Part 3 out of 8
exception of the two at the helm. Their reasons for so doing were soon
apparent--several returned with cans full of liquor, which they had
obtained by forcing the hatches of the spirit-room. For about an
hour Philip remained on deck, persuading the men not to intoxicate
themselves, but in vain; the cans of grog offered to the men at the
wheel were not refused, and, in a short time, the yawing of the vessel
proved that the liquor had taken its effect. Philip then hastened down
below to ascertain if Mynheer Kloots was sufficiently recovered to
come on deck. He found him sunk into a deep sleep, and with difficulty
it was that he roused him, and made him acquainted with the
distressing intelligence. Mynheer Kloots followed Philip on deck, but
he still suffered from his fall: his head was confused, and he reeled
as he walked, as if he also had been making free with the liquor. When
he had been on deck a few minutes, he sank down on one of the guns in
a state of perfect helplessness; he had, in fact, received a severe
concussion of the brain. Hillebrant was too severely injured to
be able to move from his bed, and Philip was now aware of the
helplessness of their situation. Daylight gradually disappeared, and,
as darkness came upon them, so did the scene become more appalling.
The vessel still ran before the gale, but the men at the helm had
evidently changed her course, as the wind that was on the starboard
was now on the larboard quarter. But compass there was none on deck,
and, even if there had been, the men in their drunken state would have
refused to listen to Philip's orders or expostulations. "He," they
said, "was no sailor, and was not to teach them how to steer the ship"
The gale was now at its height. The rain had ceased, but the wind had
increased, and it roared as it urged on the vessel, which, steered so
wide by the drunken sailors, shipped seas over each gunnel; but the
men laughed and joined the chorus of their songs to the howling of the
Schriften, the pilot, appeared to be the leader of the ship's company.
With the can of liquor in his hand, he danced and sang, snapped his
fingers, and, like a demon, peered with his one eye upon Philip; and
then would he fall and roll with screams of laughter in the scuppers.
More liquor was handed up as fast as it was called for. Oaths,
shrieks, laughter, were mingled together; the men at the helm lashed
it amidships, and hastened to join their companions, and the _Ter
Schilling_ flew before the gale; the fore-staysail being the only
sail set, checking her as she yawed to starboard or to port. Philip
remained on deck by the poop-ladder. "Strange," thought he, "that I
should stand here, the only one left now capable of acting,--that
I should be fated to look by myself upon this scene of horror and
disgust--should here wait the severing of this vessel's timbers,--the
loss of life which must accompany it,--the only one calm and
collected, or aware of what must soon take place. God forgive me, but
I appear, useless and impotent as I am, to stand here like the master
of the storm,--separated as it were from my brother mortals by my
own peculiar destiny. It must be so. This wreck then must not be for
me,--I feel that it is not,--that I have a charmed life, or rather a
protracted one, to fulfil the oath I registered in heaven. But the
wind is not so loud, surely the water is not so rough: my forebodings
may be wrong, and all may yet be saved. Heaven grant it! For how
melancholy, how lamentable is it, to behold men created in God's own
image, leaving the world, disgraced below the brute creation!"
Philip was right in supposing that the wind was not so strong, nor
the sea so high. The vessel, after running to the southward till past
Table Bay, had, by the alteration made in her course, entered into
False Bay, where, to a certain degree, she was sheltered from the
violence of the winds and waves. But, although the water was smoother,
the waves were still more than sufficient to beat to pieces any vessel
that might be driven on shore at the bottom of the bay, to which point
the _Ter Schilling_ was now running. The bay so far offered a fair
chance of escape, as, instead of the rocky coast outside (against
which, had the vessel run, a few seconds would have insured her
destruction), there was a shelving beach of loose sand. But of this
Philip could, of course, have no knowledge, for the land at the
entrance of the Bay had been passed unperceived in the darkness of the
night. About twenty minutes more had elapsed, when Philip observed
that the whole sea around them was one continued foam. He had hardly
time for conjecture before the ship struck heavily on the sands, and
the remaining masts fell by the board.
The crash of the falling masts, the heavy beating of the ship on the
sands, which caused many of her timbers to part, with a whole sea
which swept clean over the fated vessel, checked the songs and drunken
revelry of the crew. Another minute, and the vessel was swung round on
her broadside to the sea, and lay on her beam ends. Philip, who was
to windward, clung to the bulwark, while the intoxicated seamen
floundered in the water to leeward, and attempted to gain the other
side of the ship. Much to Philip's horror, he perceived the body of
Mynheer Kloots sink down in the water (which now was several feet deep
on the lee side of the deck) without any apparent effort on the part
of the captain to save himself. He was then gone, and there were no
hopes for him. Philip thought of Hillebrant, and hastened down below;
he found him still in his bed-place, lying against the side. He lifted
him out, and with difficulty climbed with him on deck, and laid him in
the long-boat on the booms, as the best chance of saving his life. To
this boat, the only one which could be made available, the crew had
also repaired; but they repulsed Philip, who would have got into her;
and, as the sea made clean breakers over them, they cast loose the
lashings which confined her. With the assistance of another heavy sea
which lifted her from the chocks, she was borne clear of the booms
and dashed over the gunnel into the water, to leeward, which was
comparatively smooth--not, however, without being filled nearly up to
the thwarts. But this was little cared for by the intoxicated seamen,
who, as soon as they were afloat, again raised their shouts and songs
of revelry as they were borne away by the wind and sea towards the
beach. Philip, who held on by the stump of the mainmast, watched them
with an anxious eye, now perceiving them borne aloft on the foaming
surf, now disappearing in the trough. More and more distant were the
sounds of their mad voices, till, at last, he could hear them no
more,--he beheld the boat balanced on an enormous rolling sea, and
then he saw it not again.
Philip knew that now his only chance was to remain with the vessel,
and attempt to save himself upon some fragment of the wreck. That the
ship would long hold together he felt was impossible; already she had
parted her upper decks, and each shock of the waves divided her more
and more. At last, as he clung to the mast, he heard a noise abaft,
and he then recollected that Mynheer Von Stroom was still in his
cabin. Philip crawled aft, and found that the poop-ladder had been
thrown against the cabin door, so as to prevent its being opened. He
removed it and entered the cabin, where he found Mynheer Von Stroom
clinging to windward with the grasp of death,--but it was not death,
but the paralysis of fear. He spoke to him, but could obtain no reply;
he attempted to move him, but it was impossible to make him let go the
part of the bulk-head that he grasped. A loud noise and the rush of a
mass of water told Philip that the vessel had parted amidships, and he
unwillingly abandoned the poor supercargo to his fate, and went out
of the cabin door. At the after-hatchway he observed something
struggling,--it was Johannes the bear, who was swimming, but still
fastened by a cord which prevented his escape. Philip took out his
knife, and released the poor animal, and hardly had he done this act
of kindness when a heavy sea turned over the after part of the vessel,
which separated in many pieces, and Philip found himself struggling in
the waves. He seized upon a part of the deck which supported him, and
was borne away by the surf towards the beach. In a few minutes he was
near to the land, and shortly afterwards the piece of planking to
which he was clinging struck on the sand, and then, being turned over
by the force of the running wave, Philip lost his hold, and was left
to his own exertions. He struggled long, but, although so near to the
shore, could not gain a footing; the returning wave dragged him back,
and thus was he hurled to and fro until his strength was gone. He was
sinking under the wave to rise no more, when he felt something touch
his hand. He seized it with the grasp of death. It was the shaggy
hide of the bear Johannes, who was making for the shore, and who soon
dragged him clear of the surf, so that he could gain a footing. Philip
crawled up the beach above the reach of the waves, and, exhausted with
fatigue, sank down in a swoon.
When Philip was recalled from his state of lethargy, his first feeling
was intense pain in his still closed eyes, arising from having been
many hours exposed to the rays of an ardent sun. He opened them, but
was obliged to close them immediately, for the light entered into them
like the point of a knife. He turned over on his side, and covering
them with his hand, remained some time in that position, until, by
degrees, he found that his eyesight was restored. He then rose, and,
after a few seconds could distinguish the scene around him. The sea
was still rough, and tossed about in the surf fragments of the vessel;
the whole sand was strewed with her cargo and contents. Near him was
the body of Hillebrant, and the other bodies who were scattered on the
beach told him that those who had taken to the boat had all perished.
It was, by the height of the sun, about three o'clock in the
afternoon, as near as he could estimate; but Philip suffered such an
oppression of mind, he felt so wearied, and in such pain, that he took
but a slight survey. His brain was whirling, and all he demanded was
repose. He walked away from the scene of destruction, and having found
a sandhill, behind which he was defended from the burning rays of the
sun, he again lay down, and sank into a deep sleep, from which he did
not wake until the ensuing morning.
Philip was roused a second time by the sensation of something pricking
him on the chest. He started up, and beheld a figure standing over
him. His eyes were still feeble, and his vision indistinct; he rubbed
them for a time, for he first thought it was the bear Johannes, and
again that it was the supercargo Von Stroom who had appeared before
him; he looked again, and found that he was mistaken, although he had
warrant for supposing it to be either or both. A tall Hottentot, with
an assagai in his hand, stood by his side; over his shoulder he had
thrown the fresh-severed skin of the poor bear, and on his head,
with the curls descending to his waist, was one of the wigs of the
supercargo Von Stroom. Such was the gravity of the black's appearance
in this strange costume (for in every other respect he was naked),
that, at any other time, Philip would have been induced to laugh
heartily, but his feelings were now too acute. He rose upon his feet
and stood by the side of the Hottentot, who still continued immovable,
but certainly without the slightest appearance of hostile intentions.
A sensation of overpowering thirst now seized upon Philip, and he
made signs that he wished to drink. The Hottentot motioned to him
to follow, and led over the sand-hills to the beach, where Philip
discovered upwards of fifty men, who were busy selecting various
articles from the scattered stores of the vessel. It was evident by
the respect paid to Philip's conductor, that he was the chief of
the kraal. A few words, uttered with the greatest solemnity, were
sufficient to produce, though not exactly what Philip required, a
small quantity of dirty water from a calabash, which, however, was, to
him, delicious. His conductor then waved to him to take a seat on the
It was a novel and appalling, and nevertheless a ludicrous scene:
there was the white sand, rendered still more white by the strong
glare of the sun, strewed with the fragments of the vessel, with casks
and bales of merchandise; there was the running surge with its foam,
throwing about particles of the wreck; there were the bones of whales
which had been driven on shore in some former gale, and which now,
half-buried in the sand, showed portions of huge skeletons; there were
the mangled bodies of Philip's late companions, whose clothes, it
appeared, had been untouched by the savages, with the exception of
the buttons, which had been eagerly sought after; there were naked
Hottentots (for it was summer time, and they wore not their sheepskin
krosses) gravely stepping up and down the sand, picking up everything
that was of no value, and leaving all that civilised people most
coveted;--to crown all, there was the chief, sitting in the still
bloody skin of Johannes and the broad-bottomed wig of Mynheer Stroom,
with all the gravity of a vice-chancellor in his countenance, and
without the slightest idea that he was in any way ridiculous. The
whole presented, perhaps, one of the most strange and chaotic tableaux
that ever was witnessed.
