Part 5 out of 10
with silence. He thought this peevish, and ungrateful to Heaven; we have
all different measures of the wonderful; and to him a fountain of pitch
was a thing to admire greatly and thank God for; he said as much.
To Helen it was nasty stuff, and who cares where it came from? She
conveyed as much by a shrug of the shoulders, and then gave a sigh that
told her mind was far away.
He was a little mortified, and showed it. One word led to another, and at
last what had been long fermenting came out.
"Mr. Hazel," said she, "you and I are at cross purposes. You mean to live
here. I do not."
Hazel left off working, and looked greatly perplexed; the attack was so
sudden in its form, though it had been a long time threatening. He found
nothing to say, and she was impatient now to speak her mind, so she
replied to his look.
"You are making yourself at home here. You are contented. Contented? You
are _happy_ in this horrible prison."
"And why not?" said Hazel. But he looked rather guilty. "Here are no
traitors; no murderers. The animals are my friends, and the one human
being I see makes me better to look at her."
"Mr. Hazel, I am in a state of mind, that romantic nonsense jars on me.
Be honest with me, and talk to me like a man. I say that you beam all
over with happiness and content, and that you-- Now answer me one
question; why have you never lighted the bonfire on Telegraph Point?"
"Indeed I don't know," said he, submissively. "I have been so occupied."
"You have, and how? Not in trying to deliver us both from this dreadful
situation, but to reconcile me to it. Yes, sir, under pretense (that is a
harsh word, but I can't help it) of keeping out the rain. Your rain is a
_bugbear;_ it never rains, it never will rain. You are killing yourself
almost to make me comfortable in this place. Comfortable?" She began to
tremble all over with excitement long restrained. "And do you really
suppose you can make me live on like this, by building me a nice hut. Do
you think I am all body and no soul, that shelter and warmth and enough
to eat can keep my heart from breaking, and my cheeks from blushing night
and day? When I wake in the morning I find myself blushing to my fingers'
ends." Then she walked away from him. Then she walked back. "Oh, my dear
father, why did I ever leave you! Keep me here? make me live months and
years on this island? Have you sisters? Have you a mother? Ask yourself,
is it likely? No; if you will not help me, and they don't love me enough
to come and find me and take me home, I'll go to another home without
your help or any man's." Then she rose suddenly to her feet. "I'll tie my
clothes tight round me, and fling myself down from that point on to the
sharp rocks below. I'll find a way from this place to heaven, if there's
no way from it to those I love on earth."
Then she sank down and rocked herself and sobbed hard.
The strong passion of this hitherto gentle creature quite frightened her
unhappy friend, who knew more of books than women. He longed to soothe
her and comfort her; but what could he say? He cried out in despair, "My
God, can I do nothing for her?"
She turned on him like lightning. "You can do anything--everything. You
can restore us both to our friends. You can save my life, my reason. For
that will go first, I think. What _had_ I done? what had I _ever_ done
since I was born, to be so brought down? Was ever an English lady-- And
then I have such an irritation on my skin, all over me. I sometimes wish
the tiger would come and tear me all to pieces; yes, all to pieces." And
with that her white teeth clicked together convulsively. "Do?" said she,
darting back to the point as swiftly as she had rushed away from it.
"Why, put down that nasty stuff; and leave off inventing fifty little
trumpery things for me, and do one great thing instead. Oh, do not
fritter that great mind of yours away in painting and patching my prison;
but bring it all to bear on getting me _out_ of my prison. Call sea and
land to our rescue. Let them know a poor girl is here in unheard-of,
unfathomable misery--here, in the middle of this awful ocean."
Hazel sighed deeply. "No ships seem to pass within sight of us," he
"What does that matter to _you?_ You are not a common man; you are an
inventor. Rouse all the powers of your mind. There must be some way.
Think for me. THINK! THINK! or my blood will be on your head."
Hazel turned pale and put his head in his hands, and tried to think.
She leaned toward him with great flashing eyes of purest hazel.
The problem dropped from his lips a syllable at a time. "To
diffuse--intelligence--a hundred leagues from a fixed point--an island?"
She leaned toward him with flashing, expectant eyes.
But he groaned, and said: "That seems impossible."
"Then _trample_ on it," said she, bringing his own words against him; for
she used to remember all he said to her in the day, and ponder it at
night--"trample on it, subdue it, or never speak to me again. Ah, I am an
ungrateful wretch to speak so harshly to you. It is my misery, not me.
Good, kind Mr. Hazel, oh, pray, pray, pray bring all the powers of that
great mind to bear on this one thing, and save a poor girl, to whom you
have been so kind, so considerate, so noble, so delicate, so forbearing;
now save me from despair."
Hysterical sobs cut her short here, and Hazel, whose loving heart she had
almost torn out of his body, could only falter out in a broken voice,
that he would obey her. "I'll work no more for you at present," said he,
"sweet as it has been. I will think instead. I will go this moment
beneath the stars and think all night."
The young woman was now leaning her head languidly back against one of
the trees, weak as water after her passion. He cast a look of ineffable
love and pity on her, and withdrew slowly to think beneath the tranquil
Love has set men hard tasks in his time. Whether this was a light one,
our reader shall decide.
TO DIFFUSE INTELLIGENCE FROM A FIXED ISLAND OVER A HUNDRED LEAGUES OF
THE perplexity into which Hazel was thrown by the outburst of his
companion rendered him unable to reduce her demand at once to an
intelligible form. For some moments he seriously employed his mind on the
problem until it assumed this shape.
Firstly: I do not know where this island is, having no means of
ascertaining either its latitude or longitude.
Secondly: If I had such a description of its locality, how might the news
be conveyed beyond the limits of the place?
As the wildness of Helen's demand broke upon his mind, he smiled sadly,
and sat down upon the bank of the little river, near his boat-house, and
buried his head in his hands. A deep groan burst from him, and the tears
at last came through his fingers, as in despair he thought how vain must
be any effort to content or to conciliate her. Impatient with his own
weakness he started to his feet, when a hand was laid gently upon his
arm. She stood beside him.
"Mr. Hazel," she said hurriedly--her voice was husky--"do not mind what I
have said. I am unreasonable; and I am sure I ought to feel obliged to
you for all the--"
Hazel turned his face toward her, and the moon glistened on the tears
that still flowed down his cheeks. He tried to check the utterance of her
apology; but, ere he could master his voice, the girl's cold and
constrained features seemed to melt. She turned away, wrung her hands,
and, with a sharp, quivering cry, she broke forth:
"Oh, sir! oh, Mr. Hazel! do forgive me. I am not ungrateful, indeed,
indeed, I am not; but I am mad with despair. Judge me with compassion. At
this moment, those who are very, very dear to me are awaiting my arrival
in London; and, when they learn the loss of the _Proserpine,_ how great
will be their misery! Well, that misery is added to mine. Then my poor
papa. He will never know how much he loved me until this news reaches
him. And to think that I am dead to them, yet living! living here
helplessly, helplessly. Dear, dear Arthur, how you will suffer for my
sake! Oh, papa, papa! shall I never see you again?" and she wept
"I am helpless either to aid or to console you, Miss Rolleston. By the
act of a Divine Providence you were cast upon this desolate shore, and by
the same Will I was appointed to serve and to provide for your welfare. I
pray God that He will give me health and strength to assist you.
She looked timidly at him for a moment, then slowly regained her hut. He
had spoken coldly and with dignity. She felt humbled, the more so that he
had only bowed his acknowledgment to her apology.
For more than an hour she watched him, as he paced up and down between
the boat-house and the shore; then he advanced a little toward her
shelter, and she shrank into her bed, after gently closing the door. In a
few moments she crept again to peep forth, and to see if he were still
there; but he had disappeared.
The following morning Helen was surprised to see the boat riding at
anchor in the surf, and Hazel busily engaged on her trim. He was soon on
shore, and by her side.
"I am afraid I must leave you for a day, Miss Rolleston," he said. "I
wish to make a circuit of the island; indeed I ought to have done so many
"Is such an expedition necessary? Surely you have had enough of the sea."
"It is very necessary. You have urged me to undertake this enterprise.
You see, it is the first step toward announcing to all passing vessels
our presence in this place. I have commenced operations already. See on
yonder bluff, which I have called Telegraph Point, I have mounted the
boat's ensign, and now it floats from the top of the tree beside the
bonfire. I carried it there at sunrise. Do you see that pole I have
shipped on board the boat? That is intended as a signal, which shall be
exhibited on your great palm-tree. The flag will then stand for a signal
on the northern coast, and the palm-tree, thus accoutered, will serve for
a similar purpose on the western extremity of the island. As I pass along
the southern and eastern shores, I propose to select spots where some
mark can be erected, such as may be visible to ships at sea."
"But will they remark such signals?"
"Be assured they will, if they come within sight of the place."
Hazel knew that there was little chance of such an event; but it was
something not to be neglected. He also explained that it was necessary he
should arrive at a knowledge of the island, the character of its shores;
and from the sea he could rapidly obtain a plan of the place, ascertain
what small rivers there might be, and, indeed, see much of its interior;
for he judged it to be not more than ten miles in length, and scarce
three in width.
Helen felt rather disappointed that no trace of the emotion he displayed
on the previous night remained in his manner or in the expression of his
face. She bowed her permission to him rather haughtily, and sat down to
breakfast on some baked yams, and some rough oysters, which he had raked
up from the bay while bathing that morning. The young man had regained an
elasticity of hearing, an independence of tone, to which she was not at
all accustomed; his manners were always soft and deferential; but his
expression was more firm, and she felt that the reins had been gently
removed from her possession, and there was a will to guide her which she
was bound to acknowledge and obey.
She did not argue in this wise, for it is not human to reason and to feel
at the same moment. She felt then instinctively that the man was quietly
asserting his superiority, and the child pouted.
Hazel went about his work briskly; the boat was soon laden with every
requisite. Helen watched these preparations askance, vexed with the
expedition which she had urged him to make. Then she fell to reflecting
on the change that seemed to have taken place in her character; she, who
was once so womanly, so firm, so reasonable--why had she become so
petulant, childish, and capricious?
The sail was set, and all ready to run the cutter into the surf of the
rising tide, when, taking a sudden resolution, as it were, Helen came
rapidly down and said, "I will go with you, if you please," half in
command and half in doubt. Hazel looked a little surprised, but very
pleased; and then she added, "I hope I shall not be in your way."
He assured her, on the contrary, that she might be of great assistance to
him; and now with double alacrity he ran out the little vessel and leaped
into the prow as she danced over the waves. He taught her how to bring
the boat's head round with the help of an oar, and, when all was snug,
left her at the helm. On reaching the mouth of the bay, if it could so be
called, he made her remark that it was closed by reefs, except to the
north and to the west. The wind being southerly, he had decided to pass
to the west, and so they opened the sea about half a mile from the shore.
