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The Crater by James Fenimore Cooper

Part 2 out of 9

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been caught on a reef, at the precise moment when such a sea tumbled
over in foam. This accident was very near occurring once or twice, but
it was escaped, more by providential interference than by any care or
skill in the adventurers.

It is very easy to imagine the intense interest with which our two
mariners drew near to the visible reef. Their observations from the
cross-trees of the ship, had told them this was all the land anywhere
very near them, and if they did not find their lost shipmates here, they
ought not to expect to find them at all. Then this reef, or island, was
of vast importance in other points of view. It might become their future
home; perhaps for years, possibly for life. The appearances of the
sunken reefs, over and among which he had just passed, had greatly
shaken Mark's hope of ever getting the ship from among them, and he even
doubted the possibility of bringing her down, before the wind, to the
place where he was then going. All these considerations, which began to
press more and more painfully on his mind, each foot as he advanced,
served to increase the intensity of the interest with which he noted
every appearance on, or about, the reef, or island, that he was now
approaching. Bob had less feeling on the subject. He had less
imagination, and foresaw consequences and effects less vividly than his
officer, and was more accustomed to the vicissitudes of a seaman's life.
Then he had left no virgin bride at home, to look for his return; and
had moreover made up his mind that it was the will of Providence that he
and Mark were to 'Robinson Crusoe it' awhile, on 'that bit of a reef.'
Whether they should ever be rescued from so desolate a place, was a
point on which he had not yet begun to ponder.

The appearances were anything but encouraging, as the dingui drew nearer
and nearer to the naked part of the reef. The opinions formed of this
place, by the examination made from the cross-trees, turned out to be
tolerably accurate, in several particulars. It was just about a mile in
length, while its breadth varied from half a mile to less than an eighth
of a mile. On its shores, the rock along most of the reef rose but a
very few feet above the surface of the water, though at its eastern, or
the weather extremity, it might have been of more than twice the usual
height; its length lay nearly east and west. In the centre of this
island, however, there was a singular formation of the rock, which
appeared to rise to an elevation of something like sixty or eighty feet,
making a sort of a regular circular mound of that height, which occupied
no small part of the widest portion of the island. Nothing like tree,
shrub, or grass, was visible, as the boat drew near enough to render
such things apparent. Of aquatic birds there were a good many: though
even they did not appear in the numbers that are sometimes seen in the
vicinity of uninhabited islands. About certain large naked rocks, at no
great distance however from the principal reef, they were hovering in

At length the little dingui glided in quite near to the island. Mark was
at first surprised to find so little surf beating against even its
weather side, but this was accounted for by the great number of the
reefs that lay for miles without it; and, particularly, by the fact
that one line of rock stretched directly across this weather end,
distant from it only two cables' lengths, forming a pretty little sheet
of perfectly smooth water between it and the island. Of course, to do
this, the line of reef just mentioned must come very near the surface;
as in fact was the case, the rock rising so high as to be two or three
feet out of water on the ebb, though usually submerged on the flood. The
boat was obliged to pass round one end of this last-named reef, where
there was deep water, and then to haul its wind a little in order to
reach the shore.

It would be difficult to describe the sensations with which Mark first
landed. In approaching the place, both he and Bob had strained their
eyes in the hope of seeing some proof that their shipmates had been
there; but no discovery rewarded their search. Nothing was seen, on or
about the island, to furnish the smallest evidence that either of the
boats had touched it. Mark found that he was treading on naked rock when
he had landed, though the surface was tolerably smooth. The rock itself
was of a sort to which he was unaccustomed; and he began to suspect,
what in truth turned out on further investigation to be the fact, that
instead of being on a reef of coral, he was on one of purely volcanic
origin. The utter nakedness of the rock both surprised and grieved him.
On the reefs, in every direction, considerable quantities of sea-weed
had lodged, temporarily at least; but none of it appeared to have found
its way to this particular place. Nakedness and dreariness were the two
words which best described the island; the only interruption to its
solitude and desolation being occasioned by the birds, which now came
screaming and flying above the heads of the intruders, showing both by
their boldness and their cries, that they were totally unacquainted with

The mound, in the centre of the reef, was an object too conspicuous to
escape attention, and our adventurers approached it at once, with the
expectation of getting a better look-out from its summit, than that they
had on the lower level of the surface of the ordinary reef. Thither then
they proceeded, accompanied by a large flight of the birds. Neither Mark
nor Bob, however, had neglected to turn his eyes towards the now
distant ship, which was apparently riding at its anchor, in exactly the
condition in which it had been left, half an hour before. In that
quarter all seemed right, and Mark led the way to the mount, with active
and eager steps.

On reaching the foot of this singular elevation, our adventurers found
it would not be so easy a matter as they had fancied, to ascend it.
Unlike the rest of the reef which they had yet seen, it appeared to be
composed of a crumbling rock, and this so smooth and perpendicular as to
render it extremely difficult to get up. A place was found at length,
however, and by lending each other a hand, Mark and Bob finally got on
the summit. Here a surprise was ready for them, that drew an exclamation
from each, the instant the sight broke upon him. Instead of finding an
elevated bit of table-rock, as had been expected, a circular cavity
existed within, that Mark at once recognised to be the extinct crater of
a volcano! After the first astonishment was over, Mark made a close
examination of the place.

The mound, or barrier of lava and scoriae that composed the outer wall of
this crater, was almost mathematically circular. Its inner precipice was
in most places absolutely perpendicular, though overhanging in a few;
there being but two or three spots where an active man could descend in
safety. The area within might contain a hundred acres while the wall
preserved a very even height of about sixty feet, falling a little below
this at the leeward side, where there existed one narrow hole, or
passage, on a level with the bottom of the crater; a sort of gateway, by
which to enter and quit the cavity. This passage had no doubt been
formed by the exit of lava, which centuries ago had doubtless broken
through at this point, and contributed to form the visible reef beyond.
The height of this hole was some twenty feet, having an arch above it,
and its width may have been thirty. When Mark got to it, which he did by
descending the wall of the crater, not without risk to his neck, he
found the surface of the crater very even and unbroken, with the
exception of its having a slight descent from its eastern to its western
side; or from the side opposite to the outlet, or gateway, to the
gateway itself. This inclination Mark fancied was owing to the
circumstance that the water of the ocean had formerly entered at the
hole, in uncommonly high tides and tempests, and washed the ashes which
had once formed the bottom of the crater, towards the remote parts of
the plain. These ashes had been converted by time into a soft, or
friable rock, composing a stone that is called tufa. If there had ever
been a cone in the crater, as was probably the case, it had totally
disappeared under the action of time and the wear of the seasons. Rock,
however, the bed of the crater could scarcely be yet considered, though
it had a crust which bore the weight of a man very readily, in nearly
every part of it. Once or twice Mark broke through, as one would fall
through rotten ice, when he found his shoes covered with a light dust
that much resembled ashes. In other places he broke this crust on
purpose, always finding beneath it a considerable depth of ashes,
mingled with some shells, and a few small stones.

That the water sometimes flowed into this crater was evident by a
considerable deposit of salt, which marked the limits of the latest of
these floods. This salt had probably prevented vegetation. The water,
however, never could have entered from the sea, had not the lava which
originally made the outlet left a sort of channel that was lower than
the surface of the outer rocks. It might be nearer to the real character
of the phenomenon were we to say, that the lava which had broken through
the barrier at this point, and tumbled into the sea, had not quite
filled the channel which it rather found than formed, when it ceased to
flow. Cooling in that form, an irregular crevice was left, through which
the element no doubt still occasionally entered, when the adjacent ocean
got a sufficient elevation. Mark observed that, from some cause or
other, the birds avoided the crater. It really seemed to him that their
instincts warned them of the dangers that had once environed the place,
and that, to use the language of sailors, "they gave it a wide berth,"
in consequence. Whatever may have been the cause, such was the fact; few
even flying over it, though they were to be seen in hundreds, in the air
all round it.

Chapter V.

"The king's son have I landed by himself;
Whom I left cooling of the air with sighs
In an odd angle of the isle, and sitting,
His arms in this sad knot."


Having completed this first examination of the crater, Mark and Bob next
picked their way again to the summit of its wall, and took their seats
directly over the arch. Here they enjoyed as good a look-out as the
little island afforded, not only of its own surface, but of the
surrounding ocean. Mark now began to comprehend the character of the
singular geological formation, into the midst of which the Rancocus had
been led, as it might almost be by the hand of Providence itself. He was
at that moment seated on the topmost pinnacle of a submarine mountain of
volcanic origin--submarine as to all its elevations, heights and spaces,
with the exception of the crater where he had just taken his stand, and
the little bit of visible and venerable lava, by which it was
surrounded. It is true that this lava rose very near the surface of the
ocean, in fifty places that he could see at no great distance, forming
the numberless breakers that characterized the place; but, with the
exception of Mark's Reef, as Bob named the principal island on the spot,
two or three detached islets within a cable's-length of it, and a few
little more remote, the particular haunts of birds, no other land was
visible, far or near.

As Mark sat there, on that rock of concrete ashes, he speculated on the
probable extent of the shoals and reefs by which he was surrounded.
Judging by what he then saw, and recalling the particulars of the
examination made from the cross-trees of the ship, he supposed that the
dangers and difficulties of the navigation must extend, in an east and
west direction, at least twelve marine leagues; while, in a north and
south, the distance seemed to be a little, and a very little less. There
was necessarily a good deal of conjecture in this estimate of the extent
of the volcanic mountain which composed these extensive shoals; but,
from what he saw, from the distance the ship was known to have run amid
the dangers before she brought up, her present anchorage, the position
of the island, and all the other materials before him to make his
calculation on, Mark believed himself rather to have lessened than to
have exaggerated the extent of these shoals. Had the throes of the
earth, which produced this submerged rock, been a little more powerful,
a beautiful and fertile island, of very respectable dimensions, would
probably have been formed in its place.

From the time of reaching the reef, which is now to bear his name in all
future time, our young seaman had begun to admit the bitter possibility
of being compelled to pass the remainder of his days on it. How long he
and his companion could find the means of subsistence in a place so
barren, was merely matter of conjecture; but so long as Providence
should furnish these means, was it highly probable that solitary and
little-favoured spot was to be their home. It is unnecessary to state
with what bitter regrets the young bridegroom admitted this painful
idea; but Mark was too manly and resolute to abandon himself to despair,
even at such a moment. He kept his sorrows pent up in the repository of
his own bosom, and endeavoured to imitate the calm exterior of his
companion. As for Bob, he was a good deal of a philosopher by nature
and, having made up his mind that they were doomed to 'Robinson Crusoe
it,' for a few years at least, he was already turning over in his
thoughts the means of doing so to the best advantage. Under such
circumstances, and with such feelings, it is not at all surprising that
their present situation and their future prospects soon became the
subject of discourse, between these two solitary seamen.

"We are fairly in for it, Mr. Mark," said Bob, "and differ from Robinson
only in the fact that there are two of us; whereas he was obliged to set
up for himself, and by himself, until he fell in with Friday!"

"I wish I could say _that_ was the only difference in our conditions,
Betts, but it is very far from being so. In the first place he had an
island, while we have little more than a reef; he had soil, while we
have naked rock; he had fresh water, and we have none; he had trees,
while we have not even a spear of grass. All these circumstances make
out a case most desperately against us."

"You speak truth, sir; yet is there light ahead. We have a ship, sound
and tight as the day she sailed; while Robinson lost his craft under his
feet. As long as there is a plank afloat, a true salt never gives up."

"Ay, Bob, I feel that, as strongly as you can yourself; nor do I mean to
give up, so long as there is reason to think God has not entirely
deserted us. But that ship is of no use, in the way of returning to our
friends and home; or, of no use as a ship. The power of man could
scarcely extricate her from the reefs around her."

"It's a bloody bad berth," said Bob, squirting the saliva of his tobacco
half-way down the wall of the crater, "that I must allow. Howsomever,
the ship will be of use in a great many ways, Mr. Mark, if we can keep
her afloat, even where she is. The water that's in her will last us two
a twelvemonth, if we are a little particular about it; and when the
rainy season sets in, as the rainy season will be sure to do in this
latitude, we can fill up for a fresh start. Then the ship will be a
house for us to live in, and a capital good house, too. You can live
aft, sir, and I'll take my swing in the forecastle, just as if nothing
had happened."

