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  • 1870
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glittering over the surface of the water. The wind had changed. The fog had dispersed.

No sooner had he seen this than he was filled with curiosity to know where he was. This did not look much like the mouth of the Petitcodiac. He stared around with a very strange sensation.

Immediately beside him, where he was standing, the easy slope went back for a hundred yards or so, covered with short, wild grass, with here and there a stunted tree. Turning round, he saw the land rising by a steep acclivity towards the heights which bordered on the sea in such tremendous cliffs. Over the heights, and along the crest of those cliffs, were flying great flocks of sea-gulls, which kept up one incessant chorus of harsh, discordant screams. In front of him spread out a broad sheet of water, on the opposite side of which arose a lofty line of coast. Into this there penetrated a long strait, beyond which he could see broad waters and distant shores–a bay within a bay, approached by this strait. On each side of the strait were lofty, towering cliffs; and on one side, in particular, the cliffs were perpendicular, and ran on in a long and unbroken wall. The extremity of the cliff nearest him was marked by a gigantic mass of broken rock, detached from the main land, and standing alone in awful grandeur.

What place was this? Was this the mouth of the Petitcodiac? Was that broad bay a river? Was he still dreaming, or what did it all mean? And that gigantic fragment severed from a cliff, which thus stood guard at the entrance of a long strait, what was that? Could it be possible? Was there indeed any other broken cape, or could it be possible that this was Cape Split?

He hurried up the slope, and on reaching the top, saw that it descended on the other side towards the water. This water was a broad sheet, which extended for seven or eight miles, and was terminated by a lofty coast that extended down the bay as far as the eye could reach. One comprehensive glance was sufficient. He saw it all, and understood it all. It was not the mouth of the Petitcodiac River. It was the entrance to the Basin of Minas that lay before him. There lay the great landmarks, seen under new aspects, it is true, yet now sufficiently distinguishable. There was the Nova Scotia coast. In yonder hollow was Scott’s Bay. That giant rock was Cape Split. The long channel was the Strait of Minas, and the cliffs opposite were Cape d’Or and Cape Chignecto.

And now the recognition of all these places brought to him a great and sudden shock.

For what was this place on which he stood? Was it any part of the main land?

It was not.

He looked around.

It was an island.

He saw its lofty cliffs, its wooded crest, its flocks of sea-gulls, its sloping east end, where he stood, running down to a low point. He had seen them all at a distance before; and now that he stood here, he recognized all.

He was on Ile Haute!

The moment that he recognized this startling fact, he thought of his boat. He hurried to the beach. The tide was very low. To his immense relief he found the fastening of the boat secure, and he turned away at once, without any further examination, to think over his situation, and consider the best plan for reaching the main land. Making a comfortable seat for himself on the sail, he sat down, and drawing out the box, he took some biscuit. Then feeling thirsty, he went off in search of fresh water. Before he had walked many paces he found a brook.

The brook was a small one, which ran from the lofty west end of the island to the low land of the east, and thence into the bay. The water was good, and Tom satisfied his thirst by a long draught.

Judging by the position of the sun, it was now about seven o’clock in the morning; and Tom seated himself once more, and began to try to think how it was that he should have come in a direction so entirely different from the one which he had believed himself to be taking. He had fully expected to land at Petitcodiac, and he found himself far away on the other side of the bay. Yet a little reflection showed him how useless it was to try to recall his past voyage, and how impossible it was for him to account for it, ignorant as he was of the true direction of the wind and of the tide. He contented himself with marking a rude outline of his course on his memorandum book, making allowance for the time when he turned on that course; and having summed it all up to his own satisfaction in a crooked line which looked like a slip-knot, he turned his attention to more important matters.

There was one matter of first-rate importance which now pressed itself upon his thoughts, and that was, how to escape from his present situation. As far as he could see, there was no inhabitant on the island, no house, no cultivation, and no domestic animal. If there had been anything of that kind, they would be visible, he knew, from the point where he was standing. But all was deserted; and beyond the open ground in his neighborhood arose the east end, wooded all over its lofty summit. From Captain Corbet’s words, and from his own observation, he knew that it was a desert island, and that if he wished to escape he would have to rely altogether upon his own resources.

With this conclusion he once more turned his attention to his surroundings.

Nearest to him was Cape d’Or, about four miles away, and Cape Split, which was some distance farther. Then there was the Nova Scotia shore, which appeared to be seven or eight miles distant. On the beach and within sight was the boat which offered a sure and easy mode of passing over to the main land. But no sooner did he recognize this fact than a difficulty arose. How was he to make the passage? The boat had come ashore at high tide, and was close up to the grassy bank. The tide was far down, and between the boat and the water was a broad beach, covered with cobblestones, and interspersed with granite boulders. It was too heavy a weight for him to move any distance, and to force it down to the water over such a beach was plainly impossible. On the other hand, he might wait until the boat floated at high tide, and then embark. But this, again, would be attended with serious difficulties. The tide, he saw, would turn as soon as he should get fairly afloat, and then he would have to contend with the downward current. True, he might use his sail, and in that case he might gain the Nova Scotia shore; but his experience of the tides had been so terrible a one, that he dreaded the tremendous drift which he would have to encounter, and had no confidence in his power of navigating under such circumstances. Besides, he knew well that although the wind was now from the north, it was liable to change at any moment; so that even if he should be able to guide his boat, he might yet be suddenly enveloped by a fog when but half way over, and exposed once more to all those perils from which he had just escaped. The more he thought of all these dangers, the more deterred he felt from making any such attempt. Rather would he wait, and hope for escape in some other way.

But, as yet, he did not feel himself forced to anything so desperate as that. There was another alternative. At high tide the boat would be afloat, and then, as the tide fell, he could keep her afloat until it was at its lowest. He could then embark, and be carried by the returning water straight on to the Straits of Minas, and up into the basin. He now made a calculation, and concluded that it would be high tide about midday, and low tide about six in the evening. If he were to embark at that time, he would have two hours of daylight in which to run up with the tide. He saw now that his whole plan was perfectly feasible, and it only remained to make preparations for the voyage. As the whole afternoon would be taken up in floating the boat down to low-water mark, the morning would have to be employed in making whatever arrangements might be necessary.

Certain things were needed which required all that time. His hastily extemporized mast and sail had done wonderfully well, but he needed something to steer with. If he could only procure something that would serve the purpose of a rudder, he would feel well prepared for his voyage.

On the search for this he now started. He walked all about the open ground, looking around in all directions, to see if he could find anything, but without any success. Then he ascended the declivity towards the woods, but nothing appeared which was at all adapted to meet his wants. He saw a young tree, which he thought might do, and tried to cut it down with his pocket-knife. After about an hour’s hard work he succeeded in bringing it down, and another hour was spent in trimming the branches. The result of all this labor at length lay at his feet in the shape of a rough pole, with jagged splinters sticking out all over it, which promised to be of about as much utility as a spruce bush. In utter disgust he turned away, leaving the pole on the ground, and making up his mind to sail, as he did before, without any rudder. In this mood he descended the declivity, and walked disconsolately towards the shore which was on the side of the island directly opposite to where the boat lay. He had not yet been near enough to see the beach; but now, as he came nearer, a cry of delight escaped him involuntarily; for there, all along the beach, and close up to the bank, lay an immense quantity of drift-wood, which had been brought here by the tide from all the upper waters of the bay. It was a most heterogeneous mixture that lay before him–chips from timber ponds, logs from ship-yards, boards from saw-mills, deals, battens, fence posts, telegraph poles, deal ends, edgings, laths, palings, railway sleepers, treenails, shingles, clapboards, and all the various forms which wood assumes in a country which makes use of it as the chief material of its manufactures. Along the countless streams that flow into the bay, and along its far-winding shores, and along the borders of all its subsidiary bays, and inlets, and basins, the manufacture of wood is carried on–in saw-mills, in ship-yards, and in timber ponds; and the currents that move to and fro are always loaded with the fragments that are snatched away from these places, most of which are borne afar out to sea, but many of which are thrown all along the shores for hundreds of miles. Ile Haute, being directly in the way of some of the swiftest currents, and close by the entrance to a basin which is surrounded by mills and ship-yards, naturally received upon its shores an immense quantity of these scattered and floating fragments. Such was the sight that now met the eyes of Tom, and presented him with a countless number of fragments of wood adapted to his wants, at the very time when he had worked fruitlessly for two hours at fashioning one for himself.

Looking over the heaps of drift-wood, he found many pieces which suited him; and out of these he chose one which was shaped a little like an oar. Securing this prize, he walked over to where the sail was, and deposited it there.

Then he ate some biscuit, and, after taking a draught from the cool brook, he rested, and waited, full of hope, for the rising of the tide.

It was now rapidly approaching the boat. Tom watched it for some time, and felt new happiness as he viewed the roll of every little surf. There was not much wind, and nothing but a gentle ripple on the water. All this was in his favor; for, if he wished for anything now, it was a moderate breeze and a light sea. From time to time he turned his attention to the Straits of Minas, and arranged various plans in his mind. At one time he resolved to try and reach Pereau; again he thought that he would be content if he could only get to Parrsboro’; and yet again, he came to the wise conclusion that if he got to any settlement at all he would be content. At another time he half decided to take another course, and try to reach Scott’s Bay, where he felt sure of a warm welcome and a plenteous repast. Aiming thus at so many different points, it mattered but little to him in what particular direction the tide might sweep him, so long as it carried him up the bay.

