Part 2 out of 4
As might be supposed, the height of the water in the hold
increased with the tide from five feet to nine; but this was
rather a matter of congratulation, inasmuch as it sufficed
to inundate another layer of cotton.
At half-past eleven the sun, which had been behind the
clouds since ten o'clock, broke forth brightly. The captain,
who had already in the morning been able to calculate an
horary angle, now prepared to take the meridian altitude,
and succeeded at midday in making his observation most
satisfactorily. After retiring for a short time to calculate
the result, he returned to the poop and announced that we
are in lat. 18 deg. 5' N. and long. 45 deg. 53' W., but that the reef
on which we are aground is not marked on the charts. The
only explanation that can be given for the omission is that
the islet must be of recent formation, and has been caused
by some subterranean volcanic disturbance. But whatever
may be the solution of the mystery, here we are 800 miles
from land; for such, on consulting the map, we find to be
the actual distance to the coast of Guiana, which is the near-
est shore. Such is the position to which we have been
brought, in the first place, by Huntly's senseless obstinacy,
and, secondly, by the furious northwest gale.
Yet, after all, the captain's communication does not dis-
hearten us. As I said before, our spirits are reviving. We
have escaped the peril of fire; the fear of explosion is past
and gone: and oblivious of the fact that the ship with a
hold full of water is only too likely to founder when she
puts out to sea, we feel a confidence in the future that for-
bids us to despond.
Meanwhile Curtis prepares to do all that common sense
demands. He proposes, when the fire is quite extinguished,
to throw overboard the whole, or the greater portion of the
cargo, including, of course, the picrate; he will next plug
up the leak, and then, with a lightened ship, he will take ad-
vantage of the first high tide to quit the reef as speedily as
M. LETOURNEUR IS PESSIMISTIC
OCTOBER 30. -- Once again I talked to M. Letourneur about
our situation, and endeavored to animate him with the hope
that we should not be detained for long in our present pre-
dicament; but he could not be brought to take a very san-
guine view of our prospects.
"But surely," I protested, "it will not be difficult to
throw overboard a few hundred bales of cotton; two or
three days at most will suffice for that."
"Likely enough," he replied, "when the business is once
begun; but you must remember, Mr. Kazallon, that the very
heart of the cargo is still smoldering, and that it will still be
several days before anyone will be able to venture into the
hold. Then the leak, too, that has to be caulked; and, un-
less it is stopped up very effectually, we shall only be doomed
most certainly to perish at sea. Don't then, be deceiving
yourself; it must be three weeks at least before you can ex-
pect to put out to sea. I can only hope meanwhile that the
weather will continue propitious; it wouldn't take many
storms to knock the Chancellor, shattered as she is, com-
pletely into pieces."
Here, then, was the suggestion of a new danger to which
we were to be exposed; the fire might be extinguished, the
water might be got rid of by the pumps, but, after all, we
must be at the mercy of the wind and waves; and, although
the rocky island might afford a temporary refuge from the
tempest, what was to become of passengers and crew if the
vessel should be reduced to a total wreck? I made no
remonstrance, however, to this view of our case, but merely
asked M. Letourneur if he had confidence in Robert Curtis?
"Perfect confidence," he answered; "and I acknowledge
it most gratefully, as a providential circumstance, that Cap-
tain Huntly had given him the command in time. What-
ever man can do I know that Curtis will not leave undone to
extricate us from our dilemma."
Prompted by this conversation with M. Letourneur I
took the first opportunity of trying to ascertain from Curtis
himself how long he reckoned we should be obliged to re-
main upon the reef; but he merely replied, that it must de-
pend upon circumstances, and that he hoped the weather
would continue favorable. Fortunately the barometer is
rising steadily, and there is every sign of a prolonged calm.
Meantime Curtis is taking active measures for totally
extinguishing the fire. He is at no great pains to spare the
cargo, and as the bales that lie just above the level of the
water are still a-light he has resorted to the expedient of
thoroughly saturating the upper layers of the cotton, in
order that the combustion may be stifled between the mois-
ture descending from above and that ascending from below.
This scheme has brought the pumps once more into requisi-
tion. At present the crew are adequate to the task of work-
ing them, but I and some of our fellow-passengers are ready
to offer our assistance whenever it shall be necessary.
With no immediate demand upon our labor, we are
thrown upon our own resources for passing our time. M.
Letourneur, Andre, and myself, have frequent conversa-
tions; I also devote an hour or two to my diary. Falsten
holds little communication with any of us, but remains ab-
sorbed in his calculations, and amuses himself by tracing
mechanical diagrams with ground-plan, section, elevation,
all complete. It would be a happy inspiration if he could
invent some mighty engine that could set us all afloat again.
Mr. and Mrs. Kear, too, hold themselves aloof from their
fellow-passengers, and we are not sorry to be relieved from
the necessity of listening to their incessant grumbling; un-
fortunately, however, they carry off Miss Herbey with them,
so that we enjoy little or nothing of the young lady's society.
As for Silas Huntly, he has become a complete nonen-
tity; he exists, it is true, but merely, it would seem, to
Hobart, the steward, an obsequious, sly sort of fellow,
goes through his routine of duties just as though the vessel
were pursuing her ordinary course; and, as usual, is con-
tinually falling out with Jynxstrop, the cook, an impudent,
ill-favored negro, who interferes with the other sailors in
a manner which, I think, ought not to be allowed.
Since it appears likely that we shall have abundance of
time on our hands, I have proposed to M. Letourneur and
his son that we shall together explore the reef on which we
are stranded. It is not very probable that we shall be able
to discover much about the origin of this strange accumula-
tion of rocks, yet the attempt will at least occupy us for
some hours, and will relieve us from the monotony of our
confinement on board. Besides, as the reef is not marked in
any of the maps, I could not but believe that it would be
rendering a service to hydrography if we were to take an
accurate plan of the rocks, of which Curtis could afterward
verify the true position by a second observation made with a
closer precision than the one he has already taken.
M. Letourneur agrees to my proposal, Curtis has promised
to let us have the boat and some sounding-lines, and to allow
one of the sailors to accompany us; so to-morrow morning,
we hope to make our little voyage of investigation.
WE EXPLORE THE REEF
OCTOBER 31 to November 5. -- Our first proceeding on
the morning of the 31st was to make the proposed tour of
the reef, which is about a quarter of a mile long. With
the aid of our sounding-lines we found that the water was
deep, right up to the very rocks, and that no shelving shores
prevented us coasting along them. There was not a shadow
of doubt as to the rock being of purely volcanic origin, up-
heaved by some mighty subterranean convulsion. It is
formed of blocks of basalt, arranged in perfect order, of
which the regular prisms give the whole mass the effect of
being one gigantic crystal; and the remarkable transparency
of the sea enabled us plainly to observe the curious shafts
of the prismatic columns that support the marvelous sub-
"This is indeed a singular island," said M. Letourneur;
"evidently it is of quite recent origin."
"Yes, father," said Andre, "and I should think it has
been caused by a phenomenon similar to those which pro-
duced the Julia Island, off the coast of Sicily, or the group
of the Santorini, in the Grecian Archipelago. One could
almost fancy that it had been created expressly for the Chan-
cellor to strand upon."
"It is very certain," I observed, "that some upheaving
has lately taken place. This is by no means an unfrequented
part of the Atlantic, so that it is not at all likely that it could
have escaped the notice of sailors if it had been always in
existence; yet it is not marked even in the most modern
charts. We must try and explore it thoroughly and give
future navigators the benefit of our observations."
"But, perhaps, it will disappear as it came," said Andre.
"You are no doubt aware, Mr. Kazallon, that these volcanic
islands sometimes have a very transitory existence. Not im-
possibly, by the time it gets marked upon the maps it may no
longer be here."
"Never mind, my boy," answered his father, "it is bet-
ter to give warning of a danger that does not exist than
overlook one that does. I dare say the sailors will not
grumble much, if they don't find a reef where we have
"No, I dare say not, father," said Andre, "and after all
this island is very likely as firm as a continent. However,
if it is to disappear, I expect Captain Curtis would be glad
to see it take its departure as soon as possible after he has
finished his repairs; it would save him a world of trouble
in getting his ship afloat."
"Why, what a fellow you are, Andre!" I said, laugh-
ing; "I believe you would like to rule Nature with a magic
wand, first of all, you would call up a reef from the depth
of the ocean to give the Chancellor time to extinguish her
flames, and then you would make it disappear just that the
ship might be free again."
Andre smiled; then, in a more serious tone, he expressed
his gratitude for the timely help that had been vouchsafed
us in our hour of need.
The more we examined the rocks that formed the base
of the little island, the more we became convinced that its
formation was quite recent. Not a mollusk, not a tuft of
seaweed was found clinging to the sides of the rocks; not a
germ had the wind carried to its surface, not a bird had
taken refuge amid the crags upon its summits. To a lover
of natural history, the spot did not yield a single point of
interest; the geologist alone would find subject of study in
the basaltic mass.
When we reached the southern point of the island I pro-
posed that we should disembark. My companions readily
assented, young Letourneur jocosely observing that if the
little island was destined to vanish, it was quite right that it
should first be visited by human beings. The boat was
accordingly brought alongside, and we set foot upon the
reef, and began to ascend the gradual slope that leads to its
The walking was not very rough, and as Andre could get
along tolerably well without the assistance of an arm, he
led the way, his father and I following close behind. A
quarter of an hour sufficed to bring us to the loftiest point
in the islet, when we seated ourselves on the basaltic prism
that crowned its summit.