"No, no, Bob; there is an end of all such distinctions now. Misery, like
the grave, brings all upon a level. You and I commenced as messmates,
and we are likely to end as messmates. There is a use to which the ship
may be put, however, that you have not mentioned, and to which we must
look forward as our best hope for this world. She may be broken up by
us, and we may succeed in building a craft large enough to navigate
these mild seas, and yet small enough to be taken through, or over the
reefs. In _that_ way, favoured by Divine Providence, we may live to see
our friends again."

"Courage, Mr. Mark, courage, sir. I know it must be hard on the feelin's
of a married man, like yourself, that has left a parfect pictur' behind
him, to believe he is never to return to his home again. But I don't
believe that such is to be our fate. I never heard of such an end to a
Crusoe party. Even Robinson, himself, got off at last, and had a
desperate hard journey of it, after he hauled his land-tacks aboard. I
like that idee of the new craft 'specially well, and will lend a hand to
help you through with it with all my heart. I'm not much of a carpenter,
it's true; nor do I suppose you are anything wonderful with the
broad-axe and adze; but two willing and stout men, who has got their
lives to save, can turn their hands to almost anything. For my part,
sir, since I _was_ to be wrecked and to Robinson it awhile, I'm
gratefully thankful that I've got you for a companion, that's all!"

Mark smiled at this oblique compliment, but he felt well assured that
Bob meant all for the best. After a short pause, he resumed the
discourse by saying--

"I have been thinking, Bob, of the possibility of getting the ship
safely down as far as this island. Could we but place her to leeward of
that last reef off the weather end of the island, she might lie there
years, or until she fell to pieces by decay. If we are to attempt
building a decked boat, or anything large enough to ride out a gale in,
we shall want more room than the ship's decks to set it up in. Besides,
we could never get a craft of those dimensions off the ship's decks, and
must, of necessity, build it in some place where it may be launched. Our
dingui would never do to be moving backward and forward, so great a
distance, for it will carry little more than ourselves. All things
considered, therefore, I am of opinion we can do nothing better to begin
with, than to try to get the ship down here, where we have room, and may
carry out our plans to some advantage."

Bob assented at once to this scheme, and suggested one or two ideas in
approbation of it, that were new even to Mark. Thus, it was evident to
both, that if the ship herself were ever to get clear of the reef, it
must be by passing out to leeward; and by bringing her down to the
island so much would be gained on the indispensable course. Thus, added
Bob, she might be securely moored in the little bay to windward of the
island; and, in the course of time it was possible that by a thorough
examination of the channels to the westward, and by the use of buoys, a
passage might be found, after all, that would carry them out to sea.
Mark had little hope of ever getting the Rancocus extricated from the
maze of rocks into which she had so blindly entered, and where she
probably never could have come but by driving over some of them; but he
saw many advantages in this plan of removing the ship, that increased in
number and magnitude the more he thought on the subject. Security to the
fresh water was one great object to be attained. Should it come on to
blow, and the ship drift down upon the rocks to leeward of her, she
would probably go to pieces in an hour or two, when not only all the
other ample stores that she contained, but every drop of sweet water at
the command of the two seamen, would inevitably be lost. So important
did it appear to Mark to make sure of a portion of this great essential,
at least, that he would have proposed towing down to the reef, or
island, a few casks, had the dingui been heavy enough to render such a
project practicable. After talking over these several points still more
at large, Mark and Bob descended from the summit of the crater, made
half of its circuit, and returned to their boat.

As the day continued calm, Mark was in no hurry, but passed half an hour
in sounding the little bay that was formed by the sunken rocks that lay
off the eastern, or weather end of the Crater Reef, as, in a spirit of
humility, he insisted on calling that which everybody else now calls
Mark's Reef. Here he not only found abundance of water for all he
wanted, but to his surprise he also found a sandy bottom, formed no
doubt by the particles washed from the surrounding rocks under the
never-ceasing abrasion of the waves. On the submerged reef there were
only a few inches of water, and our mariners saw clearly that it was
possible to secure the ship in this basin, in a very effectual manner,
could they only have a sufficiency of good weather in which to do it.

After surveying the basin, itself, with sufficient care, Bob pulled the
dingui back towards the ship, Mark sounding as they proceeded. But two
difficulties were found between the points that it was so desirable to
bring in communication with each other. One of these difficulties
consisted in a passage between two lines of reef, that ran nearly
parallel for a quarter of a mile, and which were only half a
cable's-length asunder. There was abundance of water between these
reefs, but the difficulty was in the course, and in the narrowness of
the passage. Mark passed through the latter four several times, sounding
it, as it might be, foot by foot, and examining the bottom with the eye;
for, in that pellucid water, with the sun near the zenith, it was
possible to see two or three fathoms down, and nowhere did he find any
other obstacle than this just mentioned. Nor was any buoy necessary, the
water breaking over the southern end of the outer, and over the northern
end of the inner ledge, and nowhere else near by, thus distinctly noting
the very two points where it would be necessary to alter the course.

The second obstacle was much more serious than that just described. It
was a reef with a good deal of water over most of it; so much, indeed,
that the sea did not break unless in heavy gales, but not enough to
carry a ship like the Rancocus over, except in one, and that a very
contracted pass, of less than a hundred feet in width. This channel it
would be indispensably necessary to buoy, since a variation from the
true course of only a few fathoms would infallibly produce the loss of
the ship. All the rest of the distance was easily enough made by a
vessel standing down, by simply taking care not to run into visible

Mark and Bob did not get back to the Rancocus until near three o'clock.
They found everything as they had left it, and the pigs, poultry and
goat, glad enough to see them, and beginning to want their victuals and
drink. The two first are to be found on board of every ship, but the
last is not quite so usual. Captain Crutchely had brought one along to
supply milk for his tea, a beverage that, oddly enough, stood second
only to grog in his favour. After Bob had attended to the wants of the
brute animals, he and Mark, again sat down on the windlass to make
another cold repast on broken meat--as yet, they had not the hearts to
cook anything. As soon as this homely meal was taken Mark placed a
couple of buoys in the dingui, with the pig-iron that was necessary to
anchor them, and proceeded to the spot on the reef, where it was
proposed to place them.

Our mariners were quite an hour in searching for the channel, and near
another in anchoring the buoys in a way to render the passage perfectly
safe. As soon as this was done, Bob pulled back to the ship, which was
less than a mile distant, as fast as he could, for there was every
appearance of a change of weather. The moment was one, now, that
demanded great coolness and decision. Not more than an hour of day
remained, and the question was whether to attempt to move the ship that
night, when the channel and its marks were all fresh in the minds of the
two seamen, and before the foul weather came, or to trust to the cable
that was down to ride out any blow that might happen. Mark, young as he
was, thought justly on most professional subjects. He knew that heavy
rollers would come in across the reef where the vessel then lay, and was
fearful that the cable would chafe and part, should it come on to blow
hard for four-and-twenty hours continually. These rollers, he also knew
by the observation of that day, were completely broken and dispersed on
the rocks, before they got down to the island, and he believed the
chances of safety much greater by moving the ship at once, than by
trying the fortune of another night, out where she then lay. Bob
submitted to this decision precisely as if Mark was still his officer,
and no sooner got his orders than he sprang from sail to sail, and rope
to rope, like a cat playing among the branches of some tree. In that
day, spensers were unknown, staysails doing their duty. Thus Bob loosed
the jib, main-topmast and mizen-staysails, and saw the spanker clear for
setting. While he was thus busied, Mark was looking to the stopper and
shank-painter of the sheet-anchor, which had been got ready to let go,
before Captain Crutchely was lost. He even succeeded in getting that
heavy piece of metal a cock-bill, without calling on Bob for assistance.

It was indeed time for them to be in a hurry; for the wind began to come
in puffs, the sun was sinking into a bank of clouds, and all along the
horizon to windward the sky looked dark and menacing. Once Mark changed
his mind, determining to hold on, and let go the sheet-anchor where he
was, should it become necessary; but a lull tempted him to proceed. Bob
shouted out that all was ready, and Mark lifted the axe with which he
was armed, and struck a heavy blow on the cable. That settled the
matter; an entire strand was separated, and three or four more blows
released the ship from her anchor. Mark now sprang to the jib-halliards,
assisting Bob to hoist the sail. This was no sooner done than he went
aft to the wheel, where he arrived in time to help the ship to fall off.
The spanker was next got out as well as two men could do it in a hurry,
and then Bob went forward to tend the jib-sheet, and to look out for the

It was indispensable in such a navigation to make no mistake, and Mark
enjoined the utmost vigilance on his friend. Twenty times did he hail to
inquire if the buoys were to be seen, and at last he was gratified by an
answer in the affirmative.

"Keep her away, Mr. Mark--keep her away, you may, sir; we are well to
windward of the channel. Ay, that'll do, Mr. Woolston--that's your
beauty, sir. Can't you get a sight of them b'ys yourself, sir?"

"Not just yet, Bob, and so much the greater need that you should look
out the sharper. Give the ship plenty of room, and I'll let her run down
for the passage, square for the channel."

Bob now ran aft, telling the mate he had better go on the forecastle
himself and conn the ship through the passage, which was a place he did
not like. Mark was vexed that the change should be made just at that
critical instant, but bounding forward, he was between the knight-heads
in half a minute, looking out for the buoys. At first, he could not see
them; and then he most felt the imprudence of Bob's quitting his post in
such a critical instant. In another minute, however, he found one; and
presently the other came in sight, fearfully close, as, it now appeared
to our young mariner, to its neighbour. The position of the ship,
nevertheless, was sufficiently to windward, leaving plenty of room to
keep off in. As soon as the ship was far enough ahead, Mark called out
to Bob to put his helm hard up. This was done, and away the Rancocus
went, Mark watching her with the utmost vigilance, lest she should
sheer a little too much to the one side or to the other. He hardly
breathed as the vessel glided down upon these two black sentinels, and,
for an instant, he fancied the wind or the current had interfered with
their positions. It was now too late, however, to attempt any change,
and Mark saw the ship surging onward on the swells of the ocean, which
made their way thus far within the reefs, with a greater intensity of
anxiety than he had ever before experienced in his life. Away went the
ship, and each time she settled in the water, our young man expected to
hear her keel grating on the bottom, but it did not touch. Presently the
buoys were on her quarters, and then Mark knew that the danger of this
one spot was passed!

The next step was to find the southern end of the outer ledge that
formed the succeeding passage. This was not done until the ship was
close aboard of it. A change had come over the spot within the last few
hours, in consequence of the increase of wind, the water breaking all
along the ledge, instead of on its end only; but Mark cared not for
this, once certain he had found that end. He was now half-way between
his former anchorage and the crater, and he could distinguish the latter
quite plainly. But sail was necessary to carry the ship safely through
the channel ahead, and Mark called to Bob to lash the helm a-midships
after luffing up to his course, and to spring to the main-topmast
staysail halliards, and help him hoist the sail. This was soon done, and
the new sail was got up, and the sheet hauled aft. Next followed the
mizen staysail, which was spread in the same manner. Bob then flew to
the wheel, and Mark to his knight-heads again. Contrary to Mark's
apprehensions, he saw that the ship was luffing up close to the weather
ledge, leaving little danger of her going on to it. As soon as met by
the helm, however, she fell off, and Mark no longer had any doubt of
weathering the northern end of the inner ledge of this passage. The wind
coming in fresher puffs, this was soon done, when the ship was kept dead
away for the crater. There was the northern end of the reef, which
formed the inner basin of all, to double, when that which remained to do
was merely to range far enough within the reef to get a cover, and to
drop the anchor. In order to do this with success, Mark now commenced
hauling down the jib. By the time he had that sail well in, the ship was
off the end of the sunken reef, when Bob put his helm a-starboard and
rounded it. Down came the main-topmast staysail, and Mark jumped on the
forecastle, while he called out to Bob to lash the helm a-lee. In an
instant Bob was at the young man's side, and both waited for the ship to
luff into the wind, and to forge as near as possible to the reef. This
was successfully done also, and Mark let go the stopper within twenty
feet of the wall of the sunken reef, just as the ship began to drive
astern. The canvas was rolled up and secured, the cable payed out, until
the ship lay just mid-channel between the island and the sea-wall
without, and the whole secured. Then Bob took off his tarpaulin and gave
three cheers, while Mark walked aft, silently returning thanks to God
for the complete success of this important movement.