For about three miles they perceived it consisted of a line of bluffs,
cleft at intervals by small narrow bays, the precipitous sides of which
were lined with dense foliage. Into these fissures the sea entered with a
mournful sound, that died away as it crept up the yellow sands with which
these nooks were carpeted. An exclamation from Helen attracted his
attention to the horizon on the northwest, where a long line of breakers
glittered in the sun. A reef or low sandy bay appeared to exist in that
direction, about fifteen miles away, and something more than a mile in
length. As they proceeded, he marked roughly on the side of his tin
baler, with the point of a pin borrowed from Helen, the form of the coast
An hour and a half brought them to the northwestern extremity of the
island. As they cleared the shelter of the land, the southerly breeze
coming with some force across the open sea caught the cutter, and she lay
over in a way to inspire Helen with alarm; she was about to let go the
tiller, when Hazel seized it, accidentally inclosing her hand under the
grasp of his own, as he pressed the tiller hard to port.
"Steady, please; don't relinquish your hold; it is all right--no fear,"
he cried, as he kept his eye on their sail.
He held this course for a mile or more, and then, judging with a long
tack he could weather the southerly side of the island he put the boat
about. He took occasion to explain to Helen how this operation was
necessary, and she learned the alphabet of navigation. The western end of
their little land now lay before them; it was about three miles in
breadth. For two miles the bluff coast line continued unbroken; then a
deep bay, a mile in width and two miles in depth, was made by a long
tongue of sand projecting westerly; on its extremity grew the gigantic
palm, well recognized as Helen's landmark. Hazel stood up in the boat to
reconnoiter the coast. He perceived the sandy shore was dotted with
multitudes of dark objects. Ere long, these objects were seen to be in
motion, and, pointing them out to Helen, with a smile, he said:
"Beware, Miss Rolleston, yonder are your bugbears--and in some force,
too. Those dark masses, moving upon the hillocks of sand, or rolling on
the surf, are sea-lions--the _phoca leonina,_ or lion-seal."
Helen strained her eyes to distinguish the forms, but only descried the
dingy objects. While thus engaged, she allowed the cutter to fall off a
little, and, ere Hazel had resumed his hold upon the tiller, they were
fairly in the bay; the great palm-tree on their starboard bow.
"You seem determined to make the acquaintance of your nightmares," he
remarked; "you perceive that we are embayed."
Her consternation amused him; she saw that, if they held their present
course, the cutter would take the beach about a mile ahead, where these
animals were densely crowded.
At this moment, something dark bulged up close beside her in the sea, and
the rounded back of a monster rolled over and disappeared. Hazel let drop
the sail, for they were now fairly in the smooth water of the bay, and
close to the sandy spit; the gigantic stem of the palm-tree was on their
quarter, about half a mile off.
He took to the oars, and rowed slowly toward the shore. A small seal rose
behind the boat and followed them, playing with the blade, its gambols
resembling that of a kitten. He pointed out to Helen the mild expression
of the creature's face and assured her that all this tribe were harmless
animals, and susceptible of domestication. The cub swam up to the boat
quite fearlessly, and he touched its head gently; he encouraged her to do
the like, but she shrank from its contact. They were now close ashore,
and Hazel, throwing out his anchor in two feet of water, prepared to land
the beam of wood he had brought to decorate the palm-tree as a signal.
The huge stick was soon heaved overboard, and he leaped after it. He
towed it to the nearest landing to the tree, and dragged it high up on
shore. Scarcely had he disposed it conveniently, intending to return in a
day or two, with the means of affixing it in a prominent and remarkable
manner, in the form of a spar across the trunk of the palm, when a cry
from Helen recalled him. A large number of the sea-lions were coasting
quietly down the surf toward the boat; indeed, a dozen of them had made
their appearance around it.
Hazel shouted to her not to fear, and, desiring that her alarm should not
spread to the swarm, he passed back quietly but rapidly. When he reached
the water, three or four of the animals were already floundering between
him and the boat. He waded slowly toward one of them, and stood beside
it. The man and the creature looked quietly at each other, and then the
seal rolled over, with a snuffling, self-satisfied air, winking its soft
eyes with immense complacency.
Helen, in her alarm, could not resist a smile at this conclusion of so
terrible a demonstration; for, with all their gentle expression, the
tusks of the brute looked formidable. But, when she saw Hazel pushing
them aside, and patting a very small cub on the back, she recovered her
Then he took to his oars again; and aided by the tide, which was now on
the ebb, he rowed round the southwestern extremity of the island. He
found the water here, as he anticipated, very shallow.
It was midday when they were fairly on the southern coast; and now,
sailing with the wind aft, the cutter ran through the water at racing
speed. Fearing that some reefs or rocky formations might exist in their
course, he reduced sail, and kept away from the shore about a mile. At
this distance he was better able to see inland, and mark down the
accident of its formation.
The southern coast was uniform, and Helen said it resembled the cliffs of
the Kentish or Sussex coast of England, only the English white was here
replaced by the pale volcanic gray. By one o'clock they came abreast the
very spot where they had first made land; and, as they judged, due south
of their residence. Had they landed here, a walk of three miles across
the center of the island would have brought them home.
For about a similar distance the coast exhibited monotonous cliffs
unbroken even by a rill. It was plain that the water-shed of the island
was all northward. They now approached the eastern end, where rose the
circular mountain of which mention has been already made. This eminence
had evidently at one time been detached from the rest of the land, to
which it was now joined by a neck of swamp about a mile and a half in
breadth, and two miles in length.
Hazel proposed to reconnoiter this part of the shore nearly, and ran the
boat close in to land. The reeds or canes with which this bog was densely
clothed grew in a dark, spongy soil. Here and there this waste was dotted
with ragged trees which he recognized as the cypress. From its gaunt
branches hung a black, funeral kind of weeper, a kind of moss resembling
iron-gray horse-hair both in texture and uses, though not so long in the
This parasite, Hazel explained to Helen, was very common in such marshy
ground, and was the death-flag hung out by Nature to warn man that
malaria and fever were the invisible and inalienable inhabitants of that
Looking narrowly along the low shore for some good landing, where under
shelter of a tree they might repose for an hour, and spread their midday
repast, they discovered an opening in the reeds, a kind of lagoon or
bayou, extending into the morass between the highlands of the island and
the circular mountain, but close under the base of the latter. This inlet
he proposed to explore, and accordingly the sail was taken down, and the
cutter was poled into the narrow creek. The water here was so shallow
that the keel slid over the quicksand into which the oar sank freely. The
creek soon became narrow, the water deeper, and of a blacker color, and
the banks more densely covered with canes. These grew to the height of
ten and twelve feet, and as close as wheat in a thick crop. The air felt
dank and heavy, and hummed with myriads of insects. The black water
became so deep and the bottom so sticky that Hazel took to the oars
again. The creek narrowed as they proceeded, until it proved scarcely
wide enough to admit of his working the boat. The height of the reeds
hindered the view on either side. Suddenly, however, and after proceeding
very slowly through the bends of the canal, they decreased in height and
density, and they emerged into an open space of about five acres in
extent, a kind of oasis in this reedy desert, created by a mossy mound
which arose amid the morass, and afforded firm footing, of which a grove
of trees and innumerable shrubs availed themselves. Helen uttered an
exclamation of delight as this island of foliage in a sea of reeds met
her eyes, that had been famished with the arid monotony of the brake.
They soon landed.
Helen insisted on the preparations for their meal being left to her, and,
having selected a sheltered spot, she was soon busy with their frugal
food. Hazel surveyed the spot, and, selecting a red cedar, was soon
seated forty feet above her head, making a topographical survey of the
neighborhood. He found that the bayou by which they had entered continued
its course to the northern shore, thus cutting off the mountain or
easterly end, and forming of it a separate island. He saw that a quarter
of a mile farther on the bayou or canal parted, forming two streams, of
which that to the left seemed the main channel. This he determined to
follow. Turning to the west, that is, toward their home, he saw at a
distance of two miles a crest of hills broken into cliffs, which defined
the limit of the mainland. The sea had at one time occupied the site
where the morass now stood. These cliffs formed a range extending from
north to south. Their precipitous sides, clothed here and there with
trees, marked where the descent was broken by platforms. Between him and
this range the morass extended. Hazel took note of three places where the
descent from these hills into the marsh could, he believed, most readily
On the eastern side and close above him arose the peculiar mountain. Its
form was that of a truncated cone, and its sides densely covered with
trees of some size.
The voice of Helen called him from his perch, and he descended quickly,
leaping into a mass of brushwood growing at the foot of his tree. Helen
stood a few yards from him, in admiration, before a large shrub.
"Look, Mr. Hazel, what a singular production," said the girl, as she
stooped to examine the plant. It bore a number of red flowers, each
growing out of a fruit like a prickly pear. These flowers were in various
stages; some were just opening like tulips, others, more advanced, had
expanded like umbrellas, and quite overlapped the fruit, keeping it from
sun and dew; others had served their turn in that way, and been withered
by the sun's rays. But, wherever this was the case, the fruit had also
burst open and displayed or discharged its contents, and those contents
looked like seeds; but on narrower inspection proved to be little insects
with pink transparent wings, and bodies of incredibly vivid crimson.
Hazel examined the fruit and flowers very carefully, and stood rapt,
"It must be!--and it is!" said he, at last. "Well, I'm glad I've not died
without seeing it."
"What is it?" said she.
"One of the most valuable productions of the earth. It is cochineal. This
is the Tunal tree."
"Oh, indeed," said Helen, indifferently. "Cochineal is used for a dye;
but as it is not probable we shall require to dye anything, the discovery
seems to me more curious than useful."
"You wanted some ink. This pigment, mixed with lime-juice, will form a
beautiful red ink. Will you lend me your handkerchief and permit me to
try if I have forgotten the method by which these little insects are
obtained?" He asked her to hold her handkerchief under a bough of the
Tunal tree, where the fruit was ripe. He then shook the bough. Some
insects fell at once into the cloth. A great number rose and buzzed a
little in the sun not a yard from where they were born; but the sun dried
their blood so promptly that they soon fell dead in the handkerchief.
Those that the sun so killed went through three phases of color before
their eyes. They fell down black or nearly. They whitened on the cloth;
and after that came gradually to their final color, a flaming crimson.
The insect thus treated appeared the most vivid of all.
