Part 6 out of 10
not a tear. If she could only have smoothed his last moments, have spoken
one word into his dying ear! But no! Her poor hero had died in going to
save others; died thinking her as cold as the waters that had destroyed
Dead or alive he was all the world to her now. She went, wailing
piteously, and imploring the waves to give her at least his dead body to
speak to and mourn over. But the sea denied her even that dismal
The next tide brought in a few more fragments of the wreck, but no corpse
Then, at last, as the waves once more retired, leaving, this time, only
petty fragments of wreck on the beach, she lifted up her voice, and
almost wept her heart out of her body.
Such tears as these are seldom without effect on the mind; and Helen now
began to rebel, though faintly, against despair. She had been quite
crushed, at first, under the material evidence--the boat driven empty by
the very wind and waves that had done the cruel deed. But the heart is
averse to believe calamity and especially bereavement; and very ingenious
in arguing against that bitterest of all woes. So she now sat down and
brooded, and her mind fastened with pathetic ingenuity on every
circumstance that could bear a favorable construction. The mast had not
been broken; how, then, had it been lost? The body had not come ashore.
He had had time to get to the wreck before the gale from the north came
on at all. And why should a fair wind, though powerful, upset the boat?
On these slender things she began to build a superstructure of hope; but
soon her heart interrupted the reasoning. "What would _he_ do in my
place? would he sit guessing while hope had a hair to hang by?" That
thought struck her like a spur. And in a moment she bounded into action,
erect, her lips fixed, and her eye on fire, though her cheek was very
pale. She went swiftly to Hazel's store and searched it; there she found
the jib-sail, a boat-hook, some rope, and one little oar, that Hazel was
making for her, and had not quite completed. The sight of this, his last
work, overpowered her again; and she sat down and took it on her knees,
and kissed it and cried over it. And these tears weakened her for a time.
She felt it, and had the resolution to leave the oar behind. A single oar
was of no use to row with. She rigged the boat-hook as a mast; and
fastened the sail to it; and, with this poor equipment, she actually
resolved to put out to sea.
The wind still blew smartly, and there was no blue sky visible.
And now she remembered she had eaten nothing; that would not do. Her
strength might fail her. She made ready a meal, and ate it almost
fiercely, and by a pure effort of resolution; as she was doing all the
By this time it was nearly high tide. She watched the water creeping up.
Will it float the boat? It rises over the keel two inches, three inches.
Five inches water! Now she pushes with all her strength. No; the boat has
water in it she had forgotten to bale out. She strained every nerve, but
could not move it. She stopped to take breath, and husband her strength.
But, when she renewed her efforts, the five inches were four, and she had
the misery of seeing the water crawl away by degrees, and leave the boat
high and dry.
She sighed, heart-broken, awhile; then went home and prayed.
When she had prayed a long time for strength and wisdom, she lay down for
an hour, and tried to sleep, but failed. Then she prepared for a more
serious struggle with the many difficulties she had to encounter. Now she
thanked God more than ever for the health and rare strength she had
acquired in this island; without them she could have done nothing now.
She got a clay platter and baled the vessel nearly dry. She left a little
water for ballast. She fortified herself with food, and put provisions
and water on board the boat. In imitation of Hazel she went and got two
round logs, and as soon as the tide crawled up to four inches, she lifted
the bow a little, and got a roller under. Then she went to the boat's
stern, set her teeth, and pushed with a rush of excitement that gave her
almost a man's strength.
The stubborn boat seemed elastic, and all but moved. Then instinct taught
her where her true strength lay. She got to the stern of the boat, and,
setting the small of her back under the projecting gunwale, she gathered
herself, together and gave a superb heave that moved the boat a foot. She
followed it up, and heaved again with like effect. Then, with a cry of
joy, she ran and put down another roller forward. The boat was now on two
rollers. One more magnificent heave with all her zeal, and strength, and
youth, and the boat glided forward. She turned and rushed at it as it
went, and the water deepening, and a gust catching the sail, it went out
to sea, and she had only just time to throw herself across the gunwale,
panting. She was afloat. The wind was S.W., and, before she knew where
she was, the boat headed toward the home reefs, and slipped through the
water pretty fast considering how small a sail she carried. She ran to
the helm. Alas! the rudder was broken off above the water-line. The helm
was a mockery, and the boat running for the reefs. She slacked the sheet,
and the boat lost her way, and began to drift with the tide, which
luckily had not yet turned. It carried her inshore.
Helen cast her eyes around her for an expedient, and she unshipped one of
the transoms, and by trailing it over the side, and alternately slacking
and hauling the sheet, she contrived to make the boat crawl like a winged
bird through the western passage. After that it soon got becalmed under
the cliff, and drifted into two feet water.
Instantly she tied a rope to the mast, got out into the water, and took
the rope ashore. She tied it round a heavy barrel she found there, and
set the barrel up, and heaped stones round it and on it, which,
unfortunately, was a long job, though she worked with feverish haste;
then she went round the point, sometimes wet and sometimes dry, for the
little oar she had left behind because it broke her heart to look at.
Away with such weakness now! With that oar, his last work, she might
steer if she could not row. She got it. She came back to the boat to
recommence her voyage.
She found the boat all safe, but in six inches of water, and the tide
going out. So ended her voyage; four hundred yards at most, and then to
wait another twelve hours for the tide.
It was too cruel; and every hour so precious. For, even if Hazel was
alive, he would die of cold and hunger ere she could get to him. She
cried like any woman. She persisted like a man.
She made several trips, and put away things in the boat that could
possibly be of use--abundant provision, and a keg of water; Hazel's
wooden spade to paddle or steer with; his basket of tools, etc. Then she
snatched some sleep; but it was broken by sad and terrible dreams. Then
she waited in an agony of impatience for high water.
We are not always the best judges of what is good for us. Probably these
delays saved her own life. She went out at last under far more favorable
circumstances--a light westerly breeze, and no reefs to pass through. She
was, however, severely incommoded with a ground-swell.
At first she steered with the spade as well as she could; but she found
this was not sufficient. The current ran westerly, and she was drifting
out of her course. Then she remembered Hazel's lessons, and made shift to
fasten the spade to the helm, and then lashed the helm. Even this did not
quite do; so she took her little oar, kissed it, cried over it a little,
and then pulled manfully with it so as to keep the true course. It was a
muggy day, neither wet nor dry. White Water Island was not in sight from
Godsend Island; but, as soon as she lost the latter, the former became
visible--an ugly, grinning reef, with an eternal surf on the south and
Often she left off rowing, and turned to look at it. It was all black and
blank, except the white and fatal surf.
When she was about four miles from the nearest part of the reef, there
was a rush and bubble in the water, and a great shark came after the
boat. Helen screamed, and turned very cold. She dreaded the monster, not
for what he could do now, but for what he might have done. He seemed to
know the boat, he swam so vigilantly behind it. Was he there when the
boat upset with Hazel in it? Was it in his greedy maw the remains of her
best friend must be sought? Her lips opened, but no sound. She shuddered
and hid her face at this awful thought.
The shark followed steadily.
She got to the reef, but did not hit it off as she intended. She ran
under its lee, lowered the little sail, and steered the boat into a nick
where the shark could hardly follow her.
But he moved to and fro like a sentinel, while she landed in trepidation
and secured the boat to the branches of a white coral rock.
She found the place much larger than it looked from Telegraph Point. It
was an archipelago of coral reef incrusted here and there with shells.
She could not see all over it, where she was, so she made for what seemed
the highest part, a bleak, sea-weedy mound, with some sandy hillocks
about it. She went up to this, and looked eagerly all round.
Not a soul.
She called as loud as her sinking heart would let her.
Not a sound.
She felt very sick, and sat down upon the mound.
When she had yielded awhile to the weakness of her sex, she got up and
was her father's daughter again. She set to work to examine every foot of
It was no easy task. The rocks were rugged and sharp in places, slippery
in others; often she had to go about, and once she fell and hurt her
pretty hands and made them bleed; she never looked at them, nor heeded,
but got up and sighed at the interruption; then patiently persisted. It
took her two hours to examine thus, in detail, one half the island. But
at last she discovered something. She saw at the eastern side of the reef
a wooden figure of a woman, and, making her way to it, found the
figurehead and a piece of the bow of the ship, with a sail on it, and a
yard on that. This fragment was wedged into an angle of the reef, and the
seaward edge of it shattered in a way that struck terror to Helen, for it
showed her how omnipotent the sea had been. On the reef itself she found
a cask with its head stove in, also a little keg and two wooden chests or
cases. But what was all this to her?
She sat down again, for her knees failed her. Presently there was a sort
of moan near her, and a seal splashed into the water and dived out of her
sight. She put her hands on her heart, and bowed her head down, utterly
desolate. She sat thus for a long time indeed, until she was interrupted
by a most unexpected visitor. Something came sniffing up to her and put a
cold nose to her hand. She started violently, and both her hands were in
the air in a moment.
It was a dog, a pointer. He whimpered and tried to gambol, but could not
manage it; he was too weak. However, he contrived to let her see, with
the wagging of his tail and a certain contemporaneous twist of his
emaciated body, that she was welcome. But, having performed this
ceremony, he trotted feebly away, leaving her very much startled, and not
knowing what to think; indeed, this incident set her trembling all over.
A dog saved from the wreck! Then why not a man? And why not that life?