Important most truly was this change. Not only was the ship anchored,
with her heaviest anchor down, and her best cable out, in good holding
ground, and in a basin where very little swell ever penetrated, and that
entering laterally and diminished in force; but there she was within a
hundred and fifty feet of the island, at all times accessible by means
of the dingui, a boat that it would not do to trust in the water at all
outside when it blew in the least fresh. In short, it was scarcely
possible to have a vessel in a safer berth, so long as her spars and
hull were exposed to the gales of the ocean, or one that was more
convenient to those who used the island. By getting down her spars and
other hamper, the power of the winds would be much lessened, though Mark
felt little apprehension of the winds at that season of the year, so
long as the sea could not make a long rake against the vessel. He
believed the ship safe for the present, and felt the hope of still
finding a passage, through the reef to leeward, reviving in his breast.

Well might Mark and Bob rejoice in the great feat they had just
performed. That night it blew so heavily as to leave little doubt that
the ship never could have been kept at her anchor, outside; and had she
struck adrift in the darkness nothing could have saved them from almost
immediate destruction. The rollers came down in tremendous billows,
breaking and roaring on all sides of the island, rendering the sea white
with their foam, even at midnight; but, on reaching the massive, natural
wall that protected the Rancocus, they dashed themselves into spray
against it, wetting the vessel from her truck down, but doing her no
injury. Mark remained on deck until past twelve o'clock, when finding
that the gale was already breaking, he turned in and slept soundly until
morning. As for Bob, he had taken his watch below early in the evening,
and there he remained undisturbed until the appearance of day, when he
turned out of his own accord.

Mark took another look at the sea, reefs and islands, from the
main-topmast cross-trees of the ship, as she lay in her new berth. Of
course, the range of his vision was somewhat altered by this change of
position, and especially did he see a greater distance to the westward,
or towards the lee side of the reefs. Nothing encouraging was made out,
however; the young man rather inclining more to the opinion than he had
ever done before, that the vessel could not be extricated from the rocks
which surrounded her. With this conviction strongly renewed, he
descended to the deck, to share in the breakfast Bob had set about
preparing, the moment he quitted his cat-tails; for Bob insisted on
sleeping in the forecastle, though Mark had pressed him to take one of
the cabin state-rooms. This time the meal, which included some very
respectable ship's coffee, was taken on the cabin-table, the day being
cloudless, and the sun's rays possessing a power that made it unpleasant
to sit long anywhere out of a shade. While the meal was taken, another
conversation was held touching their situation.

"By the manner in which it blew last night," Mark observed, "I doubt if
we should have had this comfortable cabin to eat in this morning, and
these good articles to consume, had we left the ship outside until

"I look upon it as a good job well done, Mr. Mark," answered Bob. "I
must own I had no great hopes of our ever getting here, but was willing
to try it; for them rollers didn't mind half-a-dozen reefs, but came
tumbling in over them, in a way to threaten the old 'Cocus with being
ground into powder. For my part, sir, I thank God, from the bottom of
my heart, that we are here."

"You have reason to do so, Bob; and while we may both regret the
misfortune that has befallen us, we had need remember how much better
off we are than our shipmates, poor fellows!--or how much better we are
off than many a poor mariner who loses his vessel altogether."

"Yes, the saving of the ship is a great thing for us. We can hardly call
this a shipwreck, Mr. Mark, though we have been ashore once; it is more
like being docked, than anything else!"

"I have heard, before, of vessels being carried over reefs, and bars of
rivers, into berths they could not quit," answered Mark. "But, reflect a
moment, Bob, how much better our condition is, than if we had been
washed down on this naked reef, with only such articles to comfort us,
as could be picked up along shore from the wreck!"

"I'm glad to hear you talk in this rational way, Mr. Mark; for it's a
sign you do not give up, or take things too deeply to heart. I was
afeard that you might be thinking too much of Miss Bridget, and make
yourself more unhappy than is necessary for a man who has things so
comfortable around him."

"The separation from my wife causes me much pain, Betts, but I trust in
God. It has been in his pleasure to place us in this extraordinary
situation, and I hope that something good will come of it."

"That's the right sentiments, sir--only keep such feelings uppermost,
and we shall do right down well. Why, we have water, in plenty, until
after the rainy season shall be along, when we can catch a fresh supply.
Then, there is beef and pork enough betwixt decks to last you and me
five or six years; and bread and flour in good quantities, to say
nothing of lots of small stores, both forward and aft."

"The ship is well found, and, as you say, we might live a long time,
years certainly, on the food she contains. There is, however, one thing
to be dreaded, and to provide against which shall be my first care. We
are now fifty days on salted provisions, and fifty more will give us
both the scurvy."

"The Lord in his mercy protect me from that disease!" exclaimed Bob. "I
had it once, in an old v'y'ge round the Horn, and have no wish to try it
ag'in, But there must be fish in plenty among these rocks, Mr. Mark, and
we have a good stock of bread. By dropping the beef and pork, for a few
days at a time, might we not get shut of the danger?"

"Fish will help us, and turtle would be a great resource, could we meet
with any of _that_. But, man requires mixed food, meats and vegetables,
to keep him healthy; and nothing is so good for the scurvy as the last.
The worst of our situation is a want of soil, to grow any vegetables in.
I did not see so much as a rush, or the coarsest sea-plant, when we were
on the island yesterday. If we had soil, there is seed in plenty on
board, and this climate would bring forward vegetation at a rapid rate."

"Ay, ay, sir, and I'll tell you what I've got in the way of seeds,
myself. You may remember the delicious musk and watermelons we fell in
with last v'y'ge, in the east. Well, sir, I saved some of the seed,
thinking to give it to my brother, who is a Jarsey farmer, you know,
sir; and, sailor-like, I forgot it altogether, when in port. If a fellow
could get but a bit of earth to put them melon-seeds in, we might be
eating our fruit like gentlemen, two months hence, or three months, at
the latest."

"That is a good thought, Betts, and we will turn it over in our minds.
If such a thing is to be done at all, the sooner it is done the better,
that the melons maybe getting ahead while we are busy with the other
matters. This is just the season to put seed into the ground, and I
think we might make soil enough to sustain a few hills of melons. If I
remember right, too, there are some of the sweet potatoes left."

Bob assented, and during the rest of the meal they did nothing but
pursue this plan of endeavouring to obtain half-a-dozen or a dozen hills
of melons. As Mark felt all the importance of doing everything that lay
in his power to ward off the scurvy, and knew that time was not to be
lost, he determined that the very first thing he would now attend to,
would be to get all the seed into as much ground as he could contrive to
make. Accordingly, as soon as the breakfast was ended, Mark went to
collect his seeds Bob set the breakfast things aside, after properly
cleaning them.

There were four shoats on board, which had been kept in the launch,
until that boat was put into the water, the night the Rancocus ran upon
the rocks. Since that time they had been left to run about the decks,
producing a good deal of dirt, and some confusion. These shoats Bob now
caught, and dropped into the bay, knowing that their instinct would
induce them to swim for the nearest land. All this turned out as was
expected, and the pigs were soon seen on the island, snuffing around on
the rocks, and trying to root. A small quantity of the excrement of
these animals still lay on the deck, where it had been placed when the
launch was cleaned for service, no one thinking at such a moment of
cleaning the decks. It had been washed by the sea that came aboard quite
across the deck, but still formed a pile, and most of it was preserved.
This manure Mark was about to put in a half-barrel, in order to carry it
ashore, for the purpose of converting it into soil, when Bob suddenly
put an end to what he was about, by telling him that he knew where a
manure worth two of that was to be found. An explanation was asked and
given. Bob, who had been several voyages on the western coast of
America, told Mark that the Peruvians and Chilians made great use of the
dung of aquatic birds, as a manure, and which they found on the rocks
that lined their coast. Now two or three rocks lay near the reef, that
were covered with this deposit, the birds still hovering about them, and
he proposed to take the dingui, and go in quest of a little of that
fertilizing manure. A very little, he said, would suffice, the Spaniards
using it in small quantities, but applying it at different stages in the
growth of the plant. It is scarcely necessary to say that Bob had fallen
on a knowledge of the use of the article which is now so extensively
known under the name of guano, in the course of his wanderings, and was
enabled to communicate the fact to his companion. Mark knew that Betts
was a man of severe truth, and he was so much the more disposed to
listen to his suggestion. While our young mate was getting the boat
ready, therefore, Bob collected his tools, provided himself with a
bucket, passed the half-barrel, into which Mark had thrown the
sweepings of the decks, into the dingui, and descended himself and took
the sculls. The two then proceeded to Bob's rock, where, amid the
screams of a thousand sea-birds, the honest fellow filled his bucket
with as good guano as was ever found on the coast of Peru.

While the boat was at the rock, Mark saw that the pigs had run round to
the western end of the island, snuffing at everything that came in their
way, and trying in vain to root wherever one of them could insert his
nose. As a hog is a particularly sagacious animal, Mark kept his eyes on
them while Bob was picking out his guano, in the faint hope that they
might discover fresh water, by means of their instinct. In this way he
saw them enter the gate way of the crater, pigs being pretty certain to
run their noses into any such place as that.

On landing, Mark took a part of the tools and the bucket of guano, while
Bob shouldered the remainder, and they went up to the hole, and entered
the crater together, having landed as near to the gate-way as they could
get, with that object. To Mark's great delight he found that the pigs
were now actually rooting with some success, so far as stirring the
surface was concerned, though getting absolutely nothing for their
pains. There were spots on the plain of the crater, however, where it
was possible, by breaking a sort of crust, to get down into coarse ashes
that were not entirely without some of the essentials of soil. Exposure
to the air and water, with mixing up with sea-weed and such other waste
materials as he could collect, the young man fancied would enable him to
obtain a sufficiency of earthy substances to sustain the growth of
plants. While on the summit of the crater-wall, he had seen two or three
places where it had struck him sweet-potatoes and beans might be made to
grow, and he determined to ascend to those spots, and make his essay
there, as being the most removed from the inroads of the pigs. Could he
only succeed in obtaining two or three hundred melons, he felt that a
great deal would be done in providing the means of checking any
disposition to scurvy that might appear in Bob or himself. In this
thoughtful manner did one so young look ahead, and make provision for
the future.

Chapter VI.

"----that done, partake
The season, prime for sweetest scents and airs;
Then commune how that day they best may ply
Their growing work; for much their work outgrew
The hands dispatch of two gard'ning so wide."


Our two mariners had come ashore well provided with the means of
carrying out their plans. The Rancocus was far better provided with
tools suited to the uses of the land, than was common for ships, her
voyage contemplating a long stay among the islands she was to visit.
Thus, axes and picks were not wanting, Captain Crutchely having had an
eye to the possible necessity of fortifying himself against savages.
Mark now ascended the crater-wall with a pick on his shoulder, and a
part of a coil of ratlin-stuff around his neck. As he went up, he used
the pick to make steps, and did so much in that way, in the course of
ten minutes, as greatly to facilitate the ascent and descent at the
particular place he had selected. Once on the summit, he found a part of
the rock that overhung its base, and dropped one end of his line into
the crater. To this Bob attached the bucket, which Mark hauled up and
emptied. In this manner everything was transferred to the top of the
crater-wall that was needed there, when Bob went down to the dingui to
roll up the half-barrel of sweepings that had been brought from the

Mark next looked about for the places which had seemed to him, on his
previous visit, to have most of the character of soil. He found a plenty
of these spots, mostly in detached cavities of no great extent, where
the crust had not yet formed; or, having once formed, had been disturbed
by the action of the elements. These places he first picked to pieces
with his pick; then he stirred them well up with a hoe, scattering a
little guano in the heaps, according to the directions of Betts. When
this was done, he sent down the bucket, and hauled up the sweepings of
the deck, which Bob had ready for him, below. Nor was this all Bob had
done, during the hour Mark was at work, in the sun, on the summit of the
crater. He had found a large deposit of sea-weed, on a rock near the
island, and had made two or three trips with the dingui, back and forth,
to transfer some of it to the crater. After all his toil and trouble,
the worthy fellow did not get more than a hogshead full of this new
material, but Mark thought it well worth while to haul it up, and to
endeavour to mix it with his compost. This was done by making it up in
bundles, as one would roll up hay, of a size that the young man could

Bob now joined his friend on the crater-wall, and assisted in carrying
the sea-weed to the places prepared to receive it, when both of the
mariners next set about mixing it up with the other ingredients of the
intended soil. After working for another hour in this manner, they were
of opinion that they might make the experiment of putting in the seed.
Melons, of both sorts, and of the very best quality, were now put into
the ground, as were also beans peas, and Indian-corn, or maize. A few
cucumber-seeds, and some onions were also tried, Captain Crutchely
having brought with him a considerable quantity of the common garden
seeds, as a benefit conferred on the natives of the islands he intended
to visit, and through them on future navigators. This care proceeded
from his owners, who were what is called 'Friends,' and who somewhat
oddly blended benevolence with the practices of worldly gain.