They soon secured about half a teacupful; they were rolled up and put
away, then they sat down and made a very hearty meal, for it was now past
two o'clock. They re-entered the boat, and, passing once more into the
morass, they found the channel of the bayou as it approached the northern
shore less difficult of navigation. The bottom became sandy and hard, and
the presence of trees in the swamp proved that spots of _terra firma_
were more frequent. But the water shallowed, and, as they opened the
shore, he saw with great vexation that the tide in receding had left the
bar at the mouth of the canal visible in some parts. He pushed on,
however, until the boat grounded. This was a sad affair. There lay the
sea not fifty yards ahead. Hazel leaped out, and examined and forded the
channel, which at this place was about two hundred feet wide. He found a
narrow passage near the eastern side, and to this he towed the boat. Then
he begged Miss Rolleston to land, and relieved the boat of the mast,
sail, and oars. Thus lightened, he dragged her into the passage; but the
time occupied in these preparations had been also occupied by Nature--the
tide had receded, and the cutter stuck immovably in the waterway, about
six fathoms short of deeper water.
"What is to be done now?" inquired Helen, when Hazel returned to her
side, panting, but cheerful.
"We must await the rising of the tide. I fear we are imprisoned here for
three hours at least."
There was no help for it. Helen made light of the misfortune. The spot
where they had landed was inclosed between the two issues of the lagoon.
They walked along the shore to the more easterly and the narrower canal,
and, on arriving, Hazel found to his great annoyance that there was ample
water to have floated the cutter had he selected that, the least
promising road. He suggested a return by the road they came, and, passing
into the other canal, by that to reach the sea. They hurried back, but
found by this time the tide had left the cutter high and dry on the sand.
So they had no choice but to wait.
Having three hours to spare, Hazel asked Miss Rolleston's permission to
ascend the mountain. She assented to remain near the boat while he was
engaged in this expedition. The ascent was too rugged and steep for her
powers, and the sea-shore and adjacent groves would find her ample
amusement during his absence. She accompanied him to the bank of the
smaller lagoon, which he forded, and waving an adieu to her he plunged
into the dense wood with which the sides of the mountain were clothed.
She waited some time, and then she heard his voice shouting to her from
the heights above. The mountain-top was about three-quarters of a mile
from where she stood, but seemed much nearer. She turned back toward the
boat, walking slowly, but paused as a faint and distant cry again reached
her ear. It was not repeated, and then she entered the grove.
The ground beneath her feet was soft with velvety moss, and the dark
foliage of the trees rendered the air cool and deliciously fragrant.
After wandering for some time, she regained the edge of the grove near
the boat, and selecting a spot at the foot of an aged cypress, she sat
down with her back against its trunk. Then she took out Arthur's letter,
and began to read those impassioned sentences; as she read she sighed
deeply, as earnestly she found herself pitying Arthur's condition more
than she regretted her own. She fell into reverie, and from reverie into
a drowsy languor. How long she remained in this state she could not
remember, but a slight rustle overhead recalled her senses. Believing it
to be a bird moving in the branches, she was resigning herself again to
rest, when she became sensible of a strange emotion--a conviction that
something was watching her with a fixed gaze. She cast her eyes around,
but saw nothing. She looked upward. From the tree immediately above her
lap depended a snake, its tail coiled around a dead branch. The reptile
hung straight, its eyes fixed like two rubies upon Helen's, as very
slowly it let itself down by its uncoiling tail. Now its head was on a
level with hers; in another moment it must drop into her lap.
She was paralyzed.
AFTER toiling up a rugged and steep ascent, encumbered with blocks of
gray stone, of which the island seemed to be formed, forcing his way over
fallen trees and through the tangled undergrowth of a species of wild
vine, which abounded on the mountain-side, Hazel stopped to breathe and
peer around as well as the dense foliage permitted. He was up to his
waist in scrub, and the stiff leaves of the bayonet plant rendered
caution necessary in walking. At moments, through the dense foliage, he
caught a glisten of the sea. The sun was in the north behind him, and by
this alone he guided his road due southerly and upward. Once only he
found a small cleared space about an acre in extent, and here it was he
uttered the cry Helen heard. He waited a few moments in the hope to hear
her voice in reply, but it did not reach him. Again he plunged upward,
and now the ascent became at times so arduous that more than once he
almost resolved to relinquish, or, at least, to defer his task; but a
moment's rest recalled him to himself, and he was one not easily baffled
by difficulty or labor, so he toiled on until he judged the summit ought
to have been reached. After pausing to take breath and counsel, he
fancied that he had borne too much to the left, the ground to his right
appeared to rise more than the path that he was pursuing, which had
become level, and he concluded that, instead of ascending, he was
circling the mountain-top. He turned aside therefore, and after ten
minutes' hard climbing he was pushing through a thick and high scrub,
when the earth seemed to give way beneath him, and he fell--into an
He was ingulfed. He fell from bush to bush -- down -- down -- scratch --
rip-- plump! until he lodged in a prickly bush more winded than hurt. Out
of this he crawled, only to discover himself thus landed in a great and
perfectly circular plain of about thirty acres in extent, or about three
hundred and fifty yards in diameter. In the center was a lake, also
circular. The broad belt of shore around this lake was covered with rich
grass, level as a bowling green, and all this again was surrounded by a
nearly perpendicular cliff, down which indeed he had fallen. This cliff
was thickly clothed with shrubs and trees.
Hazel recognized the crater of an extinct volcano.
On examining the lake he found the waters impregnated with volcanic
products. Its bottom was formed of asphaltum. Having made a circuit of
the shores, he perceived on the westerly side--that next the island--a
break in the cliff; and on a narrow examination he discovered an outlet.
It appeared to him that the lake at one time had emptied its waters
through this ancient water-course. The descent here was not only gradual,
but the old river-bed was tolerably free from obstructions, especially of
the vegetable kind.
He made his way rapidly downward, and in half an hour reached marshy
ground. The cane-brake now lay before him. On his left he saw the sea on
the south, about a third of a mile. He knew that to the right must be the
sea on the north, about half a mile or so. He bent his way thither. The
edge of the swamp was very clear, and, though somewhat spongy, afforded
good walking unimpeded. As he approached the spot where he judged the
boat to be, the underwood thickened, the trees again interlaced their
arms, and he had to struggle through the foliage. At length he struck the
smaller lagoon, and, as he was not certain whether it was fordable, he
followed its course to the shore, where he had previously crossed. In a
few moments he reached the boat, and was pleased to find her afloat. The
rising tide had even moved her a few feet back into the canal.
Hazel shouted to apprise Miss Rolleston of his return, and then proceeded
to restore the mast to its place, and replace the rigging and the oars.
This occupied some little time. He felt surprised that she had not
appeared. He shouted again. No reply.
HAZEL advanced hurriedly into the grove, which he hunted thoroughly, but
without effect. He satisfied himself that she could not have quitted the
spot, since the marsh inclosed it on one side, the canals on the second
and third, the sea on the fourth. He returned to the boat more surprised
than anxious. He waited awhile, and again shouted her
Yet surely Helen could not have been more than a hundred yards from where
he stood. His heart beat with a strange sense of apprehension. He heard
nothing but the rustling of the foliage and the sop of the waves on the
shore, as the tide crept up the shingle. As his eyes roved in every
direction, he caught sight of something white near the foot of a withered
cypress-tree, not fifty yards from where he stood. He approached the
bushes in which the tree was partially concealed on that side, and
quickly recognized a portion of Helen's dress. He ran toward her--burst
through the underwood, and gained the inclosure. She was sitting there,
asleep, as he conjectured, her back leaning against the trunk. He
contemplated her thus for one moment, and then he advanced, about to
awaken her; but was struck speechless. Her face was ashy pale, her eyes
open and widely distended; her bosom heaved slowly. Hazel approached
rapidly, and called to her.
Her eyes never moved, not a limb stirred. She sat glaring forward. On her
lap was coiled a snake--gray, mottled with muddy green.
Hazel looked round and selected a branch of the dead tree, about three
feet in length. Armed with this, he advanced slowly to the reptile. It
was very quiet, thanks to the warmth of her lap. He pointed the stick at
it; the vermin lifted its head, and its tail began to quiver; then it
darted at the stick, throwing itself its entire length. Hazel retreated,
the snake coiled again and again darted. By repeating this process four
or five times, he enticed the creature away; and then, availing himself
of a moment before it could recoil, he struck it a smart blow on the
When Hazel turned to Miss Rolleston, he found her still fixed in the
attitude into which terror had transfixed her. The poor girl had remained
motionless for an hour, under the terrible fascination of the reptile,
comatized. He spoke to her, but a quick spasmodic action of her throat
and a quivering of her hands alone responded. The sight of her suffering
agonized him beyond expression, but he took her hands--he pressed them,
for they were icy cold--he called piteously on her name. But she seemed
incapable of effort. Then, stooping he raised her tenderly in his arms
and carried her to the boat, where he laid her still unresisting and
With trembling limbs and weak hands he launched the cutter, and they were
once more afloat and bound homeward.
He dipped the baler into the fresh water he had brought with him for
their daily supply, and dashed it on her forehead. This he repeated until
he perceived her breathing became less painful and more rapid. Then he
raised her a little, and her head rested upon his arm. When they reached
the entrance of the bay he was obliged to pass it, for, the wind being
still southerly, he could not enter by the north gate, but came round and
ran in by the western passage, the same by which they had left the same
Hazel bent over Helen, and whispered tenderly that they were at home. She
answered by a sob. In half an hour the keel grated on the sand near the
boat-house. Then he asked her if she were strong enough to reach her hut.
She raised her head, but she felt dizzy; he helped her to land; all power
had forsaken her limbs; her head sank on his shoulder, and his arm, wound
round her lithe figure, alone prevented her falling helplessly at his
feet. Again he raised her in his arms and bore her to the hut. Here he
laid her down on her bed, and stood for a moment beside her, unable to
restrain his tears.
IT was a wretched and anxious night for Hazel. He watched the hut,
without the courage to approach it. That one moment of weakness which
occurred to him on board the _Proserpine,_ when he had allowed Helen to
perceive the nature of his feelings toward her, had rendered all his
actions open to suspicion. He dared not exhibit toward her any
sympathy--he might not extend to her the most ordinary civility. If she
fell ill, if fever supervened! how could he nurse her, attend upon her?
His touch must have a significance, he knew that; for, as he bore her
insensible form, he embraced rather than carried the precious burden.
Could he look upon her in her suffering without betraying his forbidden
love? And then would not his attentions afflict more than console?
Chewing the cud of such bitter thoughts, he passed the night without
noticing the change which was taking place over the island. The sun rose;
and this awakened him from his reverie, which had replaced sleep; he
looked around, and then became sensible of the warnings in the air.
The sea-birds flew about vaguely and absurdly, and seemed sporting in
currents of wind; yet there was but little wind down below. Presently
clouds came flying over the sky, and blacker masses gathered on the
horizon. The sea changed color.
Hazel knew the weather was breaking. The wet season was at hand--the
moment when fever, if such an invisible inhabitant there was on that
island, would visit them. In a few hours the rain would be upon them, and
he reproached himself with want of care in the construction of the hut.
For some hours he hovered around it, before he ventured to approach the
door and call to Helen. He thought he heard her voice faintly, and he
entered. She lay there as he had placed her. He knelt beside her, and was
appalled at the change in her appearance.