Andre took a sketch-book from his pocket, and proceeded
to make a drawing of the reef. Scarcely had he completed
the outline when his father exclaimed:
"Why, Andre, you have drawn a ham!"
"Something uncommonly like it, I confess," replied
Andre. "I think we had better ask Captain Curtis to let
us call our island Ham Rock."
"Good," said I; "though sailors will need to keep it at
a respectful distance, for they will scarcely find that their
teeth are strong enough to tackle it."
M. Letourneur was quite correct; the outline of the reef
as it stood clearly defined against the deep green water
resembled nothing so much as a fine York ham, of which
the little creek, where the Chancellor had been stranded,
corresponded to the hollow place above the knuckle. The
tide at this time was low, and the ship now lay heeled over
very much to the starboard side, the few points of rock that
emerged in the extreme south of the reef plainly marking the
narrow passage through which she had been forced before
she finally ran aground.
As soon as Andre had finished his sketch we descended
by a slope as gradual as that by which we had come up, and
made our way toward the west. We had not gone very far
when a beautiful grotto, perfect as an architectural struc-
ture, arrested our attention. M. Letourneur and Andre,
who have visited the Hebrides, pronounced it to be a
Fingal's cave in miniature; a Gothic chapel that might form
a fit vestibule for the cathedral cave of Staffa. The basaltic
rocks had cooled down into the same regular concentric
prisms; there was the same dark canopied roof with its in-
terstices filled up with its yellow lutings; the same precision
of outline in the prismatic angles, sharp as though chiseled
by a sculptor's hand; the same sonorous vibration of the air
across the basaltic rocks, of which the Gaelic poets have
feigned that the harps of the Fingal minstrelsy were made.
But whereas at Staffa the floor of the cave is always covered
with a sheet of water, here the grotto was beyond the reach
of all but the highest waves, while the prismatic shafts them-
selves formed quite a solid pavement.
After remaining nearly an hour in our newly-discovered
grotto we returned to the Chancellor, and communicated the
result of our explorations to Curtis, who entered the island
upon his chart, by the name Andre Letourneur had pro-
Since its discovery we have not permitted a day to pass
without spending some time in our Ham Rock grotto.
Curtis has taken an opportunity of visiting it, but he is too
preoccupied with other matters to have much interest to
spare for the wonders of nature. Falsten, too, came once
and examined the character of the rocks, knocking and
chipping them about with all the mercilessness of a geologist.
Mr. Kear would not trouble himself to leave the ship; and
although I asked his wife to join us in one of our excursions
she declined, upon the plea that the fatigue, as well as the
inconvenience of embarking in the boat, would be more than
she could bear.
Miss Herbey, only to thankful to escape even for an hour
from her capricious mistress, eagerly accepted M. Letour-
neur's invitation to pay a visit to the reef, but to her great
disappointment Mrs. Kear at first refused point-blank to
allow her to leave the ship. I felt intensely annoyed, and re-
solved to intercede in Miss Herbey's favor; and as I had
already rendered that self-indulgent lady sundry services
which she though she might probably be glad again to ac-
cept, I gained my point, and Miss Herbey has several times
been permitted to accompany us across the rocks, where
the young girl's delight at her freedom has been a pleasure
Sometimes we fish along the shore, and then enjoy a
luncheon in the grotto, while the basalt columns vibrate like
harps to the breeze. This arid reef, little as it is, compared
with the cramped limits of the Chancellor's deck is like some
vast domain; soon there will be scarcely a stone with which
we are not familiar, scarcely a portion of its surface which
we have not trodden, and I am sure that when the hour of
departure arrives we shall leave it with regret.
In the course of conversation, Andre Letourneur one day
happened to say that he believed the island of Staffa be-
longed to the Macdonald family, who let it for the small
sum of L.12 a year.
"I suppose then," said Miss Herbey, "that we should
hardly get more than half-a-crown a year for our pet little
"I don't think you would get a penny for it. Miss Herbey;
but are you thinking of taking a lease?" I said laughing.
"Not at present," she said; then added, with a half-sup-
pressed sigh, "and yet it is a place where I have seemed
to know what it is to be really happy."
Andre murmured some expression of assent, and we all
felt that there was something touching in the words of the
orphaned, friendless girl who had found her long-lost sense
of happiness on a lonely rock in the Atlantic.
THE CARGO UNLOADED
NOVEMBER 6 to November 15. -- For the first five days
after the Chancellor had run aground, there was a dense
black smoke continually rising from the hold; but it grad-
ually diminished until the 6th of November, when we might
consider that the fire was extinguished. Curtis, neverthe-
less, deemed it prudent to persevere in working the pumps,
which he did until the entire hull of the ship, right up to the
deck, had been completely inundated.
The rapidity, however, with which the water, at every re-
treat of the tide, drained off to the level of the sea, was an
indication that the leak must be of considerable magnitude;
and such, on investigation, proved to be the case. One of the
sailors, named Flaypole, dived one day at low water to ex-
amine the extent of the damage, and found that the hole was
not much less than four feet square, and was situated thirty
feet fore of the helm, and two feet above the rider of the
keel; three planks had been stove in by a sharp point of rock
and it was only a wonder that the violence with which the
heavily-laden vessel had been thrown ashore did not result
in the smashing in of many parts beside.
As it would be a couple of days or more before the hold
would be in a condition for the bales of cotton to be removed
for the carpenter to examine the damage from the interior of
the ship, Curtis employed the interval in having the broken
mizzen-mast repaired. Dowlas the carpenter, with con-
siderable skill, contrived to mortise it into its former stump.
and made the junction thoroughly secure by strong iron-
belts and bolts. The shrouds, the stays and backstays, were
then carefully refitted, some of the sails were changed, and
the whole of the running rigging was renewed. Injury, to
some extent, had been done to the poop and to the crew's
lockers in the front; but time and labor were all that were
wanted to make them good; and with such a will did every-
body set to work that it was not long before all the cabins
were again available for use.
On the 8th the unlading of the ship commenced. Pulleys
and tackling were put over the hatches, and passengers and
crew together proceeded to haul up the heavy bales which
had been deluged so frequently by water that the cotton was
all but spoiled. One by one the sodden bales were placed in
the boat to be transported to the reef. After the first layer
of cotton had been removed it became necessary to drain
off part of the water that filled the hold. For this purpose
the leak in the side had somehow or other to be stopped, and
this was an operation which was cleverly accomplished by
Dowlas and Flaypole, who contrived to dive at low tide
and nail a sheet of copper over the entire hole. This, how-
ever, of itself would have been utterly inadequate to sustain
the pressure that would arise from the action of the pumps;
so Curtis ordered that a number of the bales should be piled
up inside against the broken planks. The scheme succeeded
very well, and as the water got lower and lower in the hold
the men were enabled to r�sum� their task of unlading.
Curtis thinks it quite probable that the leaks may be
mended from the interior. By far the best way of repairing
the damage would be to careen the ship, and to shift the
planking, but the appliances are wanting for such an un-
dertaking; moreover, any bad weather which might occur
while the ship was on her flank would only too certainly be
fatal to her altogether. But the captain has very little doubt
that by some device or other he shall manage to patch up the
hole in such a way as will insure our reaching land in safety.
After two days' toil the water was entirely reduced, and
without further difficulty the unlading was completed. All
of us, including even Andre Letourneur, have been taking
our turn at the pumps, for the work is so extremely fatiguing
that the crew require some occasional respite; arms and back
soon become strained and weary with the incessant swing of
the handles, and I can well understand the dislike which
sailors always express to the labor.
One thing there is which is much in our favor; the ship
lies on a firm and solid bottom, and we have the satisfaction
of knowing that we are not contending with a flood that
encroaches faster than it can be resisted. Heaven grant that
we may not be called to make like efforts, and to make them
hopelessly, for a foundering ship!
EXAMINATION OF THE HOLD
NOVEMBER 15 to 20. -- The examination of the hold has
at last been made. Among the first things that were found
was the case of picrate, perfectly intact, having neither been
injured by the water, nor of course reached by the flames.
Why it was not at once pitched into the sea I cannot say;
but it was merely conveyed to the extremity of the island,
and there it remains.
While they were below, Curtis and Dowlas made them-
selves acquainted with the full extent of the mischief that
had been done by the conflagration. They found that the
deck and the cross-beams that supported it had been much
less injured than they expected, and the thick, heavy planks
had only been scorched very superficially. But the action
of the fire on the flanks of the ship had been of a much more
serious character; a long portion of the inside boarding had
been burned away, and the very ribs of the vessel were con-
siderably damaged; the oakum caulkings had all started away
from the butt-ends and seams; so much so that it was little
short of a miracle that the whole ship had not long since
gaped completely open.
