as already
mentioned. Next morning, when day returned, the smoke of the volcano was
in sight, but no Peak. There is little question that the canoe had been
set too much to the southward, and was diagonally receding from its
desired point of debarkation, instead of approaching it. Towards the
smoke, Unus and his sister continued to paddle, and, after thirty-six
hours of nearly unremitted labour, they succeeded in landing at the
volcano, ignorant of its nature, awe-struck and trembling, but compelled
to seek a refuge there, as the land-bird rests its tired wing on the
ship's spars, when driven from the coast by the unexpected gale. When
discovered, Peggy and her brother were about to take a fresh start from
their resting-place, the Peak being visible from the volcano.

Mark questioned these two friends concerning the contemplated movement
of Waally, with great minuteness, Unus was intelligent for a savage, and
appeared to understand himself perfectly. He was of opinion that his
countrymen would endeavour to cross, the first calm day, or the first
day when the breeze should be light; and that was just the time when our
colonists did not desire to meet the savages out at sea. He described
the party as formidable by numbers and resolution, though possessing few
arms besides those of savages. There were half a dozen old muskets in
the canoes, with a small supply of ammunition; but, since the desertion
of Jones and Peters, no one remained who knew how to turn these weapons
to much account. Nevertheless, the natives were so numerous, possessed
so many weapons that were formidable in their own modes of fighting, and
were so bent on success, that Unus did not hesitate to give it as his
opinion, the colonists would act wisely in standing off for some other
island, if they knew where another lay, even at the cost of abandoning
most of their effects.

But, our governor had no idea of following any such advice. He was fully
aware of the strength of his position on the Peak, and felt no
disposition to abandon it. His great apprehension was for the Reef,
where his territories were much more assailable. It was not easy to see
how the crater, and ship, and the schooner on the stocks, and all the
other property that, in the shape of hogs, poultry, &c., was scattered
far and wide in that group, could be protected against a hundred canoes,
by any force at his command. Even with the addition of Unus, who took
service at once, with all his heart, among his new friends, Mark could
muster but eight men; viz., himself, Heaton, Betts, Bigelow, Socrates,
Peters, Jones and Unus. To these might possibly be added two or three of
the women, who might be serviceable in carrying ammunition, and as
sentinels, while the remainder would be required to look after the
children, to care for the stock, &c. All these facts passed through
Mark's mind, as Peters translated the communication of Unus, sentence by

It was indispensable to come to some speedy decision. Peters was now
happy and contented with his nice little Peggy, and there was no longer
any necessity for pursuing the voyage on his account. As for the project
of placing the hogs on Rancocus, this was certainly not the time to do
it, even if it were now to be done at all; we say 'now,' since the
visits of the savages would make any species of property on that island,
from this time henceforth, very insecure. It was therefore determined to
abandon the voyage, and to shape their course back to the Peak, with as
little delay as possible. As there were indications of shell-fish,
sea-weed, &c., being thrown ashore at the Volcano, two of the hogs were
put ashore there to seek their fortunes. According to the new plan, the
Neshamony made sail on her return passage, about an hour before the sun
set. As was usual in that strait, the trades blew pretty fresh, and the
boat, although it had the canoe of Unus in tow, came under the frowning
cliffs some time before the day reappeared. By the time the sun rose,
the Neshamony was off the cove, into which she hastened with the least
possible delay. It was the governor's apprehension that his sails might
be seen from the canoes of Waally, long before the canoes could be seen
from his boat, and he was glad to get within the cover of his little
haven. Once there, the different crafts were quite concealed from the
view of persons outside, and it now remained to be proved whether their
cover was not so complete as effectually to baffle a hostile attempt to
find it.

The quick and unexpected return of the Neshamony produced a great deal
of surprise on the Plain. She had not been seen to enter the cove, and
the first intimation any one in the settlement had of such an
occurrence, was the appearance of Mark before the door of the dwelling.
Bigelow was immediately sent to the Peak with a glass, to look out for
canoes, while Heaton was called in from the woods by means of a conch.
In twenty minutes the council was regularly in session, while the men
began to collect and to look to their arms. Peters and Jones were
ordered to go down to the magazine, procure cartridges, and then proceed
to the batteries and load the carronades. In a word, orders were given
to make all the arrangements necessary for the occasion.

It was not long ere a report came down from Bigelow. It was brought by
his Spanish wife, who had accompanied her husband to the Peak, and who
came running in, half breathless, to say that the ocean was covered with
canoes and catamarans; a fleet of which was paddling directly for the
island, being already within three leagues of it. Although this
intelligence was expected, it certainly caused long faces and a deep
gloom to pervade that little community. Mark's fears were always for the
Reef, where there happened to be no one just at that moment but the
black women, who-were altogether insufficient to defend it, under the
most favourable circumstances, but who were now without a head. There
was the hope, however, of the Indians not seeing those low islands,
which they certainly could not do as long as they remained in their
canoes. On the other hand, there was the danger that some one might
cross from the Reef in one of the boats, a thing that was done as often
as once a week, in which case a chase might ensue, and the canoes be led
directly towards the spot that it was so desirable to conceal. Juno
could sail a boat as well as any man among them, and, as is usually the
case, that which she knew she could do so well, she was fond of doing;
and she had not now been across for nearly a week. The cow kept at the
crater gave a large mess of milk, and the butter produced by her means
was delicious when eaten fresh, but did not keep quite as well in so
warm a climate as it might have done in one that was colder, and Dido
was ever anxious to send it to Miss Bridget, as she still called her
mistress, by every available opportunity. The boat used by the negresses
on such occasions, was the Dido, a perfectly safe craft in moderate
weather, but she was just the dullest sailer of all those owned by the
colony. This created the additional danger of a capture, in the event of
a chase. Taking all things into consideration therefore, Mark adjourned
the council to the Peak, a feverish desire to look out upon the sea
causing him to be too uneasy where he was, to remain there in
consultation with any comfort to himself. To the Peak, then, everybody
repaired, with the exception of Bigelow, Peters, and Jones, who were now
regularly stationed at the carronades to watch the entrance of the
cove. In saying everybody, we include not only all the women, but even
their children.

So long as the colonists remained on the plain, there was not the
smallest danger of anyone of them being seen from the surrounding ocean.
This the woods, and their great elevation, prevented. Nor was there much
danger of the party in the batteries being seen, though so much lower,
and necessarily on the side of the cliff, since a strict order had been
given to keep out of sight, among the trees, where they could see
everything that was going on, without being seen themselves. But on the
naked Peak it was different. High as it was, a man might be seen from
the ocean, if moving about, and the observer was tolerably near by. Bob
had seen Mark, when his attention was drawn to the spot by the report of
the latter's fowling-piece; and the governor had often seen Bridget, on
the look-out for him, as he left the island, though her fluttering dress
probably made her a more conspicuous object than most persons would have
been. From all this, then, the importance of directing the movements of
the party that followed him became apparent to Mark, who took his
measures accordingly.

By the time the governor reached the Peak, having ascended it on its
eastern side, so as to keep his person concealed, the hostile fleet was
plainly to be seen with the naked eye. It came on in a tolerably
accurate line, or lines, abreast; being three deep, one distant from the
other about a cable's length. It steered directly for the centre of the
island, whereas the cove was much nearer to its northern than to its
southern end; and the course showed that the canoes were coming on at
random, having nothing in view but the island.

But Mark's eyes were turned with the greatest interest to the northward,
or in the direction of the Reef. As they came up the ascent, Bridget had
communicated to him the fact that she expected Juno over that day, and
that it was understood she would come quite alone. Bridget was much
opposed to the girl's taking this risk; but Juno had now done it so
often successfully, that nothing short of a positive command to the
contrary would be likely to stop her. This command, most unfortunately,
as Mark now felt, had not been given; and great was his concern when
Betts declared that he saw awhile speck to the northward, which looked
like a sail. The glass was soon levelled in that direction, and no doubt
any longer remained on the subject. It was the Dido, steering across
from the Reef, distant then about ten miles; and she might be expected
to arrive in about two hours! In other words, judging by the progress of
the canoes, there might be a difference of merely half an hour or so
between the time of the arrival of the boat and that of the canoes.

This was a very serious matter; and never before had the council a
question before it which gave its members so much concern, or which so
urgently called for action, as this of the course that was now to be
taken to avert a danger so imminent. Not only was Juno's safety
involved; but the discovery of the cove and the reef, one or both, was
very likely to be involved in the issue, and the existence of the whole
colony placed in extreme jeopardy. As the canoes were still more than a
league from the island, Bob thought there was time to go out with the
Bridget, and meet the Dido, when both boats could ply to windward until
it was dark; after which, they might go into the reef, or come into the
cove, as circumstances permitted. The governor was about to acquiesce in
this suggestion, little as he liked it, when a new proposition was made,
that at first seemed so strange that no one believed it could be put in
execution, but to which all assented in the end.

Among the party on the Peak were Unus and Peggy. The latter understood a
good deal of English, and that which she did not comprehend, in the
course of the discussions on this interesting occasion, Bob, who had
picked up something of the language of her group, explained to her, as
well as he could. After a time, the girl ran down to the battery and
brought up her husband, through whom the proposal was made that, at
first, excited so much wonder. Peggy had told Unus what was going on,
and had pointed out to him the boat of Juno, now sensibly drawing nearer
to the island, and Unus volunteered to _swim_ out and meet the girl, so
as to give her timely warning, as well as instructions how to proceed!