Mark certainly knew very little of gardening, but Bob could turn his
hand to almost anything. Several mistakes were made, notwithstanding,
more particularly in the use of the seed, with which they were not
particularly acquainted. Mark's Reef lay just within the tropics, it is
true (in 21 deg. south latitude), but the constant sea-breeze rendered its
climate much cooler than would otherwise have been the case. Thus the
peas, and beans, and even the onions, did better, perhaps, on the top of
the crater, than they would have done in it; but the ochre, egg-plants,
melons, and two or three other seeds that they used, would probably
have succeeded better had they been placed in the warmest spots which
could be found. In one respect Mark made a good gardener. He knew that
moisture was indispensable to the growth of most plants, and had taken
care to put all his seeds into cavities, where the rain that fell (and
he had no reason to suppose that the dry season had yet set in) would
not run off and be wasted. On this point he manifested a good deal of
judgment, using his hoe in a way to avoid equally the danger of having
too much or too little water.

It was dinner-time before Mark and Betts were ready to quit the
'Summit,' as they now began to term the only height in their solitary
domains. Bob had foreseen the necessity of a shade, and had thrown an
old royal into the boat. With this, and two or three light spars, he
contrived to make a sort of canopy, down in the crater, beneath which he
and Mark dined, and took their siestas. While resting on a spare
studding-sail that had also been brought along, the mariners talked over
what they had done, and what it might be best to undertake next.

Thus far Mark had been working under a species of excitement, that was
probably natural enough to his situation, but which wanted the coolness
and discretion that are necessary to render our efforts the most
profitable to ourselves, or to others. Now, that the feverish feeling
which set him at work so early to make a provision against wants which,
at the worst, were merely problematical, had subsided, Mark began to see
that there remained many things to do, which were of even more pressing
necessity than anything yet done. Among the first of these there was the
perfect security of the ship. So long as she rode at a single anchor,
she could not be considered as absolutely safe; for a shift of wind
would cause her to swing against the 'sea-wall,' as he called the
natural breakwater outside of her, where, if not absolutely wrecked, she
might receive material damage. Prudence required, therefore, that the
ship should be moored, as well as anchored. Nevertheless, there was a
good deal of truth in what Mark had said touching the plants growing
while he and Bob were busy at other matters; and this thought, of
itself, formed a sufficient justification for what he had just done,
much as it had been done under present excitement. As they under the
shade of the royal, our mariners discussed these matters, and matured
some plans for the future.

At two o'clock Mark and Bob resumed their work. The latter suggested the
necessity of getting food and water ashore for the pigs, as an act that
humanity imperiously demanded of them; not humanity in the sense of
feeling for our kind, but in the sense in which we all ought to feel for
animal suffering, whether endured by man or beast. Mark assented as to
the food, but was of opinion a thunder shower was about to pass over the
reef. The weather certainly did wear this aspect, and Bob was content to
wait the result, in order to save himself unnecessary trouble. As for
the pigs, they were still in the crater rooting, as it might be for life
or death, though nothing edible had as yet rewarded them for their toil.
Perhaps they found it pleasant to be thrusting their noses into
something that resembled soil, after so long a confinement to the planks
of a ship. Seeing them at work in this manner, suggested to Mark to try
another experiment, which certainly looked far enough ahead, as if he
had no great hopes of getting off the island for years to come. Among
the seeds of Captain Crutchely were those of oranges, lemons, limes,
shaddocks, figs, and grapes; all plants well enough suited to the place,
if there were only soil to nourish them. Now, one of the hogs had been
rooting, as best he might, just under the wall, on the northern side of
the crater, making a long row of little hillocks, of earthy ashes, at
unequal distances it is true, but well enough disposed for the nature of
the different fruits, could they only be got to grow. Along this
irregular row of hillocks did Mark bury his seeds, willing to try an
experiment which might possibly benefit some other human being, if it
never did any good to himself. When this was done, he and Betts left the
crater, driving the hogs out before them.

Having made his plantation, Mark felt a natural desire to preserve it.
He got the royal, therefore, and succeeded in fastening it up as a
substitute for a gate, in their natural gate-way. Had the pigs met with
any success in rooting, it is not probable this slight obstacle would
have prevented their finding their way, again, into the cavity of the
crater; but, as it was, it proved all-sufficient, and the sail was
permitted to hang before the hole, until a more secure gate was
suspended in its stead.

The appearances of the thunder-shower were so much increased by this
time, that our mariners hastened back to the ship in order to escape a
ducking. They had hardly got on board before the gust came, a good deal
of water falling, though not in the torrents in which one sometimes sees
it stream down within the tropics. In an hour it was all over, the sun
coming out bright and scorching, after the passage of the gust. One
thing occurred, however, which at first caused both of the seamen a good
deal of uneasiness, and again showed them the necessity there was for
mooring the ship. The wind shifted from the ordinary direction of the
trades, during the squall, to a current of air that was nearly at right
angles to the customary course. This caused the ship to swing, and
brought her so near the sea-wall, that once or twice her side actually
rubbed against it. Mark was aware, by his previous sounding, that this
wall rather impended over its base, being a part of an old crater,
beyond a question, and that there was little danger of the vessel's
hitting the bottom, or taking harm in any other way than by friction
against the upper part; but this friction might become too rude, and
finally endanger the safety of the vessel.

As soon as the weather became fine, however, the trades returned, and
the ship swung round to her old berth. Bob now suggested the expediency
of carrying out their heaviest kedge ashore, of planting it in the
rocks, and of running out to it two or three parts of a hawser, to which
a line of planks might be lashed, and thus give them the means of
entering and quitting the ship, without having recourse to the dingui.
Mark approved of this plan, and, it requiring a raft to carry ashore the
kedge, the dingui being so light they were afraid to trust it, it was
decided to commence that work in the morning. For the rest of the
present day nothing further was done, beyond light and necessary jobs,
and continuing the examination of the island. Mark was curious to look
at the effect of the shower, both in reference to his plantations, and
to the quantity of fresh water that might have lodged on the reef. It
was determined, therefore, to pass an hour or two ashore before the
night shut in again.

Previously to quitting the ship, Bob spoke of the poultry. There were
but six hens, a cock, and five ducks, left. They were all as low in
flesh and spirits, as it was usual to find birds that have been at sea
fifty days, and the honest tar proposed turning them all adrift on the
reef, to make their own living in the best way they could. Now and then
a little food might be put in their way, but let them have a chance for
their lives. Mark assented at once, and the coops were opened. Each fowl
was carried to the taffrail, and tossed into the air, when it flew down
upon the reef, a distance of a couple of hundred feet, almost as a
matter of course. Glad enough were the poor things to be thus liberated.
To Mark's surprise, no sooner did they reach the reef, than to work they
went, and commenced picking up something with the greatest avidity, as
if let loose in the best supplied poultry-yard. Confident there was
nothing for even a hen to glean on the rocks when he left there, the
young man could not account for this, until turning his eyes inboard, he
saw the ducks doing the same thing on deck. Examining the food of these
last-mentioned animals, he found there were a great number of minute
mucilaginous particles on the deck, which no doubt had descended with
the late rain, and which all the birds, as well as the hogs, seemed
eager to devour. Here, then, was a supply, though a short-lived one, of
a manna suited to those creatures, which might render them happy for a
few hours, at least. Bob caught the ducks, and tossed them overboard,
when they floundered about and enjoyed themselves in a way that
communicated a certain pleasure even to the desolate and shipwrecked men
who had set them at liberty. Nothing with life now remained in the ship
but the goat, and Mark thought it best not to turn her ashore until they
had greater facilities for getting the necessary food to her than the
dingui afforded. As she was not likely to breed, there was no great use
in keeping this animal at all, to say nothing of the means of feeding
her, for any length of time; but Mark was unwilling to take her life,
since Providence had brought them all to that place in company. Then he
thought she might be a pretty object leaping about the cliffs of the
crater, giving the island a more lively and inhabited appearance, though
he foresaw she might prove very destructive to his plantations, did his
vegetables grow. As there was time enough to decide on her final fate,
it was finally settled she should be put ashore, and have a comfortable
fortnight, even though condemned to die at the end of that brief period.

On landing, every hole in the face of the cliff was found filled with
fresh water. Betts was of opinion that the water-casks might all be
filled with the water which was thus collected, the fluid having
seemingly all flowed into these receptacles, while little had gone into
the sea. This was encouraging for the future, at any rate; the want of
water, previously to this shower, appearing to Mark to be a more
probable occurrence than the want of food. The sea might furnish the
last, on an emergency, while it could do nothing with the first. But the
manner in which the ducks were enjoying themselves, in these fresh
pools, can scarcely be imagined! As Mark stood looking at them, a doubt
first suggested itself to his mind concerning the propriety of men's
doing anything that ran counter to their instincts, with any of the
creatures of God. Pet-birds in cages, birds that were created to fly,
had always been disagreeable to him; nor did he conceive it to be any
answer to say that they were born in cages, and had never known liberty.
They were created with an instinct for flight, and intense must be their
longings to indulge in the power which nature had bestowed on them. In
the cage in which he now found himself, though he could run, walk, leap,
swim, or do aught that nature designed him to do, in the way of mere
animal exploits, young Mark felt how bitter were the privations he was
condemned to suffer.

The rain had certainly done no harm, as yet, to the planting. All the
hills were entire, as Mark and Bob had left them, though well saturated
with water. In a few, there might be even too much of the element,
perhaps, but Mark observed that a tropical sun would soon remove that
objection. His great apprehension was that he had commenced his
gardening too late, and that the dry weather might set in too soon for
the good of his vegetables; if any of them, indeed, ever came up at all.
Here was one good soaking secured, at all events; and, knowing the
power of a tropical sun, Mark was of opinion that the fate of the great
experiment he had tried would soon be known. Could he succeed in
producing vegetation among the _debris_ of the crater, he and Bob might
find the means of subsistence during their natural lives; but, should
that resource fail them, all their hopes would depend on being able to
effect their escape in a craft of their own construction. In no case,
however, but that of the direst necessity, did Mark contemplate the
abandonment of his plan for getting back to the inhabited world, his
country, and his bride!

That night our mariners had a sounder sleep than they had yet been blest
with since the loss of their shipmates, and the accident to the vessel
itself. The two following days they passed in securing the ship. Bob
actually made a very respectable catamaran, or raft, out of the spare
spars, sawing the topmasts and lower yards in two, for that purpose, and
fastening them together with ingenuity and strength, by means of
lashings. But Mark hit upon an expedient for getting the two kedges
ashore, that prevented the necessity of having recourse to the raft on
that occasion. These kedges lay on the poop, where they were habitually
kept, and two men had no great difficulty in getting them over the
stern, suspended by stoppers. Now Mark had ascertained that the rock of
the Reef rose like a wall, being volcanic, like all the rest of the
formation, and that the ship could float almost anywhere alongside of
it. Aided by the rake of the stern of an old-fashioned Philadelphia-built
ship, nothing was easier than to veer upon the cable, let the vessel drop
in to the island, until the kedges actually hung over the rocks, and then
lower the last down. All this was done, and the raft was reserved for
other purposes. Notwithstanding the facility with which the kedges were
got ashore, it took Mark and Bob quite half a day to plant them in the
rock precisely where they were wanted. When this was accomplished,
however, it was so effectually done as to render the hold even greater
than that of the sheet-anchor. The stocks were not used at all, but the
kedges were laid flat on the rock, quite near to each other, and in such
a manner that the flukes were buried in crevices of the lava, giving a
most secure hold, while the shanks came out through natural grooves,
leading straight towards the ship. Six parts of a hawser were bent to
the kedges, three to each, and these parts were held at equal distances
by pieces of spars ingeniously placed between them, the whole being kept
in its place by regular stretchers that were lashed along the hawsers at
distances of ten feet, giving all the parts of the ropes the same level.
Before these stretchers were secured, the ship was hove ahead by her
cable, and the several parts of the hawser brought to an equal strain.
This left the vessel about a hundred feet from the island, a convenient,
and if the anchor held, a _safe_ position; though Mark felt little
fear of losing the ship against rocks that were so perpendicular and
smooth. On the stretchers planks were next laid and lashed, thus making
a clear passage between the vessel and the shore, that might be used at
all times, without recourse to the dingui; besides mooring the ship head
and stern, thereby keeping her always in the same place, and in the same