The captain and the carpenter returned to the deck with
anxious faces. Curtis lost no time in assembling pas-
sengers and crew, and announcing to them the facts of the
"My friends," he said, "I am here to tell you that the
Chancellor has sustained far greater injuries than we sus-
pected, and that her hull is very seriously damaged. If we
had been stranded anywhere else than on a barren reef, that
may at any time be overwhelmed by a tempestuous sea, I
should not have hesitated to take the ship to pieces, and con-
struct a smaller vessel that might have carried us safely to
land; but I dare not run the risk of remaining here. We
are now 800 miles from the coast of Paramaribo, the nearest
portion of Dutch Guiana, and in ten or twelve days, if the
weather should be favorable, I believe we could reach the
shore. What I now propose to do is to stop the leak by
the best means we can command, and make at once for the
As no better plan seemed to suggest itself, Curtis's proposal
was unanimously accepted. Dowlas and his assistants im-
mediately set to work to repair the charred frame-work of
the ribs, and to stop the leak; they took care thoroughly to
calk from the outside all the seams that were above low
water mark; lower than that they were unable to work, and
had to content themselves with such repairs as they could
effect in the interior. But after all the pains there is no
doubt the Chancellor is not fit for a long voyage, and would
be condemned as unseaworthy at any port at which we might
To-day the 20th, Curtis having done all that human power
could do to repair his ship, determined to put her to sea.
Ever since the Chancellor had been relieved of her cargo,
and of the water in her hold, she had been able to float in
the little natural basin into which she had been driven. The
basin was enclosed on either hand by rocks that remained
uncovered even at high water, but was sufficiently wide to
allow the vessel to turn quite round at its broadest part, and
by means of hawsers fastened on the reef to be brought with
her bows towards the south; while, to prevent her being
carried back on to the reef, she has been anchored fore and
To all appearance, then, it seemed as though it would be
an easy matter to put the Chancellor to sea; if the wind
were favorable the sails would be hoisted; if otherwise, she
would have to be towed through the narrow passage. All
seemed simple. But unlooked-for difficulties had yet to be
The mouth of the passage is guarded by a kind of ridge
of basalt, which at high tide we knew was barely covered
with sufficient water to float the Chancellor, even when en-
tirely unfreighted. To be sure she had been carried over
the obstacle once before, but then, as I have already said,
she had been caught up by an enormous wave, and might
have been said to be LIFTED over the barrier into her pres-
ent position. Besides, on that ever memorable night, there
had not only been the ordinary spring-tide, but an equinoctial
tide, such a one as could not be expected to occur again for
many months. Waiting was out of the question; so Curtis
determined to run the risk, and to take advantage of the
spring-tide, which would occur to-day, to make an attempt
to get the ship, lightened as she was, over the bar; after
which, he might ballast her sufficiently to sail.
The wind was blowing from the northwest, and conse-
quently right in the direction of the passage. The captain,
however, after a consultation, preferred to tow the ship over
the ridge, as he considered it was scarcely safe to allow a
vessel of doubtful stability at full sail to charge an obstacle
that would probably bring her to a dead lock. Before the
operation was commenced, Curtis took the precaution of
having an anchor ready in the stern, for, in the event of the
attempt being unsuccessful, it would be necessary to bring
the ship back to her present moorings. Two more anchors
were next carried outside the passage, which was not more
than two hundred feet in length. The chains were attached
to the windlass, the sailors worked at the hand-spikes, and
at four o'clock in the afternoon the Chancellor was in mo-
High tide would be at twenty minutes past four, and at
ten minutes before that time the ship had been hauled as
far as her sea-range would allow; her keel grazed the ridge,
and her progress was arrested. When the lowest part of her
stern, however, just cleared the obstruction, Curtis deemed
that there was no longer any reason why the mechanical ac-
tion of the wind should not be brought to bear and con-
tribute its assistance. Without delay, all sails were unfurled
and trimmed to the wind. The tide was exactly at its height,
passengers and crew together were at the windlass, M.
Letourneur, Andre, Falsten, and myself being at the star-
board bar. Curtis stood upon the poop, giving his chief
attention to the sails; the lieutenant was on the forecastle;
the boatswain by the helm. The sea seemed propitiously
calm and; as it swelled gently to and fro, lifted the ship
"Now, my boys," said Curtis, in his calm clear voice, "all
Round went the windlass; click, click, clanked the chains
as link by link they were forced through the hawse-holes.
The breeze freshened, and the masts gave to the pressure
of the sails, but round and round we went, keeping time in
regular monotony to the sing-song tune hummed by one of
We had gained about twenty feet, and were redoubling
our efforts when the ship grounded again.
And now no effort would avail; all was in vain; the tide
began to turn: and the Chancellor would not advance an inch.
Was there time to go back? She would inevitably go to
pieces if left balanced upon the ridge. In an instant the cap-
tain has ordered the sails to be furled, and the anchor
dropped from the stern.
One moment of terrible anxiety, and all is well.
The Chancellor tacks to stern, and glides back into the
basin, which is once more her prison.
"Well, captain," says the boatswain, "what's to be done
"I don't know," said Curtis, "but we shall get across
THE "CHANCELLOR" RELEASED FROM HER PRISON
NOVEMBER 21 TO 24. -- There was assuredly no time to be
lost before we ought to leave Ham Rock reef. The barom-
eter had been falling ever since the morning, the sea was
getting rougher, and there was every symptom that the
weather, hitherto so favorable, was on the point of breaking;
and in the event of a gale the Chancellor must inevitably be
dashed to pieces on the rocks.
In the evening, when the tide was quite low, and the rocks
uncovered, Curtis, the boatswain, and Dowlas went to exam-
ine the ridge which had proved so serious an obstruction.
Falsten and I accompanied them. We came to the conclu-
sion that the only way of effecting a passage was by cutting
away the rocks with pikes over a surface measuring ten feet
by six. An extra depth of nine or ten inches would give a
sufficient gauge, and the channel might be accurately marked
out by buoys; in this way it was conjectured the ship might
be got over the ridge and so reach the deep water beyond.
"But this basalt is as hard as granite," said the boatswain;
"besides, we can only get at it at low water, and conse-
quently could only work at it for two hours out of the
"All the more reason why we should begin at once, boat-
swain," said Curtis.
"But if it is to take us a month, captain, perhaps by that
time the ship may be knocked to atoms. Couldn't we man-
age to blow up the rock? we have got some powder aboard."
"Not enough for that," said the boatswain.
"You have something better than powder," said Falsten.
"What's that?" asked the captain.
"Picrate of potash," was the reply.
And so the explosive substance with which poor Ruby had
so grievously imperiled the vessel was now to serve her in
good stead, and I now saw what a lucky thing it was that
the case had been deposited safely on the reef, instead of be-
ing thrown into the sea.
The sailors went off at once for their pikes, and Dowlas
and his assistants, under the direction of Falsten, who, as an
engineer, understood such matters, proceeded to hollow out
a mine wherein to deposit the powder. At first we hoped
that everything would be ready for the blasting to take place
on the following morning, but when daylight appeared we
found that the men, although they had labored with a will,
had only been able to work for an hour at low water and
that four tides must ebb before the mine had been sunk to the
Not until eight o'clock on the morning of the 23d was
the work complete. The hole was bored obliquely in the
rock, and was large enough to contain about ten pounds of
explosive matter. Just as the picrate was being introduced
into the aperture, Falsten interposed:
"Stop," he said, "I think it will be best to mix the picrate
with common powder, as that will allow us to fire the mine
with a match instead of the gun-priming which would be
necessary to produce a shock. Besides, it is an understood
thing that the addition of gunpowder renders picrate far
more effective in blasting such rocks as this, as then the
violence of the picrate prepares the way for the powder
which, slower in its action, will complete the disseverment of
Falsten is not a great talker, but what he does say is al-
ways very much to the point. His good advice was imme-
diately followed; the two substances were mixed together,
and after a match had been introduced the compound was
rammed closely into the hole.
Notwithstanding that the Chancellor was at a distance
from the rocks that insured her from any danger of being
injured by the explosion, it was thought advisable that the
passengers and crew should take refuge in the grotto at the
extremity of the reef, and even Mr. Kear, in spite of his
many objections, was forced to leave the ship. Falsten, as
soon as he had set fire to the match, joined us in our retreat.
The train was to burn for ten minutes, and at the end of
that time the explosion took place; the report, on account of
the depth of the mine, being muffled, and much less noisy
than we had expected. But the operation had been perfectly
successful. Before we reached the ridge we could see that
the basalt had been literally reduced to powder, and that a
little channel, already being filled by the rising tide, had been
cut right through the obstacle. A loud hurrah rang through
the air; our prison-doors were opened, and we were prison-
ers no more.
At high tide the Chancellor weighed anchor and floated
out into the sea, but she was not in a condition to sail until
she had been ballasted; and for the next twenty-four hours
the crew were busily employed in taking up blocks of stone,
and such of the bales of cotton as had sustained the least
amount of injury.
In the course of the day, M. Letourneur, Andre, Miss
Herbey, and I took a farewell walk round the reef, and
Andre, with artistic skill, carved on the wall of the grotto
the word Chancellor -- the designation of Ham Rock, which
we had given to the reef -- and the date of our running
aground. Then we bade adieu to the scene of our three
weeks' sojourn, where we had passed days that to some at
least of our party will be reckoned as far from being the
least happy of their lives.
At high tide this morning, the 24th, with low, top, and
gallant sails all set, the Chancellor started on her onward
way, and two hours later the last peak of Ham Rock had
vanished below the horizon.
A NEW DANGER
NOVEMBER 24 to December1. -- Here we were then once
more at sea, and although on board a ship of which the
stability was very questionable, we had hopes, if the wind
continued favorable, of reaching the coast of Guiana in the
course of a few days.
Our way was southwest and consequently with the wind,
and although Curtis would not crowd on all sail lest the
extra speed should have a tendency to spring the leak afresh,
the Chancellor made a progress that was quite satisfactory.