The tide now came nearer, and Tom went down to the beach for a few moments. He paced the distance between the boat and the water. He noticed a few things lying in the boat. In the bow was a coil of rope which Captain Corbet had probably obtained when he was ashore at Petitcodiac. There was also a tin pan, used for baling.

As the tide drew nearer, Tom began to feel more and more impatient. Again and again he paced the intervening space between the boat and the water, and chafed and fretted because it did not lessen more rapidly. If the boat were once fairly afloat, he felt that the time would pass much more rapidly; for then he would be working at some definite task, and not standing idly waiting.

But everything has an end; and so, at length, the end came here. The water rose higher and higher, until, at length, it touched the keel. Tom gave a shout of joy.

He now untied the rope, and tried to shorten his suspense by pushing the boat towards the water; but his strength was insufficient. He could not move it. He would have to wait longer.

Thus far the things which he had taken out had been lying on the grass. It was now time to put them on board. So he carried down the sail, folded it up, and stowed it away neatly at the bottom of the boat. On this he stood the box of biscuit, taking care to put the cover over it, and to spread over that again one fold of the sail.

This took up some time, and he had the gratification of seeing that the water had come up a few feet farther. He now tried once more to force the boat down, using his piece of board as a lever; but the board bent, and almost broke, without moving the boat. He stood for a moment waiting, and suddenly thought of the pole which he had left up in the woods. He determined to get this, and perhaps, with its help, he would be able to accomplish his wishes. So off he started at a run, and in a few minutes reached the place. Hurrying back again, he inserted one end of the pole under the bow, and exerted all his force to press the boat downward into the water. At first it did not move; but shortly after, when the water had risen still higher, he made a new effort. This time he succeeded; the boat moved slightly.


The boat moved farther.

Once more.

Still farther.

And now he made a final trial. Thrusting the pole again underneath, he exerted all his force for the last time, and pushed the boat down for about a yard.

It was at last afloat.

The tide had not yet fully attained its height, but was close to it. The wind was blowing from the north, as before, and quite moderately. The sea sparkled and glittered in the rays of the sun. The little wavelets tossed their heads on high, and danced far away ever the sea. The air was bright, and stimulating, and exhilarating. All the scene filled Tom’s heart with gladness; and the approach of his deliverance deepened and intensified this feeling.


Afloat again.–The rushing Water.–Down to the Bottom.–Desperate Circumstances.–Can they be remedied?–New Hopes and Plans.

The boat was at last afloat before Tom’s eyes.

At first he had thought of holding it by the painter, and patiently standing on the beach, but the sight of it now changed his purposes. He thought that it would be a far more sensible plan to get on board, and keep the boat near the beach in that way. His bit of stick, which he had found among the drift-wood, could be used as an oar, and was good enough to enable him to move the boat as much as would be necessary. As he would have to wait for six hours at least, it was a matter of great importance that he should be as little fatigued as possible, especially as he had to look forward to a voyage, after the tide had fallen, attended with the possibility of increased labor and exertion. All these thoughts came rapidly to his mind, but passed in much less time than it takes to tell it, so that Tom had scarcely seen the boat afloat than he rushed through the water, and clambered into it. Then, taking his stick, he stood up and looked around.

The scene around has already been described. Tom kept his stick in the water, so as to have it ready for use. He purposed keeping the boat at a convenient distance from the shore by pushing and paddling. By keeping it within a distance of from three to six yards, he thought he would, for the present at least, be able to keep afloat, and yet avoid the sweep of the tides. He did not expect to remain in this particular spot all the time, but expected to find some place which would be out of the way of the tide, where he could float comfortably without being forced to keep in too close to the land.

But suddenly Tom’s thoughts and speculations were rudely interrupted.

It appeared to him that there was a very unusual feeling about the boat. She did not seem as high out of the water as she ought to have been, and her bows seemed to be lower than they had been. There was also a slight vibration in her, which he had never noticed before, and which struck him now as very peculiar. In the midst of this there came to his ears a low, faint, and scarcely perceptible sound, made up of peculiar bubbling and gurgling noises, which sounded from the boat.

One brief examination showed him that the boat was certainly very much deeper in the water than she had been.

Five seconds later her bows had sunk farther.

Two seconds more, and Tom’s feet were surrounded by water up to his ankles.

The boat was filling!

Scarce had he made this discovery than the water rose swiftly up, the boat sank quickly down, the sea rolled over her sides, and the boat went to the bottom.

Very fortunate was it for Tom, at that moment, that he had not pushed out farther from the shore. When the boat went down he was not more than three or four yards off, and he did not sink lower than up to his neck. But the shock was a sudden one, and for a moment almost paralyzed him. The next instant, however, he recovered from it; and looking round, he saw the box of biscuit floating within his reach. Making a wild dash at this, he secured it, and waded ashore with it in safety. He then turned mournfully to look after the boat, and found that it was visible, floating on the surface. As he left it, it had floated up, his weight being the only thing that had sent it below. The tide was still coming in, so that it did not float away. Tom flung off his coat and waistcoat, and hurrying into the water, soon caught and dragged it as near as he could to the beach. Then he secured it once more, and waited. Standing there, he looked gloomily at the vessel, wherein such precious hopes had been freighted only to be lost. What had happened? Why could not the boat float? What was the matter with her? These were the wondering questions which occurred to him without his being able to give any answer.

One thing he saw plainly, and that was, that he had lost this tide. The next high tide would be after midnight, and the next would be between one and two on the following day. If he could find out what was the matter with the boat, and fix it, he would have to wait till the next day, unless he chose to watch for his chance after midnight, and make the journey then.

He was not a boy who could be long inactive; so now, after a brief period, in which he gave up to the natural despondency of his soul, he stirred himself up once more, and sought comfort in occupation. The box of biscuit did not seem much injured, it had not floated long enough for the sea-water to penetrate it. Assuring himself of this, he next turned to the boat and took out its contents. These were the old sail, the coil of rope, and the baling dipper.

By this time the tide had reached its height, and after the usual time of delay, began to fall once more. The boat was secured to the shore, and after a time the water began to leave her. Tom sat at a little distance, wondering what could be the matter with her, and deferring his examination until the boat should be left aground. It was a mystery to him how this sudden change had occurred, and why the boat, which had floated so well during his long drift, should now, all of a sudden, begin to leak with such astonishing rapidity. Something must have happened–something serious, too; but what it was, or how it had happened, he could not, for the life of him, conjecture.

As Tom sat there, the tide gradually left the boat; and as the tide left, the water ran out, keeping at just the same level inside as the water outside. This showed, even to his inexperienced eyes, that the leak must be a very large one, since it admitted of such a ready flow of water in and out. The water descended lower and lower as he sat, until, at last, the boat was left by the retreating waves. The water had all run out.

Tom now advanced, and proceeded to examine her. When he was arranging her cargo before, the coil of rope had been in the bows. This had prevented him from detecting anything wrong in the boat. But now, since everything had been taken out, one glance only was quite sufficient to make known to him instantly the whole difficulty. There, in the bows, underneath the very place where the coil of rope had lain, was a huge aperture. The planks had been beaten in, and one side of the bow was destroyed beyond hope of remedy.

The sight of such an irremediable calamity as this renewed for a time the despondency which he had felt at the first sinking of the boat. Full of depression, he turned away, and tried to account for it all. It was on the previous day that he had landed–about twenty-four hours ago. How had he passed the time since then, and what had happened? This he tried to remember.

In the first place, up to the moment of landing the boat was perfectly sound, and far from all injury. It had not been hurt during the drift. It had struck at one place, but the long voyage that had followed showed that no damage had resulted. Finally, it had not been harmed by landing on Quaco Ledge. Since that time he had drifted in safety far across the bay, without meeting with any accident. All this proved clearly that the damage must have been done to the boat since his landing on the island.

He found it very difficult to recall anything that had happened since then. On his first arrival he was worn out and exhausted. He remembered vaguely how he came in sight of the giant cliff, how he dragged the boat along, how he secured it to a tree, and then how he flung himself down on the grass and fell asleep. After that all was obscure to his memory; but he could recall his waking at midnight and listening to the roar of the wind and the dash of the surf. Evidently there must have been a heavier sea on the beach at that time than when he landed, and this was sufficient to account for the accident to the boat. She had been beating on the rough rocks at high tide, exposed to the full sweep of the surf, and her bows had been stove in.

The melancholy spectacle of the ruined boat made Tom see that his stay on the island might be prolonged even beyond the following day. No sooner had this thought occurred to him than he went over to the articles which he had taken out of the boat, and passed them all in review before him, as though he were anxious to know the full extent of his resources. He spread out the wet sail in the sun. He spread out his coat and waistcoat. In the pocket of the latter he found a card of matches, which were a little damp. These he seized eagerly and laid on the top of a stone, exposed to the rays of the sun, so as to dry them. The clothes which he kept on were wet through, of course, but he allowed them to dry on him.

He had been working now pretty industriously all the morning, first at searching after a piece of wood, then in cutting down the pole, then in searching among the drift-wood, and finally at the boat. He felt, at length, hungry; and as he could not yet decide upon what was to be done next, he determined to satisfy his desires, and kill the time by taking his dinner. The repast was a frugal one, consisting as before, of biscuit, which were washed down by cold water; but Tom did not complain. The presence of food of any sort was a cause for thankfulness to one in his position, and it was with a feeling of this sort, in spite of his general depression of spirits, that he ate his meal.