Although, at that time, the Dutch had not very long formed their
settlement at the Cape, a considerable traffic had been, for many
years, carried on with the natives for skins and other African
productions. The Hottentots were therefore no strangers to vessels,
and, as hitherto they had been treated with kindness, were
well-disposed towards Europeans. After a time, the Hottentots began
to collect all the wood which appeared to have iron in it, made it up
into several piles, and set them on fire. The chief then made a
sign to Philip, to ask him if he was hungry; Philip replied in the
affirmative, when his new acquaintance put his hand into a bag made
of goat-skin, and pulled out a handful of very large beetles, and
presented them to him. Philip refused them with marks of disgust,
upon which the chief very sedately cracked and ate them; and having
finished the whole handful, rose, and made a sign to Philip to follow
him. As Philip rose, he perceived floating on the surf his own chest;
he hastened to it, and made signs that it was his, took the key out of
his pocket, and opened it, and then made up a bundle of articles
most useful, not forgetting a bag of guilders. His conductor made no
objection, but calling to one of the men near, pointed out the lock
and hinges to him, and then set off, followed by Philip, across the
sand-hills. In about an hour they arrived at the kraal, consisting of
low huts covered with skins, and were met by the women and children,
who appeared to be in high admiration at their chief's new attire:
they showed every kindness to Philip, bringing him milk, which he
drank eagerly. Philip surveyed these daughters of Eve, and, as he
turned from their offensive, greasy attire, their strange forms, and
hideous features, he sighed and thought of his charming Amine.
The sun was now setting, and Philip still felt fatigued. He made
signs that he wished to repose. They led him into a hut, and, though
surrounded as he was with filth, and his nose assailed by every
variety of bad smell, attacked moreover by insects, he laid his head
on his bundle, and uttering a short prayer of thanksgiving, was soon
in a sound sleep.
The next morning he was awakened by the chief of the kraal,
accompanied by another man who spoke a little Dutch. He stated his
wish to be taken to the settlement where the ships came and anchored,
and was fully understood; but the man said that there were no ships in
the bay at the time. Philip nevertheless requested he might be taken
there, as he felt that his best chance of getting on board of any
vessel would be by remaining at the settlement, and, at all events,
he would be in the company of Europeans until a vessel arrived. The
distance he discovered was but one day's march, or less. After some
little conversation with the chief, the man who spoke Dutch desired
Philip to follow him, and he would take him there. Philip drank
plentifully from a bowl of milk brought him by one of the women, and
again refusing a handful of beetles offered by the chief, he took up
his bundle, and followed his new acquaintance.
Towards evening they arrived at the hills, from which Philip had a
view of Table Bay, and the few houses erected by the Dutch. To his
delight, he perceived that there was a vessel under sail in the
offing. On his arrival at the beach, to which he hastened, he found
that she had sent a boat on shore for fresh provisions. He accosted
the people, told them who he was, told them also of the fatal wreck of
the _Ter Schilling_, and of his wish to embark.
The officer in charge of the boat willingly consented to take him on
board, and informed Philip that they were homeward bound. Philip's
heart leaped at the intelligence. Had she been outward bound, he would
have joined her; but now he had a prospect of again seeing his dear
Amine, before he re-embarked to follow out his peculiar destiny. He
felt that there was still some happiness in store for him, that his
life was to be chequered with alternate privation and repose, and that
his future prospect was not to be one continued chain of suffering
He was kindly received by the captain of the vessel, who freely gave
him a passage home; and in three months, without any events worth
narrating, Philip Vanderdecken found himself once more at anchor
before the town of Amsterdam.
It need hardly be observed, that Philip made all possible haste to his
own little cottage, which contained all that he valued in this world.
He promised to himself some months of happiness, for he had done his
duty; and he felt that, however desirous of fulfilling his vow, he
could not again leave home till the autumn, when the next fleet
sailed, and it was now but the commencement of April. Much, too, as he
regretted the loss of Mynheer Kloots and Hillebrant, as well as the
deaths of the unfortunate crew, still there was some solace in the
remembrance that he was for ever rid of the wretch Schriften, who had
shared their fate; and besides, he almost blessed the wreck, so fatal
to others, which enabled him so soon to return to the arms of his
It was late in the evening when Philip took a boat from Flushing, and
went over to his cottage at Terneuse. It was a rough evening for the
season of the year. The wind blew fresh, and the sky was covered with
flaky clouds, fringed here and there with broad white edges, for the
light of the moon was high in the heavens, and she was at her full. At
times her light would be almost obscured by a dark cloud passing over
her disc; at others, she would burst out in all her brightness. Philip
landed, and wrapping his cloak round him, hastened up to his cottage.
As with a beating heart he approached, he perceived that the window of
the parlour was open, and that there was a female figure leaning
out. He knew that it could be no other than his Amine, and, after he
crossed the little bridge, he proceeded to the window, instead of
going to the door. Amine (for it was she who stood at the window) was
so absorbed in contemplation of the heavens above her, and so deep in
communion with her own thoughts, that she neither saw nor heard the
approach of her husband. Philip perceived her abstraction, and paused
when within four or five yards of her. He wished to gain the door
without being observed, as he was afraid of alarming her by his too
sudden appearance, for he remembered his promise, "that if dead he
would, if permitted, visit her as his father had visited his mother."
But while he thus stood in suspense, Amine's eyes were turned upon
him: she beheld him, but a thick cloud now obscured the moon's disc,
and the dim light gave to his form, indistinctly seen, an unearthly
and shadowy appearance. She recognised her husband; but having no
reason to expect his return, she recognised him as an inhabitant of
the world of spirits. She started, parted the hair away from her
forehead with both hands, and again earnestly gazed on him.
"It is I, Amine, do not be afraid," cried Philip, hastily.
"I am not afraid," replied Amine, pressing her hand to her heart. "It
is over now: spirit of my dear husband--for such I think thou art, I
thank thee! Welcome, even in death, Philip, welcome!" and Amine waved
her hand mournfully, inviting Philip to enter, as she retired from the
"My God! she thinks me dead," thought Philip, and hardly knowing how
to act, he entered in at the window, and found her sitting on the
sofa. Philip would have spoken; but Amine, whose eyes were fixed upon
him as he entered, and who was fully convinced that he was but a
supernatural appearance, exclaimed--
"So soon--so soon! O God! thy will be done: but it is hard to bear.
Philip, beloved Philip! I feel that I soon shall follow you."
Philip was now more alarmed: he was fearful of any sudden reaction
when Amine should discover that he was still alive.
"Amine, dear, hear me. I have appeared unexpectedly, and at an unusual
hour; but throw yourself into my arms, and you will find that your
Philip is not dead."
"Not dead!" cried Amine, starting up.
"No, no, still warm in flesh and blood, Amine--still your fond and
doting husband," replied Philip, catching her in his arms, and
pressing her to his heart.
Amine sank from his embrace down upon the sofa, and fortunately was
relieved by a burst of tears, while Philip, kneeling by her, supported
"O God! O God! I thank thee," replied Amine, at last. "I thought it
was your spirit, Philip. O I was glad to see even that," continued
she, weeping on his shoulder.
"Can you listen to me, dearest?" said Philip, after a silence of a few
"O speak, speak, love; I can listen for ever."
In a few words Philip then recounted what had taken place, and the
occasion of his unexpected return, and felt himself more than repaid
for all that he had suffered by the fond endearments of his still
"And your father, Amine?"
"He is well--we will talk of him to-morrow."
"Yes," thought Philip, as he awoke next morning, and dwelt upon the
lovely features of his still slumbering wife: "yes, God is merciful.
I feel that there is still happiness in store for me; nay more, that
that happiness also depends upon my due performance of my task, and
that I should be punished if I were to forget my solemn vow. Be it
so,--through danger and to death will I perform my duty, trusting to
his mercy for a reward both here below and in heaven above. Am I not
repaid for all that I have suffered? O yes, more than repaid," thought
Philip, as, with a kiss, he disturbed the slumber of his wife, and met
her full dark eyes fixed upon him, beaming with love and joy.
Before Philip Went downstairs, he inquired about Mynheer Poots.
"My father has indeed troubled me much," replied Amine. "I am obliged
to lock the parlour when I leave it, for more than once I have found
him attempting to force the locks of the buffets. His love of gold is
insatiable: he dreams of nothing else. He has caused me much pain,
insisting that I never should see you again, and that I should
surrender to him all your wealth. But he fears me, and he fears your
return much more."
"Is he well in health?"
"Not ill, but still evidently wasting away,--like a candle burnt down
to the socket, flitting and flaring alternately; at one time almost
imbecile, at others, talking and planning as if he were in the vigour
of his youth. O what a curse it must be--that love of money! I
believe--I'm shocked to say so, Philip,--that that poor old man,
now on the brink of a grave into which he can take nothing, would
sacrifice your life and mine to have possession of those guilders, the
whole of which I would barter for one kiss from thee."
"Indeed, Amine, has he then attempted anything in my absence?"
"I dare not speak my thoughts, Philip, nor will I venture
upon surmises, which it were difficult to prove. I watch him
carefully;--but talk no more about him. You will see him soon, and do
not expect a hearty welcome, or believe that, if given, it is sincere.
I will not tell him of your return, as I wish to mark the effect."
Amine then descended to prepare breakfast, and Philip walked out for
a few minutes. On his return, he found Mynheer Poots sitting at the
table with his daughter.
"Merciful Allah! am I right?" cried the old man: "is it you, Mynheer
"Even so," replied Philip, "I returned last night."
"And you did not tell me, Amine."
"I wished that you should be surprised," replied Amine.
"I am surprised! When do you sail again, Mynheer Philip? very soon, I
suppose? perhaps to-morrow?" said Mynheer Poots.
"Not for many months, I trust," replied Philip.
"Not for many months!--that is a long while to be idle. You must make
money. Tell me, have you brought back plenty this time?"
"No," replied Philip; "I have been wrecked, and very nearly lost my
"But you will go again?"
"Yes, in good time I shall go again."
"Very well, we will take care of your house and your guilders."
"I shall perhaps save you the trouble of taking care of my guilders,"
replied Philip, to annoy the old man, "for I mean to take them with
"To take them with you! for what, pray?" replied Poots, in alarm.
"To purchase goods where I go, and make more money."
"But you may be wrecked again, and then the money will be all lost.
No, no; go yourself, Mynheer Philip; but you must not take your
"Indeed I will," replied Philip; "when I leave this, I shall take all
my money with me."
