Part 1 out of 8
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Dick Sand; or, a Captain at Fifteen by Jules Verne
[Redactor's Note: _Dick Sand; or, a Captain at Fifteen_, number V018 in
the T&M listing of the works of Jules Verne, is a translation of _Un
capitaine de quinze ans (1878)_. This translation was first published
by George Munro (N.Y.) in 1878 and reprinted many times in the U.S.
This is a different translation from that of Ellen E. Frewer who
translated the book for Sampson and Low in London entitled _Dick Sands,
the Boy Captain_. American translations were often free of the
religious and colonial bias inserted by the English translators of
A CAPTAIN AT FIFTEEN.
By JULES VERNE,
_Author of "Eight Hundred Leagues on the Amazon," "Twenty
Thousand Leagues Under the Sea," "The Mysterious
Island," "Tour of the World in Eighty Days,"
"Michael Strogoff," etc., etc._
A. L. BURT COMPANY, PUBLISHERS
52-58 Duane STREET, NEW YORK.
CHAPTER I. The Brig-Schooner "Pilgrim."
CHAPTER II. Dick Sand.
CHAPTER III. The Wreck.
CHAPTER IV. The Survivors of the "Waldeck."
CHAPTER V. "S. V."
CHAPTER VI. A Whale in Sight.
CHAPTER VII. Preparations.
CHAPTER VIII. The Jubarte.
CHAPTER IX. Captain Sand.
CHAPTER X. The Four Days which Follow.
CHAPTER XI. Tempest.
CHAPTER XII. On the Horizon.
CHAPTER XIII. Land! Land.
CHAPTER XIV. The Best to Do.
CHAPTER XV. Harris.
CHAPTER XVI. On the Way.
CHAPTER XVII. A Hundred Miles in Ten Days.
CHAPTER XVIII. The Terrible Word.
CHAPTER I. The Slave Trade.
CHAPTER II. Harris and Negoro.
CHAPTER III. On the March.
CHAPTER IV. The Bad Roads of Angola.
CHAPTER V. Ants and their Dwelling.
CHAPTER VI. The Diving-Bell.
CHAPTER VII. In Camp on the Banks of the Coanza.
CHAPTER VIII. Some of Dick Sand's Notes.
CHAPTER IX. Kazounde.
CHAPTER X. The Great Market-day.
CHAPTER XI. The King of Kazounde is Offered a Punch.
CHAPTER XII. A Royal Burial.
CHAPTER XIII. The Interior of a Factory.
CHAPTER XIV. Some News of Dr. Livingston.
CHAPTER XV. Where a Manticore may Lead.
CHAPTER XVI. A Magician.
CHAPTER XVII. Drifting.
CHAPTER XVIII. Various Incidents.
CHAPTER XIX. "S. V."
CHAPTER XX. Conclusion.
THE BRIG-SCHOONER "PILGRIM."
On February 2, 1876, the schooner "Pilgrim" was in latitude 43 deg. 57'
south, and in longitude 165 deg. 19' west of the meridian of Greenwich.
This vessel, of four hundred tons, fitted out at San Francisco for
whale-fishing in the southern seas, belonged to James W. Weldon, a rich
Californian ship-owner, who had for several years intrusted the command
of it to Captain Hull.
The "Pilgrim" was one of the smallest, but one of the best of that
flotilla, which James W. Weldon sent each season, not only beyond
Behring Strait, as far as the northern seas, but also in the quarters
of Tasmania or of Cape Horn, as far as the Antarctic Ocean. She sailed
in a superior manner. Her very easily managed rigging permitted her to
venture, with a few men, in sight of the impenetrable fields of ice of
the southern hemisphere. Captain Hull knew how to disentangle himself,
as the sailors say, from among those icebergs, which, during the
summer, drift by the way of New Zealand or the Cape of Good Hope, under
a much lower latitude than that which they reach in the northern seas
of the globe. It is true that only icebergs of small dimensions were
found there; they were already worn by collisions, eaten away by the
warm waters, and the greater number of them were going to melt in the
Pacific or the Atlantic.
Under the command of Captain Hull, a good seaman, and also one of the
most skilful harpooners of the flotilla, was a crew composed of five
sailors and a novice. It was a small number for this whale-fishing,
which requires a good many persons. Men are necessary as well for the
management of the boats for the attack, as for the cutting up of the
captured animals. But, following the example of certain ship-owners,
James W. Weldon found it much more economical to embark at San
Francisco only the number of sailors necessary for the management of
the vessel. New Zealand did not lack harpooners, sailors of all
nationalities, deserters or others, who sought to be hired for the
season, and who followed skilfully the trade of fishermen. The busy
period once over, they were paid, they were put on shore, and they
waited till the whalers of the following year should come to claim
their services again. There was obtained by this method better work
from the disposable sailors, and a much larger profit derived by their
They had worked in this way on board the "Pilgrim."
The schooner had just finished her season on the limit of the Antarctic
Circle. But she had not her full number of barrels of oil, of coarse
whalebones nor of fine. Even at that period, fishing was becoming
difficult. The whales, pursued to excess, were becoming rare. The
"right" whale, which bears the name of "North Caper," in the Northern
Ocean, and that of "Sulphur Bottom," in the South Sea, was likely to
disappear. The whalers had been obliged to fall back on the finback or
jubarte, a gigantic mammifer, whose attacks are not without danger.
This is what Captain Hull had done during this cruise; but on his next
voyage he calculated on reaching a higher latitude, and, if necessary,
going in sight of Clarie and Adelie Lands, whose discovery, contested
by the American Wilkes, certainly belongs to the illustrious commander
of the "Astrolabe" and the Zelee, to the Frenchman, Dumont d'Urville.
In fact, the season had not been favorable for the "Pilgrim." In the
beginning of January, that is to say, toward the middle of the Southern
summer, and even when the time for the whalers to return had not yet
arrived Captain Hull had been obliged to abandon the fishing places.
His additional crew--a collection of pretty sad subjects--gave him an
excuse, as they say, and he determined to separate from them.
The "Pilgrim" then steered to the northwest, for New Zealand, which she
sighted on the 15th of January. She arrived at Waitemata, port of
Auckland, situated at the lowest end of the Gulf of Chouraki, on the
east coast of the northern island, and landed the fishermen who had
been engaged for the season.
The crew was not satisfied. The cargo of the "Pilgrim" was at least two
hundred barrels of oil short. There had never been worse fishing.
Captain Hull felt the disappointment of a hunter who, for the first
time, returns as he went away--or nearly so. His self-love, greatly
excited, was at stake, and he did not pardon those scoundrels whose
insubordination had compromised the results of his cruise.
It was in vain that he endeavored to recruit a new fishing crew at
Auckland. All the disposable seamen were embarked on the other whaling
vessels. He was thus obliged to give up the hope of completing the
"Pilgrim's" cargo, and Captain Hull was preparing to leave Auckland
definitely, when a request for a passage was made which he could not
Mrs. Weldon, wife of the "Pilgrim's" owner, was then at Auckland with
her young son Jack, aged about five years, and one of her relatives,
her Cousin Benedict. James W. Weldon, whom his business operations
sometimes obliged to visit New Zealand, had brought the three there,
and intended to bring them back to San Francisco.
But, just as the whole family was going to depart, little Jack became
seriously ill, and his father, imperatively recalled by his business,
was obliged to leave Auckland, leaving his wife, his son, and Cousin
Three months had passed away--three long months of separation, which
were extremely painful to Mrs. Weldon. Meanwhile her young child was
restored to health, and she was at liberty to depart, when she was
informed of the arrival of the "Pilgrim."
Now, at that period, in order to return to San Francisco, Mrs. Weldon
found herself under the necessity of going to Australia by one of the
vessels of the Golden Age Trans-oceanic Company, which ply between
Melbourne and the Isthmus of Panama by Papeiti. Then, once arrived at
Panama, it would be necessary for her to await the departure of the
American steamer, which establishes a regular communication between the
Isthmus and California. Thence, delays, trans-shipments, always
disagreeable for a woman and a child. It was just at this time that the
"Pilgrim" came into port at Auckland. Mrs. Weldon did not hesitate, but
asked Captain Hull to take her on board to bring her back to San
Francisco--she, her son, Cousin Benedict, and Nan, an old negress who
had served her since her infancy. Three thousand marine leagues to
travel on a sailing vessel! But Captain Hull's ship was so well
managed, and the season still so fine on both sides of the Equator!
Captain Hull consented, and immediately put his own cabin at the
disposal of his passenger. He wished that, during a voyage which might
last forty or fifty days, Mrs. Weldon should be installed as well as
possible on board the whaler.
There were then certain advantages for Mrs. Weldon in making the voyage
under these conditions. The only disadvantage was that this voyage
would be necessarily prolonged in consequence of this circumstance--the
"Pilgrim" would go to Valparaiso, in Chili, to effect her unloading.
That done, there would be nothing but to ascend the American coast,
with land breezes, which make these parts very agreeable.
Besides, Mrs. Weldon was a courageous woman, whom the sea did not
frighten. Then thirty years of age, she was of robust health, being
accustomed to long voyages, for, having shared with her husband the
fatigues of several passages, she did not fear the chances more or less
contingent, of shipping on board a ship of moderate tonnage. She knew
Captain Hull to be an excellent seaman, in whom James W. Weldon had
every confidence. The "Pilgrim" was a strong vessel, capital sailer,
well quoted in the flotilla of American whalers. The opportunity
presented itself. It was necessary to profit by it. Mrs. Weldon did
profit by it.