After this he felt much more refreshed, and began to consider what he had better do next. Of course, the centre of interest to him was the boat, and he could not give up that hope of escape without a struggle. As long as there was a hope of making his way from the island by means of that, so long might he keep up his heart; but if the damage that had been done should prove irreparable, how would he be able to endure his situation? Whatever it was, it would be best to know the worst once for all. Perhaps he might stop the leak. He had material around which seemed to be the right sort of thing to stop a leak with. He had the piece of sail, which could be cut up into small pieces, and used to stop the leak. If he had possessed a hatchet and some nails, he would have made an effort to repair the fracture in the planks of the boat; but as he had nothing of that sort, he tried to devise some method by which the water might be kept out. As he thought, there gradually grew up in his mind the rude outline of a plan which promised something, and seemed to him to be certainly worth trying. At any rate, he thought, it will serve to give me an occupation; and any occupation, even if it proves to be of no practical value, is better than sitting here doing nothing at all.

Having something to do once more quickened Tom’s energies anew, and starting to his feet, he prepared to put his plan into execution. First of all, in order to carry out that plan, it was necessary for him to get a number of blocks and boards of different sizes. These, he knew, could easily be found among the driftwood on the beach. Over there he hurried, and after a moderate search he succeeded, at length, in finding bits of wood that seemed suited to the purpose which he had in view. With these he came back to the boat; but as there was a large number of them, he had to make several journeys before the whole collection was brought over.

Then he took his pole, and, putting a block under it, used it as a lever to raise up the boat. By dexterous management he succeeded in doing this, and at the same time he ran a board underneath the bow of the boat as it was slightly raised. This manoeuvre he repeated several times, each time raising his lever higher, by means of a higher fulcrum, and thus constantly raising the bow of the boat; while after each elevation the bow was secured in its new position by running an additional board underneath it, over the other preceding boards. By carefully and perseveringly pursuing this course, he at length succeeded in raising the bow of the boat about a foot in the air. This gave him an opportunity to examine it thoroughly outside as well as inside, and to see the whole extent of the damage that had been done.

It has already been said that the damage was serious. Tom’s examination now convinced him that it was in every respect as serious as he had supposed, if not still more so. Even if he did possess a hatchet and nails, or a whole box full of tools, he doubted whether it would be in his power to do anything whatever in the way of repairing it. No less than three of the lower planks of the bows, down to the very keel, were beaten in and broken so badly that they seemed actually crushed and mangled. It must have been a fearful beating, and pounding, and grinding on the rocks which had caused this. The planks, though thus broken, still held together; but it seemed to Tom that with a blow of his fist he could easily beat it all in; and as he looked at it he could not help wondering how it had happened that the work which the rocks had thus so nearly effected had not been completely finished. However, the planks did hold together yet; and now the question was, Could any thing be done?

In answer to this question, Tom thought of the old sail and the coil of rope. Already he had conceived the rude outline of a plan whereby the entrance of the water might be checked. The plan was worth trying, and he determined to set about it at once, and use up the hours before him as long as he could, without any further delay. If by any possibility he could stop that leak, he determined to start off at the next high tide, that very night, and run the risk. It was a daring, even a foolhardy thought; but Tom was desperate, and the only idea which he had was, to escape as soon as possible.

He now made some measurements, after which he went to the old sail, and cut a piece from the end of it. This he divided into smaller pieces, each about a yard square. Each of these pieces he folded up in three folds, so as to make them about a foot wide and eighteen inches long. Others he folded into six folds, making them about half the size of the larger pieces. All this took up much time, for he measured and planned very carefully, and his calculations and measurements had to be done slowly and cautiously. Returning to the boat with these bits of folded canvas, he put one of the larger pieces on the inside, against the bow, right over the broken place. Another large piece was placed carefully over this, and then the smaller pieces were laid against these. In this way he adjusted all the pieces of canvas in such a way as to cover up the whole place where the leak was.

Then he went over to the drift-wood, and spent a long time searching after some bits of wood. He at length found a half dozen pieces of board, about a foot long, and from six to eight inches in width. He also found some bits of scantling, and palings, which were only a foot or so in length. All these he brought back, and laid them down on the beach near the boat.

He now proceeded to place these bits of wood in the bows, in such a way as to keep the canvas in a firm position. His idea was, that the canvas, by being pressed against the opening, might keep out the water, and the wood, by being properly arranged, might keep the canvas secure in its place. The arrangement of the wood required the greatest care. First of all, he took the smallest bits, and stood these up against the canvas, so that they might correspond as nearly as possible with the curve of the bows. A few more pieces were placed in the hollow part of this curve, and outside these the larger pieces were placed. Between the outside pieces and the inner ones he thrust some of the smallest pieces which he could find. After thus arranging all his boards, he found that there lay between the outside board and the first seat of the boat a space of about one foot. Selecting a piece of wood of about that length, he put one end against the board, and the other against the seat, and pressed it into a position where it served to keep the board tight in its place. Then he took other pieces of about the same length, and arranged them in the same way, so that, by being fixed between the board and the seat, they might keep the whole mass of boards and canvas pressed tight against the opening in the bows. After placing as many blocks in position as he conveniently could, his next work was to secure them all. In order to effect this, another journey to the drift-wood was necessary, and another search. This time he selected carefully a number of sticks, not more than half an inch in thickness, some of them being much thinner. He found pieces of paling, and laths, and shingles which suited his ideas. Returning with these to the boat, he proceeded to thrust them, one by one, into the interstices of the boards, using a stone to drive them into their places.

At last the work was finished as far as he could accomplish it, and there remained nothing more to be done. As far as he could see, by shaking, and pulling, and pushing at the collection of sticks and canvas, it was very firm and secure. Every stick seemed to be tight, and the pressure which they maintained against the aperture was so strong that the wood-work now was forced out a little distance beyond the outline of the boat. He examined most carefully all about the bows on the outside, but saw no place which did not seem to be fully protected. It seemed to him now as though that piled-up canvas ought to resist the entrance of the water, or, if not, at least that it ought not to allow it to enter so rapidly but that he could easily keep the boat baled out.

He was not altogether confident, yet he was hopeful, and as determined as ever to make a trial.


Waiting for high Water.–A Trial.–A new Discovery.–Total Failure.–Down again.–Overboard.–A Struggle for Life.

Tom’s work was thus, at length, accomplished, and it remained now to get the boat in readiness and wait. Slowly and carefully he raised the bow by means of the lever, and one by one he withdrew the boards which held it up. At last the boat lay on the beach, ready to receive the uplifting arms of the returning tide whenever it should make its appearance again. Tom saw with satisfaction that the boat was about three yards down below high-water mark, on the spot to which he had dragged it after the failure of his last experiment. This, of course, would be so much in his favor, for it would thus be able to float before the water should reach its height.

He had worked hard all the afternoon, and it was already dark. The tide, which had been falling, had some time ago reached its lowest point, and was now returning. Between him and the lowest point was a great distance, for the tides here rise to a perpendicular height of over forty feet; but Tom knew that the time required to traverse the long space that here intervened between high and low-water mark was precisely the same as if it had only to rise a few feet.

He was very hungry, but some things had yet to be done. He had to put on board the boat the articles that he had taken ashore. His matches were now quite dry, and he put them in his pocket with a deep sense of their value to him in his present position. His clothes also were dry, and these he put on. The sail, the coil of rope, and the box of biscuit were put on board the boat. Tom had still to make his frugal repast; but this was soon accomplished, and he felt again a sense of exceeding thankfulness at the possession of the box of biscuit. At length his evening meal was over, and by the time that he had finished it, it had grown quite dark. He now went to the boat, and tied up the sail around the mast. There was nothing to which he could fasten the boat; but it was not necessary, as he was on the watch. The water continued smooth, the wind was from the north, as before, and there was no sign of fog. Overhead the sky was free from clouds, and the stars twinkled pleasantly to his upturned eyes, as if to encourage him. There was no moon, however, and though it was not very dark, yet it was sufficiently so to veil the nearest shores in gloom, and finally to withdraw them altogether from his view. Still it was not a matter of necessity that he should see the opposite shores, for he knew that his chief, and indeed his only reliance must be upon the tide; and this would bear him in its upward course on the morrow. The night was only needed to float the boat down as far as low-water mark. The process of floating her would serve to test the security of the fastenings, and show whether he could venture to make the attempt.

For hours Tom waited, sometimes seated in the boat, at other times walking along the beach down to the water. He found it difficult to keep himself awake, and therefore did not venture to sit down long. Wearied with his long work through the day, the necessity of constant exertion wearied him still more, until at length he could scarce draw his legs after him. But all things have an end, and so it was with Tom’s dreary watch; for at length the waters came up, and touched the boat, and surrounded it, until at last, to his great joy, Tom found himself afloat. He seized his stick, and pushed the boat into deeper water, a few yards off, with the intention of keeping her at about that distance from the shore.