During this conversation it occurred to Philip that, if Mynheer Poots
could only be led to suppose that he took away his money with him,
there would be more quiet for Amine, who was now obliged, as she had
informed him, to be constantly on the watch. He determined, therefore,
when he next departed, to make the doctor believe that he had taken
his wealth with him.
Mynheer Poots did not renew the conversation, but sank into gloomy
thought. In a few minutes he left the parlour, and went up to his own
room, when Philip stated to his wife what had induced him to make the
old man believe that he should embark his property.
"It was thoughtful of you, Philip, and I thank you for your kind
feeling towards me; but I wish you had said nothing on the subject.
You do not know my father; I must now watch him as an enemy."
"We have little to fear from an infirm old man," replied Philip,
laughing. But Amine thought otherwise, and was ever on her guard.
The spring and summer passed rapidly away, for they were happy. Many
were the conversations between Philip and Amine, relative to what had
passed--the supernatural appearance of his father's ship, and the
Amine felt that more dangers and difficulties were preparing for her
husband, but she never once attempted to dissuade him from renewing
his attempts in fulfilment of his vow. Like him, she looked forward
with hope and confidence, aware that, at some time, his fate must be
accomplished, and trusting only that that hour would be long delayed.
At the close of the summer, Philip again went to Amsterdam, to procure
for himself a berth in one of the vessels which were to sail at the
approach of winter.
The wreck of the _Ter Schilling_ was well known; and the circumstances
attending it, with the exception of the appearance of the Phantom
Ship, had been drawn up by Philip on his passage home, and
communicated to the Court of Directors. Not only on account of the
very creditable manner in which that report had been prepared, but
in consideration of his peculiar sufferings and escape, he had been
promised by the Company a berth, as second mate, on board of one of
their vessels, should he be again inclined to sail to the East Indies.
Having called upon the Directors, he received his appointment to the
_Batavia_, a fine vessel of about 400 tons burden. Having effected his
purpose, Philip hastened back to Terneuse, and, in the presence of
Mynheer Poots, informed Amine of what he had done.
"So you go to sea again?" observed Mynheer Poots.
"Yes, but not for two months, I expect," replied Philip.
"Ah!" replied Poots, "in two months!" and the old man muttered to
How true it is that we can more easily bear up against a real evil
than against suspense! Let it not be supposed that Amine fretted
at the thought of her approaching separation from her husband; she
lamented it, but feeling his departure to be an imperious duty, and
having it ever in her mind, she bore up against her feelings, and
submitted, without repining, to what could not be averted. There was,
however, one circumstance, which caused her much uneasiness--that was
the temper and conduct of her father. Amine, who knew his character
well, perceived that he already secretly hated Philip, whom he
regarded as an obstacle to his obtaining possession of the money in
the house; for the old man was well aware that, if Philip were dead,
his daughter would care little who had possession of, or what became
of it. The thought that Philip was about to take that money with him
had almost turned the brain of the avaricious old man. He had been
watched by Amine, and she had seen him walk for hours muttering to
himself, and not, as usual, attending to his profession.
A few evenings after his return from Amsterdam, Philip, who had taken
cold, complained of not being well.
"Not well!" cried the old man, starting up; "let me see--yes, your
pulse is very quick. Amine, your poor husband is very ill. He must go
to bed, and I will give him something which will do him good. I shall
charge you nothing, Philip--nothing at all."
"I do not feel so very unwell, Mynheer Poots," replied Philip; I have
had a bad headache certainly."
"Yes, and you have fever also, Philip, and prevention is better than
cure; so go to bed, and take what I send you, and you will be well
Philip went upstairs, accompanied by Amine; and Mynheer Poots went
into his own room to prepare the medicine. So soon as Philip was in
bed, Amine went downstairs, and was met by her father, who put a
powder into her hands to give to her husband, and then left the
"God forgive me if I wrong my father," thought Amine; "but I have my
doubts. Philip is ill, more so than he will acknowledge; and if he
does not take some remedies, he may be worse--but my heart misgives
me--I have a foreboding. Yet surely he cannot be so diabolically
Amine examined the contents of the paper: it was a very small quantity
of dark brown powder, and, by the directions of Mynheer Poots, to be
given in a tumbler of warm wine. Mynheer Poots had offered to heat the
wine. His return from the kitchen broke Amine's meditations.
"Here is the wine, my child; now give him a whole tumbler of wine, and
the powder, and let him be covered up warm, for the perspiration will
soon burst out, and it must not be checked. Watch him, Amine, and keep
the clothes on, and he will be well to-morrow morning." And Mynheer
Poots quitted the room, saying, "Good-night, my child."
Amine poured out the powder into one of the silver mugs upon the
table, and then proceeded to mix it up with the wine. Her suspicions
had, for the time, been removed by the kind tone of her father's
voice. To do him justice as a medical practitioner, he appeared always
to be most careful of his patients. When Amine mixed the powder, she
examined and perceived that there was no sediment, and the wine was as
clear as before. This was unusual, and her suspicions revived.
"I like it not," said she; "I fear my father--God help me!--I hardly
know what to do--I will not give it to Philip. The warm wine may
produce perspiration sufficient."
Amine paused, and again reflected. She had mixed the powder with so
small a portion of wine that it did not fill a quarter of the cup; she
put it on one side, filled another up to the brim with the warm wine,
and then went up to the bedroom.
On the landing-place she was met by her father, whom she supposed to
have retired to rest.
"Take care you do not spill it, Amine. That is right, let him have a
whole cupful. Stop, give it to me; I will take it to him myself."
Mynheer Poots took the cup from Amine's hands, and went into Philip's
"Here, my son, drink this off, and you will be well," said Mynheer
Poots, whose hand trembled so that he spilt the wine on the coverlet.
Amine, who watched her father, was more than ever pleased that she had
not put the powder into the cup. Philip rose on his elbow, drank off
the wine, and Mynheer Poots then wished him good-night.
"Do not leave him, Amine, I will see all right," said Mynheer Poots,
as he left the room. And Amine, who had intended to go down for the
candle left in the parlour, remained with her husband, to whom she
confided her feelings, and also the fact that she had not given him
"I trust that you are mistaken, Amine," replied Philip, "indeed I
feel sure that you must be. No man can be so bad as you suppose your
"You have not lived with him as I have; you have not seen what I have
seen," replied Amine. "You know not what gold will tempt people to do
in this world--but, however, I may be wrong. At all events, you must
go to sleep, and I shall watch you, dearest. Pray do not speak--I feel
I cannot sleep just now--I wish to read a little--I will lie down
Philip made no further objections, and was soon in a sound sleep, and
Amine watched him in silence till midnight long had passed.
"He breathes heavily," thought Amine; "but had I given him that
powder, who knows if he had ever awoke again? My father is so deeply
skilled in the Eastern knowledge, that I fear him. Too often has he,
I well know, for a purse well filled with gold, prepared the sleep of
death. Another would shudder at the thought; but he, who has dealt out
death at the will of his employers, would scruple little to do so even
to the husband of his own daughter; and I have watched him in his
moods, and know his thoughts and wishes. What a foreboding of mishap
has come over me this evening!--what a fear of evil! Philip is ill,
'tis true, but not so very ill. No! no! besides, his time is not yet
come; he has his dreadful task to finish. I would it were morning. How
soundly he sleeps! and the dew is on his brow. I must cover him
up warm, and watch that he remains so. Some one knocks at the
entrance-door. Now will they wake him. 'Tis a summons for my father."
Amine left the room, and hastened downstairs. It was, as she supposed,
a summons for Mynheer Poots to a woman taken in labour.
"He shall follow you directly," said Amine; "I will now call him up."
Amine went upstairs to the room where her father slept, and knocked;
hearing no answer, as usual, she knocked again.
"My father is not used to sleep in this way," thought Amine, when she
found no answer to her second call. She opened the door and went in.
To her surprise, her father was not in bed. "Strange," thought she;
"but I do not recollect having heard his footsteps coming up after he
went down to take away the lights." And Amine hastened to the parlour,
where, stretched on the sofa, she discovered her father apparently
fast asleep; but to her call he gave no answer. "Merciful Heaven! is
he dead?" thought she, approaching the light to her father's face.
Yes, it was so! his eyes were fixed and glazed--his lower jaw had
For some minutes, Amine leant against the wall in a state of
bewilderment; her brain whirled; at last she recovered herself.
"'Tis to be proved at once," thought she, as she went up to the table,
and looked into the silver cup in which she had mixed the powder--it
was empty! "The God of Righteousness hath punished him!" exclaimed
Amine; "but, O! that this man should have been my father! Yes! it is
plain. Frightened at his own wicked, damned intentions, he poured out
more wine from the flagon, to blunt his feelings of remorse; and not
knowing that the powder was still in the cup, he filled it up, and
drank himself--the death he meant for another! For another!--and for
whom? one wedded to his own daughter!--Philip! my husband! Wert thou
not my father," continued Amine, looking at the dead body, "I would
spit upon thee, and curse thee! but thou art punished, and may God
forgive thee! thou poor, weak, wicked creature!"
Amine then left the room, and went upstairs, where she found Philip
still fast asleep, and in a profuse perspiration. Most women would
have awakened their husbands, but Amine thought not of herself; Philip
was ill, and Amine would not arouse him to agitate him. She sat down
by the side of the bed, and with her hands pressed upon her forehead,
and her elbows resting on her knees, she remained in deep thought
until the sun had risen and poured his bright beams through the
She was roused from her reflections by another summons at the door of
the cottage. She hastened down to the entrance, but did not open the
"Mynheer Poots is required immediately," said the girl, who was the
"My good Therese," replied Amine, "my father has more need of
assistance than the poor woman; for his travail in this world, I fear,
is well over. I found him very ill when I went to call him, and he
has not been able to quit his bed. I must now entreat you to do my
message, and desire Father Seysen to come hither; for my poor father
is, I fear, in extremity."
"Mercy on me!" replied Therese. "Is it so? Fear not but I will do your
bidding, Mistress Amine."
The second knocking had awakened Philip, who felt that he was much
better, and his headache had left him. He perceived that Amine had not
taken any rest that night, and he was about to expostulate with her,
when she at once told him what had occurred.
"You must dress yourself, Philip," continued she, "and must assist me
to carry up his body, and place it in his bed, before the arrival of
the priest. God of mercy! had I given you that powder, my dearest
Philip--but let us not talk about it. Be quick, for Father Seysen will
be here soon."
Philip was soon dressed, and followed Amine down into the parlour. The
sun shone bright, and his rays were darted upon the haggard face of
the old man, whose fists were clenched, and his tongue fixed between
the teeth on one side of his mouth.
"Alas! this room appears to be fatal. How many more scenes of horror
are to pass within it?"