Although Mark, and Heaton, and Bridget, and all present indeed, were
fully aware that the natives of the South Seas could, and often did pass
hours in the water, this proposal struck them all, at first, as so wild,
that no one believed it could be accepted. Reflection, however did its
usual office, and wrought a change in these opinions. Peters assured the
governor that he had often known Unus to swim from island to island in
the group, and that on the score of danger to him, there was not the
least necessity of feeling any uneasiness. He did not question the
Indian's power to swim the entire distance to the Reef, should it be

Another difficulty arose, however, when the first was overcome. Unus
could speak no English, and how was he to communicate with Juno, even
after he had entered her boat? The girl, moreover, was both resolute and
strong, as her present expedition sufficiently proved, and would be very
apt to knock a nearly naked savage on the head, when she saw him
attempting to enter her boat. From this last opinion, however, Bridget
dissented. Juno was kind-hearted, and would be more disposed, she
thought, to pick up a man found in the water at sea, than to injure him.
But Juno could read writing. Bridget herself had taught her slaves to
read and write, and Juno in particular was a sort of 'expert,' in her
way. She wrote and read half the nigger-letters of Bristol, previously
to quitting America. She would now write a short note, which would put
the girl on her guard, and give her confidence in Unus. Juno knew the
whole history of Peters and Peggy, having taken great interest in the
fate of the latter. To own the truth, the girl had manifested a very
creditable degree of principle on the subject, for Jones had tried to
persuade his friend to take Juno, a nice, tidy, light-coloured black, to
wife, and to forget Peggy, when Juno repelled the attempt with spirit
and principle. It is due to Peters, moreover, to add that he was always
true to his island bride. But the occurrence had made Juno acquainted
with the whole history of Peggy; and Bridget, in the few lines she now
wrote to the girl, took care to tell her that the Indian was the brother
of Peggy. In that capacity, he would be almost certain of a friendly
reception. The rest of the note was merely an outline of their
situation, with, an injunction to let Unis direct the movements.

No sooner was this important note written, than Unus hastened down to
the cove. He was accompanied by Mark, Peters and Peggy; the former to
give his instructions, and the two latter to act as interpreters. Nor
was the sister without feeling for the brother on the occasion. She
certainly did not regard his enterprise as it would have been looked
upon by a civilized woman, but she manifested a proper degree of
interest in its success. Her parting words to her brother, were advice
to keep well to windward, in order that, as he got near the boat, he
might float down upon it with the greater facility, aided by the waves.

The young Indian was soon ready. The note was secured in his hair, and
moving gently in the water, he swam out of the cove with the ease, if
not with the rapidity of a fish. Peggy clapped her hands and laughed,
and otherwise manifested a sort of childish delight, as if pleased that
one of her race should so early make himself useful to the countrymen of
her husband. She and Peters repaired to the battery, which was the
proper station of the man, while Mark went nimbly up the Stairs, on his
way to the Peak. And here we might put in a passing word on the subject
of these ascents and descents. The governor had now been accustomed to
them more than a twelvemonth, and he found that the effect they produced
on the muscles of his lower limbs was absolutely surprising. He could
now ascend the Stairs in half the time he had taken on his first trials,
and he could carry burthens up and down them, that at first he would not
have dreamed of attempting even to take on his shoulders. The same was
true with all the colonists, male and female, who began to run about the
cliffs like so many goats--_chamois_ would be more poetical--and who
made as light of the Stairs as the governor himself.

When Mark reached the Peak again, he found matters drawing near to a
crisis. The canoes were within a league of the island, coming on
steadily in line, and paddling with measured sweeps of their paddles. As
yet, the sail of Juno's boat had escaped them. This was doubtless owing
to their lowness in the water, and the distance that still separated
them. The Dido was about five miles from the northern end of the island,
while the fleet was some five more to the southward of it. This placed
the two almost ten miles apart though each seemed so near, seen from the
elevation of the Peak, that one might have fancied that he could throw a
shot into either.

Unus was the great point of interest for the moment. He was just coming
out clear of the island, and might be seen with the naked eye, in that
pure atmosphere, a dark speck floating on the undulating surface of the
ocean. By the aid of the glass, there was no difficulty in watching his
smallest movement. With a steady and sinewy stroke of his arms, the
young savage pursued his way, keeping to windward, as instructed by his
sister, and making a progress in the midst of those rolling billows that
was really wonderful. The wind was not very fresh, nor were the seas
high; but the restless ocean, even in its slumbers, exhibits the repose
of a giant, whose gentlest heavings are formidable and to be looked to.
In one particular, our colonists were favoured. Owing to some accidental
circumstances of position, a current set round the northern end of the
island, and diffused itself on its western side by expanding towards the
south. This carried the canoes from the boat and the cove, and insomuch
increased Juno's chance of escape.

The meeting between Unus and the boat took place when the latter was
within a league of the land. As the sailing directions were for every
craft to fall in with the island rather to windward of the Peak, on
account of the very current just mentioned, it was questionable with
Mark and Betts whether any in the canoes could now perceive the boat, on
account of the intervening heights. It was pretty certain no one, as
yet, had made this important discovery, for the impetuosity of savages
would instantly have let the fact be known through their shouts and
their eagerness to-chase. On the contrary, all remained tranquil in the
fleet, which continued to approach the land with a steady but regulated
movement, that looked as if a secret awe pervaded the savages as they
drew nearer and nearer to that unknown and mysterious world. To them the
approaching revelations were doubtless of vast import; and the stoutest
heart among them must have entertained some such sensations as were
impressed on the spirits of Columbus and his companions, when they drew
near to the shores of Guanahani.

In the mean time, Juno came confidingly on, shaping her course rather
more to windward than usual even, on account of the lightness of the
breeze. This effectually prevented her seeing or being seen from the
canoes; the parties diagonally drawing nearer, in utter ignorance of
each other's existence. As for Unus, he manoeuvred quite skilfully.
After getting a couple of miles off the land, he swam directly to
windward; and it was well he did, the course of the boat barely
permitting his getting well on her weather-bow, when it was time to
think of boarding.

Unus displayed great judgment in this critical part of the affair. So
accurately did he measure distances, that he got alongside of the Dido,
with his hand on her weather gunwale, without Juno's having the least
idea that he was anywhere near her. At one effort he was in the boat;
and while the girl was still uttering her scream of alarm, he stood
holding out the note, pronouncing the word "Missus" as well as he could.
The girl had acquired too much knowledge of the habits of the South Sea
islanders, while passing through and sojourning in the different groups
she had visited, to be overwhelmed with the occurrence. What is more,
she recognised the young Indian at a glance; some passages of gallantry
having actually taken place between them during the two months Heaton
and his party remained among Ooroony's people. To be frank with the
reader, the first impression of Juno was, that the note thus tendered to
her was a love-letter, though its contents instantly undeceived her. The
exclamation and changed manner of the girl told Unus that all was right;
and he went quietly to work to take in the sail, as the most effectual
method of concealing the presence of the boat from the thousand hostile
and searching eyes in the canoes. The moment Mark saw the canvas come
in, he cried out 'all is well,' and descended swiftly from the Peak, to
hasten to a point where he could give the necessary attentions to the
movements of Waally and his fleet.

Chapter XVII.

"Ho! strike the flag-staff deep, Sir Knight,--
Ho! scatter flowers, fair maids,--
Ho! gunners fire a loud salute--
Ho! gallants, draw your blades;--"


So much time had passed in the execution of the plan of Unus, that the
canoes were close under the cliffs, when the governor and his party
reached the wood that fringed their summits, directly over the northern
end of their line. Even this extremity of their formation was a mile or
two to leeward of the cove, and all the craft, catamarans included, were
drifting still further south, under the influence of the current. So
long as this state of things continued, there was nothing for the
colonists to apprehend, since they knew landing at any other spot than
the cove was out of the question. The strictest orders had been given
for every one to keep concealed, a task that was by no means difficult,
the whole plain being environed with woods, and its elevation more than
a thousand feet above the sea. In short, nothing but a wanton exposure
of the person, could render it possible for one on the water to get a
glimpse of another on the heights above him.

The fleet of Waally presented an imposing sight. Not only were his
canoes large, and well filled with men, but they were garnished with the
usual embellishments of savage magnificence. Feathers and flags, and
symbols of war and power, were waving and floating over the prows of
most of them, while the warriors they contained were gay in their
trappings. It was apparent, however, to the members of the council, who
watched every movement of the fleet with the utmost vigilance, that
their foes were oppressed with doubts concerning the character of the
place they had ventured so far to visit. The smoke of the Volcano was
visible to them, beyond a doubt, and here was a wall of rock interposed
between them and the accomplishment of their desire to land. In this
last respect, Rancocus Island offered a shore very different from that
of Vulcan's Peak. The first; in addition to the long, low point so often
mentioned, had everywhere a beach of some sort or other; while, on the
last, the waves of the Pacific rose and fell as against a precipice,
marking their power merely by a slight discoloration of the iron-bound
coast. Those superstitious and ignorant beings naturally would connect
all these unusual circumstances with some supernatural agencies; and
Heaton early, gave it as his opinion that Waally, of whom he had some
personal knowledge, was hesitating, and doubtful of the course he ought
to pursue, on account of this feeling of superstition. When this opinion
was expressed, the governor suggested the expediency of firing one of
the carronades, under the supposition that the roar of the gun, and most
especially the echo, of which there was one in particular that was truly
terrific, might have the effect to frighten away the whole party. Heaton
was in doubt about the result, for Waally and his people knew something
of artillery, though of echoes they could not know anything at all.
Nothing like an echo, or indeed a hill, was to be found in the low coral
islands of their group, and the physical agents of producing such sounds
were absolutely wanting among them. It might be that something like an
echo had been heard at Rancocus Island, but it must have been of a very
different calibre from that which Heaton and Mark were in the habit of
making for the amusement of the females, by firing their fowling-pieces
down the Stairs. As yet neither of the guns had been fired from the
proper point, which was the outer battery, or that on the shelf of rock,
though a very formidable roaring had been made by the report of the gun
formerly fired, as an experiment to ascertain how far it would command
the entrance of the cove. After a good deal of discussion, it was
decided to try the experiment, and Betts, who knew all about the means
necessary to produce the greatest reverberations, was despatched to the
shelf-battery with instructions to scale its gun, by pointing it along
the cliff and making all the uproar he could.