The one thought that was now in his mind referred exclusively to his work in the boat. Was it firm? Would it hold? Did it leak? The boat was floating, certainly. How long would if continue to do so? For a few minutes he waited anxiously, as he floated there in deep water, with his eyes fixed on the work in the bow, and his ears listening intently to detect any sign of that warning, gurgling sound, which had struck terror to his heart on his last embarkation. But no sign came of any sound of that sort, and he heard nothing but the gentle dash of the water against the sides of the boat. Thus about five minutes passed. At the end of that time, he raised the sail, which he had laid along the bottom of the boat, and examined underneath it. The first touch of his fingers at the bottom lessened very largely the hope that was in him, and at once chased away the feeling of exultation that was rising. For there, in the bottom of the boat, he felt as much as an inch of water. After the first shock, he tried to believe that it was only the water that was in the boat before; and so, taking comfort in this thought, he waited for further developments, but at the same time took the dipper, so as to be ready to bale out the water, and have a struggle for it in case the worst should happen.

Another minute assured him that this was not the water which had been in the boat before. A new supply was entering, and in the space of that short time of waiting it had risen to the height of another inch. Tom felt a sudden pang of dismay, but his stout heart did not quail, nor did his obstinate resolution falter. Since it was the sea water that was coming in, he determined to have a fight with it for the possession of the boat. So he set to work bravely, and began to bale. He pulled up the sail, so as to have plenty of elbow-room, and worked away, dipping out the water; but, as he dipped, he perceived that it was gradually getting deeper. He dipped faster, but without any visible improvement, indeed, his efforts seemed to have but very little effect in retarding the entrance of the water. It grew deeper and deeper. One inch of water soon deepened to two inches, and thence to three. Soon after four inches were felt.

And now the water came in more rapidly. It seemed to Tom as though it had been delayed at first, for a little time, in finding an entrance, but that now, after the entrance was found, it came pouring in with ever-accelerated speed. Tom struggled on, hoping against hope, and keeping up his efforts long after they were proved to be useless. But the water came in faster and faster, until at length Tom began to see that he must seek his safety in another way. Flinging down his dipper, then, with a cry of vexation, he started up, and, seizing his bit of board, he looked around for the shore.

He had been caught by some side current, and had been carried along in such a way that he was about a hundred yards from the island, and seemed to be drifting up the bay. The dark, shadowy shores were much farther away than he had suspected. While struggling to bale out the boat, he had forgotten how necessary it was to keep near to the shore. He now saw his mistake, and strove to paddle the boat back again. With such a clumsy oar it is not likely that he could have achieved his desire at all, had the flood tide been stronger; but now it was about at its height, and would soon turn, if it was not turning already. The current, therefore, was but a weak one, and Tom found himself able to move slowly back; but his progress was very slow, and working at such a disadvantage was excessively fatiguing. At last he saw that if he trusted to paddling he could never reach the shore. In a moment another idea suggested itself; there was no time to lose, and he at once acted on it. Darting forward, he loosed the sail. The wind was still blowing from the north; at once the sail was filled, and, yielding to this new power, the boat began to move more rapidly. Tom tied the sheet astern, and, seizing his paddle, tried to scull the boat. For some minutes he kept up this work, and the boat moved steadily forward, nearer and still nearer, until the land was at length not more than thirty or forty yards off.

But by this time the danger had come nearer, and the boat was already half full of water. Tom began to see that it could not float as far as the shore. What was he to do? He waited a little longer. He looked around. The boat was drawing nearer, yet soon it must go down. To ease it, it would be necessary to relieve it of his own weight. He did not lose his presence of mind for a moment, but determined at once to jump overboard. In his perfect coolness he thought of one or two things which were of importance to him, and performed them swiftly and promptly. First he took the box of biscuit, and placed it on the heap of boards and canvas in the bows, so that it might remain as long as possible out of reach of the water. Then he took the card of matches out of his waistcoat pocket, and put them in his hat, which he replaced on his head. To secure thus from damage the two necessaries of food and fire was but the work of a few seconds. To throw off his coat, waistcoat, and trousers, and hang them over the top of the short mast, was the work of a few seconds more. By the time this had been done, the water was nearly up to the gunwales. In five seconds more the boat would have gone down; but, so well had Tom’s work been done, and so promptly, that these five seconds were saved. Having done what he wished, he let himself down into the water; and, holding on by the stern of the boat, he allowed himself to float after it, kicking out at the same time, so as to assist, rather than retard, its progress.

By this time the land was not more than twenty yards away. The boat did not sink so rapidly now, but kept afloat much better; still the water rose to a level with the gunwales, and Tom was too much rejoiced to find that it kept afloat at all to find fault with this. The wind still blew, and the sail was still up; so that the water-logged vessel went on at a very respectable rate, until at length half the distance which Tom had noticed on going overboard was traversed. The boat seemed to float now, though full of water, and Tom saw that his precious biscuit, at any rate, would not be very much harmed. Nearer and nearer now he came until at last, letting himself down, his feet touched bottom. A cry of delight escaped him; and now, bracing himself firmly against the solid land below, he urged the boat on faster, until at length her deep-sunk bows grated against the gravel of the beach.

He hurried up to the box of biscuit, and put this ashore in a safe place; after which he secured the boat to a jagged rock on the bank. He found now that he had come to a different part of the beach altogether, for his boat was lying at the spot where the little brook ran into the sea. Well was it for him, in that rash and hazardous experiment, that he had floated off before the tide was high. It had led to his drifting up the bay, instead of down, and by a weak current, instead of a strong one. The wind had thus brought him back. Had it been full tide, he would have drifted out from the shore, and then have been carried down the bay by the falling water to swift and sure destruction.

Tom now took off his wet shirt, and put on the dry clothes which he had so prudently hung on the top of the mast. He perceived that he had not a very pleasant lookout for the night, for the sail which he had formerly used to envelop himself with was now completely saturated. It was also too dark to go to the woods in search of ferns or mosses on which to sleep. However, the night was a pleasant one, and the grass around would not be so bad a resting- place as he had been forced to use while drifting in the boat. He had now become accustomed to hardship by bitter experience, and so he looked forward to the night without care.

The day had been an eventful one, indeed, for him, and his last adventure had been full of peril, from which he had been most wonderfully rescued.

These thoughts were in his mind, and he did not fail to offer up prayers of heartfelt gratitude to that good and merciful Being who had thus far so wonderfully preserved him. With such feelings in his heart, he sought out a sleeping-place, and after some search he found a mossy knoll. Seating himself here, he reclined his back against it, and in a few minutes the worn-out boy was buried in a deep sleep.

He slept until late on the following day, and on waking looked around to see if there were any sails in view. None were visible. The tide was about half way up, and the wide waters spread before him without any vessel in sight. He then began his preparations for the day. He hung his shirt upon a bush, and spread out the wet sail on the grass. An examination of the biscuit showed him that they had scarcely been injured at all, the water having penetrated only the lower part of the box. He removed the lower layer of biscuit, and spread them out on a rock in the sun to dry. After this he breakfasted, and wandered about for a time. He then took a swim, and felt much refreshed. By the time that his swim was over, he found that the hot sun had dried his shirt, so that he could once more assume that very important article of clothing.

The sun climbed high towards the zenith, and the tide came up higher, as Tom sat there alone on his desert island, looking out upon the sea. The boat from which he had hoped so much had proved false to those hopes, and all the labors of the previous day had proved useless. His attempt to escape had nearly resulted in his destruction. He had learned from that experiment that no efforts of his could now effect his rescue. He had done the very best he could, and it would not be possible for him, with his present resources, to contrive anything better than that which had so miserably failed. If he could only procure some tar, he might then stop up the interstices; but as it was, nothing of his construction would avail to keep back the treacherous entrance of the water. It seemed now to him that his stay on the island was destined to be prolonged to a much greater extent than he had first thought of, and there did not seem any longer a hope of saving himself by his own exertions.

Alone on a desert island!

It was a dreadful fact which now forced itself more and more upon Tom’s mind, until at length he could think of nothing else. Hitherto he had fought off the idea whenever it presented itself, and so long as he had been able to indulge in any hope of freeing himself by his own exertions, he prevented himself from sinking into the gloom of utter despair. But now he could no longer save himself from that gloom, and the thought grew darker and drearier before him–the one fact of his present situation.

Alone on a desert island!

A very interesting thing to read about, no doubt; and Tom, like all boys, had revelled in the portrayals of such a situation which he had encountered in his reading. No one had entered with more zest than he into the pages of Robinson Crusoe, and no one had enjoyed more than he the talks which boys love to have about their possible doings under such circumstances. But now, to be here, and find himself in such a place,–to be brought face to face with the hard, stern, dismal fact,–was another thing altogether. What oppressed him most was not the hardships of his position. These he could have withstood if there had been nothing worse. The worst part of his present life was its solitude. If Bart had been here with him, or Bruce, or Arthur, or Phil, or Pat, how different it would have been! Even old Solomon would have enabled him to pass the time contentedly. But to be alone,–all alone,–without a soul to speak to,–that was terrible.

Tom soon found that the very way to deepen his misery was to sit still and brood over it. He was not inclined to give way to trouble. It has already been seen that he was a boy of obstinate courage, resolute will, and invincible determination. He was capable of struggling to the last against any adversity; and even if he had to lose, he knew how to lose without sinking into complete despair. These moods of depression, or even of despair, which now and then did come, were not permanent. In time he shook them off, and looked about for some new way of carrying on the struggle with evil fortune.

So now he shook off this fit of depression, and starting up he determined not to sit idle any longer.

“I won’t stand it,” he muttered. “There’s lots of things to be seen, and to be done. And first of all I’ve got to explore this island. Come, Tom, my boy; cheer up, old fellow. You’ve pretended to admire Robinson Crusoe; act up to your profession. And first of all, my boy, you’ve got to explore Juan Fernandez.”

