THE NARRATIVE OF ARTHUR GORDON PYM OF NANTUCKET by Edgar Allan Poe


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1850
THE NARRATIVE OF ARTHUR GORDON PYM OF NANTUCKET
by Edgar Allan Poe


PREFACE

UPON my return to the United States a few months ago, after the
extraordinary series of adventure in the South Seas and elsewhere,
of which an account is given in the following pages, accident threw me
into the society of several gentlemen in Richmond, Va., who felt
deep interest in all matters relating to the regions I had visited,
and who were constantly urging it upon me, as a duty, to give my
narrative to the public. I had several reasons, however, for declining
to do so, some of which were of a nature altogether private, and
concern no person but myself, others not so much so. One consideration
which deterred me was, that, having kept no journal during a greater
portion of the time in which I was absent, I feared I should not be
able to write, from mere memory, a statement so minute and connected
as to have the appearance of that truth it would really possess,
barring only the natural and unavoidable exaggeration to which all
of us are prone when detailing events which have had powerful
influence in exciting the imaginative faculties. Another reason was,
that the incidents to be narrated were of a nature so positively
marvellous, that, unsupported as my assertions must necessarily be
(except by the evidence of a single individual, and he a half-breed
Indian), I could only hope for belief among my family, and those of my
friends who have had reason, through life, to put faith in my
veracity- the probability being that the public at large would regard
what I should put forth as merely an impudent and ingenious fiction. A
distrust in my own abilities as a writer was, nevertheless, one of the
principal causes which prevented me from complying with the suggestion
of my advisers.
Among those gentlemen in Virginia who expressed the greatest
interest in my statement, more particularly in regard to that
portion of it which related to the Antarctic Ocean, was Mr. Poe,
lately editor of the Southern Literary Messenger, a monthly
magazine, published by Mr. Thomas W. White, in the city of Richmond.
He strongly advised me, among others, to prepare at once a full
account of what I had seen and undergone, and trust to the
shrewdness and common sense of the public- insisting, with great
plausibility, that however roughly, as regards mere authorship, my
book should be got up, its very uncouthness, if there were any,
would give it all the better chance of being received as truth.
Notwithstanding this representation, I did not make up my mind
to do as he suggested. He afterward proposed (finding that I would not
stir in the matter) that I should allow him to draw up, in his own
words, a narrative of the earlier portion of my adventures, from facts
afforded by myself, publishing it in the Southern Messenger under
the garb of fiction. To this, perceiving no objection, I consented,
stipulating only that my real name should be retained. Two numbers
of the pretended fiction appeared, consequently, in the Messenger
for January and February, (1837), and, in order that it might
certainly be regarded as fiction, the name of Mr. Poe was affixed to
the articles in the table of contents of the magazine.
The manner in which this ruse was received has induced me at
length to undertake a regular compilation and publication of the
adventures in question; for I found that, in spite of the air of fable
which had been so ingeniously thrown around that portion of my
statement which appeared in the Messenger (without altering or
distorting a single fact), the public were still not at all disposed
to receive it as fable, and several letters were sent to Mr. P.’s
address, distinctly expressing a conviction to the contrary. I
thence concluded that the facts of my narrative would prove of such
a nature as to carry with them sufficient evidence of their own
authenticity, and that I had consequently little to fear on the
score of popular incredulity.
This expose being made, it will be seen at once how much of what
follows I claim to be my own writing; and it will also be understood
that no fact is misrepresented in the first few pages which were
written by Mr. Poe. Even to those readers who have not seen the
Messenger, it will be unnecessary to point out where his portion
ends and my own commences; the difference in point of style will be
readily perceived.
A. G. PYM.
New-York, July, 1838.
CHAPTER I

MY name is Arthur Gordon Pym. My father was a respectable trader
in sea-stores at Nantucket, where I was born. My maternal
grandfather was an attorney in good practice. He was fortunate in
every thing, and had speculated very successfully in stocks of the
Edgarton New Bank, as it was formerly called. By these and other means
he had managed to lay by a tolerable sum of money. He was more
attached to myself, I believe, than to any other person in the
world, and I expected to inherit the most of his property at his
death. He sent me, at six years of age, to the school of old Mr.
Ricketts, a gentleman with only one arm and of eccentric manners- he
is well known to almost every person who has visited New Bedford. I
stayed at his school until I was sixteen, when I left him for Mr. E.
Ronald’s academy on the hill. Here I became intimate with the son of
Mr. Barnard, a sea-captain, who generally sailed in the employ of
Lloyd and Vredenburgh- Mr. Barnard is also very well known in New
Bedford, and has many relations, I am certain, in Edgarton. His son
was named Augustus, and he was nearly two years older than myself.
He had been on a whaling voyage with his father in the John Donaldson,
and was always talking to me of his adventures in the South Pacific
Ocean. I used frequently to go home with him, and remain all day,
and sometimes all night. We occupied the same bed, and he would be
sure to keep me awake until almost light, telling me stories of the
natives of the Island of Tinian, and other places he had visited in
his travels. At last I could not help being interested in what he
said, and by degrees I felt the greatest desire to go to sea. I
owned a sailboat called the Ariel, and worth about seventy-five
dollars. She had a half-deck or cuddy, and was rigged
sloop-fashion- I forget her tonnage, but she would hold ten persons
without much crowding. In this boat we were in the habit of going on
some of the maddest freaks in the world; and, when I now think of
them, it appears to me a thousand wonders that I am alive to-day.
I will relate one of these adventures by way of introduction to
a longer and more momentous narrative. One night there was a party
at Mr. Barnard’s, and both Augustus and myself were not a little
intoxicated toward the close of it. As usual, in such cases, I took
part of his bed in preference to going home. He went to sleep, as I
thought, very quietly (it being near one when the party broke up), and
without saying a word on his favorite topic. It might have been half
an hour from the time of our getting in bed, and I was just about
falling into a doze, when he suddenly started up, and swore with a
terrible oath that he would not go to sleep for any Arthur Pym in
Christendom, when there was so glorious a breeze from the southwest. I
never was so astonished in my life, not knowing what he intended, and
thinking that the wines and liquors he had drunk had set him entirely
beside himself. He proceeded to talk very coolly, however, saying he
knew that I supposed him intoxicated, but that he was never more sober
in his life. He was only tired, he added, of lying in bed on such a
fine night like a dog, and was determined to get up and dress, and go
out on a frolic with the boat. I can hardly tell what possessed me,
but the words were no sooner out of his mouth than I felt a thrill of
the greatest excitement and pleasure, and thought his mad idea one of
the most delightful and most reasonable things in the world. It was
blowing almost a gale, and the weather was very cold- it being late
in October. I sprang out of bed, nevertheless, in a kind of ecstasy,
and told him I was quite as brave as himself, and quite as tired
as he was of lying in bed like a dog, and quite as ready for any fun
or frolic as any Augustus Barnard in Nantucket.
We lost no time in getting on our clothes and hurrying down to the
boat. She was lying at the old decayed wharf by the lumber-yard of
Pankey & Co., and almost thumping her side out against the rough logs.
Augustus got into her and bailed her, for she was nearly half full
of water. This being done, we hoisted jib and mainsail, kept full, and
started boldly out to sea.
The wind, as I before said, blew freshly from the southwest. The
night was very clear and cold. Augustus had taken the helm, and I
stationed myself by the mast, on the deck of the cuddy. We flew
along at a great rate- neither of us having said a word since casting
loose from the wharf. I now asked my companion what course he intended
to steer, and what time he thought it probable we should get back.
He whistled for a few minutes, and then said crustily: “I am going
to sea- you may go home if you think proper.” Turning my eyes upon
him, I perceived at once that, in spite of his assumed nonchalance,
he was greatly agitated. I could see him distinctly by the light of
the moon- his face was paler than any marble, and his hand shook so
excessively that he could scarcely retain hold of the tiller. I
found that something had gone wrong, and became seriously alarmed.
At this period I knew little about the management of a boat, and was
now depending entirely upon the nautical skill of my friend. The wind,
too, had suddenly increased, as we were fast getting out of the lee of
the land- still I was ashamed to betray any trepidation, and for
almost half an hour maintained a resolute silence. I could stand it
no longer, however, and spoke to Augustus about the propriety of
turning back. As before, it was nearly a minute before he made answer,
or took any notice of my suggestion. “By-and-by,” said he at
length- “time enough- home by-and-by.” I had expected a similar reply,
but there was something in the tone of these words which filled me
with an indescribable feeling of dread. I again looked at the
speaker attentively. His lips were perfectly livid, and his knees
shook so violently together that he seemed scarcely able to stand.
“For God’s sake, Augustus,” I screamed, now heartily frightened, “what
ails you?- what is the matter?- what are you going to do?” “Matter!”
he stammered, in the greatest apparent surprise, letting go the tiller
at the same moment, and falling forward into the bottom of the
boat- “matter- why, nothing is the- matter- going home- d-d-don’t you
see?” The whole truth now flashed upon me. I flew to him and raised
him up. He was drunk- beastly drunk- he could no longer either stand,
speak or see. His eyes were perfectly glazed; and as I let him go in
the extremity of my despair, he rolled like a mere log into the
bilge-water, from which I had lifted him. It was evident that,
during the evening, he had drunk far more than I suspected, and that
his conduct in bed had been the result of a highly-concentrated
state of intoxication- a state which, like madness, frequently
enables the victim to imitate the outward demeanour of one in
perfect possession of his senses. The coolness of the night air,
however, had had its usual effect- the mental energy began to yield
before its influence- and the confused perception which he no doubt
then had of his perilous situation had assisted in hastening the
catastrophe. He was now thoroughly insensible, and there was no
probability that he would be otherwise for many hours.
It is hardly possible to conceive the extremity of my terror. The
fumes of the wine lately taken had evaporated, leaving me doubly timid
and irresolute. I knew that I was altogether incapable of managing the
boat, and that a fierce wind and strong ebb tide were hurrying us to
destruction. A storm was evidently gathering behind us; we had
neither compass nor provisions; and it was clear that, if we held our
present course, we should be out of sight of land before daybreak.
These thoughts, with a crowd of others equally fearful, flashed
through my mind with a bewildering rapidity, and for some moments
paralyzed me beyond the possibility of making any exertion. The boat
was going through the water at a terrible rate- full before the wind-
no reef in either jib or mainsail- running her bows completely under
the foam. It was a thousand wonders she did not broach to- Augustus
having let go the tiller, as I said before, and I being too much
agitated to think of taking it myself. By good luck, however, she
kept steady, and gradually I recovered some degree of presence of
mind. Still the wind was increasing fearfully, and whenever we rose
from a plunge forward, the sea behind fell combing over our counter,
and deluged us with water. I was so utterly benumbed, too, in every
limb, as to be nearly unconscious of sensation. At length I summoned
up the resolution of despair, and rushing to the mainsail let it go
by the run. As might have been expected, it flew over the bows, and,
getting drenched with water, carried away the mast short off by the
board. This latter accident alone saved me from instant destruction.
Under the jib only, I now boomed along before the wind, shipping heavy
seas occasionally over the counter, but relieved from the terror of
immediate death. I took the helm, and breathed with greater freedom
as I found that there yet remained to us a chance of ultimate escape.
Augustus still lay senseless in the bottom of the boat; and as there
was imminent danger of his drowning (the water being nearly a foot
deep just where he fell), I contrived to raise him partially up, and
keep him in a sitting position, by passing a rope round his waist,
and lashing it to a ringbolt in the deck of the cuddy. Having thus
arranged every thing as well as I could in my chilled and agitated
condition, I recommended myself to God, and made up my mind to bear
whatever might happen with all the fortitude in my power.
Hardly had I come to this resolution, when, suddenly, a loud and
long scream or yell, as if from the throats of a thousand demons,
seemed to pervade the whole atmosphere around and above the boat.
Never while I live shall I forget the intense agony of terror I
experienced at that moment. My hair stood erect on my head- I felt
the blood congealing in my veins- my heart ceased utterly to beat,
and without having once raised my eyes to learn the source of my
alarm, I tumbled headlong and insensible upon the body of my fallen
companion.
I found myself, upon reviving, in the cabin of a large
whaling-ship (the Penguin) bound to Nantucket. Several persons were
standing over me, and Augustus, paler than death, was busily
occupied in chafing my hands. Upon seeing me open my eyes, his
exclamations of gratitude and joy excited alternate laughter and tears
from the rough-looking personages who were present. The mystery of our
being in existence was now soon explained. We had been run down by the
whaling-ship, which was close-hauled, beating up to Nantucket with
every sail she could venture to set, and consequently running almost
at right angles to our own course. Several men were on the look-out
forward, but did not perceive our boat until it was an impossibility
to avoid coming in contact- their shouts of warning upon seeing us
were what so terribly alarmed me. The huge ship, I was told, rode
immediately over us with as much ease as our own little vessel would
have passed over a feather, and without the least perceptible
impediment to her progress. Not a scream arose from the deck of the
victim- there was a slight grating sound to be heard mingling with
the roar of wind and water, as the frail bark which was swallowed up
rubbed for a moment along the keel of her destroyer- but this was all.
Thinking our boat (which it will be remembered was dismasted) some
mere shell cut adrift as useless, the captain (Captain E. T. V. Block,
of New London) was for proceeding on his course without troubling
himself further about the matter. Luckily, there were two of the
look-out who swore positively to having seen some person at our
helm, and represented the possibility of yet saving him. A
discussion ensued, when Block grew angry, and, after a while, said
that “it was no business of his to be eternally watching for
egg-shells; that the ship should not put about for any such
nonsense; and if there was a man run down, it was nobody’s fault but
Henderson, the first mate, now took the matter up, being justly
indignant, as well as the whole ship’s crew, at a speech evincing so
base a degree of heartless atrocity. He spoke plainly, seeing
himself upheld by the men, told the captain he considered him a fit
subject for the gallows, and that he would disobey his orders if he
were hanged for it the moment he set his foot on shore. He strode aft,
jostling Block (who turned pale and made no answer) on one side, and
seizing the helm, gave the word, in a firm voice, Hard-a-lee! The
men flew to their posts, and the ship went cleverly about. All this
had occupied nearly five minutes, and it was supposed to be hardly
within the bounds of possibility that any individual could be
saved- allowing any to have been on board the boat. Yet, as the
reader has seen, both Augustus and myself were rescued; and our
deliverance seemed to have been brought about by two of those almost
inconceivable pieces of good fortune which are attributed by the
wise and pious to the special interference of Providence.
While the ship was yet in stays, the mate lowered the jolly-boat
and jumped into her with the very two men, I believe, who spoke up
as having seen me at the helm. They had just left the lee of the
vessel (the moon still shining brightly) when she made a long and
heavy roll to windward, and Henderson, at the same moment, starting up
in his seat bawled out to his crew to back water. He would say nothing
else- repeating his cry impatiently, back water! black water! The men
put back as speedily as possible, but by this time the ship had gone
round, and gotten fully under headway, although all hands on board
were making great exertions to take in sail. In despite of the
danger of the attempt, the mate clung to the main-chains as soon as
they came within his reach. Another huge lurch now brought the
starboard side of the vessel out of water nearly as far as her keel,
when the cause of his anxiety was rendered obvious enough. The body of
a man was seen to be affixed in the most singular manner to the smooth
and shining bottom (the Penguin was coppered and copper-fastened), and
beating violently against it with every movement of the hull. After
several ineffectual efforts, made during the lurches of the ship,
and at the imminent risk of swamping the boat I was finally disengaged
from my perilous situation and taken on board- for the body proved
to be my own. It appeared that one of the timber-bolts having
started and broken a passage through the copper, it had arrested my
progress as I passed under the ship, and fastened me in so
extraordinary a manner to her bottom. The head of the bolt had made
its way through the collar of the green baize jacket I had on, and
through the back part of my neck, forcing itself out between two
sinews and just below the right ear. I was immediately put to
bed- although life seemed to be totally extinct. There was no surgeon
on board. The captain, however, treated me with every attention- to
make amends, I presume, in the eyes of his crew, for his atrocious
behaviour in the previous portion of the adventure.
In the meantime, Henderson had again put off from the ship,
although the wind was now blowing almost a hurricane. He had not
been gone many minutes when he fell in with some fragments of our
boat, and shortly afterward one of the men with him asserted that he
could distinguish a cry for help at intervals amid the roaring of
the tempest. This induced the hardy seamen to persevere in their
search for more than half an hour, although repeated signals to return
were made them by Captain Block, and although every moment on the
water in so frail a boat was fraught to them with the most imminent
and deadly peril. Indeed, it is nearly impossible to conceive how
the small jolly they were in could have escaped destruction for a
single instant. She was built, however, for the whaling service, and
was fitted, as I have since had reason to believe, with air-boxes,
in the manner of some life-boats used on the coast of Wales.
After searching in vain for about the period of time just
mentioned, it was determined to get back to the ship. They had
scarcely made this resolve when a feeble cry arose from a dark
object that floated rapidly by. They pursued and soon overtook it.
It proved to be the entire deck of the Ariel’s cuddy. Augustus was
struggling near it, apparently in the last agonies. Upon getting
hold of him it was found that he was attached by a rope to the
floating timber. This rope, it will be remembered, I had myself tied
around his waist, and made fast to a ringbolt, for the purpose of
keeping him in an upright position, and my so doing, it appeared,
had been ultimately the means of preserving his life. The Ariel was
slightly put together, and in going down her frame naturally went to
pieces; the deck of the cuddy, as might have been expected, was
lifted, by the force of the water rushing in, entirely from the main
timbers, and floated (with other fragments, no doubt) to the
surface- Augustus was buoyed up with it, and thus escaped a terrible
death.
It was more than an hour after being taken on board the Penguin
before he could give any account of himself, or be made to
comprehend the nature of the accident which had befallen our boat.
At length he became thoroughly aroused, and spoke much of his
sensations while in the water. Upon his first attaining any degree
of consciousness, he found himself beneath the surface, whirling round
and round with inconceivable rapidity, and with a rope wrapped in
three or four folds tightly about his neck. In an instant afterward he
felt himself going rapidly upward, when, his head striking violently
against a hard substance, he again relapsed into insensibility. Upon
once more reviving he was in fuller possession of his reason- this
was still, however, in the greatest degree clouded and confused. He
now knew that some accident had occurred, and that he was in the
water, although his mouth was above the surface, and he could
breathe with some freedom. Possibly, at this period the deck was
drifting rapidly before the wind, and drawing him after it, as he
floated upon his back. Of course, as long as he could have retained
this position, it would have been nearly impossible that he should
be drowned. Presently a surge threw him directly athwart the deck, and
this post he endeavored to maintain, screaming at intervals for
help. just before he was discovered by Mr. Henderson, he had been
obliged to relax his hold through exhaustion, and, falling into the
sea, had given himself up for lost. During the whole period of his
struggles he had not the faintest recollection of the Ariel, nor of
the matters in connexion with the source of his disaster. A vague
feeling of terror and despair had taken entire possession of his
faculties. When he was finally picked up, every power of his mind
had failed him; and, as before said, it was nearly an hour after
getting on board the Penguin before he became fully aware of his
condition. In regard to myself- I was resuscitated from a state
bordering very nearly upon death (and after every other means had been
tried in vain for three hours and a half) by vigorous friction with
flannels bathed in hot oil- a proceeding suggested by Augustus. The
wound in my neck, although of an ugly appearance, proved of little
real consequence, and I soon recovered from its effects.
The Penguin got into port about nine o’clock in the morning, after
encountering one of the severest gales ever experienced off Nantucket.
Both Augustus and myself managed to appear at Mr. Barnard’s in time
for breakfast- which, luckily, was somewhat late, owing to the party
over night. I suppose all at the table were too much fatigued
themselves to notice our jaded appearance- of course, it would not
have borne a very rigid scrutiny. Schoolboys, however, can accomplish
wonders in the way of deception, and I verily believe not one of our
friends in Nantucket had the slightest suspicion that the terrible
story told by some sailors in town of their having run down a vessel
at sea and drowned some thirty or forty poor devils, had reference
either to the Ariel, my companion, or myself. We two have since very
frequently talked the matter over- but never without a shudder. In
one of our conversations Augustus frankly confessed to me, that in his
whole life he had at no time experienced so excruciating a sense of
dismay, as when on board our little boat he first discovered the
extent of his intoxication, and felt himself sinking beneath its
influence.
CHAPTER II