Oh, thought she, would God save that creature, and not pity my poor angel
She got up animated with hope, and recommenced her researches. She now
kept at the outward edge of the island, and so went all round till she
reached her boat again. The shark was swimming to and fro, waiting for
her with horrible pertinacity. She tried to eat a mouthful, but, though
she was faint, she could not eat. She drank a mouthful of water, and then
went to search the very small portion that remained of the reef, and to
take the poor dog home with her, because he she had lost was so good to
animals. Only his example is left me, she said; and with that came
another burst of sorrow. But she got up and did the rest of her work,
crying as she went. After some severe traveling she got near the
northeast limit, and in a sort of gully she saw the dog, quietly seated
high on his tail. She called him; but he never moved. So then she went to
him, and, when she got near him, she saw why he would not come. He was
watching. Close by him lay the form of a man nearly covered with
sea-weed. The feet were visible, and so was the face, the latter deadly
pale. It was he. In a moment she was by him, and leaning over him with
both hands quivering. Was he dead? No; his eyes were closed; he was fast
Her hands flew to his face to feel him alive, and then grasped both his
hands and drew them up toward her panting bosom; and the tears of joy
streamed from her eyes as she sobbed and murmured over him, she knew not
what. At that he awoke and stared at her. He uttered a loud ejaculation
of joy and wonder, then, taking it all in, burst into tears himself and
fell to kissing her hands and blessing her.
The poor soul had almost given himself up for lost. And to be saved, all
in a moment, and by her!
They could neither of them speak, but only mingled tears of joy and
Hazel recovered himself first; and, rising somewhat stiffly, lent her his
arm. Her father's spirit went out of her in the moment of victory, and
she was all woman--sweet, loving, clinging woman. She got hold of his
hand as well as his arm, and clutched it so tight her little grasp seemed
velvet and steel.
"Let me feel you," said she. "But no words! no words!"
He supported his preserver tenderly to the boat, then, hoisting the sail,
he fetched the east side in two tacks, shipped the sail and yard, and
also the cask, keg and boxes. He then put a great quantity of loose
oysters on board, each as large as a plate. She looked at him with
"What," said she, when he had quite loaded the boat, "only just out of
the jaws of death, and yet you can trouble your head about oysters and
"Wait till you see what I shall do with them," said he. "These are pearl
oysters. I gathered them for you, when I had little hope I should ever
see you again to give them you."
This was an unlucky speech. The act, that seemed so small and natural a
thing to him, the woman's heart measured more correctly. Something rose
in her throat; she tried to laugh instead of crying, and so she did both,
and went into a violent fit of hysterics that showed how thoroughly her
nature had been stirred to its depths. She quite frightened Hazel; and,
indeed, the strength of an excited woman's weakness is sometimes alarming
to manly natures.
He did all he could to soothe her; without much success. As soon as she
was better he set sail, thinking home was the best place for her. She
leaned back exhausted, and, after a while, seemed to be asleep. We don't
believe she was, but Hazel did; and sat, cold and aching in body, but
warm at heart, worshiping her with all his eyes.
At last they got ashore; and he sat by her fire and told her all, while
she cooked his supper and warmed clothes at the fire for him.
"The ship," said he, "was a Dutch vessel, bound from Batavia to Callao,
that had probably gone on her beam ends, for she was full of water. Her
crew had abandoned her; I think they underrated the buoyancy of the ship
and cargo. They left the poor dog on board. Her helm was lashed a-weather
a couple of turns, but why that was done I cannot tell for the life of
me. I boarded her; unshipped my mast, and moored the boat to the ship;
fed the poor dog; rummaged in the hold, and contrived to hoist up a small
cask of salted beef, and a keg of rum, and some cases of grain and seeds.
I managed to slide these on to the reef by means of the mast and oar
lashed together. But a roller ground the wreck farther on to the reef,
and the sudden snap broke the rope, as I suppose, and the boat went to
sea. I never knew the misfortune till I saw her adrift. I could have got
over that by making a raft; but the gale from the north brought such a
sea on us. I saw she must break up, so I got ashore how I could. Ah, I
little thought to see your face again, still less that I should owe my
life to you."
"Spare me," said Helen faintly.
"What, must not I thank you even for my life?"
"No. _The account is far from even yet."_
"You are no arithmetician to say so. What astonishes me most is, that you
have never once scolded me for all the trouble and anxiety--"
"I am too happy to see you sitting there, to scold you. But still I do
ask you to leave the sea alone after this. The treacherous monster! Oh,
think what you and I have suffered on it."
She seemed quite worn out. He saw that, and retired for the night,
casting one more wistful glance on her. But at that moment she was afraid
to look at him. Her heart was welling over with tenderness for the dear
friend whose life she had saved.
Next morning Hazel rose at daybreak as usual, but found himself stiff in
the joints and with a pain in his back. The mat that hung at the opening
of Helen's cave was not removed as usual. She was on her bed with a
Hazel fed Ponto, and corrected him. He was at present a civilized dog; so
he made a weak rush at the boobies and noddies directly.
He also smelled Tommy inquisitively, to learn was he an eatable. Tommy
somehow divined the end of this sinister curiosity, and showed his teeth.
Then Hazel got a rope, and tied one end round his own waist, and one
round Ponto's neck, and, at every outbreak of civilization, jerked him
sharply on to his back. The effect of this discipline was rapid; Ponto
soon found that he must not make war on the inhabitants of the island. He
was a docile animal, and in a very short time consented to make one of
"the happy family," as Hazel called the miscellaneous crew that beset
Helen and Hazel did not meet till past noon; and when they did meet it
was plain she had been thinking a great deal, for her greeting was so shy
and restrained as to appear cold and distant to Hazel. He thought to
himself, I was too happy yesterday, and she too kind. Of course it could
This change in her seemed to grow, rather than diminish. She carried it
so far as to go and almost hide during the working hours. She made off to
the jungle, and spent an unreasonable time there. She professed to be
collecting cotton, and it must be admitted she brought a good deal home
with her. But Hazel could not accept cotton as the only motive for this
He lost the light of her face till the evening. Then matters took another
turn; she was too polite. Ceremony and courtesy appeared to be gradually
encroaching upon tender friendship and familiarity. Yet, now and then,
her soft hazel eyes seemed to turn on him in silence, and say, forgive me
all this. Then, at those sweet looks, love and forgiveness poured out of
his eyes. And then hers sought the ground. And this was generally
followed by a certain mixture of stiffness, timidity and formality too
subtle to describe.
The much-enduring man began to lose patience.
"This is caprice," said he. "Cruel caprice."
Our female readers will probably take a deeper view of it than that.
Whatever it was, another change was at hand. Since he was so exposed to
the weather on the reef, Hazel had never been free from pain; but he had
done his best to work it off. He had collected all the valuables from the
wreck, made a new mast, set up a rude capstan to draw the boat ashore,
and cut a little dock for her at low water, and clayed it in the full
heat of the sun; and, having accomplished this drudgery, he got at last
to his labor of love; he opened a quantity of pearl oysters, fed Tommy
and the duck with them, and began the great work of lining the cavern
with them. The said cavern was somewhat shell-shaped, and his idea was to
make it out of a gloomy cavern into a vast shell, lined entirely, roof
and sides, with glorious, sweet, prismatic mother-of-pearl, fresh from
ocean. Well, one morning, while Helen was in the jungle, he made a cement
of guano, sand, clay and water, nipped some shells to a shape with the
pincers, and cemented them neatly, like mosaic almost; but in the middle
of his work he was cut down by the disorder he had combated so stoutly.
He fairly gave in, and sat down groaning with pain. And in this state
Helen found him.
"Oh, what is the matter?" said she.
He told her the truth, and said he had violent pains in the back and
head. She did not say much, but she turned pale. She bustled and lighted
a great fire, and made him lie down by it. She propped his head up; she
set water on to boil for him, and would not let him move for anything;
and all the time her features were brimful of the loveliest concern. He
could not help thinking how much better it was to be ill and in pain, and
have her so kind, than to be well, and see her cold and distant. Toward
evening he got better, or rather he mistook an intermission for cure, and
retired to his boat; but she made him take her rug with him; and, when he
was gone, she could not sleep for anxiety; and it cut her to the heart to
think how poorly he was lodged compared with her.
Of all the changes fate could bring, this she had never dreamed of, that
she should be so robust and he should be sick and in pain.
She passed an uneasy, restless night, and long before morning she awoke
for the sixth or seventh time, and she awoke with a misgiving in her
mind, and some sound ringing in her ears. She listened and heard nothing;
but in a few moments it began again.
It was Hazel talking--talking in a manner so fast, so strange, so loud,
that it made her blood run cold. It was the voice of Hazel, but not his
She drew near, and, to her dismay, found him fever-stricken, and pouring
out words with little sequence. She came close to him and tried to soothe
him, but he answered her quite at random, and went on flinging out the
strangest things in stranger order. She trembled and waited for a lull,
hoping then to soothe him with soft words and tones of tender pity.
_"Dens and caves!"_ he roared, answering an imaginary detractor. "Well,
never mind, love shall make that hole in the rock a palace for a queen;
for _a_ queen? For _the_ queen." Here he suddenly changed characters and
fancied he was interpreting the discourse of another. "He means the Queen
of the Fairies," said he, patronizingly. Then, resuming his own character
with loud defiance, "I say her chamber shall outshine the glories of the
Alhambra, as far as the lilies outshone the artificial glories of King
Solomon. Oh, mighty Nature, let others rely on the painter, the
gold-beater, the carver of marble, come you and help me adorn the temple
of my beloved. Amen."
(The poor soul thought, by the sound of his own words, it must be a
prayer he uttered.)
And now Helen, with streaming eyes, tried to put in a word, but he
stopped her with a wild Hush! and went off into a series of mysterious
whisperings. "Make no noise, please, or we shall frighten her.
There--that is her window--no noise, please! I've watched and waited four
hours, just to see her sweet, darling shadow on the blinds, and shall I
lose it for your small talk? all paradoxes and platitudes! excuse my
plain speaking--Hush! here it comes--her shadow--hush!--how my heart
beats. It is gone. So now" (speaking out), "good-night, base world! Do
you hear? you company of liars, thieves and traitors, called the world,
go and sleep if you can. I _shall_ sleep, because my conscience is clear.
_False accusations!_ Who can help them? They are the act of others. Read
of Job, and Paul, and Joan of Arc. No, no, no, no; I didn't say read 'em
_out_ with those stentorian lungs. I must be allowed a _little_ sleep, a
man that wastes the midnight oil, yet brushes the early dew. Good-night."