Life on board began to fall back into its former routine; the
feeling of insecurity and the consciousness that we were
merely retracing our path doing much, however, to destroy
the animated intercourse that would otherwise go on be-
tween passenger and passenger.
The first few days passed without any incident worth re-
cording, then on the 29th, the wind shifted to the north, and
it became necessary to brace the yards, trim the sails, and
take a starboard tack. This made the ship lurch very much
on one side, and as Curtis felt that she was laboring far too
heavily, he clewed up the top-gallants, prudently reckoning
that, under the circumstances, caution was far more impor-
tant than speed.
The night came on dark and foggy. The breeze fresh-
ened considerably, and, unfortunately for us, hailed from the
northwest. Although we carried no topsails at all, the ship
seemed to heel over more than ever. Most of the passengers
had retired to their cabins, but all the crew remained on deck,
while Curtis never quitted his post upon the poop.
Toward two o'clock in the morning I was myself prepar-
ing to go to my cabin, when Burke, one of the sailors who
had been down into the hold, came on deck with the cry:
"Two feet of water below."
In an instant Curtis and the boatswain had descended the
ladder. The startling news was only too true; the sea-water
was entering the hold, but whether the leak had sprung
afresh, or whether the caulking in some of the seams was
insufficient, it was then impossible to determine; all that
could be done was to let the ship go with the wind, and wait
At daybreak they sounded again -- "Three feet of
water!" was the report. I glanced at Curtis -- his lips were
white, but he had not lost his self-possession. He quietly in-
formed such of the passengers as were already on deck of
the new danger that threatened us; it was better that they
should know the worst, and the fact could not be long con-
cealed. I told M. Letourneur that I could not help hoping
that there might yet be time to reach the land before the last
crisis came. Falsten was about to give vent to an expres-
sion of despair, but he was soon silenced by Miss Herbey
asserting her confidence that all would yet be well.
Curtis at once divided the crew into two sets, and made
them work incessantly, turn and turn about, at the pumps.
The men applied themselves to their task with resignation
rather than with ardor; the labor was hard and scarcely re-
paid them; the pumps were constantly getting out of order,
the valves being choked up by the ashes and bits of cotton
that were floating about in the hold, while every moment
that was spent in cleaning or repairing them was so much
Slowly but surely the water continued to rise, and on the
following morning the soundings gave five feet for its depth.
I noticed that Curtis's brow contracted each time that the
boatswain or the lieutenant brought him their report. There
was no doubt it was only a question of time, and not for an
instant must the efforts for keeping down the level be re-
laxed. Already the ship had sunk a foot lower in the water,
and as her weight increased she no longer rose buoyantly
with the waves, but pitched and rolled considerably.
All yesterday and last night the pumping continued, but
still the sea gained upon us. The crew are weary and dis-
couraged, but the second officer and the boatswain set them
a fine example of endurance, and the passengers have now
begun to take their turn at the pumps.
But all are conscious of toiling almost against hope; we
are no longer secured firmly to the solid soil of the Ham
Rock reef, but we are floating over an abyss which daily,
nay hourly, threatens to swallow us into its depths.
AN ATTEMPT AT MUTINY
DECEMBER 2 and 3. -- For four hours we have succeeded
in keeping the water in the hold to one level; now, however,
it is very evident that the time cannot be far distant when the
pumps will be quite unequal to their task.
Yesterday Curtis, who does not allow himself a minute's
rest, made a personal inspection of the hold. I, with the
boatswain and carpenter, accompanied him. After dislodg-
ing some of the bales of cotton we could hear a splashing,
or rather gurgling sound; but whether the water was enter-
ing at the original aperture, or whether it found its way in
through a general dislocation of the seams, we were unable
to discover. But, whichever might be the case, Curtis de-
termined to try a plan which, by cutting off communication
between the interior and exterior of the vessel, might, if only
for a few hours, render her hull more water-tight. For this
purpose he had some strong, well tarred sails drawn upward
by ropes from below the keel, as high as the previous leak-
ing place, and then fastened closely and securely to the side
of the hull. The scheme was dubious, and the operation
difficult, but for a time it was effectual, and at the close of
the day the level of the water had actually been reduced by
several inches. The diminution was small enough, but the
consciousness that more water was escaping through the
scupper-holes than was finding its way into the hold gave us
fresh courage to persevere with our work.
The night was dark, but the captain carried all the sail he
could, eager to take every possible advantage of the wind,
which was freshening considerably. If he could have
sighted a ship he would have made signals of distress, and
would not have hesitated to transfer the passengers, and
even have allowed the crew to follow, if they were ready to
forsake him; for himself his mind was made up -- he should
remain on board the Chancellor until she foundered beneath
his feet. No sail, however, hove in sight; consequently
escape by such means was out of our power.
During the night the canvas covering yielded to the pres-
sure of the waves, and this morning, after taking the sound-
ing, the boatswain could not suppress an oath when he an-
nounced, "Six feet of water in the hold!"
The ship, then, was filling once again, and already had
sunk considerably below her previous water-line. With
aching arms and bleeding hands we worked harder than
ever at the pumps, and Curtis makes those who are not
pumping form a line and pass buckets, with all the speed
they can, from hand to hand.
But all in vain! At half-past eight more water is re-
ported in the hold, and some of the sailors, overcome by de-
spair, refuse to work one minute longer.
The first to abandon his post was Owen, a man whom I
have mentioned before as exhibiting something of a mu-
tinous spirit. He is about forty years of age, and altogether
unprepossessing in appearance; his face is bare, with the
exception of a reddish beard, which terminates in a point;
his forehead is furrowed with sinister looking wrinkles, his
lips curl inward, and his ears protrude, while his bleared and
bloodshot eyes are encircled with thick red rings.
Among the five or six other men who had struck work I
noticed Jynxstrop, the cook, who evidently shared all Owen's
Twice did Curtis order the men back to the pumps, and
twice did Owen, acting as spokesman for the rest, refuse;
and when Curtis made a step forward as though to approach
him, he said savagely:
"I advise you not to touch me," and walked away to the
Curtis descended to his cabin, and almost immediately re-
turned with a loaded revolver in his hand.
For a moment Owen surveyed the captain with a frown
of defiance; but at a sign from Jynxstrop he seemed to
recollect himself, and, with the remainder of the men, he
returned to his work.
CURTIS RESOLVES TO ABANDON THE SHIP
DECEMBER 4. -- The first attempt at mutiny being thus
happily suppressed, it is to be hoped that Curtis will succeed
as well in future. An insubordinate crew would render us
Throughout the night the pumps were kept, without
respite, steadily at work, but without producing the least
sensible benefit. The ship became so water-logged and
heavy that she hardly rose at all to the waves, which con-
sequently often washed over the deck and contributed their
part toward aggravating our case. Our situation was
rapidly becoming as terrible as it had been when the fire
was raging in the midst of us; and the prospect of being
swallowed by the devouring billows was no less formidable
than that of perishing in the flames.
Curtis kept the men up to the mark, and, willing or unwill-
ing, they had no alternative but to work on as best they
might; but in spite of all their efforts, the water perpetually
rose, till, at length, the men in the hold who were passing
the buckets found themselves immersed up to their waists,
and were obliged to come on deck.
This morning, after a somewhat protracted consultation
with Walter and the boatswain, Curtis resolved to abandon
the ship. The only remaining boat was far too small to hold
us all, and it would therefore be necessary to construct a
raft that should carry those who could not find room in her.
Dowlas, the carpenter, Mr. Falsten, and ten sailors were told
off to put the raft in hand, the rest of the crew being ordered
to continue their work assiduously at the pumps, until the
time came and everything was ready for embarkation.
Hatchet or saw in hand, the carpenter and his assistants
made a beginning without delay, by cutting and trimming the
spare yards and extra spars to a proper length. These were
then lowered into the sea -- which was propitiously calm --
so as to favor the operation (which otherwise would have
been very difficult) of lashing them together into a firm
framework, about forty feet long and twenty-five feet wide,
upon which the platform was to be supported.
I kept my own place steadily at the pumps, and Andre Le-
tourneur worked at my side. I often noticed his father
glance at him sorrowfully, as though he wondered what
would become of him if he had to struggle with waves to
which even the strongest man could hardly fail to succumb.
But come what may, his father will never forsake him, and
I myself shall not be wanting in rendering him whatever
assistance I can.
Mrs. Kear, who had been for some time in a state of
drowsy unconsciousness, was not informed of the immediate
danger; but when Miss Herbey, looking somewhat pale with
fatigue, paid one of her flying visits to the deck, I warned
her to take every precaution for herself, and to be ready for
"Thank you, doctor, I am always ready," she cheerfully
replied, and returned to her duties below. I saw Andre
follow the young girl with his eyes, and a look of melancholy
interest passed over his countenance.
Toward eight o'clock in the evening the framework for
the raft was almost complete, and the men were lower-
ing empty barrels, which had first been securely bunged,
and were lashing them to the woodwork to insure its
Two hours later and suddenly there arose the startling
cry, "We are sinking! we are sinking!"
Up to the poop rushed Mr. Kear, followed immediately
by Falsten and Miss Herbey, who were bearing the inan-
imate form of Mrs. Kear. Curtis ran to his cabin, instantly
returning with a chart, a sextant, and a compass in his hand.
The scene that followed will ever be engraven in my
memory; the cries of distress, the general confusion, the
frantic rush of the sailors toward the raft that was not yet
ready to support them, can never be forgotten. The whole
period of my life seemed to be concentrated into that terrible
moment when the planks bent below my feet and the ocean
yawned beneath me.