This plan was carried out just as Waally had assembled his chiefs
around his own canoe, whither he had called them by an order, to consult
on the manner in which the entire coast of the island ought to be
examined, that a landing might be effected. The report of the gun came
quite unexpectedly to all parties; the echo, which rolled along the
cliffs for miles, being absolutely terrific! Owing to the woods and
intervening rocks, the natives could see no smoke, which added to their
surprise, and was doubtless one reason they did not, at first,
comprehend the long, cracking, thundering sounds that, as it might be,
rolled out towards them from the island. A cry arose that the strange
rocks were speaking, and that the Gods of the place were angry. This was
followed by a general and confused flight;--the canoes, paddling away as
if their people were apprehensive of being buried beneath the tumbling
rocks. For half an hour nothing was seen but frantic efforts to escape,
nothing heard but the dip of the paddle and the wash of its rise.

Thus far the plan of the governor had succeeded even beyond his
expectations. Could he get rid of these savages without bloodshed, it
would afford him sincere delight, it being repugnant to all his feelings
to sweep away rows of such ignorant men before the murderous fire of his
cannon. While he and Heaton were congratulating each other on the
encouraging appearances, a messenger came down from the Peak, where
Bridget remained on the look-out, to report that the boat had drifted
in, and was getting close under the cliffs, on the northern end of the
island, which was in fact coming close under the Peak itself. A signal
to push for the cove had been named to Juno, and Bridget desired to know
whether it ought to be made, else the boat would shortly be too near in,
to see it. The governor thought the moment favourable, for the canoes
were still paddling in a body away from the spot whence the roar had
proceeded, and their course carried them to the southward and westward,
while Unus would approach from the northward and eastward. Word was
sent, accordingly, to make the signal.

Bridget no sooner received this order than she showed the flag, which
was almost immediately answered by setting the boat's sail. Unus now
evidently took the direction of matters on board the Dido, It is
probable he appreciated the effect of the gun and its echo, the first of
which he fully comprehended, though the last was as great and as awful a
mystery to him, as to any one of his countrymen. Nevertheless, he
imputed the strange and fearful roar of the cliffs to some control of
the whites over the power of the hills, and regarded it as a friendly
roar, even while he trembled. Not so would it be with his countrymen,
did he well know; they would retire before it; and the signal being
given at that instant, the young Indian had no hesitation about the
course he ought to take.

Unus understood sailing a boat perfectly well. On setting his sail, he
stood on in the Dido until he was obliged to bear up on account of the
cliffs. This brought him so close to the rocks as greatly to diminish
the chances of being seen. There both wind and current aided his
progress; the first drawing round the end of the island, the coast of
which it followed in a sort of eddy, for some time, and the latter
setting down towards the cove, which was less than two miles from the
north bluff. In twenty minutes after he had made sail, Unus was entering
the secret little harbour, Waally and his fleet being quite out of sight
from one as low as the surface of the ocean, still paddling away to the
south-west, as hard as they could.

Great was the exultation of the colonists, at this escape of Juno's. It
even surpassed their happiness at the retreat of their invaders. If the
boat were actually unseen, the governor believed the impression was
sufficient to keep the savages aloof for a long time, if not for ever;
since they would not fail to ascribe the roar, and the smoke of the
volcano, and all the mysteries of the place, to supernatural agencies.
If the sail _had_ been seen, however, it was possible that, on
reflection, their courage might revive, and more would be seen of them.
Unus was extolled by everybody, and seemed perfectly happy. Peggy
communicated his thoughts, which were every way in favour of his new
friends. Waally he detested. He denounced him as a ruthless tyrant, and
declared he would prefer death to submission to his exactions. Juno
highly approved of all his sentiments, and was soon known as a sworn
friend of Peggy's. This hatred of tyranny is innate in men, but it is
necessary to distinguish between real oppression and those restraints
which are wholesome, if not indispensable to human happiness. As for the
canoes, they were soon out of sight in the south-western hoard, running
off, under their sails, before the wind. Waally, himself, was too
strong-minded and resolute, to be as much overcome by the echo, as his
companions; but, so profound and general was the awe excited, that he
did not think it advisable to persevere in his projects, at a moment so
discouraging. Acquiescing in the wishes of all around him, the
expedition drew off from the island, making the best of its way back to
the place from which it had last sailed. All these circumstances became
known to the colonists, in the end, as well as the reasoning and the
more minute incidents that influenced the future movements; For the time
being, however, Woolston and his friends were left to their own
conjectures on the Subject; which, however, were not greatly out of the
way. It was an hour after Juno and Unus were safe up on the plain,
before the look-outs at the Peak finally lost sight of the fleet, which,
when last seen, was steering a course that would carry it between the
volcano and Rancocus Island, and might involve it in serious
difficulties in the succeeding night. There was no land in sight from
the highest points on Rancocus Island, nor any indications of land, in a
south-westerly direction; and, did the canoes run past the latter, the
imminent danger of a general catastrophe would be the consequence. Once
at sea, under an uncertainty as to the course to be steered, the
situation of those belonging to the expedition would be painful, indeed,
nor could the results be foreseen. Waally, nevertheless, escaped the
danger. Edging off to keep aloof from the mysterious smoke, which
troubled his followers almost as much as the mysterious echoes, the
party, most fortunately for themselves, got a distant view of the
mountains for which they were running, and altered their course in
sufficient time to reach their place of destination, Ly the return of
light the succeeding morning.

All thoughts of the expedition to Rancocus Island were temporarily
abandoned by the governor and his council. Mark was greatly
disappointed, nor did his regrets cease with disappointment only.
Should Waally leave a portion of his people on that island, a collision
must occur, sooner or later; there being a moral impossibility of the
two colonies continuing friends while so near each other. The nature of
an echo would be ascertained, before many months, among the hills of
Rancocus Island, and when that came to be understood, there was an end
of the sacred character that the recent events had conferred on the
Peak. Any straggling vagabond, or runaway from a ship, might purchase a
present importance by explaining things, and induce the savages to renew
their efforts. In a word, there was the moral certainty that hostilities
must be renewed ere many months, did Waally remain so near them, and the
question now seriously arose, whether it were better to press the
advantage already obtained, and drive him back to his group, or to
remain veiled behind the sort of mystery that at present enshrouded
them. These points were gravely debated, and became subjects of as great
interest among the colonists, as ever banks, or abolitionism, or
antimasonry, or free-trade, or any other of the crotchets of the day,
could possibly be in America. Many were the councils that were convened
to settle this important point of policy, which, after all, like most
other matters of moment, was decided more by the force of circumstances,
than by any of the deductions of human reason. The weakness of the
colony and the dangers to its existence, disposed of the question of an
aggressive war. Waally was too strong to be assailed by a dozen enemies,
and all the suggestions of prudence were in favour of remaining quiet,
until the Friend Abraham White could, at least, be made available in the
contest. Supported by that vessel, indeed, matters would be changed; and
Mark thought it would be in his power to drive in Waally, and even to
depose him and place Ooroony at the head of the natives once more. To
finish and launch the schooner, therefore, was now the first great
object, and, after a week of indecision and consultations, it was
determined to set about that duty with vigour.

It will be easily seen, that the getting of the Abraham into the water
was an affair of a good deal of delicacy, under the circumstances. The
strait between the Peak and Cape South was thirty miles wide, and it
was twenty more to the crater. Thus the party at work on the vessel
would be fully fifty miles from the main abodes of the colony, and
thrown quite out of the affair should another invasion be attempted. As
for bringing the Neshamony, the Dido, the Bridget, and the fighter, into
the combat, everybody was of opinion it would be risking too much. It is
true, one of the swivels was mounted on the former, and might be of
service, but the natives had got to be too familiar with fire-arms to
render it prudent to rely on the potency of a single swivel, in a
conflict against a force so numerous, and one led by a spirit as
determined as that of Waally's was known to be. All idea of righting at
sea, therefore, until the schooner was launched, was out of the
question, and every energy was turned to effect the latter most
important object. A separation of the forces of the colony was
inevitable, in the meanwhile; and reliance must be placed on the
protection of Providence, for keeping the enemy aloof until the vessel
was ready for active service.

The labour requiring as much physical force as could be mustered, the
arrangement was settled in council and approved by the governor, on the
following plan, viz:--Mark was to proceed to the Reef with all the men
that could be spared, and a portion of the females. It was not deemed
safe, however, to leave the Peak with less than three defenders, Heaton,
Peters and Unus being chosen for that important station; the former
commanding, of course. Mark, Betts, Bigelow, Socrates, and Jones, formed
the party _for_ the Reef, to which were attached Bridget, Martha,
Teresa, and the blacks. Bigelow went across, indeed, a day or two before
the main party sailed, in order to look after Dido, and to get his work
forward as fast as possible. When all was ready, and that was when ten
days had gone by after the retreat of Waally, without bringing any
further tidings from him, the governor sailed in the Neshamony, having
the Bridget and the lighter in company, leaving the Dido for the
convenience of Heaton and his set. Signals were agreed on, though the
distance was so great as to render them of little use, unless a boat
were mid-channel. A very simple and ingenious expedient, nevertheless,
was suggested by Mark, in connection with this matter. A single tree
grew so near the Peak as to be a conspicuous object from the ocean; it
was not large, though it could be seen at a great distance, more
particularly in the direction of the Reef. The governor intimated an
intention to send a boat daily far enough out into the strait to
ascertain whether this tree were, or were not standing; and Heaton was
instructed to have it felled as soon as he had thoroughly ascertained
that Waally was abroad again with hostile intentions. Other signals were
also agreed on, in order to regulate the movements of the boats, in the
event of their being called back to the Peak to repel an invasion.