In no affairs of mere prejudice, pro or con, do we deduce
inferences with entire certainty, even from the most simple data. It
might be supposed that a catastrophe such as I have just related would
have effectually cooled my incipient passion for the sea. On the
contrary, I never experienced a more ardent longing for the wild
adventures incident to the life of a navigator than within a week
after our miraculous deliverance. This short period proved amply
long enough to erase from my memory the shadows, and bring out in
vivid light all the pleasurably exciting points of color, all the
picturesqueness, of the late perilous accident. My conversations
with Augustus grew daily more frequent and more intensely full of
interest. He had a manner of relating his stories of the ocean (more
than one half of which I now suspect to have been sheer
fabrications) well adapted to have weight with one of my
enthusiastic temperament and somewhat gloomy although glowing
imagination. It is strange, too, that he most strongly enlisted my
feelings in behalf of the life of a seaman, when he depicted his
more terrible moments of suffering and despair. For the bright side of
the painting I had a limited sympathy. My visions were of shipwreck
and famine; of death or captivity among barbarian hordes; of a
lifetime dragged out in sorrow and tears, upon some gray and
desolate rock, in an ocean unapproachable and unknown. Such visions or
desires- for they amounted to desires- are common, I have since been
assured, to the whole numerous race of the melancholy among men- at
the time of which I speak I regarded them only as prophetic glimpses
of a destiny which I felt myself in a measure bound to fulfil.
Augustus thoroughly entered into my state of mind. It is probable,
indeed, that our intimate communion had resulted in a partial
interchange of character.
About eighteen months after the period of the Ariel’s disaster,
the firm of Lloyd and Vredenburgh (a house connected in some manner
with the Messieurs Enderby, I believe, of Liverpool) were engaged in
repairing and fitting out the brig Grampus for a whaling voyage. She
was an old hulk, and scarcely seaworthy when all was done to her
that could be done. I hardly know why she was chosen in preference
to other good vessels belonging to the same owners- but so it was.
Mr. Barnard was appointed to command her, and Augustus was going
with him. While the brig was getting ready, he frequently urged upon
me the excellency of the opportunity now offered for indulging my
desire of travel. He found me by no means an unwilling listener- yet
the matter could not be so easily arranged. My father made no direct
opposition; but my mother went into hysterics at the bare mention of
the design; and, more than all, my grandfather, from whom I expected
much, vowed to cut me off with a shilling if I should ever broach
the subject to him again. These difficulties, however, so far from
abating my desire, only added fuel to the flame. I determined to go at
all hazards; and, having made known my intentions to Augustus, we
set about arranging a plan by which it might be accomplished. In the
meantime I forbore speaking to any of my relations in regard to the
voyage, and, as I busied myself ostensibly with my usual studies, it
was supposed that I had abandoned the design. I have since
frequently examined my conduct on this occasion with sentiments of
displeasure as well as of surprise. The intense hypocrisy I made use
of for the furtherance of my project- an hypocrisy pervading every
word and action of my life for so long a period of time- could only
have been rendered tolerable to myself by the wild and burning
expectation with which I looked forward to the fulfilment of my
long-cherished visions of travel.
In pursuance of my scheme of deception, I was necessarily
obliged to leave much to the management of Augustus, who was
employed for the greater part of every day on board the Grampus,
attending to some arrangements for his father in the cabin and cabin
hold. At night, however, we were sure to have a conference and talk
over our hopes. After nearly a month passed in this manner, without
our hitting upon any plan we thought likely to succeed, he told me
at last that he had determined upon everything necessary. I had a
relation living in New Bedford, a Mr. Ross, at whose house I was in
the habit of spending occasionally two or three weeks at a time. The
brig was to sail about the middle of June (June, 1827), and it was
agreed that, a day or two before her putting to sea, my father was
to receive a note, as usual, from Mr. Ross, asking me to come over and
spend a fortnight with Robert and Emmet (his sons). Augustus charged
himself with the inditing of this note and getting it delivered.
Having set out as supposed, for New Bedford, I was then to report
myself to my companion, who would contrive a hiding-place for me in
the Grampus. This hiding-place, he assured me, would be rendered
sufficiently comfortable for a residence of many days, during which
I was not to make my appearance. When the brig had proceeded so far on
her course as to make any turning back a matter out of question, I
should then, he said, be formally installed in all the comforts of the
cabin; and as to his father, he would only laugh heartily at the joke.
Vessels enough would be met with by which a letter might be sent
home explaining the adventure to my parents.
The middle of June at length arrived, and every thing had been
matured. The note was written and delivered, and on a Monday morning I
left the house for the New Bedford packet, as supposed. I went,
however, straight to Augustus, who was waiting for me at the corner of
a street. It had been our original plan that I should keep out of
the way until dark, and then slip on board the brig; but, as there was
now a thick fog in our favor, it was agreed to lose no time in
secreting me. Augustus led the way to the wharf, and I followed at a
little distance, enveloped in a thick seaman’s cloak, which he had
brought with him, so that my person might not be easily recognized.
just as we turned the second corner, after passing Mr. Edmund’s
well, who should appear, standing right in front of me, and looking me
full in the face, but old Mr. Peterson, my grandfather. “Why, bless my
soul, Gordon,” said he, after a long pause, “why, why,- whose dirty
cloak is that you have on?” “Sir!” I replied, assuming, as well as I
could, in the exigency of the moment, an air of offended surprise, and
talking in the gruffest of all imaginable tones- “sir! you are a
sum’mat mistaken- my name, in the first place, bee’nt nothing at all
like Goddin, and I’d want you for to know better, you blackguard, than
to call my new obercoat a darty one.” For my life I could hardly
refrain from screaming with laughter at the odd manner in which the
old gentleman received this handsome rebuke. He started back two or
three steps, turned first pale and then excessively red, threw up
his spectacles, then, putting them down, ran full tilt at me, with his
umbrella uplifted. He stopped short, however, in his career, as if
struck with a sudden recollection; and presently, turning round,
hobbled off down the street, shaking all the while with rage, and
muttering between his teeth: “Won’t do- new glasses- thought it was
After this narrow escape we proceeded with greater caution, and
arrived at our point of destination in safety. There were only one
or two of the hands on board, and these were busy forward, doing
something to the forecastle combings. Captain Barnard, we knew very
well, was engaged at Lloyd and Vredenburgh’s, and would remain there
until late in the evening, so we had little to apprehend on his
account. Augustus went first up the vessel’s side, and in a short
while I followed him, without being noticed by the men at work. We
proceeded at once into the cabin, and found no person there. It was
fitted up in the most comfortable style- a thing somewhat unusual in
a whaling-vessel. There were four very excellent staterooms, with wide
and convenient berths. There was also a large stove, I took notice,
and a remarkably thick and valuable carpet covering the floor of
both the cabin and staterooms. The ceiling was full seven feet high,
and, in short, every thing appeared of a more roomy and agreeable
nature than I had anticipated. Augustus, however, would allow me but
little time for observation, insisting upon the necessity of my
concealing myself as soon as possible. He led the way into his own
stateroom, which was on the starboard side of the brig, and next to
the bulkheads. Upon entering, he closed the door and bolted it. I
thought I had never seen a nicer little room than the one in which I
now found myself. It was about ten feet long, and had only one
berth, which, as I said before, was wide and convenient. In that
portion of the closet nearest the bulkheads there was a space of
four feet square, containing a table, a chair, and a set of hanging
shelves full of books, chiefly books of voyages and travels. There
were many other little comforts in the room, among which I ought not
to forget a kind of safe or refrigerator, in which Augustus pointed
out to me a host of delicacies, both in the eating and drinking
department.
He now pressed with his knuckles upon a certain spot of the carpet
in one corner of the space just mentioned, letting me know that a
portion of the flooring, about sixteen inches square, had been
neatly cut out and again adjusted. As he pressed, this portion rose up
at one end sufficiently to allow the passage of his finger beneath. In
this manner he raised the mouth of the trap (to which the carpet was
still fastened by tacks), and I found that it led into the after hold.
He next lit a small taper by means of a phosphorous match, and,
placing the light in a dark lantern, descended with it through the
opening, bidding me follow. I did so, and be then pulled the cover
upon the hole, by means of a nail driven into the under side- the
carpet, of course, resuming its original position on the floor of
the stateroom, and all traces of the aperture being concealed.
The taper gave out so feeble a ray that it was with the greatest
difficulty I could grope my way through the confused mass of lumber
among which I now found myself. By degrees, however, my eyes became
accustomed to the gloom, and I proceeded with less trouble, holding on
to the skirts of my friend’s coat. He brought me, at length, after
creeping and winding through innumerable narrow passages, to an
iron-bound box, such as is used sometimes for packing fine
earthenware. It was nearly four feet high, and full six long, but very
narrow. Two large empty oil-casks lay on the top of it, and above
these, again, a vast quantity of straw matting, piled up as high as
the floor of the cabin. In every other direction around was wedged
as closely as possible, even up to the ceiling, a complete chaos of
almost every species of ship-furniture, together with a
heterogeneous medley of crates, hampers, barrels, and bales, so that
it seemed a matter no less than miraculous that we had discovered
any passage at all to the box. I afterward found that Augustus had
purposely arranged the stowage in this hold with a view to affording
me a thorough concealment, having had only one assistant in the
labour, a man not going out in the brig.
My companion now showed me that one of the ends of the box could
be removed at pleasure. He slipped it aside and displayed the
interior, at which I was excessively amused. A mattress from one of
the cabin berths covered the whole of its bottom, and it contained
almost every article of mere comfort which could be crowded into so
small a space, allowing me, at the same time, sufficient room for my
accommodation, either in a sitting position or lying at full length.
Among other things, there were some books, pen, ink, and paper,
three blankets, a large jug full of water, a keg of sea-biscuit, three
or four immense Bologna sausages, an enormous ham, a cold leg of roast
mutton, and half a dozen bottles of cordials and liqueurs. I proceeded
immediately to take possession of my little apartment, and this with
feelings of higher satisfaction, I am sure, than any monarch ever
experienced upon entering a new palace. Augustus now pointed out to me
the method of fastening the open end of the box, and then, holding the
taper close to the deck, showed me a piece of dark whipcord lying
along it. This, he said, extended from my hiding-place throughout an
the necessary windings among the lumber, to a nail which was driven
into the deck of the hold, immediately beneath the trap-door leading
into his stateroom. By means of this cord I should be enabled
readily to trace my way out without his guidance, provided any
unlooked-for accident should render such a step necessary. He now took
his departure, leaving with me the lantern, together with a copious
supply of tapers and phosphorous, and promising to pay me a visit as
often as he could contrive to do so without observation. This was on
the seventeenth of June.
I remained three days and nights (as nearly as I could guess) in
my hiding-place without getting out of it at all, except twice for the
purpose of stretching my limbs by standing erect between two crates
just opposite the opening. During the whole period I saw nothing of
Augustus; but this occasioned me little uneasiness, as I knew the brig
was expected to put to sea every hour, and in the bustle he would
not easily find opportunities of coming down to me. At length I
heard the trap open and shut. and presently he called in a low
voice, asking if all was well, and if there was any thing I wanted.
“Nothing,” I replied; “I am as comfortable as can be; when will the
brig sail?” “She will be under weigh in less than half an hour,” he
answered. “I came to let you know, and for fear you should be uneasy
at my absence. I shall not have a chance of coming down again for some
time- perhaps for three or four days more. All is going on right
aboveboard. After I go up and close the trap, do you creep along by
the whipcord to where the nail is driven in. You will find my watch
there- it may be useful to you, as you have no daylight to keep time
by. I suppose you can’t tell how long you have been buried- only
three days- this is the twentieth. I would bring the watch to your
box, but am afraid of being missed.” With this he went up.
In about an hour after he had gone I distinctly felt the brig in
motion, and congratulated myself upon having at length fairly
commenced a voyage. Satisfied with this idea, I determined to make
my mind as easy as possible, and await the course of events until I
should be permitted to exchange the box for the more roomy, although
hardly more comfortable, accommodations of the cabin. My first care
was to get the watch. Leaving the taper burning, I groped along in the
dark, following the cord through windings innumerable, in some of
which I discovered that, after toiling a long distance, I was
brought back within a foot or two of a former position. At length I
reached the nail, and securing the object of my journey, returned with
it in safety. I now looked over the books which had been so
thoughtfully provided, and selected the expedition of Lewis and Clarke
to the mouth of the Columbia. With this I amused myself for some time,
when, growing sleepy, I extinguished the light with great care, and
soon fell into a sound slumber.
Upon awakening I felt strangely confused in mind, and some time
elapsed before I could bring to recollection all the various
circumstances of my situation. By degrees, however, I remembered
all. Striking a light, I looked at the watch; but it was run down, and
there were, consequently, no means of determining how long I slept. My
limbs were greatly cramped, and I was forced to relieve them by
standing between the crates. Presently feeling an almost ravenous
appetite, I bethought myself of the cold mutton, some of which I had
eaten just before going to sleep, and found excellent. What was my
astonishment in discovering it to be in a state of absolute
putrefaction! This circumstance occasioned me great disquietude;
for, connecting it with the disorder of mind I experienced upon
awakening, I began to suppose that I must have slept for an
inordinately long period of time. The close atmosphere of the hold
might have had something to do with this, and might, in the end, be
productive of the most serious results. My head ached excessively; I
fancied that I drew every breath with difficulty; and, in short, I was
oppressed with a multitude of gloomy feelings. Still I could not
venture to make any disturbance by opening the trap or otherwise, and,
having wound up the watch, contented myself as well as possible.
Throughout the whole of the next tedious twenty-four hours no
person came to my relief, and I could not help accusing Augustus of
the grossest inattention. What alarmed me chiefly was, that the
water in my jug was reduced to about half a pint, and I was
suffering much from thirst, having eaten freely of the Bologna
sausages after the loss of my mutton. I became very uneasy, and
could no longer take any interest in my books. I was overpowered, too,
with a desire to sleep, yet trembled at the thought of indulging it,
lest there might exist some pernicious influence, like that of burning
charcoal, in the confined air of the hold. In the meantime the roll of
the brig told me that we were far in the main ocean, and a dull
humming sound, which reached my ears as if from an immense distance,
convinced me no ordinary gale was blowing. I could not imagine a
reason for the absence of Augustus. We were surely far enough advanced
on our voyage to allow of my going up. Some accident might have
happened to him- but I could think of none which would account for
his suffering me to remain so long a prisoner, except, indeed, his
having suddenly died or fallen overboard, and upon this idea I could
not dwell with any degree of patience. It was possible that we had
been baffled by head winds, and were still in the near vicinity of
Nantucket. This notion, however, I was forced to abandon; for such
being the case, the brig must have frequently gone about; and I was
entirely satisfied, from her continual inclination to the larboard,
that she had been sailing all along with a steady breeze on her
starboard quarter. Besides, granting that we were still in the
neighborhood of the island, why should not Augustus have visited me
and informed me of the circumstance? Pondering in this manner upon the
difficulties of my solitary and cheerless condition, I resolved to
wait yet another twenty-four hours, when, if no relief were obtained,
I would make my way to the trap, and endeavour either to hold a
parley with my friend, or get at least a little fresh air through the
opening, and a further supply of water from the stateroom. While
occupied with this thought, however, I fell in spite of every exertion
to the contrary, into a state of profound sleep, or rather stupor.
My dreams were of the most terrific description. Every species of
calamity and horror befell me. Among other miseries I was smothered to
death between huge pillows, by demons of the most ghastly and
ferocious aspect. Immense serpents held me in their embrace, and
looked earnestly in my face with their fearfully shining eyes. Then
deserts, limitless, and of the most forlorn and awe-inspiring
character, spread themselves out before me. Immensely tall trunks of
trees, gray and leafless, rose up in endless succession as far as
the eye could reach. Their roots were concealed in wide-spreading
morasses, whose dreary water lay intensely black, still, and
altogether terrible, beneath. And the strange trees seemed endowed
with a human vitality, and waving to and fro their skeleton arms, were
crying to the silent waters for mercy, in the shrill and piercing
accents of the most acute agony and despair. The scene changed; and
I stood, naked and alone, amidst the burning sand-plains of Sahara. At
my feet lay crouched a fierce lion of the tropics. Suddenly his wild
eyes opened and fell upon me. With a conculsive bound he sprang to his
feet, and laid bare his horrible teeth. In another instant there burst
from his red throat a roar like the thunder of the firmament, and I
fell impetuously to the earth. Stifling in a paroxysm of terror, I
at last found myself partially awake. My dream, then, was not all a
dream. Now, at least, I was in possession of my senses. The paws of
some huge and real monster were pressing heavily upon my bosom- his
hot breath was in my ear- and his white and ghastly fangs were
gleaming upon me through the gloom.
Had a thousand lives hung upon the movement of a limb or the
utterance of a syllable, I could have neither stirred nor spoken.
The beast, whatever it was, retained his position without attempting
any immediate violence, while I lay in an utterly helpless, and, I
fancied, a dying condition beneath him. I felt that my powers of
body and mind were fast leaving me- in a word, that I was perishing,
and perishing of sheer fright. My brain swam- I grew deadly sick- my
vision failed- even the glaring eyeballs above me grew dim. Making a
last strong effort, I at length breathed a faint ejaculation to God,
and resigned myself to die. The sound of my voice seemed to arouse all
the latent fury of the animal. He precipitated himself at full
length upon my body; but what was my astonishment, when, with a long
and low whine, he commenced licking my face and hands with the
greatest eagerness, and with the most extravagant demonstration of
affection and joy! I was bewildered, utterly lost in amazement- but I
could not forget the peculiar whine of my Newfoundland dog Tiger,
and the odd manner of his caresses I well knew. It was he. I
experienced a sudden rush of blood to my temples- a giddy and
overpowering sense of deliverance and reanimation. I rose hurriedly
from the mattress upon which I had been lying, and, throwing myself
upon the neck of my faithful follower and friend, relieved the long
oppression of my bosom in a flood of the most passionate tears.
As upon a former occasion my conceptions were in a state of the
greatest indistinctness and confusion after leaving the mattress.
For a long time I found it nearly impossible to connect any ideas;
but, by very slow degrees, my thinking faculties returned, and I again
called to memory the several incidents of my condition. For the
presence of Tiger I tried in vain to account; and after busying myself
with a thousand different conjectures respecting him, was forced to
content myself with rejoicing that he was with me to share my dreary
solitude, and render me comfort by his caresses. Most people love
their dogs, but for Tiger I had an affection far more ardent than
common; and never, certainly, did any creature more truly deserve
it. For seven years he had been my inseparable companion, and in a
multitude of instances had given evidence of all the noble qualities
for which we value the animal. I had rescued him, when a puppy, from
the clutches of a malignant little villain in Nantucket who was
leading him, with a rope around his neck, to the water; and the
grown dog repaid the obligation, about three years afterward, by
saving me from the bludgeon of a street robber.
Getting now hold of the watch, I found, upon applying it to my
ear, that it had again run down; but at this I was not at all
surprised, being convinced, from the peculiar state of my feelings,
that I had slept, as before, for a very long period of time, how long,
it was of course impossible to say. I was burning up with fever, and
my thirst was almost intolerable. I felt about the box for my little
remaining supply of water, for I had no light, the taper having
burnt to the socket of the lantern, and the phosphorus-box not
coming readily to hand. Upon finding the jug, however, I discovered it
to be empty- Tiger, no doubt, having been tempted to drink it, as
well as to devour the remnant of mutton, the bone of which lay, well
picked, by the opening of the box. The spoiled meat I could well
spare, but my heart sank as I thought of the water. I was feeble in
the extreme- so much so that I shook all over, as with an ague, at
the slightest movement or exertion. To add to my troubles, the brig
was pitching and rolling with great violence, and the oil-casks
which lay upon my box were in momentary danger of falling down, so
as to block up the only way of ingress or egress. I felt, also,
terrible sufferings from sea-sickness. These considerations determined
me to make my way, at all hazards, to the trap, and obtain immediate
relief, before I should be incapacitated from doing so altogether.
Having come to this resolve, I again felt about for the phosphorus-box
and tapers. The former I found after some little trouble; but, not
discovering the tapers as soon as I had expected (for I remembered
very nearly the spot in which I had placed them), I gave up the search
for the present, and bidding Tiger lie quiet, began at once my journey
toward the trap.
In this attempt my great feebleness became more than ever
apparent. It was with the utmost difficulty I could crawl along at
all, and very frequently my limbs sank suddenly from beneath me; when,
falling prostrate on my face, I would remain for some minutes in a
state bordering on insensibility. Still I struggled forward by slow
degrees, dreading every moment that I should swoon amid the narrow and
intricate windings of the lumber, in which event I had nothing but
death to expect as the result. At length, upon making a push forward
with all the energy I could command, I struck my forehead violently
against the sharp corner of an iron-bound crate. The accident only
stunned me for a few moments; but I found, to my inexpressible
grief, that the quick and violent roll of the vessel had thrown the
crate entirely across my path, so as effectually to block up the
passage. With my utmost exertions I could not move it a single inch
from its position, it being closely wedged in among the surrounding
boxes and ship-furniture. It became necessary, therefore, enfeebled as
I was, either to leave the guidance of the whipcord and seek out a new
passage, or to climb over the obstacle, and resume the path on the
other side. The former alternative presented too many difficulties and
dangers to be thought of without a shudder. In my present weak state
of both mind and body, I should infallibly lose my way if I
attempted it, and perish miserably amid the dismal and disgusting
labyrinths of the hold. I proceeded, therefore, without hesitation, to
summon up all my remaining strength and fortitude, and endeavour, as I
best might, to clamber over the crate.
Upon standing erect, with this end in view, I found the
undertaking even a more serious task than my fears had led me to
imagine. On each side of the narrow passage arose a complete wall of
various heavy lumber, which the least blunder on my part might be
the means of bringing down upon my head; or, if this accident did
not occur, the path might be effectually blocked up against my
return by the descending mass, as it was in front by the obstacle
there. The crate itself was a long and unwieldy box, upon which no
foothold could be obtained. In vain I attempted, by every means in
my power, to reach the top, with the hope of being thus enabled to
draw myself up. Had I succeeded in reaching it, it is certain that
my strength would have proved utterly inadequate to the task of
getting over, and it was better in every respect that I failed. At
length, in a desperate effort to force the crate from its ground, I
felt a strong vibration in the side next me. I thrust my hand
eagerly to the edge of the planks, and found that a very large one was
loose. With my pocket-knife, which, luckily, I had with me, I
succeeded, after great labour, in prying it entirely off; and getting
it through the aperture, discovered, to my exceeding joy, that there
were no boards on the opposite side- in other words, that the top was
wanting, it being the bottom through which I had forced my way.
I now met with no important difficulty in proceeding along the line
until I finally reached the nail. With a beating heart I stood
erect, and with a gentle touch pressed against the cover of the
trap. It did not rise as soon as I had expected, and I pressed it with
somewhat more determination, still dreading lest some other person
than Augustus might be in his state-room. The door, however, to my
astonishment, remained steady, and I became somewhat uneasy, for I
knew that it had formerly required but little or no effort to remove
it. I pushed it strongly- it was nevertheless firm: with all my
strength- it still did not give way: with rage, with fury, with
despair- it set at defiance my utmost efforts; and it was evident,
from the unyielding nature of the resistance, that the hole had either
been discovered and effectually nailed up, or that some immense weight
had been placed upon it, which it was useless to think of removing.
My sensations were those of extreme horror and dismay. In vain I
attempted to reason on the probable cause of my being thus entombed. I
could summon up no connected chain of reflection, and, sinking on
the floor, gave way, unresistingly, to the most gloomy imaginings,
in which the dreadful deaths of thirst, famine, suffocation, and
premature interment crowded upon me as the prominent disasters to be
encountered. At length there returned to me some portion of presence
of mind. I arose, and felt with my fingers for the seams or cracks
of the aperture. Having found them, I examined them closely to
ascertain if they emitted any light from the state-room; but none
was visible. I then forced the blade of my pen-knife through them,
until I met with some hard obstacle. Scraping against it, I discovered
it to be a solid mass of iron, which, from its peculiar wavy feel as I
passed the blade along it, I concluded to be a chain-cable. The only
course now left me was to retrace my way to the box, and there
either yield to my sad fate, or try so to tranquilize my mind as to
admit of my arranging some plan of escape. I immediately set about the
attempt, and succeeded, after innumerable difficulties, in getting
back. As I sank, utterly exhausted, upon the mattress, Tiger threw
himself at full length by my side, and seemed as if desirous, by his
caresses, of consoling me in my troubles, and urging me to bear them
with fortitude.
The singularity of his behavior at length forcibly arrested my
attention. After licking my face and hands for some minutes, he
would suddenly cease doing so, and utter a low whine. Upon reaching
out my hand toward him, I then invariably found him lying on his back,
with his paws uplifted. This conduct, so frequently repeated, appeared
strange, and I could in no manner account for it. As the dog seemed
distressed, I concluded that he had received some injury; and,
taking his paws in my hands, I examined them one by one, but found
no sign of any hurt. I then supposed him hungry, and gave him a
large piece of ham, which he devoured with avidity- afterward,
however, resuming his extraordinary manoeuvres. I now imagined that
he was suffering, like myself, the torments of thirst, and was about
adopting this conclusion as the true one, when the idea occurred to
me that I had as yet only examined his paws, and that there might
possibly be a wound upon some portion of his body or head. The latter
I felt carefully over, but found nothing. On passing my hand, however,
along his back, I perceived a slight erection of the hair extending
completely across it. Probing this with my finger, I discovered a
string, and tracing it up, found that it encircled the whole body.
Upon a closer scrutiny, I came across a small slip of what had the
feeling of letter paper, through which the string had been fastened in
such a manner as to bring it immediately beneath the left shoulder
of the animal.
CHAPTER III

The thought instantly occurred to me that the paper was a note
from Augustus, and that some unaccountable accident having happened to
prevent his relieving me from my dungeon, he had devised this method
of acquainting me with the true state of affairs. Trembling with
eagerness, I now commenced another search for my phosphorus matches
and tapers. I had a confused recollection of having put them carefully
away just before falling asleep; and, indeed, previously to my last
journey to the trap, I had been able to remember the exact spot
where I had deposited them. But now I endeavored in vain to call it to
mind, and busied myself for a full hour in a fruitless and vexatious
search for the missing articles; never, surely, was there a more
tantalizing state of anxiety and suspense. At length, while groping
about, with my head close to the ballast, near the opening of the box,
and outside of it, I perceived a faint glimmering of light in the
direction of the steerage. Greatly surprised, I endeavored to make
my way toward it, as it appeared to be but a few feet from my
position. Scarcely had I moved with this intention, when I lost
sight of the glimmer entirely, and, before I could bring it into
view again, was obliged to feel along by the box until I had exactly
resumed my original situation. Now, moving my head with caution to and
fro, I found that, by proceeding slowly, with great care, in an
opposite direction to that in which I had at first started, I was
enabled to draw near the light, still keeping it in view. Presently
I came directly upon it (having squeezed my way through innumerable
narrow windings), and found that it proceeded from some fragments of
my matches lying in an empty barrel turned upon its side. I was
wondering how they came in such a place, when my hand fell upon two or
three pieces of taper wax, which had been evidently mumbled by the
dog. I concluded at once that he had devoured the whole of my supply
of candles, and I felt hopeless of being ever able to read the note of
Augustus. The small remnants of the wax were so mashed up among
other rubbish in the barrel, that I despaired of deriving any
service from them, and left them as they were. The phosphorus, of
which there was only a speck or two, I gathered up as well as I could,
and returned with it, after much difficulty, to my box, where Tiger
had all the while remained.
What to do next I could not tell. The hold was so intensely dark
that I could not see my hand, however close I would hold it to my
face. The white slip of paper could barely be discerned, and not
even that when I looked at it directly; by turning the exterior
portions of the retina toward it- that is to say, by surveying it
slightly askance, I found that it became in some measure
perceptible. Thus the gloom of my prison may be imagined, and the note
of my friend, if indeed it were a note from him, seemed only likely to
throw me into further trouble, by disquieting to no purpose my already
enfeebled and agitated mind. In vain I revolved in my brain a
multitude of absurd expedients for procuring light- such expedients
precisely as a man in the perturbed sleep occasioned by opium would be
apt to fall upon for a similar purpose- each and all of which appear
by turns to the dreamer the most reasonable and the most
preposterous of conceptions, just as the reasoning or imaginative
faculties flicker, alternately, one above the other. At last an idea
occurred to me which seemed rational, and which gave me cause to
wonder, very justly, that I had not entertained it before. I placed
the slip of paper on the back of a book, and, collecting the fragments
of the phosphorus matches which I had brought from the barrel, laid
them together upon the paper. I then, with the palm of my hand, rubbed
the whole over quickly, yet steadily. A clear light diffused itself
immediately throughout the whole surface; and had there been any
writing upon it, I should not have experienced the least difficulty, I
am sure, in reading it. Not a syllable was there, however- nothing
but a dreary and unsatisfactory blank; the illumination died away in a
few seconds, and my heart died away within me as it went.
I have before stated more than once that my intellect, for some
period prior to this, had been in a condition nearly bordering on
idiocy. There were, to be sure, momentary intervals of perfect sanity,
and, now and then, even of energy; but these were few. It must be
remembered that I had been, for many days certainly, inhaling the
almost pestilential atmosphere of a close hold in a whaling vessel,
and for a long portion of that time but scantily supplied with
water. For the last fourteen or fifteen hours I had none- nor had I
slept during that time. Salt provisions of the most exciting kind
had been my chief, and, indeed, since the loss of the mutton, my
only supply of food, with the exception of the sea-biscuit; and
these latter were utterly useless to me, as they were too dry and hard
to be swallowed in the swollen and parched condition of my throat. I
was now in a high state of fever, and in every respect exceedingly
ill. This will account for the fact that many miserable hours of
despondency elapsed after my last adventure with the phosphorus,
before the thought suggested itself that I had examined only one
side of the paper. I shall not attempt to describe my feelings of rage
(for I believe I was more angry than any thing else) when the
egregious oversight I had committed flashed suddenly upon my
perception. The blunder itself would have been unimportant, had not my
own folly and impetuosity rendered it otherwise- in my disappointment
at not finding some words upon the slip, I had childishly torn it in
pieces and thrown it away, it was impossible to say where.
From the worst part of this dilemma I was relieved by the sagacity
of Tiger. Having got, after a long search, a small piece of the
note, I put it to the dog’s nose, and endeavored to make him
understand that he must bring me the rest of it. To my astonishment,
(for I had taught him none of the usual tricks for which his breed are
famous,) he seemed to enter at once into my meaning, and, rummaging
about for a few moments, soon found another considerable portion.
Bringing me this, he paused awhile, and, rubbing his nose against my
hand, appeared to be waiting for my approval of what he had done. I
patted him on the head, when he immediately made off again. It was now
some minutes before he came back- but when he did come, he brought
with him a large slip, which proved to be all the paper missing- it
having been torn, it seems, only into three pieces. Luckily, I had no
trouble in finding what few fragments of the phosphorus were left-
being guided by the indistinct glow one or two of the particles still
emitted. My difficulties had taught me the necessity of caution, and
I now took time to reflect upon what I was about to do. It was very
probable, I considered, that some words were written upon that side of
the paper which had not been examined- but which side was that?
Fitting the pieces together gave me no clew in this respect, although
it assured me that the words (if there were any) would be found all
on one side, and connected in a proper manner, as written. There was
the greater necessity of ascertaining the point in question beyond a
doubt, as the phosphorus remaining would be altogether insufficient
for a third attempt, should I fail in the one I was now about to make.
I placed the paper on a book as before, and sat for some minutes
thoughtfully revolving the matter over in my mind. At last I thought
it barely possible that the written side might have some unevenness on
its surface, which a delicate sense of feeling might enable me to
detect. I determined to make the experiment and passed my finger
very carefully over the side which first presented itself. Nothing,
however, was perceptible, and I turned the paper, adjusting it on
the book. I now again carried my forefinger cautiously along, when I
was aware of an exceedingly slight, but still discernable glow,
which followed as it proceeded. This, I knew, must arise from some
very minute remaining particles of the phosphorus with which I had
covered the paper in my previous attempt. The other, or under side,
then, was that on which lay the writing, if writing there should
finally prove to be. Again I turned the note, and went to work as I
had previously done. Having rubbed in the phosphorus, a brilliancy
ensued as before- but this time several lines of MS. in a large hand,
and apparently in red ink, became distinctly visible. The glimmer,
although sufficiently bright, was but momentary. Still, had I not been
too greatly excited, there would have been ample time enough for me to
peruse the whole three sentences before me- for I saw there were
three. In my anxiety, however, to read all at once, I succeeded only
in reading the seven concluding words, which thus appeared- “blood-
your life depends upon lying close.”
Had I been able to ascertain the entire contents of the note-the
full meaning of the admonition which my friend had thus attempted to
convey, that admonition, even although it should have revealed a story
of disaster the most unspeakable, could not, I am firmly convinced,
have imbued my mind with one tithe of the harrowing and yet
indefinable horror with which I was inspired by the fragmentary
warning thus received. And “blood,” too, that word of all words- so
rife at all times with mystery, and suffering, and terror- how trebly
full of import did it now appear- how chilly and heavily (disjointed,
as it thus was, from any foregoing words to qualify or render it
distinct) did its vague syllables fall, amid the deep gloom of my
prison, into the innermost recesses of my soul!
Augustus had, undoubtedly, good reasons for wishing me to remain
concealed, and I formed a thousand surmises as to what they could
be- but I could think of nothing affording a satisfactory solution of
the mystery. just after returning from my last journey to the trap,
and before my attention had been otherwise directed by the singular
conduct of Tiger, I had come to the resolution of making myself
heard at all events by those on board, or, if I could not succeed in
this directly, of trying to cut my way through the orlop deck. The
half certainty which I felt of being able to accomplish one of these
two purposes in the last emergency, had given me courage (which I
should not otherwise have had) to endure the evils of my situation.
The few words I had been able to read, however, had cut me off from
these final resources, and I now, for the first time, felt all the
misery of my fate. In a paroxysm of despair I threw myself again
upon the mattress, where, for about the period of a day and night, I
lay in a kind of stupor, relieved only by momentary intervals of
reason and recollection.
At length I once more arose, and busied myself in reflection
upon the horrors which encompassed me. For another twenty-four hours
it was barely possible that I might exist without water- for a longer
time I could not do so. During the first portion of my imprisonment
I had made free use of the cordials with which Augustus had supplied
me, but they only served to excite fever, without in the least
degree assuaging thirst. I had now only about a gill left, and this
was of a species of strong peach liqueur at which my stomach revolted.
The sausages were entirely consumed; of the ham nothing remained but a
small piece of the skin; and all the biscuit, except a few fragments
of one, had been eaten by Tiger. To add to my troubles, I found that
my headache was increasing momentarily, and with it the species of
delirium which had distressed me more or less since my first falling
asleep. For some hours past it had been with the greatest difficulty I
could breathe at all, and now each attempt at so doing was attended
with the most depressing spasmodic action of the chest. But there
was still another and very different source of disquietude, and one,
indeed, whose harassing terrors had been the chief means of arousing
me to exertion from my stupor on the mattress. It arose from the
demeanor of the dog.
I first observed an alteration in his conduct while rubbing in the
phosphorus on the paper in my last attempt. As I rubbed, he ran his
nose against my hand with a slight snarl; but I was too greatly
excited at the time to pay much attention to the circumstance. Soon
afterward, it will be remembered, I threw myself on the mattress,
and fell into a species of lethargy. Presently I became aware of a
singular hissing sound close at my ears, and discovered it to
proceed from Tiger, who was panting and wheezing in a state of the
greatest apparent excitement, his eyeballs flashing fiercely through
the gloom. I spoke to him, when he replied with a low growl, and
then remained quiet. Presently I relapsed into my stupor, from which I
was again awakened in a similar manner. This was repeated three or
four times, until finally his behaviour inspired me with so great a
degree of fear, that I became fully aroused. He was now lying close by
the door of the box, snarling fearfully, although in a kind of
undertone, and grinding his teeth as if strongly convulsed. I had no
doubt whatever that the want of water or the confined atmosphere of
the hold had driven him mad, and I was at a loss what course to
pursue. I could not endure the thought of killing him, yet it seemed
absolutely necessary for my own safety. I could distinctly perceive
his eyes fastened upon me with an expression of the most deadly
animosity, and I expected every instant that he would attack me. At
last I could endure my terrible situation no longer, and determined to
make my way from the box at all hazards, and dispatch him, if his
opposition should render it necessary for me to do so. To get out, I
had to pass directly over his body, and he already seemed to
anticipate my design- missing himself upon his fore. legs (as I
perceived by the altered position of his eyes), and displayed the
whole of his white fangs, which were easily discernible. I took the
remains of the ham-skin, and the bottle containing the liqueur, and
secured them about my person, together with a large carving-knife
which Augustus had left me- then, folding my cloak around me as
closely as possible, I made a movement toward the mouth of the box.
No sooner did I do this, than the dog sprang with a loud growl toward
my throat. The whole weight of his body struck me on the right
shoulder, and I fell violently to the left, while the enraged animal
passed entirely over me. I had fallen upon my knees, with my head
buried among the blankets, and these protected me from a second
furious assault, during which I felt the sharp teeth pressing
vigorously upon the woollen which enveloped my neck- yet, luckily,
without being able to penetrate all the folds. I was now beneath the
dog, and a few moments would place me completely in his power. Despair
gave me strength, and I rose boldly up, shaking him from me by main
force, and dragging with me the blankets from the mattress. These I
now threw over him, and before he could extricate himself, I had got
through the door and closed it effectually against his pursuit. In
this struggle, however, I had been forced to drop the morsel of
ham-skin, and I now found my whole stock of provisions reduced to a
single gill of liqueur, As this reflection crossed my mind, I felt
myself actuated by one of those fits of perverseness which might be
supposed to influence a spoiled child in similar circumstances, and,
raising the bottle to my lips, I drained it to the last drop, and
dashed it furiously upon the floor.
Scarcely had the echo of the crash died away, when I heard my name
pronounced in an eager but subdued voice, issuing from the direction
of the steerage. So unexpected was anything of the kind, and so
intense was the emotion excited within me by the sound, that I
endeavoured in vain to reply. My powers of speech totally failed,
and in an agony of terror lest my friend should conclude me dead,
and return without attempting to reach me, I stood up between the
crates near the door of the box, trembling convulsively, and gasping
and struggling for utterance. Had a thousand words depended upon a
syllable, I could not have spoken it. There was a slight movement
now audible among the lumber somewhere forward of my station. The
sound presently grew less distinct, then again less so, and still
less. Shall I ever forget my feelings at this moment? He was going-
my friend, my companion, from whom I had a right to expect so much-
he was going- he would abandon me- he was gone! He would leave me
to perish miserably, to expire in the most horrible and loathesome
of dungeons- and one word, one little syllable, would save me- yet
that single syllable I could not utter! I felt, I am sure, more than
ten thousand times the agonies of death itself. My brain reeled, and I
fell, deadly sick, against the end of the box.
As I fell the carving-knife was shaken out from the waist-band
of my pantaloons, and dropped with a rattling sound to the floor.
Never did any strain of the richest melody come so sweetly to my ears!
With the intensest anxiety I listened to ascertain the effect of the
noise upon Augustus- for I knew that the person who called my name
could be no one but himself. All was silent for some moments. At
length I again heard the word “Arthur!” repeated in a low tone, and
one full of hesitation. Reviving hope loosened at once my powers of
speech, and I now screamed at the top of my voice, “Augustus! oh,
Augustus!” “Hush! for God’s sake be silent!” he replied, in a voice
trembling with agitation; “I will be with you immediately- as soon as
I can make my way through the hold.” For a long time I heard him
moving among the lumber, and every moment seemed to me an age. At
length I felt his hand upon my shoulder, and he placed, at the same
moment, a bottle of water to my lips. Those only who have been
suddenly redeemed from the jaws of the tomb, or who have known the
insufferable torments of thirst under circumstances as aggravated as
those which encompassed me in my dreary prison, can form any idea of
the unutterable transports which that one long draught of the
richest of all physical luxuries afforded.
When I had in some degree satisfied my thirst, Augustus produced
from his pocket three or four boiled potatoes, which I devoured with
the greatest avidity. He had brought with him a light in a dark
lantern, and the grateful rays afforded me scarcely less comfort
than the food and drink. But I was impatient to learn the cause of his
protracted absence, and he proceeded to recount what had happened on
board during my incarceration.
CHAPTER IV