He turned round and slept for several hours as he supposed; but in
reality he was silent for just three seconds. "Well," said he, "and is a
gardener a man to be looked down upon by upstarts? When Adam delved and
Eve span, where was then the gentleman? Why, where the spade was. Yet I
went through the Herald's College, and not one of our mushroom
aristocracy ('bloated ' I object to; they don't eat half as much as their
footmen) had a spade for a crest. There's nothing ancient west of the
Caspian. Well, all the better. For there's no fool like an old fool. A
spade's a spade for a' that an a' that, an a' that--an a' that--an a'
that. Hallo! Stop that man; he's gone off on his cork leg, of a' that an
a' that--and it is my wish to be quiet. Allow me respectfully to
observe," said he, striking off suddenly into an air of vast politeness,
"that man requires change. I've done a jolly good day's work with the
spade for this old buffer, and now the intellect claims its turn. The
mind retires above the noisy world to its Acropolis, and there discusses
the great problem of the day; the Insular Enigma. To be or not to be,
that is the question, I believe. No it is not. That is fully discussed
elsewhere. Hum! To diffuse--intelligence--from a fixed island--over one
hundred leagues of water.
"It's a stinger. But I can't complain. I had read Lempriere, and Smith
and Bryant, and mythology in general, yet I must go and fall in love with
the Sphinx. Men are so vain. Vanity whispered, She will set you a light
one; why is a cobbler like a king, for instance? She is not in love with
you, ye fool, if you are with her. The harder the riddle the higher the
compliment the Sphinx pays you. That is the way all sensible men look at
it. She is not the Sphinx; she is an angel, and I call her my Lady
Caprice. _Hate her for being Caprice!_ You incorrigible muddle-head. Why,
I love Caprice for being her shadow. Poor, impotent love that can't solve
a problem. The only one she ever set me. I've gone about it like a fool.
What is the use putting up little bits of telegraphs on the island? I'll
make a kite a hundred feet high, get five miles of rope ready against the
next hurricane; and then I'll rub it with phosphorus and fly it. But what
can I fasten it to? No tree would hold it. Dunce. To the island itself,
of course. And now go to Stantle, Magg, Milton, and Copestake for one
thousand yards of silk--_Money! Money! Money!_ Well, give them a mortgage
on the island, and a draft on the galleon. Now stop the pitch-fountain,
and bore a hole near it; fill fifty balloons with gas, inscribe them with
the latitude and longitude, fly them, and bring all the world about our
ears. The problem is solved. It is solved and I am destroyed. She leaves
me; she thinks no more of me. Her heart is in England."
Then he muttered for a long time unintelligibly; and Helen ventured near,
and actually laid her hand on his brow to soothe him. But suddenly his
muttering ceased, and he seemed to be puzzling hard over something.
The result came out in a clear articulate sentence, that made Helen
recoil, and, holding by the mast, cast an indescribable look of wonder
and dismay on the speaker.
The words that so staggered her were these to the letter:
"She says she hates reptiles. Yet she marries Arthur Wardlaw."
THE very name of Arthur Wardlaw startled Helen, and made her realize how
completely her thoughts had been occupied with another.
But add to that the strange and bitter epigram! Or was it a mere
fortuitous concourse of words?
She was startled, amazed, confounded, puzzled. And, ere she could recover
her composure, Hazel was back to his problem again; but no longer with
the same energy.
He said in a faint and sleepy voice: "'He maketh the winds His
messengers, and flames of fire His ministers.' Ah! if I could do that!
Well, why not? I can do anything she bids me--
_Graeculus esuriens coelum jusseris ibit."_
And soon after this doughty declaration he dozed off, and forgot all his
trouble for a while.
The sun rose, and still he slept, and Helen watched him with undisguised
tenderness in her face; undisguised now that he could not see it. Ere
long she had companions in her care. Ponto came out of his den, and
sniffed about the boat; and then began to scratch it, and whimper for his
friend. Tommy swam out of the sea, came to the boat, discovered, Heaven
knows how, that his friend was there, and, in the way of noises, did
everything but speak. The sea-birds followed and fluttered here and there
in an erratic way, with now and then a peck at each other. All animated
nature seemed to be uneasy at this eclipse of their Hazel.
At last Tommy raised himself quite perpendicular, in a vain endeavor to
look into the boat, and invented a whine in the minor key, which tells on
dogs: it set Ponto off in a moment; he sat upon his tail, and delivered a
long and most deplorable howl.
"Everything loves him," thought Helen. With Ponto's music Hazel awoke and
found her watching him, with tears in her eyes; he said softly: "Miss
Rolleston! There is nothing the matter, I hope. Why am I not up getting
things for your breakfast?"
"Dear friend," said she, "why you are not doing things for me and
forgetting yourself is because you have been very ill. And I am your
nurse. Now tell me what I shall get you. Is there nothing you could
No; he had no appetite; she was not to trouble about him. And then he
tried to get up; but that gave him such a pain in his loins he was fain
to lie down again. So then he felt that he had got rheumatic fever. He
told her so; but, seeing her sweet anxious face, begged her not to be
alarmed--he knew what to take for it. Would she be kind enough to go to
his arsenal and fetch some specimens of bark she would find there, and
also the keg of rum?
She flew at the word, and soon made him an infusion of the barks in
boiling water; to which the rum was added.
His sweet nurse administered this from time to time. The barks used were
of the cassia tree, and a wild citron tree. Cinchona did not exist in
this island, unfortunately. Perhaps there was no soil for it at a
sufficient elevation above the sea.
Nevertheless with these inferior barks they held the fever in check. But
the pain was obstinate, and cost Helen many a sigh; for, if she came
softly, she could often hear him moan; and, the moment he heard her foot,
he set to and whistled, for a blind; with what success may be imagined.
She would have bought those pains, or a portion of them; ay, and paid a
heavy price for them.
But pain, like everything, intermits, and in those blessed intervals his
mind was more active than ever, and ran a great deal upon what he called
But she, who had set it him, gave him little encouragement now to puzzle
The following may serve as a specimen of their conversation on that head.
"The air of this island," said he, "gives one a sort of vague sense of
mental power. It leads to no result in my case. Still, it is an agreeable
sensation to have it floating across my mind that some day I shall solve
the Great Problem. Ah! if I was only an inventor!"
"And so you are."
"No, no," said Hazel, disclaiming as earnestly as some people claim; "I
do things that look like acts of invention, but they are acts of memory.
I could show you plates and engravings of all the things I have seemed to
invent. A man who studies books instead of skimming them can cut a dash
in a desert island, until the fatal word goes forth--invent; and then you
find him out."
"I am sure I wish I had never said the fatal word. You will never get
well if you puzzle your brain over impossibilities."
"Impossibilities! But is not that begging the question? The measure of
impossibilities is lost in the present age. I propose a test. Let us go
back a century, and suppose that three problems were laid before the men
of that day, and they were asked to decide which is the most impossible:
1st, to diffuse intelligence from a fixed island over a hundred leagues
of water; 2d, to make the sun take in thirty seconds likenesses more
exact than any portrait-painter ever took--likenesses that can be sold
for a shilling at fifty per cent profit; 3d, for New York and London to
exchange words by wire so much faster than the earth can turn, that
London shall tell New York at ten on Monday morning what was the price of
consols at two o'clock Monday afternoon."
"That is a story," said Helen, with a look of angelic reproach.
"I accept that reply," said Hazel. "As for me, I have got a smattering of
so many subjects, all full of incredible truths, that my faith in the
impossibility of anything is gone. Ah! if James Watt was only here
instead of John Hazel--James Watt from the Abbey with a head as big as a
pumpkin--he would not have gone groping about the island, writing on
rocks, and erecting signals. No; he would have had some grand and bold
idea worthy of the proposition."
"Well, so I think," said Helen, archly; "that great man with the great
head would have begun by making a kite a hundred yards high."
"Would he? Well, he was quite capable of it."
"Yes; and rubbed it with phosphorus, and flown it the first tempest, and
made the string fast to--the island itself."
"Well, that is an idea," said Hazel, staring; "rather hyperbolical, I
fear. But, after all, it is an idea."
"Or else," continued Helen, "he would weave a thousand yards of some
light fabric, and make balloons; then he would stop the pitch-fountain,
bore a hole in the rock near it, and so get the gas, fill the balloons,
inscribe them with our sad story and our latitude and longitude, and send
them flying all over the ocean--there!"
Hazel was amazed.
"I resign my functions to you," said he. "What imagination! What
"Oh, dear no, said Helen slyly; "acts of memory sometimes pass for
invention, you know. Shall I tell you? when first you fell ill you were
rather light-headed, and uttered the strangest things. They would have
made me laugh heartily, only I couldn't--for crying. And you said that
about kites and balloons, every word."
"Did I? then I have most brains when I have least reason, that's all."
"Ay," said Helen, "and other strange things--very strange and bitter
things. One I should like to ask you about, what on earth you could mean
by it; but perhaps you meant nothing, after all."
"I'll soon tell you," said Hazel; but he took the precaution to add,
"provided I know what it means myself."
She looked at him steadily, and was on the point of seeking the
explanation so boldly offered; but her own courage failed her. She
colored and hesitated.
"I shall wait," said she, "till you are quite, quite well. That will be
soon, I hope; only you must be good, and obey my prescriptions. Cultivate
patience; it is a wholesome plant; bow the pride of that intellect which
you see a fever can lay low in an hour. Aspire no more beyond the powers
of man. Here we shall stay unless Providence sends us a ship. I have
ceased to repine. And don't you begin. Dismiss that problem altogether;
see how hot it has made your poor brow. Be good now, and dismiss it; or
else do as I do--fold it up, put it quietly away in a corner of your
mind, and, when you least expect, it will pop out solved."