The business of securing the ship occupied nearly two days, and was not
got through with until about the middle of the afternoon of the second
day. It was Saturday, and Mark had determined to make a good beginning,
and keep all their Sabbaths, in future, as holy times, set apart for the
special service of the Creator. He had been born and educated an
Episcopalian, but Bob claimed to be a Quaker, and what was more he was a
little stiff in some of his notions on the opinion of his sect. The part
of New Jersey in which Betts was born, had many persons of this
religious persuasion, and he was not only born, but, in one sense,
educated in their midst; though the early age at which he went to sea
had very much unsettled his practice, much the most material part of the
tenets of these good persons. When the two knocked off work, Saturday
afternoon, therefore, it was with an understanding that the next day was
to be one of rest in the sense of Christians, and, from that time
henceforth, that the Sabbath was to be kept as a holy day. Mark had ever
been inclined to soberness of thought on such subjects. His early
engagement to Bridget had kept him from falling into the ways of most
mariners, and, time and again, had a future state of being been the
subject of discourse between him and his betrothed. As the seasons of
adversity are those in which men are the most apt to bethink them of
their duties to God, it is not at all surprising that one of this
disposition, thus situated, felt renewed demands on his gratitude and

While Mark, in this frame of mind, went rambling around his narrow
domains, Bob got the dingui, and proceeded with his fishing-tackle
towards some of the naked rocks, that lifted their caps above the
surface of the sea, in a north-westerly direction from the crater. Of
these naked rocks there were nearly twenty, all within a mile of the
crater, and the largest of them not containing more than six or eight
acres of dry surface. Some were less than a hundred feet in diameter.
The great extent and irregular formation of the reefs all around the
island, kept the water smooth, for some distance, on all sides of it;
and it was only when the rollers were sent in by heavy gales, that the
dingui could not move about, in this its proper sphere, in safety.

Betts was very fond of fishing, and could pass whole days, at a time, in
that quiet amusement, provided he had a sufficient supply of tobacco.
Indeed, one of the greatest consolations this man possessed, under the
present misfortune, was the ample store of this weed which was to be
found in the ship. Every man on board the Rancocus, Mark alone excepted,
made use of tobacco; and, for so long a voyage, the provision laid in
had been very abundant. On this occasion, Bob enjoyed his two favourite
occupations to satiety, masticating the weed while he fished.

With Mark it was very different. He was fond of his fowling-piece, but
of little use was that weapon in his present situation. Of all the birds
that frequented the adjacent rocks, not one was of a sort that would be
eaten, unless in cases of famine. As he walked over the island, that
afternoon, his companion was the goat, which had been driven ashore on
the new gangway, and was enjoying its liberty almost as much as the
ducks. As the animal frisked about him, accompanying him everywhere in
his walks. Mark was reminded of the goats of Crusoe, and his mind
naturally adverted to the different accounts of shipwrecks of which he
had read, and to a comparison between his own condition and those of
other mariners who had been obliged to make their homes, for a time, on
otherwise uninhabited islands.

In this comparison, Mark saw that many things made greatly against him,
on the one hand; while, on the other, there were many others for which
he had every reason to be profoundly grateful. In the first place, this
island was, as yet, totally without vegetation of every kind. It had
neither plant, shrub, nor tree. In this he suffered a great privation,
and it even remained to be proved by actual experiment, whether he was
master of what might be considered the elements of soil. It occurred to
him that something like vegetation must have shown itself, in or about
the crater, did its _debris_ contain the fertilizing principle, Mark not
being sufficiently versed in the new science of chemical agriculture, to
understand that the admixtures of certain elements might bring to life
forces that then were dormant. Then the Reef had no water. This was a
very, very great privation, the most serious of all, and might prove to
be a terrible calamity. It is true that, just at that moment, there was
a shower every day, and sometimes two or three of them; but it was then
spring, and there could be little reason to doubt that droughts would
come in the hot and dry season. As a last objection, the Reef had no
great extent, and no variety, the eye taking it all in at a glance,
while the crater was its sole relief against the dullest monotony. Nor
was there a bit of wood, or fuel of any sort to cook with, after the
supply now in the ship should be exhausted. Such were the leading
disadvantages of the situation in which our mariners were placed, as
compared with those into which most other shipwrecked seamen had been

The advantages, on the other hand, Mark, in humble gratitude to God,
admitted to be very great. In the first place, the ship and all she
contained was preserved, giving them a dwelling, clothes, food and
water, as well as fuel, for a long time to come; possibly, aided by what
might be gleaned on even that naked reef, sufficient to meet all their
wants for the duration of a human life. The cargo of the Rancocus was
of no great extent, and of little value in a civilized country; but Mark
knew that it included many articles that would be of vast service where
he was. The beads and coarse trinkets with which it had been intended to
trade with the savages, were of no use whatever, it is true; but the
ship's owners were pains-taking and thoughtful Quakers, as has been
already intimated, who blended with great shrewdness in the management
of their worldly affairs, a certain regard to benevolence in general,
and a desire to benefit their species. On this principle, they had
caused a portion of their cargo to be made up, sending, in addition to
all the ruder and commoner tools, that could be used by a people without
domestic animals, a small supply of rugs, coarse clothes, coarse
earthen-ware, and a hundred similar things, that would be very
serviceable to any who knew how to use them. Most of the seeds came from
these thoughtful merchants.

If fresh water were absolutely wanting on the reef, it rained a good
deal; in the rainy season it must rain for a few weeks almost
incessantly, and the numerous cavities in the ancient lava, formed
natural cisterns of great capacity. By taking the precaution of filling
up the water-casks of the ship, periodically, there was little danger of
suffering for the want of this great requisite. It is true, the sweet,
cool, grateful draught, that was to be got from the gushing spring, must
be forgotten; but rain-water collected in clean rock, and preserved in
well-sweetened casks, was very tolerable drinking for seamen. Captain
Crutchely, moreover, had a filterer for the cabin, and through it all
the water used there was habitually passed.

In striking the balance between the advantages and disadvantages of his
own situation, as compared with that of other shipwrecked mariners, Mark
confessed that he had quite as much reason to be grateful as to repine.
The last he was resolved not to do, if possible; and he pursued his walk
in a more calm and resigned mood than he had been in since the ship
entered among the shoals.

Mark, naturally enough, cast his eyes around him, and asked himself the
question what was to be done with the domestic animals they had now all
landed. The hogs might, or might not be of the greatest importance to
them as their residence on the island was or was not protracted, and as
they found the means of feeding them. There was still food enough in the
ship to keep these creatures for some months, and food that had been
especially laid in for that purpose; but that food would serve equally
well for the fowls, and our young man was of opinion, that eggs would be
of more importance to himself and Betts, than hog's flesh. Then there
was the goat; she would soon cease to be of any use at all, and green
food was not to be had for her. A little hay, however, remained; and
Mark was fully determined that Kitty, as the playful little thing was
called, should live at least as long as that lasted. She was fortunate
in being content with a nourishment that no other animal wanted.

Mark could see absolutely nothing on the rocks for a bird to live on,
yet were the fowls constantly picking up something. They probably found
insects that escaped his sight; while it was certain that the ducks were
revelling in the pools of fresh water, of which there might, at that
moment, have been a hundred on the reef. As all these creatures were, as
yet, regularly fed from the supplies in the ship, each seemed to be
filled with the joy of existence; and Mark, as he walked among them,
felt how profound ought to be his own gratitude, since he was still in a
state of being which admitted of a consciousness of happiness so much
beyond anything that was known to the inferior animals of creation. He
had his mind, with all its stores gathered from study and observation,
his love for God, and his hopes of a blessed future, ever at command.
Even his love for Bridget had its sweets, as well as its sorrows. It was
grateful to think of her tenderness to himself, her beauty, her
constancy, of which he would not for a moment doubt, and of all the
innocent and delightful converse they had had during a courtship that
occupied so much of their brief lives.

Just as the sun was setting, Bob returned from his fishing excursion. To
Mark's surprise, he saw that the dingui floated almost with her
gunwale-to, and he hastened down to meet his friend, who came ashore in
a little bay, quite near the gate-way, and in which the rock did not
rise as much like a wall as it did on most of the exterior of the reef.
Bob had caught about a dozen fish, some of which were of considerable
size, though all were of either species or varieties that were unknown
to them both. Selecting two of the most promising-looking, for their own
use, he threw the others on the rocks, where the pigs and poultry might
give them a trial. Nor was it long before these creatures were hard at
work on them, disregarding the scales and fins. At first the hens were a
little delicate, probably from having found animal food enough for their
present wants in the insects; but, long before the game was demolished,
they had come in for their full share. This experiment satisfied the
mariners that there would be no difficulty in furnishing plenty of food
for all their stock, and for any length of time, Kitty excepted. It is
true, the pork and the poultry would be somewhat fishy; but that would
be a novelty, and should it prove disagreeable on tasting it, a little
clean feeding, at the proper moment, would correct the flavour.

But the principal cargo of the dingui was not the dozen fish mentioned.
Bob had nearly filled the boat with a sort of vegetable loam, that he
had found lodged in the cavity of one of the largest rocks, and which,
from the signs around the place, he supposed to have been formed by
deposits of sea-weed. By an accident of nature, this cavity in the rock
received a current, which carried large quantities of floating weed
_into_ it, while every storm probably had added to its stores since the
mass had risen above the common level of the sea, by throwing fresh
materials on to the pile, by means of the waves, nothing quitting it.
Bob reported that there were no signs of vegetation around the rock,
which circumstance, however, was easily enough accounted for by the salt
water that was incessantly moistening the surface, and which, while it
took with it the principle of future, was certain to destroy all
present, vegetable life; or, all but that which belongs exclusively to
aquatic plants.

"How much of this muck do you suppose is to be found on your rock, Bob?"
asked Mark, after he had examined the dingui's cargo, by sight, taste,
and smell. "If is surprisingly like a rich earth, if it be not actually

"Lord bless you, Mr. Mark, there is enough on't to fill the old 'Cocus,
ag'in and ag'in. How deep it is, I don't pretend to know; but it's a
good hundred paces across it, and the spot is as round as that there
chimbly, that you call a cr'ature."

"If that be the case, we will try our hands at it next week, and see
what can be done with an importation. I do not give up the blessed hope
of the boat, Bob--that you will always bear in mind--but it is best to
keep an eye on the means of living, should it please God to prevent our
getting to sea again."

"To sea, Mr. Mark, neither you nor I, nor any mortal man will ever get,
in the old 'Cocus ag'in, as I know by the looks of things outside of us.
'Twill never do to plant in my patch, however, for the salt water must
wash it whenever it blows; though a very little work, too, might keep it
out, when I come to think on it. Sparrow-grass would grow there, as it
is, desperately well; and Friend Abraham White had both seeds and roots
put up for the use of the savages, if a body only know'd whereabouts to
look for them, among the lot of rubbish of that sort, that he sent

"All the seeds and roots are in two or three boxes, in the steerage,"
answered Mark. "I'll just step up to the crater and bring a shovel, to
throw this loam out of the boat with, while you can clean the fish and
cook the supper. A little fresh food, after so much salt, will be both
pleasant and good for us."

Bob assented, and each went his way. Mark threw the loam into a
wheelbarrow, of which Friend Abraham had put no less than three in the
ship, as presents to the savages, and he wheeled it, at two or three
loads, into the crater, where he threw it down in a pile, intending to
make a compost heap of all the materials of the sort he could lay his
hands on.

As for Bob he cleaned both fish, taking them on board the ship to do so.
He put the largest and coarsest into the coppers, after cutting it up,
mixing with it onions, pork, and ship's bread, intending to start a fire
beneath it early in the morning, and cook a sort of chowder. The other
he fried, Mark and he making a most grateful meal on it, that evening.

Chapter VII.

"Be thou at peace!--Th' all-seeing eye,
Pervading earth, and air, and sky,
The searching glance which none may flee,
Is still, in mercy, turn'd on thee."

Mrs. Hemans.

The Sabbath ever dawns on the piously-inclined, with hope and a devout
gratitude to the Creator for all his mercies. This is more apt to be the
case in genial seasons, and rural abodes, perhaps, than amidst the
haunts of men, and when the thoughts are diverted from the proper
channels by the presence of persons around us. Still greater is the
influence of absolute solitude, and that increased by the knowledge of a
direct and visible dependence on the Providence of God, for the means of
even prolonging existence. In the world, men lose sight of this
dependence, fancying themselves and their powers of more account than
the truth would warrant, and even forgetting whence these very boasted
powers are derived; but man, when alone, and in critical circumstances,
is made to feel that he is not sufficient for his own wants, and turns
with humility and hope to the divine hand that upholds him.