The brig put to sea, as I had supposed, in about an hour after
he had left the watch. This was on the twentieth of June. It will be
remembered that I had then been in the hold for three days; and,
during this period, there was so constant a bustle on board, and so
much running to and fro, especially in the cabin and staterooms,
that he had had no chance of visiting me without the risk of having
the secret of the trap discovered. When at length he did come, I had
assured him that I was doing as well as possible; and, therefore,
for the two next days be felt but little uneasiness on my
account- still, however, watching an opportunity of going down. It
was not until the fourth day that he found one. Several times during
this interval he had made up his mind to let his father know of the
adventure, and have me come up at once; but we were still within
reaching distance of Nantucket, and it was doubtful, from some
expressions which had escaped Captain Barnard, whether he would not
immediately put back if he discovered me to be on board. Besides, upon
thinking the matter over, Augustus, so he told me, could not imagine
that I was in immediate want, or that I would hesitate, in such
case, to make myself heard at the trap. When, therefore, he considered
everything he concluded to let me stay until he could meet with an
opportunity of visiting me unobserved. This, as I said before, did not
occur until the fourth day after his bringing me the watch, and the
seventh since I had first entered the hold. He then went down
without taking with him any water or provisions, intending in the
first place merely to call my attention, and get me to come from the
box to the trap,- when he would go up to the stateroom and thence
hand me down a sup. ply. When he descended for this purpose he found
that I was asleep, for it seems that I was snoring very loudly. From
all the calculations I can make on the subject, this must have been
the slumber into which I fell just after my return from the trap
with the watch, and which, consequently, must have lasted for more
than three entire days and nights at the very least. Latterly, I
have had reason both from my own experience and the assurance of
others, to be acquainted with the strong soporific effects of the
stench arising from old fish-oil when closely confined; and when I
think of the condition of the hold in which I was imprisoned, and
the long period during which the brig had been used as a whaling
vessel, I am more inclined to wonder that I awoke at all, after once
falling asleep, than that I should have slept uninterruptedly for
the period specified above.
Augustus called to me at first in a low voice and without
closing the trap- but I made him no reply. He then shut the trap, and
spoke to me in a louder, and finally in a very loud tone- still I
continued to snore. He was now at a loss what to do. It would take him
some time to make his way through the lumber to my box, and in the
meanwhile his absence would be noticed by Captain Barnard, who had
occasion for his services every minute, in arranging and copying
papers connected with the business of the voyage. He determined,
therefore, upon reflection, to ascend, and await another opportunity
of visiting me. He was the more easily induced to this resolve, as
my slumber appeared to be of the most tranquil nature, and he could
not suppose that I had undergone any inconvenience from my
incarceration. He had just made up his mind on these points when his
attention was arrested by an unusual bustle, the sound of which
proceeded apparently from the cabin. He sprang through the trap as
quickly as possible, closed it, and threw open the door of his
stateroom. No sooner had he put his foot over the threshold than a
pistol flashed in his face, and he was knocked down, at the same
moment, by a blow from a handspike.
A strong hand held him on the cabin floor, with a tight grasp upon
his throat; still he was able to see what was going on around him. His
father was tied hand and foot, and lying along the steps of the
companion-way, with his head down, and a deep wound in the forehead,
from which the blood was flowing in a continued stream. He spoke not a
word, and was apparently dying. Over him stood the first mate,
eyeing him with an expression of fiendish derision, and deliberately
searching his pockets, from which he presently drew forth a large
wallet and a chronometer. Seven of the crew (among whom was the
cook, a negro) were rummaging the staterooms on the larboard for arms,
where they soon equipped themselves with muskets and ammunition.
Besides Augustus and Captain Barnard, there were nine men altogether
in the cabin, and these among the most ruffianly of the brig’s
company. The villains now went upon deck, taking my friend with them
after having secured his arms behind his back. They proceeded straight
to the forecastle, which was fastened down- two of the mutineers
standing by it with axes- two also at the main hatch. The mate called
out in a loud voice: “Do you hear there below? tumble up with you, one
by one- now, mark that- and no grumbling!” It was some minutes before
any one appeared:- at last an Englishman, who had shipped as a raw
hand, came up, weeping piteously, and entreating the mate, in the most
humble manner, to spare his life. The only reply was a blow on the
forehead from an axe. The poor fellow fell to the deck without a
groan, and the black cook lifted him up in his arms as he would a
child, and tossed him deliberately into the sea. Hearing the blow
and the plunge of the body, the men below could now be induced to
venture on deck neither by threats nor promises, until a proposition
was made to smoke them out. A general rush then ensued, and for a
moment it seemed possible that the brig might be retaken. The
mutineers, however, succeeded at last in closing the forecastle
effectually before more than six of their opponents could get up.
These six, finding themselves so greatly outnumbered and without arms,
submitted after a brief struggle. The mate gave them fair words- no
doubt with a view of inducing those below to yield, for they had no
difficulty in hearing all that was said on deck. The result proved his
sagacity, no less than his diabolical villainy. All in the
forecastle presently signified their intention of submitting, and,
ascending one by one, were pinioned and then thrown on their backs,
together with the first six- there being in all, of the crew who were
not concerned in the mutiny, twenty-seven.
A scene of the most horrible butchery ensued. The bound seamen
were dragged to the gangway. Here the cook stood with an axe, striking
each victim on the head as he was forced over the side of the vessel
by the other mutineers. In this manner twenty-two perished, and
Augustus had given himself up for lost, expecting every moment his own
turn to come next. But it seemed that the villains were now either
weary, or in some measure disgusted with their bloody labour; for
the four remaining prisoners, together with my friend, who had been
thrown on the deck with the rest, were respited while the mate sent
below for rum, and the whole murderous party held a drunken carouse,
which lasted until sunset. They now fell to disputing in regard to the
fate of the survivors, who lay not more than four paces off, and could
distinguish every word said. Upon some of the mutineers the liquor
appeared to have a softening effect, for several voices were heard
in favor of releasing the captives altogether, on condition of joining
the mutiny and sharing the profits. The black cook, however (who in
all respects was a perfect demon, and who seemed to exert as much
influence, if not more, than the mate himself), would listen to no
proposition of the kind, and rose repeatedly for the purpose of
resuming his work at the gangway. Fortunately he was so far overcome
by intoxication as to be easily restrained by the less bloodthirsty of
the party, among whom was a line-manager, who went by the name of Dirk
Peters. This man was the son of an Indian squaw of the tribe of
Upsarokas, who live among the fastnesses of the Black Hills, near
the source of the Missouri. His father was a fur-trader, I believe, or
at least connected in some manner with the Indian trading-posts on
Lewis river. Peter himself was one of the most ferocious-looking men I
ever beheld. He was short in stature, not more than four feet eight
inches high, but his limbs were of Herculean mould. His hands,
especially, were so enormously thick and broad as hardly to retain a
human shape. His arms, as well as legs, were bowed in the most
singular manner, and appeared to possess no flexibility whatever.
His head was equally deformed, being of immense size, with an
indentation on the crown (like that on the head of most negroes),
and entirely bald. To conceal this latter deficiency, which did not
proceed from old age, he usually wore a wig formed of any hair-like
material which presented itself- occasionally the skin of a Spanish
dog or American grizzly bear. At the time spoken of, he had on a
portion of one of these bearskins; and it added no little to the
natural ferocity of his countenance, which betook of the Upsaroka
character. The mouth extended nearly from ear to ear, the lips were
thin, and seemed, like some other portions of his frame, to be devoid
of natural pliancy, so that the ruling expression never varied under
the influence of any emotion whatever. This ruling expression may be
conceived when it is considered that the teeth were exceedingly long
and protruding, and never even partially covered, in any instance,
by the lips. To pass this man with a casual glance, one might
imagine him to be convulsed with laughter, but a second look would
induce a shuddering acknowledgment, that if such an expression were
indicative of merriment, the merriment must be that of a demon. Of
this singular being many anecdotes were prevalent among the
seafaring men of Nantucket. These anecdotes went to prove his
prodigious strength when under excitement, and some of them had
given rise to a doubt of his sanity. But on board the Grampus, it
seems, he was regarded, at the time of the mutiny, with feelings
more of derision than of anything else. I have been thus particular in
speaking of Dirk Peters, because, ferocious as he appeared, he
proved the main instrument in preserving the life of Augustus, and
because I shall have frequent occasion to mention him hereafter in the
course of my narrative- a narrative, let me here say, which, in its
latter portions, will be found to include incidents of a nature so
entirely out of the range of human experience, and for this reason
so far beyond the limits of human credulity, that I proceed in utter
hopelessness of obtaining credence for all that I shall tell, yet
confidently trusting in time and progressing science to verify some of
the most important and most improbable of my statements.
After much indecision and two or three violent quarrels, it was
determined at last that all the prisoners (with the exception of
Augustus, whom Peters insisted in a jocular manner upon keeping as his
clerk) should be set adrift in one of the smallest whaleboats. The
mate went down into the cabin to see if Captain Barnard was still
living- for, it will be remembered, he was left below when the
mutineers came up. Presently the two made their appearance, the
captain pale as death, but somewhat recovered from the effects of
his wound. He spoke to the men in a voice hardly articulate, entreated
them not to set him adrift, but to return to their duty, and promising
to land them wherever they chose, and to take no steps for bringing
them to justice. He might as well have spoken to the winds. Two of the
ruffians seized him by the arms and hurled him over the brig’s side
into the boat, which had been lowered while the mate went below. The
four men who were lying on the deck were then untied and ordered to
follow, which they did without attempting any resistance- Augustus
being still left in his painful position, although he struggled and
prayed only for the poor satisfaction of being permitted to bid his
father farewell. A handful of sea-biscuit and a jug of water were
now handed down; but neither mast, sail, oar, nor compass. The boat
was towed astern for a few minutes, during which the mutineers held
another consultation- it was then finally cut adrift. By this time
night had come on- there were neither moon nor stars visible- and a
short and ugly sea was running, although there was no great deal of
wind. The boat was instantly out of sight, and little hope could be
entertained for the unfortunate sufferers who were in it. This event
happened, however, in latitude 35 degrees 30′ north, longitude 61
degrees 20′ west, and consequently at no very great distance from the
Bermuda Islands. Augustus therefore endeavored to console himself with
the idea that the boat might either succeed in reaching the land, or
come sufficiently near to be fallen in with by vessels off the coast.
All sail was now put upon the brig, and she continued her original
course to the southwest- the mutineers being bent upon some piratical
expedition, in which, from all that could be understood, a ship was to
be intercepted on her way from the Cape Verd Islands to Porto Rico. No
attention was paid to Augustus, who was untied and suffered to go
about anywhere forward of the cabin companion-way. Dirk Peters treated
him with some degree of kindness, and on one occasion saved him from
the brutality of the cook. His situation was still one of the most
precarious, as the men were continually intoxicated, and there was
no relying upon their continued good-humor or carelessness in regard
to himself. His anxiety on my account be represented, however, as
the most distressing result of his condition; and, indeed, I had never
reason to doubt the sincerity of his friendship. More than once he had
resolved to acquaint the mutineers with the secret of my being on
board, but was restrained from so doing, partly through recollection
of the atrocities he had already beheld, and partly through a hope
of being able soon to bring me relief. For the latter purpose he was
constantly on the watch; but, in spite of the most constant vigilance,
three days elapsed after the boat was cut adrift before any chance
occurred. At length, on the night of the third day, there came on a
heavy blow from the eastward, and all hands were called up to take
in sail. During the confusion which ensued, he made his way below
unobserved, and into the stateroom. What was his grief and horror in
discovering that the latter had been rendered a place of deposit for a
variety of sea-stores and ship-furniture, and that several fathoms
of old chain-cable, which had been stowed away beneath the
companion-ladder, had been dragged thence to make room for a chest,
and were now lying immediately upon the trap! To remove it without
discovery was impossible, and he returned on deck as quickly as he
could. As be came up, the mate seized him by the throat, and demanding
what he had been doing in the cabin, was about flinging him over the
larboard bulwark, when his life was again preserved through the
interference of Dirk Peters. Augustus was now put in handcuffs (of
which there were several pairs on board), and his feet lashed
tightly together. He was then taken into the steerage, and thrown into
a lower berth next to the forecastle bulkheads, with the assurance
that he should never put his foot on deck again “until the brig was no
longer a brig.” This was the expression of the cook, who threw him
into the berth- it is hardly possible to say what precise meaning
intended by the phrase. The whole affair, however, proved the ultimate
means of my relief, as will presently appear.
CHAPTER V

For some minutes after the cook had left the forecastle,
Augustus abandoned himself to despair, never hoping to leave the berth
alive. He now came to the resolution of acquainting the first of the
men who should come down with my situation, thinking it better to
let me take my chance with the mutineers than perish of thirst in
the hold,- for it had been ten days since I was first imprisoned, and
my jug of water was not a plentiful supply even for four. As he was
thinking on this subject, the idea came all at once into his head that
it might be possible to communicate with me by the way of the main
hold. In any other circumstances, the difficulty and hazard of the
undertaking would have pre. vented him from attempting it; but now
he had, at all events, little prospect of life, and consequently
little to lose, he bent his whole mind, therefore, upon the task.
His handcuffs were the first consideration. At first he saw no
method of removing them, and feared that he should thus be baffled
in the very outset; but upon a closer scrutiny he discovered that
the irons could be slipped off and on at pleasure, with very little
effort or inconvenience, merely by squeezing his hands through
them,- this species of manacle being altogether ineffectual in
confining young persons, in whom the smaller bones readily yield to
pressure. He now untied his feet, and, leaving the cord in such a
manner that it could easily be readjusted in the event of any person’s
coming down, proceeded to examine the bulkhead where it joined the
berth. The partition here was of soft pine board, an inch thick, and
he saw that he should have little trouble in cutting his way
through. A voice was now heard at the forecastle companion-way, and he
had just time to put his right hand into its handcuff (the left had
not been removed) and to draw the rope in a slipknot around his ankle,
when Dirk Peters came below, followed by Tiger, who immediately leaped
into the berth and lay down. The dog had been brought on board by
Augustus, who knew my attachment to the animal, and thought it would
give me pleasure to have him with me during the voyage. He went up
to our house for him immediately after first taking me into the
hold, but did not think of mentioning the circumstance upon his
bringing the watch. Since the mutiny, Augustus had not seen him before
his appearance with Dirk Peters, and had given him up for lost,
supposing him to have been thrown overboard by some of the malignant
villains belonging to the mate’s gang. It appeared afterward that he
had crawled into a hole beneath a whale-boat, from which, not having
room to turn round, he could not extricate himself. Peters at last let
him out, and, with a species of good feeling which my friend knew well
how to appreciate, had now brought him to him in the forecastle as a
companion, leaving at the same time some salt junk and potatoes,
with a can of water, he then went on deck, promising to come down with
something more to eat on the next day.
When he had gone, Augustus freed both hands from the manacles
and unfastened his feet. He then turned down the head of the
mattress on which he had been lying, and with his penknife (for the
ruffians had not thought it worth while to search him) commenced
cutting vigorously across one of the partition planks, as closely as
possible to the floor of the berth. He chose to cut here, because,
if suddenly interrupted, he would be able to conceal what had been
done by letting the head of the mattress fall into its proper
position. For the remainder of the day, however, no disturbance
occurred, and by night he had completely divided the plank. It
should here be observed that none of the crew occupied the
forecastle as a sleeping-place, living altogether in the cabin since
the mutiny, drinking the wines and feasting on the sea-stores of
Captain Barnard, and giving no more heed than was absolutely necessary
to the navigation of the brig. These circumstances proved fortunate
both for myself and Augustus; for, had matters been otherwise, he
would have found it impossible to reach me. As it was, he proceeded
with confidence in his design. It was near daybreak, however, before
he completed the second division of the board (which was about a
foot above the first cut), thus making an aperture quite large
enough to admit his passage through with facility to the main orlop
deck. Having got here, he made his way with but little trouble to
the lower main hatch, although in so doing he had to scramble over
tiers of oil-casks piled nearly as high as the upper deck, there being
barely room enough left for his body. Upon reaching the hatch he found
that Tiger had followed him below, squeezing between two rows of the
casks. It was now too late, however, to attempt getting to me before
dawn, as the chief difficulty lay in passing through the close stowage
in the lower hold. He therefore resolved to return, and wait till
the next night. With this design, he proceeded to loosen the hatch, so
that he might have as little detention as possible when he should come
again. No sooner had he loosened it than Tiger sprang eagerly to the
small opening produced, snuffed for a moment, and then uttered a
long whine, scratching at the same time, as if anxious to remove the
covering with his paws. There could be no doubt, from his behaviour,
that he was aware of my being in the hold, and Augustus thought it
possible that he would be able to get to me if he put him down. He now
hit upon the expedient of sending the note, as it was especially
desirable that I should make no attempt at forcing my way out at least
under existing circumstances, and there could be no certainty of his
getting to me himself on the morrow as he intended. After-events
proved how fortunate it was that the idea occurred to him as it did;
for, had it not been for the receipt of the note, I should undoubtedly
have fallen upon some plan, however desperate, of alarming the crew,
and both our lives would most probably have been sacrificed in
consequence.
Having concluded to write, the difficulty was now to procure the
mate. rials for so doing. An old toothpick was soon made into a pen;
and this by means of feeling altogether, for the between-decks was
as dark as pitch. Paper enough was obtained from the back of a
letter- a duplicate of the forged letter from Mr. Ross. This had been
the original draught; but the handwriting not being sufficiently
well imitated, Augustus had written another, thrusting the first, by
good fortune, into his coat-pocket, where it was now most
opportunely discovered. Ink alone was thus wanting, and a substitute
was immediately found for this by means of a slight incision with
the pen-knife on the back of a finger just above the nail- a copious
flow of blood ensuing, as usual, from wounds in that vicinity. The
note was now written, as well as it could be in the dark and under the
circumstances. It briefly explained that a mutiny had taken place;
that Captain Barnard was set adrift; and that I might expect immediate
relief as far as provisions were concerned, but must not venture
upon making any disturbance. It concluded with these words: “I have
scrawled this with blood- your life depends upon lying close.”
This slip of paper being tied upon the dog, he was now put down
the hatchway, and Augustus made the best of his way back to the
forecastle, where be found no reason to believe that any of the crew
had been in his absence. To conceal the hole in the partition, he
drove his knife in just above it, and hung up a pea-jacket which he
found in the berth. His handcuffs were then replaced, and also the
rope around his ankles.
These arrangements were scarcely completed when Dirk Peters came
below, very drunk, but in excellent humour, and bringing with him my
friend’s allowance of provision for the day. This consisted of a dozen
large Irish potatoes roasted, and a pitcher of water. He sat for
some time on a chest by the berth, and talked freely about the mate
and the general concerns of the brig. His demeanour was exceedingly
capricious, and even grotesque. At one time Augustus was much
alarmed by odd conduct. At last, however, he went on deck, muttering a
promise to bring his prisoner a good dinner on the morrow. During
the day two of the crew (harpooners) came down, accompanied by the
cook, all three in nearly the last stage of intoxication. Like Peters,
they made no scruple of talking unreservedly about their plans. It
appeared that they were much divided among themselves as to their
ultimate course, agreeing in no point, except the attack on the ship
from the Cape Verd Islands, with which they were in hourly expectation
of meeting. As far as could be ascertained, the mutiny had not been
brought about altogether for the sake of booty; a private pique of the
chief mate’s against Captain Barnard having been the main instigation.
There now seemed to be two principal factions among the crew- one
headed by the mate, the other by the cook. The former party were for
seizing the first suitable vessel which should present itself, and
equipping it at some of the West India Islands for a piratical cruise.
The latter division, however, which was the stronger, and included
Dirk Peters among its partisans, were bent upon pursuing the course
originally laid out for the brig into the South Pacific; there
either to take whale, or act otherwise, as circumstances should
suggest. The representations of Peters, who had frequently visited
these regions, had great weight, apparently, with the mutineers,
wavering, as they were, between half-engendered notions of profit
and pleasure. He dwelt on the world of novelty and amusement to be
found among the innumerable islands of the Pacific, on the perfect
security and freedom from all restraint to be enjoyed, but, more
particularly, on the deliciousness of the climate, on the abundant
means of good living, and on the voluptuous beauty of the women. As
yet, nothing had been absolutely determined upon; but the pictures
of the hybrid line-manager were taking strong hold upon the ardent
imaginations of the seamen, and there was every possibility that his
intentions would be finally carried into effect.
The three men went away in about an hour, and no one else
entered the forecastle all day. Augustus lay quiet until nearly night.
He then freed himself from the rope and irons, and prepared for his
attempt. A bottle was found in one of the berths, and this he filled
with water from the pitcher left by Peters, storing his pockets at the
same time with cold potatoes. To his great joy he also came across a
lantern, with a small piece of tallow candle in it. This he could
light at any moment, as be had in his possession a box of phosphorus
matches. When it was quite dark, he got through the hole in the
bulkhead, having taken the precaution to arrange the bedclothes in the
berth so as to convey the idea of a person covered up. When through,
he hung up the pea-jacket on his knife, as before, to conceal the
aperture- this manoeuvre being easily effected, as he did not
readjust the piece of plank taken out until afterward. He was now on
the main orlop deck, and proceeded to make his way, as before, between
the upper deck and the oil-casks to the main hatchway. Having
reached this, he lit the piece of candle, and descended, groping
with extreme difficulty among the compact stowage of the hold. In a
few moments he became alarmed at the insufferable stench and the
closeness of the atmosphere. He could not think it possible that I had
survived my confinement for so long a period breathing so oppressive
an air. He called my name repeatedly, but I made him no reply, and his
apprehensions seemed thus to be confirmed. The brig was rolling
violently, and there was so much noise in consequence, that it was
useless to listen for any weak sound, such as those of my breathing or
snoring. He threw open the lantern, and held it as high as possible,
whenever an opportunity occurred, in order that, by observing the
light, I might, if alive, be aware that succor was approaching.
Still nothing was heard from me, and the supposition of my death began
to assume the character of certainty. He determined, nevertheless,
to force a passage, if possible, to the box, and at least ascertain
beyond a doubt the truth of his surmises. He pushed on for some time
in a most pitiable state of anxiety, until, at length, he found the
pathway utterly blocked up, and that there was no possibility of
making any farther way by the course in which he had set out. Overcome
now by his feelings, he threw himself among the lumber in despair, and
wept like a child. It was at this period that he heard the crash
occasioned by the bottle which I had thrown down. Fortunate, indeed,
was it that the incident occurred- for, upon this incident, trivial
as it appears, the thread of my destiny depended. Many years
elapsed, however, before I was aware of this fact. A natural shame and
regret for his weakness and indecision prevented Augustus from
confiding to me at once what a more intimate and unreserved
communion afterward induced him to reveal. Upon finding his further
progress in the hold impeded by obstacles which he could not overcome,
he had resolved to abandon his attempt at reaching me, and return at
once to the forecastle. Before condemning him entirely on this head,
the harassing circumstances which embarrassed him should be taken into
consideration. The night was fast wearing away, and his absence from
the forecastle might be discovered; and indeed would necessarily be
so, if be should fail to get back to the berth by daybreak. His candle
was expiring in the socket, and there would be the greatest difficulty
in retracing his way to the hatchway in the dark. It must be
allowed, too, that he had every good reason to believe me dead; in
which event no benefit could result to me from his reaching the box,
and a world of danger would be encountered to no purpose by himself.
He had repeatedly called, and I had made him no answer. I had been now
eleven days and nights with no more water than that contained in the
jug which he had left with me- a supply which it was not at all
probable I had boarded in the beginning of my confinement, as I had
every cause to expect a speedy release. The atmosphere of the hold,
too, must have appeared to him, coming from the comparatively open air
of the steerage, of a nature absolutely poisonous, and by far more
intolerable than it had seemed to me upon my first taking up my
quarters in the box- the hatchways at that time having been
constantly open for many months previous. Add to these
considerations that of the scene of bloodshed and terror so lately
witnessed by my friend; his confinement, privations, and narrow
escapes from death, together with the frail and equivocal tenure by
which he still existed- circumstances all so well calculated to
prostrate every energy of mind- and the reader will be easily
brought, as I have been, to regard his apparent falling off in
friendship and in faith with sentiments rather of sorrow than of
anger.
The crash of the bottle was distinctly heard, yet Augustus was not
sure that it proceeded from the hold. The doubt, however, was
sufficient inducement to persevere. He clambered up nearly to the
orlop deck by means of the stowage, and then, watching for a lull in
the pitchings of the vessel, he called out to me in as loud a tone
as he could command, regardless, for the moment, of being overheard by
the crew. It will be remembered that on this occasion the voice
reached me, but I was so entirely overcome by violent agitation as
to be incapable of reply. Confident, now, that his worst apprehensions
were well founded, be descended, with a view of getting back to the
forecastle without loss of time. In his haste some small boxes were
thrown down, the noise occasioned by which I heard, as will be
recollected. He had made considerable progress on his return when
the fall of the knife again caused him to hesitate. He retraced his
steps immediately, and, clambering up the stowage a second time,
called out my name, loudly as before, having watched for a lull.
This time I found voice to answer. Overjoyed at discovering me to be
still alive, he now resolved to brave every difficulty and danger in
reaching me. Having extricated himself as quickly as possible from the
labyrinth of lumber by which he was hemmed in, he at length struck
into an opening which promised better, and finally, after a series
of struggles, arrived at the box in a state of utter exhaustion.
CHAPTER VI

The leading particulars of this narration were all that Augustus
communicated to me while we remained near the box. It was not until
afterward that he entered fully into all the details. He was
apprehensive of being missed, and I was wild with impatience to
leave my detested place of confinement. We resolved to make our way at
once to the hole in the bulkhead, near which I was to remain for the
present, while he went through to reconnoiter. To leave Tiger in the
box was what neither of us could endure to think of, yet, how to act
otherwise was the question. He now seemed to be perfectly quiet, and
we could not even distinguish the sound of his breathing upon applying
our ears closely to the box. I was convinced that he was dead, and
determined to open the door. We found him lying at full length,
apparently in a deep stupor, yet still alive. No time was to be
lost, yet I could not bring myself to abandon an animal who had now
been twice instrumental in saving my life, without some attempt at
preserving him. We therefore dragged him along with us as well as we
could, although with the greatest difficulty and fatigue; Augustus,
during part of the time, being forced to clamber over the
impediments in our way with the huge dog in his arms- a feat to which
the feebleness of my frame rendered me totally inadequate. At length
we succeeded in reaching the hole, when Augustus got through, and
Tiger was pushed in afterward. All was found to be safe, and we did
not fail to return sincere thanks to God for our deliverance from
the imminent danger we had escaped. For the present, it was agreed
that I should remain near the opening, through which my companion
could readily supply me with a part of his daily provision, and
where I could have the advantages of breathing an atmosphere
comparatively pure.
In explanation of some portions of this narrative, wherein I
have spoken of the stowage of the brig, and which may appear ambiguous
to some of my readers who may have seen a proper or regular stowage, I
must here state that the manner in which this most important duty
had been per formed on board the Grampus was a most shameful piece
of neglect on the part of Captain Barnard, who was by no means as
careful or as experienced a seaman as the hazardous nature of the
service on which he was employed would seem necessarily to demand. A
proper stowage cannot be accomplished in a careless manner, and many
most disastrous accidents, even within the limits of my own
experience, have arisen from neglect or ignorance in this
particular. Coasting vessels, in the frequent hurry and bustle
attendant upon taking in or discharging cargo, are the most liable
to mishap from the want of a proper attention to stowage. The great
point is to allow no possibility of the cargo or ballast shifting
position even in the most violent rollings of the vessel. With this
end, great attention must be paid, not only to the bulk taken in,
but to the nature of the bulk, and whether there be a full or only a
partial cargo. In most kinds of freight the stowage is accomplished by
means of a screw. Thus, in a load of tobacco or flour, the whole is
screwed so tightly into the hold of the vessel that the barrels or
hogsheads, upon discharging, are found to be completely flattened, and
take some time to regain their original shape. This screwing, however,
is resorted to principally with a view of obtaining more room in the
hold; for in a full load of any such commodities as flour or
tobacco, there can be no danger of any shifting whatever, at least
none from which inconvenience can result. There have been instances,
indeed, where this method of screwing has resulted in the most
lamentable consequences, arising from a cause altogether distinct from
the danger attendant upon a shifting of cargo. A load of cotton, for
example, tightly screwed while in certain conditions, has been
known, through the expansion of its bulk, to rend a vessel asunder
at sea. There can be no doubt either that the same result would
ensue in the case of tobacco, while undergoing its usual course of
fermentation, were it not for the interstices consequent upon the
rotundity of the hogsheads.
It is when a partial cargo is received that danger is chiefly to
be apprehended from shifting, and that precautions should be always
taken to guard against such misfortune. Only those who have
encountered a violent gale of wind, or rather who have experienced the
rolling of a vessel in a sudden calm after the gale, can form an
idea of the tremendous force of the plunges, and of the consequent
terrible impetus given to all loose articles in the vessel. It is then
that the necessity of a cautious stowage, when there is a partial
cargo, becomes obvious. When lying-to (especially with a small bead
sail), a vessel which is not properly modelled in the bows is
frequently thrown upon her beam-ends; this occurring even every
fifteen or twenty minutes upon an average, yet without any serious
consequences resulting, provided there be a proper stowage. If this,
however, has not been strictly attended to, in the first of these
heavy lurches the whole of the cargo tumbles over to the side of the
vessel which lies upon the water, and, being thus prevented from
regaining her equilibrium, as she would otherwise necessarily do,
she is certain to fill in a few seconds and go down. It is not too
much to say that at least one-half of the instances in which vessels
have foundered in heavy gales at sea may be attributed to a shifting
of cargo or of ballast.
When a partial cargo of any kind is taken on board, the whole,
after being first stowed as compactly as may be, should be covered
with a layer of stout shifting-boards, extending completely across the
vessel. Upon these boards strong temporary stanchions should be
erected, reaching to the timbers above, and thus securing every
thing in its place. In cargoes consisting of grain, or any similar
matter, additional precautions are requisite. A hold filled entirely
with grain upon leaving port will be found not more than three fourths
full upon reaching its destination- this, too, although the freight,
when measured bushel by bushel by the consignee, will overrun by a
vast deal (on account of the swelling of the grain) the quantity
consigned. This result is occasioned by settling during the voyage,
and is the more perceptible in proportion to the roughness of the
weather experienced. If grain loosely thrown in a vessel, then, is
ever so well secured by shifting-boards and stanchions, it will be
liable to shift in a long passage so greatly as to bring about the
most distressing calamities. To prevent these, every method should
be employed before leaving port to settle the cargo as much as
possible; and for this there are many contrivances, among which may be
mentioned the driving of wedges into the grain. Even after all this is
done, and unusual pains taken to secure the shifting-boards, no seaman
who knows what he is about will feel altogether secure in a gale of
any violence with a cargo of grain on board, and, least of all, with a
partial cargo. Yet there are hundreds of our coasting vessels, and, it
is likely, many more from the ports of Europe, which sail daily with
partial cargoes, even of the most dangerous species, and without any
precaution whatever. The wonder is that no more accidents occur than
do actually happen. A lamentable instance of this heedlessness
occurred to my knowledge in the case of Captain Joel Rice of the
schooner Firefly, which sailed from Richmond, Virginia, to Madeira,
with a cargo of corn, in the year 1825. The captain had gone many
voyages without serious accident, although he was in the habit of
paying no attention whatever to his stowage, more than to secure it in
the ordinary manner. He had never before sailed with a cargo of grain,
and on this occasion had the corn thrown on board loosely, when it did
not much more than half fill the vessel. For the first portion of
the voyage he met with nothing more than light breezes; but when
within a day’s sail of Madeira there came on a strong gale from the
N. N. E. which forced him to lie-to. He brought the schooner to the
wind under a double-reefed foresail alone, when she rode as well as
any vessel could be expected to do, and shipped not a drop of water.
Toward night the gale somewhat abated, and she rolled with more
unsteadiness than before, but still did very well, until a heavy lurch
threw her upon her beam-ends to starboard. The corn was then heard
to shift bodily, the force of the movement bursting open the main
hatchway. The vessel went down like a shot. This happened within
hail of a small sloop from Madeira, which picked up one of the crew
(the only person saved), and which rode out the gale in perfect
security, as indeed a jolly boat might have done under proper
management.
The stowage on board the Grampus was most clumsily done, if
stowage that could be called which was little better than a
promiscuous huddling together of oil-casks* and ship furniture. I have
already spoken of the condition of articles in the hold. On the
orlop deck there was space enough for my body (as I have stated)
between the oil-casks and the upper deck; a space was left open around
the main hatchway; and several other large spaces were left in the
stowage. Near the hole cut through the bulkhead by Augustus there
was room enough for an entire cask, and in this space I found myself
comfortably situated for the present.

* Whaling vessels are usually fitted with iron oil-tanks- why the
Grampus was not I have never been able to ascertain.