Some of the sailors had taken their delusive refuge in the
shrouds, and I was preparing to follow them when a hand
was laid upon my shoulder.. Turning round I beheld M.
Letourneur, with tears in his eyes, pointing toward his son.
"Yes, my friend," I said, pressing his hand, "we will save
him, if possible."
But Curtis had already caught hold of the young man,
and was hurrying him to the main-mast shrouds, when the
Chancellor, which had been scudding along rapidly with the
wind, stopped suddenly, with a violent shock, and began to
settle. The sea rose over my ankles, and almost instinc-
tively I clutched at the nearest rope. All at once, when it
seemed all over, the ship ceased to sink, and hung motionless
WHILE THERE'S LIFE THERE'S HOPE
NIGHT of December 4. -- Curtis caught young Letourneur
again in his arms, and, running with him across the flooded
deck, deposited him safely in the starboard shrouds, whither
his father and I climbed up beside him.
I now had time to look about me. The night was not
very dark, and I could see that Curtis had returned to his
post upon the poop; while in the extreme aft near the taff-
rail, which was still above water, I could distinguish the
forms of Mr. and Mrs. Kear, Miss Herbey, and Mr. Fal-
sten. The lieutenant and the boatswain were on the far end
of the forecastle; the remainder of the crew in the shrouds
By the assistance of his father, who carefully guided his
feet up the rigging, Andre was hoisted into the main-top.
Mrs. Kear could not be induced to join him in his elevated
position, in spite of being told that if the wind were to
freshen she would inevitably be washed overboard by the
waves; nothing could induce her to listen to remonstrances,
and she insisted upon remaining on the poop -- Miss Herbey,
of course, staying by her side.
As soon as the captain saw the Chancellor was no longer
sinking, he set to work to take down all the sails -- yards and
all -- and the top-gallants, in the hope that by removing
everything that could compromise the equilibrium of the
ship he might diminish the chance of her capsizing alto-
"But may she not founder at any moment?" I said to
Curtis, when I had joined him for a while upon the poop.
"Everything depends upon the weather," he replied, in
his calmest manner; "that, of course, may change at any
hour. One thing, however, is certain, the Chancellor pre-
serves her equilibrium for the present."
"But do you mean to say," I further asked, "that she can
sail with two feet of water over her deck?"
"No, Mr. Kazallon, she can't sail, but she can drift with
the wind; and if the wind remains in its present quarter, in
the course of a few days we might possibly sight the coast.
Besides, we shall have our raft as a last resource; in a few
hours it will be ready, and at daybreak we can embark."
"You have not, then," I added, "abandoned all hope
even yet?" I marveled at his composure.
"While there's life there's hope, you know, Mr. Kazallon;
out of a hundred chances, ninety-nine may be against us,
but perhaps the odd one may be in our favor. Besides, I
believe that our case is not without precedent. In the year
1795, a three-master, the Juno, was precisely in the same
half-sunk, water-logged condition as ourselves; and yet, with
her passengers and crew clinging to her top-masts, she
drifted for twenty days, until she came in sight of land,
when those who had survived the deprivation and fatigue
were saved. So let us not despair; let us hold on to the
hope that the survivors of the Chancellor may be equally
I was only too conscious that there was not much to be
said in support of Curtis's sanguine view of things, and that
the force of reason pointed all the other way; but I said
nothing, deriving what comfort I could from the fact that
the captain did not yet despond of an ultimate rescue.
As it was necessary to be prepared to abandon the ship
almost at a moment's notice, Dowlas was making every
exertion to hurry on the construction of the raft. A little
before midnight he was on the point of conveying some
planks for this purpose, when, to his astonishment and
horror, he found that the framework had totally disap-
peared. The ropes that had attached it to the vessel had
snapped as she became vertically displaced, and probably it
had been adrift for more than an hour.
The crew were frantic at this new misfortune, and shout-
ing "Overboard with the masts!" they began to cut down
the rigging preparatory to taking possession of the masts
for a new raft.
But here Curtis interposed:
"Back to your places, my men; back to your places. The
ship will not sink yet, so don't touch a rope until I give you
The firmness of the captain's voice brought the men to
their senses, and although some of them could ill disguise
their reluctance, all returned to their posts.
When daylight had sufficiently advanced Curtis mounted
the mast, and looked around for the missing raft; but it was
nowhere to be seen. The sea was far too rough for the men
to venture to take out the whale-boat in search of it, and
there was no choice but to set to work and to construct a
new raft immediately.
Since the sea has become so much rougher, Mrs. Kear has
been induced to leave the poop, and has managed to join M.
Letourneur and his son on the main-top, where she lies in a
state of complete prostration. I need hardly add that Miss
Herbey continues in her unwearied attendance. The space
to which these four people are limited is necessarily very
small, nowhere measuring twelve feet across: to prevent
them losing their balance some spars have been lashed from
shroud to shroud, and for the convenience of the two ladies
Curtis has contrived to make a temporary awning of a sail.
Mr. Kear has installed himself with Silas Huntly on the
A few cases of preserved meat and biscuit and some
barrels of water, that floated between the masts after the
submersion of the deck, have been hoisted to the top-mast
and fastened firmly to the stays. These are now our only
MR. KEAR MAKES A BUSINESS DEAL
DECEMBER 5. -- The day was very hot. December in lati-
tude 16 deg. N. is a summer month, and unless a breeze should
rise to temper the burning sun, we might expect to suffer
from an oppressive heat.
The sea still remained very rough, and as the heavy waves
broke over the ship as though she were a reef, the foam flew
up to the very top-masts, and our clothes were perpetually
drenched by the spray.
The Chancellor's hull is three-fourths immerged; besides
the three masts and the bowsprit, to which the whale-boat
was suspended, the poop and the forecastle are the only por-
tions that now are visible; and as the intervening section of
the deck is quite below the water, these appear to be con-
nected only by the framework of the netting that runs along
the vessel's sides. Communication between the top-masts is
extremely difficult, and would be absolutely precluded, were
it not that the sailors, with practiced dexterity, manage to
hoist themselves about by means of the stays. For the pas-
sengers, cowering on their narrow and unstable platform,
the spectacle of the raging sea below was truly terrific;
every wave that dashed over the ship shook the masts till
they trembled again, and one could venture scarcely to look
or to think lest he should be tempted to cast himself into the
Meanwhile, the crew worked away with all their remain-
ing vigor at the second raft, for which the top-gallants and
yards were all obliged to be employed; the planks, too, which
were continually being loosened and broken away by the
violence of the waves from the partitions of the ship, were
rescued before they had drifted out of reach, and were
brought into use. The symptoms of the ship foundering
did not appear to be immediate; so that Curtis insisted upon
the raft being made with proper care to insure its strength;
we were still several hundred miles from the coast of Guiana,
and for so long a voyage it was indispensable to have a struc-
ture of considerable solidity. The reasonableness of this
was self-apparent, and as the crew had recovered their as-
surance they spared no pains to accomplish their work effec-
Of all the number, there was but one, an Irishman, named
O'Ready, who seemed to question the utility of all their toil.
He shook his head with an oracular gravity. He is an old-
ish man, not less than sixty, with his hair and beard bleached
with the storms of many travels. As I was making my way
toward the poop, he came up to me and began talking.
"And why, bedad, I'd like to know, why is it that they'll
all be afther lavin' the ship?"
He turned his quid with the most serene composure, and
"And isn't it me myself that's been wrecked nine times
already? and sure, poor fools are they that ever have put
their trust in rafts or boats; sure and they found a wathery
grave. Nay, nay; while the ould ship lasts, let's stick to her,
Having thus unburdened his mind he relapsed into si-
lence, and soon went away.
About three o'clock I noticed that Mr. Kear and Silas
Huntly were holding an animated conversation in the fore-
top. The petroleum merchant had evidently some difficulty
in bringing the ex-captain round to his opinion, for I saw
him several times shake his head as he gave long and scrutin-
izing looks at the sea and sky. In less than an hour after-
ward I saw Huntly let himself down by the forestays and
clamber along to the fore-castle, where he joined the group
of sailors, and I lost sight of him.
I attached little importance to the incident, and shortly
afterward joined the party in the main-top, where we con-
tinued talking for some hours. The heat was intense, and if
it had not been for the shelter afforded by the sail-tent,
would have been unbearable. At five o'clock we took as re-
freshment some dried meat and biscuit, each individual be-
ing also allowed half a glass of water. Mrs. Kear prostrate
with fever, could not touch a mouthful; and nothing could
be done by Miss Herbey to relieve her, beyond occasionally
moistening her parched lips. The unfortunate lady suffers
greatly, and sometimes I am inclined to think that she will
succumb to the exposure and privation. Not once had her
husband troubled himself about her; but when shortly after-
ward I heard him hail some of the sailors on the fore-castle
and ask them to help him down from the foretop, I began
to think that the selfish fellow was coming to join his wife.
At first the sailors took no notice of his request, but on
his repeating it with the promise of paying them handsomely
for their services, two of them, Burke and Sandon, swung
themselves along the netting into the shrouds, and were soon
at his side.
A long discussion ensued. The men evidently were ask-
ing more than Mr. Kear was inclined to give, and at one
time it seemed as though the negotiation would fall through
altogether. But at length the bargain was struck, and I saw
Mr. Kear take a bundle of paper dollars from his waistcoat
pocket, and hand a number of them over to one of the men.