The poor girl's system had received a shock for which it was unprepared.
Her severe sufferings at sea had, strange to say, reduced her in
appearance less than could have been believed; for her physical endurance
proved greater than that of the strong men around her. But the food which
the island supplied was not suited to restore her strength, and the
nervous shock to which she had been subjected was followed by complete
Hazel took her unresisting hand, which he would have given a world to
press. He felt her pulse; it was weak, but slow. Her cheeks were hollow,
her eyes sunken; her hand dropped helplessly when he released it.
Leaving the hut quietly, but hastily, he descended the hill to the
rivulet, which he crossed. About half a mile above the boathouse the
stream forked, one of its branches coming from the west, the other from
the east. Between this latter branch and Terrapin Wood was a stony hill;
to this spot Hazel went, and fell to gathering a handful of poppies. When
he had obtained a sufficient quantity he returned to the boathouse, made
a small fire of chips, and, filling his tin baler with water, he set down
the poppies to boil. When the liquor was cool, he measured out a portion
and drank it. In about twenty minutes his temples began to throb, a
sensation which was rapidly followed by nausea.
It was midday before he recovered from the effects of his experiment
sufficiently to take food. Then he waited for two hours, and felt much
restored. He stole to the hut and looked in. Helen lay there as he had
left her. He stooped over her; her eyes were half closed, and she turned
them slowly upon him; her lips moved a little--that was all. He felt her
pulse again; it was still weaker, and slower. He rose and went away, and,
regaining the boat-house, he measured out a portion of the poppy liquor,
one-third of the dose he had previously taken, and drank it. No headache
or nausea succeeded; he felt his pulse; it became quick and violent;
while a sense of numbness overcame him, and he slept. It was but for a
few minutes. He awoke with a throbbing brow, and some sickness; but with
a sense of delight at the heart, for he had found an opiate, and
prescribed its quantity.
He drained the liquor away from the poppy leaves, and carried it to the
hut. Measuring with great care a small quantity, he lifted the girl's
head and placed it to her lips. She drank it mechanically. Then he
watched beside her, until her breathing and her pulse changed in
character. She slept. He turned aside then, and buried his face in his
hands and prayed fervently for her life--prayed as we pray for the daily
bread of the heart. He prayed and waited.
THE next morning, when Helen awoke, she was very weak; her head ached,
but she was herself. Hazel had made a broth for her from the fleshy part
of a turtle; this greatly revived her, and by midday she was able to sit
up. Having seen that her wants were within her reach, he left her; but in
a few moments she heard him busily engaged on the roof of her hut.
On his return, he explained to her his fears that the structure was
scarcely as weather-proof as he desired; and he anticipated hourly the
commencement of the rainy season. Helen smiled and pointed to the sky,
which here was clear and bright. But Hazel shook his head doubtingly. The
wet season would commence probably with an atmospheric convulsion, and
then settle down to uninterrupted rain. Helen refused obstinately to
believe in more rain than they had experienced on board the boat--a
"You will see," replied Hazel. "If you do not change your views within
the next three days, then call me a false prophet."
The following day passed, and Helen recovered more strength, but still
was too weak to walk; but she employed herself, at Hazel's request, in
making a rope of cocoanut fiber, some forty yards long. This he required
to fish up the spar to a sufficient height on the great palm-tree, and
bind it firmly in its place. While she worked nimbly, he employed himself
in gathering a store of such things as they would require during the
coming wintry season. She watched him with a smile, but he persevered. So
that day passed. The next morning the rope was finished. Helen was not so
well, and was about to help herself to the poppy liquor, when Hazel
happily stopped her hand in time. He showed her the exact dose necessary,
and explained minutely the effects of a larger draught. Then he
shouldered the rope, and set out for Palm-tree Point.
He was absent about six hours, of which Helen slept four. And for two,
which seemed very long, she ruminated. What was she thinking of that made
her smile and weep at the same moment? and she looked so impatiently
toward the door.
He entered at last, very fatigued. It was eleven miles to the Point and
back. While eating his frugal supper, he gave her a detail of his day's
adventures. Strange to say, he had not seen a single seal on the sands.
He described how he had tied one end of her rope to the middle of the
spar, and, with the other between his teeth, he climbed the great palm.
For more than an hour he toiled; he gained its top, passed the rope over
one of its branches, and hauled up the spar to about eighty feet above
the ground. Then, descending with the other end, he wound the rope
spirally round and round the tree, thus binding to its trunk the first
twenty feet by which the spar hung from the branch.
She listened very carelessly, he thought, and betrayed little interest in
this enterprise which had cost him so much labor and fatigue.
When he had concluded, she was silent awhile, and then, looking up
quickly, said, to his great surprise:
"I think I may increase the dose of your medicine there. You are mistaken
in its power. I am sure I can take four times what you gave me."
"Indeed you are mistaken," he answered quickly. "I gave you the extreme
measure you can take with safety."
"How do you know that? You can only guess at its effects. At any rate, I
shall try it."
Hazel hesitated, and then confessed that he had made a little experiment
on himself before risking its effects upon her.
Helen looked up at him as he said this so simply and quietly. Her great
eyes filled with an angelic light. Was it admiration? Was it
thankfulness? Her bosom heaved, and her lips quivered. It was but a
moment, and she felt glad that Hazel had turned away from her and saw
A long silence followed this little episode, when she was aroused from
She looked up.
Their eyes met. It was the rain. Hazel only smiled a little, and then ran
down to his boat-house, to see that all was right there, and then
returned with a large bundle of chips, with which he made a fire, for the
sky had darkened overhead. Gusts of wind ran along the water; it had
become suddenly chilly. They had almost forgotten the feel of wet
Ere the fire had kindled, the rain came down in torrents, and, the matted
roof being resonant, they heard it strike here and there above their
Helen sat down on her little stool and reflected.
In that hut were two persons. One had foretold this, and feared it, and
provided against it. The other had said petulantly it was a bugbear.
And now the rain was pattering, and the prophet was on his knees making
her as comfortable as he could in spite of all, and was not the man to
remind her he had foretold it.
She pondered his character while she watched his movements. He put down
his embers, then he took a cocoa-pod out from the wall, cut it in slices
with his knife, and made a fine clear fire; then he ran out again, in
spite of Helen's remonstrance, and brought a dozen large scales of the
palmtree. It was all the more cheering for the dismal scene without and
the pattering of the rain on the resounding roof.
But, thanks to Hazel's precaution, the hut proved weather-tight; of which
fact having satisfied himself, he bade her good-night. He was at the door
when her voice recalled him.
"Mr. Hazel, I cannot rest this night without asking your pardon for all
the unkind things I may have done and said; without thanking you humbly
for your great forbearance and your--respect for the unhap-- I mean the
unfortunate girl thus cast upon your mercy."
She held out her hand; he took it between his own, and faintly expressed
his gratitude for her kindness; and so she sent him away brimful of
The rain was descending in torrents. She heard it, but he did not feel
it; for she had spread her angel's wings over his existence, and he
regained his sheltered boat-house he knew not how.
THE next day was Sunday. Hazel had kept a calendar of the week, and every
seventh day was laid aside with jealousy, to be devoted to such simple
religious exercises as he could invent. The rain still continued, with
less violence indeed, but without an hour's intermission. After breakfast
he read to her the exodus of the Israelites, and their sufferings during
that desert life. He compared those hardships with their own troubles,
and pointed out to her how their condition presented many things to be
thankful for. The island was fruitful, the climate healthy. They might
have been cast away on a sandy key or reef, where they would have
perished slowly and miserably of hunger and exposure. Then they were
spared to each other. Had she been alone there, she could not have
provided for herself; had he been cast away a solitary man, the island
would have been to him an intolerable prison.
In all these reflections Hazel was very guarded that no expression should
escape him to arouse her apprehension. He was so careful of this that she
observed his caution and watched his restraint. And Helen was thinking
more of this than of the holy subject on which he was discoursing. The
disguise he threw over his heart was penetrable to the girl's eye. She
saw his love in every careful word, and employed herself in detecting it
under his rigid manner. Secure in her own position, she could examine his
from the loop-holes of her soul, and take a pleasure in witnessing the
suppressed happiness she could bestow with a word. She did not wonder at
her power. The best of women have the natural vanity to take for granted
the sway they assume over the existence which submits to them.
A week passed thus, and Hazel blessed the rain that drove them to this
sociability. He had prepared the bladder of a young seal which had
drifted ashore dead. This membrane, dried in the sun, formed a piece of
excellent parchment, and he desired to draw upon it a map of the island.
To accomplish this, the first thing was to obtain a good red ink from the
cochineal, which is crimson. He did according to his means. He got one of
the tin vessels and filed it till he had obtained a considerable quantity
of the metal. This he subjected for forty hours to the action of
lime-juice. He then added the cochineal, and mixed till he obtained a
fine scarlet. In using it he added a small quantity of a hard and pure
gum--he had found gum abounded in the island. His pen was made from an
osprey's feather, hundreds of which were strewn about the cliffs, and
some of these he had already secured and dried.
Placing his tin baler before him, on which he had scratched his notes, he
drew a map of the island.
"What shall we call it?" said he.
Helen paused, and then replied, "Call it 'GODSEND' Island."
"So I will," he said, and wrote it down.
Then they named the places they had seen. The reef Helen had discovered
off the northwest coast they called "White Water Island," because of the
breakers. Then came "Seal Bay," "Palm-tree Point," "Mount Lookout" (this
was the hill due south of where they lived). They called the cane-brake
"Wild Duck Swamp," and the spot where they lunched "Cochineal Clearing."
The mountain was named "Mount Cavity."
"But what shall we call the capital of the kingdom--this hut?" said Miss
Rolleston, as she leaned over him and pointed to the spot.
"Saint Helen's," said Hazel, looking up; and he wrote it down ere she
Then there was a little awkward pause, while he was busily occupied in
filling up some topographical details. She turned it off gayly.
"What are those caterpillars that you have drawn there, sprawling over my
kingdom?" she asked.
"Caterpillars! you are complimentary, Miss Rolleston. Those are
"Oh, indeed; and those lines you are now drawing are rivers, I presume."
"Yes; let us call this branch of our solitary estuary, which runs
westward, the river Lea, and this, to the east, the river Medway. Is such
your majesty's pleasure?"
_"La Reine le veut,"_ replied Helen, smiling. "But, Master Geographer, it
seems to me that you are putting in mountains and rivers which you have
never explored. How do you know that these turns and twists in the stream
exist as you represent them? and those spurs, which look so real, have
you not added them only to disguise the caterpillar character of your
range of hills!"
Hazel laughed as he confessed to drawing on his fancy for some little
details. But pleaded that all geographers, when they drew maps, were
licensed to fill in a few such touches, where discovery had failed to
Helen had always believed religiously in maps, and was amused when she
reflected on her former credulity.