The sound of his own voice had the effect of encouraging and inspiriting him, while the purpose which he thus assigned to himself was sufficient to awaken his prostrated energies. There was something in the plan which roused all his curiosity, and turned his thoughts and feelings into a totally new direction. No sooner, then, had this thought occurred to him, than he at once set out to put it into execution.

First of all he took one parting look at the scene around him. The sun had now passed its meridian, and it seemed to be one o’clock or after. The tide was high. The boat, which had at first floated, was now nearly full of water. Tom threw a melancholy glance at this fresh proof of the utter futility of all his labor, and then examined the fastenings, so that it might not drift away during his absence. Then he searched among the drift-wood until he found a stout stick to assist him in climbing, and to serve as a companion in his walk, after which he started.

The sun was bright, but over the sky some clouds were gathering, and the opposite shores seemed to have grown darker than they were a few hours ago, having assumed a hue like olive green. The wind had also died away, and the water was as smooth as glass.


Where’s Solomon?–An anxious Search.–The Beach.–The cavernous Cliffs.–Up the Precipice.–Along the Shore.–Back for Boats.

The loss of Solomon had filled the boys with anxiety, and even Captain Corbet shared in the common feeling. He had preferred to set out, as he said, with a coil of rope; but the sight of this seemed to make Solomon’s fate appear darker, and looked as though he might have fallen over a precipice, or into a deep pool of water. They all knew that a serious accident was not at all improbable. They had seen the lofty and rugged cliffs that lined the bay shore, and knew that the rising waters, as they dashed over them, might form the grave of a man far younger and more active than the aged Solomon. He was weak and rheumatic; he was also timid and easily confused. If the water had overtaken him anywhere, he might easily fall a prey. In his efforts to escape, he would soon become so terrified that his limbs would be paralyzed. He might then stumble over the rocks, and break some of his bones, or he might be intrapped in some recess of the cliffs, from which escape might be impossible without external help.

Full of thoughts like these, the boys went on, with Captain Corbet, up through the village, looking carefully around as they went on, and making inquiries of every one whom they met. No one, however, could give them any information. At last they reached the end of the village. Here, on the left, there arose a high hill. The road wound round this, and descended into a valley, through which a stream ran to the bay. In this valley there was a ship-yard, where the half-finished fabric of a large ship stood before them, and from which the rattle of a hundred axes rose into the air. The valley itself was a beautiful place, running up among steep hills, till it was lost to view among a mass of evergreen trees and rich foliage. Below the shipyard was a cove of no very great depth, but of extreme beauty. Beyond this was a broad beach, which, at the farthest end, was bounded by the projecting headland before alluded to. The headland was a precipitous cliff of red sandstone, crowned at the summit with a fringe of forest trees, white at its base were two or three hollow caverns, worn into the solid rock by the action of the surf. One of these was about thirty feet in height at its mouth, and ran back for sixty or seventy feet, narrowing all the way, like a funnel, from its entrance to its farthest extremity.

The tide was now nearly at its height, and progress down the beach and along the cliff was impossible. The caves were cut off also, and the water penetrated them for some distance. At low tide one could easily walk down to the extreme point of the headland, and rounding this, he would find it possible to go along in front of the cliffs for an immense distance, either by walking along the rough beach at their foot, or, if the water should rise again, by going along rocky shelves, which projected for miles from the surface of the cliff.

Reaching the head of the beach, Captain Corbet paused, and looked around.

“Before goin any further,” said he, “we’d better ask the folks at this ship-yard. It ain’t possible to tell whether he’s gone by the beach or not. He may have gone up the valley.”

“O,” said Bart, dolefully, “he must have gone by the beach.”

“I rayther think I’ll ask, at any rate,” said the captain.

So saying, he walked up towards a house that was not far off, and accosted some men who were standing there. On hearing his question, they were silent for a few moments; and at last one of them recollected seeing an aged colored man passing by early in the morning. He had a basket on his arm, and in every way corresponded to the description of Solomon. He was on his way up the shore.

“Did he go down to the pint,” asked Captain Corbet, “or up to the top of the cliff?”

The man couldn’t say for certain; but as far as he could recollect, it seemed to him that he went down to the pint.

“About what time?”

“Between eight and nine o’clock–in fact, about eight–not much later.”

“Did he speak to any one here?”

“No; he walked past without stoppin. An do you say he ain’t got back?”

“Not yet.”

“Wal,” said the man, “for an old feller, an a feller what don’t know the country hereabouts, he’s gone on a dangerous journey; an ef he’s tried to get back, he’s found it a pooty hard road to travel.”

“Isn’t there any chance of his gettin back by the cliff?”

“Not with the water risin onto his path.”

“Is there any way of gettin up to the top of the cliff?”

“Wal, fur a active young feller it wouldn’t be hard, but for a pore old critter like that thar, it couldn’t be done–no how.”

“Wal, boys,” said Captain Corbet, sorrowfully, “I guess we’d better get on, an not lose any more time.”

They walked away in silence for some time, until at last they reached the foot of the cliff. A path here ran up in a winding direction so as to reach the top.

“It seems too bad,” said Captain Corbet, “not to be able to get to the beach. I wish I’d come in the boat. What a fool I was not to think of it!”

“O, I dare say the top of the cliff will do,” said Bruce.

“Wal, it’ll have to do. At any rate I’ve got the kile of rope.”

“We shall be able to see him from the top just as well, and perhaps better.”

“Wal, I hope so; but we’ll be a leetle too far above him for my fancy,–ony we can use the rope, I s’pose. Can any of you youngsters climb?”

“O, yes,” said Bart, “all of us.”

“What kind of heads have you got–stiddy?”

“Yes, good enough,” said Bruce. “I’ll engage to go anywhere that I can find a foothold; and here’s Bart, that’ll go certainly as far, and perhaps farther. And here’s Phil, that can do his share. As for Pat, he can beat us all; he can travel like a fly, upside down, or in any direction.”

“Wal, I’m glad to hear that, boys, for it’s likely you’ll be wanted to do some climbin afore we get back. I used to do somethin in that way; but since I’ve growed old, an rheumatic, I’ve got kine o’ out o’ the way of it, an don’t scacely feel sech confidence in myself as I used to onst. But come, we mustn’t be waitin here all day.”

At this they started up the path, and soon reached the top of the cliff.

Arriving here, they found themselves in a cultivated meadow, passing through which they reached a pasture field. After a walk of about a quarter of a mile, they came to the cliff that ran along the shore of the bay, and on reaching this, the whole bay burst upon their view.

It was still a beautiful day; the sun was shining brilliantly, and his rays were reflected in a path of dazzling lustre from the face of the sea. The wind was fresh, and the little waves tossed up their heads across where the sunlight fell, flashing back the rays of the sun in perpetually changing light, and presenting to the eye the appearance of innumerable dazzling stars. Far away rose the Nova Scotia shore as they had seen it in the morning, while up the bay, in the distance, abrupt, dark, and precipitous, arose the solitary Ile Haute.

Beneath them the waters of the bay foamed and splashed; and though there was not much surf, yet the waters came rolling among the rocks, seething and boiling, and extending as far as the eye could reach, up and down, in a long line of foam.

Reaching the edge, they all looked down. At the bottom there were visible the heads of black rocks, which arose above the waves at times, but which, however, at intervals, were covered with the rolling waters that tossed around them in foam and spray. Nearer and higher up there were rocks which projected like shelves from the face of the cliff, and seemed capable of affording a foothold to any climber; but their projection served also to conceal from view what lay immediately beneath.

Along the whole beach, however, up and down, there appeared no sign of human life. Anxiously they looked, hoping to see some human form, in some part of that long line of rock; but none was visible, and they looked at one another in silence.

“Wal, he don’t turn up yet; that’s clar,” said Captain Corbet.

“We can see a great deal from here, too,” said Bart, in a despondent tone.

“Ay, an that’s jest what makes the wust of it. I thought that one look from a commandin pint would reveal the wanderer to our eyes.”

“Perhaps he is crouching in among the rocks down there.”

“Wal, I rayther think he’d manage to git up a leetle further out of the reach of the surf than all that.”

“He may be farther on.”

“True; an I dare say he is, too.”

“There don’t seem to be any place below these rocks, where he would be likely to be.”

“No; I think that jest here he could climb up, as fur as that thar shelf, certain. He may be old an rheumatic, but he’s able enough to climb that fur.”

“I don’t think anything could have happened to him here, or we should see some signs of him.”

“Course we would–we’d see his remains–we’d see his basket, or his hat, floatin and driftin about. But thar’s not a basket or a hat anywhar to be seen.”

“The cliff is long here, and runs in so from that point, that if he went up any distance, it would be easy for him to be caught by the rising tide.”

“Course it would. O, yes, course. That’s the very thing that struck me. It’s very dangerous for an ole inexperienced man. But come, we mustn’t stand talkin, we must hurry on, or we may as well go back agin, at onst.”

Starting forward, they walked on for some time in silence. For about a hundred yards they were able to keep close to the edge of the cliff, so as to look over; but after that they encountered a dense alder thicket. In order to traverse this, they had to go farther inland, where there was some sort of an opening. There they came to a wood where the underbrush was thick, and the walking difficult. This they traversed, and at length worked their way once more to the edge of the cliff. Looking down here, they found the scene very much like what it had been farther back. The waves were dashing beneath them among rocks whose black crests were at times visible among the foam, while from the cliffs there were the same projecting shelves which they had noticed before.