The man counted them carefully, and from the time it took
him, I should think that he could not have pocketed anything
less than a hundred dollars.
The next business was to get Mr. Kear down from the
foretop, and Burke and Sandon proceeded to tie a rope
round his waist, which they afterward fastened to the fore-
stay; then, in a way which provoked shouts of laughter from
their mates, they gave the unfortunate man a shove, and sent
him rolling down like a bundle of dirty clothes on to the
I was quite mistaken as to his object. Mr. Kear had no
intention of looking after his wife, but remained by the side
of Silas Huntly until the gathering darkness hid them both
As night drew on, the wind grew calmer, but the sea re-
mained very rough. The moon had been up ever since four
in the afternoon, though she only appeared at rare intervals
between the clouds. Some long lines of vapor on the hori-
zon were tinged with a rosy glare that foreboded a strong
breeze for the morrow, and all felt anxious to know from
which quarter the breeze would come, for any but a north-
easter would bear the frail raft on which we were to embark
far away from land.
About eight o'clock in the evening, Curtis mounted to the
main-top, but he seemed preoccupied and anxious, and did
not speak to anyone. He remained for a quarter of an
hour, then after silently pressing my hand, he returned to
his old post.
I laid myself down in the narrow space at my disposal,
and tried to sleep; but my mind was filled with strange fore-
bodings, and sleep was impossible. The very calmness of
the atmosphere was oppressive; scarcely a breath of air
vibrated through the metal rigging, and yet the sea rose with
a heavy swell as though it felt the warnings of a coming
All at once, at about eleven o'clock, the moon burst
brightly forth through a rift in the clouds, and the waves
sparkled again as if illuminated by a submarine glimmer. I
start up and look around me. Is it merely imagination? or
do I really see a black speck floating, on the dazzling white-
ness of the waters, a speck that cannot be a rock, because
it rises and falls with the heaving motion of the billows?
But the moon once again becomes overclouded; the sea is
darkened, and I return to my uneasy couch close to the lar-
THE WHALE-BOAT MISSING
DECEMBER 6. -- I must have fallen asleep for a few hours,
when, at four o'clock in the morning, I was rudely aroused
by the roaring of the wind, and could distinguish Curtis's
voice as he shouted in the brief intervals between the heavy
I got up, and holding tightly to the purlin -- for the waves
made the masts tremble with their violence -- I tried to look
around and below me. The sea was literally raging beneath,
and great masses of livid-looking foam were dashing be-
tween the masts, which were oscillating terrifically. It was
still dark, and I could only faintly distinguish two figures
in the stern, whom, by the sound of their voices, that I
caught occasionally above the tumult, I made out to be
Curtis and the boatswain.
Just at that moment a sailor, who had mounted to the
main-top to do something to the rigging, passed close be-
"What's the matter?" I asked.
"The wind has changed," he answered, adding something
which I could not hear distinctly, but which sounded like
"dead against us."
Dead against us! then. thought I, the wind had shifted to
the southwest, and my last night's forebodings had been
When daylight at length appeared, I found the wind, al-
though not blowing actually from the southwest, had veered
round to the northwest, a change which was equally dis-
astrous to us, inasmuch as it was carrying us away from
land. Moreover, the ship had sunk considerably during the
night, and there were now five feet of water above deck;
the side netting had completely disappeared, and the fore-
castle and the poop were now all but on a level with the sea,
which washed over them incessantly. With all possible ex-
pedition Curtis and his crew were laboring away at their
raft, but the violence of the swell materially impeded their
operations, and it became a matter of doubt as to whether
the woodwork would not fall asunder before it could be
properly fastened together.
As I watched the men at their work, M. Letourneur, with
one arm supporting his son, came out and stood by my side.
"Don't you think this main-top will soon give way?" he
said, as the narrow platform on which we stood creaked and
groaned with the swaying of the masts.
Miss Herbey heard his words and pointing toward Mrs.
Kear, who was lying prostrate at her feet, asked what we
thought ought to be done.
"We can do nothing but stay where we are," I replied.
"No," said Andre, "this is our best refuge; I hope you
are not afraid."
"Not for myself," said the young girl quietly, "only for
those to whom life is precious."
At a quarter to eight we heard the boatswain calling to
the sailors in the bows.
"Ay, ay, sir," said one of the men -- O'Ready, I think.
"Where's the whale-boat?" shouted the boatswain in a
"I don't know, sir. Not with us," was the reply.
"She's gone adrift, then!"
And sure enough the whale-boat was no longer hanging
from the bowsprit; and in a moment the discovery was made
that Mr. Kear, Silas Huntly, and three sailors, -- a Scotch-
man and two Englishmen, -- were missing. Afraid that the
Chancellor would founder before the completion of the raft,
Kear and Huntly had plotted together to effect their escape,
and had bribed the three sailors to seize the only remaining
This, then, was the black speck that I had seen during the
night. The miserable husband had deserted his wife, the
faithless captain had abandoned the ship that had once been
under his command.
"There are five saved, then," said the boatswain.
"Faith, an it's five lost ye'll be maning," said O'Ready;
and the state of the sea fully justified his opinion.
The crew were furious when they heard of the surrepti-
tious flight, and loaded the fugitives with all the invectives
they could lay their tongues to. So enraged were they
at the dastardly trick of which they had been made the dupes,
that if chance should bring the deserters again on board I
should be sorry to answer for the consequences.
In accordance with my advice, Mrs. Kear has not been in-
formed of her husband's disappearance. The unhappy lady
is wasting away with a fever for which we are powerless to
supply a remedy, for the medicine-chest was lost when the
ship began to sink. Nevertheless, I do not think we have
anything to regret on that score, feeling, as I do, that in a
case like Mrs. Kear's, drugs would be of no avail.
MRS. KEAR SUCCUMBS TO FEVER
DECEMBER 6 continued. -- The Chancellor no longer main-
tained her equilibrium; we felt that she was gradually going
down, and her hull was probably breaking up. The main-
top was already only ten feet above water, while the bow-
sprit, with the exception of the extreme end, that rose
obliquely from the waves, was entirely covered.
The Chancellor's last day, we felt, had come.
Fortunately the raft was all but finished, and unless Curtis
preferred to wait till morning, we should be able to embark
in the evening.
The raft is a very solid structure. The spars that form
the framework are crossed one above another and lashed
together with stout ropes, so that the whole pile rises a
couple of feet above the water. The upper platform is con-
structed from the planks that were broken from the ship's
sides by the violence of the waves, and which had not drifted
away. The afternoon has been employed in charging the
raft with such provisions, sails, tools, and instruments as we
have been able to save.
And how can I attempt to give any idea of the feelings
with which, one and all, we now contemplated the fate be-
fore us? For my own part, I was possessed rather by a
benumbed indifference than by any sense of genuine resigna-
tion. M. Letourneur was entirely absorbed in his son, who,
in his turn, thought only of his father, at the same time
exhibiting a Christian fortitude, which was shown by no one
else of the party except Miss Herbey, who faced her danger
with the same brave composure. Incredible as it may seem,
Falsten remained the same as ever, occupying himself with
writing down figures and memoranda in his pocketbook.
Mrs. Kear, in spite of all that Miss Herbey could do for her,
was evidently dying.
With regard to the sailors, two or three of them were
calm enough, but the rest had well-nigh lost their wits.
Some of the more ill-disposed among them seemed inclined
to run into excesses; and their conduct, under the bad in-
fluence of Owen and Jynxstrop, made it doubtful whether
they would submit to control when once we were limited to
the narrow dimensions of the raft. Lieutenant Walter, al-
though his courage never failed him, was worn out with
bodily fatigue, and obliged to give up all active labor; but
Curtis and the boatswain were resolute, energetic and firm
as ever. To borrow an expression from the language of
metallurgic art, they were men "at the highest degree of
At five o'clock one of our companions in misfortune was
released from her sufferings. Mrs. Kear, after a most dis-
tressing illness, through which her young companion tended
her with the most devoted care, has breathed her last. A
few deep sighs and all was over, and I doubt whether
the sufferer was ever conscious of the peril of her
The night passed on without further incident. Toward
morning I touched the dead woman's hand, and it was cold
and stiff. The corpse could not remain any longer on the
main-top, and after Miss Herbey and I had carefully
wrapped the garments about it, with a few short prayers
the body of the first victim of our miseries was committed
to the deep.
As the sea closed over the body I heard one of the men in
the shrouds say:
"There goes a carcass that we shall be sorry we have
I looked round sharply. It was Owen who had spoken.
But horrible as were his words, the conviction was forced
upon my mind that the day could not be far distant when we
must want for food.
WE EMBARK ON THE RAFT
DECEMBER 7. -- The ship was sinking rapidly; the water
had risen to the fore-top; the poop and forecastle were
completely submerged; the top of the bowsprit had disap-
peared, and only the three mast-tops projected from the
But all was ready on the raft; an erection had been made
on the fore to hold a mast, which was supported by shrouds
fastened to the sides of the platform; this mast carried a
Perhaps, after all, these few frail planks will carry us to
the shore which the Chancellor has failed to reach; at any
rate, we cannot yet resign all hope.
We were just on the point of embarking at 7 A. M. when
the Chancellor all at once began to sink so rapidly that the
carpenter and men who were on the raft were obliged with
all speed to cut the ropes that secured it to the vessel, to pre-
vent it from being swallowed up in the eddying waters.