(Oh, comfortable doctrine! But how about Jamie Watt's headaches? And why
are the signs of hard thoughts so much stronger in his brow and face than
in Shakespeare's? Mercy on us, there is another problem.)
Hazel smiled, well pleased, and leaned back, soothed, silenced, subdued,
by her soft voice and the exquisite touch of her velvet hand on his hot
brow; for, woman-like, she laid her hand like down on that burning brow
to aid her words in soothing it. Nor did it occur to him just then that
this admonition, delivered with a kind maternal hand, maternal voice,
came from the same young lady who had flown at him like a wild-cat with
this very problem in her mouth. She mesmerized him, problem and all; he
subsided into a complacent languor, and at last went to sleep, thinking
only of her. But the topic had entered his mind too deeply to be finally
dismissed. It returned next day, though in a different form. You must
know that Hazel, as he lay on his back in the boat, had often, in a
half-drowsy way, watched the effect of the sun upon the boat's mast; it
now stood, a bare pole, and at certain hours acted like the needle of a
dial by casting a shadow on the sands. Above all, he could see pretty
well by means of this pole and its shadow when the sun attained its
greatest elevation. He now asked Miss Rolleston to assist him in making
this observation exactly.
She obeyed his instructions, and the moment the shadow reached its
highest angle, and showed the minutest symptom of declension, she said,
"Now," and Hazel called out in a loud voice:
"And forty-nine minutes past eight at Sydney," said Helen, holding out
her chronometer; for she had been sharp enough to get it ready of her own
Hazel looked at her and at the watch with amazement and incredulity.
"What?" said he. "Impossible. You can't have kept Sydney time all this
"And pray why not?" said Helen. "Have you forgotten that once somebody
praised me for keeping Sydney time; it helped you, somehow or other, to
know where we were."
"And so it will now," cried Hazel, exultingly. "But no! it is impossible.
We have gone through scenes that-- You can't have wound that watch up
without missing a day."
"Indeed but I have," said Helen. "Not wind my watch up! Why, if I was
dying I should wind my watch up. See, it requires no key; a touch or two
of the fingers and it is done. Oh, I am remarkably constant in all my
habits; and this is an old friend I never neglect. Do you remember that
terrible night in the boat, when neither of us expected to see the
morning--oh, how good and brave you were!--well, I remember winding it up
that night. I kissed it, and bade it good-by. But I never dreamed of not
winding it up because I was going to be killed. What! am I not to be
praised again, as I was on board ship? Stingy! can't afford to praise one
twice for the same thing."
"Praised!" cried Hazel excitedly; "worshiped, you mean. Why, we have got
the longitude by means of your chronometer. It is wonderful! It is
providential! It is the finger of Heaven! Pen and ink, and let me work it
In his excitement he got up without assistance, and was soon busy
calculating the longitude of Godsend Isle.
"THERE," said he. "Now the latitude I must guess at by certain
combinations. In the first place, the slight variation in the length of
the days. Then I must try and make a rough calculation of the sun's
parallax. And then my botany will help me a little; spices furnish a
clew; there are one or two that will not grow outside the tropic. It was
the longitude that beat me, and now we have conquered it. Hurrah! Now I
know what to diffuse, and in what direction; east, southeast; the ducks
have shown me that much. So there's the first step toward the impossible
"Very well," said Helen; "and I am sure one step is enough for one day. I
forbid you the topic for twelve hours at least. I detest it because it
always makes your poor head so hot."
"What on earth does that matter?" said Hazel, impetuously, and almost
"Come, come, come, sir," said Helen authoritatively; "it matters to me."
But when she saw that he could think of nothing else, and that opposition
irritated him, she had the tact and good sense not to strain her
authority, nor to irritate her subject.
Hazel spliced a long, fine-pointed stick to the mast-head, and set a
plank painted white with guano at right angles to the base of the mast;
and so, whenever the sun attained his meridian altitude, went into a
difficult and subtle calculation to arrive at the latitude, or as near it
as he could without proper instruments. And he brooded and brooded over
his discovery of the longitude, but unfortunately he could not advance.
In some problems the first step once gained leads, or at least points, to
the next; but to know whereabouts they were, and to let others know it,
were two difficulties heterogeneous and distinct.
Having thought and thought till his head was dizzy, at last he took
Helen's advice and put it by for a while. He set himself to fit and
number a quantity of pearl-oyster shells, so that he might be able to
place them at once, when he should be able to recommence his labor of
love in the cavern.
One day Helen had left him so employed, and was busy cooking the dinner
at her own place, but, mind you, with one eye on the dinner and another
on her patient, when suddenly she heard him shouting very loud, and ran
out to see what was the matter.
He was roaring like mad, and whirling his arms over his head like a
She ran to him.
"Eureka! Eureka!" he shouted, in furious excitement.
"Oh, dear!" cried Helen; "never mind." She was all against her patient
But he was exalted beyond even her control. "Crown me with laurel," he
cried; "I have solved the problem." And up went his arms.
"Oh, is that all?" said she, calmly.
"Get me two squares of my parchment," cried he; "and some of the finest
"Will not after dinner do?"
"No; certainly not," said Hazel, in a voice of command. "I wouldn't wait
a moment for all the flesh-pots of Egypt."
Then she went like the wind and fetched them.
"Oh, thank you! thank you! Now I want--let me see--ah, there's an old
rusty hoop that was washed ashore, on one of that ship's casks. I put it
carefully away; how the unlikeliest things come in useful soon or late!"
She went for the hoop, but not so rapidly, for here it was that the first
faint doubt of his sanity came in. However, she brought it, and he
"And now," said he, "while I prepare the intelligence, will you be so
kind as to fetch me the rushes?"
"The what?" said Helen, in growing dismay.
"The rushes! I'll tell you where to find some."
Helen thought the best thing was to temporize. Perhaps he would be better
after eating some wholesome food. "I'll fetch them directly after
dinner," said she. "But it will be spoiled if I leave it for long; and I
do so want it to be nice for you to-day."
"Dinner?" cried Hazel. "What do I care for dinner now? I am solving my
problem. I'd rather go without dinner for years than interrupt a great
idea. Pray let dinner take its chance, and obey me for once."
"For once!" said Helen, and turned her mild hazel eyes on him with such a
look of gentle reproach.
"Forgive me! But don't take me for a child, asking you for a toy; I'm a
poor crippled inventor, who sees daylight at last. Oh, I am on fire; and,
if you want me not to go into a fever, why, get me my rushes."
"Where shall I find them?" said Helen, catching fire at him.
"Go to where your old hut stood, and follow the river about a furlong.
You will find a bed of high rushes. Cut me a good bundle, cut them below
the water, choose the stoutest. Here is a pair of shears I found in the
She took the shears and went swiftly across the sands and up the slope.
He watched her with an admiring eye; and well he might, for it was the
very poetry of motion. Hazel in his hours of health had almost given up
walking; he ran from point to point, without fatigue or shortness of
breath. Helen, equally pressed for time, did not run; but she went almost
as fast. By rising with the dawn, by three meals a day of animal food, by
constant work, and heavenly air, she was in a condition women rarely
attain to. She was _trained._ Ten miles was no more to her than ten
yards. And, when she was in a hurry, she got over the ground by a grand
but feminine motion not easy to describe. It was a series of smooth
undulations, not vulgar strides, but swift rushes, in which the loins
seemed to propel the whole body, and the feet scarcely to touch the
ground. It was the vigor and freedom of a savage, with the grace of a
And so it was she swept across the sands and up the slope,
_"Et vera incessu patuit Dea."_
While she was gone, Hazel cut two little squares of seals' bladder, one
larger than the other. On the smaller he wrote: "An English lady wrecked
on an island. W. longitude 103 deg. 30 min., S. latitude between the 33d
and 26th parallels. Haste to her rescue." Then he folded this small, and
inclosed it in the larger slip, which he made into a little bag, and tied
the neck extremely tight with fine gut, leaving a long piece of the gut
And now Helen came gliding back, as she went, and brought him a large
bundle of rushes.
Then he asked her to help him fasten these rushes round the iron hoop.
"It must not be done too regularly," said he; "but so as to look as much
like a little bed of rushes as possible."
Helen was puzzled still, but interested. So she set to work, and, between
them, they fastened rushes all round the hoop, although it was a large
But, when it was done, Hazel said they were too bare.
"Then we will fasten another row," said Helen, good-humoredly. And,
without more ado, she was off to the river again.
When she came back, she found him up, and he said the great excitement
had cured him--such power has the brain over the body. This convinced her
he had really hit upon some great idea. And, when she had made him eat
his dinner by her fire, she asked him to tell her all about it.
But, by a natural reaction, the glorious and glowing excitement of mind
that had battled his very rheumatic pains was now followed by doubt and
"Don't ask me yet," he sighed. "Theory is one thing; practice is another.
We count without our antagonists. I forgot they will set their wits
against mine; and they are many, I am but one. And I have been so often
defeated. Do you know I have observed that whenever I say beforehand, Now
I am going to do something clever, I am always defeated. Pride really
goes before destruction, and vanity before a fall."
The female mind, rejecting all else, went like a needle's point at one
thing in this explanation. "Our antagonists?" said Helen, looking sadly
puzzled. "Why, what antagonists have we?"
"The messengers," said Hazel, with a groan. "The aerial messengers."
That did the business. Helen dropped the subject with almost ludicrous
haste; and, after a few commonplace observations, made a nice comfortable
dose of grog and bark for him. This she administered as an independent
transaction, and not at all by way of comment on his antagonists, the
It operated unkindly for her purpose; it did him so much good that he
lifted up his dejected head, and his eyes sparkled again, and he set to
work, and, by sunset, prepared two more bags of bladder with inscriptions
inside, and long tails of fine gut hanging. He then set to work, and,
with fingers far less adroit than hers, fastened another set of rushes
round the hoop. He set them less evenly, and some of them not quite
perpendicular; and, while he was fumbling over this, and examining the
effect with paternal glances, Helen's hazel eye dwelt on him with furtive
pity; for, to her, this girdle of rushes was now an instrument that bore
an ugly likeness to the scepter of straw, with which vanity run to seed
sways imaginary kingdoms in Bedlam or Bicetre.