With the foregoing arrangements completed and thoroughly understood, the
governor set sail for the Reef, accompanied by his little squadron. It
was an exquisitely beautiful day, one in which all the witchery of the
climate developed itself, soothing the nerves and animating the spirits.
Bridget had lost most of her apprehensions of the natives, and could
laugh with her husband and play with her child almost as freely as
before the late events. Everybody, indeed, was in high spirits, the
launching of the schooner being regarded as a thing that would give them
complete command of the adjacent seas.

The passage was short, a fresh breeze blowing, and four hours after
quitting the cliffs, the Neshamony was under the lee of Cape South, and
heading for the principal inlet. As the craft glided along, in perfectly
smooth water now, Mark noted the changes that time was making on those
rocks, which had so lately emerged from the depths of the ocean. The
prairie, in particular, was every way worthy of his attention. A mass of
sea-weed, which rested on a sort of stratum of mud immediately after the
eruption, had now been the favourite pasturage of the hogs for more than
a twelvemonth. These hogs at the present time exceeded fifty full-grown
animals, and there were twice that number of grunters at their heels.
Then the work they had done on the Prairie was incredible. Not less than
hundreds of acres had they rooted over, mixing the sea-weed with the
mud, and fast converting the whole into soil. The rains had washed away
the salt, or converted it into manure, as well as contributing to the
more rapid decay of the vegetable substances. In that climate the
changes are very rapid, and Mark saw that another year or two would
convert the whole of that vast range, which had been formerly computed
at a surface of a thousand acres, into very respectable pastures, if not
into meadows. Of meadows, however, there was very little necessity in
that latitude; the eternal summer that reigned furnishing pasturage the
year round. The necessary grasses might be wanting to seed down so large
a surface, but those which Socrates had put in were well-rooted, and it
was pretty certain they would, sooner or later, spread themselves over
the whole field. In defiance of the hogs, and their increasing inroads,
large patches were already green and flourishing. What is more, young
trees were beginning to show themselves along the margin of the
channels. Henton had brought over from Betto's group several large
panniers made of green willows, and these Socrates had cut into strips,
and thrust into the mud. Almost without an exception they had struck out
roots, and never ceasing, day or night, to grow, they were already
mostly of the height of a man. Four or five years would convert them
into so many beautiful, if not very useful trees.

Nor was this all. Heaton, under the influence of his habits, had studied
the natures of the different trees he had met with on the other islands.
The cocoa-nut, in particular, abounded in both groups, and finding it
was a tree that much affected low land and salt water, he had taken care
to set out various samples of his roots and fruits, on certain detached
islets near this channel, where the soil and situation induced him to
believe they would flourish. Sea sand he was of opinion was the most
favourable for the growth of this tree, and he had chosen the sites of
his plantations with a view to those advantages. On the Peak cocoa-nuts
were to be found, but they were neither very fine, nor in very large
quantities. So long as Mark had that island to himself, the present,
supply-would more than equal the demand, but with the increase of the
colony a greater number of the trees would become very desirable. Five
or six years would be needed to produce the fruit-bearing tree, and the
governor was pleased to find that the growth of one of those years had
been already secured, in the case of those he had himself planted, in
and on the crater, near three years had contributed to their growth, and
neither the Guano nor Loam Island having been forgotten, many of them
were now thirty feet high. As he approached the crater, on that
occasion, he looked at those promising fruits of his early and provident
care for the future with great satisfaction, for seldom was the labour
of man better rewarded. Mark well knew the value of this tree, which was
of use in a variety of ways, in addition to the delicious and healthful
fruit it bears; delicious and healthful when eaten shortly after it is
separated from the tree. The wood of the kernel could be polished, and
converted into bowls, that were ornamental as well as useful. The husks
made a capital cordage, and a very respectable sail-cloth, being a good
substitute for hemp, though hemp, itself, was a plant that might be
grown on the prairies to an almost illimitable extent. The leaves were
excellent for thatching, as well as for making brooms, mats, hammocks,
baskets and a variety of such articles, while the trunks could be
converted into canoes, gutters, and timber generally. There was also one
other expensive use of this tree, which the governor had learned from
Heaton. While Bridget was still confined to the ship, after the birth of
her daughter. Mark had brought her a dish of greens, which she
pronounced the most delicious of any thing in its way she had ever
tasted. It was composed of the young and delicate leaves of the new
growth, or of the summit of the cocoa-nut tree, somewhat resembling the
artichoke in their formation, though still more exquisite in taste. But
the tree from which this treat was obtained died,--a penalty that must
ever be paid to partake of that dish. As soon as Bridget learned this,
she forbade the cutting of any more for her use, at least. All the boats
got into port in good season, and the Reef once more became a scene of
life and activity. The schooner was soon completed, and it only remained
to put her into the water. This work was already commenced by Bigelow,
and the governor directed everybody to lend a hand in effecting so
desirable an object. Bigelow had all his materials ready, and so
perseveringly did our colonists work, that the schooner was all ready
to be put into the water on the evening of the second day. The launch
was deferred only to have the benefit of daylight. That afternoon Mark,
accompanied by his wife, had gone in the Bridget, his favourite boat, to
look for the signal tree. He went some distance into the strait, ere he
was near enough to get a sight of it even with the glass; when he did
procure a view, there it was precisely as he had last seen it. Putting
the helm of the boat up, the instant he was assured of his fact, the
governor wore short round, making the best, of his way back to the
crater, again. The distances, it will be remembered, were considerable,
and it required time to make the passage. The sun was setting as Mark
was running along the channel to the Reef, the young man pointing out to
his charming wife the growth of the trees, the tints of the evening sky,
the drove of hogs, the extent of his new meadows, and such other objects
as would be likely to interest both, in the midst of such a scene. The
boat rounded a point where a portion of the hogs had been sleeping, and
as it came sweeping up, the animals rose in a body, snuffed the air, and
began scampering off in the way conformable to their habits, Mark
laughing and pointing with his fingers to draw Bridget's attention to
their antics.

"_There_ are more of the creatures" said Bridget; "yonder, on the
further side of the prairie--I dare say the two parties will join each
other, and have a famous scamper, in company."

"More!" echoed Mark; "that can hardly be, as we passed some thirty of
them several miles to the southward.--What is it you see, dearest, that
you mistake for hogs?"

"Why, yonder--more than a mile from us; on the opposite side of the
prairie and near the water, in the other channel."

"The other is not a channel at all; it is a mere bay that leads to
nothing; so none of our boats or people can be there. The savages, as I
am your husband, Bridget!"

Sure enough, the objects which Bridget had mistaken for mere hogs, were
in truth the heads and shoulders of some twenty Indians who were
observing the movements of the boat from positions taken on the other
side of the plain, so as to conceal all but the upper halves of their
bodies. They had two canoes; war canoes, moreover; but these were the
whole party, at that point at least.

This was a most grave discovery. The governor had hoped the Reef, so
accessible on every side by means of canoes, would, for years at least,
continue to be a _terra incognita_ to the savages. On this ignorance of
the natives would much of its security depend, for the united forces of
the colonists could scarcely suffice to maintain the place against the
power of Waally. The matter as it was, called for all his energies, and
for the most prompt measures.

The first step was to apprise the people at the Reef of the proximity of
these dangerous neighbours. As the boat was doubtless seen, its sails
rising above the land, there was no motive in changing its course, or
for attempting to conceal it. The crater, ship and schooner on the
stocks, were all in sight of the savages at that moment, though not less
than two leagues distant, where they doubtless appeared indistinct and
confused. The ship might produce an influence in one or two ways. It
might inflame the cupidity of Waally, under the hope of possessing so
much treasure, and tempt him on to hasten his assault; or it might
intimidate him by its imagined force, vessels rarely visiting the
islands of the Pacific without being prepared to defend themselves. The
savages would not be likely to comprehend the true condition of the
vessel, but would naturally suppose that she had a full crew, and
possessed the usual means of annoying her enemies. All this occurred to
the governor in the first five minutes after his discovery, while his
boat was gliding onwards towards her haven.

Bridget behaved admirably. She trembled a little at first, and pressed
her child to her bosom with more than the usual warmth, but her
self-command was soon regained, and from that instant, Mark found in her
a quick, ingenious, and useful assistant and counsellor. Her faculties
and courage seemed to increase with the danger, and so far from proving
an encumbrance, as might naturally enough have been expected, she was
not only out of the way, as respects impediments, but she soon became of
real use, and directed the movements of the females with almost as much
skill and decision as Mark directed those of their husbands.