With feelings of this character, did Mark and Betts keep their first
Sabbath on the reef. The former read the morning service, from beginning
to end, while the latter sat by, an attentive listener. The only proof
given of any difference in religious faith between our mariners, was of
so singular a nature as to merit notice. Notwithstanding Bob's early
familiarity with Mark, his greater age, and the sort of community of
feeling and interest created by their common misfortune, the former had
not ceased to treat the last with the respect due to his office. This
deference never deserted him, and he had riot once since the ship was
embayed, entered the cabin without pulling off his hat As soon as church
commenced, however, Bob resumed his tarpaulin, as a sort of sign of his
own orthodoxy in the faith of his fathers; making it a point to do as
they had done in meeting, and slightly concerned lest his companion
might fall into the error of supposing he was a man likely to be
converted. Mark also observed that, in the course of that Sabbath, Bob
used the pronouns 'thee' and 'thou,' on two or three occasions, sounding
oddly enough in the mouth of the old salt.

Well did both our mariners prove the efficacy of the divine provision of
a day of rest, in a spiritual sense, on the occasion of this their first
Sabbath on the reef. Mark felt far more resigned to his fate than he
could have believed possible, while Betts declared that he should be
absolutely happy, had he only a better boat than the dingui; not that
the dingui was at all a bad craft of its kind, but it wanted size. After
the religious services, for which both our mariners had shaved and
dressed, they took a walk together, on the reef, conversing of their
situation and future proceedings. Bob then told Mark, for the first
time, that, in his opinion, there was the frame and the other materials
of a pinnace, or a large boat, somewhere in the hold, which it was
intended to put together, when the ship reached the islands, as a
convenience for cruising about among them to trade with the savages, and
to transport sandal-wood. The mate had never heard of this boat, but
acknowledged that a part of the hold-had been stowed while he was up at
Bristol, and it might have been taken in then. Bob confessed that he had
never seen it, though he had worked in the stevedore's gang; but was
confident he had heard Friend Abraham White and Captain Crutchely
talking of its dimensions and uses. According to his recollection it was
to be a boat considerably larger than the launch, and to be fitted with
masts and sails, and to have a half-deck. Mark listened to ah1 this
patiently, though he firmly believed that the honest fellow was
deceiving himself the whole time. Such a craft could scarcely be in the
ship, and he not hear of it, if he did not actually see it; though he
thought it possible that the captain and owners may have had some such
plan in contemplation, and conversed together on it, in Betts's
presence. As there were plenty of tools on board, however, by using
stuff of one sort or another, that was to be found in the ship, Mark
had strong hopes of their being able, between them, to construct, in the
course of time--though he believed a long time might be necessary--a
craft of some sort, that should be of sufficient stability to withstand
the billows of that ordinarily mild sea, and enable them to return to
their homes and friends. In conversing of things of this sort, in
religious observances, and in speculating on the probable fate of their
shipmates, did our mariners pass this holy day. Bob was sensibly
impressed with the pause in their ordinary pursuits, and lent himself to
the proper feelings of the occasion with a zeal and simplicity that gave
Mark great satisfaction; for, hitherto, while aware that his friend was
as honest a fellow as ever lived, in the common acceptation of such a
phrase, he had not supposed him in the least susceptible of religious
impressions. But the world had suddenly lost its hold on Betts, the
barrier offered by the vast waters of the Pacific, being almost as
impassable, in his actual circumstances, as that of the grave; and the
human heart turns to God in its direst distress, as to the only being
who can administer relief. It is when men are prosperous that they
vainly imagine they are sufficient for their own wants, and are most apt
to neglect the hand that alone can give durable support.

The following morning our mariners resumed their more worldly duties
with renewed powers. While the kettle was boiling for their tea, they
rolled ashore a couple of empty water-casks, and filled them with fresh
water, at one of the largest natural reservoirs on the reef; it having
rained hard in the night. After breakfast, Mark walked round to examine
his piles of loam, in the crater, while Bob pulled away in the dingui,
to catch a few fish, and to get a new cargo of the earth; it being the
intention of Mark to join him at the next trip, with the raft, which
required some little arranging, however, previously to its being used
for such a purpose. The rain of the past night had thoroughly, washed
the pile of earth, and, on tasting it. Mark was convinced that much of
the salt it contained had been carried off. This encouraged him to
persevere in his gardening projects. As yet, the spring had only just
commenced, and he was in hopes of being able to prepare one bed, at
least, in time to obtain useful vegetables from it.

The Rancocus had a great many planks and boards in her hold, a part of
the ample provision made by her owners for the peculiar voyage on which
she had been sent. Of real cargo, indeed, she had very little, the
commerce between the civilized man and the savage being ordinarily on
those great principles of Free Trade, of which so much is said of late
years, while so little is understood, and which usually give the lion's
share of the profit to them who need it least. With some of these
planks, Mark made a staging for his raft. By the time he was ready, Bob
returned with a load of loam, and, on the next outward voyage, the raft
was taken as well as the dingui. Mark had fitted pins and grummets, by
which the raft was rowed, he and Bob impelling it, when light, very
easily at the rate of two miles in the hour.

Mark found Betts's deposit of decayed vegetable matter even larger and
more accessible than he had hoped for. A hundred loads might be got
without even using a wheelbarrow; and to all appearances there was
enough of it to give a heavy dressing to many acres, possibly to the
whole area of the crater. The first thing the young man did was to
choose a suitable place, dig it well up, mixing a sufficiency of guano
with it, agreeably to Betts's directions, and then to put in some of his
asparagus roots. After this he scattered a quantity of the seed, raking
the ground well after sowing. By the time this was done, Bob had both
dingui and raft loaded, when they pulled the last back to the reef,
towing the boat. In this manner our two mariners continued to work most
of the time, for the next fortnight, making, daily, more or less trips
to the 'loam-rock,' as they called the place where this precious deposit
had been made; though they neglected none of their other necessary
duties. As the distance was short, they could come and go many times in
a day, transporting at each trip about as much of the loam as would make
an ordinary American cart-load of manure. In the whole, by Mark's
computation, they got across about fifty of these cargoes, in the course
of their twelve days' work. The entire day, however, was on no occasion
given up wholly to this pursuit. On the contrary, many little odd tasks
wore completed, which were set by their necessities, or by fore thought
and prudence. All the empty water-casks, for one thing, were rolled
ashore, and filled at the largest pool; the frequency of the rains
admonishing them of the wisdom of making a provision for the dry season.
The Rancocus had a good deal of water still left in her, some of it
being excellent Delaware river water, though she had filled up at
Valparaiso, after passing the Horn. Mark counted the full casks, and
allowing ten gallons a day for Bob and himself, a good deal more than
could be wanted, there remained in the ship fresh water enough to last
them two years. It is true, it was not such water as the palate often
craved of a warm day; but they were accustomed to it, and it was sweet.
By keeping it altogether between decks, the sun had no power on it, and
it was even more palatable than might have been supposed. Mark
occasionally longed for one good drink at some gushing spring that he
remembered at home, it is true; and Bob was a little in the habit of
extolling a particular well that, it would seem, his family were reputed
to have used for several generations. Notwithstanding these little
natural backslidings on this subject, our mariners might be thought well
off on the score of water, having it in great abundance, and with no
reasonable fear of ever losing it altogether. The casks taken ashore
were filled for their preservation, as well as for convenience, an old
sail being spread over them, after they were rolled together and
chocked. As yet, no water was given to any of the stock, all the animals
finding it in abundance, in the cavities of the lava.

Some of the time, moreover, Betts passed in fishing, supplying not only
Mark and himself, but the pigs and the poultry, with as much food as was
desired. Several of the fish caught turned out to be delicious, while
others were of a quality that caused them to be thrown into the compost
heap. A cargo of guano was also imported, the rich manure being mixed up
in liberal quantities with the loam. At the end of the first week of
these voyages to 'loam-rock,' Betts went out to fish in a new direction,
passing to windward of the 'sea-wall,' as they called the reef that
protected the ship, and pulling towards a bit of naked rock a short
distance beyond it, where he fancied he might find a particular sort of
little fish, that greatly resembled the Norfolk Hog-fish, one of the
most delicious little creatures for the pan that is to be found in all
the finny tribe. He had been gone a couple of hours, when Mark, who was
at work within the crater, picking up the encrusted ashes that formed
its surface, heard Bob's shout outside, as if he wished assistance.
Throwing down the pick, our young man ran out, and was not a little
surprised to see the sort of cargo with which Bob was returning to port.
It would seem that a great collection of sea-weed had formed to windward
of the rock where Bob had gone to fish, at which spot it ordinarily
gathered in a pile until the heap became too large to lodge any longer,
when, owing to the form of the rock, it invariably broke adrift, and
passed to the southward of the Reef, floating to leeward, to fetch up on
some other rock, or island, in that direction. Bob had managed to get
this raft round a particular point in the reef, when the wind and
current carried it, as near as might be, directly towards the crater. He
was calling to Mark to come to his assistance, to help get the raft into
a sort of bay, ahead of him, where it might be lodged; else would there
be the danger of its drifting past the Reef, after all his pains. Our
young man saw, at once, what was wanted, got a line, succeeded in
throwing it to Bob, and by hauling upon it brought the whole mass ashore
in the very spot Betts wished to see it landed.

This sea-weed proved to be a great acquisition on more accounts than
one. There was as much of it in quantity as would have made two
good-sized loads of hay. Then, many small shell-fish were found among
it, which the pigs and poultry ate with avidity. It also contained
seeds, that the fowls picked up as readily as if it had been corn. The
hogs moreover masticated a good deal of the weed, and poor Kitty, the
only one of the domestic animals on the Reef that was not now living to
its heart's content, nibbled at it, with a species of half-doubting
faith in its salubrity. Although it was getting to be late in the
afternoon, Mark and Bob got two of Friend Abraham White's pitchforks
(for the worthy Quaker had sent these, among other implements of
husbandry, as a peace-offering to the Fejee savages), and went to work
with a hearty good-will, landed all this weed, loaded it up, and wheeled
it into the crater, leaving just enough outside to satisfy the pigs and
the poultry. This task concluded the first week of the labour already

At the termination of the second week, Mark and Betts held a council on
the subject of their future proceedings. At this consultation it was
decided that it would be better to finish the picking up of a
considerable plot of ground, one of at least half an acre in extent,
that was already commenced, within the crater, scatter their compost
over it, and spade all up together, and plant, mixing in as much of the
sea-weed as they could conveniently spade under. Nothwithstanding their
success in finding the loam, and this last discovery of a means of
getting sea-weed in large supplies to the Reef, Mark was not very
sanguine of success in his gardening. The loam appeared to him to be
cold and sour, as well as salt, though a good deal freshened by the rain
since it was put in the crater; and he knew nothing of the effects of
guano, except through the somewhat confused accounts of Bob. Then the
plain of the crater offered nothing beside a coarse and shelly ashes.
These ashes were deep enough for any agricultural purpose, it is true,
for Mark could work a crowbar down into them its entire length; but they
appeared to him to be totally wanting in the fertilizing principle. Nor
could he account for the absence of everything like vegetation, on or
about the reef, if the elements of plants of any sort were to be found
in the substances of which it was composed. He had read, however, that
the territory around active volcanoes, and which was far enough removed
from the vent to escape from the destruction caused by lava, scoriae and
heat, was usually highly fertile, in consequence of the ashes and
impalpable dust that was scattered in the air; but seeing no proofs of
any such fertility here, he supposed that the adjacent sea had swallowed
up whatever there might have been of these bountiful gifts. With these
impressions, it is not surprising that Mark was disposed to satisfy
himself with a moderate beginning, in preference to throwing away time
and labour in endeavouring to produce resources which after all would
fail them.