HELEN'S strength was coming back to her but slowly; she complained of
great lassitude and want of appetite. But, the following day having
cleared up, the sun shone out with great power and brilliancy. She gladly
welcomed the return of the fine weather, but Hazel shook his head; ten
days' rain was not their portion--the bad weather would return, and
complete the month or six weeks' winter to which Nature was entitled. The
next evening the appearance of the sky confirmed his opinion. The sun set
like a crimson shield; gory, and double its usual size. It entered into a
thick bank of dark violet cloud that lay on the horizon, and seemed to
split the vapor into rays, but of a dusky kind; immediately above this
crimson the clouds were of a brilliant gold, but higher they were the
color of rubies, and went gradually off to gray.
But as the orb dipped to the horizon a solid pile of unearthly clouds
came up from the southeast; their bodies were singularly and unnaturally
black, and mottled with copper-color, and hemmed with a fiery yellow. And
these infernal clouds towered up their heads, pressing forward as if they
all strove for precedency; it was like Milton's fiends attacking the sky.
The rate at which they climbed was wonderful. The sun set and the moon
rose full, and showed those angry masses surging upward and jostling each
other as they flew.
Yet below it was dead calm.
Having admired the sublimity of the scene, and seen the full moon rise,
but speedily lose her light in a brassy halo, they entered the hut, which
was now the headquarters, and they supped together there.
While they were eating their little meal the tops of the trees were heard
to sigh, so still was everything else. None the less did those strange
clouds fly northward, eighty miles an hour. After supper, Helen sat busy
over the fire, where some gum, collected by Hazel, resembling
India-rubber, was boiling; she was preparing to cover a pair of poor
Welch's shoes, inside and out, with a coat of this material, which Hazel
believed to be water-proof. She sat in such a position that he could
watch her. It was a happy evening. She seemed content. She had got over
her fear of him; they were good comrades if they were nothing more. It
was happiness to him to be by her side even on those terms. He thought of
it all as he looked at her. How distant she had seemed once to him; what
an unapproachable goddess. Yet there she was by his side in a hut he had
made for her.
He could not help sipping the soft intoxicating draught her mere presence
offered him. But by and by he felt his heart was dissolving within him,
and he was trifling with danger. He must not look on her too long, seated
by the fire like a wife. The much-enduring man rose, and turned his back
upon the sight he loved so dearly. He went out at the open door intending
to close it and bid her good-night. But he did not do so, just then; for
his attention as an observer of nature was arrested by the unusual
conduct of certain animals. Gannets and other sea-birds were running
about the opposite wood and craning their necks in a strange way. He had
never seen one enter that wood before.
Seals and sea-lions were surrounding the slope, and crawling about, and
now and then plunging into the river, which they crossed with infinite
difficulty, for it was running very high and strong. The trees also
sighed louder than ever. Hazel turned back to tell Miss Rolleston
something extraordinary was going on. She sat in sight from the river,
and, as he came toward the hut, he saw her sitting by the fire reading.
He stopped short. Her work lay at her feet. She had taken out a letter,
and she was reading it by the fire.
As she read it her face was a puzzle. But Hazel saw the act alone; and a
dart of ice seemed to go through and through him.
This, then, was her true source of consolation. He thought it was so
before. He had even reason to think so. But, never seeing any palpable
proofs, he had almost been happy. He turned sick with jealous misery, and
stood there rooted and frozen.
Then came a fierce impulse to shut the sight out that caused this pain.
He almost flung her portoullis to, and made his hands bleed. But a
bleeding heart does not feel scratches.
"Good-night," said he hoarsely.
"Good-night," said she kindly.
And why should she not read his letter? She was his affianced bride,
bound to him by honor as well as inclination. This was the reflection to
which, after a sore battle with his loving heart, the much-enduring man
had to come at last; and he had come to it, and was getting back his
peace of mind, though not his late complacency, and about to seek repose
in sleep, when suddenly a clap of wind came down like thunder, and
thrashed the island and everything in it.
Everything animate and inanimate seemed to cry out as the blow passed.
Another soon followed, and another--intermittent gusts at present, but of
such severity that not one came without making its mark.
Birds were driven away like paper; the sea-lions whimpered, and crouched
into corners, and huddled together, and held each other, whining.
Hazel saw but one thing; the frail edifice he had built for the creature
he adored. He looked out of his boat, and fixed his horror-stricken eyes
on it; he saw it waving to and fro, yet still firm. But he could not stay
there. If not in danger she must be terrified. He must go and support
her. He left his shelter, and ran toward her hut. With a whoop and a
scream another blast tore through the wood, and caught him. He fell, dug
his hands into the soil, and clutched the earth. While he was in that
position, he heard a sharp crack; he looked up in dismay, and saw that
one of Helen's trees had broken like a carrot, and the head was on the
ground leaping about; while a succession of horrible sounds of crashing,
and rending, and tearing showed the frail hut was giving way on every
side; racked and riven, and torn to pieces. Hazel, though a stout man,
uttered cries of terror death would never have drawn from him; and, with
a desperate headlong rush, he got to the place where the bower had been;
but now it was a prostrate skeleton, with the mat roof flapping like a
loose sail above it, and Helen below.
As he reached the hut, the wind got hold of the last of the four shrubs
that did duty for a door, and tore it from the cord that held it, and
whirled it into the air; it went past Hazel's face like a bird flying.
Though staggered himself by the same blow of wind, he clutched the tree
and got into the hut.
He found her directly. She was kneeling beneath the mat that a few
minutes ago had been her roof. He extricated her in a moment, uttering
inarticulate cries of pity and fear.
"Don't be frightened," said she. "I am not hurt."
But he felt her quiver from head to foot. He wrapped her in all her rugs,
and, thinking of nothing but her safety, lifted her in his strong arms to
take her to his own place, which was safe from wind at least.
But this was no light work. To go there erect was impossible.
Holding tight by the tree, he got her to the lee of the tent and waited
for a lull. He went rapidly down the hill, but, ere he reached the river,
a gust came careering over the sea. A sturdy young tree was near him. He
placed her against it, and wound his arms round her and its trunk. The
blast came. The tree bent down almost to the ground, then whirled round,
recovered, shivered; but he held firmly. It passed. Again he lifted her,
and bore her to the boat-house. As he went, the wind almost choked her,
and her long hair lashed his face like a whip. But he got her in, and
then sat panting and crouching, but safe. They were none too soon; the
tempest increased in violence, and became more continuous. No clouds, but
a ghastly glare all over the sky. No rebellious waves, but a sea hissing
and foaming under its master's lash. The river ran roaring and foaming
by, and made the boat heave even in its little creek. The wind, though it
could no longer shake them, went screaming terribly close over their
heads--no longer like air in motion, hut, solid and keen, it seemed the
Almighty's scythe mowing down Nature; and soon it became, like turbid
water, blackened with the leaves, branches and fragments of all kinds it
whirled along with it. The trees fell crashing on all sides, and the
remains passed over their heads into the sea.
Helen behaved admirably. Speech was impossible, but she thanked him
without it--eloquently; she nestled her little hand into Hazel's, and, to
Hazel, that night, with all its awful sights and sounds, was a blissful
one. She had been in danger, but now was safe by his side. She had
pressed his hand to thank him, and now she was cowering a little toward
him in a way that claimed him as her protector. Her glorious hair blew
over him and seemed to net him. And now and then, as they heard some
crash nearer and more awful than another, she clutched him quickly though
lightly; for, in danger, her sex love to feel a friend; it is not enough
to see him near. And once, when a great dusky form of a sea-lion came
crawling over the mound, and whimpering peeped into the boathouse, she
even fled to his shoulder with both hands for a moment, and was there,
light as a feather, till the creature had passed on. And his soul was
full of peace, and a great tranquillity overcame it. He heard nothing of
the wrack, knew nothing of the danger.
Oh, mighty Love! The tempest might blow, and fill the air and earth with
ruin, so that it spared her. The wind was kind, and gentle the night,
which brought that hair round his face, and that head so near his
shoulder, and gave him the holy joy of protecting under his wing the soft
creature he adored.
ON the morning that followed this memorable night, our personages seemed
to change characters. Hazel sat down before the relics of the hut--three
or four strings dangling, and a piece of network waving--and eyed them
with shame, regret and humiliation. He was so absorbed in his
self-reproaches that he did not hear a light footstep, and Helen
Rolleston stood near him a moment or two, and watched the play of his
countenance with a very inquisitive and kindly light in her own eyes.
"Never mind," said she, soothingly.
Hazel started at the music.
"Never mind your house being blown to atoms, and mine has stood?" said
he, half reproachfully.
"You took too much pains with mine."
"I will take a great deal more with the next."
"I hope not. But I want you to come and look at the havoc. It is
terrible; and yet so grand." And thus she drew him away from the sight
that caused his pain.
They entered the wood by a path Hazel had cut from the sea-shore, and
viewed the devastation in Terrapin Wood. Prostrate trees lay across one
another in astonishing numbers, and in the strangest positions; and their
glorious plumes swept the earth. "Come," said she, "it is a bad thing for
the poor trees, but not for us. See, the place is strewed with treasures.
Here is a tree full of fans all ready made. And what is that? A horse's
tail growing on a cocoa-tree! and a long one, too! that will make ropes
for you, and thread for me. Ah, and here is a cabbage. Poor Mr. Welch!
Well, for one thing, you need never saw nor climb any more. See the
advantages of a hurricane."
From the wood she took him to the shore, and there they found many birds
lying dead; and Hazel picked up several that he had read of as good to
eat. For certain signs had convinced him his fair and delicate companion
was carnivorous, and must be nourished accordingly. Seeing him so
employed, she asked him archly whether he was beginning to see the
comforts of a hurricane. "Not yet," said he; "the account is far from
"Then come to where the rock was blown down." She led the way gayly
across the sands to a point where an overhanging crag had fallen, with
two trees and a quantity of earth and plants that grew above it. But,
when they got nearer, she became suddenly grave, and stood still. The
mass had fallen upon a sheltered place, where seals were hiding from the
wind, and had buried several; for two or three limbs were sticking out,
of victims overwhelmed in the ruin; and a magnificent sea-lion lay clear
of the smaller rubbish, but quite dead. The cause was not far to seek; a
ton of hard rock had struck him, and then ploughed up the sand in a deep
furrow, and now rested within a yard or two of the animal, whose back it
had broken. Hazel went up to the creature and looked at it; then he came
to Helen. She was standing aloof. "Poor bugbear," said he. "Come away; it
is an ugly sight for you."
"Oh, yes," said Helen. Then, as they returned, "Does not that reconcile
you to the loss of a hut? We are not blown away nor crushed."