The boat did not reach the Reef until dusk, or for an hour after the
savages had been seen. The colonists had just left their work, and the
evening being cool and refreshing after a warm summer's day, they were
taking their suppers under a tent or awning, at no great distance from
the ship-yard, when the governor joined them. This tent, or awning, had
been erected for such purposes, and had several advantages to recommend
it. It stood quite near the beach of the spring, and cool fresh water
was always at hand. It had a carpet of velvet-like grass, too, a rare
thins for the Reef, on the outside of the crater. But, there were
cavities on its surface, in which foreign substances had collected, and
this was one of them. Sea-weed, loam, dead fish, and rain-water had made
a thin soil on about an acre of rocks at this spot, and the rain
constantly assisting vegetation, the grass-seed had taken root there,
and this being its second season, Betts had found the sward already
sufficient for his purposes, and caused an awning to be spread,
converting the grass into a carpet. There might now have been a dozen
similar places on the reef, so many oases in its desert, where soil had
formed and grass was growing. No one doubted that, in time and with
care, those, then living might see most of those naked rocks clothed
with verdure, for the progress of vegetation in such a climate, favoured
by those accidental causes which seemed to prevent that particular
region from ever suffering by droughts, is almost magical, and might
convert a wilderness into a garden in the course of a very few years.

Mark did not disturb the happy security in which he found his people by
any unnecessary announcement of danger. On the contrary, he spoke
cheerfully, complimented them on the advanced state of their work, and
took an occasion to get Betts aside, when he first communicated the
all-important discovery he had made. Bob was dumbfounded at first; for,
like the governor himself, he had believed the Reef to be one of the
secret spots of the earth, and had never anticipated an invasion in that
quarter. Recovering himself, however, he was soon in a state of mind to
consult intelligently and freely.

"Then we're to expect the rep_tyles_ to-night?" said Betts, as soon as
he had regained his voice.

"I think not," answered Mark. "The canoes I saw were in the false
channel, and cannot possibly reach us without returning to the western
margin of the rocks and entering one of the true passages. I rather
think this cannot be done before morning. Daylight, indeed, may be
absolutely necessary to them; and as the night promises to be dark, it
is not easy to see how strangers can find their way to us, among the
maze of passages they must meet. By land, they cannot get here from any
of the islands on the western side of the group; and even if landed on
the central island, there is only one route, and that a crooked one,
which will bring them here without the assistance of their canoes. We
are reasonably well fortified, Betts, through natural agencies, on that
side; and I do not apprehend seeing anything more of the fellows until

"What a misfortin 'tis that they should ever have discovered the Reef!"

"It certainly is; and it is one, I confess, I had not expected. But we
must take things as they are, Betts, and do our duty. Providence--that
all-seeing Power, which spared you and me when so many of our shipmates
were called away with short notice--Providence may still be pleased to
look on us with favour."

"That puts me in mind, Mr. Mark, of telling you something that I have
lately l'arn'd from Jones, who was about a good deal among the savages,
since his friend's marriage with Peggy, and before he made his escape to
join us. Jones says that, as near as he can find out, about three years
ago, a ship's launch came into Betto's Land, as we call it--Waally's
Country, however, is meant; and that is a part of the group I never
ventured into, seeing that my partic'lar friend, Ooroony, and Waally,
was always at daggers drawn--but a ship's launch came in there, about
three years since, with seven living men in it. Jones could never get a
sight of any of the men, for Waally is said to have kept them all hard
at work for himself; but he got tolerable accounts of them, as well as
of the boat in which they arrived."

"Surely, Bob, you do not suppose that launch to have been ours, and
those men to have been a part of our old crew!" exclaimed Mark, with a
tumult of feeling he had not experienced since he had reason to think
that Bridget was about to be restored to him.

"Indeed, but I do, sir. The savages told Jones that the boat had a bird
painted in its starn-sheets; and that was the case with our launch, Mr.
Mark, which was ornamented with a spread-eagle in that very spot. Then,
one of the men was said to have a red mark on his face; and you may
remember, sir, that Bill Brown had a nat'ral brand of that sort. Jones
only mentioned the thing this arternoon, as we was at work together; and
I detarmined to let you know all about it, at the first occasion. Depend
on it, Mr. Woolston, some of our chaps is still living."

This unexpected intelligence momentarily drove the recollection of the
present danger from the governor's mind. He sent for Jones, and
questioned him closely touching the particulars of his information; the
answers he received certainly going far towards corroborating Betts's
idea of the character of the unknown men. Jones was never able even to
get on the island where these men were said to be; but he had received
frequent descriptions of their ages, appearances, numbers, &c. It was
also reported by those who had seen them, that several of the party had
died of hunger before the boat reached the group; and that only about
half of those who had originally taken to the boat, which belonged to a
ship that had been wrecked, lived to get ashore. The man with a mark on
his face was represented as being very expert with tools, and was
employed by Waally to build him a canoe that would live out in the gales
of the ocean. This agreed perfectly with the trade and appearance of
Brown, who had been the Rancocus's carpenter, and had the sort of mark
so particularly described.

The time, the boat, the incidents of the wreck, meagre as the last were,
as derived through the information of Jones, and all the other facts
Mark could glean in a close examination of the man's statements, went to
confirm the impression that a portion of those who had been carried to
leeward in the Rancocus's launch, had escaped with their lives, and were
at that moment prisoners in the power of the very savage chief who now
threatened his colony with destruction.

But the emergency did not admit of any protracted inquiry into, or any
consultation on the means necessary to relieve their old shipmates from
a fate so miserable. Circumstances required that the governor should now
give his attention to the important concerns immediately before him.

Chapter XVIII.

"To whom belongs this valley fair,
That sleeps beneath the filmy air,
Even like a living thing?
Silent as infant at the breast,
Save a still sound that speaks of rest,
That streamlet's murmuring?"


When the governor had communicated to his people that the savages were
actually among the islands of their own group, something very like a
panic came over them. A few minutes, however, sufficed to restore a
proper degree of confidence, when the arrangements necessary to their
immediate security were entered into. As some attention had previously
been bestowed on the fortifications of the crater, that place was justly
deemed the citadel of the Reef. Some thought the ship would be the most
easily defended, on account of the size of the crater, and because it
had a natural ditch around it, but so much property was accumulated in
and around the crater that it could not be abandoned without a loss to
which the governor had no idea of submitting. The gate of the crater was
nothing in the way of defence, it is true; but one of the cannonades had
been planted so as to command it, and this was thought sufficient for
repelling all ordinary assaults. It has been said, already, that the
outer wall of the crater was perpendicular at its base, most probably
owing to the waves of the ocean in that remote period when the whole
Reef was washed by them in every gale of wind. This perpendicular
portion of the rock, moreover, was much harder than the ordinary surface
of the Summit, owing in all probability to the same cause. It was even
polished in appearance, and in general was some eighteen or twenty feet
in height, with the exception of the two or three places, by one of
which Mark and Betts had clambered up on their first visit to the
Summit. These places, always small, and barely sufficient to allow of a
man's finding footing on them, had long been picked away, in order to
prevent the inroads of Kitty, and when the men had turned their
attention to rendering the place secure against a sudden inroad, they
being the only points where an enemy could get up, without resorting to
ladders or artificial assistance, had, by means of additional labour,
been rendered as secure as all the rest of the 'outer wall,' as the base
of the crater was usually termed among them. It was true, that civilized
assailants, who had the ordinary means at command, would soon have
mastered this obstacle; but savages would not be likely to come prepared
to meet it. The schooner, with her cradle and ways, had required all the
loose timber, to the last stick, and the enemy was not likely to procure
any supplies from the ship-yard. Two of the carronades were on the
Summit, judiciously planted; two were on board the Abraham, as was one
of the long sixes, and the remainder of the guns, (three at the rock
excepted) were still on board the ship.

Mark divided his forces for the night. As Bridget habitually lived in
the Rancocus' cabins, he did not derange her household at all, but
merely strengthened her crew, by placing Bigelow and Socrates on board
her; each with his family; while Betts assumed the command of the
crater, having for his companion Jones. These were small garrisons; but
the fortresses were strong, considering all the circumstances, and the
enemy were uncivilized, knowing but little of fire-arms. By nine o'clock
everything was arranged, and most of the women and children were on
their beds, though no one there undressed that night.

Mark and Betts met, by agreement, alongside of the schooner, as soon as
their respective duties elsewhere would allow. As the Reef, proper, was
an island, they knew no enemy could find his way on it without coming
by water, or by passing over the narrow bridge which has already been
mentioned as crossing the little strait near the spring. This rendered
them tolerably easy for the moment, though Mark had assured his
companion it was not possible for the canoes to get to the Reef under
several hours. Neither of the men could sleep, however, and they thought
it as well to be on the look-out, and in company, as to be tossing about
in their berths, or hammocks, by themselves. The conversation turned on
their prospects, almost as a matter of course.

"We are somewhat short-handed, sir, to go to quarters ag'in them
vagabonds," observed Betts, in reply to some remark of the governor's.
"I counted a hundred and three of their craft when they was off the Peak
the other day, and not one on 'em all had less than four hands aboard
it, while the biggest must have had fifty. All told, I do think, Mr.
Mark, they might muster from twelve to fifteen hundred fighting men."

"That has been about my estimate of their force, Bob; but, if they were
fifteen thousand, we must bring them to action, for we fight for

"Ay, ay, sir," answered Betts, ejecting the tobacco juice in the
customary way, "there's reason in roasted eggs, they say, and there's
reason in firing a few broadsides afore a body gives up. What a
different place this here rock's got to be, sir, from what it was when
you and I was floating sea-weed and rafting loam to it, to make a melon
or a cucumber bed! Times is changed, sir, and we're now at war. Then it
was all peace and quiet; and now it's all hubbub and disturbance."

"We have got our wives here now, and that I think you'll admit is
something, Bob, when you remember the pains taken by yourself to bring
so great a happiness about,"

"Why, yes, sir--I'll allow the wives is something--"

"Ship ahoy!" hailed a voice in good English, and in the most approved
seaman-like tones of the voice.

The hail came from the margin of the island nearest to the Reef; or that
which was connected with the latter by means of the bridge, but not
from a point very near the latter.