By the time my friend had got safely into the berth, and
readjusted his handcuffs and the rope, it was broad daylight. We had
made a narrow escape indeed; for scarcely had he arranged all matters,
when the mate came below, with Dirk Peters and the cook. They talked
for some time about the vessel from the Cape Verds, and seemed to be
excessively anxious for her appearance. At length the cook came to the
berth in which Augustus was lying, and seated himself in it near the
head. I could see and hear every thing from my hiding-place, for the
piece cut out had not been put back, and I was in momentary
expectation that the negro would fall against the pea-jacket, which
was hung up to conceal the aperture, in which case all would have been
discovered, and our lives would, no doubt, have been instantly
sacrificed. Our good fortune prevailed, however; and although he
frequently touched it as the vessel rolled, he never pressed against
it sufficiently to bring about a discovery. The bottom of the jacket
had been carefully fastened to the bulkhead, so that the hole might
not be seen by its swinging to one side. All this time Tiger was lying
in the foot of the berth, and appeared to have recovered in some
measure his faculties, for I could see him occasionally open his
eyes and draw a long breath.
After a few minutes the mate and cook went above, leaving Dirk
Peters behind, who, as soon as they were gone, came and sat himself
down in the place just occupied by the mate. He began to talk very
sociably with Augustus, and we could now see that the greater part
of his apparent intoxication, while the two others were with him,
was a feint. He answered all my companion’s questions with perfect
freedom; told him that he had no doubt of his father’s having been
picked up, as there were no less than five sail in sight just before
sundown on the day he was cut adrift; and used other language of a
consolatory nature, which occasioned me no less surprise than
pleasure. Indeed, I began to entertain hopes, that through the
instrumentality of Peters we might be finally enabled to regain
possession of the brig, and this idea I mentioned to Augustus as
soon as I found an opportunity. He thought the matter possible, but
urged the necessity of the greatest caution in making the attempt,
as the conduct of the hybrid appeared to be instigated by the most
arbitrary caprice alone; and, indeed, it was difficult to say if be
was at any moment of sound mind. Peters went upon deck in about an
hour, and did not return again until noon, when he brought Augustus
a plentiful supply of junk beef and pudding. Of this, when we were
left alone, I partook heartily, without returning through the hole. No
one else came down into the forecastle during the day, and at night, I
got into Augustus’ berth, where I slept soundly and sweetly until
nearly daybreak, when he awakened me upon hearing a stir upon deck,
and I regained my hiding-place as quickly as possible. When the day
was fully broke, we found that Tiger had recovered his strength
almost entirely, and gave no indications of hydrophobia, drinking a
little water that was offered him with great apparent eagerness.
During the day he regained all his former vigour and appetite. His
strange conduct had been brought on, no doubt, by the deleterious
quality of the air of the hold, and had no connexion with canine
madness. I could not sufficiently rejoice that I had persisted in
bringing him with me from the box. This day was the thirtieth of
June, and the thirteenth since the Grampus made sad from Nantucket.
On the second of July the mate came below drunk as usual, and in
an excessively good-humor. He came to Augustus’s berth, and, giving
him a slap on the back, asked him if he thought he could behave
himself if he let him loose, and whether he would promise not to be
going into the cabin again. To this, of course, my friend answered
in the affirmative, when the ruffian set him at liberty, after
making him drink from a flask of rum which he drew from his
coat-pocket. Both now went on deck, and I did not see Augustus for
about three hours. He then came below with the good news that he had
obtained permission to go about the brig as be pleased anywhere
forward of the mainmast, and that he had been ordered to sleep, as
usual, in the forecastle. He brought me, too, a good dinner, and a
plentiful supply of water. The brig was still cruising for the
vessel from the Cape Verds, and a sail was now in sight, which was
thought to be the one in question. As the events of the ensuing
eight days were of little importance, and had no direct bearing upon
the main incidents of my narrative, I will here throw them into the
form of a journal, as I do not wish to omit them altogether.
July 3.- Augustus furnished me with three blankets, with which I
contrived a comfortable bed in my hiding-place. No one came below,
except my companion, during the day. Tiger took his station in the
berth just by the aperture, and slept heavily, as if not yet
entirely recovered from the effects of his sickness. Toward night a
flaw of wind struck the brig before sail could be taken in, and very
nearly capsized her. The puff died away immediately, however, and no
damage was done beyond the splitting of the foretopsail. Dirk Peters
treated Augustus all this day with great kindness and entered into a
long conversation with him respecting the Pacific Ocean, and the
islands he had visited in that region. He asked him whether be would
not like to go with the mutineers on a kind of exploring and
pleasure voyage in those quarters, and said that the men were
gradually coming over to the mate’s views. To this Augustus thought it
best to reply that he would be glad to go on such an adventure,
since nothing better could be done, and that any thing was
preferable to a piratical life.
July 4.- The vessel in sight proved to be a small brig from
Liverpool, and was allowed to pass unmolested. Augustus spent most
of his time on deck, with a view of obtaining all the information in
his power respecting the intentions of the mutineers. They had
frequent and violent quarrels among themselves, in one of which a
harpooner, Jim Bonner, was thrown overboard. The party of the mate was
gaining ground. Jim Bonner belonged to the cook’s gang, of which
Peters was a partisan.
July 5.- About daybreak there came on a stiff breeze from the
west, which at noon freshened into a gale, so that the brig could
carry nothing more than her trysail and foresail. In taking in the
foretopsail, Simms, one of the common hands, and belonging also to
the cook’s gang, fell overboard, being very much in liquor, and was
drowned- no attempt being made to save him. The whole number of
persons on board was now thirteen, to wit: Dirk Peters; Seymour, the
of the cook’s party; the mate, whose name I never learned; Absalom
party;- besides Augustus and myself.
July 6.- The gale lasted all this day, blowing in heavy squalls,
accompanied with rain. The brig took in a good deal of water through
her seams, and one of the pumps was kept continually going, Augustus
being forced to take his turn. just at twilight a large ship passed
close by us, without having been discovered until within hail. The
ship was supposed to be the one for which the mutineers were on the
lookout. The mate hailed her, but the reply was drowned in the roaring
of the gale. At eleven, a sea was shipped amidships, which tore away a
great portion of the larboard bulwarks, and did some other slight
damage. Toward morning the weather moderated, and at sunrise there was
very little wind.
July 7.- There was a heavy swell running all this day, during
which the brig, being light, rolled excessively, and many articles
broke loose in the hold, as I could hear distinctly from my
hiding-place. I suffered a great deal from sea-sickness. Peters had a
long conversation this day with Augustus, and told him that two of
his gang, Greely and Allen, had gone over to the mate, and were
resolved to turn pirates. He put several questions to Augustus which
he did not then exactly understand. During a part of this evening the
leak gained upon the vessel; and little could be done to remedy it,
as it was occasioned by the brigs straining, and taking in the water
through her seams. A sail was thrummed, and got under the bows, which
aided us in some measure, so that we began to gain upon the leak.
July 8.- A light breeze sprang up at sunrise from the eastward,
when the mate headed the brig to the southwest, with the intention
of making some of the West India islands in pursuance of his piratical
designs. No opposition was made by Peters or the cook- at least none
in the hearing of Augustus. All idea of taking the vessel from the
Cape Verds was abandoned. The leak was now easily kept under by one
pump going every three quarters of an hour. The sail was drawn from
beneath the bows. Spoke two small schooners during the day.
July 9.- Fine weather. All hands employed in repairing bulwarks.
Peters had again a long conversation with Augustus, and spoke more
plainly than he had done heretofore. He said nothing should induce him
to come into the mate’s views, and even hinted his intention of taking
the brig out of his hands. He asked my friend if he could depend
upon his aid in such case, to which Augustus said, “Yes,” without
hesitation. Peters then said he would sound the others of his party
upon the subject, and went away. During the remainder of the day
Augustus had no opportunity of speaking with him privately.
CHAPTER VII

July 10.- Spoke a brig from Rio, bound to Norfolk. Weather hazy,
with a light baffling wind from the eastward. To-day Hartman Rogers
died, having been attacked on the eighth with spasms after drinking
a glass of grog. This man was of the cook’s party, and one upon whom
Peters placed his main reliance. He told Augustus that he believed the
mate had poisoned him, and that he expected, if he did not be on the
look-out, his own turn would come shortly. There were now only
himself, Jones, and the cook belonging to his own gang- on the other
side there were five. He had spoken to Jones about taking the
command from the mate; but the project having been coolly received, he
had been deterred from pressing the matter any further, or from saying
any thing to the cook. It was well, as it happened, that he was so
prudent, for in the afternoon the cook expressed his determination
of siding with the mate, and went over formally to that party; while
Jones took an opportunity of quarrelling with Peters, and hinted
that he would let the mate know of the plan in agitation. There was
now, evidently, no time to be lost, and Peters expressed his
determination of attempting to take the vessel at all hazards,
provided Augustus would lend him his aid. My friend at once assured
him of his willingness to enter into any plan for that purpose, and,
thinking the opportunity a favourable one, made known the fact of my
being on board. At this the hybrid was not more astonished than
delighted, as he had no reliance whatever upon Jones, whom he
already considered as belonging to the party of the mate. They went
below immediately, when Augustus called to me by name, and Peters
and myself were soon made acquainted. It was agreed that we should
attempt to retake the vessel upon the first good opportunity,
leaving Jones altogether out of our councils. In the event of success,
we were to run the brig into the first port that offered, and
deliver her up. The desertion of his party had frustrated Peters’
design of going into the Pacific- an adventure which could not be
accomplished without a crew, and he depended upon either getting
acquitted upon trial, on the score of insanity (which he solemnly
avowed had actuated him in lending his aid to the mutiny), or upon
obtaining a pardon, if found guilty, through the representations of
Augustus and myself. Our deliberations were interrupted for the
present by the cry of, “All hands take in sail,” and Peters and
Augustus ran up on deck.
As usual, the crew were nearly all drunk; and, before sail could
be properly taken in, a violent squall laid the brig on her beam-ends.
By keeping her away, however, she righted, having shipped a good
deal of water. Scarcely was everything secure, when another squall
took the vessel, and immediately afterward another- no damage being
done. There was every appearance of a gale of wind, which, indeed,
shortly came on, with great fury, from the northward and westward. All
was made as snug as possible, and we laid-to, as usual, under a
close-reefed foresail. As night drew on, the wind increased in
violence, with a remarkably heavy sea. Peters now came into the
forecastle with Augustus, and we resumed our deliberations.
We agreed that no opportunity could be more favourable than the
present for carrying our designs into effect, as an attempt at such
a moment would never be anticipated. As the brig was snugly laid-to,
there would be no necessity of manoeuvring her until good weather,
when, if we succeeded in our attempt, we might liberate one, or
perhaps two of the men, to aid us in taking her into port. The main
difficulty was the great disproportion in our forces. There were
only three of us, and in the cabin there were nine. All the arms on
board, too, were in their possession, with the exception of a pair
of small pistols which Peters had concealed about his person, and
the large seaman’s knife which he always wore in the waistband of
his pantaloons. From certain indications, too- such, for example, as
there being no such thing as an axe or a handspike lying in their
customary places- we began to fear that the mate had his suspicions,
at least in regard to Peters, and that he would let slip no
opportunity of getting rid of him. It was clear, indeed, that what we
should determine to do could not be done too soon. Still the odds
were too much against us to allow of our proceeding without the
greatest caution.
Peters proposed that he should go up on deck, and enter into
conversation with the watch (Allen), when he would be able to throw
him into the sea without trouble, and without making any
disturbance, by seizing a good opportunity, that Augustus and myself
should then come up, and endeavour to provide ourselves with some kind
of weapons from the deck, and that we should then make a rush
together, and secure the companion-way before any opposition could
be offered. I objected to this, because I could not believe that the
mate (who was a cunning fellow in all matters which did not affect his
superstitious prejudices) would suffer himself to be so easily
entrapped. The very fact of there being a watch on deck at all was
sufficient proof that he was upon the alert,- it not being usual
except in vessels where discipline is most rigidly enforced, to
station a watch on deck when a vessel is lying-to in a gale of wind.
As I address myself principally, if not altogether, to persons who
have never been to sea, it may be as well to state the exact
condition of a vessel under such circumstances. Lying-to, or, in
sea-parlance, “laying-to,” is a measure resorted to for various
purposes, and effected in various manners. In moderate weather it is
frequently done with a view of merely bringing the vessel to a
stand-still, to wait for another vessel or any similar object. If the
vessel which lies-to is under full sail, the manoeuvre is usually
accomplished by throwing round some portion of her sails, so as to let
the wind take them aback, when she becomes stationary. But we are now
speaking of lying-to in a gale of wind. This is done when the wind is
ahead, and too violent to admit of carrying sail without danger of
capsizing; and sometimes even when the wind is fair, but the sea too
heavy for the vessel to be put before it. If a vessel be suffered to
scud before the wind in a very heavy sea, much damage is usually done
her by the shipping of water over her stern, and sometimes by the
violent plunges she makes forward. This manoeuvre, then, is seldom
resorted to in such case, unless through necessity. When the vessel
is in a leaky condition she is often put before the wind even in the
heaviest seas; for, when lying-to, her seams are sure to be greatly
opened by her violent straining, and it is not so much the case when
scudding. Often, too, it becomes necessary to scud a vessel, either
when the blast is so exceedingly furious as to tear in pieces the sail
which is employed with a view of bringing her head to the wind, or
when, through the false modelling of the frame or other causes, this
main object cannot be effected.
Vessels in a gale of wind are laid-to in different manners,
according to their peculiar construction. Some lie-to best under a
foresail, and this, I believe, is the sail most usually employed.
Large square-rigged vessels have sails for the express purpose, called
storm-staysails. But the jib is occasionally employed by itself,-
sometimes the jib and foresail, or a double-reefed foresail, and not
unfrequently the after-sails, are made use of. Foretopsails are very
often found to answer the purpose better than any other species of
sail. The Grampus was generally laid-to under a close-reefed
foresail.
When a vessel is to be laid-to, her head is brought up to the wind
just so nearly as to fill the sail under which she lies when hauled
flat aft, that is, when brought diagonally across the vessel. This
being done, the bows point within a few degrees of the direction
from which the wind issues, and the windward bow of course receives
the shock of the waves. In this situation a good vessel will ride
out a very heavy gale of wind without shipping a drop of water, and
without any further attention being requisite on the part of the crew.
The helm is usually lashed down, but this is altogether unnecessary
(except on account of the noise it makes when loose), for the rudder
has no effect upon the vessel when lying-to. Indeed, the helm had
far better be left loose than lashed very fast, for the rudder is
apt to be torn off by heavy seas if there be no room for the helm to
play. As long as the sail holds, a well modelled vessel will
maintain her situation, and ride every sea, as if instinct with life
and reason. If the violence of the wind, however, should tear the sail
into pieces (a feat which it requires a perfect hurricane to
accomplish under ordinary circumstances), there is then imminent
danger. The vessel falls off from the wind, and, coming broadside to
the sea, is completely at its mercy: the only resource in this case is
to put her quietly before the wind, letting her scud until some
other sail can be set. Some vessels will lie-to under no sail
whatever, but such are not to be trusted at sea.
But to return from this digression. It had never been customary
with the mate to have any watch on deck when lying-to in a gale of
wind, and the fact that he had now one, coupled with the
circumstance of the missing axes and handspikes, fully convinced us
that the crew were too well on the watch to be taken by surprise in
the manner Peters had suggested. Something, however, was to be done,
and that with as little delay as practicable, for there could be no
doubt that a suspicion having been once entertained against Peters, he
would be sacrificed upon the earliest occasion, and one would
certainly be either found or made upon the breaking of the gale.
Augustus now suggested that if Peters could contrive to remove,
under any pretext, the piece of chain-cable which lay over the trap in
the stateroom, we might possibly be able to come upon them unawares by
means of the hold; but a little reflection convinced us that the
vessel rolled and pitched too violently for any attempt of that
nature.
By good fortune I at length hit upon the idea of working upon
the superstitious terrors and guilty conscience of the mate. It will
be remembered that one of the crew, Hartman Rogers, had died during
the morning, having been attacked two days before with spasms after
drinking some spirits and water. Peters had expressed to us his
opinion that this man had been poisoned by the mate, and for this
belief he had reasons, so he said, which were incontrovertible, but
which he could not be pre. vailed upon to explain to us- this wayward
refusal being only in keeping with other points of his singular
character. But whether or not he had any better grounds for suspecting
the mate than we had ourselves, we were easily led to fall in with his
suspicion, and determined to act accordingly.
Rogers had died about eleven in the forenoon, in violent
convulsions; and the corpse presented in a few minutes after death one
of the most horrid and loathsome spectacles I ever remember to have
seen. The stomach was swollen immensely, like that of a man who has
been drowned and lain under water for many weeks. The hands were in
the same condition, while the face was shrunken, shrivelled, and of
a chalky whiteness, except where relieved by two or three glaring
red blotches like those occasioned by the erysipelas: one of these
blotches extended diagonally across the face, completely covering up
an eye as if with a band of red velvet. In this disgusting condition
the body had been brought up from the cabin at noon to be thrown
overboard, when the mate getting a glimpse of it (for he now saw it
for the first time), and being either touched with remorse for his
crime or struck with terror at so horrible a sight, ordered the men to
sew the body up in its hammock, and allow it the usual rites of
sea-burial. Having given these directions, he went below, as if to
avoid any further sight of his victim. While preparations were
making to obey his orders, the gale came on with great fury, and the
design was abandoned for the present. The corpse, left to itself, was
washed into the larboard scuppers, where it still lay at the time of
which I speak, floundering about with the furious lurches of the brig.
Having arranged our plan, we set about putting it in execution
as speedily as possible. Peters went upon deck, and, as he had
anticipated, was immediately accosted by Allen, who appeared to be
stationed more as a watch upon the forecastle than for any other
purpose. The fate of this villain, however, was speedily and
silently decided; for Peters, approaching him in a careless manner, as
if about to address him, seized him by the throat, and, before he
could utter a single cry, tossed him over the bulwarks. He then called
to us, and we came up. Our first precaution was to look about for
something with which to arm ourselves, and in doing this we had to
proceed with great care, for it was impossible to stand on deck an
instant without holding fast, and violent seas broke over the vessel
at every plunge forward. It was indispensable, too, that we should
be quick in our operations, for every minute we expected the mate to
be up to set the pumps going, as it was evident the brig must be
taking in water very fast. After searching about for some time, we
could find nothing more fit for our purpose than the two pump-handles,
one of which Augustus took, and I the other. Having secured these,
we stripped off the shirt of the corpse and dropped the body
overboard. Peters and myself then went below, leaving Augustus to
watch upon deck, where he took his station just where Allen had been
placed, and with his back to the cabin companionway, so that, if any
of the mates gang should come up, he might suppose it was the watch.
As soon as I got below I commenced disguising myself so as to
represent the corpse of Rogers. The shirt which we had taken from the
body aided us very much, for it was of singular form and character,
and easily recognizable- a kind of smock, which the deceased
wore over his other clothing. It was a blue stockinett, with large
white stripes running across. Having put this on, I proceeded to equip
myself with a false stomach, in imitation of the horrible deformity of
the swollen corpse. This was soon effected by means of stuffing with
some bedclothes. I then gave the same appearance to my hands by
drawing on a pair of white woollen mittens, and filling them in with
any kind of rags that offered themselves. Peters then arranged my
face, first rubbing it well over with white chalk, and afterward
blotching it with blood, which he took from a cut in his finger. The
streak across the eye was not forgotten and presented a most
shocking appearance.
CHAPTER VIII

As I viewed myself in a fragment of looking-glass which hung up in
the cabin, and by the dim light of a kind of battle-lantern, I was
so impressed with a sense of vague awe at my appearance, and at the
recollection of the terrific reality which I was thus representing,
that I was seized with a violent tremour, and could scarcely summon
resolution to go on with my part. It was necessary, however, to act
with decision, and Peters and myself went upon deck.
We there found everything safe, and, keeping close to the
bulwarks, the three of us crept to the cabin companion-way. It was
only partially closed, precautions having been taken to prevent its
being suddenly pushed to from without, by means of placing billets
of wood on the upper step so as to interfere with the shutting. We
found no difficulty in getting a full view of the interior of the
cabin through the cracks where the hinges were placed. It now proved
to have been very fortunate for us that we had not attempted to take
them by surprise, for they were evidently on the alert. Only one was
asleep, and he lying just at the foot of the companion-ladder, with
a musket by his side. The rest were seated on several mattresses,
which had been taken from the berths and thrown on the floor. They
were engaged in earnest conversation; and although they had been
carousing, as appeared from two empty jugs, with some tin tumblers
which lay about, they were not as much intoxicated as usual. All had
knives, one or two of them pistols, and a great many muskets were
lying in a berth close at hand.
We listened to their conversation for some time before we could
make up our minds how to act, having as yet resolved on nothing
determinate, except that we would attempt to paralyze their exertions,
when we should attack them, by means of the apparition of Rogers. They
were discussing their piratical plans, in which all we could hear
distinctly was, that they would unite with the crew of a schooner
Hornet, and, if possible, get the schooner herself into their
possession preparatory to some attempt on a large scale, the
particulars of which could not be made out by either of us.
One of the men spoke of Peters, when the mate replied to him in
a low voice which could not be distinguished, and afterward added more
loudly, that “he could not understand his being so much forward with
the captain’s brat in the forecastle, and he thought the sooner both
of them were overboard the better.” To this no answer was made, but we
could easily perceive that the hint was well received by the whole
party, and more particularly by Jones. At this period I was
excessively agitated, the more so as I could see that neither Augustus
nor Peters could determine how to act. I made up my mind, however,
to sell my life as dearly as possible, and not to suffer myself to
be overcome by any feelings of trepidation.
The tremendous noise made by the roaring of the wind in the
rigging, and the washing of the sea over the deck, prevented us from
hearing what was said, except during momentary lulls. In one of these,
we all distinctly heard the mate tell one of the men to “go forward,
have an eye upon them, for he wanted no such secret doings on board
the brig.” It was well for us that the pitching of the vessel at
this moment was so violent as to prevent this order from being carried
into instant execution. The cook got up from his mattress to go for
us, when a tremendous lurch, which I thought would carry away the
masts, threw him headlong against one of the larboard stateroom doors,
bursting it open, and creating a good deal of other confusion.
Luckily, neither of our party was thrown from his position, and we had
time to make a precipitate retreat to the forecastle, and arrange a
hurried plan of action before the messenger made his appearance, or
rather before he put his head out of the companion-hatch, for he did
not come on deck. From this station he could not notice the absence of
Allen, and he accordingly bawled out, as if to him, repeating the
orders of the mate. Peters cried out, “Ay, ay,” in a disguised
voice, and the cook immediately went below, without entertaining a
suspicion that all was not right.
My two companions now proceeded boldly aft and down into the
cabin, Peters closing the door after him in the same manner he had
found it. The mate received them with feigned cordiality, and told
Augustus that, since he had behaved himself so well of late, he
might take up his quarters in the cabin and be one of them for the
future. He then poured him out a tumbler half full of rum, and made
him drink it. All this I saw and heard, for I followed my friends to
the cabin as soon as the door was shut, and took up my old point of
observation. I had brought with me the two pump-handles, one of
which I secured near the companion-way, to be ready for use when
required.
I now steadied myself as well as possible so as to have a good
view of all that was passing within, and endeavoured to nerve myself
to the task of descending among the mutineers when Peters should
make a signal to me, as agreed upon. Presently he contrived to turn
the conversation upon the bloody deeds of the mutiny, and by degrees
led the men to talk of the thousand superstitions which are so
universally current among seamen. I could not make out all that was
said, but I could plainly see the effects of the conversation in the
countenances of those present. The mate was evidently much agitated,
and presently, when some one mentioned the terrific appearance of
Rogers’ corpse, I thought he was upon the point of swooning. Peters
now asked him if he did not think it would be better to have the
body thrown overboard at once as it was too horrible a sight to see it
floundering about in the scuppers. At this the villain absolutely
gasped for breath, and turned his head slowly round upon his
companions, as if imploring some one to go up and perform the task. No
one, however, stirred, and it was quite evident that the whole party
were wound up to the highest pitch of nervous excitement. Peters now
made me the signal. I immediately threw open the door of the
companion-way, and, descending, without uttering a syllable, stood
erect in the midst of the party.
The intense effect produced by this sudden apparition is not at
all to be wondered at when the various circumstances are taken into
consideration. Usually, in cases of a similar nature, there is left in
the mind of the spectator some glimmering of doubt as to the reality
of the vision before his eyes; a degree of hope, however feeble,
that he is the victim of chicanery, and that the apparition is not
actually a visitant from the old world of shadows. It is not too
much to say that such remnants of doubt have been at the bottom of
almost every such visitation, and that the appalling horror which
has sometimes been brought about, is to be attributed, even in the
cases most in point, and where most suffering has been experienced,
more to a kind of anticipative horror, lest the apparition might
possibly be real, than to an unwavering belief in its reality. But, in
the present instance, it will be seen immediately, that in the minds
of the mutineers there was not even the shadow of a basis upon which
to rest a doubt that the apparition of Rogers was indeed a
revivification of his disgusting corpse, or at least its spiritual
image. The isolated situation of the brig, with its entire
inaccessibility on account of the gale, confined the apparently
possible means of deception within such narrow and definite limits,
that they must have thought themselves enabled to survey them all at
a glance. They had now been at sea twenty-four days, without holding
more than a speaking communication with any vessel whatever. The whole
of the crew, too- at least all whom they had the most remote reason
for suspecting to be on board- were assembled in the cabin, with the
exception of Allen, the watch; and his gigantic stature (be was six
feet six inches high) was too familiar in their eyes to permit the
notion that he was the apparition before them to enter their minds
even for an instant. Add to these considerations the awe-inspiring
nature of the tempest, and that of the conversation brought about by
Peters; the deep impression which the loathsomeness of the actual
corpse had made in the morning upon the imaginations of the men; the
excellence of the imitation in my person, and the uncertain and
wavering light in which they beheld me, as the glare of the cabin
lantern, swinging violently to and fro, fell dubiously and fitfully
upon my figure, and there will be no reason to wonder that the
deception had even more than the entire effect which we had
anticipated. The mate sprang up from the mattress on which he was
lying, and, without uttering a syllable, fell back, stone dead, upon
the cabin floor, and was hurled to the leeward like a log by a heavy
roll of the brig. Of the remaining seven, there were but three who had
at first any degree of presence of mind. The four others sat for
some time rooted apparently to the floor, the most pitiable objects of
horror and utter despair my eyes ever encountered. The only opposition
we experienced at all was from the cook, John Hunt, and Richard
Parker; but they made but a feeble and irresolute defence. The two
former were shot instantly by Peters, and I felled Parker with a blow
on the head from the pump-handle which I had brought with me. In the
meantime, Augustus seized one of the muskets lying on the floor
now but three remaining; but by this time they had become aroused from
their lethargy, and perhaps began to see that a deception had been
practised upon them, for they fought with great resolution and fury,
and, but for the immense muscular strength of Peters, might have
the floor, stabbed him in several places along the right arm, and
would no doubt have soon dispatched him (as neither Peters nor
myself could immediately get rid of our own antagonists) had it not
been for the timely aid of a friend, upon whose assistance we, surely,
had never depended. This friend was no other than Tiger. With a low
growl, he bounded into the cabin, at a most critical moment for
Augustus, and throwing himself upon Jones, pinned him to the floor
in an instant. My friend, however, was now too much injured to
render us any aid whatever, and I was so encumbered with my disguise
that I could do but little. The dog would not leave his hold upon
the throat of Jones- Peters, nevertheless, was far more than a match
for the two men who remained, and would, no doubt, have dispatched
them sooner, had it not been for the narrow space in which he had to
act, and the tremendous lurches of the vessel. Presently he was
enabled to get hold of a heavy stool, several of which lay about the
floor. With this he beat out the brains of Greely as he was in the act
of discharging a musket at me, and immediately afterward a roll of the
brig throwing him in contact with Hicks, he seized him by the
throat, and, by dint of sheer strength, strangled him instantaneously.
Thus, in far less time than I have taken to tell it, we found
ourselves masters of the brig.
The only person of our opponents who was left alive was Richard
Parker. This man, it will be remembered, I had knocked down with a
blow from the pump-handle at the commencement of the attack. He now
lay motionless by the door of the shattered stateroom; but, upon
Peters touching him with his foot, he spoke, and entreated for
mercy. His head was only slightly cut, and otherwise he had received
no injury, having been merely stunned by the blow. He now got up, and,
for the present, we secured his hands behind his back. The dog was
still growling over Jones; but, upon examination, we found him
completely dead, the blood issuing in a stream from a deep wound in
the throat, inflicted, no doubt, by the sharp teeth of the animal.
It was now about one o’clock in the morning, and the wind was
still blowing tremendously. The brig evidently laboured much more than
usual, and it became absolutely necessary that something should be
done with a view of easing her in some measure. At almost every roll
to leeward she shipped a sea, several of which came partially down
into the cabin during our scuffle, the hatchway having been left
open by myself when I descended. The entire range of bulwarks to
larboard had been swept away, as well as the caboose, together with
the jollyboat from the counter. The creaking and working of the
mainmast, too, gave indication that it was nearly sprung. To make room
for more stowage in the afterhold, the heel of this mast had been
stepped between decks (a very reprehensible practice, occasionally
resorted to by ignorant ship-builders), so that it was in imminent
danger of working from its step. But, to crown all our difficulties,
we plummed the well, and found no less than seven feet of water.
Leaving the bodies of the crew lying in the cabin, we got to
work immediately at the pumps- Parker, of course, being set at
liberty to assist us in the labour. Augustus’s arm was bound up as
well as we could effect it, and he did what he could, but that was not
much. However, we found that we could just manage to keep the leak
from gaining upon us by having one pump constantly going. As there
were only four of us, this was severe labour; but we endeavoured to
keep up our spirits, and looked anxiously for daybreak, when we
hoped to lighten the brig by cutting away the mainmast.
In this manner we passed a night of terrible anxiety and
fatigue, and, when the day at length broke, the gale had neither
abated in the least, nor were there any signs of its abating. We now
dragged the bodies on deck and threw them overboard. Our next care was
to get rid of the mainmast. The necessary preparations having been
made, Peters cut away at the mast (having found axes in the cabin),
while the rest of us stood by the stays and lanyards. As the brig gave
a tremendous lee-lurch, the word was given to cut away the
weather-lanyards, which being done, the whole mass of wood and rigging
plunged into the sea, clear of the brig, and without doing any
material injury. We now found that the vessel did not labour quite
as much as before, but our situation was still exceedingly precarious,
and in spite of the utmost exertions, we could not gain upon the
leak without the aid of both pumps. The little assistance which
Augustus could render us was not really of any importance. To add to
our distress, a heavy sea, striking the brig to the windward, threw
her off several points from the wind, and, before she could regain her
position, another broke completely over her, and hurled her full
upon her beam-ends. The ballast now shifted in a mass to leeward
(the stowage had been knocking about perfectly at random for some
time), and for a few moments we thought nothing could save us from
capsizing. Presently, however, we partially righted; but the ballast
still retaining its place to larboard, we lay so much along that it
was useless to think of working the pumps, which indeed we could not
have done much longer in any case, as our hands were entirely raw with
the excessive labour we had undergone, and were bleeding in the most
horrible manner.
Contrary to Parker’s advice, we now proceeded to cut away the
foremast, and at length accomplished it after much difficulty, owing
to the position in which we lay. In going overboard the wreck took
with it the bowsprit, and left us a complete hulk.
So far we had had reason to rejoice in the escape of our
longboat, which had received no damage from any of the huge seas which
had come on board. But we had not long to congratulate ourselves;
for the foremast having gone, and, of course, the foresail with it, by
which the brig had been steadied, every sea now made a complete breach
over us, and in five minutes our deck was swept from stern to stern,
the longboat and starboard bulwarks torn off, and even the windlass
shattered into fragments. It was, indeed, hardly possible for us to be
in a more pitiable condition.
At noon there seemed to be some slight appearance of the gale’s
abating, but in this we were sadly disappointed, for it only lulled
for a few minutes to blow with redoubled fury. About four in the
afternoon it was utterly impossible to stand up against the violence
of the blast; and, as the night closed in upon us, I had not a
shadow of hope that the vessel would hold together until morning.
By midnight we had settled very deep in the water, which was now
up to the orlop deck. The rudder went soon afterward, the sea which
tore it away lifting the after portion of the brig entirely from the
water, against which she thumped in her descent with such a concussion
as would be occasioned by going ashore. We had all calculated that the
rudder would hold its own to the last, as it was unusually strong,
being rigged as I have never seen one rigged either before or since.
Down its main timber there ran a succession of stout iron hooks, and
others in the same manner down the stern-post. Through these hooks
there extended a very thick wrought-iron rod, the rudder being thus
held to the stern-post and swinging freely on the rod. The
tremendous force of the sea which tore it off may be estimated by
the fact, that the hooks in the stern-post, which ran entirely through
it, being clinched on the inside, were drawn every one of them
completely out of the solid wood.
We had scarcely time to draw breath after the violence of this
shock, when one of the most tremendous waves I had then ever known
broke right on board of us, sweeping the companion-way clear off,
bursting in the hatchways, and firing every inch of the vessel with
water.
CHAPTER IX