Cousin Benedict--it need not be said--would accompany her.
This cousin was a worthy man, about fifty years of age. But,
notwithstanding his fifty years, it would not have been prudent to let
him go out alone. Long, rather than tall, narrow, rather than thin, his
figure bony, his skull enormous and very hairy, one recognized in his
whole interminable person one of those worthy savants, with gold
spectacles, good and inoffensive beings, destined to remain great
children all their lives, and to finish very old, like centenaries who
would die at nurse.
"Cousin Benedict"--he was called so invariably, even outside of the
family, and, in truth, he was indeed one of those good men who seem to
be the born cousins of all the world--Cousin Benedict, always impeded
by his long arms and his long limbs, would be absolutely incapable of
attending to matters alone, even in the most ordinary circumstances of
life. He was not troublesome, oh! no, but rather embarrassing for
others, and embarrassed for himself. Easily satisfied, besides being
very accommodating, forgetting to eat or drink, if some one did not
bring him something to eat or drink, insensible to the cold as to the
heat, he seemed to belong less to the animal kingdom than to the
vegetable kingdom. One must conceive a very useless tree, without fruit
and almost without leaves, incapable of giving nourishment or shelter,
but with a good heart.
Such was Cousin Benedict. He would very willingly render service to
people if, as Mr. Prudhomme would say, he were capable of rendering it.
Finally, his friends loved him for his very feebleness. Mrs. Weldon
regarded him as her child--a large elder brother of her little Jack.
It is proper to add here that Cousin Benedict was, meanwhile, neither
idle nor unoccupied. On the contrary, he was a worker. His only
passion--natural history--absorbed him entirely.
To say "Natural History" is to say a great deal.
We know that the different parts of which this science is composed are
zoology, botany, mineralogy, and geology.
Now Cousin Benedict was, in no sense, a botanist, nor a mineralogist,
nor a geologist.
Was he, then, a zoologist in the entire acceptation of the word, a kind
of Cuvier of the New World, decomposing an animal by analysis, or
putting it together again by synthesis, one of those profound
connoisseurs, versed in the study of the four types to which modern
science refers all animal existence, vertebrates, mollusks,
articulates, and radiates? Of these four divisions, had the artless but
studious savant observed the different classes, and sought the orders,
the families, the tribes, the genera, the species, and the varieties
which distinguish them?
Had Cousin Benedict devoted himself to the study of the vertebrates,
mammals, birds, reptiles, and fishes?
Was it to the mollusks, from the cephalopodes to the bryozoans, that he
had given his preference, and had malacology no more secrets for him?
Not at all.
Then it was on the radiates, echinoderms, acalephes, polypes,
entozoons, sponges, and infusoria, that he had for such a long time
burned the midnight oil?
It must, indeed, be confessed that it was not on the radiates.
Now, in zoology there only remains to be mentioned the division of the
articulates, so it must be that it was on this division that Cousin
Benedict's only passion was expended.
Yes, and still it is necessary to select.
This branch of the articulates counts six classes: insects, myriapodes,
arachnides, crustaceans, cirrhopodes, and annelides.
Now, Cousin Benedict, scientifically speaking, would not know how to
distinguish an earth-worm from a medicinal leech, a sand-fly from a
glans-marinus, a common spider from a false scorpion, a shrimp from a
frog, a gally-worm from a scolopendra.
But, then, what was Cousin Benedict? Simply an entomologist--nothing
To that, doubtless, it may be said that in its etymological
acceptation, entomology is that part of the natural sciences which
includes all the articulates. That is true, in a general way; but it is
the custom to give this word a more restricted sense. It is then only
applied, properly speaking, to the study of insects, that is to say:
"All the articulate animals of which the body, composed of rings placed
end to end, forms three distinct segments, and which possesses three
pairs of legs, which have given them the name of hexapodes."
Now, as Cousin Benedict had confined himself to the study of the
articulates of this class, he was only an entomologist.
But, let us not be mistaken about it. In this class of the insects are
counted not less than ten orders:
1. Orthopterans as grasshoppers, crickets, etc.
2. Neuropters as ant-eaters, dragon-flies or libellula.
3. Hymenopters as bees, wasps, ants.
4. Lepidopters as butterflies, etc.
5. Hemipters as cicada, plant-lice, fleas, etc.
6. Coleopters as cockchafers, fire-flies, etc.
7. Dipters as gnats, musquitoes, flies.
8. Rhipipters as stylops.
9. Parasites as acara, etc.
10. Thysanurans as lepidotus, flying-lice, etc.
Now, in certain of these orders, the coleopters, for example, there are
recognized thirty thousand species, and sixty thousand in the dipters;
so subjects for study are not wanting, and it will be conceded that
there is sufficient in this class alone to occupy a man!
Thus, Cousin Benedict's life was entirely and solely consecrated to
To this science he gave all his hours--all, without exception, even the
hours of sleep, because he invariably dreamt "hexapodes." That he
carried pins stuck in his sleeves and in the collar of his coat, in the
bottom of his hat, and in the facings of his vest, need not be
When Cousin Benedict returned from some scientific promenade his
precious head-covering in particular was no more than a box of natural
history, being bristling inside and outside with pierced insects.
And now all will be told about this original when it is stated, that it
was on account of his passion for entomology that he had accompanied
Mr. and Mrs. Weldon to New Zealand. There his collection was enriched
by some rare subjects, and it will be readily understood that he was in
haste to return to classify them in the cases of his cabinet in San
So, as Mrs. Weldon and her child were returning to America by the
"Pilgrim," nothing more natural than for Cousin Benedict to accompany
them during that passage.
But it was not on him that Mrs. Weldon could rely, if she should ever
find herself in any critical situation. Very fortunately, the prospect
was only that of a voyage easily made during the fine season, and on
board of a ship whose captain merited all her confidence.
During the three days that the "Pilgrim" was in port at Waitemata, Mrs.
Weldon made her preparations in great haste, for she did not wish to
delay the departure of the schooner. The native servants whom she
employed in her dwelling in Auckland were dismissed, and, on the 22d
January, she embarked on board the "Pilgrim," bringing only her son
Jack, Cousin Benedict, and Nan, her old negress.
Cousin Benedict carried all his curious collection of insects in a
special box. In this collection figured, among others, some specimens
of those new staphylins, species of carnivorous coleopters, whose eyes
are placed above the head, and which, till then, seemed to be peculiar
to New Caledonia. A certain venomous spider, the "katipo," of the
Maoris, whose bite is often fatal to the natives, had been very highly
recommended to him. But a spider does not belong to the order of
insects properly so called; it is placed in that of the arachnida, and,
consequently, was valueless in Cousin Benedict's eyes. Thus he scorned
it, and the most beautiful jewel of his collection was a remarkable
staphylin from New Zealand.
It is needless to say that Cousin Benedict, by paying a heavy premium,
had insured his cargo, which to him seemed much more precious than all
the freight of oil and bones stowed away in the hold of the "Pilgrim."
Just as the "Pilgrim" was getting under sail, when Mrs. Weldon and her
companion for the voyage found themselves on the deck of the schooner,
Captain Hull approached his passenger:
"It is understood, Mrs. Weldon," he said to her, "that, if you take
passage on board the 'Pilgrim,' it is on your own responsibility."
"Why do you make that observation to me, Mr. Hull?" asked Mrs. Weldon.
"Because I have not received an order from your husband in regard to
it, and, all things considered, a schooner cannot offer you the
guarantees of a good passage, like a packet-boat, specially intended to
"If my husband were here," replied Mrs. Weldon, "do you think, Mr.
Hull, that he would hesitate to embark on the 'Pilgrim,' in company
with his wife and child?"
"No, Mrs. Weldon, he would not hesitate," said Captain Hull; "no,
indeed! no more than I should hesitate myself! The 'Pilgrim' is a good
ship after all, even though she has made but a sad cruise, and I am
sure of her, as much so as a seaman can be of the ship which he has
commanded for several years. The reason I speak, Mrs. Weldon, is to get
rid of personal responsibility, and to repeat that you will not find on
board the comfort to which you have been accustomed."
"As it is only a question of comfort, Mr. Hull," replied Mrs. Weldon,
"that should not stop me. I am not one of those troublesome passengers
who complain incessantly of the narrowness of the cabins, and the
insufficiency of the table."
Then, after looking for a few moments at her little Jack, whom she held
by the hand, Mrs. Weldon said:
"Let us go, Mr. Hull!"
The orders were given to get under way at once, the sails were set, and
the "Pilgrim," working to get out to sea in the shortest time possible,
steered for the American coast.
But, three days after her departure, the schooner, thwarted by strong
breezes from the east, was obliged to tack to larboard to make headway
against the wind. So, at the date of February 2d, Captain Hull still
found himself in a higher latitude than he would have wished, and in
the situation of a sailor who wanted to double Cape Horn rather than
reach the New Continent by the shortest course.
Meanwhile the sea was favorable, and, except the delays, navigation
would be accomplished under very supportable conditions.