Mark's plan, as laid before his companion, on the occasion of the
council mentioned, was briefly this:--He proposed to pass the next month
in preparing the half-acre they had commenced upon, and in getting in
seed; after which they could do no more than trust their husbandry to
Providence and the seasons. As soon as done with the tillage, it was his
idea that they ought to overhaul the ship thoroughly, ascertain what was
actually in her, and, if the materials of the boat mentioned by Betts
were really to be found, to set that craft up as soon as possible, and
to get it into the water. Should they not find the frame and planks of
the pinnace, as Betts seemed to think they would, they must go to work
and get out the best frame they could themselves, and construct such a
craft as their own skill could contrive. After building such a boat, it
was Mark's opinion that he and Bob could navigate her across that
tranquil ocean, until they reached the coast of South America, or some
of the islands that were known to be friendly to the white man; for,
fifty yearns ago, it will be remembered, we did not possess the same
knowledge of the Pacific that we possess to-day, and mariners did not
trust themselves always with confidence among the natives of its
islands. With this plan pretty well sketched out, then, our mariners saw
the first month of their captivity among the unknown reefs of this
remote quarter of the world, draw to its close.

Mark was a little surprised by a proposal that he received from Bob,
next morning, which was the Sabbath, of course. "Friends have monthly
meetings," Betts observed, "and he thought they ought to set up some
such day on the Reef. He was willing to keep Christmas, if Mark saw fit,
but rather wished to pay proper respect to all the festivals and
observances of Friends." Mark was secretly amused with this proposition,
even while it pleased him. The monthly meeting of the Quakers was for
the secular part of church business, as much as for the purposes of
religious worship; and Bob having all those concerns in his own hands,
it was not so easy to see how a stated day was to aid him any in
carrying out his church government. But Mark understood the feeling
which dictated this request, and was disposed to deal gently by it.
Betts was becoming daily more and more conscious of his dependence on a
Divine Providence, in the situation in which he was thrown; and his
mind, as well as his feelings, naturally enough reverted to early
impressions and habits, in their search for present relief. Bob had not
the clearest notions of either the theory or practice of his sect, but
he remembered much of the last, and believed he should be acting right
by conforming as closely as possible to the 'usages of Friends,' Mark
promised to take the matter into consideration, and to come to some
decision on it, at an early day.

The following Monday it rained nearly the whole morning, confining our
mariners to the ship. They took that occasion to overhaul the
''twixt-deck' more thoroughly than had yet been done, and particularly
to give the seed-boxes a close examination. Much of the lumber, and most
of the tools too, were stowed on this deck, and something like a survey
was also made of them. The frame and other materials of the pinnace were
looked for, in addition, but without any success. If in the ship at all,
they were certainly not betwixt decks. Mark was still of opinion no such
articles would ever be found; but Betts insisted on the conversation he
had overheard, and on his having rightly understood it. The provision of
tools was very ample, and, in some respects, a little exaggerated in the
way of Friend White's expectations of civilizing the people of Fejee. It
may be well, here, to say a word concerning the reason that the Rancocus
contained so many of these tributes to civilization. The voyage of the
ship, it will be remembered, was in quest of sandal-wood. This
sandal-wood was to be carried to Canton and sold, and a cargo of teas
taken in with the avails. Now, sandal-wood was supposed to be used for
the purposes of idolatry, being said to be burned before the gods of
that heathenish people, Idolatry being one of the chiefest of all sins,
Friend Abraham White had many compunctions and misgivings of conscience
touching the propriety of embarking in the trade at all. It was true,
that our knowledge of the Chinese customs did not extend far enough to
render it certain that the wood was used for the purpose of burning
before idols, some pretending it was made into ornamental furniture; but
Friend Abraham White had heard the first, and was disposed to provide a
set-off, in the event of the report's being true, by endeavouring to do
something towards the civilization of the heathen. Had he been a
Presbyterian merchant, of a religious turn, it is probable a quantity of
tracts would have been made to answer the purpose; but, belonging to a
sect whose practice was generally as perfect as its theory is imperfect,
Friend Abraham White's conscience was not to be satisfied with any such
shallow contrivance. It is true that he expected to make many thousands
of dollars by the voyage, and doubtless would so have done, had not the
accident befallen the ship, or had poor Captain Crutchely drank less in
honour of his wedding-day; but the investment in tools, seeds, pigs,
wheelbarrows, and other matters, honestly intended to better the
condition of the natives of Vanua Levu and Viti Levu, did not amount to
a single cent less than one thousand dollars, lawful money of the

In looking over the packages, Mark found white clover seed, and Timothy
seed, among other things, in sufficient quantity to cover most of the
mount of the crater. The weather temporarily clearing off, he called to
Bob, and they went ashore together, Mark carrying some of the grass seed
in a pail, while. Betts followed with a vessel to hold guano. Providing
a quantity of the last from a barrel that had been previously filled
with it, and covered to protect it from the rain, they clambered up the
side of the crater. This was the first time either had ascended since
the day they finished planting there, and Mark approached his hills with
a good deal of freshly-revived interest in their fate. From _them_ he
expected very little, having had no loam to mix with the ashes; but, by
dwelling so much of late on the subject of tillage, he was not without
faint hopes of meeting with some little reward for the pains he had
taken. The reader will judge of the rapture then, as well as of the
surprise, with which he first saw a hill of melons, already in the
fourth leaf. Here, then, was the great problem successfully solved.
Vegetation had actually commenced on that hitherto barren mount, and the
spot which had lain--how long, Mark knew not, but probably for a
thousand years, if not for thousands of years, in its nakedness--was
about to be covered with verdure, and blest with fruitfulness. The inert
principles which, brought to act together; had produced this sudden
change from barrenness to fertility, had probably been near neighbours
to each other all that time, but had failed of bringing forth their
fruits, for the want of absolute contact. So Mark reasoned, for he
nothing doubted that it was Betts's guano that had stimulated the
otherwise barren deposit of the volcano, and caused his seed to
germinate. The tillage may have aided, as well as the admission of air,
light and water; but something more than this, our young gardener
fancied, was wanting to success. That something the manure of birds,
meliorated and altered by time, had supplied, and lo! the glorious
results were before his eyes.

It would not be easy to portray to the reader all the delight which
these specks of incipient verdure conveyed to the mind of Mark Woolston.
It far exceeded the joy that would be apt to be awakened by a relief
from an apprehension of wanting food at a distant day, for it resembled
something of the character of a new creation. He went from hill to hill,
and everywhere did he discover plants, some just peeping through the
ashes, others already in leaf, and all seemingly growing and thriving.
Fortunately, Kitty had not been on the mount for the last fortnight, her
acquired habits, and the total nakedness of the hills, having kept her
below with the other animals, since her first visits. Mark saw the
necessity of keeping her off the elevation, which she would certainly
climb the instant anything like verdure caught her eyes from below. He
determined, therefore, to confine her to the ship, until he had taken
the precautions necessary to prevent her ascending the mount. This last
was easily enough done. On the exterior of the hills there were but
three places where even a goat could get up. This was owing to the
circumstance that the base of the ascent rose like a wall, for some ten
or twelve feet, everywhere but at the three points mentioned. It
appeared to Mark as if the sea had formerly washed around the crater,
giving this form to its bottom for so wall-like was the rock for these
ten or twelve feet, that it would have defied the efforts of a man for
a long time, to overcome the difficulties of the ascent. At two of the
places where the _debris_ had made a rough footing, half an hour's work
would remove the material, and leave these spots as impassable as the
others. At the third point, it might require a good deal of labor to
effect the object. At this last place, Mark told Betts it would be
necessary, for the moment, to make some sort of a fence. Within the
crater, it was equally difficult to ascend, except at one or two places;
but these ascents our mariners thought of improving, by making steps, as
the animals were effectually excluded from the plain within by means of
the sail which served for a curtain at the gateway, or hole of entrance.

As soon as Mark had recovered a little from his first surprise, he sent
Bob below to bring up some buckets filled with the earth brought from
Loam Rock, or island. This soil was laid carefully around each of the
plants, the two working alternately at the task, until a bucket-full had
been laid in each hill. Mark did not know it at the time, but subsequent
experience gave him reason to suspect, that this forethought saved most
of his favourites from premature deaths. Seed might germinate, and the
plants shoot luxuriantly from out of the ashes of the volcano, under the
united influence of the sun and rains, in that low latitude, but it was
questionable whether the nourishment to be derived from such a soil, if
soil it could yet be called, would prove to be sufficient to sustain the
plants when they got to be of an age and size to demand all the support
they wanted. So convinced did Mark become, as the season advanced, of
the prudence of what he then did out of a mere impulse, that he passed
hours, subsequently, in raising loam to the summit of the mount, in
order to place it in the different hills. For this purpose, Bob rigged a
little derrick, and fitted a whip, so that the buckets were whipped up,
sailor-fashion, after two or three experiments made in lugging them up
by hand had suggested to the honest fellow that there might be a cheaper
mode of obtaining their wishes.

When Mark was temporarily satisfied with gazing at his new-found
treasures, he went to work to scatter the grass stood over the summit
and sides of the crater. Inside, there was not much motive for sowing
anything, the rock being so nearly perpendicular; but on the outside of
the hill, or 'mountain,' as Bob invariably called it, the first ten or
twelve feet excepted, there could be no obstacle to the seeds taking;
though from the want of soil much of it, Mark knew, must be lost; but,
if it only took in spots, and gave him a few green patches for the eye
to rest on, he felt he should be amply rewarded for his trouble. Bob
scattered guano wherever he scattered grass-seed, and in this way they
walked entirely round the crater, Mark using up at least half of Friend
Abraham White's provision in behalf of the savages of Fejee, in the way
of the grasses. A gentle soft rain soon came to moisten this seed, and
to embed it with whatever there was of soil on the surface, giving it
every chance to take root that circumstances would allow.

This preliminary step taken towards covering the face of the mount with
verdure, our mariners went to work to lay out their garden, regularly,
within the crater. Mark manifested a good deal of ingenuity in this
matter. With occasional exceptions the surface of the plain, or the
bottom of the crater, was an even crust of no great thickness, compared
of concrete ashes, scoriae &c., but which might have borne the weight of
a loaded wagon. This crust once broken, which it was not very difficult
to do by means of pick and crows, the materials beneath were found loose
enough for the purposes of agriculture, almost without using the spade.
Now, space being abundant, Mark drew lines, in fanciful and winding
paths, leaving the crust for his walks, and only breaking into the loose
materials beneath, wherever he wished to form a bed. This variety served
to amuse him and Betts, and they worked with so much the greater zeal,
as their labours produced objects that were agreeable to the eye, and
which amused them now, while they promised to benefit them hereafter. As
each bed, whether oval, winding or straight, was dug, the loam and
sea-weed was mixed up in it, in great abundance, after which it was
sown, or planted.

Mark was fully aware that many of Friend Abraham White's seeds, if they
grew and brought their fruits to maturity, would necessarily change
their properties in that climate; some for the worse, and others for the
better. From the Irish potato, the cabbage, and most of the more
northern vegetables, he did not expect much, under any circumstances;
but, he thought he would try all, and having several regularly assorted
boxes of garden-seeds, just as they had been purchased out of the shops
of Philadelphia, his garden scarce wanted any plant that was then known
to the kitchens of America.

Our mariners were quite a fortnight preparing, manuring, and sowing
their _parterre_, which, when complete, occupied fully half an acre in
the very centre of the crater, Mark intending it for the nucleus of
future similar works, that might convert the whole hundred acres into a
garden. By the time the work was done, the rains were less frequent,
though it still came in showers, and those that were still more
favourable to vegetation. In that fortnight the plants on the mount had
made great advances, showing the exuberance and growth of a tropical
climate. It sometimes, nay, it often happens, that when the sun is the
most genial for vegetation, moisture is wanting to aid its power, and,
in some respects, to counteract its influence. These long and periodical
droughts, however, are not so much owing to heat as to other and local
causes, Mark now began to hope, as the spring advanced, that his little
territory was to be exempt, in a great measure, from the curse of
droughts, the trades, and some other causes that to him were unknown,
bringing clouds so often that not only shed their rain upon his garden,
but which served in a great measure to mitigate a heat that, without
shade of some sort or other, would be really intolerable.

With a view to the approaching summer, our mariners turned their
attention to the constructing of a tent within the crater. They got some
old sails and some spars ashore, and soon had a spacious, as well as a
comfortable habitation of this sort erected. Not only did they spread a
spacious tent for themselves, within the crater, but they erected
another, or a sort of canopy rather, on its outside, for the use of the
animals, which took refuge beneath it, during the heats of the day, with
an avidity that proved how welcome it was. This outside shed, or canopy,
required a good deal of care in its construction, to resist the wind,
while that inside scarce ever felt the breeze. This want of wind, or of
air in motion, indeed, formed the most serious objection to the crater,
as a place of residence, in the hot months; and the want of breeze that
was suffered in the tent, set Mark to work to devise expedients for
building some sort of tent, or habitation, on the in net itself, where
it would be always cool, provided one could get a protection from the
fierce rays of the sun.