"In the name of heavenly mercy!" exclaimed Betts, "what can that mean,

"I know that voice," said Mark, hurriedly; "and the whole matter begins
to clear up to me. Who hails the Rancocus?"

"Is that ship the Rancocus, then?" answered the voice from the island.

"The Rancocus, and no other--are you not Bill Brown, her late

"The very same, God bless you, Mr. Woolston, for I now know _your_
voice, too. I'm Bill, and right down glad am I to have things turn out
so. I half suspected the truth when I saw a ship's spars this afternoon
in this place, though little did I think, yesterday, of ever seeing
anything more of the old 'Cocus. Can you give me a cast across this bit
of a ferry, sir?"

"Are you alone, Bill--or who have you for companions?"

"There's two on us, sir, only--Jim Wattles and I--seven on us was saved
in the launch; Mr. Hillson and the supercargo both dying afore we
reached the land, as did the other man, we seven still living, though
only two on us is here."

"Are there any black fellows with you?--Any of the natives?"

"Not one, sir. We gave 'em the slip two hours ago, or as soon as we saw
the ship's masts, being bent on getting afloat in some craft or other,
in preference to stopping with savages any longer. No, Mr. Woolston; no
fear of them to-night, for they are miles and miles to leeward, bothered
in the channels, where they'll be pretty sartain to pass the night;
though you'll hear from 'em in the morning. Jim and I took to our land
tacks, meeting with a good opportunity, and by running directly in the
wind's eye, have come out here. We hid ourselves till the canoes was out
of sight, and then we carried sail as hard as we could. So give us a
cast and take us aboard the old ship again, Mr. Woolston, if you love a
fellow-creatur', and an old shipmate in distress."

Such was the singular dialogue which succeeded the unexpected hail. It
completely put a new face on things at the Reef. As Brown was a valuable
man, and one whose word he had always relied on, Mark did not hesitate,
but told him the direction to the bridge, where he and Betts met him and
Wattles, after each of the parties had believed the others to be dead
now fully three years!

The two recovered seamen of the Rancocus were alone, having acted in
perfect good faith with their former officer, who led them to the
awning, gave them some refreshment, and heard their story. The account
given by Jones, for the first time that very day, turned out to be
essentially true. When the launch was swept away from the ship, it drove
down to leeward, passing at no great distance from the crater, of which
the men in her got a glimpse, without being able to reach it. The
attention of Hillson was mainly given to keeping the boat from filling
or capsizing; and this furnished abundance of occupation. The launch got
into one of the channels, and by observing the direction, which was
nearly east and west, it succeeded in passing through all the dangers,
coming out to leeward of the shoals. As everybody believed that the ship
was hopelessly lost, no effort was made to get back to the spot where
she had been left. No island appearing, Hillson determined to run off to
the westward, trusting to fall in with land of some sort or other. The
provisions and water were soon consumed, and then came the horrors usual
to such scenes at sea. Hillson was one of the first that perished, his
previous excesses unfitting him to endure privation. But seven survived
when the launch reached an island in Waally's part of the group, so
often mentioned. There they fell into the hands of that turbulent and
warlike chief. Waally made the seamen his slaves, treating them
reasonably well, but exacting of them the closest attention to his
interests. Brown, as a ship-carpenter, soon became a favourite, and was
employed in fashioning craft that it was thought might be useful in
carrying out the ambitious projects of his master. The men were kept on
a small island, and were watched like any other treasure, having no
opportunity to communicate with any of those whites who appeared in
other parts of the group. Thus, while Betts passed two months with
Ooroony, and Heaton and his party nearly as much more time, these
sailors, who heard of such visitors, could never get access to them.
This was partly owing to the hostilities between the two chiefs--Ooroony
being then in the ascendant--and partly owing to the special projects of
Waally, who, by keeping his prisoners busily employed on his fleet,
looked forward to the success which, in fact, crowned his efforts
against his rival.

At length Waally undertook the expedition which had appeared in such
force beneath the cliffs of the Peak. By this time, Brown had become so
great a favourite, that he was permitted to accompany the chief; and
Wattles was brought along as a companion for his shipmate. The remaining
five were left behind, to complete a craft on which they had now been
long employed, and which was intended to be the invincible war-canoe of
those regions. Brown and Wattles had been in Waally's own canoe when the
terrible echoes so much alarmed the uninstructed beings who heard it.
They described them as much the most imposing echoes they had ever
heard; nor did they, at first, know what to make of them, themselves. It
was only on reflection, and after the retreat to Rancocus Island, that
Brown, by reasoning on the subject, came to the conclusion that the
whites, who were supposed to be in possession of the place, had fired a
gun, which had produced the astounding uproar that had rattled so far
along the cliff. As all Brown's sympathies were with the unknown people
of his own colour, he kept his conjectures to himself, and managed to
lead Waally in a different direction, by certain conclusions of his own
touching the situation of the reef where the Rancocus had been lost.

Bill Brown was an intelligent man for his station and pursuits. He knew
the courses steered by the launch, and had some tolerably accurate
notions of the distances run. According to his calculations, that reef
could not be very far to the northward of the Peak, and, by ascending
the mountains on Rancocus Island, he either saw, or fancied he saw, the
looming of land in that part of the ocean. It then occurred to Brown
that portions of the wreck might still be found on the reef, and become
the means of effecting his escape from the hands of his tyrants. Waally
listened to his statements and conjectures with the utmost attention,
and the whole fleet put to sea the very next day, in quest of this
treasure. After paddling to windward again, until the Peak was fairly in
sight, Brown steered to the north-east, a course that brought him out,
after twenty-four hours of toil, under the lee of the group of the reef.
This discovery of itself, filled Waally with exultation and pride. Here
were no cliffs to scale, no mysterious mountain to appal, nor any
visible obstacle to oppose his conquests. It is true, that the
newly-discovered territory did not appear to be of much value, little
beside naked rock, or broad fields of mud and sea-weed intermingled,
rewarding their first researches. But better things were hoped for. It
was something to men whose former domains were so much circumscribed and
girded by the ocean, to find even a foundation for a new empire. Brown
was now consulted as to every step to be taken, and his advice was
implicitly followed. Columbus was scarcely a greater man, for the time
being, at the court of Ferdinand and Isabella, than Bill Brown
immediately became at the court of Waally. His words were received as
prophecies, his opinions as oracles.

Honest Bill, who anticipated no more from his discoveries than the
acquisition of certain portions of wood, iron, and copper, with,
perhaps, the addition of a little rigging, certain sails and an anchor
or two, acted, at first, for the best interests of his master. He led
the fleet along the margin of the group until a convenient harbour was
found. Into this all the canoes entered, and a sandy beach supplying
fresh water in abundance having been found, an encampment was made for
the night. Several hours of daylight remaining, however, when these
great preliminary steps had been taken, Brown proposed to Waally an
exploring expedition in a couple of the handiest of the canoes. The
people thus employed were those who had given the alarm to the governor.
On that occasion, not only was the boat seen, but the explorers were
near enough to the reef, to discover not only the crater, but the spars
of the ship. Here, then, was a discovery scarcely less important than
that of the group itself! After reasoning on the facts, Waally came to
the conclusion that these, after all, were the territories that Heaton
and his party had come to seek; and that here he should find those cows
which he had once seen, and which he coveted more than any other riches
on earth. Ooroony had been weak enough to allow strangers in possession
of things so valuable, to pass through _his_ islands; but _he_, Waally,
was not the man to imitate this folly. Brown, too, began to think that
the white men sought were to be found here. That whites were in the
group was plain enough by the ship, and he supposed they might be
fishing for the pearl-oyster, or gathering beche-le-mar for the Canton
market. It was just possible that a colony had established itself in
this unfrequented place, and that the party of which he had heard so
much, had come hither with their stores and herds. Not the smallest
suspicion at first crossed his mind that he there beheld the spars of
the Rancocus; but, it was enough for him and Wattles that Christian men
were there, and that, in all probability, they were men of the
Anglo-Saxon race. No sooner was it ascertained that the explorers were
in a false channel, and that it would not be in their power to penetrate
farther in their canoes, than our two seamen determined to run, and
attach themselves to the strangers. They naturally thought that they
should find a vessel armed and manned, and ready to stand out to sea as
soon as her officers were apprized of the danger that threatened them,
and did not hesitate about joining their fortune with hers, in
preference to remaining with Waally any longer. Freedom possesses a
charm for which no other advantage can compensate, and those two old
sea-dogs, who had worked like horses all their lives, in their original
calling, preferred returning to the ancient drudgery rather than live
with Waally, in the rude abundance of savage chiefs. The escape was
easily enough made, as soon, as it was dark, Brown and Wattles being on
shore most of the time, under the pretence that it was necessary, in
order that they might ascertain the character of there unknown colonists
by signs understood best by themselves.

Such is a brief outline of the explanations that the two recovered
seamen made to their former officer. In return, the governor as briefly
related to them the manner in which the ship had been saved, and the
history of the colony down to that moment. When both tales had been
told, a consultation on the subject of future proceedings took place,
quite as a matter of course. Brown, and his companion, though delighted
to meet their old shipmates, were greatly disappointed in not finding a
sea-going vessel ready to receive them. They did not scruple to say that
had they known the actual state of things on the Reef, they would not
have left the savages, but trusted to being of more service even to
their natural friends, by continuing with Waally, in their former
relation, than by taking the step they had. Repentance, or regrets,
however, came too late; and now they were fairly in for it, neither
expressed any other determination than to stand by the service into
which they had just entered, honestly, if not quite as gladly as they
had anticipated.