And yet he was better. He walked about the cavern and conversed
charmingly; he was dictionary, essayist, _raconteur,_ anything she liked;
and, as she prudently avoided and ignored the one fatal topic, it was a
delightful evening. Her fingers were as busy as his tongue. And, when he
retired, she presented him with the fruits of a fortnight's work, a
glorious wrapper made of fleecy cotton inclosed in a plaited web of
flexible and silky grasses. He thanked her, and blessed her, and retired
for the night.
About midnight she awoke and felt uneasy. So she did what since his
illness she had done a score of times without his knowledge--she stole
from her lair to watch him.
She found him wrapped in her present, which gave her great pleasure; and
sleeping like an infant, which gave her joy. She eyed him eloquently for
a long time; and then very timidly put out her hand, and, in her quality
of nurse, laid it lighter than down upon his brow.
The brow was cool, and a very slight moisture on it showed the fever was
going or gone.
She folded her arms and stood looking at him; and she thought of all they
two had done and suffered together. Her eyes absorbed him, devoured him.
The time flew by unheeded. It was so sweet to be able to set her face
from its restraint, and let all its sunshine beam on him; and, even when
she retired at last, those light hazel eyes, that could flash fire at
times, but were all dove-like now, hung and lingered on him as if they
could never look at him enough.
Half an hour before daybreak she was awakened by the dog howling
piteously. She felt a little uneasy at that; not much. However, she got
up, and issued from her cavern, just as the sun showed his red eye above
the horizon. She went toward the boat, as a matter of course. She found
Ponto tied to the helm. The boat was empty, and Hazel nowhere to be seen.
She uttered a scream of dismay.
The dog howled and whined louder than ever.
WARDLAW senior was not what you would call a tender-hearted man; but he
was thoroughly moved by General Rolleston's distress, and by his
fortitude. The gallant old man! Landing in England one week and going
back to the Pacific the next! Like goes with like; and Wardlaw senior,
energetic and resolute himself, though he felt for his son, stricken down
by grief, gave his heart to the more valiant distress of his
contemporary. He manned and victualed the _Springbok_ for a long voyage,
ordered her to Plymouth, and took his friend down to her by train.
They went out to her in a boat. She was a screw steamer, that could sail
nine knots an hour without burning a coal. As she came down the Channel,
the general's trouble got to be well known on board her, and, when he
came out of the harbor, the sailors, by an honest, hearty impulse that
did them credit, waited for no orders, but manned the yards to receive
him with the respect due to his services and his sacred calamity.
On getting on board, he saluted the captain and the ship's company with
sad dignity, and retired to his cabin with Mr. Wardlaw. There the old
merchant forced on him by loan seven hundred pounds, chiefly in gold and
silver, telling him there was nothing like money, go where you will. He
then gave him a number of notices he had printed, and a paper of advice
and instructions. It was written in his own large, clear, formal hand.
General Rolleston tried to falter out his thanks. John Wardlaw
"Next to you I am her father; am I not?"
"You have proved it."
"Well, then. However, if you do find her, as I pray to God you may, I
claim the second kiss, mind that; not for myself, though; for my poor
Arthur, that lies on a sick-bed for her."
General Rolleston assented to that in a broken voice. He could hardly
And so they parted: and that sad parent went out to the Pacific.
To him it was indeed a sad and gloomy voyage; and the hope with which he
went on board oozed gradually away as the ship traversed the vast tracks
of ocean. One immensity of water to be passed before that other immensity
could be reached, on whose vast, uniform surface the search was to be
To abridge this gloomy and monotonous part of our tale, suffice it to say
that he endured two months of water and infinity ere the vessel, fast as
she was, reached Valparaiso. Their progress, however, had been more than
once interrupted to carry out Wardlaw's instructions. The poor general
himself had but one idea; to go and search the Pacific with his own eyes;
but Wardlaw, more experienced, directed him to overhaul every whaler and
coasting vessel he could, and deliver printed notices; telling the sad
story, and offering a reward for any positive information, good or bad,
that should be brought in to his agent at Valparaiso.
Acting on these instructions they had overhauled two or three coasting
vessels as they steamed up from the Horn. They now placarded the port of
Valparaiso, and put the notices on board all vessels bound westward; and
the captain of the _Springbok_ spoke to the skippers in the port. But
they all shook their heads, and could hardly be got to give their minds
seriously to the inquiry, when they heard in what water the cutter was
last seen and on what course.
One old skipper said, "Look on Juan Fernandez, and then at the bottom of
the Pacific; but the sooner you look there the less time you will lose."
From Valparaiso they ran to Juan Fernandez, which indeed seemed the
likeliest place; if she was alive.
When the larger island of that group, the island dear alike to you who
read, and to us who write, this tale, came in sight, the father's heart
began to beat higher.
The ship anchored and took in coal, which was furnished at a wickedly
high price by Mr. Joshua Fullalove, who had virtually purchased the
island from Chili, having got it on lease for longer than the earth
itself is to last, we hear.
And now Rolleston found the value of Wardlaw's loan; it enabled him to
prosecute his search through the whole group of islands; and he did hear
at last of three persons who had been wrecked on Masa Fuero; one of them
a female. He followed this up, and at last discovered the parties. He
found them to be Spaniards, and the woman smoking a pipe.
After this bitter disappointment he went back to the ship, and she was to
weigh her anchor next morning.
But, while General Rolleston was at Mesa Fuero, a small coasting vessel
had come in, and brought a strange report at second-hand, that in some
degree unsettled Captain Moreland's mind; and, being hotly discussed on
the forecastle, set the ship's company in a ferment.
HAZEL had risen an hour before dawn for reasons well known to himself. He
put on his worst clothes, and a leathern belt, his little bags round his
neck, and took his bundle of rushes in his hand. He also provided himself
with some pieces of raw fish and fresh oyster; and, thus equipped, went
up through Terrapin Wood, and got to the neighborhood of the lagoon
There was a heavy steam on the water, and nothing else to be seen. He put
the hoop over his head, and walked into the water, not without an
internal shudder, it looked so cold.
But instead of that, it was very warm, unaccountably warm. He walked in
up to his middle, and tied his iron hoop to his belt, so as to prevent it
sinking too deep. This done, he waited motionless, and seemed a little
bed of rushes. The sun rose, and the steam gradually cleared away, and
Hazel, peering through a hole or two he had made expressly in his bed of
rushes, saw several ducks floating about, and one in particular, all
purple, without a speck but his amber eye. He contrived to detach a piece
of fish, that soon floated to the surface near him. But no duck moved
toward it. He tried another, and another; then a mallard he had not
observed swam up from behind him, and was soon busy pecking at it within
a yard of him. His heart beat; he glided slowly and cautiously forward
till the bird was close to the rushes.
Hazel stretched out his hand with the utmost care, caught hold of the
bird's feet, and dragged him sharply under the water, and brought him up
within the circle of the rushes. He quacked and struggled. Hazel soused
him under directly, and so quenched the sound; then he glided slowly to
the bank, so slowly that the rushes merely seemed to drift ashore. This
he did not to create suspicion, and so spoil the next attempt. As he
glided, he gave his duck air every now and then, and soon got on terra
firma. By this time he had taught the duck not to quack, or he would get
soused and held under. He now took the long gut-end and tied it tight
round the bird's leg, and so fastened the bag to him.
Even while he was effecting this, a posse of ducks rose at the west end
of the marsh, and took their flight from the island. As they passed,
Hazel threw his captive up in the air; and such was the force of example,
aided, perhaps, by the fright the captive had received, that Hazel's bird
instantly joined these travelers, rose with them into the high currents,
and away, bearing the news eastward upon the wings of the wind. Then
Hazel returned to the pool, and twice more he was so fortunate as to
secure a bird, and launch him into space.
So hard is it to measure the wit of man, and to define his resources. The
problem was solved; the aerial messengers were on the wing, diffusing
over hundreds of leagues of water the intelligence that an English lady
had been wrecked on an unknown island, in longitude 103 deg. 30 min., and
between the 33d and 26th parallels of south latitude; and calling good
men and ships to her rescue for the love of God.
AND now for the strange report that landed at Juan Fernandez while
General Rolleston was searching Masa Fuero.
The coaster who brought it ashore had been in company, at Valparaiso,
with a whaler from Nantucket, who told him he had fallen in with a Dutch
whaler out at sea, and distressed for water. He had supplied the said
Dutchman, who had thanked him, and given him a runlet of Hollands, and
had told him in conversation that he had seen land and a river reflected
on the sky, in waters where no land was marked in the chart; namely,
somewhere between Juan Fernandez and Norfolk Island; and that, believing
this to be the reflection of a part of some island near at hand, and his
water being low, though not at that time run out, he had gone
considerably out of his course in hopes of finding this watered island,
but could see nothing of it. Nevertheless, as his grandfather, who had
been sixty years at sea, and logged many wonderful things, had told him
the sky had been known to reflect both ships and land at a great
distance, he fully believed there was an island somewhere in that
longitude, not down on any chart; an island wooded and watered.
This tale soon boarded the _Springbok,_ and was hotly discussed on the
forecastle. It came to Captain Moreland's ears, and he examined the
skipper of the coasting-smack. But this examination elicited nothing new,
inasmuch as the skipper had the tale only at third hand. Captain
Moreland, however, communicated it to General Rolleston on his arrival,
and asked him whether he thought it worth while to deviate from their
instructions upon information of such a character. Rolleston shook his
head. "An island reflected in the sky!"
"No, sir; a portion of an island containing a river."
"It is clearly a fable," said Rolleston, with a sigh.
"What is a fable, general?"
"That the sky can reflect terrestrial objects."