"That is true," said Hazel; "but suppose your health should suffer from
the exposure to such fearful weather. So unlucky! so cruel! just as you
were beginning to get stronger."
"I am all the better for it. Shall I tell you? excitement is a good
thing; not too often, of course; but now and then; and, when we are in
the humor for it, it is meat and drink and medicine to us."
"What! to a delicate young lady?"
"Ay, 'to a delicate young lady.' Last night has done me a world of good.
It has shaken me out of myself. I am in better health and spirits. Of
course I am very sorry the hut is blown down--because you took so much
trouble to build it; but, on my own account, I really don't care a straw.
Find me some corner to nestle in at night, and all day I mean to be
about, and busy as a bee, helping you, and-- Breakfast! breakfast! Oh,
how hungry I am." And this spirited girl led the way to the boat with a
briskness and a vigor that charmed and astonished him.
_Souvent femme vane._
This gracious behavior did not blind Hazel to the serious character of
the situation, and all breakfast-time he was thinking and thinking, and
often kept a morsel in his mouth, and forgot to eat it for several
seconds, he was so anxious and puzzled. At last he said, "I know a large
hollow tree with apertures. If I were to close them all but one, and keep
that for the door? No: trees have betrayed me; I'll never trust another
tree with you. Stay; I know, I know--a cavern." He uttered the verb
rather loudly, but the substantive with a sudden feebleness of intonation
that was amusing. His timidity was superfluous; if he had said he knew "a
bank whereon the wild thyme grows," the suggestion would have been well
received that morning.
"A cavern!" cried Helen. "It has always been the dream of my life to live
in a cavern."
Hazel brightened up. But the next moment he clouded again. "But I forgot.
It will not do; there is a spring running right through it; it comes down
nearly perpendicular through a channel it has bored, or enlarged; and
splashes on the floor."
"How convenient!" said Helen; "now I shall have a bath in my room,
instead of having to go miles for it. By the by, now you have invented
the shower-bath, please discover soap. Not that one really wants any in
this island; for there is no dust, and the very air seems purifying. But
who can shake off the prejudices of early education?"
Hazel said, "Now I'll laugh as much as you like, when once this care is
off my mind."
He ran off to the cavern, and found it spacious and safe; but the spring
was falling in great force, and the roof of the cave glistening with
moisture. It looked a hopeless case. But if necessity is the mother of
Invention, surely Love is the father. He mounted to the rock above, and
found the spot where the spring suddenly descended into the earth with
the loudest gurgle he had ever heard; a gurgle of defiance. Nothing was
to be done there. But he traced it upward a little way, and found a place
where it ran beside a deep decline. "Aha, my friend!" said he. He got his
spade, and with some hours' hard work dug it a fresh channel and carried
it away entirely from its course. He returned to the cavern. Water was
dripping very fast; but, on looking up, he could see the light of day
twinkling at the top of the spiral water course he had robbed of its
supply. Then he conceived a truly original idea. Why not turn his empty
watercourse into a chimney, and so give to one element what he had taken
from another? He had no time to execute this just then, for the tide was
coming in, and he could not afford to lose any one of those dead animals.
So he left the funnel to drip, that being a process he had no means of
expediting, and moored the sea-lion to the very rock that had killed him,
and was proceeding to dig out the seals, when a voice he never could hear
without a thrill summoned him to dinner.
It was a plentiful repast, and included roast pintado and cabbage-palm.
Helen Rolleston informed him during dinner that he would no longer be
allowed to monopolize the labor attendant upon their condition.
"No," said she, "you are always working for me, and I shall work for you.
Cooking and washing are a woman's work, not a man's; and so are plaiting
This healthy resolution once formed was adhered to with a constancy that
belonged to the girl's character. The roof of the ruined hut came ashore
in the bay that evening, and was fastened over the boat. Hazel lighted a
bonfire in the cavern, and had the satisfaction of seeing some of the
smoke issue above. But he would not let Miss Rolleston occupy it yet. He
shifted her things to the boat and slept in the cave himself. However, he
lost no time in laying down a great hearth, and built a fireplace and
chimney in the cave. The chimney went up to the hole in the arch of the
cave; then came the stone funnel, stolen from Nature; and above, on the
upper surface of the cliff, came the chimney-pot. Thus the chimney acted
like a German stove: it stood in the center, and soon made the cavern
very dry and warm, and a fine retreat during the rains. When it was ready
for occupation, Helen said she would sail to it: she would not go by
land; that was too tame for her. Hazel had only to comply with her humor,
and at high water they got into the boat, and went down the river into
the sea with a rush that made Helen wince. He soon rowed her across the
bay to a point distant not more than fifty yards from the cavern, and
installed her. But he never returned to the river; it was an inconvenient
place to make excursions from; and besides, all his work was now either
in or about the cavern; and that convenient hurricane, as Helen called
it, not only made him a builder again; it also made him a currier, a
soap-boiler, and a salter. So they drew the boat just above high-water
mark in a sheltered nook, and he set up his arsenal ashore.
In this situation, day glided by after day, and week after week, in
vigorous occupations, brightened by social intercourse, and in some
degree by the beauty and the friendship of the animals. Of all this
industry we can only afford a brief summary. Hazel fixed two uprights at
each side of the cavern's mouth, and connected each pair by a beam; a
netting laid on these, and, covered with gigantic leaves from the
prostrate palms, made a sufficient roof in this sheltered spot. On this
terrace they could sit even in the rain, and view the sea. Helen cooked
in the cave, but served dinner up on this beautiful terrace. So now she
had a But and a Ben, as the Scotch say. He got a hogshead of oil from the
sea-lion; and so the cave was always lighted now, and that was a great
comfort, and gave them more hours of indoor employment and conversation.
The poor bugbear really brightened their existence. Of the same oil,
boiled down and mixed with wood-ashes, he made soap, to Helen's great
delight. The hide of this animal was so thick he could do nothing with it
but cut off pieces to make the soles of shoes, if required. But the seals
were miscellaneous treasures. He contrived with guano and aromatics to
curry their skins; of their bladders he made vile parchment, and of their
entrails gut, cat-gut and twine, beyond compare. He salted two cubs, and
laid up the rest in store, by inclosing large pieces in clay. When these
were to be used, the clay was just put into hot embers for some hours,
then broken, and the meat eaten with all its juices preserved.
Helen cooked and washed, and manufactured salt; and collected quite a
store of wild cotton, though it grew very sparingly and it cost her hours
to find a few pods. But in hunting for it she found other things--health,
for one. After sunset she was generally employed a couple of hours on
matters which occupy the fair in every situation of life. She made
herself a sealskin jacket and pork-pie hat. She made Mr. Hazel a man's
cap of sealskin with a point. But her great work was with the cotton,
which will be described hereafter.
However, for two hours after sunset, no more (they rose at peep of day),
her physician allowed her to sit and work; which she did, and often
smiled, while he sat by and discoursed to her of all the things he had
read, and surprised himself by the strength and activity of his memory.
He attributed it partly to the air of the island. Nor were his fingers
idle even at night. He had tools to sharpen for the morrow, glass to make
and polish out of a laminated crystal he had found. And then the
hurricane had blown away, among many properties, his map; so he had to
make another with similar materials. He completed the map in due course,
and gave it to Helen. It was open to the same strictures she had passed
on the other. Hazel was no chartographer. Yet this time she had nothing
but praise for it. How was that?
To the reader it is now presented, not as a specimen of chartographic
art, but as a little curiosity in its way, being a _fac-simile_ of the
map John Hazel drew for Helen Rolleston with such out-of-the-way
materials as that out-of-the-way island afforded.
Above all, it will enable the reader to follow our personages in their
little excursions past and future, and also to trace the course of a
mysterious event we have to record.
Relieved of other immediate cares, Hazel's mind had time to dwell upon
the problem. Helen had set him; and one fine day a conviction struck him
that he had taken a narrow and puerile view of it, and that, after all,
there must be in the nature of things some way to attract ships from a
distance. Possessed with this thought, he went up to Telegraph Point,
abstracted his mind from all external objects, and fixed it on this
idea--but came down as he went. He descended by some steps he had cut
zigzag for Helen's use, and as he put his foot on the fifth
step--whoo--whirr--whiz--came nine ducks, cooling his head, they whizzed
so close; and made right for the lagoons.
"Hum!" thought Hazel; "I never see you ducks fly in any other direction
This speculation rankled in him all night, and he told Helen he should
reconnoiter at daybreak, but should not take her, as there might be
snakes. He made the boat ready at daybreak, and certain gannets,
pintadoes, boobies, and noddies, and divers with eyes in their heads like
fiery jewels--birds whose greedy maws he had often gratified--chose to
fancy he must be going a-fishing, and were on the alert, and rather
troublesome. However, he got adrift, and ran out through North Gate, with
a light westerly breeze, followed by a whole fleet of birds. These were
joined in due course by another of his satellites, a young seal he called
Tommy, also fond of fishing.
The feathered convoy soon tailed off; but Tommy stuck to him for about
eight miles. He ran that distance to have a nearer look at a small island
which lay due north of Telegraph Point. He satisfied himself it was
little more than a very long, large reef, the neighborhood of which ought
to be avoided by ships of burden, and, resolving to set some beacon or
other on it ere long, he christened it White Water Island, on account of
the surf. He came about and headed for the East Bluff.
Then Tommy gave him up in disgust; perhaps thought his conduct
vacillating. Animals all despise that.
He soon landed almost under the volcano, and moored his boat not far from
a cliff peaked with guano. Exercising due caution this time, he got up to
the lagoons, and found a great many ducks swimming about. He approached
little parties to examine their varieties. They all swam out his way;
some of them even flew a few yards, and then settled. Not one would let
him come within forty yards. This convinced Hazel the ducks were not
natives of the island, but strangers, who were not much afraid, because
they had never been molested on this particular island; but still
While he pondered thus, there was a great noise of wings, and about a
dozen ducks flew over his head on the rise, and passed westward still
rising till they got into the high currents, and away upon the wings of
the wind for distant lands.
The grand rush of their wings, and the off-hand way in which they
spurned, abandoned and disappeared from an island that held him tight,
made Hazel feel very small. His thoughts took the form of satire. "Lords
of the creation, are we? We sink in water; in air we tumble; on earth we
These pleasing reflections did not prevent his taking their exact line of
flight, and barking a tree to mark it. He was about to leave the place
when he heard a splashing not far from him, and there was a duck jumping
about on the water in a strange way. Hazel thought a snake had got hold
of her, and ran to her assistance. He took her out of the water and soon
found what was the matter; her bill was open, and a fish's tail was
sticking out. Hazel inserted his finger and dragged out a small fish
which had erected the spines on its back so opportunely as nearly to kill
its destroyer. The duck recovered enough to quack in a feeble and dubious
manner. Hazel kept her for Helen, because she was a plain brown duck.