“See there!” cried Bart, pointing to a place behind them. “Do you see how the cliff seems to go in there–just where the alder bushes grow? That looks like a place where a man might be caught. I wonder if he isn’t there.”

“Can’t we go and see?”

“I don’t think you can git thar.”

“O, it isn’t far,” said Bart. “I’ll run back and look down. The rest of you had better go on; I’ll join you soon.”

“I’ll go with you,” said Bruce.

“Very well.”

Bruce and Bart then set out, and forced their way through the dense alder bushes, until at length they found themselves near the place. Here there was a chasm in the line of cliff, reaching from the top to the bottom. The sides were precipitous, and they could see perfectly well all the way down. At the bottom the water was rolling and tossing; and this, together with the precipitous cliffs, showed them plainly that no one could have found shelter here.

Sadly and silently they returned, and rejoined the others, who had been walking along in advance.

“Wal?” said Captain Corbet, interrogatively.

Bart shook his head.

They then walked on for some time in silence. “Come,” said Captain Corbet; “we’ve been makin one mistake ever sence we started.”

“What’s that?”

“We’ve kep altogether too still. How do we know but we’ve passed him somewhar along down thar. We can’t see behind all them corners.”

“Let’s shout now–the rest of the way.”

“Yes; that’s it; yell like all possessed.”

The cries of the boys now burst forth in shrill screams and yells, which were echoed among the woods and rocks around.

“Now,” cried Captain Corbet, “all together!”

The boys shouted all together.

“That’ll fetch him,” said the captain, “ef anythin doos. It’s a pity we didn’t think of this afore. What an ole fool I must ha ben to forgit that!”

The boys now walked on shouting, and screaming, and yelling incessantly, and waiting, from time to time, to listen for an answer.

But no answer came.

At times Captain Corbet’s voice sounded forth. His cry was a very peculiar one. It was high pitched, shrill, and penetrating, and seemed as though it ought to be heard for miles. But the united voices of the boys, and the far-piercing yell of the captain, all sounded equally in vain. No response came, and at last, after standing still and listening for a longer time than usual, they all looked despondingly at one another, as though each were waiting for the other to suggest some new plan of action.

Captain Corbet stood and looked musingly out upon the sea, as though the sight of the rolling waters assisted his meditations. It was some time before he spoke.

“I tell you what it is, boys,” said he at last. “We’ve ben makin another mistake.”

“How so?”

“We’ve gone to work wrong.”

“Well, what can we do now?”

“Wal, fust an foremost, I muve we go back on our tracks.”

“Go back?”



“Wal, you see, one thing,–Solomon can’t hev come further than this by no possibility, onless he started straight off to walk all the way up the bay agin, back to Petticoat Jack by the shore route,–an as that’s too rough a route for an ole man, why, I calc’late it’s not to be thought of. Ef, on the contrairy, he only kem out to hunt for fish, ’tain’t likely he come as fur as this, an in my pinion he didn’t come nigh as fur. You see we’re a good piece on, and Solomon wouldn’t hev come so fur if he’d cal’lated to get back to the schewner. What d’ye say to that?”

“I’ve thought of that already,” said Bruce, sadly. “We’ve certainly gone as far as he could possibly have gone.”

“Terrew,” said Captain Corbet, solemnly.

“But what can we do now?” asked Bart.

“Fust of all, go back.”

“What! give him up?”

“I didn’t say that. I said to go back, an keep a good lookout along the shore.”

“But we’ve done that already.”

“Yes, I know; but then we didn’t begin to yell till quite lately, whereas we’d ought to hev yelled from the time of fust startin. Now, I think ef we went back yellin all the way, we’d have a chance of turnin him up somewhar back thar whar we fust came in sight of the cliff. Very likely, if he ain’t already drownded, he’s a twisted himself up in some holler in the cliff back thar. He couldn’t hev got this fur, certain,–unless he’d ben a runnin away.”

All this seemed so certain to the boys that they had nothing to say in opposition to it. In fact, as Bruce said, they had already gone as far as Solomon could possibly have gone, and this thought had occurred to them all. Captain Corbet’s proposition, therefore, seemed to them the only course to follow. So they all turned and went back again.

“What I was a goin to say,” remarked Captain Corbet, after walking a few paces,–“what I was a goin to say was this. The mistake I made was in not gettin a boat.”

“A boat? Why we’ve traced the coast from the cliff well enough– haven’t we?”

“No, not well enough. We’d ought to have planned this here expedition more kerfully. It wan’t enough to go along the top of the cliff this here way. You see, we’ve not been able to take in the lower part of the cliff underneath. We’d ought to hev got a boat. Some of us could hev gone along the cliff, jest as we hev ben doin, and the others could have pulled along the shore an kep up a sharp lookout that way. We’ve lost any quantity o’ time that way, but that’s no reason why we should lose any more; so I muve that some of us go back, right straight off, an get a boat at the ship-yard, an come back. I’ll go, unless some o’ youns think yourselfes smarter, which ain’t onlikely.”

“O, you can’t run, captain,” said Bart. “Bruce and I will go, and we’ll run all the way.”

“Wal, that’s the very best thing that you could do. You’re both young, an actyve. As for me, my days of youth an actyvity air over, an I’m in the sere an yaller leaf, with spells o’ rheumatics. So you start off as quick as your legs can carry you, an ef you run all the way, so much the better.”

The boys started off at this, and going on the full run, they hurried, as fast as possible, back over the path they had traversed, and through the woods, and over the fields, and down the cliff towards the ship-yard.

Phil and Pat, however, remained with Captain Corbet; and these three walked back along the edge of the cliff; still looking down carefully for signs of Solomon, and keeping up constantly their loud, shrill cries.

Thus they walked back, till, at length, they reached the place where the alders were growing. Here they were compelled to make a detour as before, after which they returned to the cliff, and walked along, shouting and yelling as when they came.


Back again.–Calls and Cries.–Captain Corbet’s Yell.–A significant Sign.–The old Hat.–The return Cry.–The Boat rounds the Point.

Captain Corbet, with Phil and Pat, walked along the top of the cliff in this way, narrowly scrutinizing the rocks below, and calling and shouting, until, at length, they reached the place at which they had first come out upon the shore.

“Now, boys,” said the captain, “from here to the pint down thar is all new ground. We must go along here, an keep a good lookout. If we hev any chance left of findin anythin, it’s thar. I’m ony sorry we didn’t examine this here fust an foremost, before wanderin away off up thar, whar ’tain’t at all likely that Solomon ever dreamed of goin. I hope the boys won’t be long gettin off that thar boat.”

“Perhaps they can’t get one.”

“O, yes, they can. I saw two or three down thar.”

They now walked on a little farther.

At this place the cliff was as steep as it had been behind; but the rocky shelves were more numerous, and down near the shore they projected, one beyond another, so that they looked like natural steps.

“If Solomon was caught by the tide anywhar hereabouts,” said Captain Corbet, “thar’s no uthly reason why he shouldn’t save himself. He could walk up them rocks jest like goin up stairs, an git out of the way of the heaviest surf an the highest tide that these shores ever saw.”

“It all depends,” said Phil, “on whether he staid about here, or went farther up.”

“Course–an it’s my opinion that he did stay about here. He was never such an old fool as to go so far up as we did. Why, ef he’d a done so over them rocks, he’d never have got the use of his legs agin.”

“Strange we don’t see any signs of him.”

“O, wal, thar’s places yet we hevn’t tried.”

“One thing is certain–we haven’t found any signs of him. If anything had happened, we’d have seen his basket floating.”

“Yes, or his old hat.”

“I should think, if he were anywhere hereabouts, he’d hear the noise; we are shouting loud enough, I’m sure. As for your voice, why, he ought to hear it a mile away; and the point down there doesn’t seem to be a quarter that distance.”

“O, it’s further than that; besides, my voice can’t penetrate so easily down thar. It gits kine o’ lost among the rocks. It can go very easy in a straight line; but when it’s got to turn corners an go kine o’ round the edges o’ sharp rocks, it don’t get on so well by a long chalk. But I think I’ll try an divarsify these here proceedins by yellin a leetle lower down.”

So saying, Captain Corbet knelt down, and putting his head over the cliff, he uttered the loudest, and sharpest, and shrillest yell that he could give. Then he listened in silence, and the boys also listened in breathless expectation for some time. But there was no response whatever.

Captain Corbet arose with a sigh.

“Wal, boys,” said he, in a mournful tone, “we must git on to the pint. We’d ought to know the wust pooty soon. But, at any rate, I’m bound to hope for the best till hope air over.”

The little party now resumed their progress, and walked on towards the point, shouting at intervals, as before.

From this place on as far as the point, the ground was clear, and there was nothing to bar their way. They could go along without being compelled to make any further detour, and could keep near enough to the edge to command a view of the rocks below. They walked on, and shouted without ceasing, and thus traversed a portion of the way.

Suddenly Captain Corbet’s eye caught sight of something in the water. It was round in shape, and was floating within a few feet of the shore, on the top of a wave. As Captain Corbet looked, the wave rolled from underneath it, and dashed itself upon the rocks, while the floating object seemed to be thrown farther out. The tide had turned already, and was now on the ebb, so that floating articles, such as this, were carried away from the shore, rather than towards it.