"Oh, there I can't go with you. The phenomenon is rare, but it is well
established. I never saw it myself, but I have come across those that
have. Suppose we catechise the forecastle. Hy! Fok'sel!"
"Send a man aft; the oldest seaman aboard."
"Ay, ay, sir."
There was some little delay; and then a sailor of about sixty slouched
aft, made a sea scrape, and, removing his cap entirely, awaited the
"My man," said the captain, "I want you to answer a question. Do you
believe land and ships have ever been seen in the sky, reflected?"
"A many good seamen holds to that, sir," said the sailor, cautiously.
"Is it the general opinion of seamen before the mast? Come, tell us.
Jack's as good as his master in these matters."
"Couldn't say for boys and lubbers, sir. But I never met a full-grown
seaman as denied that there. Sartainly few has seen it; but all of 'em
has seen them as has seen it; ships, and land, too; but mostly ships.
Hows'ever, I had a messmate once as was sailing past a rock they call
Ailsa Craig, and saw a regiment of soldiers a-marching in the sky. Logged
it, did the mate; and them soldiers was a-marching between two towns in
Ireland at that very time."
"There, you see, general," said Captain Moreland.
"But this is all second-hand," said General Rolleston, with a sigh; "and
I have learned how everything gets distorted in passing from one to
"Ah," said the captain, "we can't help that; the thing is rare. I never
saw it for one; and I suppose you never saw a phenomenon of the kind,
"Hain't I!" said Isaac, grimly. Then, with sudden and not very reasonable
heat, "D---- my eyes and limbs if I hain't seen the Peak o' Teneriffe in
the sky topsy-turvy, and as plain as I see that there cloud there"
"Come," said Moreland; "now we are getting to it. Tell us all about
"Well, sir," said the seaman, "I don't care to larn them as laughs at
everything they hain't seen in maybe a dozen voyages at most; but you
know me, and I knows you; though you command the ship, and I work before
the mast. Now I axes you, sir, should you say Isaac Aiken was the man to
take a sugar-loaf, or a cocked hat, for the Peak o' Teneriffe?"
"As likely as I am myself, Isaac."
"No commander can say fairer nor that," said Isaac, with dignity. "Well,
then, your honor, I'll tell ye the truth, and no lie. We was bound for
Teneriffe with a fair wind, though not so much of it as we wanted, by
reason she was a good sea-boat, but broad in the bows. The Peak hove in
sight in the sky, and all the glasses was at her. She lay a point or two
on our weather quarter like, full two hours, and then she just melted
away like a lump o' sugar. We kept on our course a day and a half, and at
last we sighted the real Peak, and anchored off the port; whereby, when
we saw Teneriffe Peak in the sky to winnard, she lay a hundred leagues to
board, s'help me God!"
"That is wonderful," said General Rolleston.
"That will do, Isaac," said the captain. "Mr. Butt, double his grog for a
week, for having seen more than I have."
The captain and General Rolleston had a long discussion; but the result
was, they determined to go to Easter Island first, for General Rolleston
was a soldier, and had learned to obey as well as command. He saw no
sufficient ground for deviating from Wardlaw's positive instructions.
This decision soon became known throughout the ship. She was to weigh
anchor at 11 A.M. next day, by high water.
At eight next morning, Captain Moreland and General Rolleston being on
deck, one of the ship's boys, a regular pet, with rosy cheeks and black
eyes, comes up to the gentlemen, takes off his cap, and, panting audibly
at his own audacity, shoves a paper into General Rolleston's hand and
scuds away for his life.
"This won't do," said the captain, sternly.
The high-bred soldier handed the paper to him unopened.
The captain opened it, looked a little vexed, but more amused, and handed
it back to the general.
It was a ROUND ROBIN.
Round Robins are not ingratiating as a rule. But this one came from some
rough but honest fellows, who had already shown that kindliness and tact
may reside in a coarse envelope. The sailors of the _Springbok,_ when
they first boarded her in the Thames, looked on themselves as men bound
on an empty cruise; and nothing but the pay, which was five shillings per
month above the average, reconciled them to it; for a sailor does not
like going to sea for nothing, any more than a true sportsman likes to
ride to hounds that are hunting a red herring trailed.
But the sight of the general had touched them afar off. His gray hair and
pale face, seen as he rowed out of Plymouth Harbor, had sent them to the
yards by a gallant impulse; and all through the voyage the game had been
to put on an air of alacrity and hope, whenever they passed the general
or came under his eye.
If hypocrisy is always a crime, this was a very criminal ship; for the
men, and even the boys, were hypocrites, who, feeling quite sure that the
daughter was dead at sea months ago, did, nevertheless, make up their
faces to encourage the father into thinking she was alive and he was
going to find her. But people who pursue this game too long, and keep up
the hopes of another, get infected at last themselves; and the crew of
the _Springbok_ arrived at Valparaiso infected with a little hope. Then
came the Dutchman's tale, and the discussion, which ended adversely to
their views; and this elicited the circular we have now the honor to lay
before our readers.
[We who sign
About this line,
hope none offence and mean none
We think Easter Island is out of her
course. Such of us as can be spared are
ready and willing to take the old cutter, that
lies for sale, to Easter Island if needs be; but to
waste the Steamer it is a Pity. We are all agreed
the Dutch skipper saw land and water aloft
sailing between Juan Fernandez and Norfolk Isle,
and what a Dutchman can see on the sky we
think an Englishman can find it in the sea,
God willing. Whereby we pray our good
Captain to follow the Dutchman's course
with a good heart and a willing crew.
And so say we
Whose names here be.]
General Rolleston and Captain Moreland returned to the cabin and
discussed this document. They came on deck again, and the men were piped
aft. General Rolleston touched his cap, and, with the Round Robin in his
hand, addressed them thus:
"My men, I thank you for taking my trouble to heart as you do. But it
would be a bad return to send any of you to Easter Island in that cutter;
for she is not seaworthy, so the captain tells me. I will not consent to
throw away your lives in trying to save a life that is dear to me. But,
as to the Dutchman's story about an unknown island, our captain seems to
think that is possible; and you tell us you are of the same opinion.
Well, then, I give up my own judgment, and yield to yours. Yes, we will
go westward with a good heart (he sighed), and a willing crew."
The men cheered. The boatswain piped; the anchor was heaved, and the
_Springbok_ went out on a course that bade fair to carry her within a
hundred miles of Godsend Island.
She ran fast. On the second day some ducks passed over her head, one of
which was observed to have something attached to its leg.
She passed within sixty miles of Mount Lookout; but never saw Godsend
Island; and so pursued her way to the Society Islands; sent out her
boats; made every inquiry around about the islands, but with no success;
and, at last, after losing a couple of months there, brought the
heart-sick father back on much the same course, but rather more
HAZEL returned homeward in a glow of triumph, and for once felt disposed
to brag to Helen of his victory--a victory by which she was to profit;
They met in the wood; for she had tracked him by his footsteps. She
seemed pale and disturbed, and speedily interrupted his exclamations of
triumph by one of delight, which was soon, however, followed by one of
"Oh, look at you!" she said. "You have been in the water. It is wicked;
"But I have solved the problem. I caught three ducks one after the other
and tied the intelligence to their legs. They are at this moment
careering over the ocean, with our story and our longitude, and a guess
at our latitude. Crown me with bays."
"With foolscap, more likely," said Helen. "Only just getting well of
rheumatic fever, and to go and stand in water up to the middle."
"Why, you don't listen to me!" cried Hazel, in amazement. "I tell you I
have solved the problem."
"It is you that don't listen to common sense," retorted Helen. "If you go
and make yourself ill, all the problems in the world will not compensate
me. And I must say I think it was not very kind of you to run off so
without warning. Why give me hours of anxiety for want of a word? But
there, it is useless to argue with a boy; yes, sir, a boy. The fact is, I
have been too easy with you of late. One indulges sick children. But then
they must not slip away and stand in the water, or there is an end of
indulgence; and one is driven to severity. You must be ruled with a rod
of iron. Go home this moment, sir, and change your clothes; and don't you
presume to come into the presence of the nurse you have offended, till
there's not a wet thread about you."
And so she ordered him off. The inventor in his moment of victory slunk
away crestfallen to change his clothes.
So far Helen Rolleston was a type of her sex in its treatment of
inventors. At breakfast she became a brilliant exception. The moment she
saw Hazel seated by her fire in dry clothes she changed her key and made
him relate the whole business, and expressed the warmest admiration, and
"But," said she, "I do ask you not to repeat this exploit too often; now
don't do it again for a fortnight. The island will not run away. Ducks
come and go every day, and your health is very, very precious."
He colored with pleasure, and made the promise at once. But during this
fortnight events occurred. In the first place, he improved his invention.
He remembered how a duck, over-weighted by a crab, which was fast to her
leg, had come on board the boat. Memory dwelling on this, and invention
digesting it, he resolved to weight his next batch of ducks; for he
argued thus: "Probably our ducks go straight from this to the great
American Continent. Then it may be long ere one of them falls into the
hands of a man; and perhaps that man will not know English. But, if I
could impede the flight of my ducks, they might alight on ships; and
three ships out of four know English."
Accordingly, he now inserted stones of various sizes into the little
bags. It was a matter of nice calculation. The problem was to weight the
birds just so much that they might be able to fly three or four hundred
miles, or about half as far as their unencumbered companions.
But in the midst of all this a circumstance occurred that would have made
a vain man, or indeed most men, fling the whole thing away. Helen and he
came to a rupture. It began by her fault, and continued by his. She did
not choose to know her own mind, and, in spite of secret warnings from
her better judgment, she was driven by curiosity, or by the unhappy
restlessness to which her sex are peculiarly subject at odd times, to
sound Hazel as to the meaning of a certain epigram that rankled in her.
And she did it in the most feminine way, that is to say, in the least
direct; whereas the safest way would have been to grasp the nettle, if
she could not let it alone.