With some little reluctance he slightly shortened one wing, and stowed
away his captive in the hold of the boat.
He happened to have a great stock of pitch in the boat, so he employed a
few hours in writing upon the guano rocks. On one he wrote in huge
AN ENGLISH LADY WRECKED HERE. HASTE TO HER RESCUE.
On another he wrote in small letters:
BEWARE THE REEFS ON THE NORTH SIDE.
LIE OFF FOR
Then he came home and beached the boat, and brought Helen his captive.
"Why, it is an English duck!" she cried, and was enraptured.
By this visit to the lagoons, Hazel gathered that this island was a
half-way house for migrating birds, especially ducks; and he inferred
that the line those vagrants had taken was the shortest way from this
island to the nearest land. This was worth knowing, and set his brain
working. He begged Helen to watch for the return of the turtle-doves
(they had all left the island just before the rain), and learn, if
possible, from what point of the compass they arrived.
The next expedition was undertaken to please Helen; she wished to examine
the beautiful creeks and caves on the north side, which they had seen
from a distance when they sailed round the island.
They started on foot one delightful day, and walked briskly, for the air,
though balmy, was exhilarating. They followed the course of the river
till they came to the lake that fed it, and was fed itself by hundreds of
little natural gutters down which the hills discharged the rains. This
was new to Helen, though not to Hazel. She produced the map, and told the
lake slyly that it was incorrect, a little too big. She took some of the
water in her hand, sprinkled the lake with it, and called it Hazelmere.
They bore a little to the right, and proceeded till they found a creek
shaped like a wedge, at whose broad end shone an arch of foliage studded
with flowers, and the sparkling blue water peeped behind. This was
tempting, but the descent was rather hazardous at first; great square
blocks of rock one below another, and these rude steps were coated with
mosses of rich hue, but wet and slippery; Hazel began to be alarmed for
his companion. However, after one or two difficulties, the fissure opened
wider to the sun, and they descended from the slimy rocks into a sloping
hot-bed of exotic flowers, and those huge succulent leaves that are the
glory of the tropics. The ground was carpeted a yard deep with their
luxuriance, and others, more aspiring, climbed the warm sides of the
diverging cliffs, just as creepers go up a wall, lining every crevice as
they rose. In this blessed spot, warmed, but not scorched, by the
tropical sun, and fed with trickling waters, was seen what marvels "boon
Nature" can do. Here our vegetable dwarfs were giants and our flowers
were trees. One lovely giantess of the jasmine tribe, but with flowers
shaped like a marigold, and scented like a tube-rose, had a stem as thick
as a poplar, and carried its thousand buds and amber-colored flowers up
eighty feet of broken rock, and planted on every ledge suckers, that
flowered again and filled the air with perfume. Another tree about half
as high was covered with a cascade of snow-white tulips, each as big as a
small flower-pot, and scented like honeysuckle. An aloe, ten feet high,
blossomed in a corner, unheeded among loftier beauties. And at the very
mouth of the fissure a huge banana leaned across, and flung out its vast
leaves, that seemed translucent gold against the sun; under it shone a
monstrous cactus in all her pink and crimson glory, and through the maze
of color streamed the deep blue of the peaceful ocean, laughing, and
Helen leaned against the cliff and quivered with delight, and that deep
sense of flowers that belongs to your true woman.
Hazel feared she was ill.
"Ill?" said she. "Who could be ill here? It is heaven upon earth. Oh, you
dears! Oh, you loves! And they all seemed growing on the sea, and
floating in the sun."
"And it is only one of a dozen such," said Hazel. "If you would like to
inspect them at your leisure, I'll just run to Palm-tree Point; for my
signal is all askew. I saw that as we came along."
Helen assented readily, and he ran off, but left her the provisions. She
was not to wait dinner for him.
Helen examined two or three of the flowery fissures, and found fresh
beauties in each, and also some English leaves, that gave her pleasure of
another kind; and, after she had reveled in the flowers, she examined the
shore, and soon discovered that the rocks which abounded here (though
there were also large patches of clear sand) were nearly all pure coral,
in great variety. Red coral was abundant; and even the pink coral, to
which fashion was just then giving a fictitious value, was there by the
ton. This interested her, and so did some beautiful shells that lay
sparkling. The time passed swiftly; and she was still busy in her
researches, when suddenly it darkened a little, and, looking back, she
saw a white vapor stealing over the cliff, and curling down.
Upon this she thought it prudent to return to the place where Hazel had
left her; the more so as it was near sunset.
The vapor descended and spread and covered sea and land. Then the sun
set; and it was darkness visible. Coming from the south, the sea-fret
caught Hazel sooner and in a less favorable situation. Returning from the
palm-tree, he had taken the shortest cut through a small jungle, and been
so impeded by the scrub, that, when he got clear, the fog was upon him.
Between that and the river he lost his way several times, and did not hit
the river till near midnight. He followed the river to the lake, and
coasted the lake, and then groped his way toward the creek
But, after a while, every step he took was fraught with danger; and the
night was far advanced when he at last hit off the creek, as he thought.
He halloed; but there was no reply; halloed again, and, to his joy, her
voice replied; but at a distance.
He had come to the wrong creek. She was farther westward. He groped his
way westward, and came to another creek. He haloed to her, and she
answered him. But to attempt the descent would have been mere suicide.
She felt that herself, and almost ordered him to stay where he was.
"Why, we can talk all the same," said she; "and it is not for long."
It was a curious position, and one typical of the relation between them.
So near together, yet the barrier so strong.
"I am afraid you must be very cold," said he.
"Oh, no; I have my seal-skin jacket on; and it is so sheltered here. I
wish you were as well off."
"You are not afraid to be alone down there?"
"I am not alone when your voice is near me. Now don't you fidget
yourself, dear friend. I like these little excitements. I have told you
so before. Listen. How calm and silent it all is; the place; the night!
The mind seems to fill with great ideas, and to feel its immortality."
She spoke with solemnity, and he heard in silence.
Indeed it was a reverend time and place. The sea, whose loud and
penetrating tongue had, in some former age, created the gully where they
both sat apart, had of late years receded and kissed the sands gently
that calm night; so gently, that its long, low murmur seemed but the echo
The voices of that pair sounded supernatural, one speaking up, and the
other down, the speakers quite invisible.
"Mr. Hazel," said Helen, in a low, earnest voice; "they say that night
gives wisdom even to the wise; think now, and tell me your true thoughts.
Has the foot of man ever trod upon this island before?"
There was a silence due to a question so grave, and put with solemnity,
at a solemn time, in a solemn place.
At last Hazel's thoughtful voice came down. "The world is very, very,
very old. So old, that the words 'Ancient History' are a falsehood, and
Moses wrote but as yesterday. And man is a very old animal upon this old,
old planet; and has been everywhere. I cannot doubt he has been here."
Her voice went up. "But have you seen any signs?"
His voice came down. "I have not looked for them. The bones and the
weapons of primeval man are all below earth's surface at this time of
There was a dead silence. Then Helen's voice went up again. "But in
modern times? Has no man landed here from far-off places, since ships
The voice came sadly down. "I do not know."
The voice went up. "But think!"
The voice came down. "What calamity can be new in a world so old as this?
Everything we can do, and suffer, others of our race have done, and
The voice went up. "Hush! there's something moving on the sand."
HAZEL waited and listened. So did Helen, and her breath came fast; for in
the stilly night she heard light but mysterious sounds. Something was
moving on the sand very slowly and softly, but nearer and nearer. Her
heart began to leap. She put out her hand instinctively to clutch Mr.
Hazel; but he was too far off. She had the presence of mind and the
self-denial to disguise her fears; for she knew he would come headlong to
She said in a quavering whisper, "I'm not frightened; only v--very
And now she became conscious that not only one but several things were
Presently the creeping ceased, and was followed by a louder and more
mysterious noise. In that silent night it sounded like raking and
digging. Three or four mysterious visitants seemed to be making graves.
This was too much; especially coming as it did after talk about the
primeval dead. Her desire to scream was so strong, and she was so afraid
Hazel would break his neck, if she relieved her mind in that way, that
she actually took her handkerchief and bit it hard.
But this situation was cut short by a beneficent luminary. The sun rose
with a magnificent bound--it was his way in that latitude--and everything
unpleasant winced that moment; the fog shivered in its turn, and appeared
to open in furrows as great javelins of golden light shot through it from
the swiftly rising orb.
Soon those golden darts increased to streams of portable fire, that burst
the fog and illumined the wet sands. And Helen burst out laughing like
chanticleer, for this first break of day revealed the sextons that had
scared her--three ponderous turtles, crawling, slow and clumsy, back to
sea. Hazel joined her, and they soon found what these evil spirits of the
island had been at, poor wretches. They had each buried a dozen eggs in
the sand; one dozen of which were very soon set boiling. At first,
indeed, Helen objected that they had no shells, but Hazel told her she
might as well complain of a rose without a thorn. He assured her turtles'
eggs were a known delicacy, and very superior to birds' eggs; and so she
found them. They were eaten with the keenest relish.
"And now," said Helen, "for my discoveries. First, here are my English
leaves, only bigger. I found them on a large tree."
"English leaves!" cried Hazel, with rapture. "Why, it is the caoutchouc!"
"Oh, dear," said Helen, in a disappointed tone; "I took it for the
"It is the India-rubber tree; and I have been hunting for it all over the
island in vain, and using wretchedly inferior gums for want of it."
"I'm so glad," said Helen. "And now I have something else to show you.
Something that curdled my blood; but I dare say I was very foolish." She
then took him half across the sand and pointed out to him a number of
stones dotted over the sand in a sort of oval. These stones, streaked
with sea grass, and incrusted with small shells, were not at equal
distances, but yet, allowing for gaps, they formed a decided figure.
Their outline resembled a great fish, wanting the tail.
"Can this be chance?" asked Helen; oh, if it should be what I fear, and
Hazel considered it attentively a long time. "Too far at sea for living
savages," said he. "And yet it cannot be chance. What on earth is it? It
looks Druidical. But how can that be? The island was smaller when these
were placed here than it is now." He went nearer and examined one of the
stones; then he scraped away the sand from its base, and found it was not
shaped like a stone, but more like a whale's rib. He became excited; went
on his knees, and tore the sand up with his hands. Then he rose up
agitated, and traced the outline again. "Great Heaven!" said he, "why, it
is a ship."
"Ay," said he, standing in the middle of it; "here, beneath our feet,
lies man; with his work, and his treasures. This carcass has been here
for many a long year; not so very long, either; she is too big for the
sixteenth century, and yet she must have been sunk when the island was
smaller. I take it to be a Spanish or Portuguese ship; probably one of
those treasure-ships our commodores, and chartered pirates, and the
American buccaneers, used to chase about these seas. Here lie her bones
and the bones of her crew. Your question was soon answered. All that we
can say has been said; can do has been done; can suffer has been
They were silent, and the sunk ship's bones moved them strangely. In
their deep isolation from the human race, even the presence of the dead
brought humanity somehow nearer to them.