Luckily, just before night, all four of us had lashed ourselves
firmly to the fragments of the windlass, lying in this manner as
flat upon the deck as possible. This precaution alone saved us from
destruction. As it was, we were all more or less stunned by the
immense weight of water which tumbled upon us, and which did not
roll from above us until we were nearly exhausted. As soon as I
could recover breath, I called aloud to my companions. Augustus
alone replied, saying: “It is all over with us, and may God have mercy
upon our souls!” By-and-by both the others were enabled to speak, when
they exhorted us to take courage, as there was still hope; it being
impossible, from the nature of the cargo, that the brig could go down,
and there being every chance that the gale would blow over by the
morning. These words inspired me with new life; for, strange as it may
seem, although it was obvious that a vessel with a cargo of empty
oil-casks would not sink, I had been hitherto so confused in mind as
to have overlooked this consideration altogether; and the danger which
I had for some time regarded as the most imminent was that of
foundering. As hope revived within me, I made use of every opportunity
to strengthen the lashings which held me to the remains of the
windlass, and in this occupation I soon discovered that my
companions were also busy. The night was as dark as it could
possibly be, and the horrible shrieking din and confusion which
surrounded us it is useless to attempt describing. Our deck lay
level with the sea, or rather we were encircled with a towering
ridge of foam, a portion of which swept over us even instant. It is
not too much to say that our heads were not fairly out of the water
more than one second in three. Although we lay close together, no
one of us could see the other, or, indeed, any portion of the brig
itself, upon which we were so tempestuously hurled about. At intervals
we called one to the other, thus endeavouring to keep alive hope,
and render consolation and encouragement to such of us as stood most
in need of it. The feeble condition of Augustus made him an object
of solicitude with us all; and as, from the lacerated condition of his
right arm, it must have been impossible for him to secure his lashings
with any degree of firmness, we were in momentary expectation of
finding that he had gone overboard- yet to render him aid was a thing
altogether out of the question. Fortunately, his station was more
secure than that of any of the rest of us; for the upper part of his
body lying just beneath a portion of the shattered windlass, the seas,
as they tumbled in upon him, were greatly broken in their violence. In
any other situation than this (into which he had been accidentally
thrown after having lashed himself in a very exposed spot) he must
inevitably have perished before morning. Owing to the brig’s lying
so much along, we were all less liable to be washed off than otherwise
would have been the case. The heel, as I have before stated, was to
larboard, about one half of the deck being constantly under water. The
seas, therefore, which struck us to starboard were much broken, by the
vessel’s side, only reaching us in fragments as we lay flat on our
faces; while those which came from larboard being what are called
back-water seas, and obtaining little hold upon us on account of our
posture, had not sufficient force to drag us from our fastenings.
In this frightful situation we lay until the day broke so as to
show us more fully the horrors which surrounded us. The brig was a
mere log, rolling about at the mercy of every wave; the gale was
upon the increase, if any thing, blowing indeed a complete
hurricane, and there appeared to us no earthly prospect of
deliverance. For several hours we held on in silence, expecting
every moment that our lashings would either give way, that the remains
of the windlass would go by the board, or that some of the huge
seas, which roared in every direction around us and above us, would
drive the hulk so far beneath the water that we should be drowned
before it could regain the surface. By the mercy of God, however, we
were preserved from these imminent dangers, and about midday were
cheered by the light of the blessed sun. Shortly afterward we could
perceive a sensible diminution in the force of the wind, when, now for
the first time since the latter part of the evening before, Augustus
spoke, asking Peters, who lay closest to him, if he thought there
was any possibility of our being saved. As no reply was at first
made to this question, we all concluded that the hybrid had been
drowned where he lay; but presently, to our great joy, he spoke,
although very feebly, saying that he was in great pain, being so cut
by the tightness of his lashings across the stomach, that he must
either find means of loosening them or perish, as it was impossible
that he could endure his misery much longer. This occasioned us
great distress, as it was altogether useless to think of aiding him in
any manner while the sea continued washing over us as it did. We
exhorted him to bear his sufferings with fortitude, and promised to
seize the first opportunity which should offer itself to relieve
him. He replied that it would soon be too late; that it would be all
over with him before we could help him; and then, after moaning for
some minutes, lay silent, when we concluded that he had perished.
As the evening drew on, the sea had fallen so much that scarcely
more than one wave broke over the hulk from windward in the course
of five minutes, and the wind had abated a great deal, although
still blowing a severe gale. I had not heard any of my companions
speak for hours, and now called to Augustus. He replied, although
very feebly, so that I could not distinguish what he said. I then
spoke to Peters and to Parker, neither of whom returned any answer.
Shortly after this period I fell into a state of partial
insensibility, during which the most pleasing images floated in my
imagination; such as green trees, waving meadows of ripe grain,
processions of dancing girls, troops of cavalry, and other phantasies.
I now remember that, in all which passed before my mind’s eye,
motion was a predominant idea. Thus, I never fancied any stationary
object, such as a house, a mountain, or any thing of that kind; but
windmills, ships, large birds, balloons, people on horseback,
carriages driving furiously, and similar moving objects, presented
themselves in endless succession. When I recovered from this state,
the sun was, as near as I could guess, an hour high. I had the
greatest difficulty in bringing to recollection the various
circumstances connected with my situation, and for some time
remained firmly convinced that I was still in the hold of the brig,
near the box, and that the body of Parker was that of Tiger.
When I at length completely came to my senses, I found that the
wind blew no more than a moderate breeze, and that the sea was
comparatively calm; so much so that it only washed over the brig
amidships. My left arm had broken loose from its lashings, and was
much cut about the elbow; my right was entirely benumbed, and the hand
and wrist swollen prodigiously by the pressure of the rope, which
had worked from the shoulder downward. I was also in great pain from
another rope which went about my waist, and had been drawn to an
insufferable degree of tightness. Looking round upon my companions,
I saw that Peters still lived, although a thick line was pulled so
forcibly around his loins as to give him the appearance of being cut
nearly in two; as I stiffed, he made a feeble motion to me with his
hand, pointing to the rope. Augustus gave no indication of life
whatever, and was bent nearly double across a splinter of the
windlass. Parker spoke to me when he saw me moving, and asked me if
I had not sufficient strength to release him from his situation,
saying that if I would summon up what spirits I could, and contrive to
untie him, we might yet save our lives; but that otherwise we must all
perish. I told him to take courage, and I would endeavor to free
him. Feeling in my pantaloons’ pocket, I got hold of my penknife, and,
after several ineffectual attempts, at length succeeded in opening it.
I then, with my left hand, managed to free my right from its
fastenings, and afterward cut the other ropes which held me. Upon
attempting, however, to move from my position, I found that my legs
failed me altogether, and that I could not get up; neither could I
move my right arm in any direction. Upon mentioning this to Parker, he
advised me to lie quiet for a few minutes, holding on to the
windlass with my left hand, so as to allow time for the blood to
circulate. Doing this, the numbness presently began to die away so
that I could move first one of my legs, and then the other, and,
shortly afterward I regained the partial use of my right arm. I now
crawled with great caution toward Parker, without getting on my
legs, and soon cut loose all the lashings about him, when, after a
short delay, he also recovered the partial use of his limbs. We now
lost no time in getting loose the rope from Peters. It had cut a
deep gash through the waistband of his woollen pantaloons, and through
two shirts, and made its way into his groin, from which the blood
flowed out copiously as we removed the cordage. No sooner had we
removed it, however, than he spoke, and seemed to experience instant
relief- being able to move with much greater ease than either Parker
or myself- this was no doubt owing to the discharge of blood.
We had little hopes that Augustus would recover, as he evinced
no signs of life; but, upon getting to him, we discovered that he
had merely swooned from the loss of blood, the bandages we had
placed around his wounded arm having been torn off by the water;
none of the ropes which held him to the windlass were drawn
sufficiently tight to occasion his death. Having relieved him from the
fastenings, and got him clear of the broken wood about the windlass,
we secured him in a dry place to windward, with his head somewhat
lower than his body, and all three of us busied ourselves in chafing
his limbs. In about half an hour he came to himself, although it was
not until the next morning that he gave signs of recognizing any of
us, or had sufficient strength to speak. By the time we had thus got
clear of our lashings it was quite dark, and it began to cloud up,
so that we were again in the greatest agony lest it should come on
to blow hard, in which event nothing could have saved us from
perishing, exhausted as we were. By good fortune it continued very
moderate during the night, the sea subsiding every minute, which
gave us great hopes of ultimate preservation. A gentle breeze still
blew from the N. W., but the weather was not at all cold. Augustus was
lashed carefully to windward in such a manner as to prevent him from
slipping overboard with the rolls of the vessel, as he was still too
weak to hold on at all. For ourselves there was no such necessity.
We sat close together, supporting each other with the aid of the
broken ropes about the windlass, and devising methods of escape from
our frightful situation. We derived much comfort from taking off our
clothes and wringing the water from them. When we put them on after
this, they felt remarkably warm and pleasant, and served to invigorate
us in no little degree. We helped Augustus off with his, and wrung
them for him, when he experienced the same comfort.
Our chief sufferings were now those of hunger and thirst, and when
we looked forward to the means of relief in this respect, our hearts
sunk within us, and we were induced to regret that we had escaped
the less dreadful perils of the sea. We endeavoured, however, to
console ourselves with the hope of being speedily picked up by some
vessel and encouraged each other to bear with fortitude the evils that
might happen.
The morning of the fourteenth at length dawned, and the weather
still continued clear and pleasant, with a steady but very light
breeze from the N. W. The sea was now quite smooth, and as, from
some cause which we could not determine, the brig did not he so much
along as she had done before, the deck was comparatively dry, and we
could move about with freedom. We had now been better than three
entire days and nights without either food or drink, and it became
absolutely necessary that we should make an attempt to get up
something from below. As the brig was completely full of water, we
went to this work despondently, and with but little expectation of
being able to obtain anything. We made a kind of drag by driving
some nails which we broke out from the remains of the
companion-hatch into two pieces of wood. Tying these across each
other, and fastening them to the end of a rope, we threw them into the
cabin, and dragged them to and fro, in the faint hope of being thus
able to entangle some article which might be of use to us for food, or
which might at least render us assistance in getting it. We spent
the greater part of the morning in this labour without effect, fishing
up nothing more than a few bedclothes, which were readily caught by
the nails. Indeed, our contrivance was so very clumsy that any greater
success was hardly to be anticipated.
We now tried the forecastle, but equally in vain, and were upon
the brink of despair, when Peters proposed that we should fasten a
rope to his body, and let him make an attempt to get up something by
diving into the cabin. This proposition we hailed with all the delight
which reviving hope could inspire. He proceeded immediately to strip
off his clothes with the exception of his pantaloons; and a strong
rope was then carefully fastened around his middle, being brought up
over his shoulders in such a manner that there was no possibility of
its slipping. The undertaking was one of great difficulty and
danger; for, as we could hardly expect to find much, if any, provision
in the cabin itself, it was necessary that the diver, after letting
himself down, should make a turn to the right, and proceed under water
a distance of ten or twelve feet, in a narrow passage, to the
storeroom, and return, without drawing breath.
Everything being ready, Peters now descended in the cabin, going
down the companion-ladder until the water reached his chin. He then
plunged in, head first, turning to the right as he plunged, and
endeavouring to make his way to the storeroom. In this first
attempt, however, he was altogether unsuccessful. In less than half
a minute after his going down we felt the rope jerked violently (the
signal we had agreed upon when he desired to be drawn up). We
accordingly drew him up instantly, but so incautiously as to bruise
him badly against the ladder. He had brought nothing with him, and had
been unable to penetrate more than a very little way into the passage,
owing to the constant exertions he found it necessary to make in order
to keep himself from floating up against the deck. Upon getting out he
was very much exhausted, and had to rest full fifteen minutes before
he could again venture to descend.
The second attempt met with even worse success; for he remained so
long under water without giving the signal, that, becoming alarmed for
his safety, we drew him out without it, and found that he was almost
at the last gasp, having, as he said, repeatedly jerked at the rope
without our feeling it. This was probably owing to a portion of it
having become entangled in the balustrade at the foot of the ladder.
This balustrade was, indeed, so much in the way, that we determined to
remove it, if possible, before proceeding with our design. As we had
no means of getting it away except by main force, we all descended
into the water as far as we could on the ladder, and giving a pull
against it with our united strength, succeeded in breaking it down.
The third attempt was equally unsuccessful with the two first, and
it now became evident that nothing could be done in this manner
without the aid of some weight with which the diver might steady
himself, and keep to the floor of the cabin while making his search.
For a long time we looked about in vain for something which might
answer this purpose; but at length, to our great joy, we discovered
one of the weather-forechains so loose that we had not the least
difficulty in wrenching it off. Having fastened this securely to one
of his ankles, Peters now made his fourth descent into the cabin,
and this time succeeded in making his way to the door of the steward’s
room. To his inexpressible grief, however, he found it locked, and was
obliged to return without effecting an entrance, as, with the greatest
exertion, he could remain under water not more, at the utmost
extent, than a single minute. Our affairs now looked gloomy indeed,
and neither Augustus nor myself could refrain from bursting into
tears, as we thought of the host of difficulties which encompassed us,
and the slight probability which existed of our finally making an
escape. But this weakness was not of long duration. Throwing ourselves
on our knees to God, we implored His aid in the many dangers which
beset us; and arose with renewed hope and vigor to think what could
yet be done by mortal means toward accomplishing our deliverance.
CHAPTER X

Shortly afterward an incident occurred which I am induced to
look upon as more intensely productive of emotion, as far more replete
with the extremes first of delight and then of horror, than even any
of the thousand chances which afterward befell me in nine long
years, crowded with events of the most startling and, in many cases,
of the most unconceived and unconceivable character. We were lying
on the deck near the companion-way, and debating the possibility of
yet making our way into the storeroom, when, looking toward
Augustus, who lay fronting myself, I perceived that he had become
all at once deadly pale, and that his lips were quivering in the
most singular and unaccountable manner. Greatly alarmed, I spoke to
him, but he made me no reply, and I was beginning to think that he was
suddenly taken ill, when I took notice of his eyes, which were glaring
apparently at some object behind me. I turned my head, and shall never
forget the ecstatic joy which thrilled through every particle of my
frame, when I perceived a large brig bearing down upon us, and not
more than a couple of miles off. I sprung to my feet as if a musket
bullet had suddenly struck me to the heart; and, stretching out my
arms in the direction of the vessel, stood in this manner, motionless,
and unable to articulate a syllable. Peters and Parker were equally
affected, although in different ways. The former danced about the deck
like a madman, uttering the most extravagant rhodomontades,
intermingled with howls and imprecations, while the latter burst
into tears, and continued for many minutes weeping like a child.
The vessel in sight was a large hermaphrodite brig, of a Dutch
build, and painted black, with a tawdry gilt figure-head. She had
evidently seen a good deal of rough weather, and, we supposed, had
suffered much in the gale which had proved so disastrous to ourselves;
for her foretopmast was gone, and some of her starboard bulwarks. When
we first saw her, she was, as I have already said, about two miles off
and to windward, bearing down upon us. The breeze was very gentle, and
what astonished us chiefly was, that she had no other sails set than
her foremast and mainsail, with a flying jib- of course she came down
but slowly, and our impatience amounted nearly to phrensy. The awkward
manner in which she steered, too, was remarked by all of us, even
excited as we were. She yawed about so considerably, that once or
twice we thought it impossible she could see us, or imagined that,
having seen us, and discovered no person on board, she was about to
tack and make off in another direction. Upon each of these occasions
we screamed and shouted at the top of our voices, when the stranger
would appear to change for a moment her intention, and again hold on
toward us- this singular conduct being repeated two or three times,
so that at last we could think of no other manner of accounting for it
than by supposing the helmsman to be in liquor.
No person was seen upon her decks until she arrived within about a
quarter of a mile of us. We then saw three seamen, whom by their dress
we took to be Hollanders. Two of these were lying on some old sails
near the forecastle, and the third, who appeared to be looking at us
with great curiosity, was leaning over the starboard bow near the
bowsprit. This last was a stout and tall man, with a very dark skin.
He seemed by his manner to be encouraging us to have patience, nodding
to us in a cheerful although rather odd way, and smiling constantly,
so as to display a set of the most brilliantly white teeth. As his
vessel drew nearer, we saw a red flannel cap which he had on fall from
his head into the water; but of this he took little or no notice,
continuing his odd smiles and gesticulations. I relate these things
and circumstances minutely, and I relate them, it must be
understood, precisely as they appeared to us.
The brig came on slowly, and now more steadily than before,
and- I cannot speak calmly of this event-our hearts leaped up wildly
within us, and we poured out our whole souls in shouts and
thanksgiving to God for the complete, unexpected, and glorious
deliverance that was so palpably at hand. Of a sudden, and all at
once, there came wafted over the ocean from the strange vessel
(which was now close upon us) a smell, a stench, such as the whole
world has no name for- no conception of- hellish- utterly
suffocating- insufferable, inconceivable. I gasped for breath, and
turning to my companions, perceived that they were paler than
marble. But we had now no time left for question or surmise- the brig
was within fifty feet of us, and it seemed to be her intention to
run under our counter, that we might board her without putting out a
boat. We rushed aft, when, suddenly, a wide yaw threw her off full
five or six points from the course she had been running, and, as she
passed under our stern at the distance of about twenty feet, we had
a full view of her decks. Shall I ever forget the triple horror of
that spectacle? Twenty-five or thirty human bodies, among whom were
several females, lay scattered about between the counter and the
galley in the last and most loathsome state of putrefaction. We
plainly saw that not a soul lived in that fated vessel! Yet we could
not help shouting to the dead for help! Yes, long and loudly did we
beg, in the agony of the moment, that those silent and disgusting
images would stay for us, would not abandon us to become like them,
would receive us among their goodly company! We were raving with
horror and despair- thoroughly mad through the anguish of our
grievous disappointment.
As our first loud yell of terror broke forth, it was replied to by
something, from near the bowsprit of the stranger, so closely
resembling the scream of a human voice that the nicest ear might
have been startled and deceived. At this instant another sudden yaw
brought the region of the forecastle for a moment into view, and we
beheld at once the origin of the sound. We saw the tall stout figure
still leaning on the bulwark, and still nodding his head to and fro,
but his face was now turned from us so that we could not behold it.
His arms were extended over the rail, and the palms of his hands
fell outward. His knees were lodged upon a stout rope, tightly
stretched, and reaching from the heel of the bowsprit to a cathead. On
his back, from which a portion of the shirt had been torn, leaving
it bare, there sat a huge sea-gull, busily gorging itself with the
horrible flesh, its bill and talons deep buried, and its white plumage
spattered all over with blood. As the brig moved farther round so as
to bring us close in view, the bird, with much apparent difficulty,
drew out its crimsoned head, and, after eyeing us for a moment as if
stupefied, arose lazily from the body upon which it had been feasting,
and, flying directly above our deck, hovered there a while with a
portion of clotted and liver-like substance in its beak. The horrid
morsel dropped at length with a sullen splash immediately at the
feet of Parker. May God forgive me, but now, for the first time, there
flashed through my mind a thought, a thought which I will not mention,
and I felt myself making a step toward the ensanguined spot. I
looked upward, and the eyes of Augustus met my own with a degree of
intense and eager meaning which immediately brought me to my senses. I
sprang forward quickly, and, with a deep shudder, threw the
frightful thing into the sea.
The body from which it had been taken, resting as it did upon
the rope, had been easily swayed to and fro by the exertions of the
carnivorous bird, and it was this motion which had at first
impressed us with the belief of its being alive. As the gull
relieved it of its weight, it swung round and fell partially over,
so that the face was fully discovered. Never, surely, was any object
so terribly full of awe! The eyes were gone, and the whole flesh
around the mouth, leaving the teeth utterly naked. This, then, was the
smile which had cheered us on to hope! this the- but I forbear. The
brig, as I have already told, passed under our stern, and made its way
slowly but steadily to leeward. With her and with her terrible crew
went all our gay visions of deliverance and joy. Deliberately as she
went by, we might possibly have found means of boarding her, had not
our sudden disappointment and the appalling nature of the discovery
which accompanied it laid entirely prostrate every active faculty of
mind and body. We had seen and felt, but we could neither think nor
act, until, alas! too late. How much our intellects had been
weakened by this incident may be estimated by the fact, that when
the vessel had proceeded so far that we could perceive no more than
the half of her hull, the proposition was seriously entertained of
attempting to overtake her by swimming!
I have, since this period, vainly endeavoured to obtain some
clew to the hideous uncertainty which enveloped the fate of the
stranger. Her build and general appearance, as I have before stated,
led us to the belief that she was a Dutch trader, and the dresses of
the crew also sustained this opinion. We might have easily seen the
name upon her stern, and, indeed, taken other observations, which
would have guided us in making out her character; but the intense
excitement of the moment blinded us to every thing of that nature.
From the saffron-like hue of such of the corpses as were not
entirely decayed, we concluded that the whole of her company had
perished by the yellow fever, or some other virulent disease of the
same fearful kind. If such were the case (and I know not what else
to imagine), death, to judge from the positions of the bodies, must
have come upon them in a manner awfully sudden and overwhelming, in
a way totally distinct from that which generally characterizes even
the most deadly pestilences with which mankind are acquainted. It is
possible, indeed, that poison, accidentally introduced into some of
their sea-stores, may have brought about the disaster, or that the
eating of some unknown venomous species of fish, or other marine
animal, or oceanic bird, might have induced it,- but it is utterly
useless to form conjectures where all is involved, and will, no doubt,
remain for ever involved, in the most appalling and unfathomable
mystery.
CHAPTER XI

We spent the remainder of the day in a condition of stupid
lethargy, gazing after the retreating vessel until the darkness,
hiding her from our sight, recalled us in some measure to our
senses. The pangs of hunger and thirst then returned, absorbing all
other cares and considerations. Nothing, however, could be done
until the morning, and, securing ourselves as well as possible, we
endeavoured to snatch a little repose. In this I succeeded beyond my
expectations, sleeping until my companions, who had not been so
fortunate, aroused me at daybreak to renew our attempts at getting
up provisions from the hull.
It was now a dead calm, with the sea as smooth as I have ever
known it,- the weather warm and pleasant. The brig was out of sight.
We commenced our operations by wrenching off, with some trouble,
another of the forechains; and having fastened both to Peters’ feet,
he again made an endeavour to reach the door of the storeroom,
thinking it possible that he might be able to force it open,
provided he could get at it in sufficient time; and this he hoped to
do, as the hulk lay much more steadily than before.
He succeeded very quickly in reaching the door, when, loosening
one of the chains from his ankle, be made every exertion to force
the passage with it, but in vain, the framework of the room being
far stronger than was anticipated. He was quite exhausted with his
long stay under water, and it became absolutely necessary that some
other one of us should take his place. For this service Parker
immediately volunteered; but, after making three ineffectual
efforts, found that he could never even succeed in getting near the
door. The condition of Augustus’s wounded arm rendered it useless
for him to attempt going down, as he would be unable to force the room
open should be reach it, and it accordingly now devolved upon me to
exert myself for our common deliverance.
Peters had left one of the chains in the passage, and I found,
upon plunging in, that I had not sufficient balance to keep me
firmly down. I determined, therefore, to attempt no more, in my
first effort, than merely to recover the other chain. In groping along
the floor of the passage for this, I felt a hard substance, which I
immediately grasped, not having time to ascertain what it was, but
returning and ascending instantly to the surface. The prize proved
to be a bottle, and our joy may be conceived when I say that it was
found to be full of port wine. Giving thanks to God for this timely
and cheering assistance, we immediately drew the cork with my
penknife, and, each taking a moderate sup, felt the most indescribable
comfort from the warmth, strength, and spirits with which it
inspired us. We then carefully recorked the bottle, and, by means of a
handkerchief, swung it in such a manner that there was no
possibility of its getting broken.
Having rested a while after this fortunate discovery, I again
descended, and now recovered the chain, with which I instantly came
up. I then fastened it on and went down for the third time, when I
became fully satisfied that no exertions whatever, in that
situation, would enable me to force open the door of the storeroom.
I therefore returned in despair.
There seemed now to be no longer any room for hope, and I could
perceive in the countenances of my companions that they had made up
their minds to perish. The wine had evidently produced in them a
species of delirium, which, perhaps, I had been prevented from feeling
by the immersion I had undergone since drinking it. They talked
incoherently, and about matters unconnected with our condition, Peters
repeatedly asking me questions about Nantucket. Augustus, too, I
remember, approached me with a serious air, and requested me to lend
him a pocket-comb, as his hair was full of fish-scales, and he wished
to get them out before going on shore. Parker appeared somewhat less
affected, and urged me to dive at random into the cabin, and bring
up any article which might come to hand. To this I consented, and,
in the first attempt, after staying under a full minute, brought up
a small leather trunk belonging to Captain Barnard. This was
immediately opened in the faint hope that it might contain something
to eat or drink. We found nothing, however, except a box of razors and
two linen shirts. I now went down again, and returned without any
success. As my head came above water I heard a crash on deck, and,
upon getting up, saw that my companions had ungratefully taken
advantage of my absence to drink the remainder of the wine, having let
the bottle fall in the endeavour to replace it before I saw them. I
remonstrated with them on the heartlessness of their conduct, when
Augustus burst into tears. The other two endeavoured to laugh the
matter off as a joke, but I hope never again to behold laughter of
such a species: the distortion of countenance was absolutely
frightful. Indeed, it was apparent that the stimulus, in the empty
state of their stomachs, had taken instant and violent effect, and
that they were all exceedingly intoxicated. With great difficulty I
prevailed upon them to lie down, when they fell very soon into a heavy
slumber, accompanied with loud stertorous breathing. I now found
myself, as it were, alone in the brig, and my reflections, to be sure,
were of the most fearful and gloomy nature. No prospect offered itself
to my view but a lingering death by famine, or, at the best, by
being overwhelmed in the first gale which should spring up, for in our
present exhausted condition we could have no hope of living through
another.
The gnawing hunger which I now experienced was nearly
insupportable, and I felt myself capable of going to any lengths in
order to appease it. With my knife I cut off a small portion of the
leather trunk, and endeavoured to eat it, but found it utterly
impossible to swallow a single morsel, although I fancied that some
little alleviation of my suffering was obtained by chewing small
pieces of it and spitting them out. Toward night my companions
awoke, one by one, each in an indescribable state of weakness and
horror, brought on by the wine, whose fumes had now evaporated. They
shook as if with a violent ague, and uttered the most lamentable cries
for water. Their condition affected me in the most lively degree, at
the same time causing me to rejoice in the fortunate train of
circumstances which had prevented me from indulging in the wine, and
consequently from sharing their melancholy and most distressing
sensations. Their conduct, however, gave me great uneasiness and
alarm; for it was evident that, unless some favourable change took
place, they could afford me no assistance in providing for our
common safety. I had not yet abandoned all idea being able to get up
something from below; but the attempt could not possibly be resumed
until some one of them was sufficiently master of himself to aid me by
holding the end of the rope while I went down. Parker appeared to be
somewhat more in possession of his senses than the others, and I
endeavoured, by every means in my power, to rouse him. Thinking that a
plunge in the sea-water might have a beneficial effect, I contrived to
fasten the end of a rope around his body, and then, leading him to the
companion-way (he remaining quite passive all the while), pushed him
in, and immediately drew him out. I had good reason to congratulate
myself upon having made this experiment; for he appeared much
revived and invigorated, and, upon getting out, asked me, in a
rational manner, why I had so served him. Having explained my
object, he expressed himself indebted to me, and said that he felt
greatly better from the immersion, afterward conversing sensibly
upon our situation. We then resolved to treat Augustus and Peters in
the same way, which we immediately did, when they both experienced
much benefit from the shock. This idea of sudden immersion had been
suggested to me by reading in some medical work the good effect of the
shower-bath in a case where the patient was suffering from mania a
potu.
Finding that I could now trust my companions to hold the end of
the rope, I again made three or four plunges into the cabin,
although it was now quite dark, and a gentle but long swell from the
northward rendered the hulk somewhat unsteady. In the course of
these attempts I succeeded in bringing up two case-knives, a
three-gallon jug, empty, and a blanket, but nothing which could
serve us for food. I continued my efforts, after getting these
articles, until I was completely exhausted, but brought up nothing
else. During the night Parker and Peters occupied themselves by
turns in the same manner; but nothing coming to hand, we now gave up
this attempt in despair, concluding that we were exhausting
ourselves in vain.
We passed the remainder of this night in a state of the most
intense mental and bodily anguish that can possibly be imagined. The
morning of the sixteenth at length dawned, and we looked eagerly
around the horizon for relief, but to no purpose. The sea was still
smooth, with only a long swell from the northward, as on yesterday.
This was the sixth day since we had tasted either food or drink,
with the exception of the bottle of port wine, and it was clear that
we could hold out but a very little while longer unless something
could be obtained. I never saw before, nor wish to see again, human
beings so utterly emaciated as Peters and Augustus. Had I met them
on shore in their present condition I should not have had the
slightest suspicion that I had ever beheld them. Their countenances
were totally changed in character, so that I could not bring myself to
believe them really the same individuals with whom I had been in
company but a few days before. Parker, although sadly reduced, and
so feeble that he could not raise his head from his bosom, was not
so far gone as the other two. He suffered with great patience,
making no complaint, and endeavouring to inspire us with hope in every
manner he could devise. For myself, although at the commencement of
the voyage I had been in bad health, and was at all times of a
delicate constitution, I suffered less than any of us, being much less
reduced in frame, and retaining my powers of mind in a surprising
degree, while the rest were completely prostrated in intellect, and
seemed to be brought to a species of second childhood, generally
simpering in their expressions, with idiotic smiles, and uttering
the most absurd platitudes. At intervals, however, they would appear
to revive suddenly, as if inspired all at once with a consciousness of
their condition, when they would spring upon their feet in a momentary
flash of vigour, and speak, for a short period, of their prospects, in
a manner altogether rational, although full of the most intense
despair. It is possible, however, that my companions may have
entertained the same opinion of their own condition as I did of
mine, and that I may have unwittingly been guilty of the same
extravagances and imbecilities as themselves- this is a matter which
cannot be determined.
About noon Parker declared that he saw land off the larboard
quarter, and it was with the utmost difficulty I could restrain him
from plunging into the sea with the view of swimming toward it. Peters
and Augustus took little notice of what he said, being apparently
wrapped up in moody contemplation. Upon looking in the direction
pointed out, I could not perceive the faintest appearance of the
shore- indeed, I was too well aware that we were far from any land to
indulge in a hope of that nature. It was a long time, nevertheless,
before I could convince Parker of his mistake. He then burst into a
flood of tears, weeping like a child, with loud cries and sobs, for
two or three hours, when becoming exhausted, he fell asleep.
Peters and Augustus now made several ineffectual efforts to
swallow portions of the leather. I advised them to chew it and spit it
out; but they were too excessively debilitated to be able to follow my
advice. I continued to chew pieces of it at intervals, and found
some relief from so doing; my chief distress was for water, and I
was only prevented from taking a draught from the sea by remembering
the horrible consequences which thus have resulted to others who
were similarly situated with ourselves.
The day wore on in this manner, when I suddenly discovered a
sail to the eastward, and on our larboard bow. She appeared to be a
large ship, and was coming nearly athwart us, being probably twelve or
fifteen miles distant. None of my companions had as yet discovered
her, and I forbore to tell them of her for the present, lest we
might again be disappointed of relief. At length upon her getting
nearer, I saw distinctly that she was heading immediately for us, with
her light sails filled. I could now contain myself no longer, and
pointed her out to my fellow-sufferers. They immediately sprang to
their feet, again indulging in the most extravagant demonstrations
of joy, weeping, laughing in an idiotic manner, jumping, stamping upon
the deck, tearing their hair, and praying and cursing by turns. I
was so affected by their conduct, as well as by what I considered a
sure prospect of deliverance, that I could not refrain from joining in
with their madness, and gave way to the impulses of my gratitude and
ecstasy by lying and rolling on the deck, clapping my hands, shouting,
and other similar acts, until I was suddenly called to my
recollection, and once more to the extreme human misery and despair,
by perceiving the ship all at once with her stern fully presented
toward us, and steering in a direction nearly opposite to that in
which I had at first perceived her.
It was some time before I could induce my poor companions to
believe that this sad reverse in our prospects had actually taken
place. They replied to all my assertions with a stare and a gesture
implying that they were not to be deceived by such misrepresentations.
The conduct of Augustus most sensibly affected me. In spite of all I
could say or do to the contrary, he persisted in saying that the
ship was rapidly nearing us, and in making preparations to go on board
of her. Some seaweed floating by the brig, he maintained that it was
the ship’s boat, and endeavoured to throw himself upon it, howling and
shrieking in the most heartrending manner, when I forcibly
restrained him from thus casting himself into the sea.
Having become in some degree pacified, we continued to watch the
ship until we finally lost sight of her, the weather becoming hazy,
with a light breeze springing up. As soon as she was entirely gone,
Parker turned suddenly toward me with an expression of countenance
which made me shudder. There was about him an air of self-possession
which I had not noticed in him until now, and before he opened his
lips my heart told me what he would say. He proposed, in a few
words, that one of us should die to preserve the existence of the
others.
CHAPTER XII