Mrs. Weldon had been installed on board the "Pilgrim" as comfortably as
Neither poop nor "roufle" was at the end of the deck. There was no
stern cabin, then, to receive the passengers. She was obliged to be
contented with Captain Hull's cabin, situated aft, which constituted
his modest sea lodging. And still it had been necessary for the captain
to insist, in order to make her accept it. There, in that narrow
lodging, was installed Mrs. Weldon, with her child and old Nan. She
took her meals there, in company with the captain and Cousin Benedict,
for whom they had fitted up a kind of cabin on board.
As to the commander of the "Pilgrim," he had settled himself in a cabin
belonging to the ship's crew--a cabin which would be occupied by the
second officer, if there were a second one on board. But the
brig-schooner was navigated, we know, under conditions which enabled
her to dispense with the services of a second officer.
The men of the "Pilgrim," good and strong seamen, were very much united
by common ideas and habits. This fishing season was the fourth which
they had passed together. All Americans of the West, they were
acquainted for a long period, and belonged to the same coast of the
State of California.
These brave men showed themselves very thoughtful towards Mrs. Weldon,
the wife of the owner of their ship, for whom they professed boundless
devotion. It must be said that, largely interested in the profits of
the ship, they had navigated till then with great gain. If, by reason
of their small number, they did not spare themselves, it was because
every labor increased their earnings in the settling of accounts at the
end of each season. This time, it is true, the profit would be almost
nothing, and that gave them just cause to curse and swear against those
New Zealand scoundrels.
One man on board, alone among all, was not of American origin.
Portuguese by birth, but speaking English fluently, he was called
Negoro, and filled the humble position of cook on the schooner.
The "Pilgrim's" cook having deserted at Auckland, this Negoro, then out
of employment, offered himself for the place. He was a taciturn man,
not at all communicative, who kept to himself, but did his work
satisfactorily. In engaging him, Captain Hull seemed to be rather
fortunate, and since embarking, the master cook had merited no reproach.
Meanwhile, Captain Hull regretted not having had the time to inform
himself sufficiently about Negoro's antecedents. His face, or rather
his look, was only half in his favor, and when it is necessary to bring
an unknown into the life on board, so confined, so intimate, his
antecedents should be carefully inquired into.
Negoro might be forty years old. Thin, nervous, of medium height, with
very brown hair, skin somewhat swarthy, he ought to be strong. Had he
received any instruction? Yes; that appeared in certain observations
which escaped him sometimes. Besides, he never spoke of his past life,
he said not a word about his family. Whence he came, where he had
lived, no one could tell. What would his future be? No one knew any
more about that. He only announced his intention of going on shore at
Valparaiso. He was certainly a singular man. At all events, he did not
seem to be a sailor. He seemed to be even more strange to marine things
than is usual with a master cook, part of whose existence is passed at
Meanwhile, as to being incommoded by the rolling and pitching of the
ship, like men who have never navigated, he was not in the least, and
that is something for a cook on board a vessel.
Finally, he was little seen. During the day, he most generally remained
confined in his narrow kitchen, before the stove for melting, which
occupied the greater part of it. When night came and the fire in the
stove was out, Negoro went to the cabin which was assigned to him at
the end of the crew's quarters. Then he went to bed at once and went to
It has been already said that the "Pilgrim's" crew was composed of five
sailors and a novice.
This young novice, aged fifteen, was the child of an unknown father and
mother. This poor being, abandoned from his birth, had been received
and brought up by public charity.
Dick Sand--that was his name--must have been originally from the State
of New York, and doubtless from the capital of that State.
If the name of Dick--an abbreviation of Richard--had been given to the
little orphan, it was because it was the name of the charitable
passer-by who had picked him up two or three hours after his birth. As
to the name of Sand, it was attributed to him in remembrance of the
place where he had been found; that is to say, on that point of land
called Sandy-Hook, which forms the entrance of the port of New York, at
the mouth of the Hudson.
Dick Sand, when he should reach his full growth, would not exceed
middle height, but he was well built. One could not doubt that he was
of Anglo-Saxon origin. He was brown, however, with blue eyes, in which
the crystalline sparkled with ardent fire. His seaman's craft had
already prepared him well for the conflicts of life. His intelligent
physiognomy breathed forth energy. It was not that of an audacious
person, it was that of a darer. These three words from an unfinished
verse of Virgil are often cited:
"Audaces fortuna juvat"....
but they are quoted incorrectly. The poet said:
"Audentes fortuna juvat"....
It is on the darers, not on the audacious, that Fortune almost always
smiled. The audacious may be unguarded. The darer thinks first, acts
afterwards. There is the difference!
Dick Sand was _audens_.
At fifteen he already knew how to take a part, and to carry out to the
end whatever his resolute spirit had decided upon. His manner, at once
spirited and serious, attracted attention. He did not squander himself
in words and gestures, as boys of his age generally do. Early, at a
period of life when they seldom discuss the problems of existence, he
had looked his miserable condition in the face, and he had promised "to
And he had made himself--being already almost a man at an age when
others are still only children.
At the same time, very nimble, very skilful in all physical exercises,
Dick Sand was one of those privileged beings, of whom it may be said
that they were born with two left feet and two right hands. In that
way, they do everything with the right hand, and always set out with
the left foot.
Public charity, it has been said, had brought up the little orphan. He
had been put first in one of those houses for children, where there is
always, in America, a place for the little waifs. Then at four, Dick
learned to read, write and count in one of those State of New York
schools, which charitable subscriptions maintain so generously.
At eight, the taste for the sea, which Dick had from birth, caused him
to embark as cabin-boy on a packet ship of the South Sea. There he
learned the seaman's trade, and as one ought to learn it, from the
earliest age. Little by little he instructed himself under the
direction of officers who were interested in this little old man. So
the cabin-boy soon became the novice, expecting something better, of
course. The child who understands, from the beginning, that work is the
law of life, the one who knows, from an early age, that he will gain
his bread only by the sweat of his brow--a Bible precept which is the
rule of humanity--that one is probably intended for great things; for
some day he will have, with the will, the strength to accomplish them.
It was, when he was a cabin-boy on board a merchant vessel, that Dick
Sand was remarked by Captain Hull. This honest seaman immediately
formed a friendship with this honest young boy, and later he made him
known to the ship-owner, James W. Weldon. The latter felt a lively
interest in this orphan, whose education he completed at San Francisco,
and he had him brought up in the Catholic religion, to which his family
During the course of his studies, Dick Sand showed a particular liking
for geography, for voyages, while waiting till he was old enough to
learn that branch of mathematics which relates to navigation. Then to
this theoretical portion of his instruction, he did not neglect to join
the practical. It was as novice that he was able to embark for the
first time on the "Pilgrim." A good seaman ought to understand fishing
as well as navigation. It is a good preparation for all the
contingencies which the maritime career admits of. Besides, Dick Sand
set out on a vessel of James W. Weldon's, his benefactor, commanded by
his protector, Captain Hull. Thus he found himself in the most
To speak of the extent of his devotion to the Weldon family, to whom he
owed everything, would be superfluous. Better let the facts speak for
themselves. But it will be understood how happy the young novice was
when he learned that Mrs. Weldon was going to take passage on board the
"Pilgrim." Mrs. Weldon for several years had been a mother to him, and
in Jack he saw a little brother, all the time keeping in remembrance
his position in respect to the son of the rich ship-owner. But--his
protectors knew it well--this good seed which they had sown had fallen
on good soil. The orphan's heart was filled with gratitude, and some
day, if it should be necessary to give his life for those who had
taught him to instruct himself and to love God, the young novice would
not hesitate to give it. Finally, to be only fifteen, but to act and
think as if he were thirty, that was Dick Sand.
Mrs. Weldon knew what her _protege_ was worth. She could trust little
Jack with him without any anxiety. Dick Sand cherished this child, who,
feeling himself loved by this "large brother," sought his company.
During those long leisure hours, which are frequent in a voyage, when
the sea is smooth, when the well set up sails require no management,
Dick and Jack were almost always together. The young novice showed the
little boy everything in his craft which seemed amusing.
Without fear Mrs. Weldon saw Jack, in company with Dick Sand, spring
out on the shrouds, climb to the top of the mizzen-mast, or to the
booms of the mizzen-topmast, and come down again like an arrow the
whole length of the backstays. Dick Sand went before or followed him,
always ready to hold him up or keep him back, if his six-year-old arms
grew feeble during those exercises. All that benefited little Jack,
whom sickness had made somewhat pale; but his color soon came back on
board the "Pilgrim," thanks to this gymnastic, and to the bracing
So passed the time. Under these conditions the passage was being
accomplished, and only the weather was not very favorable, neither the
passengers nor the crew of the "Pilgrim" would have had cause to
Meanwhile this continuance of east winds made Captain Hull anxious. He
did not succeed in getting the vessel into the right course. Later,
near the Tropic of Capricorn, he feared finding calms which would delay
him again, without speaking of the equatorial current, which would
irresistibly throw him back to the west. He was troubled then, above
all, for Mrs. Weldon, by the delays for which, meanwhile, he was not
responsible. So, if he should meet, on his course, some transatlantic
steamer on the way toward America, he already thought of advising his
passenger to embark on it. Unfortunately, he was detained in latitudes
too high to cross a steamer running to Panama; and, besides, at that
period communication across the Pacific, between Australia and the New
World, was not as frequent as it has since become.