They walked thoughtfully away, and made across the sands for Telegraph
Before they got home, Helen suggested that perhaps, if he were to dig in
the ship, he might find something useful.
He shook his head: "Impossible! The iron has all melted away like sugar
long before this. Nothing can have survived but gold and silver, and they
are not worth picking up, much less digging for; my time is too precious.
No, you have found two buried treasures to-day--turtles' eggs, and a
ship, freighted, as I think, with what men call the precious metals.
Well, the eggs are gold, and the gold is a drug--there it will lie for
Both discoveries bore fruits. The ship: Hazel made a vow that never again
should any poor ship lay her ribs on this island for want of warning. He
buoyed the reefs. He ran out to White Water Island, and wrote an earnest
warning on the black reef, and, this time, he wrote with white on black.
He wrote a similar warning, with black on white, at the western extremity
of Godsend Island.
The eggs: Hazel watched for the turtles at daybreak; turned one now and
then; and fed Helen on the meat or its eggs, morn, noon and night.
For some time she had been advancing in health and strength. But, when
the rains declined considerably, and she was all day in the air, she got
the full benefit of the wonderful climate, and her health, appetite and
muscular vigor became truly astonishing; especially under what Hazel
called the turtle cure; though, indeed, she was cured before. She ate
three good meals a day, and needed them; for she was up with the sun, and
her hands and feet never idle till he set.
Four months on the island had done this. But four months had not shown
those straining eyes the white speck on the horizon; the sail, so looked
and longed for.
Hazel often walked the island by himself; not to explore, for he knew the
place well by this time, but he went his rounds to see that all his
signals were in working order.
He went to Mount Lookout one day with this view. It was about an hour
before noon. Long before he got to the mountain he had scanned the
horizon carefully, as a matter of course; but not a speck. So, when he
got there, he did not look seaward, but just saw that his flagstaff was
all right and was about to turn away and go home, when he happened to
glance at the water; and there, underneath him, he saw--a ship; standing
toward the island.
HE started, and rubbed his eyes, and looked again. It was no delusion.
Things never did come as they are expected to come. There was still no
doubtful speck on the horizon; but within eight miles of the island--and
in this lovely air that looked nearly close--was a ship, under canvas.
She bore S. E. from Mount Lookout, and S. S. E. from the East Bluff of
the island, toward which her course was apparenty directed. She had a
fair wind, but was not going fast; being heavily laden, and under no
press of sail. A keen thrill went through him; and his mind was a whirl.
He ran home with the great news.
But, even as he ran, a cold, sickly feeling crawled over him.
"That ship parts her and me."
He resisted the feeling as a thing too monstrous and selfish, and
resisted it so fiercely, that, when he got to the slopes and saw Helen
busy at her work, he waved his hat and hurrahed again and again, and
seemed almost mad with triumph.
Helen stood transfixed, she had never seen him in such a state.
"Good news!" he cried; "great news! A ship in sight! You are rescued!"
Her heart leaped into her mouth.
"A ship!" she screamed. "Where? Where?"
He came up to her, panting.
"Close under the island. Hid by the bluff; but you will see her in half
an hour. God be praised! Get everything ready to go. Hurrah! This is our
last day on the island."
The words were brave, and loud, and boisterous, but the face was pale and
drawn, and Helen saw it, and, though she bustled and got ready to leave,
the tears were in her eyes. But the event was too great to be resisted. A
wild excitement grew on them both. They ran about like persons crazed,
and took things up, and laid them down again, scarcely knowing what they
were doing. But presently they were sobered a little, for the ship did
not appear. They ran across the sands, where they could see the bluff;
she ought to have passed that half an hour ago.
Hazel thought she must have anchored.
Helen looked at him steadily.
"Dear friend," said she, "are you sure there is a ship at all? Are you
not under a delusion? This island fills the mind with fancies. One day I
thought I saw a ship sailing in the sky. Ah!" She uttered a faint scream,
for while she was speaking the bowsprit and jib of a vessel glided past
the bluff so closely they seemed to scrape it, and a ship emerged
grandly, and glided along the cliff.
"Are they mad," cried Hazel, "to hug the shore like that? Ah! they have
seen my warning."
And it appeared so, for the ship just then came up in the wind several
points, and left the bluff dead astern.
She sailed a little way on that course, and then paid off again, and
seemed inclined to range along the coast. But presently she was up in the
wind again, and made a greater offing. She was sailed in a strange,
vacillating way; but Hazel ascribed this to her people's fear of the
reefs he had indicated to all comers. The better to watch her maneuvers,
and signal her if necessary, they both went up to Telegraph Point. They
could not go out to her, being low water. Seen from this height, the
working of this vessel was unaccountable. She was to and off the wind as
often as if she was drunk herself, or commanded by a drunken skipper.
However, she was kept well clear of the home reefs, and made a good
offing, and so at last she opened the bay heading N. W., and distant four
miles, or thereabouts. Now was the time to drop her anchor. So Hazel
worked the telegraph to draw her attention, and waved his hat and hand to
her. But the ship sailed on. She yawed immensely, but she kept her
course; and, when she had gone a mile or two more, the sickening truth
forced itself at last upon those eager watchers. She had decided not to
touch at the island. In vain their joyful signals. In vain the telegraph.
In vain that cry for help upon the eastern cliff; it had saved her, but
not pleaded for them. The monsters saw them on the height--their hope,
their joy--saw and abandoned them.
They looked at one another with dilating eyes, to read in a human face
whether such a deed as this could really be done by man upon his fellow.
They uttered wild cries to the receding vessel.
Vain, vain, all was in vain.
Then they sat down stupefied, but still glaring at the ship, and each at
the same moment held out a hand to the other, and they sat hand in hand;
all the world to each other just then, for there was the world in sight
abandoning them in cold blood.
"Be calm, dear friend," said Helen, patiently. "Oh, my poor father!" And
her other hand threw her apron over her head, and then came a burst of
anguish that no words could utter.
At this Hazel started to his feet in fury. "Now may the God that made sea
and land judge between those miscreants there and you!"
"Be patient," said Helen, sobbing. "Oh, be patient."
"No! I will not be patient," roared Hazel. "Judge thou her cause, oh,
God; each of these tears against a reptile's soul."
And so he stood glaring, and his hair blowing wildly to the breeze; while
she sighed patiently at his knee.
Presently he began to watch the vessel with a grim and bitter eye. Anon
he burst out suddenly, "Aha! that is right. Well steered. Don't cry,
sweet one; our cause is heard. Are they blind? Are they drunk? Are they
sick? I see nobody on deck! Perhaps I have been too-- God forgive me, the
HELEN looked up; and there was the ship fast, and on her side. She was on
the White Water Reef. Not upon the black rocks themselves, but on a part
of them that was under water.
Hazel ran down to the beach; and there Helen found him greatly agitated.
All his anger was gone; he had but one thought now--to go out to her
assistance. But it still wanted an hour to high water, and it was blowing
smartly, and there was nearly always a surf upon that reef. What if the
vessel should break up, and lives be lost?
He paced the sands like a wild beast in its cage, in an agony of pity,
remorse, and burning impatience. His feelings became intolerable; he set
his back to the boat, and with herculean strength forced it down a little
way to meet the tide. He got logs and put them down for rollers. He
strove, he strained, he struggled, till his face and hands were purple.
And at last he met the flowing tide, and in a moment jumped into the
boat, and pushed off. Helen begged with sparkling eyes to be allowed to
"What, to a ship smitten with scurvy, or Heaven knows what? Certainly
not. Besides, you would be wet through; it is blowing rather fresh, and I
shall carry on. Pray for the poor souls I go to help; and for me, who
have sinned in my anger."
He hoisted his sail, and ran out. Helen stood on the bank, and watched
him with tender admiration. How good and brave he was! And he could go
into a passion, too, when she was wronged, or when he thought she was.
Well! she admired him none the less for that. She watched him at first
with admiration, but soon with anxiety; for he had no sooner passed North
Gate, than the cutter, having both sails set, though reefed, lay down
very much, and her hull kept disappearing. Helen felt anxious, and would
have been downright frightened, but for her confidence in his prowess.
By and by only her staggering sails were visible; and the sun set ere she
reached the creek. The wind declined with the sun, and Helen made two
great fires, and prepared food for the sufferers; for she made sure Hazel
would bring them off in a few hours more. She promised herself the
happiness of relieving the distressed. But to her infinite surprise she
found herself almost regretting that the island was likely to be peopled
with strangers. No matter, she should sit up for them all night and be
very kind to them, poor things; though they had not been very kind to
About midnight, the wind shifted to the northwest, and blew hard.
Helen ran down to the shore, and looked seaward. This was a fair wind for
Hazel's return; and she began to expect him every hour. But no; he
delayed unaccountably. And the worst of it was, it began to blow a gale;
and this wind sent the sea rolling into the bay in a manner that alarmed
The night wore on; no signs of the boat; and now there was a heavy gale
outside, and a great sea rolling in, brown and foaming.
Day broke, and showed the sea for a mile or two; the rest was hidden by
Helen kneeled on the shore and prayed for him.
Dire misgivings oppressed her. And soon these were heightened to terror;
for the sea began to disgorge things of a kind that had never come ashore
before. A great ship's mast came tossing. Huge as it was, the waves
handled it like a toy.
Then came a barrel; then a broken spar. These were but the forerunners of
more fearful havoc.
The sea became strewed and literally blackened with fragments; part
wreck, part cargo, of a broken vessel.
But what was all this compared with the horror that followed?
A black object caught her eye; driven in upon the crest of a wave.
She looked, with her hair flying straight back, and her eyes almost
starting from her head.
It was a boat, bottom up; driven on, and tossed like a cork.
It came nearer, nearer, nearer.
She dashed into the water with a wild scream, but a wave beat her
backward on the sand, and, as she rose, an enormous roller lifted the
boat upright into the air, and, breaking, dashed it keel downwards on the
beach at her side--empty!
HELEN uttered a shriek of agony, and her knees smote together, and she
would have swooned on the spot but for the wind and the spray that beat
To the fearful stun succeeded the wildest distress. She ran to and fro
like some wild animal bereaved; she kept wringing her hands and uttering
cries of pity and despair, and went back to the boat a hundred times; it
held her by a spell.
It was long before she could think connectedly, and, even then, it was
not of herself, nor of her lonely state, but only, Why did not she die
with him? Why did she not die instead of him?
He had been all the world to her; and now she knew it. Oh, what a friend,
what a champion, what a lover, these cruel waves had destroyed!
The morning broke, and still she hovered and hovered about the fatal
boat, with great horror-stricken eyes, and hair flying to the breeze; and