Said she one day, quietly, though with a deep blush: "Do you know Mr.
Hazel gave a shiver, and said, "I do."
"Do you know anything about him?"
"Nothing to his discredit, I am sure."
"If you are sure, why ask me? Do I ever mention his name?"
"Perhaps you do, sometimes, without intending it."
"You are mistaken. He is in your thoughts, no doubt; but not in mine."
"Ought I to forget people entirely, and what I owe them?"
"That is a question I decline to go into."
"How harshly you speak to me. Is that fair? You know my engagement, and
that honor and duty draw me to England; yet I am happy here. You, who are
so good and strong, might pity me at least; for I am torn this way and
that." And here the voice ceased and the tears began to flow.
"I do pity you," said Hazel. "I must pity any one who is obliged to
mention honor and duty in the same breath as Arthur Wardlaw."
At this time Helen drew back, offended bitterly. _"That_ pity I reject
and scorn," said she. "No, I plighted my faith with my eyes open, and to
a worthy object. I never knew him blacken any person who was not there to
speak for himself, and that is a very worthy trait, in my opinion. The
absent are like children; they are helpless to defend themselves."
Hazel racked with jealousy, and irritated at this galling comparison,
lost his temper for once, and said those who lay traps must not complain
if others fall into them.
"Traps! Who lay them?"
"You did, Miss Rolleston. Did I ever condescend to mention that man's
name since we have been on the island? It is you make me talk of him."
"That is the word. Nor will I ever deign to mention him again. If my love
had touched your heart, I should have been obliged to mention him, for
then I should have been bound to tell you a story in which he is mixed,
my own miserable story--my blood boils against the human race when I
think of it. But no, I see I am nothing to you; and I will be silent."
"It is very cruel of you to say that," replied Helen, with tears in her
eyes; "tell me your story, and you will see whether you are nothing to
"Not one word of it," said Hazel slowly, "until you have forgotten that
"Oh! thank you, sir, this is plain speaking. I am to forget honor and
plighted faith; and then you will trust me with your secrets, when I have
shown myself unworthy to be trusted with anything. Keep your secrets, and
I'll try and keep faith; ay, and I shall keep it, too, as long as there's
life in my body."
"Can't you keep faith without torturing me, who love you?"
Helen's bosom began to heave at this, but she fought bravely. "Love me
less, and respect me more," said she, panting; "you affront me, you
frighten me. I looked on you as a brother, a dear brother. But now I am
afraid of you-- I am afraid "
He was so injudicious as to interrupt her, instead of giving her time to
contradict herself. "You have nothing to fear," said he; "keep this side
of the island, and I'll live on the other, rather than hear the name of
Helen's courage failed her at that spirited proposal, and she made no
reply at all, but turned her back haughtily, and went away from him,
only, when she had got a little way, her proud head drooped, and she went
A coolness sprang up between them, and neither of them knew how to end
it. Hazel saw no way to serve her now, except by flying weighted ducks,
and he gave his mind so to this that one day he told her he had
twenty-seven ducks in the air, all charged, and two-thirds of them
weighted. He thought that must please her now. To his surprise and
annoyance, she received the intelligence coldly, and asked him whether it
was not cruel to the birds.
Hazel colored with mortification at his great act of self-denial being so
He said, "I don't think my worst enemy can say I am wantonly cruel to
Helen threw in, deftly, "And I am not your worst enemy."
"But what other way is there to liberate you from this island, where you
have nobody to speak to but me? Well, selfishness is the best course.
Think only of others, and you are sure not to please them."
"If you want to please people, you must begin by understanding them,"
said the lady, not ill-naturedly.
"But if they don't understand themselves?"
"Then pity them; you can, for you are a man."
"What hurts me," said Hazel, "is that you really seem to think I fly
these ducks for my pleasure. Why, if I had my wish, you and I should
never leave this island, nor any other person set a foot on it. I am
frank, you see."
"Rather too frank."
"What does it matter, since I do my duty all the same, and fly the ducks?
But sometimes I do yearn for a word of praise for it; and that word never
"It is a praiseworthy act," said Helen, but so icily that it is a wonder
he ever flew another duck after that.
"No matter," said he, and his hand involuntarily sought his heart; "you
read me a sharp but wholesome lesson, that we should do our duty for our
duty's sake. And as I am quite sure it is my duty to liberate you and
restore you to those you-- I'll fly three ducks to-morrow morning instead
"It is not done by my advice," said Helen. "You will certainly make
"Oh, that is all nonsense!" said Hazel.
"You are rude to me," said Helen, and I am not aware that I deserve it."
"Rude, am I? Then I'll say no more," said Hazel, half humbly, half
His parchment was exhausted, and he was driven to another expedient. He
obtained alcohol by distillation from rum, and having found dragon's
blood in its pure state, little ruby drops, made a deep red varnish that
defied water; he got slips of bark, white inside, cut his inscription
deep on the inner side, and filled the incised letters with this red
varnish. He had forty-eight ducks in the air, and was rising before
daybreak to catch another couple, when he was seized with a pain in the
right hip and knee, and found he could hardly walk, so he gave in that
morning, and kept about the premises. But he got worse, and he had hardly
any use in his right side, from the waist downward, and was in great
As the day wore on, the pain and loss of power increased, and resisted
all his remedies; there was no fever to speak of; but Nature was grimly
revenging herself for many a gentler warning neglected. When he realized
his condition, he was terribly cut up, and sat on the sand with his head
in his hands for nearly two hours. But, after that period of despondency,
he got up, took his boat-hook, and, using it as a staff, hobbled to his
arsenal, and set to work.
Among his materials was a young tree he had pulled up; the roots ran at
right angles to the stem. He just sawed off the ends of the roots, and
then proceeded to shorten the stem.
But meantime Helen, who had always a secret eye on him and his movements,
had seen there was something wrong, and came timidly and asked what was
"Nothing," said he, doggedly.
"Then why did you sit so long on the sand? I never saw you like that."
"I was ruminating."
"What upon? Not that I have any right to ask."
"On the arrogance and folly of men; they attempt more than they can do,
and despise the petty prudence and common sense of women, and smart for
it; as I am smarting now for being wiser than you."
"Oh," said Helen; "why, what is the matter? and what is that you have
made? It looks like--oh, dear!"
"It is a crutch," said Hazel, with forced calmness; "and I am a cripple."
Helen clasped her hands, and stood trembling.
Hazel lost his self-control for a moment, and cried out in a voice of
agony, "A useless cripple. I wish I was dead and out of the way."
Then, ashamed of having given way before her, he seized his crutch,
placed the crook under his arm, and turned sullenly away from her.
Four steps he took with his crutch.
She caught him with two movements of her supple and vigorous frame.
She just laid her left hand gently on his shoulder, and with her right
she stole the crutch softly away, and let it fall upon the sand. She took
his right hand, and put it to her lips like a subject paying homage to
her sovereign; and then she put her strong arm under his shoulder, still
holding his right hand in hers, and looked in his face. "No wooden
crutches when I am by," said she, in a low voice, full of devotion.
He stood surprised, and his eyes began to fill.
"Come," said she, in a voice of music. And, thus aided, he went with her
to her cavern. As they went she asked him tenderly where the pain was.
"It _was_ in my hip and knee," he said. "But now it is nowhere; for joy
has come back to my heart."
"And to mine, too," said Helen; "except for this."
The quarrel dispersed like a cloud under this calamity. There was no
formal reconciliation; no discussion. And this was the wisest course, for
the unhappy situation remained unchanged; and the friendliest discussion
could only fan the embers of discord and misery gently, instead of
The pair so strangely thrown together commenced a new chapter of their
existence. It was not patient and nurse over again; Hazel, though very
lame, had too much spirit left to accept that position. But still the
sexes became in a measure reversed-- Helen the fisherman and forager,
Hazel the cook and domestic.
He was as busy as ever, but in a narrow circle; he found pearl oysters
near the sunk galleon, and, ere he had been lame many weeks, he had
entirely lined the sides of the cavern with mother-of-pearl set in
cement, and close as mosaic.
Every day he passed an hour in paradise; for his living crutch made him
take a little walk with her; her hand held his; her arm supported his
shoulder; her sweet face was near his, full of tender solicitude; they
seemed to be one; and spoke in whispers to each other, like thinking
aloud. The causes of happiness were ever present; the causes of
unhappiness were out of sight, and showed no signs of approach.
And, of the two, Helen was the happiest. Before a creature so pure as
this marries and has children, the great maternal instinct is still
there, but feeds on what it can get--first a doll, and then some helpless
creature or other. Too often she wastes her heart's milk on something
grown up, but as selfish as a child. Helen was more fortunate; her child
was her hero, now so lame that he must lean on her to walk. The days
passed by, and the island was fast becoming the world to those two, and
as bright a world as ever shone on two mortal creatures.
It was a happy dream.
What a pity that dreams dissolve so soon! This had lasted for nearly two
months, and Hazel was getting better, though still not well enough, or
not fool enough, to dismiss his live crutch, when one afternoon Helen,
who had been up on the heights, observed a dark cloud in the blue sky
toward the west. There was not another cloud visible, and the air
marvelously clear; time, about three quarters of an hour before sunset.
She told Hazel about this solitary cloud, and asked him, with some
anxiety, if it portended another storm. He told her to be under no
alarm--there were no tempests in that latitude except at the coming and
going out of the rains--but he should like to go round the Point and look
at her cloud.
She lent him her arm, and they went round the Point; and there they saw a
cloud entirely different from anything they had ever seen since they were
on the island. It was like an enormous dark ribbon stretched along the
sky, at some little height above the horizon. Notwithstanding its
prodigious length. it got larger before their very eyes.
Helen felt him start, and asked him, with some surprise, what was the
"Cloud!" said he; "that is no cloud. That is smoke."
"Smoke!" echoed Helen, becoming agitated in her turn.