Anxiety, the most intense, took possession of us all. At
the very moment when the ship was descending into the
fathomless abyss, the raft, our only hope of safety, was
drifting off before our eyes. Two of the sailors and an
apprentice, beside themselves with terror, threw themselves
headlong into the sea; but it was evident from the very
first they were quite powerless to combat the winds and
waves. Escape was impossible; they could neither reach
the raft nor return to the ship. Curtis tied a rope round
his waist and tried to swim to their assistance; but long be-
fore he could reach them, the unfortunate men, after a vain
struggle for life, sank below the waves and were seen no
more. Curtis, bruised and beaten with the surf that raged
about the mast-heads, was hauled back to the ship.
Meantime, Dowlas and his men, by means of some spars
which they used as oars, were exerting themselves to bring
back the raft, which had drifted about two cables'-lengths
away; but, in spite of all their efforts, it was fully an hour --
an hour which seemed to us, waiting as we were with the
water up to the level of the top masts, like an eternity -- be-
fore they succeeded in bringing the raft alongside, and lash-
ing it once again to the Chancellor's main-mast.
Not a moment was then to be lost. The waves were
eddying like a whirlpool around the submerged vessel, and
numbers of enormous airbubbles were rising to the surface
of the water.
The time was come. At Curtis's word, "Embark!" we
all hurried to the raft. Andre, who insisted upon seeing
Miss Herbey go first, was helped safely on to the platform,
where his father immediately joined him. In a very few
minutes all except Curtis and old O'Ready had left the
Curtis remained standing on the main-top, deeming it not
only his duty, but his right, to be the last to leave the vessel
he had loved so well, and the loss of which he so much de-
"Now then, old fellow, off of this!" cried the captain
to the old Irishman, who did not move.
"And is it quite sure ye are that she's sinkin'?" he said.
"Ay, ay! sure enough, my man; and you'd better look
"Faith, then, and I think I will;" and not a moment too
soon (for the water was up to his waist) he jumped on to
Having cast one last, lingering look around him, Curtis
then left the ship; the rope was cut, and we went slowly
All eyes were fixed upon the spot where the Chancellor lay
foundering. The top of the mizzen was the first to dis-
appear, then followed the main-top; and soon, of what had
been a noble vessel, not a vestige was to be seen.
OUR SITUATION CRITICAL
WILL this frail boat, forty feet by twenty, bear us in
safety? Sink it cannot; the material of which it is com-
posed is of a kind that must surmount the waves. But it
is questionable whether it will hold together. The cords
that bind it will have a tremendous strain to bear in resist-
ing the violence of the sea. The most sanguine among us
trembles to face the future; the most confident dares to
think only of the present. After the manifold perils of the
last seventy-two days' voyage all are too agitated to look
forward without dismay to what in all human probability
must be a time of the direst distress.
Vain as the task may seem, I will not pause in my work
of registering the events of our drama, as scene after scene
they are unfolded before our eyes.
Of the twenty-eight persons who left Charleston in the
Chancellor, only eighteen are left to huddle together upon
this narrow raft; this number includes the five passengers,
namely, M. Letourneur, Andre, Miss Herbey, Falsten, and
myself; the ship's officers, Captain Curtis, Lieutenant Wal-
ter, the boatswain, Hobart the steward, Jynxstrop the cook,
and Dowlas the carpenter; and seven sailors, Austin, Owen,
Wilson, O'Ready, Burke, Sandon, and Flaypole.
Such are the passengers on the raft; it is but a brief task
to enumerate their resources.
The greater part of the provisions in the store-room were
destroyed at the time when the ship's deck was submerged,
and the small quantity that Curtis has been able to save will
be very inadequate to supply the wants of eighteen people,
who too probably have many days to wait ere they sight
either land or a passing vessel. One cask of biscuit, an-
other of preserved meat, a small keg of brandy, and two
barrels of water complete our store, so that the utmost
frugality in the distribution of our daily rations becomes
Of spare clothes we have positively none; a few sails
will serve for shelter by day, and covering by night.
Dowlas has his carpenter's tools, we have each a pocket-
knife, and O'Ready an old tin pot, of which he takes the
most tender care; in addition to these, we are in possession
of a sextant, a compass, a chart, and a metal tea-kettle,
everything else that was placed on deck in readiness for the
first raft having been lost in the partial submersion of the
Such then is our situation; critical indeed, but after all
perhaps not desperate. We have one great fear; some there
are among us whose courage, moral as well as physical,
may give way, and over failing spirits such as these we may
have no control.
FIRST DAY ON THE RAFT
DECEMBER 7 continued. -- Our first day on the raft has
passed without any special incident. At eight o'clock this
morning Curtis asked our attention for a moment.
"My friends," he said, "listen to me. Here on this raft,
just as when we were on board the Chancellor, I consider
myself your captain; and as your captain, I expect that all
of you will strictly obey my orders. Let me beg of you, one
and all, to think solely of our common welfare; let us work
with one heart and with one soul, and may Heaven protect
After delivering these few words with an emotion that
evidenced their earnestness, the captain consulted his com-
pass, and found that the freshening breeze was blowing
from the north. This was fortunate for us, and no time
was to be lost in taking advantage of it to speed us on our
dubious way. Dowlas was occupied in fixing the mast into
the socket that had already been prepared for its reception,
and in order to support it more firmly he placed spurs of
wood, forming arched buttresses, on either side. While
he was thus employed the boatswain and the other seamen
were stretching the large royal sail on the yard that had
been reserved for that purpose.
By half-past nine the mast was hoisted, and held firmly
in its place by some shrouds attached securely to the sides
of the raft; then the sail was run up and trimmed to the
wind, and the raft began to make a perceptible progress
under the brisk breeze.
As soon as we had once started, the carpenter set to work
to contrive some sort of a rudder, that would enable us to
maintain our desired direction. Curtis and Falsten assisted
him with some serviceable suggestions, and in a couple of
hours' time he had made and fixed to the back of the raft
a kind of paddle, very similar to those used by the Malays.
At noon, after the necessary preliminary observations,
Curtis took the altitude of the sun. The result gave lat.
15 deg. 7' N. by long. 49 deg. 35' W. as our position, which, on
consulting the chart, proved to be about 650 miles northeast
of the coast of Paramaribo in Dutch Guiana.
Now even under the most favorable circumstances, with
trade-winds and weather always in our favor, we can not
by any chance hope to make more than ten or twelve miles
a day, so that the voyage cannot possibly be performed under
a period of two months. To be sure there is the hope to be
indulged that we may fall in with a passing vessel, but as
the part of the Atlantic into which we have been driven is
intermediate between the tracks of the French and English
transatlantic steamers either from the Antilles or the
Brazils, we cannot reckon at all upon a contingency happen-
ing in our favor; while if a calm should set in, or worse
still, if the wind were to blow from the east, not only
two months, but twice, nay, three times that length of time
will be required to accomplish the passage.
At best, however, our provisions, even though used with
the greatest care, will barely last three months. Curtis has
called us into consultation, and as the working of the raft
does not require such labor as to exhaust our physical
strength, all have agreed to submit to a regimen which,
although it will suffice to keep us alive, will certainly
not fully satisfy the cravings of hunger and thirst.
As far as we can estimate we have somewhere about 500
lbs. of meat and about the same quantity of biscuit. To
make this last for three months we ought not to consume
very much more than 5 lbs. a day of each, which, when
divided among eighteen people, will make the daily ration 5
oz. of meat and 5 oz. of biscuit for each person. Of water
we have certainly not more than 200 gallons, but by reduc-
ing each person's allowance to a pint a day, we hope to eke
out that, too, over the space of three months.
It is arranged that the food shall be distributed under the
boatswain's superintendence every morning at ten o'clock.
Each person will then receive his allowance of meat and bis-
cuit, which may be eaten when and how he pleases. The
water will be given out twice a day -- at ten in the morn-
ing and six in the evening; but as the only drinking-vessels
in our possession are the teakettle and the old Irishman's tin
pot, the water has to be consumed immediately on distribu-
tion. As for the brandy, of which there are only five gallons,
it will be doled out with the strictest limitation, and no one
will be allowed to touch it except with the captain's express
I should not forget that there are two sources from which
we may hope to increase our store. First, any rain that
may fall will add to our supply of water, and two empty
barrels have been placed ready to receive it; secondly, we
hope to do something in the way of fishing, and the sailors
have already begun to prepare some lines.
All have mutually agreed to abide by the rules that have
been laid down, for all are fully aware that by nothing
but the most precise regimen can we hope to avert the
horrors of famine, and forewarned by the fate of many who
in similar circumstances have miserably perished, we are
determined to do all that prudence can suggest for hus-
banding our stores.
WE CATCH A SUPPLY OF FISH
DECEMBER 8 to 17. -- When night came we wrapped our-
selves in our sails. For my own part, worn out with the
fatigue of the long watch in the top-mast, I slept for several
hours; M. Letourneur and Andre did the same, and Miss
Herbey obtained sufficient rest to relieve the tired expression
that her countenance had lately being wearing. The night
passed quietly. As the raft was not very heavily laden the
waves did not break over it at all, and we were consequently
able to keep ourselves perfectly dry. To say the truth, it
was far better for us that the sea should remain somewhat
boisterous, for any diminution in the swell of the waves
would indicate that the wind had dropped, and it was with
a feeling of regret that when the morning came I had to note
down "weather calm" in my journal.