"None, I trust," replied Amine; "this is not, to my mind, the scene of
horror. It was when that old man (now called away--and a victim of his
own treachery) stood by your bedside, and with every mark of interest
and kindness, offered you the cup--_that_ was the scene of horror,"
said Amine, shuddering--"one which long will haunt me."
"God forgive him! as I do," replied Philip, lifting up the body, and
carrying it up the stairs to the room which had been occupied by
"Let it at least be supposed that he died in his bed, and that his
death was natural," said Amine. "My pride cannot bear that this
should be known, or that I should be pointed at as the daughter of a
murderer! O Philip!"
Amine sat down, and burst into tears.
Her husband was attempting to console her, when Father Seysen knocked
at the door. Philip hastened down to open it.
"Good morning, my son. How is the sufferer?"
"He has ceased to suffer, father."
"Indeed!" replied the good priest, with sorrow in his countenance; "am
I then too late? yet have I not tarried."
"He went off suddenly, father, in a convulsion," replied Philip,
leading the way upstairs.
Father Seysen looked at the body and perceived that his offices were
needless, and then turned to Amine, who had not yet checked her tears.
"Weep, my child, weep! for you have cause," said the priest. "The
loss of a father's love must be a severe trial to a dutiful and
affectionate child. But yield not too much to your grief, Amine; you
have other duties, other ties, my child--you have your husband."
"I know it, father," replied Amine; "still must I weep, for I was
"Did he not go to bed last night, then, that his clothes are still
upon him? When did he first complain?"
"The last time that I saw him, father," replied Philip, "he came into
my room, and gave me some medicine, and then he wished me good-night.
Upon a summons to attend a sick-bed, my wife went to call him, and
found him speechless."
"It has been sudden," replied the priest; "but he was an old man, and
old men sink at once. Were you with him when he died?"
"I was not, sir," replied Philip; "before my wife had summoned me and
I had dressed myself, he had left this world."
"I trust, my children, for a better." Amine shuddered. "Tell me,
Amine," continued the priest, "did he show signs of grace before
he died? for you know full well that he has long been looked on as
doubtful in his creed, and little attentive to the rites of our holy
"There are times, holy father," replied Amine, "when even a sincere
Christian can be excused, even if he give no sign. Look at his
clenched hands, witness the agony of death on his face, and could you,
in that state, expect a sign?"
"Alas! 'tis but too true, my child; we must then hope for the best.
Kneel with me, my children, and let us offer up a prayer for the soul
of the departed."
Philip and Amine knelt with the priest, who prayed fervently; and
as they rose, they exchanged a glance which fully revealed what was
passing in the mind of each.
"I will send the people to do their offices for the dead, and prepare
the body for interment," said Father Seysen; "but it were as well not
to say that he was dead before I arrived, or to let it be supposed
that he was called away without receiving the consolations of our holy
Philip motioned his head in assent as he stood at the foot of the
bed, and the priest departed. There had always been a strong feeling
against Mynheer Poots in the village;--his neglect of all religious
duties--the doubt whether he was even a member of the church--his
avarice and extortion--had created for him a host of enemies; but, at
the same time, his great medical skill, which was fully acknowledged,
rendered him of importance. Had it been known that his creed (if he
had any) was Mahometan, and that he had died in attempting to poison
his son-in-law, it is certain that Christian burial would have been
refused him, and the finger of scorn would have been pointed at his
daughter. But as Father Seysen, when questioned, said, in a mild
voice, that "he had departed in peace," it was presumed that Mynheer
Poots had died a good Christian, although he had acted little up to
the tenets of Christianity during his life. The next day the remains
of the old man were consigned to the earth with the usual rites;
and Philip and Amine were not a little relieved in their minds at
everything having passed off so quietly.
It was not until after the funeral had taken place that Philip, in
company with Amine, examined the chamber of his father-in-law. The
key of the iron chest was found in his pocket; but Philip had not yet
looked into this darling repository of the old man. The room was full
of bottles and boxes of drugs, all of which were either thrown away,
or, if the utility of them was known to Amine, removed to a spare
room. His table contained many drawers, which were now examined,
and among the heterogeneous contents were many writings in
Arabic--probably prescriptions. Boxes and papers were also found, with
Arabic characters written upon them; and in the box which they first
took up was a powder similar to that which Mynheer Poots had given to
Amine. There were many articles and writings which made it appear that
the old man had dabbled in the occult sciences, as they were practised
at that period, and those they hastened to commit to the flames.
"Had all these been seen by Father Seysen!" observed Amine,
mournfully. "But here are some printed papers, Philip!"
Philip examined them, and found that they were acknowledgments of
shares in the Dutch East India Company.
"No, Amine, these are money, or what is as good--these are eight
shares in the Company's capital, which will yield us a handsome income
every year. I had no idea that the old man made such use of his money.
I had some intention of doing the same with a part of mine before I
went away, instead of allowing it to remain idle."
The iron chest was now to be examined. When Philip first opened it, he
imagined that it contained but little; for it was large and deep, and
appeared to be almost empty; but when he put his hands down to the
bottom, he pulled out thirty or forty small bags, the contents of
which, instead of being silver guilders, were all coins of gold; there
was only one large bag of silver money. But this was not all: several
small boxes and packets were also discovered, which, when opened, were
found to contain diamonds and other precious stones. When everything
was collected, the treasure appeared to be of great value.
"Amine, my love, you have indeed brought me an unexpected dower," said
"You may well say _unexpected_" replied Amine. "These diamonds and
jewels my father must have brought with him from Egypt. And yet how
penuriously we were living until we came to this cottage! And with all
this treasure he would have poisoned my Philip for more! God forgive
Having counted the gold, which amounted to nearly fifty thousand
guilders, the whole was replaced, and they left the room.
"I am a rich man," thought Philip, after Amine had left him; "but
of what use are riches to me? I might purchase a ship and be my own
captain, but would not the ship be lost? That certainly does not
follow; but the chances are against the vessel; therefore I will have
no ship. But is it right to sail in the vessels of others with this
feeling?--I know not; this, however, I know, that I have a duty to
perform, and that all our lives are in the hands of a kind Providence,
which calls us away when he thinks fit. I will place most of my money
in the shares of the Company, and if I sail in their vessels, and they
come to misfortune by meeting with my poor father, at least I shall
be a common sufferer with the rest. And now to make my Amine more
Philip immediately made a great alteration in their style of living.
Two female servants were hired: the rooms were more comfortably
furnished; and in everything in which his wife's comfort and
convenience were concerned, he spared no expense. He wrote to
Amsterdam and purchased several shares in the Company's stock. The
diamonds and his own money he still left in the hands of Amine. In
making these arrangements the two months passed rapidly away, and
everything was complete when Philip again received his summons, by
letter, to desire that he would join his vessel. Amine would have
wished Philip to go out as a passenger instead of going as an officer,
but Philip preferred the latter, as otherwise he could give no reason
for his voyage to India.
"I know not why," observed Philip, the evening before his departure,
"but I do not feel as I did when I last went away; I have no
foreboding of evil this time."
"Nor have I," replied Amine; "but I feel as if you would be long away
from me, Philip; and is not that an evil to a fond and anxious wife?"
"Yes, love, it is; but--"
"O yes, I know it is your duty, and you must go," replied Amine,
burying her face in his bosom.
The next day Philip parted from his wife, who behaved with more
fortitude than on their first separation. "_All_ were lost, but _he_
was saved," thought Amine. "I feel that he will return to me. God of
Heaven, thy will be done!"
Philip soon arrived at Amsterdam; and having purchased many things
which he thought might be advantageous to him in case of accident, to
which he now looked forward as almost certain, he embarked on board
the _Batavia_, which was lying at single anchor, and ready for sea.
Philip had not been long on board, ere he found that they were not
likely to have a very comfortable passage; for the _Batavia_ was
chartered to convey a large detachment of troops to Ceylon and Java,
for the purpose of recruiting and strengthening the Company's forces
at those places. She was to quit the fleet off Madagascar, and run
direct for the Island of Java; the number of soldiers on board being
presumed sufficient to insure the ship against any attack or accidents
from pirates or enemies' cruisers. The _Batavia_, moreover, mounted
thirty guns, and had a crew of seventy-five men. Besides military
stores, which formed the principal part of her cargo, she had on board
a large quantity of specie for the Indian market. The detachment of
soldiers was embarking when Philip went on board, and in a few minutes
the decks were so crowded that it was hardly possible to move. Philip,
who had not yet spoken to the captain, found out the first mate,
and immediately entered upon his duty, with which, from his close
application to it during his former voyage and passage home, he was
much better acquainted than might have been imagined.
In a short time all traces of hurry and confusion began to disappear,
the baggage of the troops was stowed away, and the soldiers having
been told off in parties, and stationed with their messing utensils
between the guns of the main deck, room was thus afforded for working
the ship. Philip showed great activity as well as method in the
arrangements proposed, and the captain, during a pause in his own
arduous duties, said to him--
"I thought you were taking it very easy, Mr Vanderdecken, in not
joining the ship before, but, now you are on board, you are making up
for lost time. You have done more during the forenoon than I could
have expected. I am glad that you are come, though very sorry you were
not here when we were stowing the hold, which, I am afraid, is not
arranged quite so well as it might be. Mynheer Struys, the first mate,
has had more to do than he could well give attention to."
"I am sorry that I should not have been here, sir," replied Philip;
"but I came as soon as the Company sent me word."
"Yes, and as they know that you are a married man, and do not forget
that you are a great shareholder, they would not trouble you too soon.
I presume you will have the command of a vessel next voyage. In fact,
you are certain of it, with the capital you have invested in their
funds. I had a conversation with one of the senior accountants on the
subject this very morning."
Philip was not very sorry that his money had been put out to such
good interest, as to be the captain of a ship was what he earnestly
desired. He replied, that, "he certainly did hope to command a ship
after the next voyage, when he trusted that he should feel himself
quite competent to the charge."
"No doubt, no doubt, Mr Vanderdecken. I can see that clearly. You must
be very fond of the sea."
"I am," replied Philip; "I doubt whether I shall ever give it up."
"_Never_ give it up! You think so now. You are young, active, and full
of hope: but you will tire of it by-and-bye, and be glad to lay by for
the rest of your days."
"How many troops do we embark?" inquired Philip.
"Two hundred and forty-five rank and file, and six officers. Poor
fellows! there are but few of them will ever return: nay, more than
one-half will not see another birthday. It is a dreadful climate. I
have landed three hundred men at that horrid hole, and in six months,
even before I had sailed, there were not one hundred left alive."
"It is almost murder to send them there," observed Philip.
"Psha! they must die somewhere, and if they die a little sooner, what
matter? Life is a commodity to be bought and sold like any other. We
send so much manufactured goods and so much money to barter for Indian
commodities. We also send out so much life, and it gives a good return
to the Company."