Upon this Captain Corbet fastened his gaze, and stood in silence looking at it. At length he put his hand on Phil’s shoulder, and directed the attention of the boys to the floating object.

“Do you see that?” said he.


“That thing.”

“What–that round thing?”

“Yes, that round thing. Look sharp at it now. What doos it look like to your young eyes?”

Phil and Pat looked at it very carefully, and in silence. Then Phil looked up into Captain Corbet’s face without saying a word.


“What is it, do you think?” asked Phil, in a low voice.

“What do YOU think?”

“Sure an it’s a hat–a sthraw hat,” said Pat.

Captain Corbet exchanged a meaning glance with Phil.

“Do you think it’s HIS hat?” asked Phil.

“Whose else can it be?”

Phil was silent, and his gaze was once more directed to the floating object. As it rose and fell on the waves, it showed the unmistakable outline of a straw hat, and was quite near enough for them to recognize its general character and color. It was dark, with the edges rather ragged, a broad brim, and a roomy crown, not by any means of a fashionable or graceful shape, but coarse, and big, and roomy, and shabby–just such a hat as Solomon had put on his head when he left Grand Pre with them on this memorable and ill-fated voyage.

They looked at it for a long time in silence, and none of them moved.

Captain Corbet heaved a deep sigh.

“This here,” said he, “has been a eventfool vyge. I felt a derred persentment afore I started. Long ago I told you how the finger of destiny seemed to warn me away from the ocean main. I kem to the conclusion, you remember, that henceforth I was to dwell under my own vine an fig tree, engaged in the tender emplymint of nussin the infant. But from this I was forced agin my own inclynations. An what’s the result? Why, this–that thar hat! See here, boys;” and the venerable seaman’s tone grew deeper, and more solemn, and more impressive; “see here, boys,” he repeated; “for mor’n forty year hev I follered the seas, an traversed the briny deep; but, though I’ve hed my share of storms an accydints, though I’ve ben shipwrecked onst or twiste, yet never has it ben my lot to experience any loss of human life. But now, but now, boys, call to mind the startlin events of this here vyge! Think of your companion an playmate a driftin off in that startlin manner from Petticoat Jack! An now look here–gaze upon that thar! Words air footil!”

“Do you give him up, then?” cried Phil. “Poor, poor old Solomon!”

Captain Corbet shook his head.

“‘Deed, thin, an I don’t!” cried Pat. “What’s a hat? ‘Tain’t a man, so it isn’t. Many’s the man that’s lost his hat, an ain’t lost his life. It’s a windy place here, an ole Solomon’s hat’s a mile too big for him, so it is–‘deed an it is.”

Captain Corbet shook his head more gloomily than ever.

“Ow, sure an ye needn’t be shakin yer head that way. Sure an haven’t ye lost hats av yer own, over an over?”

“Never,” said the captain. “I never lost a hat.”

“Niver got one blowed off? ‘Deed an ye must have.”

“I never got one blowed off. When the wind blowed hard I allus kep ’em tied on.”

“Well, Solomon hadn’t any tie to his, an it cud tumble off his old pate asy enough, so it cud. Sure he’s lost it jumpin over the rocks. Besides, where’s his basket?”

“At the bottom, no doubt.”

“Sure an it cud float.”

“No; I dar say it was full of lobsters.”

“Any how, I’ll not believe he’s gone till I see him,” cried Pat, earnestly. “Seein’s believin.”

“Ef he’s gone,” said Captain Corbet, more solemnly than ever, “ye’ll never see him. These waters take too good care of a man for that.”

“Well, yer all givin up too soon,” said Pat. “Come along now; there’s lots of places yet to examin. Give one of yer loudest yells.”

Captain Corbet did so. In spite of his despondency as to poor old Solomon’s fate, he was not at all unwilling to try any further chances. On this occasion he seemed to gain unusual energy out of his very despair; and the yell that burst from him was so high, so shrill, so piercing, and so far penetrating, that the former cries were nothing compared to it.

“Well done!” cried Pat. “Sure an you bet yerself that time, out an out.”

“Stop!” cried Phil. “Listen. What’s that?”

Far away, as they listened, they heard a faint cry, that seemed like a response.

“Is that the echo?” asked Phil, anxiously.

“Niver an echo!” cried Pat, excitedly. “Shout agin, captain, darlin.”

Captain Corbet gave another shout as loud and as shrill as the preceding one.

They listened anxiously.

Again they heard the cry. It was faint and far off; yet it was unmistakably a human cry. Their excitement now grew intense.

“Where did it come from?” cried Phil.

“Wal, it kine o’ seemed to me that it came back thar,” said the captain, pointing to the woods.

“‘Deed an it didn’t,” cried Pat; “not a bit of it. It was from the shore, jest ahead; from the pint, so it was, or I’m a nagur.”

“I think it came from the shore, too,” said Phil; “but it seemed to be behind us.”

“Niver a bit,” cried Pat; “not back there. We’ve been there, an whoever it was wud have shouted afore, so he wud. No, it’s ahead at the pint. He’s jest heard us, an he’s shoutin afther us. Hooray! Hurry up, an we’ll be there in time to save him.”

Pat’s confidence was not without its effect on the others. Without waiting any longer, they at once set off at a run, stopping at intervals to yell, and then listening for a response. To their delight, that response came over and over again; and to their still greater joy, the sound each time was evidently louder.

Beyond a doubt, they were drawing nearer to the place from which the sounds came.

This stimulated them all the more, so that they hurried on faster.

The edge of the cliff was not covered by any trees, but the ground at its summit had been cleared, so that progress was not at all difficult. They therefore did not take much time in traversing the space that intervened between the spot where they had first heard the cry, and the point where the cliff terminated. The cry grew steadily louder, all the way, until at last, when they approached the point, it seemed to come directly from beneath.

The cliff here was perpendicular for about forty feet down, and below this it seemed to retreat, so that nothing could be seen. The tide was on the ebb; but it was still so high that its waves beat below them, and seemed to strike the base of the rock. Beyond, on the right, there was a sloping ledge, which descended from the cliffs into the sea, over which the waves were now playing.

It was from the hollow and unseen recess down at the foot of the cliff that the cry seemed to arise, which had come in response to the calls of those on the summit. On reaching the place above, they knelt down, and looked over, but were not able to distinguish any human being, or any sign of the presence of one. But as they looked anxiously over, the cry arose, not very loud, but quite distinct now, and assured them that this was the place which sheltered the one who had uttered that cry.

Captain Corbet now thrust his head over as far as he could, and gave a call in his loudest voice.


To which there came up in answer a cry that sounded like–




“Is that yo-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-ou?”

“It’s me-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e!”

“Where are y-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-ou?”


“Come u-u-u-u-u-u-u-up!”


“Why no-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-ot?”

“Too hi-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-gh!”

“Go round the pi-i-i-i-i-i-nt!”

“Too high ti-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-de!”


“All ri-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-ght!”

Captain Corbet now sprang up as nimbly as a young lad, and looked at Phil and Pat with an expression of such exceeding triumph, that his face seemed fairly to shine.

“It IS Solomon!” he cried. But it was of no use for him to convey that piece of information to the boys, who already knew that fact quite as well as he did.

“It IS Solomon,” he repeated; “an now the pint is, how air we to git him up?”

“Let me go down,” said Pat.


“Sure an I can git down wid that bit o’ rope you have.”

“Mebbe you can, an then agin mebbe you can’t; but s’posin you was to git down, how upon airth would that help the matter?”

“Sure an we cud give him a pull up.”

“I don’t think we could manage that,” said Captain Corbet, “and you couldn’t, at any rate, if you were down thar with him. As far as I see, we’ll hev to wait till the tide falls.”

“Wouldn’t it be better,” said Phil, “for us to go around, so as to come nearer?”

“How? Whar?”

“Why, down to the beach, and then we could walk around the point.”

“Walk? Why, it’s high water.”

“So it is–I forgot that.”

“The fact is, we can’t git any nearer than we air now. Then, agin, the boys’ll be along in a boat soon. They ought to be here by this time; so let’s sit down here, an wait till they heave in sight.”

With a call of encouragement to Solomon which elicited a reply of satisfaction, Captain Corbet sat down upon the grass, and the boys followed his example. In this position they waited quietly for the boat to come.

Meanwhile, Bart and Bruce had hurried on as rapidly as their legs could carry them, and at length reached the path which went down to the beach. Down this they scrambled, and not long afterwards they reached the ship-yard. Here they obtained a boat without any difficulty, which the workmen launched for them; and then they pushed off, and pulled for the point, with the intention of rowing along opposite the shore, and narrowly inspecting it.

Scarcely had they reached the point, however, when a loud and well- known voice sounded from on high. They both turned and looked up, still pulling. There they saw Captain Corbet, and Phil, and Pat, all of whom were shouting and making furious gestures at them.

“We’ve found him! Come in closer!” cried Captain Corbet.

“Whe-e-e-re?” cried Bruce.

But before any answer could come, a loud, shrill scream, followed by a yell of delight, burst forth from some place still nearer.

Burt and Bruce both started, and looked towards the place from which this last cry came.

There a very singular and pleasing sight met their eyes.

About six feet above the water was a shelf of rock, that ran down sloping to the beach, and over this there projected a great mass of the cliff. In this recess there crouched a familiar figure. He had no hat, but between his legs, as he sat there, he held a basket, to which he clung with his knees and his hands. As he sat there his eyes were fixed upon them, and their whites seemed enlarged to twice their ordinary dimensions, while yell after yell came from him.