It then was necessary to leave everything to the grace of God, and it
seemed as if nothing would trouble this monotonous passage, when the
first incident occurred precisely on that day, February 2d, in the
latitude and longitude indicated at the beginning of this history.
Dick Sand and Jack, toward nine o'clock in the morning, in very clear
weather, were installed on the booms of the mizzen-topmast. Thence they
looked down on the whole ship and a portion of the ocean in a largo
circumference. Behind, the perimeter of the horizon was broken to their
eyes, only by the mainmast, carrying brigantine and fore-staff. That
beacon hid from them a part of the sea and the sky. In the front, they
saw the bowsprit stretching over the waves, with its three jibs, which
were hauled tightly, spread out like three great unequal wings.
Underneath rounded the foremast, and above, the little top-sail and
the little gallant-sail, whose bolt-rope quivered with the pranks of
the breeze. The schooner was then running on the larboard tack, and
hugging the wind as much as possible.
Dick Sand explained to Jack how the "Pilgrim," ballasted properly, well
balanced in all her parts, could not capsize, even if she gave a pretty
strong heel to starboard, when the little boy interrupted him.
"What do I see there?" said he.
"You see something, Jack?" demanded Dick Sand, who stood up straight on
"Yes--there!" replied little Jack, showing a point of the sea, left
open by the interval between the stays of the standing-jib and the
Dick Sand looked at the point indicated attentively, and forthwith,
with a loud voice, he cried;
"A wreck to windward, over against starboard!"
* * * * *
Dick Sand's cry brought all the crew to their feet. The men who were
not on watch came on deck. Captain Hull, leaving his cabin, went toward
Mrs. Weldon, Nan, even the indifferent Cousin Benedict himself, came to
lean over the starboard rail, so as to see the wreck signaled by the
Negoro, alone, did not leave the cabin, which served him for a kitchen;
and as usual, of all the crew, he was the only one whom the encounter
with a wreck did not appear to interest.
Then all regarded attentively the floating object which the waves were
rocking, three miles from the "Pilgrim."
"Ah! what can that be?" said a sailor.
"Some abandoned raft," replied another.
"Perhaps there are some unhappy shipwrecked ones on that raft," said
"We shall find out," replied Captain Hull. "But that wreck is not a
raft. It is a hull thrown over on the side."
"Ah! is it not more likely to be some marine animal--some mammifer of
great size?" observed Cousin Benedict.
"I do not think so," replied the novice.
"Then what is your idea, Dick?" asked Mrs. Weldon.
"An overturned hull, as the captain has said, Mrs. Weldon. It even
seems to me that I see its copper keel glistening in the sun."
"Yes--indeed," replied Captain Hull. Then addressing the helmsman:
"Steer to the windward, Bolton. Let her go a quarter, so as to come
alongside the wreck."
"Yes, sir," replied the helmsman.
"But," continued Cousin Benedict, "I keep to what I have said.
Positively it is an animal."
"Then this would be a whale in copper," replied Captain Hull, "for,
positively, also, I see it shine in the sun!"
"At all events, Cousin Benedict," added Mrs. Weldon, "you will agree
with us that this whale must be dead, for it is certain that it does
not make the least movement."
"Ah! Cousin Weldon," replied Cousin Benedict, who was obstinate, "this
would not be the first time that one has met a whale sleeping on the
surface of the waves."
"That is a fact," replied Captain Hull; "but to-day, the thing is not a
whale, but a ship."
"We shall soon see," replied Cousin Benedict, who, after all, would
give all the mammifers of the Arctic or Antarctic seas for an insect of
a rare species.
"Steer, Bolton, steer!" cried Captain Hull again, "and do not board the
wreck. Keep a cable's length. If we cannot do much harm to this hull,
it might cause us some damage, and I do not care to hurt the sides of
the 'Pilgrim' with it. Tack a little, Bolton, tack!"
The "Pilgrim's" prow, which had been directed toward the wreck, was
turned aside by a slight movement of the helm.
The schooner was still a mile from the capsized hull. The sailors were
eagerly looking at it. Perhaps it held a valuable cargo, which it would
be possible to transfer to the "Pilgrim." We know that, in these
salvages, the third of the value belongs to the rescuers, and, in this
case, if the cargo was not damaged, the crew, as they say, would make
"a good haul." This would be a fish of consolation for their incomplete
A quarter of an hour later the wreck was less than a mile from the
It was indeed a ship, which presented itself on its side, to the
starboard. Capsized as far as the nettings, she heeled so much that it
would be almost impossible to stand upon her deck. Nothing could be
seen beyond her masts. From the port-shrouds were banging only some
ends of broken rope, and the chains broken by the cloaks of
white-crested waves. On the starboard side opened a large hole between
the timbers of the frame-work and the damaged planks.
"This ship has been run into," cried Dick Sand.
"There is no doubt of that," replied Captain Hull; "and it is a miracle
that she did not sink immediately."
"If there has been a collision," observed Mrs. Weldon, "we must hope
that the crew of this ship has been picked up by those who struck her."
"It is to be hoped so, Mrs. Weldon," replied Captain, Hull, "unless
this crew sought refuge in their own boats after the collision, in case
the colliding vessel should sail right on--which, alas! sometimes
"Is it possible? That would be a proof of very great inhumanity, Mr.
"Yes, Mrs. Weldon. Yes! and instances are not wanting. As to the crew
of this ship, what makes me believe that it is more likely they have
left it, is that I do not see a single boat; and, unless the men on
board have been picked up, I should be more inclined to think that they
have tried to roach the land. But, at this distance from the American
continent, or from the islands of Oceanica, it is to be feared that
they have not succeeded."
"Perhaps," said Mrs. Weldon, "we shall never know the secret of this
catastrophe. Meanwhile, it might be possible that some man of the crew
is still on board."
"That is not probable, Mrs. Weldon," replied Captain Hull. "Our
approach would be already known, and they would make some signals to
us. But we shall make sure of it.--Luff a little, Bolton, luff," cried
Captain Hull, while indicating with his hand what course to take.
The "Pilgrim" was now only three cables' length from the wreck, and
they could no longer doubt that this hull had been completely abandoned
by all its crew.
But, at that moment, Dick Sand made a gesture which imperiously
"Listen, listen!" said he.
"I hear something like a bark!" cried Dick Sand. In fact, a distant
barking resounded from the interior of the hull. Certainly there was a
living dog there, imprisoned perhaps, for it was possible that the
hatches were hermetically closed. But they could not see it, the deck
of the capsized vessel being still invisible.
"If there be only a dog there, Mr. Hull," said Mrs. "Weldon," we shall
"Yes, yes!" cried little Jack, "we shall save it. I shall give it
something to eat! It will love us well! Mama, I am going to bring it a
piece of sugar!"
"Stay still, my child," replied Mrs. Weldon smiling. "I believe that
the poor animal is dying of hunger, and it will prefer a good mess to
your morsel of sugar."
"Well, then, let it have my soup," cried little Jack. "I can do without
it very well."
At that moment the barking was more distinctly heard. Three hundred
feet, at the most, separated the two ships. Almost immediately a dog of
great height appeared on the starboard netting, and clung there,
barking more despairingly than ever.
"Howik," said Captain Hull, turning toward the master of the
"Pilgrim's" crew, "heave to, and lower the small boat."
"Hold on, my dog, hold on!" cried little Jack to the animal, which
seemed to answer him with a half-stifled bark.
The "Pilgrim's" sails were rapidly furled, so that the ship should
remain almost motionless, less than half a cable's length from the
The boat was brought alongside. Captain Hull, Dick Sand and two sailors
got into it at once.
The dog barked all the time. It tried to hold on to the netting, but
every moment it fell back on the deck. One would say that its barks
were no longer addressed to those who were coming to him. Were they
then addressed to some sailors or passengers imprisoned in this ship?
"Is there, then, on board some shipwrecked one who has survived?" Mrs.
Weldon asked herself.
A few strokes of the oars and the "Pilgrim's" boat would reach the
But, suddenly, the dog's manner changed. Furious barks succeeded its
first barks inviting the rescuers to come. The most violent anger
excited the singular animal.
"What can be the matter with that dog?" said Captain Hull, while the
boat was turning the stern of the vessel, so as to come alongside of
the part of the deck lying under the water.
What Captain Hull could not then observe, what could not be noticed
even on board the "Pilgrim," was that the dog's fury manifested itself
just at the moment when Negoro, leaving his kitchen, had just come
toward the forecastle.
Did the dog then know and recognize the master cook? It was very
However that may be, after looking at the dog, without showing any
surprise, Negoro, who, however, frowned for an instant, returned to the
Meanwhile the boat had rounded the stern of the ship. Her aftboard
carried this single name: "Waldeck."
"Waldeck," and no designation of the port attached. But, by the form of
the hull, by certain details which a sailor seizes at the first glance,
Captain Hull had, indeed, discovered that this ship was of American
construction. Besides, her name confirmed it. And now, this hull, it
was all that remained of a large brig of five hundred tons.
At the "Waldeck's" prow a large opening indicated the place where the
collision had occurred. In consequence of the capsizing of the hull,
this opening was then five or six feet above the water--which explained
why the brig had not yet foundered.