The governor and Betts both saw that Brown and Wattles entertained a
high respect for the military prowess of the Indian chief. They
pronounced him to be not only a bold, but an adroit warrior; one, full
of resources and ingenuity, when his means were taken into the account.
The number of men with him, however, Brown assured Mark, was less than
nine hundred, instead of exceeding a thousand, as had been supposed from
the count made on the cliffs. As it now was explained, a great many
women were in the canoes. Waally, moreover, was not altogether without
fire-arms. He was master of a dozen old, imperfect muskets, and what was
more, he had a four-pound gun. Ammunition, however, was very scarce, and
of shot for his gun he had but three. Each of these shot had been fired
several times, in his wars with Ooroony, and clays had been spent in
hunting them up, after they had done their work, and of replacing them
in the chief's magazine. Brown could not say that they had done much
mischief, having, in every instance, being fired at long distances, and
with a very uncertain aim. The business of sighting guns was not very
well understood by the great mass of Christians, half a century since;
and it is not at all surprising that savages should know little or
nothing about it. Waally's gunners, according to Brown's account of the
matter, could never be made to understand that the bore of a gun was not
exactly parallel to its exterior surface, and they invariably aimed too
high, by sighting along the upper side of the piece. This same fault is
very common with the inexperienced in using a musket; for, anxious to
get a sight of the end of their piece, they usually stick it up into the
air and overshoot their object. It was the opinion of Brown, on the
whole, that little was to be apprehended from Waally's fire-arms. The
spear and club were the weapons to be dreaded; and with these the
islanders were said to be very expert. But the disparity in numbers was
the main ground of apprehension.

When Brown was told how near the schooner was to being launched, he
earnestly begged the governor, to let him and Bigelow go to work and put
her into the water, immediately. Everything necessary to a cruise was on
board her, even to her provisions and water, the arrangements having
been made to launch her with her sails bent; and, once in the water,
Bill thought she would prove of the last importance to the defence. If
the worst came to the worst, all hands could get on board her, and by
standing through some of the channels that were clear of canoes, escape
into the open water. Once there, Waally could do nothing with them, and
they might be governed by circumstances.

Woolston viewed things a little differently. He loved the Reef; it had
become dear to him by association and history, and he did not relish the
thought of abandoning it. There was too much property at risk, to say
nothing of the ship, which would doubtless be burned for its metals,
should the Indians get possession, even for a day. In that ship he had
sailed; in that ship he had been married; in that ship his daughter had
been born; and in that ship Bridget loved still to dwell, even more than
she affected all the glories of the Eden of the Peak. That ship was not
to be given up to savages without a struggle Nor did Mark believe
anything would be gained by depriving the men of their rest during the
accustomed hours. Early in the morning, with the light itself, he did
intend to have Bigelow under the schooner's bottom; but he saw no
occasion for his working in the dark. Launching was a delicate business,
and some accident might happen in the obscurity. After talking the
matter over, therefore, all hands retired to rest, leaving one woman at
the crater, and one on board the ship, on the look-out; women being
preferred to men, on this occasion, in order that the latter might
reserve their strength for the coming struggle.

At the appointed hour next morning, every one on the Reef was astir at
the first peep of day. No disturbance had occurred in the night, and,
what is perhaps a little remarkable, the female sentinels had not given
any false alarm. As soon as a look from the Summit gave the governor
reason to believe that Waally was not very near him, he ordered
preparations to be made for the launch of the Friend Abraham White. A
couple of hours' work was still required to complete this desirable
task; and everybody set about his or her assigned duty with activity and
zeal. Some of the women prepared the breakfast; others carried
ammunition to the different guns, while Betts went round and loaded
them, one and all; and others, again, picked up such articles of value
as had been overlooked in the haste of the previous evening, carrying
them either into the crater, or on board the ship.

On examining his fortifications by daylight, the governor resolved to
set up something more secure in the way of a gate for the crater. He
also called off two or three of the men to get out the boarding-netting
of the ship, which was well provided in that respect; a good provision
having been made, byway of keeping the Fejee people at arms' length.
These two extraordinary offices delayed the work on the ways; and when
the whole colony went to breakfast, which they did about an hour after
sunrise, the schooner was not yet in the water, though quite ready to be
put there, Mark announced that there was no occasion to be in a hurry,
no canoes were in sight, and there was time to have everything done
deliberately and in order.

This security came very near proving fatal to the whole party. Most of
the men breakfasted under the awning, which was near their work; while
the women took that meal in their respective quarters. Some of the last
were in the crater, and some in the ship. It will be remembered that the
awning was erected near the spring, and that the spring was but a short
distance from the bridge. This bridge, it will also be recollected,
connected the Reef with an island that stretched away for miles, and
which had formed the original range for the swine, after the changes
that succeeded the eruption. It was composed of merely two long ship's
planks, the passage being only some fifty or sixty feet in width.

The governor, now, seldom ate with his people. He knew enough of human
nature to understand that authority was best preserved by avoiding
familiarity. Besides, there is, in truth, no association more unpleasant
to those whose manners have been cultivated, than that of the table,
with the rude and unrefined. Bridget, for instance, could hardly be
expected to eat with the wives of the seamen; and Mark naturally wished
to eat with his own family. On that occasion he had taken his meal in
the cabin of the Rancocus, as usual, and had come down to the awning to
see that the hands turned-to as soon as they were through with their own
breakfasts. Just as he was about to issue the necessary order, the air
was filled with frightful yells, and a stream of savages poured out of
an opening in the rocks, on to the plain of the "hog pasture," as the
adjoining field was called, rushing forward in a body towards the
crater. They had crept along under the rocks by following a channel, and
now broke cover within two hundred yards of the point they intended to

The governor behaved admirably on this trying occasion. He issued his
orders clearly, calmly, and promptly. Calling on Bigelow and Jones by
name, he ordered them to withdraw the bridge, which could easily be done
by hauling over the planks by means of wheels that had long been fitted
for that purpose. The bridge withdrawn, the channel, or harbour,
answered all the purposes of a ditch; though the South Sea islanders
would think but little of swimming across it. Of course, Waally's men
knew nothing of this bridge, nor did they know of the existence of the
basin between them and their prey. They rushed directly towards the
ship-yard, and loud were their yells of disappointment when they found a
broad reach of water still separating them from the whites. Naturally
they looked for the point of connection; but, by this time, the planks
were wheeled in, and the communication was severed. At this instant,
Waally had all his muskets discharged, and the gun fired from the
catamaran, on which it was mounted. No one was injured by this volley,
but a famous noise was made; and noise passed for a good deal in the
warfare of that day and region.

It was now the turn of the colonists. At the first alarm everybody
rushed to arms, and every post was manned, or _womaned_, in a minute. On
the poop of the ship was planted one of the cannon, loaded with grape,
and pointed so as to sweep the strait of the bridge. It is true, the
distance was fully a mile, but Betts had elevated the gun with a view to
its sending its missiles as far as was necessary. The other carronades
on the Summit were pointed so as to sweep the portion of the hog pasture
that was nearest, and which was now swarming with enemies, Waally,
himself, was in front, and was evidently selecting a party that was to
swim for the sandy beach, a sort of forlorn hope. No time was to be
lost. Juno, a perfect heroine in her way, stood by the gun on the poop,
while Dido was at those on the Summit, each brandishing or blowing, a
lighted match. The governor made the preconcerted signal to the last,
and she applied the match. Away went the grape, rattling along the
surface of the opposite rocks, and damaging at least a dozen of Waally's
men. Three were killed outright, and the wounds of the rest were very
serious. A yell followed, and a young chief rushed towards the strait,
with frantic cries, as if bent on leaping across the chasm. He was
followed by a hundred warriors. Mark now made the signal to Juno. Not a
moment was lost by the undaunted girl, who touched off her gun in the
very nick of time. Down came the grape, hissing along the Reef; and,
rebounding from its surface, away it leaped across the strait, flying
through the thickest of the assailants. A dozen more suffered by that
discharge. Waally now saw that a crisis was reached, and his efforts to
recover the ground lost were worthy of his reputation. Calling to the
swimmers, he succeeded in getting them down into the water in scores.

The governor had ordered those near him to their stations. This took
Jones and Bigelow on board the Abraham, where two carronades were
pointed through the stern ports, forming a battery to rake the hog
pasture, which it was foreseen must be the field of battle if the enemy
came by land, as it was the only island that came near enough to the
Reef to be used in that way. As for Mark himself, accompanied by Brown
and Wattles, all well armed, he held his party in reserve, as a corps to
be moved wherever it might be most needed. At that all-important moment
a happy idea occurred to the young governor. The schooner was all ready
for launching. The reserve were under her bottom, intending to make a
stand behind the covers of the yard, when Mark found himself at one of
the spur-shores, just as Brown, armed to the teeth, came up to the

"Lay aside your arms," cried the governor, "and knock away your
spur-shore, Bill!--Down with it, while I knock this away!--Look out on
deck, for we are about to launch you!"

These words were just uttered, when the schooner began to move. All the
colonists now cheered, and away the Abraham went, plunging like a
battering-ram into the midst of the swimmers. While dipping deepest,
Bigelow and Jones fired both their carronades, the shot of which threw
the whole basin into foam. This combination of the means of assault was
too much for savages to resist. Waally was instantly routed. His main
body retreated into the coves of the channel, where their canoes lay,
while the swimmers and stragglers got out of harm's way, in the best
manner they could.