“Help, he-e-e-e-e-lp! Mas’r Ba-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-art! O, Mas’r Ba-a- a-a-a-a-a-a-a-art! He-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-lp! Sa-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a- a-a-a-a-a-ave me!”

“Hurrah! hurrah!” cried Bart and Bruce, in a burst of heartfelt joy.

“He-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-lp!” came forth once more from Solomon.

“All right,” cried Bart; and at once the boat pointed towards the place where Solomon was sitting. The water nearer the shore was somewhat rough, but fortunately there were no rocks just there, and they were able to bring the boat in close to the place where Solomon was confined. At their approach Solomon moved slowly down the incline of the rock, on his hands and knees, for there was not room for him to stand upright; and as he moved he pushed the basket before him, as though there was something inside of uncommon value. Reaching, at length, a spot where the rock was about the level of the boat, he waited for them to approach. Soon the boat touched the rock.

“Come, old Sol,” cried Bart, “jump in!”

“Hyah, take hole ob dis yar,” said Solomon, even in that moment of rescue refusing to move till his precious basket should be safe.

Bart grasped it, and put it into the boat, noticing, as he did so, that it was full of lobsters.

“Come, Solomon, hurry up. I don’t like the boat to be knocking here this way.”

“All right, sah,” said Solomon, crawling along rather stiffly; “ben tied up in a knot all day, an feel so stiff dat I don’t know as I’ll git untied agin fur ebber mo. Was jest makin my will, any way, as you came along.”

By this time Solomon had tumbled into the boat, and worked his way aft, though not without many groans.

“It’s de cold rocks, an de wet,” he groaned. “Sech an attack o’ rheumaticses as dis ole nigga’s gwine to hab beats all! Any how, I ben an sabed de lobsta. Loss me ole hat, but didn’t car a mite fer dat so long as I sabed de lobsta.”

“All right,” cried Bart; and at this the two boys pulled away from the rocks and rounded the point. As they came into the sight of those who were waiting on the top of the cliff, a shout of joy arose.


Exploring Juan Fernandez.–The Cliffs.–The tangled Underbrush.– The Fog Bank.–Is it coming or going?–The Steamer.–Vain Appeals.– New Plans.

Starting off, as we have seen, to explore the island, Tom first directed his steps towards the elevated land which has before been mentioned. At first his path was easy, and the descent very gradual; but at length it became more difficult, and he had to ascend a steep hill, which was over-strewn with stones and interspersed with trees and mounds. Up among these he worked his way, and at length the ascent ceased. He was on the summit of the island. Here he walked to the edge of the area on which he stood, and found himself on the edge of a precipice that went sheer down to a beach, which was apparently two hundred feet beneath him. The precipice seemed actually to lean forward out of the perpendicular, and so tremendous was the view beneath, that Tom, although not by any means inclined to be nervous, found his head grow giddy as he looked down. Looking forth thus from his dizzy elevation, he could see across the bay to the New Brunswick shore, and could mark the general course which his drifting boat must have taken over those deep, dark, and treacherous waters.

The sea was broad, and blue, and tranquil, and desolate, for even from this commanding height not a sail was visible. There was nothing here which could attract Tom’s attention for any long period; so he prepared to continue his progress. In front of him lay a wood, before plunging in which he turned to see if there were any vessels coming through the Straits of Minas. None were visible; so, turning back once more, he resumed his journey, and went forward among the trees.

His path now became a difficult one. It was necessary to keep away from the edge of the cliff, but still not to go out of sight of it. The trees were principally spruce and fir, but there were also birch and maple. He also noticed mountain ash and willow. Beneath him all the ground was covered with soft moss, in which he sank to his ankles, while on every side were luxuriant ferns and evergreen trailers. Tom recognized all these with great satisfaction, for they showed him the means of furnishing for himself a soft couch, that might be envied by many a man in better circumstances. Progress soon grew more difficult, for there were numerous mounds, and dense underbrush, through which he could only force his way by extreme effort. Windfalls also lay around in all directions, and no sooner would he have fairly surmounted one of them, than another would appear. Thus his progress was exceedingly slow and laborious.

After about a half an hour of strenuous exertion, Tom found himself in the midst of an almost impassable jungle of tangled, stunted fir trees. He tried to avoid these by making a detour, but found that they extended so far that he could only pass them by going along close to the edge of the cliff. This last path he chose, and clinging to the branches, he passed for more than a hundred yards along the crest of a frightful precipice, where far down there yawned an abyss, at whose bottom was the sea; while abreast of him in the air there floated great flocks of gulls, uttering their hoarse yells, and fluttering fiercely about, as though trying to drive back this intruder upon their domains. Once or twice Tom was compelled to stop, and turn away his face from the abyss, and thrust himself in among the trees; but each time he regained his courage, after a little rest, and went on as before.

At length he passed the thick spruce underbrush, and found the woods less dense. He could now work his way among them without being compelled to go so close to the edge of the cliff; and the dizzy height and the shrieks of the gulls no longer disturbed his senses. The trees here were not so high as those at the other end of the island, but were of much smaller size, and seemed stunted. There were no maples or other forest trees, but only scraggy fir, that seemed too exposed to the winds from the sea to have much health or verdure. The underbrush was wanting to a great extent, but moss was here in large quantities, and thick clusters of alder bushes. Wild shrubs also–such as raspberries and blueberries– were frequently met with; while ledges of weather-beaten rock jutted out from amid thick coverings of moss.

Walking here was not at all difficult, and he went on without any interruption, until, at last, he found any farther progress barred by a precipice. He was at the lower or western end of the island.

He looked down, and found beneath him a great precipice, while rocks jutted out from the sea, and ledges projected beyond. The gulls were present here, as elsewhere, in great flocks, and still kept up their noisy screams.

Tom looked out over the sea, and saw its waters spread far away till it was lost in the horizon. On the line of that horizon he saw a faint gray cloud, that looked like a fog bank. It had, to his eyes, a certain gloomy menace, and seemed to say to him that he had not seen the last of it yet. On the left of the broad sea, the Nova Scotia Coast ran along till it was lost in the distance; and on the right was the long line of the New Brunswick shore, both of which had now that dark hue of olive green which he had noticed on the land opposite before he had started.

Suddenly, while he was looking, his eyes caught sight of something white that glistened brightly from the blue water. It was about midway between the two coasts, and he knew it at once to be some sailing vessel. He could not make out more than one sail, and that showed that the vessel was either coming up the bay or going down; for if it had been crossing, she would, of course, have lain broadside on to his present locality, and would have thus displayed two sails to his view. The sight of this vessel agitated him exceedingly; and the question about her probable course now entered his mind, and drove away all other thoughts. Whether that vessel were going up or down became of exclusive importance to him now, if she were coming up, she might approach him, and hear his hail, or catch sight of his signals. Suddenly he reflected that he had no way of attracting attention, and a wild desire of running back and setting up the longest pole or board that he could find came into his mind; but such was the intensity of his curiosity, and the weight of his suspense, that he could not move from the spot where he was until he had satisfied himself as to the vessel’s course.

He sat down not far from the edge of the precipice, and, leaning forward with his hands supporting his chin, he strained his eyes over the intervening distance, as he tried to make out in which way the vessel was going. It seemed fully ten miles away, and her hull was not visible. It was only the white of her sails that he saw; and as the sunlight played on these from time to time, or fell off from the angle of reflection, the vessel was alternately more or less visible, and thus seemed by turns to draw nearer and depart farther from his sight.

Thus for a long time he sat, alternately hoping and desponding, at every play of those sails in the sunlight. The calm of the water showed him that, even if the vessel were coming up, he could not expect any very rapid progress. There was now no wind, and the surface of the water was perfectly unruffled. Besides, he knew that the tide was falling rapidly. How, then, could he expect that the vessel could come any nearer, even if she were trying to? Thoughts like these at last made him only anxious to keep the vessel in sight. If her destination lay up the bay, she would probably anchor; if it lay down the bay, she would drift with the tide. He thought, then, that if she only would remain in sight, it would be a sufficient proof of her course.

Thus he sat, watching and waiting, with all his soul intent upon those flashing sails, and all his thoughts taken up with the question as to the course of that solitary bark. It seemed a long time to him, in his suspense; but suspense always makes time seem long. At last, however, even though he hoped so persistently for the best, his hope began to die within him. Fainter and fainter grew those sails; at intervals rarer and rarer did their flash come to his eyes, until at length the sight of them was lost altogether, and nothing met his eyes but the gloomy gray of the fog cloud on the far horizon.

Even after he had lost hope, and become convinced that she was gone, Tom sat there for a long time, in a fixed attitude, looking at that one spot. He would have sat there longer, but suddenly there came to his ears a peculiar sound, which made him start to his feet in a moment, and filled him with a new excitement.

He listened.

The sound came again.

A flush of joy spread over his face, his heart beat faster and faster, and he listened as though he could scarce believe his senses.

As he listened, the sounds came again, and this time much louder.

There was now no mistake about it. It was a regular boat, which Tom knew well to be the peculiar sound made by the floats of a steamer’s paddles. He had often heard it. He had but recently heard it, when the revenue steamer was approaching the Antelope, and again during the foggy night, when the whistle roused them, and the same beat of the paddles came over the midnight waters.

And now, too, he heard it.

He gave a shout of joy, and started off to catch sight of her.