I had for some time past, dwelt upon the prospect of our being
reduced to this last horrible extremity, and had secretly made up my
mind to suffer death in any shape or under any circumstances rather
than resort to such a course. Nor was this resolution in any degree
weakened by the present intensity of hunger under which I laboured.
The proposition had not been heard by either Peters or Augustus. I
therefore took Parker aside; and mentally praying to God for power
to dissuade him from the horrible purpose he entertained, I
expostulated with him for a long time, and in the most supplicating
manner, begging him in the name of every thing which he held sacred,
and urging him by every species of argument which the extremity of the
case suggested, to abandon the idea, and not to mention it to either
of the other two.
He heard all I said without attempting to controvert any of my
arguments, and I had begun to hope that he would be prevailed upon
to do as I desired. But when I had ceased speaking, he said that he
knew very well all I had said was true, and that to resort to such a
course was the most horrible alternative which could enter into the
mind of man; but that he had now held out as long as human nature
could be sustained; that it was unnecessary for all to perish, when,
by the death of one, it was possible, and even probable, that the rest
might be finally preserved; adding that I might save myself the
trouble of trying to turn him from his purpose, his mind having been
thoroughly made up on the subject even before the appearance of the
ship, and that only her heaving in sight had prevented him from
mentioning his intention at an earlier period.
I now begged him, if he would not be prevailed upon to abandon his
design, at least to defer it for another day, when some vessel might
come to our relief; again reiterating every argument I could devise,
and which I thought likely to have influence with one of his rough
nature. He said, in reply, that he had not spoken until the very
last possible moment, that he could exist no longer without sustenance
of some kind, and that therefore in another day his suggestion would
be too late, as regarded himself at least.
Finding that he was not to be moved by anything I could say in a
mild tone, I now assumed a different demeanor, and told him that he
must be aware I had suffered less than any of us from our
calamities; that my health and strength, consequently, were at that
moment far better than his own, or than that either of Peters or
Augustus; in short, that I was in a condition to have my own way by
force if I found it necessary; and that if he attempted in any
manner to acquaint the others with his bloody and cannibal designs,
I would not hesitate to throw him into the sea. Upon this he
immediately seized me by the throat, and drawing a knife, made several
ineffectual efforts to stab me in the stomach; an atrocity which his
excessive debility alone prevented him from accomplishing. In the
meantime, being roused to a high pitch of anger, I forced him to the
vessel’s side, with the full intention of throwing him overboard. He
was saved from his fate, however, by the interference of Peters, who
now approached and separated us, asking the cause of the
disturbance. This Parker told before I could find means in any
manner to prevent him.
The effect of his words was even more terrible than what I had
anticipated. Both Augustus and Peters, who, it seems, had long
secretly entertained the same fearful idea which Parker had been
merely the first to broach, joined with him in his design and insisted
upon its immediately being carried into effect. I had calculated
that one at least of the two former would be found still possessed
of sufficient strength of mind to side with myself in resisting any
attempt to execute so dreadful a purpose, and, with the aid of
either one of them, I had no fear of being able to prevent its
accomplishment. Being disappointed in this expectation, it became
absolutely necessary that I should attend to my own safety, as a
further resistance on my part might possibly be considered by men in
their frightful condition a sufficient excuse for refusing me fair
play in the tragedy that I knew would speedily be enacted.
I now told them I was willing to submit to the proposal, merely
requesting a delay of about one hour, in order that the fog which
had gathered around us might have an opportunity of lifting, when it
was possible that the ship we had seen might be again in sight.
After great difficulty I obtained from them a promise to wait thus
long; and, as I had anticipated (a breeze rapidly coming in), the
fog lifted before the hour had expired, when, no vessel appearing in
sight, we prepared to draw lots.
It is with extreme reluctance that I dwell upon the appalling
scene which ensued; a scene which, with its minutest details, no after
events have been able to efface in the slightest degree from my
memory, and whose stern recollection will embitter every future moment
of my existence. Let me run over this portion of my narrative with
as much haste as the nature of the events to be spoken of will permit.
The only method we could devise for the terrific lottery, in which
we were to take each a chance, was that of drawing straws. Small
splinters of wood were made to answer our purpose, and it was agreed
that I should be the holder. I retired to one end of the hulk, while
my poor companions silently took up their station in the other with
their backs turned toward me. The bitterest anxiety which I endured at
any period of this fearful drama was while I occupied myself in the
arrangement of the lots. There are few conditions into which man can
possibly fall where he will not feel a deep interest in the
preservation of his existence; an interest momentarily increasing with
the frailness of the tenure by which that existence may be held. But
now that the silent, definite, and stern nature of the business in
which I was engaged (so different from the tumultuous dangers of the
storm or the gradually approaching horrors of famine) allowed me to
reflect on the few chances I had of escaping the most appalling of
deaths- a death for the most appalling of purposes- every particle of
that energy which had so long buoyed me up departed like feathers
before the wind, leaving me a helpless prey to the most abject and
pitiable terror. I could not, at first, even summon up sufficient
strength to tear and fit together the small splinters of wood, my
fingers absolutely refusing their office, and my knees knocking
violently against each other. My mind ran over rapidly a thousand
absurd projects by which to avoid becoming a partner in the awful
speculation. I thought of falling on my knees to my companions, and
entreating them to let me escape this necessity; of suddenly rushing
upon them, and, by putting one of them to death, of rendering the
decision by lot useless- in short, of every thing but of going
through with the matter I had in hand. At last, after wasting a long
time in this imbecile conduct, I was recalled to my senses by the
voice of Parker, who urged me to relieve them at once from the
terrible anxiety they were enduring. Even then I could not bring
myself to arrange the splinters upon the spot, but thought over
every species of finesse by which I could trick some one of my
fellow-sufferers to draw the short straw, as it had been agreed that
whoever drew the shortest of four splinters from my hand was to die
for the preservation of the rest. Before any one condemn me for this
apparent heartlessness, let him be placed in a situation precisely
similar to my own.
At length delay was no longer possible, and, with a heart almost
bursting from my bosom, I advanced to the region of the forecastle,
where my companions were awaiting me. I held out my hand with the
splinters, and Peters immediately drew. He was free- his, at least,
was not the shortest; and there was now another chance against my
escape. I summoned up all my strength, and passed the lots to
Augustus. He also drew immediately, and he also was free; and now,
whether I should live or die, the chances were no more than
precisely even. At this moment all the fierceness of the tiger
possessed my bosom, and I felt toward my poor fellow-creature, Parker,
the most intense, the most diabolical hatred. But the feeling did
not last; and, at length, with a convulsive shudder and closed eyes,
I held out the two remaining splinters toward him. It was fully five
minutes before he could summon resolution to draw, during which period
of heartrending suspense I never once opened my eyes. Presently one of
the two lots was quickly drawn from my hand. The decision was then
over, yet I knew not whether it was for me or against me. No one
spoke, and still I dared not satisfy myself by looking at the splinter
I held. Peters at length took me by the hand, and I forced myself to
look up, when I immediately saw by the countenance of Parker that I
was safe, and that he it was who had been doomed to suffer. Gasping
for breath, I fell senseless to the deck.
I recovered from my swoon in time to behold the consummation of
the tragedy in the death of him who had been chiefly instrumental in
bringing it about. He made no resistance whatever, and was stabbed
in the back by Peters, when he fell instantly dead. I must not dwell
upon the fearful repast which immediately ensued. Such things may be
imagined, but words have no power to impress the mind with the
exquisite horror of their reality. Let it suffice to say that,
having in some measure appeased the raging thirst which consumed us by
the blood of the victim, and having by common consent taken off the
hands, feet, and head, throwing them together with the entrails,
into the sea, we devoured the rest of the body, piecemeal, during
the four ever memorable days of the seventeenth, eighteenth,
nineteenth, and twentieth of the month.
On the nineteenth, there coming on a smart shower which lasted
fifteen or twenty minutes, we contrived to catch some water by means
of a sheet which had been fished up from the cabin by our drag just
after the gale. The quantity we took in all did not amount to more
than half a gallon; but even this scanty allowance supplied us with
comparative strength and hope.
On the twenty-first we were again reduced to the last necessity.
The weather still remained warm and pleasant, with occasional fogs and
light breezes, most usually from N. to W.
On the twenty-second, as we were sitting close huddled together,
gloomily revolving over our lamentable condition, there flashed
through my mind all at once an idea which inspired me with a bright
gleam of hope. I remembered that, when the foremast had been cut away,
Peters, being in the windward chains, passed one of the axes into my
hand, requesting me to put it, if possible, in a place of security,
and that a few minutes before the last heavy sea struck the brig and
filled her I had taken this axe into the forecastle and laid it in one
of the larboard berths. I now thought it possible that, by getting
at this axe, we might cut through the deck over the storeroom, and
thus readily supply ourselves with provisions.
When I communicated this object to my companions, they uttered a
feeble shout of joy, and we all proceeded forthwith to the forecastle.
The difficulty of descending here was greater than that of going
down in the cabin, the opening being much smaller, for it will be
remembered that the whole framework about the cabin companion-hatch
had been carried away, whereas the forecastle-way, being a simple
hatch of only about three feet square, had remained uninjured. I did
not hesitate, however, to attempt the descent; and a rope being
fastened round my body as before, I plunged boldly in, feet
foremost, made my way quickly to the berth, and at the first attempt
brought up the axe. It was hailed with the most ecstatic joy and
triumph, and the ease with which it had been obtained was regarded
as an omen of our ultimate preservation.
We now commenced cutting at the deck with all the energy of
rekindled hope, Peters and myself taking the axe by turns,
Augustus’s wounded arm not permitting him to aid us in any degree.
As we were still so feeble as to be scarcely able to stand
unsupported, and could consequently work but a minute or two without
resting, it soon became evident that many long hours would be
necessary to accomplish our task- that is, to cut an opening
sufficiently large to admit of a free access to the storeroom. This
consideration, however, did not discourage us; and, working all
night by the light of the moon, we succeeded in effecting our
purpose by daybreak on the morning of the twenty-third.
Peters now volunteered to go down; and, having made all
arrangements as before, he descended, and soon returned bringing up
with him a small jar, which, to our great joy, proved to be full of
olives. Having shared these among us, and devoured them with the
greatest avidity, we proceeded to let him down again. This time he
succeeded beyond our utmost expectations, returning instantly with a
large ham and a bottle of Madeira wine. Of the latter we each took a
moderate sup, having learned by experience the pernicious consequences
of indulging too freely. The ham, except about two pounds near the
bone, was not in a condition to be eaten, having been entirely spoiled
by the salt water. The sound part was divided among us. Peters and
Augustus, not being able to restrain their appetite, swallowed
theirs upon the instant; but I was more cautious, and ate but a
small portion of mine, dreading the thirst which I knew would ensue.
We now rested a while from our labors, which had been intolerably
severe.
By noon, feeling somewhat strengthened and refreshed, we again
renewed our attempt at getting up provisions, Peters and myself
going down alternately, and always with more or less success, until
sundown. During this interval we had the good fortune to bring up,
altogether, four more small jars of olives, another ham, a carboy
containing nearly three gallons of excellent Cape Madeira wine, and,
what gave us still more delight, a small tortoise of the Gallipago
breed, several of which had been taken on board by Captain Barnard,
as the Grampus was leaving port, from the schooner Mary Pitts, just
returned from a sealing voyage in the Pacific.
In a subsequent portion of this narrative I shall have frequent
occasion to mention this species of tortoise. It is found principally,
as most of my readers may know, in the group of islands called the
Gallipagos, which, indeed, derive their name from the animal- the
Spanish word Gallipago meaning a fresh-water terrapin. From the
peculiarity of their shape and action they have been sometimes
called the elephant tortoise. They are frequently found of an enormous
size. I have myself seen several which would weigh from twelve to
fifteen hundred pounds, although I do not remember that any
navigator speaks of having seen them weighing more than eight hundred.
Their appearance is singular, and even disgusting. Their steps are
very slow, measured, and heavy, their bodies being carried about a
foot from the ground. Their neck is long, and exceedingly slender,
from eighteen inches to two feet is a very common length, and I killed
one, where the distance from the shoulder to the extremity of the head
was no less than three feet ten inches. The head has a striking
resemblance to that of a serpent. They can exist without food for an
almost incredible length of time, instances having been known where
they have been thrown into the hold of a vessel and lain two years
without nourishment of any kind- being as fat, and, in every respect,
in as good order at the expiration of the time as when they were first
put in. In one particular these extraordinary animals bear a
resemblance to the dromedary, or camel of the desert. In a bag at
the root of the neck they carry with them a constant supply of
water. In some instances, upon killing them after a full year’s
deprivation of all nourishment, as much as three gallons of
perfectly sweet and fresh water have been found in their bags. Their
food is chiefly wild parsley and celery, with purslain, sea-kelp,
and prickly pears, upon which latter vegetable they thrive
wonderfully, a great quantity of it being usually found on the
hillsides near the shore wherever the animal itself is discovered.
They are excellent and highly nutritious food, and have, no doubt,
been the means of preserving the lives of thousands of seamen employed
in the whale-fishery and other pursuits in the Pacific.
The one which we had the good fortune to bring up from the
storeroom was not of a large size, weighing probably sixty-five or
seventy pounds. It was a female, and in excellent condition, being
exceedingly fat, and having more than a quart of limpid and sweet
water in its bag. This was indeed a treasure; and, falling on our
knees with one accord, we returned fervent thanks to God for so
seasonable a relief.
We had great difficulty in getting the animal up through the
opening, as its struggles were fierce and its strength prodigious.
It was upon the point of making its escape from Peter’s grasp, and
slipping back into the water, when Augustus, throwing a rope with a
slipknot around its throat, held it up in this manner until I jumped
into the hole by the side of Peters, and assisted him in lifting it
out.
The water we drew carefully from the bag into the jug; which, it
will be remembered, had been brought up before from the cabin.
Having done this, we broke off the neck of a bottle so as to form,
with the cork, a kind of glass, holding not quite half a gill. We then
each drank one of these measures full, and resolved to limit ourselves
to this quantity per day as long as it should hold out.
During the last two or three days, the weather having been dry and
pleasant, the bedding we had obtained from the cabin, as well as our
clothing, had become thoroughly dry, so that we passed this night
(that of the twenty-third) in comparative comfort, enjoying a tranquil
repose, after having supped plentifully on olives and ham, with a
small allowance of the wine. Being afraid of losing some of our stores
overboard during the night, in the event of a breeze springing up,
we secured them as well as possible with cordage to the fragments of
the windlass. Our tortoise, which we were anxious to preserve alive as
long as we could, we threw on its back, and otherwise carefully
fastened.
CHAPTER XIII

July 24.- This morning saw us wonderfully recruited in spirits
and strength. Notwithstanding the perilous situation in which we
were still placed, ignorant of our position, although certainly at a
great distance from land, without more food than would last us for a
fortnight even with great care, almost entirely without water, and
floating about at the mercy of every wind and wave on the merest wreck
in the world, still the infinitely more terrible distresses and
dangers from which we had so lately and so providentially been
delivered caused us to regard what we now endured as but little more
than an ordinary evil- so strictly comparative is either good or ill.
At sunrise we were preparing to renew our attempts at getting up
something from the storeroom, when, a smart shower coming on, with
some lightning, we turn our attention to the catching of water by
means of the sheet we had used before for this purpose. We had no
other means of collecting the rain than by holding the sheet spread
out with one of the forechain-plates in the middle of it. The water,
thus conducted to the centre, was drained through into our jug. We had
nearly filled it in this manner, when, a heavy squall coming on from
the northward, obliged us to desist, as the hulk began once more to
roll so violently that we could no longer keep our feet. We now went
forward, and, lashing ourselves securely to the remnant of the
windlass as before, awaited the event with far more calmness than
could have been anticipated or would have been imagined possible under
the circumstances. At noon the wind had freshened into a two-reef
breeze, and by night into a stiff gale, accompanied with a
tremendously heavy swell. Experience having taught us, however, the
best method of arranging our lashings, we weathered this dreary
night in tolerable security, although thoroughly drenched at almost
every instant by the sea, and in momentary dread of being washed
off. Fortunately, the weather was so warm as to render the water
rather grateful than otherwise.
July 25.- This morning the gale had diminished to a mere ten-knot
breeze, and the sea had gone down with it so considerably that we were
able to keep ourselves dry upon the deck. To our great grief, however,
we found that two jars of our olives, as well as the whole of our ham,
had been washed overboard, in spite of the careful manner in which
they had been fastened. We determined not to kill the tortoise as yet,
and contented ourselves for the present with a breakfast on a few of
the olives, and a measure of water each, which latter we mixed half
and half, with wine, finding great relief and strength from the
mixture, without the distressing intoxication which had ensued upon
drinking the port. The sea was still far too rough for the renewal
of our efforts at getting up provision from the storeroom. Several
articles, of no importance to us in our present situation, floated
up through the opening during the day, and were immediately washed
overboard. We also now observed that the hulk lay more along than
ever, so that we could not stand an instant without lashing ourselves.
On this account we passed a gloomy and uncomfortable day. At noon
the sun appeared to be nearly vertical, and we had no doubt that we
had been driven down by the long succession of northward and
northwesterly winds into the near vicinity of the equator. Toward
evening saw several sharks, and were somewhat alarmed by the audacious
manner in which an enormously large one approached us. At one time,
a lurch throwing the deck very far beneath the water, the monster
actually swam in upon us, floundering for some moments just over the
companion-hatch, and striking Peters violently with his tail. A
heavy sea at length hurled him overboard, much to our relief. In
moderate weather we might have easily captured him.
July 26.- This morning, the wind having greatly abated, and the
sea not being very rough, we determined to renew our exertions in the
storeroom. After a great deal of hard labor during the whole day, we
found that nothing further was to be expected from this quarter, the
partitions of the room having been stove during the night, and its
contents swept into the hold. This discovery, as may be supposed,
filled us with despair.
July 27.- The sea nearly smooth, with a light wind, and still
from the northward and westward. The sun coming out hotly in the
afternoon, we occupied ourselves in drying our clothes. Found great
relief from thirst, and much comfort otherwise, by bathing in the sea;
in this, however, we were forced to use great caution, being afraid of
sharks, several of which were seen swimming around the brig during the
day.
July 28.- Good weather still. The brig now began to lie along so
alarmingly that we feared she would eventually roll bottom up.
Prepared ourselves as well as we could for this emergency, lashing
our tortoise, waterjug, and two remaining jars of olives as far as
possible over to the windward, placing them outside the hull below
the main-chains. The sea very smooth all day, with little or no
wind.
July 29.- A continuance of the same weather. Augustus’s wounded
arm began to evince symptoms of mortification. He complained of
drowsiness and excessive thirst, but no acute pain. Nothing could be
done for his relief beyond rubbing his wounds with a little of the
vinegar from the olives, and from this no benefit seemed to be
experienced. We did every thing in our power for his comfort, and
trebled his allowance of water.
July 30.- An excessively hot day, with no wind. An enormous shark
kept close by the hulk during the whole of the forenoon. We made
several unsuccessful attempts to capture him by means of a noose.
Augustus much worse, and evidently sinking as much from want of proper
nourishment as from the effect of his wounds. He constantly prayed
to be relieved from his sufferings, wishing for nothing but death.
This evening we ate the last of our olives, and found the water in our
jug so putrid that we could not swallow it at all without the addition
of wine. Determined to kill our tortoise in the morning.
July 31.- After a night of excessive anxiety and fatigue, owing
to the position of the hulk, we set about killing and cutting up our
tortoise. He proved to be much smaller than we had supposed,
although in good condition,- the whole meat about him not amounting
to more than ten pounds. With a view of preserving a portion of this
as long as possible, we cut it into fine pieces, and filled with
them our three remaining olive jars and the wine-bottle (all of
which had been kept), pouring in afterward the vinegar from the
olives. In this manner we put away about three pounds of the tortoise,
intending not to touch it until we had consumed the rest. We concluded
to restrict ourselves to about four ounces of the meat per day; the
whole would thus last us thirteen days. A brisk shower, with severe
thunder and lightning, came on about dusk, but lasted so short a
time that we only succeeded in catching about half a pint of water.
The whole of this, by common consent, was given to Augustus, who now
appeared to be in the last extremity. He drank the water from the
sheet as we caught it (we holding it above him as he lay so as to
let it run into his mouth), for we had now nothing left capable of
holding water, unless we had chosen to empty out our wine from the
carboy, or the stale water from the jug. Either of these expedients
would have been resorted to had the shower lasted.
The sufferer seemed to derive but little benefit from the draught.
His arm was completely black from the wrist to the shoulder, and his
feet were like ice. We expected every moment to see him breathe his
last. He was frightfully emaciated; so much so that, although he
weighed a hundred and twenty-seven pounds upon his leaving
Nantucket, he now did not weigh more than forty or fifty at the
farthest. His eyes were sunk far in his head, being scarcely
perceptible, and the skin of his cheeks hung so loosely as to
prevent his masticating any food, or even swallowing any liquid,
without great difficulty.
August 1.- A continuance of the same calm weather, with an
oppressively hot sun. Suffered exceedingly from thirst, the water in
the jug being absolutely putrid and swarming with vermin. We
contrived, nevertheless, to swallow a portion of it by mixing it
with wine; our thirst, however, was but little abated. We found more
relief by bathing in the sea, but could not avail ourselves of this
expedient except at long intervals, on account of the continual
presence of sharks. We now saw clearly that Augustus could not be
saved; that he was evidently dying. We could do nothing to relieve his
sufferings, which appeared to be great. About twelve o’clock he
expired in strong convulsions, and without having spoken for several
days. His death filled us with the most gloomy forebodings, and had so
great an effect upon our spirits that we sat motionless by the
corpse during the whole day, and never addressed each other except
in a whisper. It was not until some time after dark that we took
courage to get up and throw the body overboard. It was then
loathsome beyond expression, and so far decayed that, as Peters
attempted to lift it, an entire leg came off in his grasp. As the mass
of putrefaction slipped over the vessel’s side into the water, the
glare of phosphoric light with which it was surrounded plainly
discovered to us seven or eight large sharks, the clashing of whose
horrible teeth, as their prey was torn to pieces among them, might
have been heard at the distance of a mile. We shrunk within
ourselves in the extremity of horror at the sound.
August 2.- The same fearfully calm and hot weather. The dawn
found us in a state of pitiable dejection as well as bodily
exhaustion. The water in the jug was now absolutely useless, being a
thick gelatinous mass; nothing but frightful-looking worms mingled
with slime. We threw it out, and washed the jug well in the sea,
afterward pouring a little vinegar in it from our bottles of pickled
tortoise. Our thirst could now scarcely be endured, and we tried in
vain to relieve it by wine, which seemed only to add fuel to the
flame, and excited us to a high degree of intoxication. We afterward
endeavoured to relieve our sufferings by mixing the wine with
seawater; but this instantly brought about the most violent retchings,
so that we never again attempted it. During the whole day we anxiously
sought an opportunity of bathing, but to no purpose; for the hulk
was now entirely besieged on all sides with sharks- no doubt the
identical monsters who had devoured our poor companion on the
evening before, and who were in momentary expectation of another
similar feast. This circumstance occasioned us the most bitter
regret and filled us with the most depressing and melancholy
forebodings. We had experienced indescribable relief in bathing, and
to have this resource cut off in so frightful a manner was more than
we could bear. Nor, indeed, were we altogether free from the
apprehension of immediate danger, for the least slip or false movement
would have thrown us at once within reach of those voracious fish, who
frequently thrust themselves directly upon us, swimming up to leeward.
No shouts or exertions on our part seemed to alarm them. Even when one
of the largest was struck with an axe by Peters and much wounded, he
persisted in his attempts to push in where we were. A cloud came up at
dusk, but, to our extreme anguish, passed over without discharging
itself. It is quite impossible to conceive our sufferings from
thirst at this period. We passed a sleepless night, both on this
account and through dread of the sharks.
August 3.- No prospect of relief, and the brig lying still more
and more along, so that now we could not maintain a footing upon deck
at all. Busied ourselves in securing our wine and tortoise-meat, so
that we might not lose them in the event of our rolling over. Got
out two stout spikes from the forechains, and, by means of the axe,
drove them into the hull to windward within a couple of feet of the
water, this not being very far from the keel, as we were nearly upon
our beam-ends. To these spikes we now lashed our provisions, as
being more secure than their former position beneath the chains.
Suffered great agony from thirst during the whole day- no chance of
bathing on account of the sharks, which never left us for a moment.
Found it impossible to sleep.
August 4.- A little before daybreak we perceived that the hulk
was heeling over, and aroused ourselves to prevent being thrown off by
the movement. At first the roll was slow and gradual, and we contrived
to clamber over to windward very well, having taken the precaution
to leave ropes hanging from the spikes we had driven in for the
provision. But we had not calculated sufficiently upon the
acceleration of the impetus; for, presently the heel became too
violent to allow of our keeping pace with it; and, before either of us
knew what was to happen, we found ourselves hurled furiously into
the sea, and struggling several fathoms beneath the surface, with
the huge hull immediately above us.
In going under the water I had been obliged to let go my hold upon
the rope; and finding that I was completely beneath the vessel, and my
strength nearly exhausted, I scarcely made a struggle for life, and
resigned myself, in a few seconds, to die. But here again I was
deceived, not having taken into consideration the natural rebound of
the hull to windward. The whirl of the water upward, which the
vessel occasioned in Tolling partially back, brought me to the surface
still more violently than I had been plunged beneath. Upon coming up I
found myself about twenty yards from the hulk, as near as I could
judge. She was lying keel up, rocking furiously from side to side, and
the sea in all directions around was much agitated, and full of strong
whirlpools. I could see nothing of Peters. An oil-cask was floating
within a few feet of me, and various other articles from the brig were
scattered about.
My principal terror was now on account of the sharks, which I knew
to be in my vicinity. In order to deter these, if possible, from
approaching me, I splashed the water vigorously with both hands and
feet as I swam towards the hulk, creating a body of foam. I have no
doubt that to this expedient, simple as it was, I was indebted for
my preservation; for the sea all round the brig, just before her
rolling over, was so crowded with these monsters, that I must have
been, and really was, in actual contact with some of them during my
progress. By great good fortune, however, I reached the side of the
vessel in safety, although so utterly weakened by the violent exertion
I had used that I should never have been able to get upon it but for
the timely assistance of Peters, who, now, to my great joy, made his
appearance (having scrambled up to the keel from the opposite side
of the hull), and threw me the end of a rope- one of those which had
been attached to the spikes.
Having barely escaped this danger, our attention was now
directed to the dreadful imminency of another- that of absolute
starvation. Our whole stock of provision had been swept overboard in
spite of all our care in securing it; and seeing no longer the
remotest possibility of obtaining more, we gave way both of us to
despair, weeping aloud like children, and neither of us attempting
to offer consolation to the other. Such weakness can scarcely be
conceived, and to those who have never been similarly situated will,
no doubt, appear unnatural; but it must be remembered that our
intellects were so entirely disordered by the long course of privation
and terror to which we had been subjected, that we could not justly be
considered, at that period, in the light of rational beings. In
subsequent perils, nearly as great, if not greater, I bore up with
fortitude against all the evils of my situation, and Peters, it will
be seen, evinced a stoical philosophy nearly as incredible as his
present childlike supineness and imbecility- the mental condition
made the difference.
The overturning of the brig, even with the consequent loss of
the wine and turtle, would not, in fact, have rendered our situation
more deplorable than before, except for the disappearance of the
bedclothes by which we had been hitherto enabled to catch rainwater,
and of the jug in which we had kept it when caught; for we found the
whole bottom, from within two or three feet of the bends as far as the
keel, together with the keel itself, thickly covered with large
barnacles, which proved to be excellent and highly nutritious food.
Thus, in two important respects, the accident we had so greatly
dreaded proved to be a benefit rather than an injury; it had opened to
us a supply of provisions which we could not have exhausted, using
it moderately, in a month; and it had greatly contributed to our
comfort as regards position, we being much more at ease, and in
infinitely less danger, than before.
The difficulty, however, of now obtaining water blinded us to
all the benefits of the change in our condition. That we might be
ready to avail ourselves, as far as possible, of any shower which
might fall we took off our shirts, to make use of them as we had of
the sheets- not hoping, of course, to get more in this way, even
under the most favorable circumstances, than half a gill at a time. No
signs of a cloud appeared during the day, and the agonies of our
thirst were nearly intolerable. At night, Peters obtained about an
hour’s disturbed sleep, but my intense sufferings would not permit
me to close my eyes for a single moment.
August 5.- To-day, a gentle breeze springing up carried us
through a vast quantity of seaweed, among which we were so fortunate
as to find eleven small crabs, which afforded us several delicious
meals. Their shells being quite soft, we ate them entire, and found
that they irritated our thirst far less than the barnacles. Seeing
no trace of sharks among the seaweed, we also ventured to bathe, and
remained in the water for four or five hours, during which we
experienced a very sensible diminution of our thirst. Were greatly
refreshed, and spent the night somewhat more comfortably than
before, both of us snatching a little sleep.
August 6.- This day we were blessed by a brisk and continual rain,
lasting from about noon until after dark. Bitterly did we now regret
the loss of our jug and carboy; for, in spite of the little means we
had of catching the water, we might have filled one, if not both of
them. As it was, we contrived to satisfy the cravings of thirst by
suffering the shirts to become saturated, and then wringing them so as
to let the grateful fluid trickle into our mouths. In this
occupation we passed the entire day.
August 7.- Just at daybreak we both at the same instant descried
a sail to the eastward, and evidently coming towards us! We hailed the
glorious sight with a long, although feeble shout of rapture; and
began instantly to make every signal in our power, by flaring the
shirts in the air, leaping as high as our weak condition would permit,
and even by hallooing with all the strength of our lungs, although the
vessel could not have been less than fifteen miles distant. However,
she still continued to near our hulk, and we felt that, if she but
held her present course, she must eventually come so close as to
perceive us. In about an hour after we first discovered her, we
could clearly see the people on her decks. She was a long, low, and
rakish-looking topsail schooner, with a black ball in her foretopsail,
and had, apparently, a full crew. We now became alarmed, for we
could hardly imagine it possible that she did not observe us, and were
apprehensive that she meant to leave us to perish as we were- an act
of fiendish barbarity, which, however incredible it may appear, has
been repeatedly perpetuated at sea, under circumstances very nearly
similar, and by beings who were regarded as belonging to the human
species.* In this instance, however, by the mercy of God, we were
destined to be most happily deceived; for, presently we were aware
of a sudden commotion on the deck of the stranger, who immediately
afterward ran up a British flag, and, hauling her wind, bore up
directly upon us. In half an hour more we found ourselves in her
cabin. She proved to be the Jane Guy, of Liverpool, Captain Guy, bound
on a sealing and trading voyage to the South Seas and Pacific.

* The case of the brig Polly, of Boston, is one so much in point,
and her fate, in many respects, so remarkably similar to our own, that
I cannot forbear alluding to it here. This vessel, of one hundred and
thirty tons burden, sailed from Boston, with a cargo of lumber and
provisions, for Santa Croix, on the twelfth of December, 1811, under
the command of Captain Casneau. There were eight souls on board
besides the captain- the mate, four seamen, and the cook, together
with a Mr. Hunt, and a negro girl belonging to him. On the fifteenth,
having cleared the shoal of Georges, she sprung a leak in a gale of
wind from the southeast, and was finally capsized; but, the masts
going by the board, she afterward righted. They remained in this
situation, without fire, and with very little provision, for the
period of one hundred and ninety-one days (from December the fifteenth
to June the twentieth), when Captain Casneau and Samuel Badger, the
only survivors, were taken off the wreck by the Fame, of Hull, Captain
Featherstone, bound home from Rio Janeiro. When picked up, they were
in latitude 28 degrees N., longitude 13 degrees W., having drifted
above two thousand miles! On the ninth of July the Fame fell in with
the brig Dromero, Captain Perkins, who landed the two sufferers in
Kennebeck. The narrative from which we gather these details ends in
the following words:
“It is natural to inquire how they could float such a vast
distance, upon the most frequented part of the Atlantic, and not be
discovered all this time. They were passed by more than a dozen
sail, one of which came so nigh them that they could distinctly see
the people on deck and on the rigging looking at them; but, to the
inexpressible disappointment of the starving and freezing men, they
stifled the dictates of compassion, hoisted sail, and cruelly
abandoned them to their fate.”
CHAPTER XIV