On the deck, which Captain Hull saw in its whole extent, there was
The dog, having left the netting, had just let itself slip as far as
the central hatch, which was open; and it barked partly toward the
interior, partly toward the exterior.
"It is very certain that this animal is not alone on board!" observed
"No, in truth!" replied Captain Hull.
The boat then skirted the larboard netting, which was half under water.
A somewhat strong swell of the sea would certainly submerge the
"Waldeck" in a few moments.
The brig's deck had been swept from one end to the other. There was
nothing left except the stumps of the mainmast and of the mizzen-mast,
both broken off two feet above the scuttles, and which had fallen in
the collision, carrying away shrouds, back-stays, and rigging.
Meanwhile, as far as the eye could see, no wreck was visible around the
"Waldeck"--which seemed to indicate that the catastrophe was already
several days old.
"If some unhappy creatures have survived the collision," said Captain
Hull, "it is probable that either hunger or thirst has finished them,
for the water must have gained the store-room. There are only dead
bodies on board!"
"No," cried Dick Sand, "no! The dog would not bark that way. There are
living beings on board!"
At that moment the animal, responding to the call of the novice, slid
to the sea, and swam painfully toward the boat, for it seemed to be
They took it in, and it rushed eagerly, not for a piece of bread that
Dick Sand offered it first, but to a half-tub which contained a little
"This poor animal is dying of thirst!" cried Dick Sand.
The boat then sought a favorable place to board the "Waldeck" more
easily, and for that purpose it drew away a few strokes. The dog
evidently thought that its rescuers did not wish to go on board, for he
seized Dick Sand by his jacket, and his lamentable barks commenced
again with new strength.
They understood it. Its pantomime and its language were as clear as a
man's language could be. The boat was brought immediately as far as the
larboard cat-head. There the two sailors moored it firmly, while
Captain Hull and Dick Sand, setting foot on the deck at the same time
as the dog, raised themselves, not without difficulty, to the hatch
which opened between the stumps of the two masts.
By this hatch the two made their way into the hold.
The "Waldeck's" hold, half full of water, contained no goods. The brig
sailed with ballast--a ballast of sand which had slid to larboard and
which helped to keep the ship on her side. On that head, then, there
was no salvage to effect.
"Nobody here," said Captain Hull.
"Nobody," replied the novice, after having gone to the foremost part of
But the dog, which was on the deck, kept on barking and seemed to call
the captain's attention more imperatively.
"Let us go up again," said Captain Hull to the novice.
Both appeared again on the deck.
The dog, running to them, sought to draw them to the poop.
They followed it.
There, in the square, five bodies--undoubtedly five corpses--were lying
on the floor.
By the daylight which entered in waves by the opening, Captain Hull
discovered the bodies of five negroes.
Dick Sand, going from one to the other, thought he felt that the
unfortunates were still breathing.
"On board! on board!" cried Captain Hull.
The two sailors who took care of the boat were called, and helped to
carry the shipwrecked men out of the poop.
This was not without difficulty, but two minutes after, the five blacks
were laid in the boat, without being at all conscious that any one was
trying to save them. A few drops of cordial, then a little fresh water
prudently administered, might, perhaps, recall them to life.
The "Pilgrim" remained a half cable's length from the wreck, and the
boat would soon reach her.
A girt-line was let down from the main-yard, and each of the blacks
drawn up separately reposed at last on the "Pilgrim's" deck.
The dog had accompanied them.
"The unhappy creatures!" cried Mrs. Weldon, on perceiving those poor
men, who were only inert bodies.
"They are alive, Mrs. Weldon. We shall save them. Yes, we shall save
them," cried Dick Sand.
"What has happened to them?" demanded Cousin Benedict.
"Wait till they can speak," replied Captain Hull, "and they will tell
us their history. But first of all, let us make them drink a little
water, in which we shall mix a few drops of rum." Then, turning round:
"Negoro!" he called.
At that name the dog stood up as if it knew the sound, its hair
bristling, its mouth open.
Meanwhile, the cook did not appear.
"Negoro!" repeated Captain Hull.
The dog again gave signs of extreme fury.
Negoro left the kitchen.
Hardly had he shown himself on the deck, than the dog sprang on him and
wanted to jump at his throat.
With a blow from the poker with which he was armed, the cook drove away
the animal, which some of the sailors succeeded in holding.
"Do you know this dog?" Captain Hull asked the master cook.
"I?" replied Negoro. "I have never seen it."
"That is singular," murmured Dick Sand.
* * * * *
THE SURVIVORS OF THE "WALDECK."
The slave trade was still carried on, on a large scale, in all
equinoctial Africa. Notwithstanding the English and French cruisers,
ships loaded with slaves leave the coasts of Angola and Mozambique
every year to transport negroes to various parts of the world, and, it
must be said, of the civilized world.
Captain Hull was not ignorant of it. Though these parts were not
ordinarily frequented by slave-ships, he asked himself if these blacks,
whose salvage he had just effected, were not the survivors of a cargo
of slaves that the "Waldeck" was going to sell to some Pacific colony.
At all events, if that was so, the blacks became free again by the sole
act of setting foot on his deck, and he longed to tell it to them.
Meanwhile the most earnest care had been lavished on the shipwrecked
men from the "Waldeck." Mrs. Weldon, aided by Nan and Dick Sand, had
administered to them a little of that good fresh water of which they
must have been deprived for several days, and that, with some
nourishment, sufficed to restore them to life.
The eldest of these blacks--he might be about sixty years old--was soon
able to speak, and he could answer in English the questions which were
addressed to him.
"The ship which carried you was run into?" asked Captain Hull, first of
"Yes," replied the old black. "Ten days ago our ship was struck, during
a very dark night. We were asleep----"
"But the men of the 'Waldeck'--what has become of them?"
"They were no longer there, sir, when my companions and I reached the
"Then, was the crew able to jump on board the ship which struck the
'Waldeck'?" demanded Captain Hull.
"Perhaps, and we must indeed hope so for their sakes."
"And that ship, after the collision, did it not return to pick you up?"
"Did she then go down herself?"
"She did not founder," replied the old black, shaking his head, "for we
could see her running away in the night."
This fact, which was attested by all the survivors of the "Waldeck,"
may appear incredible. It is only too true, however, that captains,
after some terrible collision, due to their imprudence, have often
taken flight without troubling themselves about the unfortunate ones
whom they had put in danger, and without endeavoring to carry
assistance to them.
That drivers do as much and leave to others, on the public way, the
trouble of repairing the misfortune which they have caused, that is
indeed to be condemned. Still, their victims are assured of finding
immediate help. But, that men to men, abandon each other thus at sea,
it is not to be believed, it is a shame!
Meanwhile, Captain Hull knew several examples of such inhumanity, and
he was obliged to tell Mrs. Weldon that such facts, monstrous as they
might be, were unhappily not rare.
"Whence came the 'Waldeck?'" he asked.
"Then you are not slaves?"
"No, sir!" the old black answered quickly, as he stood up straight. "We
are subjects of the State of Pennsylvania, and citizens of free
"My friends," replied Captain Hull, "believe me that you have not
compromised your liberty in coming on board of the American brig, the
In fact, the five blacks which the "Waldeck" carried belonged to the
State of Pennsylvania. The oldest, sold in Africa as a slave at the age
of six years, then brought to the United States, had been freed already
many years ago by the Emancipation Proclamation. As to his companions,
much younger than he, sons of slaves liberated before their birth, they
were born free; no white had ever had the right of property over them.
They did not even speak that "negro" language, which does not use the
article, and only knows the infinitive of the verbs--a language which
has disappeared little by little, indeed, since the anti-slavery war.
These blacks had, then, freely left the United States, and they were
returning to it freely.
As they told Captain Hull, they were engaged as laborers at an
Englishman's who owned a vast mine near Melbourne, in Southern
Australia. There they had passed three years, with great profit to
themselves; their engagement ended, they had wished to return to
They then had embarked on the "Waldeck," paying their passage like
ordinary passengers. On the 5th of December they left Melbourne, and
seventeen days after, during a very black night, the "Waldeck" had been
struck by a large steamer.
The blacks were in bed. A few seconds after the collision, which was
terrible, they rushed on the deck.
Already the ship's masts had fallen, and the "Waldeck" was lying on the
side; but she would not sink, the water not having invaded the hold
sufficiently to cause it.
As to the captain and crew of the "Waldeck," all had disappeared,
whether some had been precipitated into the sea, whether others were
caught on the rigging of the colliding ship, which, after the
collision, had fled to return no more.
The five blacks were left alone on board, on a half-capsized hull,
twelve hundred miles from any land.
Then oldest of the negroes was named Tom. His age, as well as his
energetic character, and his experience, often put to the proof during
a long life of labor, made him the natural head of the companions who
were engaged with him.
The other blacks were young men from twenty-five to thirty years old,
whose names were Bat (abbreviation of Bartholomew), son of old Tom,
Austin, Acteon, and Hercules, all four well made and vigorous, and who
would bring a high price in the markets of Central Africa. Even though
they had suffered terribly, one could easily recognize in them
magnificent specimens of that strong race, on which a liberal
education, drawn from the numerous schools of North America, had
already impressed its seal.