After a good deal of search, Mark selected a spot on the 'Summit,' as he
began to term the place, and pitched his tent on, it. Holes were made in
the soft rocks, and pieces of spars were inserted, to answer for posts.
With a commencement as solid as this, it was not difficult to make the
walls of the tent (or marquee would be the better word, since both
habitations had nearly upright sides) by means of an old fore-course. In
order to get the canvas up there, however, it was found necessary to cut
out the pieces below, when, by means of the purchase at the derrick, it
was all hoisted to the Summit.

These several arrangements occupied Mark and Bob another fortnight,
completing the first quarter of a year they had passed on the Reef. By
this time they had got accustomed to their situation, and had fallen
into regular courses of duty, though the increasing heats admonished
both of the prudence of not exposing themselves too much beneath the
fiery sun at noon-day.

Chapter VIII.

"Now from the full-grown day a beamy shower
Gleams on the lake, and gilds each glossy flower,
Gay insects sparkle in the genial blaze,
Various as light, and countless as its rays--
Now, from yon range of rocks, strong rays rebound,
Doubling the day on flowery plains around."


After the tent on the Summit was erected, Mark passed much of his
leisure time there. Thither he conveyed many of his books, of which he
had a very respectable collection, his flute, and a portion of his
writing materials. There he could sit and watch the growth of the
different vegetables he was cultivating. As for Bob, he fished a good
deal, both in the way of supplies and for his amusement. The pigs and
poultry fared well, and everything seemed to thrive but poor Kitty. She
loved to follow Mark, and cast many a longing look up at the Summit,
whenever she saw him strolling about among his plants.

The vegetables on the Summit, or those first put into the ground,
flourished surprisingly. Loam had been added repeatedly, and they wanted
for nothing that could bring forward vegetation. The melons soon began
to run, as did the cucumbers, squashes, and pumpkins; and by the end of
the next month, there were a dozen large patches on the mount that were
covered by a dense verdure. Nor was this all; Mark making a discovery
about this time, that afforded him almost as, much happiness as when he
first saw his melons in leaf. He was seated one day, with the walls of
his tent brailed up, in order to allow the wind to blow through, when
something dark on the rock caught his eye. This spot was some little
distance from him, and going to it, he found that large quantities of
his grass-seed had actually taken! Now he might hope to convert that
barren-looking, and often glaring rock, into a beautiful grassy hill,
and render that which was sometimes painful to the eyes, a pleasure to
look upon. The young man understood the laws of vegetation well enough
to be certain that could the roots of grasses once insinuate themselves
into the almost invisible crevices of the crust that coveted the place,
they would of themselves let in light, air and water enough for their
own wants, and thus increase the very fertility on which they subsisted.
He did not fail, however, to aid nature, by scattering a fresh supply of
guano all over the hill.

While Mark was thus employed at home, Bob rowed out to the reef,
bringing in his fish in such quantities that it occurred to Mark to
convert them also into manure. A fresh half-acre was accordingly broken
up, within the crater, the cool of the mornings and of the evenings
being taken for the toil; and, as soon as a bed was picked over,
quantities of fish were buried in it, and left there to decay. Nor did
Betts neglect the sea-weed the while. On several occasions he floated
large bodies of it in, from the outer reefs, which were all safely
landed and wheeled into the crater, where a long pile of it was formed,
mingled with loam from Loam Island, and guano. This work, however,
gradually ceased, as the season advanced, and summer came in earnest.
That season, however, did not prove by any means as formidable as Mark
had anticipated, the sea-breezes keeping the place cool and refreshed.
Our mariners now missed the rain, which was by no means as frequent a it
had been, though it fell in larger quantities when it did come. The
stock had to be watered for several weeks, the power of the sun causing
all the water that lodged it the cavities of the rocks to evaporate
almost immediately.

During the time it was too warm to venture out in the dingui, except for
half an hour of a morning, or for as long a period of an evening, Mark
turned his attention to the ship again. Seizing suitable moments, each
sail was loosened, thoroughly dried, unbent, and got below. An awning
was got out, and spread, and the decks were wet down, morning and
evening, both for the purposes of cleanliness, and to keep them from
cheeking. The hold was now entered, and overhauled, for the first time
since the accident. A great many useful things were found in it, and
among other articles two barrels of good sharp vinegar, which Friend
Abraham White had caused to be put on board to be used with anything
that could be pickled, as an anti-scorbutic. The onions and cucumbers
both promising so well, Mark rejoiced at this discovery, determining at
once to use some of the vinegar on a part of his expected crop of those
two vegetables.

One day as Bob was rummaging about in the hold, and Mark was looking on,
that being the coolest place on the whole reef, the former got hold of a
piece of wood, and began to tug at it to draw it out from among a pile
that lay in a dark corner. After several efforts, the stick came, when
Mark, struck with a glimpse he got of its form, bade Bob bring it under
the light of the hatchway. The instant he got a good look at it,
Woolston knew that Bob's 'foolish, crooked stick, which was fit to stow
nowhere,' as the honest fellow had described it when it gave him so much
trouble, was neither more nor less than one of the ribs of a boat of
larger size than common.

"This is providential, truly!" exclaimed Mark. "Your crooked stick, Bob,
is a part of the frame of the pinnace of which you spoke, and which we
had given up, as a thing not to be found on board!"

"You're right, Mr. Mark, you're right!" answered Bob--"and I most have
been oncommon stupid not to have thought of it, when it came so hard.
And if there's one of the boat's bones stowed in that place, there must
be more to be found in the same latitude."

This was true enough. After working in that dark corner of the hold for
several hours, all the materials of the intended craft were found and
collected in the steerage. Neither Mark nor Betts was a boat-builder, or
a shipwright; but each had a certain amount of knowledge on the subject,
and each well knew where every piece was intended to be put. What a
revolution this discovery made in the feelings of our young husband! He
had never totally despaired of seeing Bridget again, for that would
scarce have comported with his youth and sanguine temperament; but the
hope had, of late, become so very dim, as to survive only as that
feeling will endure in the bosoms of the youthful and inexperienced Mark
had lived a long time for his years; had seen more and performed far
more than usually falls to persons of his age, and he was, by character,
prudent and practical; but it would have been impossible for one who had
lived as long and as well as himself, to give up every expectation of
being restored to his bride, even in circumstances more discouraging
than those in which he was actually placed. Still, he had been slowly
accustoming himself to the idea of a protracted separation, and had
never lost sight of the expediency of making his preparations for
passing his entire life in the solitary place where he and Betts had
been cast by a mysterious and unexpected dispensation of a Divine
Providence. When Bob, from time to-time, insisted on his account of the
materials for the pinnace being in the ship, Mark had listened
incredulously, unconscious himself how much his mind had been occupied
by Bridget when this part of the cargo had been taken in, and unwilling
to believe such an acquisition could have been made without his
knowledge. Now that he saw it, however, a tumultuous rushing of all the
blood in his body towards his heart, almost overpowered him, and the
future entirely changed its aspects. He did not doubt an instant, of the
ability of Bob and himself to put these blessed materials together, or
of their success in navigating the mild sea around them, for any
necessary distance, in a craft of the size this must turn out to be. A
bright vista, with Bridget's brighter countenance at its termination,
glowed before his imagination, and a great deal of wholesome philosophy
and Christian submission were unsettled, as it might be, in the
twinkling of an eye, by this all-important discovery. Mark had never
abandoned the thought of constructing a little vessel with materials
torn from the ship; but that would nave been a most laborious, as well
as a doubtful experiment, while here was the problem solved, with a
certainty and precision almost equal to one in mathematics!

The agitation and revulsion of feeling produced in Mark by the discovery
of the materials of the pinnace, were so great as to prevent him from
maturing any plan for several days. During that time he could perceive
in himself an alteration that amounted almost to an entire change of
character. The vines on the Summit were now in full leaf, and they
covered broad patches of the rock with their luxuriant vegetation, while
the grass could actually be seen from the ship, converting the
drab-coloured concretions of the mount into slopes and acclivities of
verdure. But, all this delighted him no longer. Home and Bridget met him
even in the fanciful and now thriving beds within the crater, where
everything appeared to push forward with a luxuriance and promise of
return, far exceeding what had once been his fondest expectations. He
could see nothing, anticipate nothing, talk of nothing, think of
nothing, but these new-found means of quitting the Reef, and of
returning to the abodes of men, and to the arms of his young wife.

Betts took things more philosophically. He had made up his mind to
'Robinson Crusoe it' a few years, and, though he had often expressed a
wish that the dingui was of twice its actual size, he would have been
quite as well content with this new boat could it be cut down to
one-fourth of its real dimensions. He submitted to Mark's superior
information, however; and when the latter told him that he could wait no
longer for the return of cooler weather, or for the heat of the sun to
become less intense before he began to set up the frame of his craft, as
had been the first intention, Bob acquiesced in the change of plan,
without remonstrance, bent on taking things as they came, in humility
and cheerfulness.

Nevertheless, it was far easier bravely to determine in this matter,
than to execute. The heat was now so intense for the greater part of the
day, that it would have far exceeded the power of our two mariners to
support it, on a naked rock, and without shade of any sort. The frame of
the pinnace must be set up somewhere near the water, regular ways being
necessary to launch her; and nowhere, on the shore, was the smallest
shade to be found, without recourse to artificial means of procuring it.
As Mark's impatience would no longer brook delay, this artificial shade,
therefore, was the first thing to be attended to.

The leeward end of the reef was chosen for the new ship-yard. Although
this choice imposed a good deal of additional labour on the two workmen,
by compelling them to transport all the materials rather more than a
mile, reflection and examination induced Mark to select the spot he
did. The formation of the rock was more favourable there, he fancied,
than in any other place he could find; offering greater facilities for
launching. This was one motive; but the principal inducement was
connected with an apprehension of floods. By the wall-like appearance of
the exterior base of the mount, by the smoothness of the surface of the
Reef in general, which, while it had many inequalities, wore the
appearance of being semi-polished by the washing of water over it; and
by the certain signs that were, to be found on most of the lower half of
the plain of the crater itself, Mark thought it apparent that the entire
reef the crater excepted, had been often covered with the water of the
ocean, and that at no very distant day. The winter months were usually
the tempestuous months in that latitude, though hurricanes might at any
time occur. Now, the winter was yet an untried experiment with our two
'reefers,' as Bob sometimes laughingly called himself and Mark, and
hurricanes were things that often raised the seas in their neighbourhood
several feet in an hour or two. Should the water be actually driven upon
the Reef, so as to admit of a current to wash across it, or the waves to
roll along its surface, the pinnace would be in the greatest danger of
being carried off before it could be even launched. All these things
Mark bore in mind, and he chose the spot he did, with an eye to these
floods, altogether. It might be six or eight months before they could be
ready to get the pinnace into the water, and it now wanted but six to
the stormy season. At the western, or leeward, extremity of the island,
the little craft would be under the lee of the crater, which would form
a sort of breakwater, and might be the means of preventing it from being
washed away. Then the rock, just at that spot, was three or four feet
higher than at any other point, sufficiently near the sea to admit of
launching with ease; and the two advantages united, induced our young
'reefer' to incur the labour of transporting the materials the distance
named, in reference to foregoing them. The raft, however, was put in
requisition, and the entire frame, with a few of the planks necessary
for a commencement, was carried round at one load.

Previously to laying the keel of the pinnace, Mark named it the
Neshamony, after a creek that was nearly opposite to the Rancocus,
another inlet of the Delaware, that had given its name to the ship from
the circumstance that Friend Abraham White had been born on its low
banks. The means of averting the pains and penalties of working in the
sun, were also attended to, as indeed the great preliminary measure in
this new enterprise. To this end, the raft was again put in requisition;
an old main-course was got out of the sail-room, and lowered upon the
raft; spare spars were cut to the necessary length, and thrown into the
water, to be towed down in company; ropes, &c., were provided, and Bob
sailed anew on this voyage. It was a work of a good deal of labour to
get the raft to windward, towing having been resorted to as the easiest
process, but a trip to leeward was soon made. In twenty minutes after
this cargo had left the ship, it reached its point of destination.

The only time when our men could work at even their awning, were two
hours early in the morning, and as many after the sun had got very low,
or had absolutely set. Eight holes had to be drilled into the lava, to a

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