The Jane Guy was a fine-looking topsail schooner of a hundred
and eighty tons burden. She was unusually sharp in the bows, and on
a wind, in moderate weather, the fastest sailer I have ever seen.
Her qualities, however, as a rough sea-boat, were not so good, and her
draught of water was by far too great for the trade to which she was
destined. For this peculiar service, a larger vessel, and one of a
light proportionate draught, is desirable- say a vessel of from three
hundred to three hundred and fifty tons. She should be bark-rigged,
and in other respects of a different construction from the usual South
Sea ships. It is absolutely necessary that she should be well armed.
She should have, say ten or twelve twelve-pound carronades, and two
or three long twelves, with brass blunderbusses, and water-tight
arm-chests for each top. Her anchors and cables should be of far
greater strength than is required for any other species of trade, and,
above all, her crew should be numerous and efficient- not less, for
such a vessel as I have described, than fifty or sixty able-bodied
men. The Jane Guy had a crew of thirty-five, all able seamen,
besides the captain and mate, but she was not altogether as well armed
or otherwise equipped, as a navigator acquainted with the difficulties
and dangers of the trade could have desired.
Captain Guy was a gentleman of great urbanity of manner, and of
considerable experience in the southern traffic, to which he had
devoted a great portion of his life. He was deficient, however, in
energy, and, consequently, in that spirit of enterprise which is
here so absolutely requisite. He was part owner of the vessel in which
he sailed, and was invested with discretionary powers to cruise in the
South Seas for any cargo which might come most readily to hand. He had
on board, as usual in such voyages, beads, looking-glasses,
tinder-works, axes, hatchets, saws, adzes, planes, chisels, gouges,
gimlets, files, spokeshaves, rasps, hammers, nails, knives,
scissors, razors, needles, thread, crockery-ware, calico, trinkets,
and other similar articles.
The schooner sailed from Liverpool on the tenth of July, crossed
the Tropic of Cancer on the twenty-fifth, in longitude twenty
degrees west, and reached Sal, one of the Cape Verd islands, on the
twenty-ninth, where she took in salt and other necessaries for the
voyage. On the third of August, she left the Cape Verds and steered
southwest, stretching over toward the coast of Brazil, so as to
cross the equator between the meridians of twenty-eight and thirty
degrees west longitude. This is the course usually taken by vessels
bound from Europe to the Cape of Good Hope, or by that route to the
East Indies. By proceeding thus they avoid the calms and strong
contrary currents which continually prevail on the coast of Guinea,
while, in the end, it is found to be the shortest track, as westerly
winds are never wanting afterward by which to reach the Cape. It was
Captain Guy’s intention to make his first stoppage at Kerguelen’s
Land- I hardly know for what reason. On the day we were picked up the
schooner was off Cape St. Roque, in longitude thirty-one degrees west;
so that, when found, we had drifted probably, from north to south, not
less than five-and-twenty degrees!
On board the Jane Guy we were treated with all the kindness our
distressed situation demanded. In about a fortnight, during which time
we continued steering to the southeast, with gentle breezes and fine
weather, both Peters and myself recovered entirely from the effects of
our late privation and dreadful sufferings, and we began to remember
what had passed rather as a frightful dream from which we had been
happily awakened, than as events which had taken place in sober and
naked reality. I have since found that this species of partial
oblivion is usually brought about by sudden transition, whether from
joy to sorrow or from sorrow to joy- the degree of forgetfulness
being proportioned to the degree of difference in the exchange.
Thus, in my own case, I now feel it impossible to realize the full
extent of the misery which I endured during the days spent upon the
hulk. The incidents are remembered, but not the feelings which the
incidents elicited at the time of their occurrence. I only know,
that when they did occur, I then thought human nature could sustain
nothing more of agony.
We continued our voyage for some weeks without any incidents of
greater moment than the occasional meeting with whaling-ships, and
more frequently with the black or right whale, so called in
contradistinction to the spermaceti. These, however, were chiefly
found south of the twenty-fifth parallel. On the sixteenth of
September, being in the vicinity of the Cape of Good Hope, the
schooner encountered her first gale of any violence since leaving
Liverpool. In this neighborhood, but more frequently to the south
and east of the promontory (we were to the westward), navigators
have often to contend with storms from the northward, which rage
with great fury. They always bring with them a heavy sea, and one of
their most dangerous features is the instantaneous chopping round of
the wind, an occurrence almost certain to take place during the
greatest force of the gale. A perfect hurricane will be blowing at one
moment from the northward or northeast, and in the next not a breath
of wind will be felt in that direction, while from the southwest it
will come out all at once with a violence almost inconceivable. A
bright spot to the southward is the sure forerunner of the change, and
vessels are thus enabled to take the proper precautions.
It was about six in the morning when the blow came on with a white
squall, and, as usual, from the northward. By eight it had increased
very much, and brought down upon us one of the most tremendous seas
I had then ever beheld. Every thing had been made as snug as possible,
but the schooner laboured excessively, and gave evidence of her bad
qualities as a seaboat, pitching her forecastle under at every
plunge and with the greatest difficulty struggling up from one wave
before she was buried in another. just before sunset the bright spot
for which we had been on the look-out made its appearance in the
southwest, and in an hour afterward we perceived the little headsail
we carried flapping listlessly against the mast. In two minutes
more, in spite of every preparation, we were hurled on our
beam-ends, as if by magic, and a perfect wilderness of foam made a
clear breach over us as we lay. The blow from the southwest,
however, luckily proved to be nothing more than a squall, and we had
the good fortune to right the vessel without the loss of a spar. A
heavy cross sea gave us great trouble for a few hours after this,
but toward morning we found ourselves in nearly as good condition as
before the gale. Captain Guy considered that he had made an escape
little less than miraculous.
On the thirteenth of October we came in sight of Prince Edward’s
Island, in latitude 46 degrees 53′ S., longitude 37 degrees 46′ E.
Two days afterward we found ourselves near Possession Island, and
presently passed the islands of Crozet, in latitude 42 degrees 59′
S., longitude 48 degrees E. On the eighteenth we made Kerguelen’s or
Desolation Island, in the Southern Indian Ocean, and came to anchor in
Christmas Harbour, having four fathoms of water.
This island, or rather group of islands, bears southeast from
the Cape of Good Hope, and is distant therefrom nearly eight hundred
leagues. It was first discovered in 1772, by the Baron de Kergulen, or
Kerguelen, a Frenchman, who, thinking the land to form a portion of an
extensive southern continent carried home information to that
effect, which produced much excitement at the time. The government,
taking the matter up, sent the baron back in the following year for
the purpose of giving his new discovery a critical examination, when
the mistake was discovered. In 1777, Captain Cook fell in with the
same group, and gave to the principal one the name of Desolation
Island, a title which it certainly well deserves. Upon approaching
the land, however, the navigator might be induced to suppose
otherwise, as the sides of most of the hills, from September to
March, are clothed with very brilliant verdure. This deceitful
appearance is caused by a small plant resembling saxifrage, which is
abundant, growing in large patches on a species of crumbling moss.
Besides this plant there is scarcely a sign of vegetation on the
island, if we except some coarse rank grass near the harbor, some
lichen, and a shrub which bears resemblance to a cabbage shooting into
seed, and which has a bitter and acrid taste.
The face of the country is hilly, although none of the hills can
be called lofty. Their tops are perpetually covered with snow. There
are several harbors, of which Christmas Harbour is the most
convenient. It is the first to be met with on the northeast side of
the island after passing Cape Francois, which forms the northern
shore, and, by its peculiar shape, serves to distinguish the
harbour. Its projecting point terminates in a high rock, through which
is a large hole, forming a natural arch. The entrance is in latitude
48 degrees 40′ S., longitude 69 degrees 6′ E. Passing in here, good
anchorage may be found under the shelter of several small islands,
which form a sufficient protection from all easterly winds. Proceeding
on eastwardly from this anchorage you come to Wasp Bay, at the head of
the harbour. This is a small basin, completely landlocked, into
which you can go with four fathoms, and find anchorage in from ten
to three, hard clay bottom. A ship might lie here with her best
bower ahead all the year round without risk. To the westward, at the
head of Wasp Bay, is a small stream of excellent water, easily
procured.
Some seal of the fur and hair species are still to be found on
Kerguelen’s Island, and sea elephants abound. The feathered tribes
are discovered in great numbers. Penguins are very plenty, and of
these there are four different kinds. The royal penguin, so called
from its size and beautiful plumage, is the largest. The upper part of
the body is usually gray, sometimes of a lilac tint; the under portion
of the purest white imaginable. The head is of a glossy and most
brilliant black, the feet also. The chief beauty of plumage,
however, consists in two broad stripes of a gold color, which pass
along from the head to the breast. The bill is long, and either pink
or bright scarlet. These birds walk erect; with a stately carriage.
They carry their heads high with their wings drooping like two arms,
and, as their tails project from their body in a line with the legs,
the resemblance to a human figure is very striking, and would be apt
to deceive the spectator at a casual glance or in the gloom of the
evening. The royal penguins which we met with on Kerguelen’s Land were
rather larger than a goose. The other kinds are the macaroni, the
jackass, and the rookery penguin. These are much smaller, less
beautiful in plumage, and different in other respects.
Besides the penguin many other birds are here to be found, among
which may be mentioned sea-hens, blue peterels, teal, ducks, Port
Egmont hens, shags, Cape pigeons, the nelly, sea swallows, terns,
sea gulls, Mother Carey’s chickens, Mother Carey’s geese, or the great
peterel, and, lastly, the albatross.
The great peterel is as large as the common albatross, and is
carnivorous. It is frequently called the break-bones, or osprey
peterel. They are not at all shy, and, when properly cooked, are
palatable food. In flying they sometimes sail very close to the
surface of the water, with the wings expanded, without appearing to
move them in the least degree, or make any exertion with them
whatever.
The albatross is one of the largest and fiercest of the South
Sea birds. It is of the gull species, and takes its prey on the
wing, never coming on land except for the purpose of breeding. Between
this bird and the penguin the most singular friendship exists. Their
nests are constructed with great uniformity upon a plan concerted
between the two species- that of the albatross being placed in the
centre of a little square formed by the nests of four penguins.
Navigators have agreed in calling an assemblage of such encampments
a rookery. These rookeries have been often described, but as my
readers may not all have seen these descriptions, and as I shall
have occasion hereafter to speak of the penguin and albatross, it will
not be amiss to say something here of their mode of building and
living.
When the season for incubation arrives, the birds assemble in vast
numbers, and for some days appear to be deliberating upon the proper
course to be pursued. At length they proceed to action. A level
piece of ground is selected, of suitable extent, usually comprising
three or four acres, and situated as near the sea as possible, being
still beyond its reach. The spot is chosen with reference to its
evenness of surface, and that is preferred which is the least
encumbered with stones. This matter being arranged, the birds proceed,
with one accord, and actuated apparently by one mind, to trace out,
with mathematical accuracy, either a square or other parallelogram, as
may best suit the nature of the ground, and of just sufficient size to
accommodate easily all the birds assembled, and no more- in this
particular seeming determined upon preventing the access of future
stragglers who have not participated in the labor of the encampment.
One side of the place thus marked out runs parallel with the water’s
edge, and is left open for ingress or egress.
Having defined the limits of the rookery, the colony now begin
to clear it of every species of rubbish, picking up stone by stone,
and carrying them outside of the lines, and close by them, so as to
form a wall on the three inland sides. Just within this wall a
perfectly level and smooth walk is formed, from six to eight feet
wide, and extending around the encampment- thus serving the purpose
of a general promenade.
The next process is to partition out the whole area into small
squares exactly equal in size. This is done by forming narrow paths,
very smooth, and crossing each other at right angles throughout the
entire extent of the rookery. At each intersection of these paths
the nest of an albatross is constructed, and a penguin’s nest in the
centre of each square- thus every penguin is surrounded by four
albatrosses, and each albatross by a like number of penguins. The
penguin’s nest consists of a hole in the earth, very shallow, being
only just of sufficient depth to keep her single egg from rolling. The
albatross is somewhat less simple in her arrangements, erecting a
hillock about a foot high and two in diameter. This is made of
earth, seaweed, and shells. On its summit she builds her nest.
The birds take especial care never to leave their nests unoccupied
for an instant during the period of incubation, or, indeed, until
the young progeny are sufficiently strong to take care of
themselves. While the male is absent at sea in search of food, the
female remains on duty, and it is only upon the return of her
partner that she ventures abroad. The eggs are never left uncovered at
all- while one bird leaves the nest the other nestling in by its
side. This precaution is rendered necessary by the thieving
propensities prevalent in the rookery, the inhabitants making no
scruple to purloin each other’s eggs at every good opportunity.
Although there are some rookeries in which the penguin and
albatross are the sole population, yet in most of them a variety of
oceanic birds are to be met with, enjoying all the privileges of
citizenship, and scattering their nests here and there, wherever
they can find room, never interfering, however, with the stations of
the larger species. The appearance of such encampments, when seen from
a distance, is exceedingly singular. The whole atmosphere just above
the settlement is darkened with the immense number of the albatross
(mingled with the smaller tribes) which are continually hovering
over it, either going to the ocean or returning home. At the same time
a crowd of penguins are to be observed, some passing to and fro in the
narrow alleys, and some marching with the military strut so peculiar
to them, around the general promenade ground which encircles the
rookery. In short, survey it as we will, nothing can be more
astonishing than the spirit of reflection evinced by these feathered
beings, and nothing surely can be better calculated to elicit
reflection in every well-regulated human intellect.
On the morning after our arrival in Christmas Harbour the chief
mate, Mr. Patterson, took the boats, and (although it was somewhat
early in the season) went in search of seal, leaving the captain and a
young relation of his on a point of barren land to the westward,
they having some business, whose nature I could not ascertain, to
transact in the interior of the island. Captain Guy took with him a
bottle, in which was a sealed letter, and made his way from the
point on which he was set on shore toward one of the highest peaks
in the place. It is probable that his design was to leave the letter
on that height for some vessel which he expected to come after him. As
soon as we lost sight of him we proceeded (Peters and myself being
in the mate’s boat) on our cruise around the coast, looking for
seal. In this business we were occupied about three weeks, examining
with great care every nook and corner, not only of Kerguelen’s Land,
but of the several small islands in the vicinity. Our labours,
however, were not crowned with any important success. We saw a great
many fur seal, but they were exceedingly shy, and with the greatest
exertions, we could only procure three hundred and fifty skins in all.
Sea elephants were abundant, especially on the western coast of the
mainland, but of these we killed only twenty, and this with great
difficulty. On the smaller islands we discovered a good many of the
hair seal, but did not molest them. We returned to the schooner: on
the eleventh, where we found Captain Guy and his nephew, who gave a
very bad account of the interior, representing it as one of the most
dreary and utterly barren countries in the world. They had remained
two nights on the island, owing to some misunderstanding, on the
part of the second mate, in regard to the sending a jollyboat from the
schooner to take them off.
CHAPTER XV

On the twelfth we made sail from Christmas Harbour retracing our
way to the westward, and leaving Marion’s Island, one of Crozet’s
group, on the larboard. We afterward passed Prince Edward’s Island,
leaving it also on our left, then, steering more to the northward,
made, in fifteen days, the islands of Tristan d’Acunha, in latitude 37
degrees 8′ S, longitude 12 degrees 8′ W.
This group, now so well known, and which consists of three
circular islands, was first discovered by the Portuguese, and was
visited afterward by the Dutch in 1643, and by the French in 1767. The
three islands together form a triangle, and are distant from each
other about ten miles, there being fine open passages between. The
land in all of them is very high, especially in Tristan d’Acunha,
properly so called. This is the largest of the group, being fifteen
miles in circumference, and so elevated that it can be seen in clear
weather at the distance of eighty or ninety miles. A part of the
land toward the north rises more than a thousand feet
perpendicularly from the sea. A tableland at this height extends back
nearly to the centre of the island, and from this tableland arises
a lofty cone like that of Teneriffe. The lower half of this cone is
clothed with trees of good size, but the upper region is barren rock,
usually hidden among the clouds, and covered with snow during the
greater part of the year. There are no shoals or other dangers about
the island, the shores being remarkably bold and the water deep. On
the northwestern coast is a bay, with a beach of black sand where a
landing with boats can be easily effected, provided there be a
southerly wind. Plenty of excellent water may here be readily
procured; also cod and other fish may be taken with hook and line.
The next island in point of size, and the most westwardly of the
group, is that called the Inaccessible. Its precise situation is 37
degrees 17′ S. latitude, longitude 12 degrees 24′ W. It is seven or
eight miles in circumference, and on all sides presents a forbidding
and precipitous aspect. Its top is perfectly flat, and the whole
region is sterile, nothing growing upon it except a few stunted
shrubs.
Nightingale Island, the smallest and most southerly, is in
latitude 37 degrees 26′ S., longitude 12 degrees 12′ W. Off its
southern extremity is a high ledge of rocky islets; a few also of a
similar appearance are seen to the northeast. The ground is irregular
and sterile, and a deep valley partially separates it.
The shores of these islands abound, in the proper season, with sea
lions, sea elephants, the hair and fur seal, together with a great
variety of oceanic birds. Whales are also plenty in their vicinity.
Owing to the ease with which these various animals were here
formerly taken, the group has been much visited since its discovery.
The Dutch and French frequented it at a very early period. In 1790,
Captain Patten, of the ship Industry, of Philadelphia, made Tristan
d’Acunha, where he remained seven months (from August, 1790, to April,
1791) for the purpose of collecting sealskins. In this time he
gathered no less than five thousand six hundred, and says that he
would have had no difficulty in loading a large ship with oil in three
weeks. Upon his arrival he found no quadrupeds, with the exception
of a few wild goats; the island now abounds with all our most valuable
domestic animals, which have been introduced by subsequent navigators.
I believe it was not long after Captain Patten’s visit that
Captain Colquhoun, of the American brig Betsey, touched at the largest
of the islands for the purpose of refreshment. He planted onions,
potatoes, cabbages, and a great many other vegetables, an abundance of
all which is now to be met with.
In 1811, a Captain Haywood, in the Nereus, visited Tristan. He
found there three Americans, who were residing upon the island to
prepare sealskins and oil. One of these men was named Jonathan
Lambert, and he called himself the sovereign of the country. He had
cleared and cultivated about sixty acres of land, and turned his
attention to raising the coffee-plant and sugar-cane, with which he
had been furnished by the American Minister at Rio Janeiro. This
settlement, however, was finally abandoned, and in 1817 the islands
were taken possession of by the British Government, who sent a
detachment for that purpose from the Cape of Good Hope. They did
not, however, retain them long; but, upon the evacuation of the
country as a British possession, two or three English families took up
their residence there independently of the Government. On the
twenty-fifth of March, 1824, the Berwick, Captain Jeffrey, from London
to Van Diemen’s Land, arrived at the place, where they found an
Englishman of the name of Glass, formerly a corporal in the British
artillery. He claimed to be supreme governor of the islands, and had
under his control twenty-one men and three women. He gave a very
favourable account of the salubrity of the climate and of the
productiveness of the soil. The population occupied themselves chiefly
in collecting sealskins and sea elephant oil, with which they traded
to the Cape of Good Hope, Glass owning a small schooner. At the period
of our arrival the governor was still a resident, but his little
community had multiplied, there being fifty-six persons upon
Tristan, besides a smaller settlement of seven on Nightingale
Island. We had no difficulty in procuring almost every kind of
refreshment which we required- sheep, hogs, bullocks, rabbits,
poultry, goats, fish in great variety, and vegetables were abundant.
Having come to anchor close in with the large island, in eighteen
fathoms, we took all we wanted on board very conveniently. Captain Guy
also purchased of Glass five hundred sealskins and some ivory. We
remained here a week, during which the prevailing winds were from
the northward and westward, and the weather somewhat hazy. On the
fifth of November we made sail to the southward and westward, with the
intention of having a thorough search for a group of islands called
the Auroras, respecting whose existence a great diversity of opinion
has existed.
These islands are said to have been discovered as early as 1762,
by the commander of the ship Aurora. In 1790, Captain Manuel de
Oyarvido,, in the ship Princess, belonging to the Royal Philippine
Company, sailed, as he asserts, directly among them. In 1794, the
Spanish corvette Atrevida went with the determination of
ascertaining their precise situation, and, in a paper published by the
Royal Hydrographical Society of Madrid in the year 1809, the following
language is used respecting this expedition: “The corvette Atrevida
practised, in their immediate vicinity, from the twenty-first to the
twenty-seventh of January, all the necessary observations, and
measured by chronometers the difference of longitude between these
islands and the port of Soledad in the Manillas. The islands are
three, they are very nearly in the same meridian; the centre one is
rather low, and the other two may be seen at nine leagues’
distance.” The observations made on board the Atrevida give the
following results as the precise situation of each island. The most
northern is in latitude 52 degrees 37′ 24″ S., longitude 47 degrees,
43′ 15″ W.; the middle one in latitude 53 degrees 2′ 40″ S.,
longitude 47 degrees 55′ 15″ W.; and the most southern in latitude
53 degrees 15′ 22″ S., longitude 47 degrees 57′ 15″ W.
On the twenty-seventh of January, 1820, Captain James Weddel, of
the British navy, sailed from Staten Land also in search of the
Auroras. He reports that, having made the most diligent search and
passed not only immediately over the spots indicated by the
commander of the Atrevida, but in every direction throughout the
vicinity of these spots, he could discover no indication of land.
These conflicting statements have induced other navigators to look out
for the islands; and, strange to say, while some have sailed through
every inch of sea where they are supposed to lie without finding them,
there have been not a few who declare positively that they have seen
them; and even been close in with their shores. It was Captain Guy’s
intention to make every exertion within his power to settle the
question so oddly in dispute.*

* Among the vessels which at various times have professed to meet
with the Auroras may be mentioned the ship San Miguel, in 1769; the
ship Aurora, in 1774; the brig Pearl, in 1779; and the ship Dolores,
in 1790. They all agree in giving the mean latitude fifty-three
degrees south.

We kept on our course, between the south and west, with variable
weather, until the twentieth of the month, when we found ourselves
on the debated ground, being in latitude 53 degrees 15′ S., longitude
47 degrees 58′ W.- that is to say, very nearly upon the spot indicated
as the situation of the most southern of the group. Not perceiving any
sip of land, we continued to the westward of the parallel of
fifty-three degrees south, as far as the meridian of fifty degrees
west. We then stood to the north as far as the parallel of fifty-two
degrees south, when we turned to the eastward, and kept our parallel
by double altitudes, morning and evening, and meridian altitudes of
the planets and moon. Having thus gone eastwardly to the meridian of
the western coast of Georgia, we kept that meridian until we were in
the latitude from which we set out. We then took diagonal courses
throughout the entire extent of sea circumscribed, keeping a lookout
constantly at the masthead, and repeating our examination with the
greatest care for a period of three weeks, during which the weather
was remarkably pleasant and fair, with no haze whatsoever. Of course
we were thoroughly satisfied that, whatever islands might have existed
in this vicinity at any former period, no vestige of them remained
at the present day. Since my return home I find that the same ground
was traced over, with equal care, in 1822, by Captain Johnson, of
the American schooner Henry, and by Captain Morrell in the American
schooner Wasp- in both cases with the same result as in our own.
CHAPTER XVI

It had been Captain Guy’s original intention, after satisfying
himself about the Auroras, to proceed through the Strait of Magellan,
and up along the western coast of Patagonia; but information
received at Tristan d’Acunha induced him to steer to the southward, in
the hope of falling in with some small islands said to lie about the
parallel of 60 degrees S., longitude 41 degrees 20′ W. In the event of
his not discovering these lands, he designed, should the season prove
favourable, to push on toward the pole. Accordingly, on the twelfth of
December, we made sail in that direction. On the eighteenth we found
ourselves about the station indicated by Glass, and cruised for
three days in that neighborhood without finding any traces of the
islands he had mentioned. On the twenty-first, the weather being
unusually pleasant, we again made sail to the southward, with the
resolution of penetrating in that course as far as possible. Before
entering upon this portion of my narrative, it may be as well, for the
information of those readers who have paid little attention to the
progress of discovery in these regions, to give some brief account
of the very few attempts at reaching the southern pole which have
hitherto been made.
That of Captain Cook was the first of which we have any distinct
account. In 1772 he sailed to the south in the Resolution, accompanied
by Lieutenant Furneaux in the Adventure. In December he found himself
as far as the fifty-eighth parallel of south latitude, and in
longitude 26 degrees 57′ E. Here he met with narrow fields of ice,
about eight or ten inches thick, and running northwest and
southeast. This ice was in large cakes, and usually it was packed so
closely that the vessel had great difficulty in forcing a passage.
At this period Captain Cook supposed, from the vast number of birds to
be seen, and from other indications, that he was in the near
vicinity of land. He kept on to the southward, the weather being
exceedingly cold, until he reached the sixty-fourth parallel, in
longitude 38 degrees 14′ W.. Here he had mild weather, with gentle
breezes, for five days, the thermometer being at thirty-six. In
January, 1773, the vessels crossed the Antarctic circle, but did not
succeed in penetrating much farther; for upon reaching latitude 67
degrees 15′ they found all farther progress impeded by an immense
body of ice, extending all along the southern horizon as far as the
eye could reach. This ice was of every variety- and some large floes
of it, miles in extent, formed a compact mass, rising eighteen or
twenty feet above the water. It being late in the season, and no
hope entertained of rounding these obstructions, Captain Cook now
reluctantly turned to the northward.
In the November following he renewed his search in the
Antarctic. In latitude 59 degrees 40′ he met with a strong current
setting to the southward. In December, when the vessels were in
latitude 67 degrees 31′, longitude 142 degrees 54′ W., the cold was
excessive, with heavy gales and fog. Here also birds were abundant;
the albatross, the penguin, and the peterel especially. In latitude
70 degrees 23′ some large islands of ice were encountered, and
shortly afterward the clouds to the southward were observed to be of
a snowy whiteness, indicating the vicinity of field ice. In latitude
71 degrees 10′, longitude 106 degrees 54′ W., the navigators were
stopped, as before, by an immense frozen expanse, which filled the
whole area of the southern horizon. The northern edge of this expanse
was ragged and broken, so firmly wedged together as to be utterly
impassible, and extending about a mile to the southward. Behind it the
frozen surface was comparatively smooth for some distance, until
terminated in the extreme background by gigantic ranges of ice
mountains, the one towering above the other. Captain Cook concluded
that this vast field reached the southern pole or was joined to a
continent. Mr. J. N. Reynolds, whose great exertions and perseverance
have at length succeeded in getting set on foot a national expedition,
partly for the purpose of exploring these regions, thus speaks of the
attempt of the Resolution. “We are not surprised that Captain Cook was
unable to go beyond 71 degrees 10′, but we are astonished that he did
attain that point on the meridian of 106 degrees 54′ west longitude.
Palmer’s Land lies south of the Shetland, latitude sixty-four degrees,
and tends to the southward and westward farther than any navigator has
yet penetrated. Cook was standing for this land when his progress was
arrested by the ice; which, we apprehend, must always be the case in
that point, and so early in the season as the sixth of January- and
we should not be surprised if a portion of the icy mountains described
was attached to the main body of Palmer’s Land, or to some other
portions of land lying farther to the southward and westward.”
In 1803, Captains Kreutzenstern and Lisiausky were dispatched by
Alexander of Russia for the purpose of circumnavigating the globe.
In endeavouring to get south, they made no farther than 59 degrees
58′, in longitude 70 degrees 15′ W. They here met with strong currents
setting eastwardly. Whales were abundant, but they saw no ice. In
regard to this voyage, Mr. Reynolds observes that, if Kreutzenstern
had arrived where he did earlier in the season, he must have
encountered ice- it was March when he reached the latitude specified.
The winds, prevailing, as they do, from the southward and westward,
had carried the floes, aided by currents, into that icy region bounded
on the north by Georgia, east by Sandwich Land and the South Orkneys,
and west by the South Shetland islands.
In 1822, Captain James Weddell, of the British navy, with two very
small vessels, penetrated farther to the south than any previous
navigator, and this, too, without encountering extraordinary
difficulties. He states that although he was frequently hemmed in by
ice before reaching the seventy-second parallel, yet, upon attaining
it, not a particle was to be discovered, and that, upon arriving at
the latitude of 74 degrees 15′, no fields, and only three islands of
ice were visible. It is somewhat remarkable that, although vast flocks
of birds were seen, and other usual indications of land, and although,
south of the Shetlands, unknown coasts were observed from the masthead
tending southwardly, Weddell discourages the idea of land existing
in the polar regions of the south.
On the 11th of January, 1823, Captain Benjamin Morrell, of the
American schooner Wasp, sailed from Kerguelen’s Land with a view of
penetrating as far south as possible. On the first of February he
found himself in latitude 64 degrees 52′ S., longitude 118 degrees
27′ E. The following passage is extracted from his journal of that
date. “The wind soon freshened to an eleven-knot breeze, and we
embraced this opportunity of making to the west,; being however
convinced that the farther we went south beyond latitude sixty-four
degrees, the less ice was to be apprehended, we steered a little to
the southward, until we crossed the Antarctic circle, and were in
latitude 69 degrees 15′ E. In this latitude there was no field ice,
and very few ice islands in sight.
Under the date of March fourteenth I find also this entry. The sea
was now entirely free of field ice, and there were not more than a
dozen ice islands in sight. At the same time the temperature of the
air and water was at least thirteen degrees higher (more mild) than we
had ever found it between the parallels of sixty and sixty-two
south. We were now in latitude 70 degrees 14′ S., and the temperature
of the air was forty-seven, and that of the water forty-four. In
this situation I found the variation to be 14 degrees 27′ easterly,
per azimuth…. I have several times passed within the Antarctic
circle, on different meridians, and have uniformly found the
temperature, both of the air and the water, to become more and more
mild the farther I advanced beyond the sixty-fifth degree of south
latitude, and that the variation decreases in the same proportion.
While north of this latitude, say between sixty and sixty-five south,
we frequently had great difficulty in finding a passage for the vessel
between the immense and almost innumerable ice islands, some of which
were from one to two miles in circumference, and more than five hundred
feet above the surface of the water.”
Being nearly destitute of fuel and water, and without proper
instruments, it being also late in the season, Captain Morrell was now
obliged to put back, without attempting any further progress to the
westward, although an entirely open, sea lay before him. He
expresses the opinion that, had not these overruling considerations
obliged him to retreat, he could have penetrated, if not to the pole
itself, at least to the eighty-fifth parallel. I have given his
ideas respecting these matters somewhat at length, that the reader may
have an opportunity of seeing how far they were borne out by my own
subsequent experience.
In 1831, Captain Briscoe, in the employ of the Messieurs
Enderby, whale-ship owners of London, sailed in the brig Lively for
the South Seas, accompanied by the cutter Tula. On the twenty-eighth
of February, being in latitude 66 degrees 30′ S., longitude 47 degrees
31′ E., he descried land, and “clearly discovered through the snow the
black peaks of a range of mountains running E. S. E.” He remained in
this neighbourhood during the whole of the following month, but was
unable to approach the coast nearer than within ten leagues, owing
to the boisterous state of the weather. Finding it impossible to
make further discovery during this season, he returned northward to
winter in Van Diemen’s Land.
In the beginning of 1832 he again proceeded southwardly, and on
the fourth of February was seen to the southeast in latitude 67 degrees
15′ longitude 69 degrees 29′ W. This was soon found to be an island
near the headland of the country he had first discovered. On the
twenty-first of the month he succeeded in landing on the latter, and
took possession of it in the name of William IV, calling it Adelaide’s
Island, in honour of the English queen. These particulars being made
known to the Royal Geographical Society of London, the conclusion
was drawn by that body “that there is a continuous tract of land
extending from 47 degrees 30′ E. to 69 degrees 29′ W. longitude,
running the parallel of from sixty-six to sixty-seven degrees south
latitude.” In respect to this conclusion Mr. Reynolds observes: “In
the correctness of it we by no means concur; nor do the discoveries of
Briscoe warrant any such indifference. It was within these limits that
Weddel proceeded south on a meridian to the east of Georgia,
Sandwich Land, and the South Orkney and Shetland islands.” My own
experience will be found to testify most directly to the falsity of
the conclusion arrived at by the society.
These are the principal attempts which have been made at
penetrating to a high southern latitude, and it will now be seen
that there remained, previous to the voyage of the Jane, nearly
three hundred degrees of longitude in which the Antarctic circle had
not been crossed at all. Of course a wide field lay before us for
discovery, and it was with feelings of most intense interest that I
heard Captain Guy express his resolution of pushing boldly to the
southward.
CHAPTER XVII

We kept our course southwardly for four days after giving up the
search for Glass’s islands, without meeting with any ice at all. On
the twenty-sixth, at noon, we were in latitude 63 degrees 23′ S.,
longitude 41 degrees 25′ W. We now saw several large ice islands, and
a floe of field ice, not, however, of any great extent. The winds
generally blew from the southeast, or the northeast, but were very
light. Whenever we had a westerly wind, which was seldom, it was
invariably attended with a rain squall. Every day we had more or less
snow. The thermometer, on the twenty-seventh stood at thirty-five.
January 1, 1828.- This day we found ourselves completely hemmed
in by the ice, and our prospects looked cheerless indeed. A strong
gale blew, during the whole forenoon, from the northeast, and drove
large cakes of the drift against the rudder and counter with such
violence that we all trembled for the consequences. Toward evening,
the gale still blowing with fury, a large field in front separated,
and we were enabled, by carrying a press of sail to force a passage
through the smaller flakes into some open water beyond. As we
approached this space we took in sail by degrees, and having at length
got clear, lay-to under a single. reefed foresail.
January 2.- We had now tolerably pleasant weather. At noon we
found ourselves in latitude 69 degrees 10′ S, longitude 42 degrees
20′ W, having crossed the Antarctic circle. Very little ice was to be
seen to the southward, although large fields of it lay behind us.
This day we rigged some sounding gear, using a large iron pot capable
of holding twenty gallons, and a line of two hundred fathoms. We
found the current setting to the north, about a quarter of a mile per
hour. The temperature of the air was now about thirty-three. Here we
found the variation to be 14 degrees 28′ easterly, per azimuth.
January 5.- We had still held on to the southward without any
very great impediments. On this morning, however, being in latitude
73 degrees 15′ E., longitude 42 degrees 10′ W, we were again brought
to a stand by an immense expanse of firm ice. We saw, nevertheless,
much open water to the southward, and felt no doubt of being able to
reach it eventually. Standing to the eastward along the edge of the
floe, we at length came to a passage of about a mile in width, through
which we warped our way by sundown. The sea in which we now were was
thickly covered with ice islands, but had no field ice, and we
pushed on boldly as before. The cold did not seem to increase,
although we had snow very frequently, and now and then hail squalls of
great violence. Immense flocks of the albatross flew over the
schooner this day, going from southeast to northwest.
January 7.- The sea still remained pretty well open, so that we
had no difficulty in holding on our course. To the westward we saw
some icebergs of incredible size, and in the afternoon passed very
near one whose summit could not have been less than four hundred
fathoms from the surface of the ocean. Its girth was probably, at the
base, three-quarters of a league, and several streams of water were
running from crevices in its sides. We remained in sight of this
island two days, and then only lost it in a fog.
January 10.- Early this morning we had the misfortune to lose a
man overboard. He was an American named Peter Vredenburgh, a native of
New York, and was one of the most valuable hands on board the
schooner. In going over the bows his foot slipped, and he fell between
two cakes of ice, never rising again. At noon of this day we were in
latitude 78 degrees 30′, longitude 40 degrees 15′ W. The cold was now
excessive, and we had hail squalls continually from the northward and
eastward. In this direction also we saw several more immense icebergs,
and the whole horizon to the eastward appeared to be blocked up with
field ice, rising in tiers, one mass above the other. Some driftwood
floated by during the evening, and a great quantity of birds flew
over, among which were nellies, peterels, albatrosses, and a large
bird of a brilliant blue plumage. The variation here, per azimuth, was
less than it had been previously to our passing the Antarctic circle.
January 12.-Our passage to the south again looked doubtful, as
nothing was to be seen in the direction of the pole but one apparently
limitless floe, backed by absolute mountains of ragged ice, one
precipice of which arose frowningly above the other. We stood to the
westward until the fourteenth, in the hope of finding an entrance.
January 14.-This morning we reached the western extremity of the
field which had impeded us, and, weathering it, came to an open sea,
without a particle of ice. Upon sounding with two hundred fathoms,
we here found a current setting southwardly at the rate of half a mile
per hour. The temperature of the air was forty-seven, that of the
water thirtyfour. We now sailed to the southward without meeting any
interruption of moment until the sixteenth, when, at noon, we were
in latitude 81 degrees 21′, longitude 42 degrees W. We here again
sounded, and found a current setting still southwardly, and at the
rate of three quarters of a mile per hour. The variation per azimuth
had diminished, and the temperature of the air was mild and pleasant,
the thermometer being as high as fifty-one. At this period not a
particle of ice was to be discovered. All hands on board now felt
certain of attaining the pole.
January 17.- This day was full of incident. Innumerable flights
of birds flew over us from the southward, and several were shot from
the deck, one of them, a species of pelican, proved to be excellent
eating. About midday a small floe of ice was seen from the masthead
off the larboard bow, and upon it there appeared to be some large
animal. As the weather was good and nearly calm, Captain Guy ordered
out two of the boats to see what it was. Dirk Peters and myself
accompanied the mate in the larger boat. Upon coming up with the floe,
we perceived that it was in the possession of a gigantic creature of
the race of the Arctic bear, but far exceeding in size the largest
of these animals. Being well armed, we made no scruple of attacking it
at once. Several shots were fired in quick succession, the most of
which took effect, apparently, in the head and body. Nothing
discouraged, however, the monster threw himself from the ice, and swam
with open jaws, to the boat in which were Peters and myself. Owing
to the confusion which ensued among us at this unexpected turn of
the adventure, no person was ready immediately with a second shot, and
the bear had actually succeeded in getting half his vast bulk across
our gunwale, and seizing one of the men by the small of his back,
before any efficient means were taken to repel him. In this
extremity nothing but the promptness and agility of Peters saved us
from destruction. Leaping upon the back of the huge beast, he
plunged the blade of a knife behind the neck, reaching the spinal
marrow at a blow. The brute tumbled into the sea lifeless, and without
a struggle, rolling over Peters as he fell. The latter soon
recovered himself, and a rope being thrown him, returned in triumph to
the schooner, towing our trophy behind us. This bear, upon
admeasurement, proved to be full fifteen feet in his greatest
length. His wool was perfectly white, and very coarse, curling
tightly. The eyes were of a blood red, and larger than those of the
Arctic bear, the snout also more rounded, rather resembling the
snout of the bulldog. The meat was tender, but excessively rank and
fishy, although the men devoured it with avidity, and declared it
excellent eating.
Scarcely had we got our prize alongside, when the man at the
masthead gave the joyful shout of “land on the starboard bow!” All
hands were now upon the alert, and, a breeze springing up very
opportunely from the northward and eastward, we were soon close in
with the coast. It proved to be a low rocky islet, of about a league
in circumference, and altogether destitute of vegetation, if we except
a species of prickly pear. In approaching it from the northward, a
singular ledge of rock is seen projecting into the sea, and bearing
a strong resemblance to corded bales of cotton. Around this ledge to
the westward is a small bay, at the bottom of which our boats effected
a convenient landing.
It did not take us long to explore every portion of the island,
but, with one exception, we found nothing worthy of our observation.
In the southern extremity, we picked up near the shore, half buried in
a pile of loose stones, a piece of wood, which seemed to have formed
the prow of a canoe. There had been evidently some attempt at
carving upon it, and Captain Guy fancied that he made out the figure
of a tortoise, but the resemblance did not strike me very forcibly.
Besides this prow, if such it were, we found no other token that any
living creature had ever been here before. Around the coast we
discovered occasional small floes of ice- but these were very few.
The exact situation of the islet (to which Captain Guy gave the name
of Bennet’s Islet, in honour of his partner in the ownership of the
schooner) is 82 degrees 50′ S. latitude, 42 degrees 20′ W. longitude.
We had now advanced to the southward more than eight degrees
farther than any previous navigators, and the sea still lay
perfectly open before us. We found, too, that the variation
uniformly decreased as we proceeded, and, what was still more
surprising, that the temperature of the air, and latterly of the
water, became milder. The weather might even be called pleasant, and
we had a steady but very gentle breeze always from some northern point
of the compass. The sky was usually clear, with now and then a slight
appearance of thin vapour in the southern horizon- this, however, was
invariably of brief duration. Two difficulties alone presented
themselves to our view; we were getting short of fuel, and symptoms of
scurvy had occurred among several of the crew. These considerations
began to impress upon Captain Guy the necessity of returning, and he
spoke of it frequently. For my own part, confident as I was of soon
arriving at land of some description upon the course we were pursuing,
and having every reason to believe, from present appearances, that
we should not find it the sterile soil met with in the higher Arctic
latitudes, I warmly pressed upon him the expediency of persevering, at
least for a few days longer, in the direction we were now holding.
So tempting an opportunity of solving the great problem in regard to
an Antarctic continent had never yet been afforded to man, and I
confess that I felt myself bursting with indignation at the timid
and ill-timed suggestions of our commander. I believe, indeed, that
what I could not refrain from saying to him on this head had the
effect of inducing him to push on. While, therefore, I cannot but
lament the most unfortunate and bloody events which immediately
arose from my advice, I must still be allowed to feel some degree of
gratification at having been instrumental, however remotely, in
opening to the eye of science one of the most intensely exciting
secrets which has ever engrossed its attention.
CHAPTER XVIII