Tom and his companions then found themselves alone on the "Waldeck"
after the collision, having no means of raising that inert hull,
without even power to leave it, because the two boats on board had been
shattered in the boarding. They were reduced to waiting for the passage
of a ship, while the wreck drifted little by little under the action of
the currents. This action explained why she had been encountered so far
out of her course, for the "Waldeck," having left Melbourne, ought to
be found in much lower latitude.
During the ten days which elapsed between the collision and the moment
when the "Pilgrim" arrived in sight of the shipwrecked vessel the five
blacks were sustained by some food which they had found in the office
of the landing-place. But, not being able to penetrate into the
steward's room, which the water entirely covered, they had had no
spirits to quench their thirst, and they had suffered cruelly, the
water casks fastened to the deck having been stove in by the collision.
Since the night before, Tom and his companions, tortured by thirst, had
Such was the recital which Tom gave, in a few words, to Captain Hull.
There was no reason to doubt the veracity of the old black. His
companions confirmed all that he had said; besides, the facts pleaded
for the poor men.
Another living being, saved on the wreck, would doubtless have spoken
with the same sincerity if it had been gifted with speech.
It was that dog, that the sight of Negoro seemed to affect in such a
disagreeable manner. There was in that some truly inexplicable
Dingo--that was the name of the dog--belonged to that race of mastiffs
which is peculiar to New Holland. It was not in Australia, however,
that the captain of the "Waldeck" had found it. Two years before Dingo,
wandering half dead of hunger, had been met on the western coast of
Africa, near the mouth of the Congo. The captain of the "Waldeck" had
picked up this fine animal, who, being not very sociable, seemed to be
always regretting some old master, from whom he had been violently
separated, and whom it would be impossible to find again in that desert
country. S. V.--those two letters engraved on his collar--were all that
linked this animal to a past, whose mystery one would seek in vain to
Dingo, a magnificent and robust beast, larger than the dogs of the
Pyrenees, was then a superb specimen of the New Holland variety of
mastiffs. When it stood up, throwing its head back, it equaled the
height of a man. Its agility--its muscular strength, would be
sufficient for one of those animals which without hesitation attack
jaguars and panthers, and do not fear to face a bear. Its long tail of
thick hair, well stocked and stiff like a lion's tail, its general hue
dark fawn-color, was only varied at the nose by some whitish streaks.
This animal, under the influence of anger, might become formidable, and
it will be understood that Negoro was not satisfied with the reception
given him by this vigorous specimen of the canine race.
Meanwhile, Dingo, if it was not sociable, was not bad. It seemed rather
to be sad. An observation which had been made by old Tom on board the
"Waldeck" was that this dog did not seem to like blacks. It did not
seek to harm them, but certainly it shunned them. May be, on that
African coast where it wandered, it had suffered some bad treatment
from the natives. So, though Tom and his companions were honest men,
Dingo was never drawn toward them. During the ten days that the
shipwrecked dog had passed on the "Waldeck," it had kept at a distance,
feeding itself, they knew not how, but having also suffered cruelly
Such, then, were the survivors of this wreck, which the first surge of
the sea would submerge. No doubt it would have carried only dead bodies
into the depths of the ocean if the unexpected arrival of the
"Pilgrim," herself kept back by calms and contrary winds, had not
permitted Captain Hull to do a work of humanity.
This work had only to be completed by bringing back to their country
the shipwrecked men from the "Waldeck," who, in this shipwreck, had
lost their savings of three years of labor. This is what was going to
be done. The "Pilgrim," after having effected her unloading at
Valparaiso, would ascend the American coast as far as California. There
Tom and his companions would be well received by James W. Weldon--his
generous wife assured them of it--and they would be provided with all
that would be necessary for them to return to the State of Pennsylvania.
These honest men, reassured about the future, had only to thank Mrs.
Weldon and Captain Hull. Certainly they owed them a great deal, and
although they were only poor negroes, perhaps, they did not despair of
some day paying this debt of gratitude.
Meanwhile, the "Pilgrim" had continued her course, making for the east
as much as possible. This lamentable continuance of calms did not cease
to trouble Captain Hull--not that he was uneasy about two or three
weeks' delay in a passage from New Zealand to Valparaiso, but because
of the extra fatigue which this delay might bring to his lady passenger.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Weldon did not complain, and philosophically took her
misfortune in patience.
That same day, February 2d, toward evening, the wreck was lost sight of.
Captain Hull was troubled, in the first place, to accommodate Tom and
his companions as conveniently as possible. The crew's quarters on the
"Pilgrim," built on the deck in the form of a "roufle," would be too
small to hold them. An arrangement was then made to lodge them under
the forecastle. Besides, these honest men, accustomed to rude labors,
could not be hard to please, and with fine weather, warm and
salubrious, this sleeping-place ought to suffice for the whole passage.
The life on board, shaken for a moment from its monotony by this
incident, then went on as usual.
Tom, Austin, Bat, Acteon, and Hercules would indeed wish to make
themselves useful. But with these constant winds, the sails once set,
there was nothing more to do. Meanwhile, when there was a veering
about, the old black and his companions hastened to give a hand to the
crew, and it must be confessed that when the colossal Hercules hauled
some rope, they were aware of it. This vigorous negro, six feet high,
brought in a tackle all by himself.
It was joy for little Jack to look at this giant. He was not afraid of
him, and when Hercules hoisted him up in his arms, as if he were only a
cork baby, there were cries of joy to go on.
"Lift me very high," said little Jack.
"There, Master Jack!" replied Hercules.
"Am I very heavy?"
"I do not even feel you."
"Well, higher still! To the end of your arm!" And Hercules, holding the
child's two little feet in his large hand, walked him about like a
gymnast in a circus. Jack saw himself, tall, taller, which amused him
very much. He even tried to make himself heavy--which the colossus did
not perceive at all.
Dick Sand and Hercules, they were two friends for little Jack. He was
not slow in making himself a third--that was Dingo.
It has been said that Dingo was not a sociable dog. Doubtless that held
good, because the society of the "Waldeck" did not suit it. On board
the "Pilgrim" it was quite another thing. Jack probably knew how to
touch the fine animal's heart. The latter soon took pleasure in playing
with the little boy, whom this play pleased. It was soon discovered
that Dingo was one of those dogs who have a particular taste for
children. Besides, Jack did it no harm. His greatest pleasure was to
transform Dingo into a swift steed, and it is safe to affirm that a
horse of this kind is much superior to a pasteboard quadruped, even
when it has wheels to its feet. So Jack galloped bare-back on the dog,
which let him do it willingly, and, in truth, Jack was no heavier to it
than the half of a jockey to a race-horse.
But what a break each day in the stock of sugar in the store-room!
Dingo soon became a favorite with the whole crew. Alone, Negoro
continued to avoid any encounter with the animal, whose antipathy was
always as strong as it was inexplicable.
Meanwhile, little Jack had not neglected Dick Sand, his friend of old,
for Dingo. All the time that was unclaimed by his duties on board, the
novice passed with the little boy.
Mrs. Weldon, it is needless to say, always regarded this intimacy with
the most complete satisfaction.
One day, February 6th, she spoke of Dick to Captain Hull, and the
captain praised the young novice in the highest terms.
"That boy," he said to Mrs. Weldon, "will be a good seaman some day,
I'll guarantee. He has truly a passion for the sea, and by this passion
he makes up for the theoretical parts of the calling which he has not
yet learned. What he already knows is astonishing, when we think of
the short time he has had to learn."
"It must be added," replied Mrs. Weldon, "that he is also an excellent
person, a true boy, very superior to his age, and who has never merited
any blame since we have known him."
"Yes, he is a good young man," continued the captain, "justly loved and
appreciated by all."
"This cruise finished," said Mrs. Weldon, "I know that my husband's
intention is to have him follow a course of navigation, so that, he may
afterwards obtain a captain's commission."
"And Mr. Weldon is right," replied Captain Hull. "Dick Sand will one
day do honor to the American marine."
"This poor orphan commenced life sadly," observed Mrs. Weldon. "He has
been in a hard school!"
"Doubtless, Mrs. Weldon; but the lessons have not been lost on him. He
has learned that he must make his own way in this world, and he is in a
fair way to do it."
"Yes, the way of duty!"
"Look at him now, Mrs. Weldon," continued Captain Hull. "He is at the
helm, his eye fixed on the point of the foresail. No distraction on the
part of this young novice, as well as no lurch to the ship. Dick Sand
has already the confidence of an old steersman. A good beginning for a
seaman. Our craft, Mrs. Weldon, is one of those in which it is
necessary to begin very young. He who has not been a cabin-boy will
never arrive at being a perfect seaman, at least in the merchant
marine. Everything must be learned, and, consequently, everything must
be at the same time instinctive and rational with the sailor--the
resolution to grasp, as well as the skill to execute."
"Meanwhile, Captain Hull," replied Mrs. Weldon, "good officers are not
lacking in the navy."
"No," replied Captain Hull; "but, in my opinion, the best have almost
all begun their career as children, and, without speaking of Nelson and
a few others, the worst are not those who began by being cabin-boys."
At that moment they saw Cousin Benedict springing up from the rear
companion-way. As usual he was absorbed, and as little conscious of
this world as the Prophet Elias will be when he returns to the earth.