In these low latitudes the heat in the day-time is so in-
tense, and the sun burns with such an incessant glare, that
the entire atmosphere becomes pervaded with a glowing
vapor. The wind, too, blows only in fitful gusts, and
through long intervals of perfect calm the sails flap idly and
uselessly against the mast. Curtis and the boatswain, how-
ever, are of opinion that we are not entirely dependent on
the wind. Certain indications, which a sailor's eye alone
could detect, make them almost sure that we are being
carried along by a westerly current, that flows at the rate
of three or four miles an hour. If they are not mistaken,
this is a circumstance that may materially assist our pro-
gress, and at which we can hardly fail to rejoice, for the
high temperature often makes our scanty allowance of water
quite inadequate to allay our thirst.
But with all our hardships I must confess that our con-
dition is far preferable to what it was when we were still
clinging to the Chancellor. Here at least we have a com-
paratively solid platform beneath our feet, and we are re-
lieved from the incessant dread of being carried down with
a foundering vessel. In the day time we can move about
with a certain amount of freedom, discuss the weather,
watch the sea, and examine our fishing-lines; while at night
we can rest securely under the shelter of our sails.
"I really think, Mr. Kazallon," said Andre Letourneur
to me a few days after we had embarked, "that our time
on board the raft passes as pleasantly as it did upon Ham
Rock; and the raft has one advantage even over the reef, for
it is capable of motion."
"Yes, Andre," I replied, "as long as the wind continues
favorable the raft has decidedly the advantage; but sup-
posing the wind shifts; what then?"
"Oh, we mustn't think about that," he said; "let us keep
up our courage while we can."
I felt that he was right, and that the dangers we had
escaped should make us more hopeful for the future; and
I think that nearly all of us are inclined to share his opin-
Whether the captain is equally sanguine I am unable to
say. He holds himself very much aloof, and as he evi-
dently feels that he has the great responsibility of saving
other lives than his own, we are reluctant to disturb his silent
Such of the crew as are not on watch spend the greater
portion of their time in dozing on the fore part of the raft.
The aft, by the captain's orders, has been reserved for the
use of us passengers, and by erecting some uprights we have
contrived to make a sort of tent, which affords some shelter
from the sun. On the whole our bill of health is tolerably
satisfactory. Lieutenant Walter is the only invalid, and
he, in spite of all our careful nursing, seems to get weaker
Andre Letourneur is the life of our party, and I have
never appreciated the young man so well. His originality
of perception makes his conversation both lively and in-
teresting, and as he talks, his wan and suffering countenance
lights up with an intelligent animation. His father seems
to become more devoted to him than ever, and I have seen
him sit for an hour at a time, with his hand resting on his
son's, listening eagerly to his every word.
Miss Herbey occasionally joins in our conversation, but
although we all do our best to make her forget that she has
lost those who should have been her natural protectors, M.
Letourneur is the only one among us to whom she speaks
without a certain reserve. To him, whose age gives him
something of the authority of a father, she has told the his-
tory of her life -- a life of patience and self-denial such as
not unfrequently falls to the lot of orphans. She had been,
she said, two years with Mrs. Kear, and although now left
alone in the world, homeless and without resources, hope
for the future does not fail her. The young lady's modest
deportment and energy of character command the respect of
all on board, and I do not think that even the coarsest of the
sailors has either by word or gesture acted toward her in a
way that she could deem offensive.
The 12th, 13th, and 14th of December passed away with-
out any change in our condition. The wind continued to
blow in irregular gusts, but always in the same direction,
and the helm, or rather the paddle at the back of the raft, has
never once required shifting; and the watch, who are posted
on the fore, under orders to examine the sea with the most
scrupulous attention, have had no change of any kind to
At the end of the week we found ourselves growing ac-
customed to our limited diet, and as we had no manual exer-
tion, and no wear and tear of our physical constitution, we
managed very well. Our greatest deprivation was the
short supply of water, for, as I said before, the unmitigated
heat made our thirst at times very painful.
On the 15th we held high festival. A shoal of fish, of
the sparus tribe, swarmed round the raft, and although our
tackle consisted merely of long cords baited with morsels of
dried meat stuck upon bent nails, the fish were so voracious
that in the course of a couple of days we had caught as many
as weighed almost 200 lbs., some of which were grilled, and
others boiled in sea-water over a fire made on the fore part
of the raft. This marvelous haul was doubly welcome, in-
asmuch as it not only afforded us a change of diet, but
enabled us to economize our stores; if only some rain had
fallen at the same time we would have been more than
Unfortunately the shoal of fish did not remain long in
our vicinity. On the 17th they all disappeared, and some
sharks, not less than twelve or fifteen feet long, belonging
to the species of the spotted dog-fish, took their place. These
horrible creatures have black backs and fins, covered with
white spots and stripes. Here, on our low raft, we seemed
almost on a level with them, and more than once their tails
have struck the spars with terrible violence. The sailors
manage to keep them at a distance by means of handspikes,
but I shall not be surprised if they persist in following us,
instinctively intelligent that we are destined to become their
prey. For myself, I confess that they give me a feeling
of uneasiness; they seem to me like monsters of ill-omen.
MUTINY ON THE RAFT
DECEMBER 18 to 20. -- On the 18th the wind freshened
a little, but as it blew from the same favorable quarter we
did not complain, and only took the precaution of putting
an extra support to the mast, so that it should not snap
with the tension of the sail. This done, the raft was carried
along with something more than its ordinary speed, and
left a long line of foam in its wake.
In the afternoon the sky became slightly over-clouded,
and the heat consequently less oppressive. The swell made
it more difficult for the raft to keep its balance, and we
shipped two or three heavy seas; but the carpenter managed
to make with some planks a kind of wall about a couple of
feet high, which protected us from the direct action of the
waves. Our casks of food and water were secured to the
raft with double ropes, for we dared not run the risk of
their being carried overboard, an accident that would at
once have reduced us to the direst distress.
In the course of the day the sailors gathered some of
the marine plants known by the name of sargassos, very
similar to those we saw in such profusion between the
Bermudas and Ham Rock. I advised my companions to
chew the laminary tangles, which they would find contained
a saccharine juice, affording considerable relief to their
parched lips and throats.
The remainder of the day passed without incident. I
should not, however, omit to mention that the frequent con-
ferences held among the sailors, especially between Owen,
Burke, Flaypole, Wilson, and Jynxstrop, the negro, aroused
some uneasy suspicions in my mind. What was the sub-
ject of their conversation I could not discover, for they
became silent immediately that a passenger or one of the
officers approached them. When I mentioned the matter
to Curtis I found he had already noticed these secret in-
terviews, and that they had given him enough concern to
make him determined to keep a strict eye upon Jynxstrop
and Owen, who, rascals as they were themselves, were evi-
dently trying to disaffect their mates.
On the 19th the heat was again excessive. The sky was
cloudless, and as there was not enough wind to fill the sail
the raft lay motionless upon the surface of the water.
Some of the sailors found a transient alleviation for their
thirst by plunging into the sea, but as we were fully aware
that the water all around was infested with sharks, none
of us was rash enough to follow their example, though if,
as seems likely, we remain long becalmed, we shall probably
in time overcome our fears, and feel constrained to indulge
ourselves with a bath.
The health of Lieutenant Walter continues to cause us
grave anxiety, the young man being weakened by attacks
of intermittent fever. Except for the loss of the medicine-
chest we might have temporarily reduced this by quinine;
but it is only too evident that the poor fellow is consump-
tive, and that that hopeless malady is making ravages upon
him that no medicine could permanently arrest. His sharp,
dry cough, his short breathing, his profuse perspirations,
more especially in the morning; the pinched-in nose, the
hollow cheeks, of which the general pallor is only relieved
by a hectic flush, the contracted lips, the too brilliant eye
and wasted form -- all bear witness to a slow but sure de-
To-day, the 20th, the temperature is as high as ever, and
the raft still motionless. The rays of the sun penetrate even
through the shelter of our tent, where we sit literally gasp-
ing with the heat. The impatience with which we awaited
the moment when the boatswain should dole out our meager
allowance of water, and the eagerness with which those
lukewarm drops were swallowed, can only be realized by
those who for themselves have endured the agonies of
Lieutenant Walter suffers more than any of us from the
scarcity of water, and I noticed that Miss Herbey reserved
almost the whole of her own share for his use. Kind and
compassionate as ever, the young girl does all that lies in
her power to relieve the poor fellow's sufferings.
"Mr. Kazallon," she said to me this morning, "that
young man gets manifestly weaker every day."
"Yes, Miss Herbey," I replied, "and how sorrowful it
is that we can do nothing for him, absolutely nothing."
"Hush!" she said, with her wonted consideration, "per-
haps he will hear what we are saying."
And then she sat down near the edge of the raft, where,
with her head resting on her hands, she remained lost in
An incident sufficiently unpleasant occurred to-day. For
nearly an hour Owen, Flaypole, Burke and Jynxstrop had
been engaged in close conversation and, although their
voices were low, their gestures had betrayed that they were
animated by some strong excitement. At the conclusion
of the colloquy Owen got up and walked deliberately to the
quarter of the raft that has been reserved for the use of the
"Where are you off to now, Owen?" said the boatswain.
"That's my business," said the man insolently, and pur-
sued his course.
The boatswain was about to stop him, but before he could
interfere Curtis was standing and looking Owen steadily in