"But not to the poor soldiers, I am afraid."
"No; the Company buy it cheap and sell it dear," replied the captain,
who walked forward.
True, thought Philip, they do purchase human life cheap, and make a
rare profit of it, for without these poor fellows how could they hold
their possessions in spite of native and foreign enemies? For what a
paltry and cheap annuity do these men sell their lives? For what a
miserable pittance do they dare all the horrors of a most deadly
climate, without a chance, a hope of return to their native land,
where they might haply repair their exhausted energies, and take a
new lease of life! Good God! if these men may be thus heartlessly
sacrificed to Mammon, why should I feel remorse if, in the fulfilment
of a sacred duty imposed on me by Him who deals with us as He thinks
meet, a few mortals perish? Not a sparrow falls to the ground without
His knowledge, and it is for Him to sacrifice or save. I am but the
creature of His will, and I but follow my duty,--but obey the commands
of One whose ways are inscrutable. Still, if for my sake this ship
be also doomed, I cannot but wish that I had been appointed to some
other, in which the waste of human life might have been less.
It was not until a week after Philip arrived on board that the
_Batavia_ and the remainder of the fleet were ready for sea.
It would be difficult to analyse the feelings of Philip Vanderdecken
on this his second embarkation. His mind was so continually directed
to the object of his voyage, that although he attended to his
religious duty, yet the business of life passed before him as a dream.
Assured of again meeting with the Phantom Ship, and almost equally
assured that the meeting would be followed by some untoward event, in
all probability by the sacrifice of those who sailed with him, his
thoughts preyed upon him, and wore him down to a shadow. He hardly
ever spoke, except in the execution of his duty. He felt like a
criminal; as one who, by embarking with them, had doomed all around
him to death, disaster, and peril; and when _one_ talked of his
wife, and _another_ of his children--when they would indulge in
anticipations, and canvass happy projects, Philip would feel sick at
heart, and would rise from the table and hasten to the solitude of the
deck. At one time he would try to persuade himself that his senses had
been worked upon in some moment of excitement, that he was the victim
of an illusion; at another he would call to mind all the past--he
would feel its terrible reality--and then the thought would suggest
itself that with this supernatural vision Heaven had nothing to do;
that it was but the work and jugglery of Satan. But then the relic--by
such means the devil would not have worked. A few days after he had
sailed, he bitterly repented that he had not stated the whole of
his circumstances to Father Seysen, and taken his advice upon the
propriety of following up his search; but it was now too late; already
was the good ship _Batavia_ more than a thousand miles from the port
of Amsterdam, and his duty, whatever it might be, _must_ be fulfilled.
As the fleet approached the Cape, his anxiety increased to such a
degree that it was remarked by all who were on board. The captain and
officers commanding the troops embarked, who all felt interested in
him, vainly attempted to learn the cause of his anxiety. Philip would
plead ill-health; and his haggard countenance and sunken eyes silently
proved that he was under acute suffering. The major part of the night
he passed on deck, straining his eyes in every quarter, and watching
each change in the horizon, in anticipation of the appearance of the
Phantom Ship; and it was not till the day dawned that he sought a
perturbed repose in his cabin. After a favourable passage, the fleet
anchored to refresh at Table Bay, and Philip felt some small relief,
that up to the present time the supernatural visitation had not again
As soon as the fleet had watered, they again made sail, and again
did Philip's agitation become perceptible. With a favouring breeze,
however, they rounded the Cape, passed by Madagascar, and arrived in
the Indian Seas, when the _Batavia_ parted company with the rest of
the fleet, which steered to Cambroon and Ceylon. "And now," thought
Philip, "will the Phantom Ship make her appearance. It has only waited
till we should be left without a consort to assist us in distress." But
the _Batavia_ sailed in a smooth sea and under a cloudless sky, and
nothing was seen. In a few weeks she arrived off Java, and, previous
to entering the splendid roads of Batavia, hove-to for the night. This
was the last night they would be under sail, and Philip stirred not
from the deck, but walked to and fro, anxiously waiting for the
morning. The morning broke--the sun rose in splendour, and the
_Batavia_ steered into the roads. Before noon she was at anchor, and
Philip, with his mind relieved, hastened down to his cabin, and took
that repose which he so much required.
He awoke refreshed, for a great weight had been taken off his mind.
"It does not follow, then," thought he, "that because I am on board
the vessel therefore the crew are doomed to perish; it does not follow
that the Phantom Ship is to appear because I seek her. If so, I have
no further weight upon my conscience. I seek her, it is true, and wish
to meet with her; I stand, however, but the same chance as others; and
it is no way certain that because I seek, I am sure to find. That she
brings disaster upon all she meets, may be true, but not that I bring
with me the disaster of meeting her. Heaven I thank thee! Now I can
prosecute my search without remorse."
Philip, restored to composure by these reflections, went on deck. The
debarkation of the troops was already taking place, for they were as
anxious to be relieved from their long confinement as the seamen were
to regain a little space and comfort. He surveyed the scene. The town
of Batavia lay about one mile from them, low on the beach; from behind
it rose a lofty chain of mountains, brilliant with verdure, and, here
and there, peopled with country seats, belonging to the residents,
delightfully embosomed in forests of trees. The panorama was
beautiful; the vegetation was luxuriant, and, from its vivid green,
refreshing to the eye. Near to the town lay large and small vessels,
a forest of masts; the water in the bay was of a bright blue, and
rippled to a soft breeze; here and there small islets (like tufts of
fresh verdure) broke the uniformity of the water-line; even the town
itself was pleasing to the eye, the white colour of the houses being
opposed to the dark foliage of the trees, which grew in the gardens,
and lined the streets.
"Can it be possible," observed Philip to the captain of the _Batavia_,
who stood by him, "that this beautiful spot can be so unhealthy? I
should form a very different opinion from its appearance."
"Even," replied the captain, "as the venomous snakes of the country
start up from among its flowers, so does death stalk about in this
beautiful and luxuriant landscape. Do you feel better, Mynheer
"Much better," replied Philip.
"Still, in your enfeebled state, I should recommend you to go on
"I shall avail myself of your permission, with thanks. How long shall
we stay here?"
"Not long, as we are ordered to run back. Our cargo is all ready for
us, and will be on board soon after we have discharged."
Philip took the advice of his captain; he had no difficulty in finding
himself received by a hospitable merchant, who had a house at some
distance from the town, and in a healthy situation. There he remained
two months, during which he re-established his health, and then
re-embarked a few days previous to the ship being ready for sea. The
return voyage was fortunate, and in four months from the date of their
quitting Batavia, they found themselves abreast of St Helena; for
vessels, at that period, generally made what is called the eastern
passage, running down the coast of Africa, instead of keeping towards
the American shores. Again they had passed the Cape without meeting
with the Phantom Ship; and Philip was not only in excellent health,
but in good spirits. As they lay becalmed, with the island in sight,
they observed a boat pulling towards them, and in the course of three
hours she arrived on board. The crew were much exhausted from having
been two days in the boat, during which time they had never ceased
pulling to gain the island. They stated themselves to be the crew of a
small Dutch Indiaman, which had foundered at sea two days before; she
had started one of her planks, and filled so rapidly that the men had
hardly time to save themselves. They consisted of the captain, mates,
and twenty men belonging to the ship, and an old Portuguese Catholic
priest, who had been sent home by the Dutch governor, for having
opposed the Dutch interests in the Island of Japan. He had lived with
the natives, and been secreted by them for some time, as the Japanese
government was equally desirous of capturing him, with the intention
of taking away his life. Eventually he found himself obliged to throw
himself into the arms of the Dutch, as being the less cruel of his
The Dutch government decided that he should be sent away from the
country; and he had, in consequence, been put on board of the Indiaman
for a passage home. By the report of the captain and crew, one person
only had been lost; but he was a person of consequence, having for
many years held the situation of president in the Dutch factory at
Japan. He was returning to Holland with the riches which he had
amassed. By the evidence of the captain and crew, he had insisted,
after he was put into the boat, upon going back to the ship to secure
a casket of immense value, containing diamonds and other precious
stones, which he had forgotten; they added, that while they were
waiting for him the ship suddenly plunged her bowsprit under, and
went down head foremost, and that it was with difficulty they had
themselves escaped. They had waited for some time to ascertain if he
would rise again to the surface, but he appeared no more.
"I knew that something would happen," observed the captain of the
sunken vessel, after he had been sitting a short time in the cabin
with Philip and the captain of the _Batavia_; "we saw the Fiend or
Devil's Ship, as they call her, but three days before."
"What! the _Flying Dutchman_, as they name her?" asked Philip.
"Yes; that, I believe, is the name they give her," replied the
captain. "I have often heard of her; but it never was my fate to fall
in with her before, and I hope it never will be again; for I am a
ruined man, and must begin the world afresh."
"I have heard of that vessel," observed the captain of the _Batavia_.
"Pray, how did she appear to you?"
"Why, the fact is, I did not see anything but the loom of her hull,"
replied the other. "It was very strange; the night was fine, and the
heavens clear; we were under top-gallant sails, for I do not carry on
during the night, or else we might have put the royals on her; she
would have carried them with the breeze. I had turned in, when about
two o'clock in the morning the mate called me to come on deck. I
demanded what was the matter, and he replied he could hardly tell, but
that the men were much frightened, and that there was a Ghost Ship, as
the sailors termed it, in sight. I went on deck; all the horizon was
clear, but on our quarter was a sort of fog, round as a ball, and not
more than two cables' length from us. We were going about four knots
and a half free, and yet we could not escape from this mist. 'Look
there,' said the mate. 'Why, what the devil can it be?' said I,
rubbing my eyes. 'No banks up to windward, and yet a fog in the middle
of a clear sky, with a fresh breeze, and with water all around it;'
for you see the fog did not cover more than a dozen cables' length, as
we could perceive by the horizon on each side of it. 'Hark, sir!'
said the mate--'they are speaking again.' 'Speaking!' said I, and I
listened; and from out this ball of fog I heard voices. At last, one
cried out, 'Keep a sharp look-out forward, d'ye hear?' 'Ay, ay, sir!'
replied another voice. 'Ship on the starboard bow, sir.' 'Very well;
strike the bell there forward.' And then we heard the bell toll. 'It
must be a vessel,' said I to the mate. 'Not of this world, sir,'
replied he. 'Hark!' 'A gun ready forward.' 'Ay, ay, sir!' was now
heard out of the fog, which appeared to near us; 'all ready, sir.'
'Fire!' The report of the gun sounded on our ears like thunder, and
"Well, and then?" said the captain of the _Batavia_, breathless.
"And then," replied the other captain, solemnly, "the fog and all
disappeared as if by magic, the whole horizon was clear, and there was
nothing to be seen."
"Is it possible?"