Cousin Benedict began to walk about on the deck like an uneasy spirit,
examining closely the interstices of the netting, rummaging under the
hen-cages, putting his hand between the seams of the deck, there, where
the pitch had scaled off.
"Ah! Cousin Benedict," asked Mrs. Weldon, "do you keep well?"
"Yes--Cousin Weldon--I am well, certainly--but I am in a hurry to get
"What are you looking for under that bench, Mr. Benedict?" asked
"Insects, sir," returned Cousin Benedict. "What do you expect me to
look for, if not insects?"
"Insects! Faith, I must agree with you; but it is not at sea that you
will enrich your collection."
"And why not, sir? It is not impossible to find on board some specimen
"Cousin Benedict," said Mrs. Weldon, "do you then slander Captain Hull?
His ship is so well kept, that you will return empty-handed from your
Captain Hull began to laugh.
"Mrs. Weldon exaggerates," replied he. "However, Mr. Benedict, I
believe you will lose your time rummaging in our cabins."
"Ah! I know it well," cried Cousin Benedict, shrugging his shoulders.
"I have had a good search----"
"But, in the 'Pilgrim's' hold," continued Captain Hull, "perhaps you
will find some cockroaches--subjects of little interest, however."
"Of little interest, those nocturnal orthopters which have incurred the
maledictions of Virgil and Horace!" retorted Cousin Benedict, standing
up straight. "Of little interest, those near relations of the
'periplaneta orientalis' and of the American kakerlac, which
"Which infest!" said Captain Hull.
"Which reign on board!" retorted Cousin Benedict, fiercely.
"Ah! you are not an entomologist, sir?"
Never at my own expense."
"Now, Cousin Benedict," said Mrs. Weldon, smiling, "do not wish us to
be devoured for love of science."
"I wish, nothing, Cousin Weldon," replied, the fiery entomologist,
"except to be able to add to my collection some rare subject which
might do it honor."
"Are you not satisfied, then, with the conquests that you have made in
"Yes, truly, Cousin Weldon. I have been rather fortunate in conquering
one of those new staphylins which till now had only been found some
hundreds of miles further, in New Caledonia."
At that moment Dingo, who was playing with Jack, approached Cousin
"Go away! go away!" said the latter, pushing off the animal.
"To love cockroaches and detest dogs!" cried Captain Hull. "Oh! Mr.
"A good dog, notwithstanding," said little Jack, taking Dingo's great
head in his small hands.
"Yes. I do not say no," replied Cousin Benedict. "But what do you want?
This devil of an animal has not realized the hopes I conceived on
"Ah! my goodness!" cried Mrs. Weldon, "did you, then, hope to be able
to classify it in the order of the dipters or the hymenopters?"
"No," replied Cousin Benedict, seriously. "But is it not true that this
Dingo, though it be of the New Zealand race, was picked up on the
western coast of Africa?"
"Nothing is more true," replied Mrs. Weldon, "and Tom had often heard
the captain of the 'Waldeck' say so."
"Well, I had thought--I had hoped--that this dog would have brought
away some specimens of hemipteras peculiar to the African fauna."
"Merciful heavens!" cried Mrs. Weldon.
"And that perhaps," added Cousin Benedict, "some penetrating or
irritating flea--of a new species----"
"Do you understand, Dingo?" said Captain Hull. "Do you understand, my
dog? You have failed in all your duties!"
"But I have examined it well," added the entomologist, with an accent
of deep regret. "I have not been able to find a single insect."
"Which you would have immediately and mercilessly put to death, I
hope!" cried Captain Hull.
"Sir," replied Cousin Benedict, dryly, "learn that Sir John Franklin
made a scruple of killing the smallest insect, be it a mosquito, whose
attacks are otherwise formidable as those of a flea; and meanwhile you
will not hesitate to allow, that Sir John Franklin was a seaman who was
as good as the next."
"Surely," said Captain Hull, bowing.
"And one day, after being frightfully devoured by a dipter, he blew and
sent it away, saying to it, without even using _thou_ or _thee_: 'Go!
the world is large enough for you and for me!'"
"Ah!" ejaculated Captain Hull.
"Well, Mr. Benedict," retorted Captain Hull, "another had said that
long before Sir John Franklin."
"Yes; and that other was Uncle Toby."
"An entomologist?" asked Cousin Benedict, quickly.
"No! Sterne's Uncle Toby, and that worthy uncle pronounced precisely
the same words, while setting free a mosquito that annoyed him, but
which he thought himself at liberty to _thee_ and _thou_: 'Go, poor
devil,' he said to it, 'the world is large enough to contain us, thee
"An honest man, that Uncle Toby!" replied Cousin Benedict. "Is he dead?"
"I believe so, indeed," retorted Captain Hull, gravely, "as he has
And each began to laugh, looking at Cousin Benedict.
Thus, then, in these conversations, and many others, which invariably
bore on some point of entomological science, whenever Cousin Benedict
took part, passed away long hours of this navigation against contrary
winds. The sea always fine, but winds which obliged the schooner to
tack often. The "Pilgrim" made very little headway toward the east--the
breeze was so feeble; and they longed to reach those parts where the
prevailing winds would be more favorable.
It must be stated here that Cousin Benedict had endeavored to initiate
the young novice into the mysteries of entomology. But Dick Sand had
shown himself rather refractory to these advances. For want of better
company the savant had fallen back on the negroes, who comprehended
nothing about it. Tom, Acteon, Bat, and Austin had even finished by
deserting the class, and the professor found himself reduced to
Hercules alone, who seemed to him to have some natural disposition to
distinguish a parasite from a thysanuran.
So the gigantic black lived in the world of coleopteras, carnivorous
insects, hunters, gunners, ditchers, cicindelles, carabes, sylphides,
moles, cockchafers, horn-beetles, tenebrions, mites, lady-birds,
studying all Cousin Benedict's collection, not but the latter trembled
on seeing his frail specimens in Hercules' great hands, which were hard
and strong as a vise. But the colossal pupil listened so quietly to the
professor's lessons that it was worth risking something to give them.
While Cousin Benedict worked in that manner, Mrs. Weldon did not leave
little Jack entirely unoccupied; She taught him to read and to write.
As to arithmetic, it was his friend Dick Sand who inculcated the first
At the age of five, one is still only a little child, and is perhaps
better instructed by practical games than by theoretical lessons
necessarily a little arduous.
Jack learned to read, not in a primer, but by means of movable letters,
printed in red on cubes of wood. He amused himself by arranging the
blocks so as to form words. Sometimes Mrs. Weldon took these cubes and
composed a word; then she disarranged them, and it was for Jack to
replace them in the order required.
The little boy liked this manner of learning to read very much. Each
day he passed some hours, sometimes in the cabin, sometimes on the
deck, in arranging and disarranging the letters of his alphabet.
Now, one day this led to an incident so extraordinary, so unexpected,
that it is necessary to relate with some detail.
It was on the morning of February 9th, Jack, half-lying on the deck,
was amusing himself forming a word which old Tom was to put together
again, after the letters had been mixed. Tom, with his hand over his
eyes so as not to cheat, as he agreed, would see nothing, and did see
nothing of the work of the little boy.
Of these different letters, about fifty in number, some were large,
others small. Besides, some of these cubes carried a figure, which
taught the child to form numbers as well as to form words.
These cubes were arranged on the deck, and little Jack was taking
sometimes one, sometimes another, to make a word--a truly great labor.
Now, for same moments, Dingo was moving round the young child, when
suddenly it stopped. Its eyes became fixed, its right paw was raised,
its tail wagged convulsively. Then, suddenly throwing itself on one of
the cubes, it seized it in its mouth and laid it on the deck a few
steps from Jack.
This cube bore a large letter--the letter S.
"Dingo, well Dingo!" cried the little boy, who at first was afraid that
his S was swallowed by the dog.
But Dingo had returned, and, beginning the same performance again, it
seized another cube, and went to lay it near the first.
This second cube was a large V.
This time Jack gave a cry.
At this cry, Mrs. Weldon, Captain Hull, and the young novice, who were
walking on the deck, assembled. Little Jack then told them what had
Dingo knew its letters; Dingo knew how to read! That was very certain,
that! Jack had seen it!
Dick Sand wanted to go and take the two cubes, to restore them to his
friend Jack, but Dingo showed him its teeth.
However, the novice succeeded in gaining possession of the two cubes,
and he replaced them in the set.
Dingo advanced again, seized again the same two letters, and carried
them to a distance. This time its two paws lay on them; it seemed
decided to guard them at all hazards. As to the other letters of the
alphabet, it did not seem as if it had any knowledge of them.
"That is a curious thing," said Mrs. Weldon.
"It is, in fact, very singular," replied Captain Hull, who was looking
attentively at the two letters.
"S. V.," said Mrs. Weldon.
"S. V.," repeated Captain Hull. "But those are precisely the letters
which are on Dingo's collar!"
Then, all at once, turning to the old black: "Tom," he asked, "have you
not told me that this dog only belonged to the captain of the 'Waldeck'
for a short time?"
"In fact, sir," replied Tom, "Dingo was only on board two years at the
"And have you not added that the captain of the 'Waldeck' had picked up
this dog on the western coast of Africa?"
"Yes, sir, in the neighborhood of the mouth of the Congo. I have often
heard the captain say so."