Not a moment was to be lost. The Abraham was brought up by a hawser, as
is usual, and was immediately boarded by Mark, Bigelow and Wattles. This
gave her a crew of five men, who were every way equal to handling her.
Betts was left in command of the Reef, with the remainder of the forces.
To make sail required but two minutes, and Mark was soon under way,
rounding Loam Island, or what had _once_ been Loam Island, for it was
now connected with the hog pasture, in order to get into the reach where
Waally had his forces. This reach was a quarter of a mile wide, and gave
room for manoeuvring. Although the schooner bore down to the assault
with a very determined air, it was by no means Mark's cue to come to
close quarters. Being well to windward, with plenty of room, he kept
the Abraham tacking, yawing, waring, and executing other of the devices
of nautical delay, whilst his men loaded and fired her guns, as fast as
they could. There were more noise and smoke, than there was bloodshed,
as commonly happens on such occasions; but these sufficed to secure the
victory. The savages were soon in a real panic, and no authority of
Waally's could check their flight. Away they paddled to leeward,
straining every nerve to get away from pursuers, whom they supposed to
be murderously bent on killing them to a man. A more unequivocal flight
never occurred in war.

Although the governor was much in earnest, he was riot half as
bloodthirsty as his fleeing enemies imagined. Every dictate of prudence
told him not to close with the canoes until he had plenty of sea-room.
The course they were steering would take them all out of the group, into
the open water, in the course of three or four hours, and he determined
to follow at a convenient distance, just hastening the flight by
occasional hints from his guns. In this manner, the people of the
Abraham had much the easiest time of it, for they did little besides
sail, while the savages had to use all their paddles to keep out of the
schooner's way; they sailed, also, but their speed under their cocoa-nut
canvas was not sufficient to keep clear of the Friend Abraham White,
which proved to be a very fast vessel, as well as one easily handled.

At length, Waally found his fleet in the open ocean, where he trusted
the chase would end. But he had greatly mistaken the course of events,
in applying that 'flattering unction.' It was now that the governor
commenced the chase in good earnest, actually running down three of the
canoes, and making prisoners of one of the crews. In this canoe was a
young warrior, whom Bill Brown and Wattles at once recognised as a
favourite son of the chief. Here was a most important conquest, and,
Mark turned it to account. He selected a proper agent from among the
captives, and sent him with a palm-branch to Waally himself, with
proposals for an exchange. There was no difficulty in communicating,
since Brown and Wattles both spoke the language of the natives with
great fluency. Three years of captivity had, at least, taught them that

A good deal of time was wasted before Waally could be brought to
confide in the honour of his enemies. At last, love for his offspring
brought him, unarmed, alongside of the schooner, and the governor met
this formidable chief, face to face. He found the latter a wily and
intelligent savage. Nevertheless, he had not the art to conceal his
strong affection for his son, and on that passion did Mark Woolston
play. Waally offered canoes, robes of feathers, whales' teeth, and every
thing that was most esteemed among his own people, as a ransom for the
boy. But this was not the exchange the governor desired to make. He
offered to restore the son to the arms of his father as soon as the five
seamen who were still prisoners on his citadel island should be brought
alongside of the schooner. If these terms were rejected, the lad must
take the fate of war.

Great was the struggle in the bosom of Waally, between natural
affection, and the desire to retain his captives. After two hours of
subterfuges, artifices, and tricks, the former prevailed, and a treaty
was made. Agreeably to its conditions, the schooner was to pilot the
fleet of canoes to Betto's group, which could easily be done, as Mark
knew not only its bearings, but its latitude and longitude. As soon as
this was effected, Waally engaged to send a messenger for the seamen,
and to remain himself on board the Abraham until the exchange was
completed. The chief wished to attach terms, by which the colonists were
to aid him in more effectually putting down Ooroony, who was checked
rather than conquered, but Mark refused to listen to any such
proposition. He was more disposed to aid, than to overcome the kind
hearted Ooroony, and made up his mind to have an interview with him
before he returned from the intended voyage.

Some delay would have occurred, to enable Mark to let Bridget know of
his intended absence, had it not been for the solicitude of Betts.
Finding the sails of the schooner had gone out of sight to leeward, Bob
manned the Neshamony, and followed as a support. In the event of a
wreck, for instance, his presence might have been of the last
importance. He got alongside of the Abraham just as the treaty was
concluded, and was in time to carry back the news to the crater, where
he might expect still to arrive that evening. With this arrangement,
therefore, the parties separated, Batts beating back, through the
channels of the Reef and the governor leading off to the northward and
westward, under short canvas; all of Waally's canoes, catamarans, &c.
following about a mile astern of him.

Chapter XIX.

"Nay, shrink not from the word 'farewell!'
As if 'twere friendship's final knell;
Such fears may prove but vain:
So changeful is life's fleeting day,
Whene'er we sever--hope may say,
We part--to meet again."

Bernard Barton.

The Abraham went under short canvas, and she was just three days,
running dead before the wind, ere she came in sight of Waally's islands.
Heaving-to to windward of the group, the canoes all passed into their
respective harbours, leaving the schooner in the offing, with the
hostages on board, waiting for the fulfilment of the treaty. The next
day, Waally himself re-appeared, bringing with him Dickinson, Harris,
Johnson, Edwards and Bright, the five seamen of the Rancocus that had so
long been captives in his hands. It went hard with that savage chief to
relinquish these men, but he loved his son even more than he loved
power. As for the men themselves, language cannot portray their delight.
They were not only rejoiced to be released, but their satisfaction was
heightened on finding into whose hands they had fallen. These men had
all kept themselves free from wives, and returned to their _colour_,
that word being now more appropriate than _colours,_ or ensign,
unshackled by any embarrassing engagements. They at once made the
Abraham a power in that part of the world. With twelve able seamen, all
strong, athletic and healthy men, to handle his craft, and with his two
carronades and a long six, the governor felt as if he might interfere
with the political relations of the adjoining states with every prospect
of being heard. Waally was, probably, of the same opinion, for he made a
great effort to extend the treaty so far as to overturn Ooroony
altogether, and thus secure to their two selves the control of all that
region. Woolston inquired of Waally, in what he should be benefited by
such a policy? when the wily savage told him, with the gravest face
imaginable, that he, Mark, might retain, in addition to his territories
at the Reef, Rancocus Island! The governor thanked his fellow potentate
for this hint, and now took occasion to assure him that, in future, each
and all of Waally's canoes must keep away from Rancocus Island
altogether; that island belonged to him, and if any more expeditions
visited it, the call should be returned at Waally's habitations. This
answer brought on an angry discussion, in which Waally, once or twice,
forgot himself a little; and when he took his leave, it was not in the
best humour possible.

Mark now deliberated on the state of things around him. Jones knew
Ooroony well, having been living in his territories until they were
overrun by his powerful enemy, and the governor sent him to find that
chief, using a captured canoe, of which they had kept two or three
alongside of the schooner for the purpose. Jones, who was a sworn friend
of the unfortunate chief, went as negotiator. Care was taken to land at
the right place, under cover of the Abraham's guns, and in six hours
Mark had the real gratification of taking Ooroony, good, honest, upright
Ooroony, by the hand, on the quarter-deck of his own vessel. Much as the
chief had suffered and lost, within the last two years, a gleam of
returning happiness shone on him when he placed his foot on the deck of
the schooner. His reception by the governor was honourable and even
touching. Mark thanked him for his kindness to his wife, to his sister,
to Heaton, and to his friend Bob. In point of fact, without this
kindness, he, Woolston, might then have been a solitary hermit, without
the means of getting access to any of his fellow-creatures, and doomed
to remain in that condition all his days. The obligation was now frankly
admitted, and Ooroony shed tears of joy when he thus found that his
good deeds were remembered and appreciated.

It has long been a question with moralists, whether or not, good and
evil bring their rewards and punishments in this state of being. While
it might be dangerous to infer the affirmative of this mooted point, as
it would be cutting off the future and its consequences from those whose
real hopes and fears ought to be mainly concentrated in the life that is
to come, it would seem to be presuming to suppose that principles like
these ever can be nugatory in the control even of our daily concerns.

If it be true that God "visits the sins of the fathers upon the children
even to the third and fourth generations of them that hate him," and
that the seed of the righteous man is never seen begging his bread,
there is much reason to believe that a portion of our transgressions is
to meet with its punishment here on earth. We think nothing can be more
apparent than the fact that, in the light of mere worldly expediency, an
upright and high-principled course leads to more happiness than one that
is the reverse; and if "honesty is the best policy," after all the
shifts and expedients of cupidity, so does virtue lead most unerringly
to happiness here, as it opens up the way to happiness hereafter.

All the men of the Abraham had heard of Ooroony, and of his benevolent
qualities. It was his goodness, indeed, that had been the cause of his
downfall; for had he punished Waally as he deserved to be, when the
power was in his hands, that turbulent chief, who commenced life as his
lawful tributary, would never have gained a point where he was so near
becoming his master. Every man on board now pressed around the good old
chief, who heard on all sides of him assurances of respect and
attachment, with pledges of assistance. When this touching scene was
over, Mark held a council on the quarter-deck, in which the whole matter
of the political condition of the group was discussed, and the wants and
dangers of Ooroony laid bare.

As commonly happens everywhere, civilized nations and popular
governments forming no exceptions to the rule, the ascendency of evil in
this cluster of remote and savage islands was owing altogether to the
activity and audacity of a few wicked men, rather than to the
inclination of the mass. The people greatly preferred the mild sway of
their lawful chief, to the violence and exactions of the turbulent
warrior who had worked his way into the ascendant; and, if a portion of
the population had, unwittingly, aided the latter in his designs, under
the momentary impulses of a love of change, they now fully repented of
their mistake, and would gladly see the old condition of things
restored. There was one island, in particular, which might be considered
as the seat of power in the entire group. Ooroony had been born on it,
and it had long been the residence of his family; but Waally succeeded
in driving him off of it, and of intimidating its people, who, in
secret, pined for the return of their ancient rulers. If this island

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