"There are twenty men on deck to tell the story," replied the captain.
"And the old Catholic priest to boot, for he stood by me the whole
time I was on deck. The men said that some accident would happen; and
in the morning watch, on sounding the well, we found four feet water.
We took to the pumps, but it gained upon us, and we went down, as I
have told you. The mate says that the vessel is well known--it is
called the _Flying Dutchman_."
Philip made no remarks at the time, but he was much pleased at what
he had heard. "If," thought he, "the Phantom Ship of my poor father
appears to others as well as to me, and they are sufferers, my being
on board can make no difference. I do but take my chance of falling
in with her, and do not risk the lives of those who sail in the same
vessel with me. Now my mind is relieved, and I can prosecute my search
with a quiet conscience."
The next day Philip took an opportunity of making the acquaintance of
the Catholic priest, who spoke Dutch and other languages as well as
he did Portuguese. He was a venerable old man, apparently about sixty
years of age, with a white flowing beard, mild in his demeanour, and
very pleasing in his conversation.
When Philip kept his watch that night, the old man walked with him,
and it was then, after a long conversation, that Philip confided to
him that he was of the Catholic persuasion.
"Indeed, my son, that is unusual in a Hollander."
"It is so," replied Philip; "nor is it known on board--not that I am
ashamed of my religion, but I wish to avoid discussion."
"You are prudent, my son. Alas! if the reformed religion produces no
better fruit than what I have witnessed in the East, it is little
better than idolatry."
"Tell me, father," said Philip--"they talk of a miraculous vision--of
a ship not manned by mortal men. Did you see it?"
"I saw what others saw," replied the priest; "and certainly, as far as
my senses would enable me to judge, the appearance was most unusual--I
may say supernatural; but I had heard of this Phantom Ship before, and
moreover that its appearance was the precursor of disaster. So did it
prove in our case, although, indeed, we had one on board, now no more,
whose weight of guilt was more than sufficient to sink any vessel;
one, the swallowing up of whom, with all that wealth from which he
anticipated such enjoyment in his own country, has manifested that
the Almighty will, even in this world, sometimes wreak just and awful
retribution on those who have merited His vengeance."
"You refer to the Dutch President who went down with the ship when it
"I do; but the tale of that man's crime is long; to-morrow night I
will walk with you, and narrate the whole. Peace be with you, my son,
The weather continued fine, and the _Batavia_ hove-to in the evening
with the intention of anchoring the next morning in the roadstead of
St Helena. Philip, when he went on deck to keep the middle watch,
found the old priest at the gangway waiting for him. In the ship all
was quiet; the men slumbered between the guns, and Philip, with his
new acquaintance, went aft, and seating themselves on a hencoop, the
priest commenced as follows:--
"You are not, perhaps, aware that the Portuguese, although anxious to
secure for themselves a country discovered by their enterprise and
courage, and the possession of which, I fear, has cost them many
crimes, have still never lost sight of one point dear to all good
Catholics--that of spreading wide the true faith, and planting the
banner of Christ in the regions of idolatry. Some of our countrymen
having been wrecked on the coast, we were made acquainted with the
islands of Japan; and seven years afterwards, our holy and blessed St
Francis, now with God, landed on the Island of Ximo, where he remained
for two years and five months, during which he preached our religion
and made many converts. He afterwards embarked for China, his original
destination, but was not permitted to arrive there; he died on his
passage, and thus closed his pure and holy life. After his death,
notwithstanding the many obstacles thrown in our way by the priests of
idolatry, and the persecutions with which they occasionally visited
the members of our faith, the converts to our holy religion increased
greatly in the Japanese islands. The religion spread fast, and many
thousands worshipped the true God.
"After a time, the Dutch formed a settlement at Japan, and when they
found that the Japanese Christians around the factories would deal
only with the Portuguese, in whom they had confidence, they became our
enemies; and the man of whom we have spoken, and who at that period
was the head of the Dutch Factory, determined, in his lust for gold,
to make the Christian religion a source of suspicion to the emperor
of the country, and thus to ruin the Portuguese and their adherents.
Such, my son, was the conduct of one who professed to have embraced
the reformed religion as being of greater purity than our own.
"There was a Japanese lord of great wealth and influence who lived
near us, and who, with two of his sons, had embraced Christianity, and
had been baptised. He had two other sons, who lived at the emperor's
court. This lord had made us a present of a house for a college and
school of instruction: on his death, however, his two sons at court,
who were idolaters, insisted upon our quitting this property. We
refused, and thus afforded the Dutch principal an opportunity of
inflaming these young noblemen against us: by this means he persuaded
the Japanese emperor that the Portuguese and Christians had formed a
conspiracy against his life and throne; for, be it observed, that when
a Dutchman was asked if he was a Christian, he would reply, 'No; I am
"The emperor, believing in this conspiracy, gave an immediate order
for the extirpation of the Portuguese, and then of all the Japanese
who had embraced the Christian faith. He raised an army for this
purpose, and gave the command of it to the young noblemen I have
mentioned, the sons of the lord who had given us the college. The
Christians, aware that resistance was their only chance, flew to arms,
and chose as their generals the other two sons of the Japanese lord,
who, with their father, had embraced Christianity. Thus were the two
armies commanded by four brothers, two on the one side and two on the
"The Christian army amounted to more than 40,000 men, but of this the
emperor was not aware, and he sent a force of about 25,000 to conquer
and exterminate them. The armies met, and after an obstinate combat
(for the Japanese are very brave) the victory was on the part of the
Christians, and, with the exception of a few who saved themselves in
the boats, the army of the emperor was cut to pieces.
"This victory was the occasion of making more converts, and our army
was soon increased to upwards of 50,000 men. On the other hand, the
emperor, perceiving that his troops had been destroyed, ordered new
levies and raised a force of 150,000 men, giving directions to his
generals to give no quarter to the Christians, with the exception
of the two young lords who commanded them, whom he wished to secure
alive, that he might put them to death by slow torture. All offers of
accommodation were refused, and the emperor took the field in person.
The armies again met, and on the first day's battle the victory was on
the part of the Christians; still they had to lament the loss of one
of their generals, who was wounded and taken prisoner, and, no quarter
having been given, their loss was severe.
"The second day's combat was fatal to the Christians. Their general
was killed; they were overpowered by numbers, and fell to a man. The
emperor then attacked the camp in the rear, and put to the sword every
old man, woman, and child. On the field of battle, in the camp, and by
subsequent torture, more than 60,000 Christians perished. But this
was not all; a rigorous search for Christians was made throughout the
islands for many years; and they were, when found, put to death by
the most cruel torture. It was not until fifteen years ago that
Christianity was entirely rooted out of the Japanese empire, and
during a persecution of somewhat more than sixteen years, it is
supposed that upwards of 400,000 Christians were destroyed; and all
this slaughter, my son, was occasioned by the falsehood and avarice
of that man who met his just punishment but a few days ago. The Dutch
company, pleased with his conduct, which procured for them such
advantages, continued him for many years as the president of their
factory at Japan. He was a young man when he first went there, but his
hair was grey when he thought of returning to his own country. He had
amassed immense wealth,--immense, indeed, must it have been to have
satisfied avarice such as his! All has now perished with him, and he
has been summoned to his account. Reflect a little, my son. Is it
not better to follow up our path of duty, to eschew the riches and
pleasures of this world, and, at our summons hence, to feel that we
have hopes of bliss hereafter?"
"Most true, holy father," replied Philip, musing.
"I have but a few years to live," continued the old man, "and God
knows I shall quit this world without reluctance."
"And so could I," replied Philip.
"_You_, my son!--no. You are young, and should be full of hopes. You
have still to do your duty in that station to which it shall please
God to call you."
"I know that I have a duty to perform," replied Philip. "Father, the
night air is too keen for one so aged as you. Retire to your bed, and
leave me to my watch and my own thoughts."
"I will, my son! may Heaven guard you! Take an old man's blessing.
"Good-night," replied Philip, glad to be alone. "Shall I confess all
to him?" thought Philip. "I feel I could confess to him.--But no. I
would not to Father Seysen,--why to him? I should put myself in his
power, and he might order me--No, no! my secret is my own. I need no
advisers." And Philip pulled out the relic from his bosom, and put it
reverently to his lips.
The _Batavia_ waited a few days at St Helena, and then continued her
voyage. In six weeks Philip again found himself at anchor in the
Zuyder Zee, and having the captain's permission, he immediately set
off for his own home, taking with him the old Portuguese priest
Mathias, with whom he had formed a great intimacy, and to whom he had
offered his protection for the time he might wish to remain in the Low
"Far be it from me to wish to annoy you, my son," said Father Mathias,
as with difficulty he kept pace with the rapid strides of Philip, who
was now within a quarter of a mile of his home; "but still recollect
that this is but a transitory world, and that much time has elapsed
since you quitted this spot. For that reason I would fain desire you,
if possible, to check these bounding aspirations after happiness,
these joyful anticipations in which you have indulged since we quitted
the vessel. I hope and trust in the mercy of God, that all will be
right, and that in a few minutes you will be in the arms of your
much-loved wife: but still, in proportion as you allow your hopes
to be raised, so will you inevitably have them crushed should
disappointment cross your path. At Flushing we were told that there
has been a dreadful visitation in this land, and death may not have
spared even one so young and fair."
"Let us haste on, father," replied Philip. "What you say is true, and
suspense becomes most dreadful."
Philip increased his speed, leaving the old man to follow him: he
arrived at the bridge with its wooden gate. It was then about seven
o'clock in the morning, for they had crossed the Scheldt at the dawn
Philip observed that the lower shutters were still closed.
"They might have been up and stirring before this," thought he, as he
put his hand to the latch of the door. It was not fastened. Philip
entered! there was a light burning in the kitchen; he pushed open
the door, and beheld a maid-servant leaning back in her chair in a
profound sleep. Before he had time to go in and awaken her, he heard a
voice at the top of the stairs, saying, "Marie, is that the doctor?"
Philip waited no longer; in three bounds he was on the landing-place
above, and brushing by the person who had spoken, he opened the door
of Amine's room.
A floating wick in a tumbler of oil gave but a faint and glimmering
light; the curtains of the bed were drawn, and by the side of it
was kneeling a figure that was well known to Philip--that of Father
Seysen. Philip recoiled; the blood retreated to his heart; he could
not speak: panting for breath, he supported himself against the wall,
and at last vented his agony of feeling by a deep groan, which aroused
the priest, who turned his head, and perceiving who it was, rose from
his knees, and extended his hand in silence.
"She is dead, then!" at last exclaimed Philip.
"No, my son, not dead; there is yet hope. The crisis is at hand;
in one more hour her fate will be decided: then either will she be
restored to your arms, or follow the many hundreds whom this fatal
epidemic has consigned to the tomb."