"So," asked Captain Hull, "it has never been known to whom this dog had
belonged, nor whence it came?"
"Never, sir. A dog found is worse than a child! That has no papers,
and, more, it cannot explain."
Captain Hull was silent, and reflected.
"Do those two letters, then, awake some remembrance?" Mrs. Weldon asked
Captain Hull, after leaving him to his reflections for some moments.
"Yes, Mrs. Weldon, a remembrance, or rather a coincidence at least
"Those two letters might well have a meaning, and fix for us the fate
of an intrepid traveler."
"What do you mean?" demanded Mrs. Weldon.
"Here is what I mean, Mrs. Weldon. In 1871--consequently two years
ago--a French traveler set out, under the auspices of the Paris
Geographical Society, with the intention of crossing Africa from the
west to the east. His point of departure was precisely the mouth of the
Congo. His point of arrival would be as near as possible to Cape
Deldago, at the mouths of the Rovuma, whose course he would descend.
Now, this French traveler was named Samuel Vernon."
"Samuel Vernon!" repeated Mrs. Weldon.
"Yes, Mrs. Weldon; and those two names begin precisely by those two
letters which Dingo has chosen among all the others, and which are
engraved on its collar."
"Exactly," replied Mrs. Weldon. "And that traveler----"
"That traveler set out," replied Captain Hull, "and has not been heard
of since his departure."
"Never?" said the novice.
"Never," repeated Captain Hull.
"What do you conclude from it?" asked Mrs. Weldon.
"That, evidently, Samuel Vernon has not been able to reach the eastern
coast of Africa, whether he may have been made prisoner by the natives,
whether death may have struck him on the way."
"And then this dog?"
"This dog would have belonged to him; and, more fortunate than its
master, if my hypothesis is true, it would have been able to return to
the Congo coast, because it was there, at the time when these events
must have taken place, that it was picked up by the captain of the
"But," observed Mrs. Weldon, "do you know if this French traveler was
accompanied on his departure by a dog? Is it not a mere supposition on
"It is only a supposition, indeed, Mrs. Weldon," replied Captain Hull.
"But what is certain is, that Dingo knows these two letters S and V,
which are precisely the initials of the two names of the French
traveler. Now, under what circumstances this animal would learn to
distinguish them is what I cannot explain; but, I repeat it, it very
certainly knows them; and look, it pushes them with its paw, and seems
to invite us to read them with it."
In fact, they could not misunderstand Dingo's intention.
"Then was Samuel Vernon alone when he left the sea-coast of the Congo?"
ask Dick Sand.
"That I know not," replied Captain Hull. "However, it is probable that
he would take a native escort."
At that moment Negoro, leaving his post, showed himself on the deck. At
first no one remarked his presence, and could not observe the singular
look he cast on the dog when he perceived the two letters over which
the animal seem to mount guard. But Dingo, having perceived the
master-cook, began to show signs of the most extreme fury.
Negoro returned immediately to the crew's quarters, not without a
menacing gesture at the dog's skill having escaped him.
"There is some mystery there," murmured Captain Hull, who had lost none
of this little scene.
"But, sir," said the novice, "is it not very astonishing that a dog
should know the letters of the alphabet?"
"No!" cried little Jack. "Mama has often told me the story of a dog
which knew how to read and write, and even play dominoes, like a real
"My dear child," replied Mrs. Weldon, smiling, "that dog, whose name
was Munito, was not a savant, as you suppose. If I may believe what has
been told me about it, Munito would not have been able to distinguish
the letters which served to compose the words. But its master, a clever
American, having remarked what fine hearing Munito had, applied himself
to cultivating that sense, and to draw from it some very curious
"How did he set to work, Mrs. Weldon?" asked Dick Sand, whom the
history interested almost as much as little Jack.
"In this way, my friend." When Munito was 'to appear' before the
public, letters similar to these were displayed on a table. On that
table the poodle walked about, waiting till a word was proposed,
whether in a loud voice or in a low voice. Only, one essential
condition was that its master should know the word."
"And, in the absence of its master--" said the novice.
"The dog could have done nothing," replied Mrs. Weldon, "and here is
the reason. The letters spread out on the table, Munito walked about
through this alphabet. When it arrived before the letter which it
should choose to form the word required, it stopped; but if it stopped
it was because it heard the noise--imperceptible to all others--of a
toothpick that the American snapped in his pocket. That noise was the
signal for Munito to take the letter and arrange it in suitable order."
"And that was all the secret?" cried Dick Sand.
"That was the whole secret," replied Mrs. Weldon. "It is very simple,
like all that is done in the matter of prestidigitation. In case of the
American's absence, Munito would be no longer Munito. I am, then,
astonished, his master not being there--if, indeed, the traveler,
Samuel Vernon, has ever been its master--that Dingo could have
recognized those two letters."
"In fact," replied Captain Hull, "it is very astonishing. But, take
notice, there are only two letters in question here, two particular
letters, and not a word chosen by chance. After all, that dog which
rang at the door of a convent to take possession of the plate intended
for the poor passers-by, that other which commissioned at the same time
with one of its kind, to turn the spit for two days each, and which
refused to fill that office when its turn had not come, those two dogs,
I say, advanced farther than Dingo into that domain of intelligence
reserved for man. Besides, we are in the presence of an inscrutable
fact. Of all the letters of that alphabet, Dingo has only chosen these
two: S and V. The others it does not even seem to know. Therefore we
must conclude that, for a reason which escapes us, its attention has
been especially drawn to those two letters."
"Ah! Captain Hull," replied the young novice, "if Dingo could speak!
Perhaps he would tell us what those two letters signify, and why it has
kept a tooth ready for our head cook."
"And what a tooth!" replied Captain Hull, as Dingo, opening its mouth,
showed its formidable fangs.
* * * * *
A WHALE IN SIGHT.
It will be remembered that this singular incident was made, more than
once, the subject of conversation held in the stern of the "Pilgrim"
between Mrs. Weldon, Captain Hull, and the young novice. The latter,
more particularly, experienced an instinctive mistrust with regard to
Negoro, whose conduct, meanwhile, merited no reproach.
In the prow they talked of it also, but they did not draw from it the
same conclusions. There, among the ship's crew, Dingo passed merely for
a dog that knew how to read, and perhaps even write, better than more
than one sailor on board. As for talking, if he did not do it, it was
probably for good reasons that he kept silent.
"But, one of these fine days," says the steersman, Bolton, "one fine
day that dog will come and ask us how we are heading; if the wind is to
the west-north-west-half-north, and we will have to answer him! There
are animals that speak! Well, why should not a dog do as much if he
took it into his head? It is more difficult to talk with a beak than
with a mouth!"
"No doubt," replied the boatswain, Howik. "Only it has never been
It would have astonished these brave men to tell them that, on the
contrary, it had been known, and that a certain Danish servant
possessed a dog which pronounced distinctly twenty words. But whether
this animal comprehended what he said was a mystery. Very evidently
this dog, whose glottis was organized in a manner to enable him to emit
regular sounds, attached no more sense to his words than do the
paroquets, parrots, jackdaws, and magpies to theirs. A phrase with
animals is nothing more than a kind of song or spoken cry, borrowed
from a strange language of which they do not know the meaning.
However that might be, Dingo had become the hero of the deck, of which
fact he took no proud advantage. Several times Captain Hull repeated
the experiment. The wooden cubes of the alphabet were placed before
Dingo, and invariably, without an error, without hesitation, the two
letters, S and V, were chosen from among all by the singular animal,
while the others never attracted his attention.
As for Cousin Benedict, this experiment was often renewed before him,
without seeming to interest him.
"Meanwhile," he condescended to say one day, "we must not believe that
the dogs alone have the privilege of being intelligent in this manner.
Other animals equal them, simply in following their instinct. Look at
the rats, who abandon the ship destined to founder at sea; the beavers,
who know how to foresee the rising of the waters, and build their dams
higher in consequence; those horses of Nicomedes, of Scanderberg, and
of Oppien, whose grief was such that they died when their masters did;
those asses, so remarkable for their memory, and many other beasts
which have done honor to the animal kingdom. Have we not seen birds,
marvelously erect, that correctly write words dictated by their
professors; cockatoos that count, as well as a reckoner in the
Longitude Office, the number of persons present in a parlor? Has there
not existed a parrot, worth a hundred gold crowns, that recited the
Apostle's Creed to the cardinal, his master, without missing a word?
Finally, the legitimate pride of an entomologist should be raised to
the highest point, when he sees simple insects give proofs of a
superior intelligence, and affirm eloquently the axiom:
"'In minimis maximus Deus,'
those ants which, represent the inspectors of public works in the
largest cities, those aquatic _argyronetes_ which manufacture
diving-bells, without having ever learned the mechanism; those fleas
which draw carriages like veritable coachmen, which go through the
exercise as well as riflemen, which fire off cannon better than the
commissioned artillerymen of West Point? No! this Dingo does not merit
so many eulogies, and if he is so strong on the alphabet, it is,
without doubt, because he belongs to a species of mastiff, not yet
classified in zoological science, the _canis alphabeticus_ of New
In spite of these discourses and others of the envious entomologist,
Dingo lost nothing in the public estimation, and continued to be
treated as a phenomenon in the conversations of the forecastle.