"Yes; the breeze is northerly, and carries the smoke nearer to us; it is
the smoke of a steamboat."
BOTH were greatly moved; and after one swift glance Helen stole at him,
neither looked at the other. They spoke in flurried whispers.
"Can they see the island?"
"I don't know; it depends on how far the boat is to windward of her
"How shall we know?"
"If she sees the island she will make for it that moment."
"Why? do ships never pass an unknown island?"
"Yes. But that steamer will not pass us."
At this question Hazel hung his head, and his lip quivered. He answered
her at last. "Because she is looking for you."
Helen was struck dumb at this.
He gave his reasons. "Steamers never visit these waters. Love has brought
that steamer out; love that will not go unrewarded. Arthur Wardlaw is on
board that ship."
"Have they seen us yet?"
Hazel forced on a kind of dogged fortitude. He said, "When the smoke
ceases to elongate, you will know they have changed their course, and
they will change their course the moment the man at the mast-head sees
"Oh! But how do you know they have a man at the mast-head?"
"I know by myself. I should have a man at the mast-head night and day."
And now the situation was beyond words. They both watched, and watched,
to see the line of smoke cease.
It continued to increase, and spread eastward; and that proved the
steamer was continuing her course.
The sun drew close to the horizon.
"They don't see us," said Helen, faintly.
"No," said Hazel; "not yet."
"And the sun is just setting. It is all over." She put her handkerchief
to her eyes a moment, and then, after a sob or two, she said almost
cheerfully, "Well, dear friend, we were happy till that smoke came to
disturb us. Let us try and be as happy now it is gone. Don't smile like
that, it makes me shudder."
"Did I smile? It must have been at your simplicity in thinking we have
seen the last of that steamer."
"And so we have."
"Not so. In three hours she will be at anchor in that bay."
"Why, what will bring her?"
"I shall bring her."
"By lighting my bonfire."
HELEN had forgotten all about the bonfire. She now asked whether he was
sure those on board the steamer could see the bonfire. Then Hazel told
her that it was now of prodigious size and height. Some six months before
he was crippled he had added and added to it.
"That bonfire," said he, "will throw a ruddy glare over the heavens that
they can't help seeing on board the steamer. Then, as they are not on a
course, but on a search, they will certainly run a few miles southward to
see what it is. They will say it is either a beacon or a ship on fire;
and, in either case, they will turn the boat's head this way. Well,
before they have run southward half a dozen miles, their lookout will see
the bonfire, and the island in its light. Let us get to the boat, my
lucifers are there."
She lent him her arm to the boat, and stood by while he made his
preparations. They were very simple. He took a pine torch and smeared it
all over with pitch; then put his lucifer-box in his bosom and took his
crutch. His face was drawn pitiably, but his closed lips betrayed
unshaken and unshakable resolution. He shouldered his crutch, and hobbled
up as far as the cavern. Here Helen interposed.
"Don't you go toiling up the hill," said she. "Give me the lucifers and
the torch and let me light the beacon. I shall be there in half the time
"Thank you! thank you!" said Hazel, eagerly, not to say violently.
He wanted it done; but it killed him to do it. He then gave her his
"It is as big as a haystack," said he, "and as dry as a chip; and there
are eight bundles of straw placed expressly. Light bundles to windward
first, then the others; it will soon be all in a blaze."
"Meanwhile," said Helen, "you prepare our supper. I feel quite faint--for
want of it."
"It is the last we shall--" he was going to say it was the last they
would eat together; but his voice failed him, and he hobbled into the
cavern, and tried to smother his emotion in work. He lighted the fire,
and blew it into a flame with a palmetto-leaf, and then he sat down
awhile, very sick at heart; then he got up and did the cooking, sighing
all the time; and, just when he was beginning to wonder why Helen was so
long lighting eight bundles of straw, she came in, looking pale.
"Is it all right?" said he.
"Go and look," said she. "No, let us have our supper first."
Neither had any appetite. They sat and kept casting strange looks at one
To divert this anyhow, Hazel looked up at the roof, and said faintly, "If
I had known, I would have made more haste, and set pearl _there_ as
"What does that matter?" said Helen, looking down.
"Not much, indeed," replied he, sadly. "I am a fool to utter such
childish regrets; and, more than that, I am a mean selfish cur to _have_
a regret. Come, come, we can't eat; let us go round the Point and see the
waves reddened by the beacon that gives you back to the world you were
born to embellish."
Helen said she would go directly. And her languid reply contrasted
strangely with his excitement. She played with her supper, and wasted
time in a very unusual way, until he told her plump she was not really
eating, and he could wait no longer, he must go and see how the beacon
"Oh, very well," said she; and they went down to the beach.
She took his crutch and gave it to him. This little thing cut him to the
heart. It was the first time she had accompanied him so far as that
without offering herself to be his crutch. He sighed deeply, as he put
the crutch under his arm; but he was too proud to complain, only he laid
it all on the approaching steamboat.
The subtle creature by his side heard the sigh, and smiled sadly at being
misunderstood--but what man could understand her? They hardly spoke till
they reached the Point. The waves glittered in the moonlight; there was
no red light on the water.
"Why, what is this?" said Hazel. "You can't have lighted the bonfire in
eight places, as I told you."
She folded her arms and stood before him in an attitude of defiance; all
but her melting eye.
"I have not lighted it at all," said she.
Hazel stood aghast. "What have I done?" he cried. "Duty, manhood,
everything demanded that I should light that beacon, and I trusted it to
Then Helen's attitude of defiance melted away. She began to cower, and
hid her blushing face in her hands. Then she looked up imploringly. Then
she uttered a wild and eloquent cry, and fled from him like the wind.
THAT cloud was really the smoke of the _Springbok,_ which had mounted
into air so thin that it could rise no higher. The boat herself was many
miles to the northward, returning full of heavy hearts from a fruitless
search. She came back in a higher parallel of latitude, intending
afterward to steer N.W. to Easter Island. The life was gone out of the
ship; the father was deeply dejected, and the crew could no longer feign
the hope they did not feel. Having pursued the above course to within
four hundred miles of Juan Fernandez, General Rolleston begged the
captain to make a bold deviation to the S.W., and then see if they could
find nothing there before going to Easter Island.
Captain Moreland was very unwilling to go to the S.W., the more so as
coal was getting short. However, he had not the heart to refuse General
Rolleston anything. There was a northerly breeze. He had the fires put
out, and, covering the ship with canvas, sailed three hundred miles S.W.
But found nothing. Then he took in sail, got up steam again, and away for
Easter Island. The ship ran so fast that she had got into latitude
thirty-two by ten A.M. next morning.
At l0h. l5m. the dreary monotony of this cruise was broken by the man at
"On deck there!"
"The schooner on our weather-bow!"
"Well, what of her?"
"She has luffed."
"Well, what o' that?"
"She has altered her course."
"How many points?"
"She was sailing S.E., and now her head is N.E."
"That is curious."
General Rolleston, who had come and listened with a grain of hope, now
sighed, and turned away.
The captain explained kindly that the man was quite right to draw his
captain's attention to the fact of a trading-vessel altering her course.
"There is a sea-grammar, general," said he; "and, when one seaman sees
another violate it, he concludes there is some reason or other. Now,
Jack, what d'ye make of her?"
"I can't make much of her; she don't seem to know her own mind, that is
all. At ten o'clock she was bound for Valparaiso or the Island. But now
she has come about and beating to windward."
"Bound for Easter Island?"
"Keep your eye on her."
"Ay, ay, sir."
Captain Moreland told General Rolleston that very few ships went to
Easter Island, which lies in a lovely climate, but is a miserable place;
and he was telling the general that it is inhabited by savages of a low
order, who half worship the relics of masonry left by their more
civilized predecessors, when Jack hailed the deck again.
"Well," said the captain.
"I think she is bound for the _Springbok."_
The soldier received this conjecture with astonishment and incredulity,
not to be wondered at. The steamboat headed N.W.; right in the wind's
eye. Sixteen miles off, at least, a ship was sailing N.E. So that the two
courses might be represented thus:
A \ / B
And there hung in the air, like a black mark against the blue sky, a
fellow, whose oracular voice came down and said B was endeavoring to
Nevertheless, time confirmed the conjecture; the schooner, having made a
short board to the N.E., came about, and made a long board due west,
which was as near as he could lie to the wind. On this Captain Moreland
laid the steamboat's head due north. This brought the vessels rapidly
When they were about two miles distant, the stranger slackened sail and
hove to, hoisting stars and stripes at her mizzen. The union jack went up
the shrouds of the _Springbok_ directly, and she pursued her course, but
gradually slackened her steam.
General Rolleston walked the deck in great agitation, and now indulged in
wild hopes, which Captain Moreland thought it best to discourage at once.
"Ah, sir," he said; "don't you run into the other extreme, and imagine he
has come on our business. It is at sea as it is ashore. If a man goes out
of his course to speak to you, it is for his own sake, not yours. This
Yankee has got men sick with scurvy, and is come for lime-juice. Or his
water is out. Or--hallo, savages aboard." It was too true. The schooner
had a cargo of savages, male and female; the males were nearly naked, but
the females, strange to say, were dressed to the throat in ample robes
with broad and flowing skirts and had little coronets on their heads. As
soon as the schooner hove to, the fiddle had struck up, and the savages
were now dancing in parties of four; the men doing a sort of monkey
hornpipe in quick pace, with their hands nearly touching the ground; the
women, on the contrary, erect and queenly, swept about in slow rhythm,
with most graceful and coquettish movements of the arms and hands, and
The steamboat came alongside, but at a certain distance, to avoid all
chance of collision; and the crew clustered at the side and cheered the
savages dancing. The poor general was forgotten at the merry sight.
Presently a negro in white cotton, with a face blacker than the savages,
stepped forward and hoisted a board, on which was printed very large, ARE
Having allowed this a moment to sink into the mind, he reversed the
board, and showed these words, also printed large, THE _SPRINGBOK?_