Father Seysen then led Philip to the side of the bed, and withdrew the
curtain. Amine lay insensible, but breathing heavily; her eyes were
closed. Philip seized her burning hand, knelt down, pressed it to his
lips, and burst into a paroxysm of tears. As soon as he had become
somewhat composed, Father Seysen persuaded him to rise and sit with
him by the side of the bed.
"This is a melancholy sight to witness at your return, Philip," said
he; "and to you who are so ardent, so impetuous, it must be doubly so;
but God's will be done. Remember there is yet hope--not strong hope, I
grant, but still there is hope, for so told me the medical man who has
attended her, and who will return, I expect, in a few minutes. Her
disease is a typhus fever, which has swept off whole families within
these last two months, and still rages violently; fortunate, indeed,
is the house which has to mourn but one victim. I would that you had
not arrived just now, for it is a disease easily communicated. Many
have fled from the country for security. To add to our misfortunes,
we have suffered from the want of medical advice, for physician and
patient have been swept away together."
The door was now slowly opened, and a tall, dark man, in a brown
cloak, holding to his nose a sponge saturated with vinegar, entered
the room. He bowed his head to Philip and the priest, and then went
to the bedside. For a minute he held his fingers to the pulse of the
sufferer, then laying down her arm, he put his hand to her forehead,
and covered her up with the bedclothes. He handed to Philip the sponge
and vinegar, making a sign that he should use it, and beckoned Father
Seysen out of the room.
In a minute the priest returned. "I have received his directions, my
son; he thinks that she may be saved. The clothes must be kept on her,
and replaced if she should throw them off; but everything will depend
upon quiet and calm after she recovers her senses."
"Surely we can promise her that," replied Philip.
"It is not the knowledge of your return, or even the sight of you,
which alarms me. Joy seldom kills, even when the shock is great, but
there are other causes for uneasiness."
"What are they, holy father?"
"Philip, it is now thirteen days that Amine has raved, and during
that period I have seldom quitted her but to perform the duties of my
office to others who required it. I have been afraid to leave her,
Philip, for in her ravings she has told such a tale, even unconnected
as it has been, as has thrilled my soul with horror. It evidently has
long lain heavily on her mind, and must retard her recovery. Philip
Vanderdecken, you may remember that I would once have had the secret
from you--the secret which forced your mother to her tomb, and which
now may send your young wife to follow her, for it is evident that she
knows all. Is it not true?"
"She does know all," replied Philip, mournfully.
"And she has in her delirium told all. Nay, I trust she has told more
than all; but of that we will not speak now: watch her, Philip. I will
return in half an hour, for by that time, the doctor tells me, the
symptoms will decide whether she will return to reason, or be lost to
you for ever."
Philip whispered to the priest that he had been accompanied by Father
Mathias, who was to remain as his guest, and requested him to explain
the circumstances of his present position to him, and see that he was
attended to. Father Seysen then quitted the room, when Philip sat down
by the bedside, and drew back the curtain.
Perhaps there is no situation in life so agonising to the feelings
as that in which Philip was now placed. His joyful emotions when
expecting to embrace in health and beauty the object of his warmest
affections, and of his continual thought during his long absence,
suddenly checked by disappointment, anxiety, and grief, at finding
her lying emaciated, changed, corrupted with disease--her mind
overthrown--her eyes unconscious of his presence--her existence
hanging by a single hair--her frame prostrate before the King of
Terrors who hovers over her with uplifted dart, and longs for the fiat
which should permit him to pierce his unconscious victim.
"Alas!" thought Philip, "is it thus we meet, Amine? Truly did Father
Mathias advise me, as I hurried so impetuously along, not (as I fondly
thought) to happiness, but to misery. God of Heaven! be merciful and
forgive me. If I have loved this angelic creature of Thy formation,
even more than I have Thee--spare her--good Heaven, spare her--or I am
lost for ever."
Philip covered up his face, and remained for some time in prayer. He
then bent over his Amine, and impressed a kiss upon her burning lips.
They were burning, but still there was moisture upon them, and Philip
perceived that there was also moisture on her forehead. He felt her
hand, and the palm of it was moist; and carefully covering her with
the bedclothes, he watched her with anxiety and hope.
In a quarter of an hour he had the delight of perceiving that Amine
was in a profuse perspiration; gradually her breathing became less
heavy, and instead of the passive state in which she had remained, she
moved, and became restless. Philip watched, and replaced the clothes
as she threw them off, until she at last appeared to have fallen into
a profound and sweet sleep. Shortly after, Father Seysen and the
physician made their appearance. Philip stated, in few words, what
had occurred. The doctor went to the bedside, and in half a minute
"Your wife is spared to you, Mynheer, but it is not advisable that she
should see you so unexpectedly; the shock may be too great in her
weak state; she must be allowed to sleep as long as possible; on her
awaking she will have returned to reason. You must leave her then to
"May I not remain in the room until she wakes? I will then hasten away
"That will be useless; the disease is contagious, and you have been
here too long already. Remain below; you must change your clothes, and
see that they prepare a bed for her in another room, to which she must
be transported as soon as you think she can bear it; and then
let these windows be thrown open, that the room may be properly
ventilated. It will not do to have a wife just rescued from the
jaws of death run the risk of falling a sacrifice to the attentions
necessary to a sick husband."
Philip perceived the prudence of this advice, and quitting the room
with the medical man, he went and changed his clothes, and then joined
Father Mathias, whom he found in the parlour below.
"You were right, father," said Philip, throwing himself on the sofa.
"I am old and suspicious, you are young and buoyant, Philip; but I
trust all may yet be well."
"I trust so too," replied Philip. He then remained silent and absorbed
in thought, for now that the imminent danger was over, he was
reflecting upon what Father Seysen had communicated to him relative
to Amine's having revealed the secret whilst in a state of mental
aberration. The priest perceiving that his mind was occupied, did not
interrupt him. An hour had thus passed, when Father Seysen entered the
"Return thanks to Heaven, my son. Amine has awakened, and is perfectly
sensible and collected. There is now little doubt of her recovery. She
has taken the restorative ordered by the doctor, though she was so
anxious to repose once more, that she could hardly be persuaded to
swallow it. She is now again fast asleep, and watched by one of the
maidens, and in all probability will not move for many hours; but
every moment of such sleep is precious, and she must not be disturbed.
I will now see to some refreshment, which must be needful to us all.
Philip, you have not introduced me to your companion, who, I perceive,
is of my own calling."
"Forgive me, sir," replied Philip; "you will have great pleasure in
making acquaintance with Father Mathias, who has promised to reside
with me, I trust, for some time. I will leave you together, and see to
the breakfast being prepared, for the delay of which I trust Father
Mathias will accept my apology."
Philip then left the room, and went into the kitchen. Having ordered
what was requisite, to be taken into the parlour, he put on his hat
and walked out of the house. He could not eat; his mind was in a state
of confusion; the events of the morning had been too harassing and
exciting, and he felt as if the fresh air was necessary to his
As he proceeded, careless in which direction, he met many with whom he
had been acquainted, and from whom he had received condolence at his
supposed bereavement, and congratulations when they learnt from him
that the danger was over; and from them he also learnt how fatal had
been the pestilence.
Not one-third of the inhabitants of Terneuse and the surrounding
country remained alive, and those who had recovered were in a state
of exhaustion which prevented them from returning to their accustomed
occupations. They had combated disease, but remained the prey of
misery and want; and Philip mentally vowed that he would appropriate
all his savings to the relief of those around him. It was not until
more than two hours had passed away that Philip returned to the
On his arrival he found that Amine still slumbered, and the two
priests were in conversation below.
"My son," said Father Seysen, "let us now have a little explanation.
I have had a long conference with this good Father, who hath much
interested me with his account of the extension of our holy religion
among the Pagans. He hath communicated to me much to rejoice at and
much to grieve for; but, among other questions put to him, I have (in
consequence of what I have learnt during the mental alienation of your
wife) interrogated him upon the point of a supernatural appearance of
a vessel in the eastern seas. You observe, Philip, that your secret is
known to me, or I could not have put that question. To my surprise, he
hath stated a visitation of the kind to which he was eye-witness,
and which cannot reasonably be accounted for, except by supernatural
interposition. A strange and certainly most awful visitation! Philip,
would it not be better (instead of leaving me in a maze of doubt) that
you now confided to us both all the facts connected with this strange
history, so that we may ponder on them, and give you the benefit of
the advice of those who are older than yourself, and who, by their
calling may be able to decide more correctly whether this supernatural
power has been exercised by a good or evil intelligence?"
"The holy Father speaks well, Philip Vanderdecken," observed Mathias.
"If it be the work of the Almighty, to whom should you confide and by
whom should you be guided, but by those who do His service on this
earth? If of the Evil One, to whom but to those whose duty and wish it
is to counteract his baneful influence? And reflect, Philip, that this
secret may sit heavily on the mind of your cherished wife, and may bow
her to the grave, as it did your (I trust) sainted mother. With you,
and supported by your presence, she may bear it well; but, recollect
how many are the lonely days and nights that she must pass during your
absence, and how much she must require the consolation and help of
others. A secret like this must be as a gnawing worm, and, strong as
she may be in courage, must shorten her existence, but for the support
and the balm she may receive from the ministers of our faith. It was
cruel and selfish of you, Philip, to leave her, a lone woman, to bear
up against your absence, and at the same time oppressed with so fatal
"You have convinced me, holy Father," replied Philip. "I feel that
I should, before this, have made you acquainted with this strange
history. I will now state the whole of the circumstances which have
occurred, but with little hope your advice can help me, in a case so
difficult, and in a duty so peremptory, yet so perplexing."
Philip then entered into a minute detail of all that had passed from
the few days previous to his mother's death, until the present time,
and when he had concluded, he observed--
"You see, Father, that I have bound myself by a solemn vow--that that
vow has been recorded and accepted; and it appears to me that I have
nothing now to do but to follow my peculiar destiny."
"My son, you have told us strange and startling things--things not of
this world--if you are not deceived. Leave us now. Father Mathias and
I will consult upon this serious matter, and when we are agreed, you
shall know our decision."
Philip went upstairs to see Amine; she was still in a deep sleep: he
dismissed the servant, and watched by the bedside. For nearly two
hours did he remain there, when he was summoned down to meet the two
"We have had a long conversation, my son," said Father Seysen, "upon
this strange, and perhaps supernatural occurrence. I say _perhaps_,
for I would have rejected the frenzied communications of your mother,
as the imaginings of a heated brain; and for the same reason I
should have been equally inclined to suppose that the high state
of excitement that you were in at the time of her death may have
disordered your intellect; but, as Father Mathias positively asserts,
that a strange, if not supernatural, appearance of a vessel did take
place, on his passage home, and which appearance tallies with and
corroborates the legend, if so I may call it, to which you have
given evidence; I say that it is not impossible but that it is
"Recollect that the same appearance of the Phantom Ship has been
permitted to me and to many others," replied Philip.
"Yes," replied Father Seysen; "but who is there alive of those who saw
it but yourself? But that is of little importance. We will admit
that the whole affair is not the work of man, but of a superior
"Superior, indeed!" replied Philip. "It is the work of Heaven!"
"That is a point not so easily admitted; there is another power as
well as that which is divine--that of the devil!--the arch-enemy of
mankind! But as that power, inferior to the power of God, cannot act
without His permission, we may indirectly admit that it is the will of
Heaven that such signs and portents should be allowed to be given on
"Then our opinions are the same, good Father."
"Nay, not exactly, my son. Elymas, the sorcerer, was permitted to
practise his arts--gained from the devil--that it might be proved, by
his overthrow and blindness, how inferior was his master to the Divine
Ruler; but it does not therefore follow that sorcery generally was
permitted. In this instance it may be true that the Evil One has been
permitted to exercise his power over the captain and crew of that
ship, and, as a warning against such heavy offences, the supernatural
appearance of the vessel may be permitted. So far we are justifiable
in believing. But the great questions are, first, whether it be your
father who is thus doomed? and, secondly, how far you are necessitated
to follow up this mad pursuit, which, it appears to me--although it
may end in your destruction--cannot possibly be the means of rescuing
your father from his state of unhallowed abeyance? Do you understand
"I certainly understand what you would say, Father; but--"
"Answer me not yet. It is the opinion of this holy father as well
as of myself, that, allowing the facts to be as you suppose, the
revelations made to you are not from on high, but the suggestions of
the devil, to lead you into danger and ultimately to death; for if it
were your task, as you suppose, why did not the vessel appear on this
last voyage, and how can you (allowing that you met her fifty times)
have communication with that, or with those which are but phantoms and
shadows, things not of this world? Now what we propose is, that you
should spend a proportion of the money left by your father, in masses
for the repose of his soul, which your mother, in other circumstances,
would certainly have done; and that having so done, you should remain
quietly on shore until some new sign should be given to you which may
warrant our supposing that you are really chosen for this strange
"But my oath, Father--my recorded vow?"
"From that, my son, the holy Church hath power to absolve you; and
that absolution you shall receive. You have put yourself into our
hands, and by our decision you must be guided. If there be wrong, it
is we, and not you, who are responsible; but, at present, let us say
no more. I will now go up, and so soon as your wife awakens, prepare
her for your meeting."
When Father Seysen had quitted the room, Father Mathias debated
the matter with Philip. A long discussion ensued, in which similar
arguments were made use of by the priest; and Philip, although not
convinced, was, at least, doubtful and perplexed. He left the cottage.
"A new sign--a corroborative sign," thought Philip; "surely there have
been signs and wonders enough. Still it may be true that masses for
my father's soul may relieve him from his state of torture. At all
events, if they decide for me, I am not to blame. Well then, let us
wait for a new sign of the Divine will--if so it must be;" and Philip
walked on, occasionally thinking on the arguments of Father Seysen,
and oftener thinking of Amine.
It was now evening, and the sun was fast descending. Philip wandered
on, until at last he arrived at the very spot where he had knelt down
and pronounced his solemn vow. He recognised it; he looked at the
distant hills. The sun was just at the same height; the whole scene,
the place, and the time were before him. Again Philip knelt down, took
the relic from his bosom and kissed it. He watched the sun; he bowed
himself to the earth. He waited for a sign; but the sun sank down and
the veil of night spread over the landscape. There was no sign; and
Philip rose and walked home towards the cottage, more inclined than
before to follow the suggestions of Father Seysen.
On his return, Philip went softly upstairs and entered the room of
Amine, whom he found awake and in conversation with the priests. The
curtain was closed, and he was not perceived. With a beating heart he
remained near the wall at the head of the bed.
"Reason to believe that my husband has arrived!" said Amine, in a
faint voice. "Oh tell me, why so?"
"His ship is arrived, we know; and one who had seen her said that all
"And why is he not here, then? Who should bring the news of his return
but himself? Father Seysen, either he has not arrived or he is here--I
know he must be, if he is safe and well. I know my Philip too well.
Say! is he not here? Fear not, if you say yes; but if you say no, you
"He is here, Amine," replied Father Seysen--"here and well."
"O God! I thank you; but where is he? If he is here, he must be in
this room, or else you deceive me. Oh, this suspense is death!"
"I am here," cried Philip, opening the curtains.
Amine rose with a shriek, held out her arms, and then fell senseless
back. In a few seconds, however, she was restored, and proved the
truth of the good Father's assertion, "that joy does not kill."
We must now pass over the few days during which Philip watched the
couch of his Amine, who rapidly regained her strength. As soon as she
was well enough to enter upon the subject, Philip narrated all that
had passed since his departure; the confession which he had made to
Father Seysen, and the result. Amine, too glad that Philip should
remain with her, added her persuasions to those of the priests, and,
for some little time, Philip talked no more of going to sea.
Six weeks had flown away, and Amine, restored to health, wandered over
the country, hanging on the arm of her adored Philip, or nestled by
his side in their comfortable home. Father Mathias still remained
their guest; the masses for the repose of the soul of Vanderdecken had
been paid for, and more money had been confided to the care of Father
Seysen to relieve the sufferings of the afflicted poor. It may be
easily supposed that one of the chief topics of conversation between
Philip and Amine was the decision of the two priests relative to the
conduct of Philip. He had been absolved from his oath, but, at the
same time that he submitted to his clerical advisers, he was by no
means satisfied. His love for Amine, her wishes for his remaining
at home, certainly added weight to the fiat of Father Seysen; but,
although he in consequence obeyed it more willingly, his doubts of the
propriety of his conduct remained the same. The arguments of Amine,
who, now that she was supported by the opinion of the priests, had
become opposed to Philip's departure; even her caresses, with which
those arguments were mingled, were effective but for the moment. No
sooner was Philip left to himself, no sooner was the question, for
a time, dismissed, than he felt an inward accusation that he was
neglecting a sacred duty. Amine perceived how often the cloud was
upon his brow; she knew too well the cause, and constantly did she
recommence her arguments and caresses, until Philip forgot that there
was aught but Amine in the world.
One morning, as they were seated upon a green bank picking the flowers
that blossomed round them, and tossing them away in pure listlessness,
Amine took the opportunity that she had often waited for, to enter
upon a subject hitherto unmentioned.
"Philip," said she, "do you believe in dreams? think you that we may
have supernatural communications by such means?"
"Of course we may," replied Philip; "we have proof abundant of it in
the holy writings."
"Why, then, do you not satisfy your scruples by a dream?"
"My dearest Amine, dreams come unbidden; we cannot command or prevent
"We can command them, Philip; say that you would dream upon the
subject nearest to your heart, and you _shall_!"
"Yes! I have that power, Philip, although I have not spoken of it.
I had it from my mother, with much more that of late I have never
thought of. You know, Philip, I never say that which is not. I tell
you, that, if you choose, you shall dream upon it."
"And to what good, Amine? If you have power to make me dream, that
power must be from somewhere."
"It is, of course: there are agencies you little think of, which, in
my country, are still called into use. I have a charm, Philip, which
"A charm, Amine! do you, then, deal in sorcery? for such powers cannot
be from Heaven."
"I cannot tell. I only know the power is given."
"It must be from the devil, Amine."
"And why so, Philip? May I not use the argument of your own priests,
who say, 'that the power of the devil is only permitted to be used
by Divine intelligence, and that it cannot be used without that
permission?' Allow it then to be sorcery, or what you please, unless
by Heaven permitted, it would fail. But I cannot see why we should
suppose that it is from an evil source. We ask for a warning in a
dream to guide our conduct in doubtful circumstances. Surely the evil
one would rather lead us wrong than right!"
"Amine, we may be warned in a dream, as the patriarchs were of old;
but to use mystic or unholy charms to procure a vision, is making a
compact with the devil."
"Which compact the devil could not fulfil if not permitted by a higher
power. Philip, your reasoning is false. We are told that, by certain
means, duly observed, we may procure the dreams we wish. Our
observance of these means is certainly the least we can attend to, to
prove our sincerity. Forgive me, Philip, but are not observances as
necessary in your religion--which I have embraced? Are we not told
that the omission of the mere ceremony of water to the infant will
turn all future chance of happiness to misery eternal?"
Philip answered not for some time. "I am afraid, Amine," said he, at
last, in a low tone; "I--"
"I fear nothing, Philip, when my intentions are good," replied Amine.
"I follow certain means to obtain an end. What is that end? It is
to find out (if possible) what may be the will of Heaven in this
perplexing case. If it should be through the agency of the devil--what
then? He becomes my servant, and not my master; he is permitted by
Heaven to act against himself;" and Amine's eyes darted fire, as she
thus boldly expressed herself.
"Did your mother often exercise her art?" inquired Philip, after a
"Not to my knowledge; but it was said that she was most expert. She
died young (as you know), or I should have known much more. Think
you, Philip, that this world is solely peopled by such dross as
we are?--things of clay--perishable and corruptible? Lords over
beasts--and ourselves but little better. Have you not, from your
own sacred writings, repeated acknowledgments and proofs of higher
intelligences mixing up with mankind, and acting here below? Why
should what was then, not be now! and what more harm is there to apply
for their aid now, than a few thousand years ago? Why should you
suppose that they were permitted on the earth then--and not permitted
now? What has become of them? Have they perished? have they been
ordered back--to where--to heaven? If to heaven--the world and mankind
have been left to the mercy of the devil and his agents. Do you
suppose that we, poor mortals, have been thus abandoned? I tell you
plainly, I think not. We no longer have the communications with
those intelligences that we once had, because, as we become more
enlightened, we become more proud, and seek them not; but that they
still exist--a host of good against a host of evil, invisibly opposing
each other--is my conviction. But, tell me, Philip, do you in your
conscience believe that all that has been revealed to you is a mere
dream of the imagination?"
"I do not believe so, Amine: you know well I wish I could."
"Then is my reasoning proved: for if such communications can be made
to you, why cannot others? You cannot tell by what agency; your
priests say it is that of the evil one; you think it is from on high.
By the same rule, who is to decide from whence the dream shall come?"
"'Tis true, Amine; but are you certain of your power?"
"Certain of this: that if it pleases superior intelligence to
communicate with you, _that_ communication may be relied upon. Either
you will not dream, but pass away the hours in deep sleep, or what you
dream will be connected with the question at issue."
"Then, Amine, I have made up my mind--I will dream: for at present
my mind is racked by contending and perplexing doubts. I would know
whether I am right or wrong. This night your art shall be employed."
"Not this night, nor yet to-morrow night, Philip. Think you one moment
that, in proposing this, I serve you against my own wishes? I feel as