January 18.- This morning* we continued to the southward, with
the same pleasant weather as before. The sea was entirely smooth,
the air tolerably warm and from the northeast, the temperature of
the water fifty-three. We now again got our sounding-gear in order,
and, with a hundred and fifty fathoms of line, found the current
setting toward the pole at the rate of a mile an hour. This constant
tendency to the southward, both in the wind and current, caused some
degree of speculation, and even of alarm, in different quarters of the
schooner, and I saw distinctly that no little impression had been made
upon the mind of Captain Guy. He was exceedingly sensitive to
ridicule, however, and I finally succeeded in laughing him out of
his apprehensions. The variation was now very trivial. In the course
of the day we saw several large whales of the right species, and
innumerable flights of the albatross passed over the vessel. We also
picked up a bush, full of red berries, like those of the hawthorn, and
the carcass of a singular-looking land-animal. It was three feet in
length, and but six inches in height, with four very short legs, the
feet armed with long claws of a brilliant scarlet, and resembling
coral in substance. The body was covered with a straight silky hair,
perfectly white. The tail was peaked like that of a rat, and about a
foot and a half long. The head resembled a cat’s, with the exception
of the ears- these were flopped like the ears of a dog. The teeth
were of the same brilliant scarlet as the claws.

* The terms morning and evening, which I have made use of to avoid
confusion in my narrative, as far as possible, must not, of course,
be taken in their ordinary sense. For a long time past we had had no
night at all, the daylight being continual. The dates throughout are
according to nautical time, and the bearing must be understood as per
compass. I would also remark, in this place, that I cannot, in the
first portion of what is here written, pretend to strict accuracy in
respect to dates, or latitudes and longitudes, having kept no
regular journal until after the period of which this first portion
treats. In many instances I have relied altogether upon memory.

January 19.- To-day, being in latitude 83 degrees 20′, longitude
43 degrees 5′ W. (the sea being of an extraordinarily dark colour), we
again saw land from the masthead, and, upon a closer scrutiny, found
it to be one of a group of very large islands. The shore was
precipitous, and the interior seemed to be well wooded, a circumstance
which occasioned us great joy. In about four hours from our first
discovering the land we came to anchor in ten fathoms, sandy bottom, a
league from the coast, as a high surf, with strong ripples here and
there, rendered a nearer approach of doubtful expediency. The two
largest boats were now ordered out, and a party, well armed (among
whom were Peters and myself), proceeded to look for an opening in
the reef which appeared to encircle the island. After searching
about for some time, we discovered an inlet, which we were entering,
when we saw four large canoes put off from the shore, filled with
men who seemed to be well armed. We waited for them to come up, and,
as they moved with great rapidity, they were soon within hail. Captain
Guy now held up a white handkerchief on the blade of an oar, when
the strangers made a full stop, and commenced a loud jabbering all
at once, intermingled with occasional shouts, in which we could
distinguish the words Anamoo-moo! and Lama-Lama! They continued this
for at least half an hour, during which we had a good opportunity of
observing their appearance.
In the four canoes, which might have been fifty feet long and five
broad, there were a hundred and ten savages in all. They were about
the ordinary stature of Europeans, but of a more muscular and brawny
frame. Their complexion a jet black, with thick and long woolly
hair. They were clothed in skins of an unknown black animal, shaggy
and silky, and made to fit the body with some degree of skill, the
hair being inside, except where turned out about the neck, wrists, and
ankles. Their arms consisted principally of clubs, of a dark, and
apparently very heavy wood. Some spears, however, were observed
among them, headed with flint, and a few slings. The bottoms of the
canoes were full of black stones about the size of a large egg.
When they had concluded their harangue (for it was clear they
intended their jabbering for such), one of them who seemed to be the
chief stood up in the prow of his canoe, and made signs for us to
bring our boats alongside of him. This hint we pretended not to
understand, thinking it the wiser plan to maintain, if possible, the
interval between us, as their number more than quadrupled our own.
Finding this to be the case, the chief ordered the three other
canoes to hold back, while he advanced toward us with his own. As soon
as he came up with us he leaped on board the largest of our boats, and
seated himself by the side of Captain Guy, pointing at the same time
to the schooner, and repeating the word Anamoo-moo! and Lama-Lama!
We now put back to the vessel, the four canoes following at a little
distance.
Upon getting alongside, the chief evinced symptoms of extreme
surprise and delight, clapping his hands, slapping his thighs and
breast, and laughing obstreperously. His followers behind joined in
his merriment, and for some minutes the din was so excessive as to
be absolutely deafening. Quiet being at length restored, Captain Guy
ordered the boats to be hoisted up, as a necessary precaution, and
gave the chief (whose name we soon found to be Too-wit) to
understand that we could admit no more than twenty of his men on
deck at one time. With this arrangement he appeared perfectly
satisfied, and gave some directions to the canoes, when one of them
approached, the rest remaining about fifty yards off. Twenty of the
savages now got on board, and proceeded to ramble over every part of
the deck, and scramble about among the rigging, making themselves much
at home, and examining every article with great inquisitiveness.
It was quite evident that they had never before seen any of the
white race- from whose complexion, indeed, they appeared to recoil.
They believed the Jane to be a living creature, and seemed to be
afraid of hurting it with the points of their spears, carefully
turning them up. Our crew were much amused with the conduct of Too-wit
in one instance. The cook was splitting some wood near the galley,
and, by accident, struck his axe into the deck, making a gash of
considerable depth. The chief immediately ran up, and pushing the cook
on one side rather roughly, commenced a half whine, half howl,
strongly indicative of sympathy in what he considered the sufferings
of the schooner, patting and smoothing the gash with his hand, and
washing it from a bucket of seawater which stood by. This was a degree
of ignorance for which we were not prepared, and for my part I could
not help thinking some of it affected.
When the visitors had satisfied, as well as they could, their
curiosity in regard to our upper works, they were admitted below, when
their amazement exceeded all bounds. Their astonishment now appeared
to be far too deep for words, for they roamed about in silence, broken
only by low ejaculations. The arms afforded them much food for
speculation, and they were suffered to handle and examine them at
leisure. I do not believe that they had the least suspicion of their
actual use, but rather took them for idols, seeing the care we had
of them, and the attention with which we watched their movements while
handling them. At the great guns their wonder was redoubled. They
approached them with every mark of the profoundest reverence and
awe, but forbore to examine them minutely. There were two large
mirrors in the cabin, and here was the acme of their amazement.
Too-wit was the first to approach them, and he had got in the middle
of the cabin, with his face to one and his back to the other, before
he fairly perceived them. Upon raising his eyes and seeing his
reflected self in the glass, I thought the savage would go mad; but,
upon turning short round to make a retreat, and beholding himself a
second time in the opposite direction, I was afraid he would expire
upon the spot. No persuasion could prevail upon him to take another
look; throwing himself upon the floor, with his face buried in his
hands, he remained thus until we were obliged to drag him upon deck.
The whole of the savages were admitted on board in this manner,
twenty at a time, Too-wit being suffered to remain during the entire
period. We saw no disposition to thievery among them, nor did we
miss a single article after their departure. Throughout the whole of
their visit they evinced the most friendly manner. There were,
however, some points in their demeanour which we found it impossible
to understand; for example, we could not get them to approach
several very harmless objects- such as the schooner’s sails, an egg,
an open book, or a pan of flour. We endeavoured to ascertain if they
had among them any articles which might be turned to account in the
way of traffic, but found great difficulty in being comprehended. We
made out, nevertheless, what greatly astonished us, that the islands
abounded in the large tortoise of the Gallipagos, one of which we
saw in the canoe of Too-wit. We saw also some biche de mer in the
hands of one of the savages, who was greedily devouring it in its
natural state. These anomalies- for they were such when considered in
regard to the latitude- induced Captain Guy to wish for a thorough
investigation of the country, in the hope of making a profitable
speculation in his discovery. For my own part, anxious as I was to
know something more of these islands, I was still more earnestly
bent on prosecuting the voyage to the southward without delay. We
had now fine weather, but there was no telling how long it would last;
and being already in the eighty-fourth parallel, with an open sea
before us, a current setting strongly to the southward, and the wind
fair, I could not listen with any patience to a proposition of
stopping longer than was absolutely necessary for the health of the
crew and the taking on board a proper supply of fuel and fresh
provisions. I represented to the captain that we might easily make
this group on our return, and winter here in the event of being
blocked up by the ice. He at length came into my views (for in some
way, hardly known to myself, I had acquired much influence over
him), and it was finally resolved that, even in the event of our
finding biche de mer, we should only stay here a week to recruit,
and then push on to the southward while we might. Accordingly we
made every necessary preparation, and, under the guidance of
Too-wit, got the Jane through the reef in safety, coming to anchor
about a mile from the shore, in an excellent bay, completely
landlocked, on the southeastern coast of the main island, and in ten
fathoms of water, black sandy bottom. At the head of this bay there
were three fine springs (we were told) of good water, and we saw
abundance of wood in the vicinity. The four canoes followed us in,
keeping, however, at a respectful distance. Too-wit himself remained
on board, and, upon our dropping anchor, invited us to accompany him
on shore, and visit his village in the interior. To this Captain Guy
consented; and ten savages being left on board as hostages, a party of
us, twelve in all, got in readiness to attend the chief. We took
care to be well armed, yet without evincing any distrust. The schooner
had her guns run out, her boarding-nettings up, and every other proper
precaution was taken to guard against surprise. Directions were left
with the chief mate to admit no person on board during our absence,
and, in the event of our not appearing in twelve hours, to send the
cutter, with a swivel, around the island in search of us.
At every step we took inland the conviction forced itself upon
us that we were in a country differing essentially from any hitherto
visited by civilized men. We saw nothing with which we had been
formerly conversant. The trees resembled no growth of either the
torrid, the temperate, of the northern frigid zones, and were
altogether unlike those of the lower southern latitudes we had already
traversed. The very rocks were novel in their mass, their color, and
their stratification; and the streams themselves, utterly incredible
as it may appear, had so little in common with those of other
climates, that we were scrupulous of tasting them, and, indeed, had
difficulty in bringing ourselves to believe that their qualities
were purely those of nature. At a small brook which crossed our path
(the first we had reached) Too-wit and his attendants halted to drink.
On account of the singular character of the water, we refused to taste
it, supposing it to be polluted; and it was not until some time
afterward we came to understand that such was the appearance of the
streams throughout the whole group. I am at a loss to give a
distinct idea of the nature of this liquid, and cannot do so without
many words. Although it flowed with rapidity in all declivities
where common water would do so, yet never, except when falling in a
cascade, had it the customary appearance of limpidity. It was,
nevertheless, in point of fact, as perfectly limpid as any limestone
water in existence, the difference being only in appearance. At
first sight, and especially in cases where little declivity was found,
it bore re. semblance, as regards consistency, to a thick infusion
of gum arabic in common water. But this was only the least
remarkable of its extraordinary qualities. It was not colourless,
nor was it of any one uniform colour- presenting to the eye, as it
flowed, every possible shade of purple; like the hues of a
changeable silk. This variation in shade was produced in a manner
which excited as profound astonishment in the minds of our party as
the mirror had done in the case of Too-wit. Upon collecting a
basinful, and allowing it to settle thoroughly, we perceived that
the whole mass of liquid was made up of a number of distinct veins,
each of a distinct hue; that these veins did not commingle; and that
their cohesion was perfect in regard to their own particles among
themselves, and imperfect in regard to neighbouring veins. Upon
passing the blade of a knife athwart the veins, the water closed
over it immediately, as with us, and also, in withdrawing it, all
traces of the passage of the knife were instantly obliterated. If,
however, the blade was passed down accurately between the two veins, a
perfect separation was effected, which the power of cohesion did not
immediately rectify. The phenomena of this water formed the first
definite link in that vast chain of apparent miracles with which I was
destined to be at length encircled.
CHAPTER XIX

We were nearly three hours in reaching the village, it being
more than nine miles in the interior, and the path lying through a
rugged country. As we passed along, the party of Too-wit (the whole
hundred and ten savages of the canoes) was momentarily strengthened by
smaller detachments, of from two to six or seven, which joined us,
as if by accident, at different turns of the road. There appeared so
much of system in this that I could not help feeling distrust, and I
spoke to Captain Guy of my apprehensions. It was now too late,
however, to recede, and we concluded that our best security lay in
evincing a perfect confidence in the good faith of Too-wit. We
accordingly went on, keeping a wary eye upon the manoeuvres of the
savages, and not permitting them to divide our numbers by pushing in
between. In this way, passing through a precipitous ravine, we at
length reached what we were told was the only collection of
habitations upon the island. As we came in sight of them, the chief
set up a shout, and frequently repeated the word Klock-klock, which we
sup. posed to be the name of the village, or perhaps the generic
name for villages.
The dwellings were of the most miserable description imaginable,
and, unlike those of even the lowest of the savage races with which
mankind are acquainted, were of no uniform plan. Some of them (and
these we found belonged to the Wampoos or Yampoos, the great men of
the land) consisted of a tree cut down at about four feet from the
root, with a large black skin thrown over it, and hanging in loose
folds upon the ground. Under this the savage nestled. Others were
formed by means of rough limbs of trees, with the withered foliage
upon them, made to recline, at an angle of forty-five degrees, against
a bank of clay, heaped up, without regular form, to the height of five
or six feet. Others, again, were mere holes dug in the earth
perpendicularly, and covered over with similar branches, these being
removed when the tenant was about to enter, and pulled on again when
he had entered. A few were built among the forked limbs of trees as
they stood, the upper limbs being partially cut through, so as to bend
over upon the lower, thus forming thicker shelter from the weather.
The greater number, however, consisted of small shallow caverns,
apparently scratched in the face of a precipitous ledge of dark stone,
resembling fuller’s earth, with which three sides of the village
were bounded. At the door of each of these primitive caverns was a
small rock, which the tenant carefully placed before the entrance upon
leaving his residence, for what purpose I could not ascertain, as
the stone itself was never of sufficient size to close up more than
a third of the opening.
This village, if it were worthy of the name, lay in a valley of
some depth, and could only be approached from the southward, the
precipitous ledge of which I have already spoken cutting off all
access in other directions. Through the middle of the valley ran a
brawling stream of the same magical-looking water which has been
described. We saw several strange animals about the dwellings, all
appearing to be thoroughly domesticated. The largest of these
creatures resembled our common hog in the structure of the body and
snout; the tail, however, was bushy, and the legs slender as those
of the antelope. Its motion was exceedingly awkward and indecisive,
and we never saw it attempt to run. We noticed also several animals
very similar in appearance, but of a greater length of body, and
covered with a black wool. There were a great variety of tame fowls
running about, and these seemed to constitute the chief food of the
natives. To our astonishment we saw black albatross among these
birds in a state of entire domestication, going to sea periodically
for food, but always returning to the village as a home, and using the
southern shore in the vicinity as a place of incubation. There they
were joined by their friends the pelicans as usual, but these latter
never followed them to the dwellings of the savages. Among the other
kinds of tame fowls were ducks, differing very little from the
canvass-back of our own country, black gannets, and a large bird not
unlike the buzzard in appearance, but not carnivorous. Of fish there
seemed to be a great abundance. We saw, during our visit, a quantity
of dried salmon, rock cod, blue dolphins, mackerel, blackfish,
skate, conger eels, elephantfish, mullets, soles, parrotfish,
leather-jackets, gurnards, hake, flounders, paracutas, and innumerable
other varieties. We noticed, too, that most of them were similar to
the fish about the group of Lord Auckland Islands, in a latitude as
low as fifty-one degrees south. The Gallipago tortoise was also very
plentiful. We saw but few wild animals, and none of a large size, or
of a species with which we were familiar. One or two serpents of a
formidable aspect crossed our path, but the natives paid them little
attention, and we concluded that they were not venomous.
As we approached the village with Too-wit and his party, a vast
crowd of the people rushed out to meet us, with loud shouts, among
which we could only distinguish the everlasting Anamoo-moo! and
Lama-Lama! We were much surprised at perceiving that, with one or
two exceptions, these new comers were entirely naked, and skins
being used only by the men of the canoes. All the weapons of the
country seemed also to be in the possession of the latter, for there
was no appearance of any among the villagers. There were a great
many women and children, the former not altogether wanting in what
might be termed personal beauty. They were straight, tall, and well
formed, with a grace and freedom of carriage not to be found in
civilized society. Their lips, however, like those of the men, were
thick and clumsy, so that, even when laughing, the teeth were never
disclosed. Their hair was of a finer texture than that of the males.
Among these naked villagers there might have been ten or twelve who
were clothed, like the party of Too-wit, in dresses of black skin, and
armed with lances and heavy clubs. These appeared to have great
influence among the rest, and were always addressed by the title
Wampoo. These, too, were the tenants of the black skin palaces. That
of Too-wit was situated in the centre of the village, and was much
larger and somewhat better constructed than others of its kind. The
tree which formed its support was cut off at a distance of twelve feet
or thereabouts from the root, and there were several branches left
just below the cut, these serving to extend the covering, and in
this way prevent its flapping about the trunk. The covering, too,
which consisted of four very large skins fastened together with wooden
skewers, was secured at the bottom with pegs driven through it and
into the ground. The floor was strewed with a quantity of dry leaves
by way of carpet.
To this hut we were conducted with great solemnity, and as many of
the natives crowded in after us as possible. Too-wit seated himself on
the leaves, and made signs that we should follow his example. This
we did, and presently found ourselves in a situation peculiarly
uncomfortable, if not indeed critical. We were on the ground, twelve
in number, with the savages, as many as forty, sitting on their hams
so closely around us that, if any disturbance had arisen, we should
have found it impossible to make use of our arms, or indeed to have
risen to our feet. The pressure was not only inside the tent, but
outside, where probably was every individual on the whole island,
the crowd being prevented from trampling us to death only by the
incessant exertions and vociferations of Too-wit. Our chief security
lay, however, in the presence of Too-wit himself among us, and we
resolved to stick by him closely, as the best chance of extricating
ourselves from the dilemma, sacrificing him immediately upon the first
appearance of hostile design.
After some trouble a certain degree of quiet was restored, when
the chief addressed us in a speech of great length, and very nearly
resembling the one delivered in the canoes, with the exception that
the Anamoo-moos! were now somewhat more strenuously insisted upon
than the Lama-Lamas! We listened in profound silence until the
conclusion of this harangue, when Captain Guy replied by assuring
the chief of his eternal friendship and goodwill, concluding what he
had to say be a present of several strings of blue beads and a
knife. At the former the monarch, much to our surprise, turned up
his nose with some expression of contempt, but the knife gave him
the most unlimited satisfaction, and he immediately ordered dinner.
This was handed into the tent over the heads of the attendants, and
consisted of the palpitating entrails of a specials of unknown animal,
probably one of the slim-legged hogs which we had observed in our
approach to the village. Seeing us at a loss how to proceed, he began,
by way of setting us an example, to devour yard after yard of the
enticing food, until we could positively stand it no longer, and
evinced such manifest symptoms of rebellion of stomach as inspired his
majesty with a degree of astonishment only inferior to that brought
about by the looking-glasses. We declined, however, partaking of the
delicacies before us, and endeavoured to make him understand that we
had no appetite whatever, having just finished a hearty dejeuner.
When the monarch had made an end of his meal, we commenced a
series of cross-questioning in every ingenious manner we could devise,
with a view of discovering what were the chief productions of the
country, and whether any of them might be turned to profit. At
length he seemed to have some idea of our meaning, and offered to
accompany us to a part of coast where he assured us the biche de mer
(pointing to a specimen of that animal) was to be found in great
abundance. We were glad of this early opportunity of escaping from the
oppression of the crowd, and signified our eagerness to proceed. We
now left the tent, and, accompanied by the whole population of the
village, followed the chief to the southeastern extremity of the
island, nor far from the bay where our vessel lay at anchor. We waited
here for about an hour, until the four canoes were brought around by
some of the savages to our station. the whole of our party then
getting into one of them, we were paddled along the edge of the reef
before mentioned, and of another still farther out, where we saw a far
greater quantity of biche de mer than the oldest seamen among us had
ever seen in those groups of the lower latitudes most celebrated for
this article of commerce. We stayed near these reefs only long
enough to satisfy ourselves that we could easily load a dozen
vessels with the animal if necessary, when we were taken alongside the
schooner, and parted with Too-wit, after obtaining from him a
promise that he would bring us, in the course of twenty-four hours, as
many of the canvass-back ducks and Gallipago tortoises as his canoes
would hold. In the whole of this adventure we saw nothing in the
demeanour of the natives calculated to create suspicion, with the
single exception of the systematic manner in which their party was
strengthened during our route from the schooner to the village.
CHAPTER XX

The chief was as good as his word, and we were soon plentifully
sup. plied with fresh provisions. We found the tortoises as fine as we
had ever seen, and the ducks surpassed our best species of wild
fowl, being exceedingly tender, juicy, and well-flavoured. Besides
these, the savages brought us, upon our making them comprehend our
wishes, a vast quantity of brown celery and scurvy grass, with a
canoe-load of fresh fish and some dried. The celery was a treat
indeed, and the scurvy grass proved of incalculable benefit in
restoring those of our men who had shown symptoms of disease. In a
very short time we had not a single person on the sick-list. We had
also plenty of other kinds of fresh provisions, among which may be
mentioned a species of shellfish resembling the mussel in shape, but
with the taste of an oyster. Shrimps, too, and prawns were abundant,
and albatross and other birds’ eggs with dark shells. We took in, too,
a plentiful stock of the flesh of the hog which I have mentioned
before. Most of the men found it a palpatable food, but I thought it
fishy and otherwise disagreeable. In return for these good things we
presented the natives with blue beads, brass trinkets, nails,
knives, and pieces of red cloth, they being fully delighted in the
exchange. We established a regular market on shore, just under the
guns of the schooner, where our barterings were carried on with
every appearance of good faith, and a degree of order which their
conduct at the village of Klock-klock had not led us to expect from
the savages.
Matters went on thus very amicably for several days, during
which parties of the natives were frequently on board the schooner,
and parties of our men frequently on shore, making long excursions
into the interior, and receiving no molestation whatever. Finding
the ease with which the vessel might be loaded with biche de mer,
owing to the friendly disposition of the islanders, and the
readiness with which they would render us assistance in collecting it,
Captain Guy resolved to enter into negotiations with Too-wit for the
erection of suitable houses in which to cure the article, and for
the services of himself and tribe in gathering as much as possible,
while he himself took advantage of the fine weather to prosecute his
voyage to the southward. Upon mentioning this project to the chief
he seemed very willing to enter into an agreement. A bargain was
accordingly struck, perfectly satisfactory to both parties, by which
it was arranged that, after making the necessary preparations, such as
laying off the proper grounds, erecting a portion of the buildings,
and doing some other work in which the whole of our crew would be
required, the schooner should proceed on her route, leaving three of
her men on the island to superintend the fulfilment of the project,
and instruct the natives in drying the biche de mer. In regard to
terms, these were made to depend upon the exertions of the savages
in our absence. They were to receive a stipulated quantity of blue
beads, knives, red cloth, and so forth, for every certain number of
piculs of the biche de mer which should be ready on our return.
A description of the nature of this important article of commerce,
and the method of preparing it, may prove of some interest to my
readers, and I can find no more suitable place than this for
introducing an account of it. The following comprehensive notice of
the substance is taken from a modern history of a voyage to the
South Seas.
“It is that mollusca from the Indian Seas which is known to
commerce by the French name bouche de mer (a nice morsel from the
sea). If I am not much mistaken, the celebrated Cuvier calls it
gasteropeda pulmonifera. It is abundantly gathered in the coasts of
the Pacific islands, and gathered especially for the Chinese market,
where it commands a great price, perhaps as much as their
much-talked-of edible birds’ nests, which are properly made up of
the gelatinous matter picked up by a species of swallow from the
body of these molluscae. They have no shell, no legs, nor any
prominent part, except an absorbing and an excretory, opposite organs;
but, by their elastic wings, like caterpillars or worms, they creep in
shallow waters, in which, when low, they can be seen by a kind of
swallow, the sharp bill of which, inserted in the soft animal, draws a
gummy and filamentous substance, which, by drying, can be wrought into
the solid walls of their nest. Hence the name of gasteropeda
pulmonifera.
“This mollusca is oblong, and of different sizes, from three to
eighteen inches in length; and I have seen a few that were not less
than two feet long. They were nearly round, a little flattish on one
side, which lies next to the bottom of the sea; and they are from
one to eight inches thick. They crawl up into shallow water at
particular seasons of the year, probably for the purpose of gendering,
as we often find them in pairs. It is when the sun has the most
power on the water, rendering it tepid, that they approach the
shore; and they often go up into places so shallow that, on the tide’s
receding, they are left dry, exposed to the beat of the sun. But
they do not bring forth their young in shallow water, as we never
see any of their progeny, and full-grown ones are always observed
coming in from deep water. They feed principally on that class of
zoophytes which produce the coral.
“The biche de mer is generally taken in three or four feet of
water; after which they are brought on shore, and split at one end
with a knife, the incision being one inch or more, according to the
size of the mollusca. Through this opening the entrails are forced out
by pressure, and they are much like those of any other small tenant of
the deep. The article is then washed, and afterward boiled to a
certain degree, which must not be too much or too little. They are
then buried in the ground for four hours, then boiled again for a
short time, after which they are dried, either by the fire or the sun.
Those cured by the sun are worth the most; but where one picul
(133 1/3 lbs.) can be cured that way, I can cure thirty piculs by the
fire. When once properly cured, they can be kept in a dry place for
two or three years without any risk; but they should be examined
once in every few months, say four times a year, to see if any
dampness is likely to affect them.
“The Chinese, as before stated, consider biche de mer a very great
luxury, believing that it wonderfully strengthens and nourishes the
system, and renews the exhausted system of the immoderate
voluptuary. The first quality commands a high price in Canton, being
worth ninety dollars a picul; the second quality, seventy-five
dollars; the third, fifty dollars; the fourth, thirty dollars; the
fifth, twenty dollars; the sixth, twelve dollars; the seventh, eight
dollars; and the eighth, four dollars; small cargoes, however, will
often bring more in Manilla, Singapore, and Batavia.”
An agreement having been thus entered into, we proceeded
immediately to land everything necessary for preparing the buildings
and clearing the ground. A large flat space near the eastern shore
of the bay was selected, where there was plenty of both wood and
water, and within a convenient distance of the principal reefs on
which the biche de mer was to be procured. We now all set to work in
good earnest, and soon, to the great astonishment of the savages,
had felled a sufficient number of trees for our purpose, getting
them quickly in order for the framework of the houses, which in two or
three days were so far under way that we could safely trust the rest
of the work to the three men whom we intended to leave behind. These
I believe), who volunteered their services in this respect.
By the last of the month we had everything in readiness for
departure. We had agreed, however, to pay a formal visit of
leave-taking to the village, and Too-wit insisted so pertinaciously
upon our keeping the promise that we did not think it advisable to run
the risk of offending him by a final refusal. I believe that not one
of us had at this time the slightest suspicion of the good faith of
the savages. They had uniformly behaved with the greatest decorum,
aiding us with alacrity in our work, offering us their commodities,
frequently without price, and never, in any instance, pilfering a
single article, although the high value they set upon the goods we had
with us was evident by the extravagant demonstrations of joy always
manifested upon our making them a present. The women especially were
most obliging in every respect, and, upon the whole, we should have
been the most suspicious of human beings had we entertained a single
thought of perfidy on the part of a people who treated us so well. A
very short while sufficed to prove that this apparent kindness of
disposition was only the result of a deeply laid plan for our
destruction, and that the islanders for whom we entertained such
inordinate feelings of esteem, were among the most barbarous,
subtle, and bloodthirsty wretches that ever contaminated the face of
the globe.
It was on the first of February that we went on shore for the
purpose of visiting the village. Although, as said before, we
entertained not the slightest suspicion, still no proper precaution
was neglected. Six men were left in the schooner, with instructions to
permit none of the savages to approach the vessel during our
absence, under any pretence whatever, and to remain constantly on
deck. The boarding-nettings were up, the guns double-shotted with
grape and canister, and the swivels loaded with canisters of
musket-balls. She lay, with her anchor apeak, about a mile from the
shore, and no canoe could approach her in any direction without
being distinctly seen and exposed to the full fire of our swivels
immediately.
The six men being left on board, our shore-party consisted of
thirty. two persons in all. We were armed to the teeth, having with us
muskets, pistols, and cutlasses; besides, each had a long kind of
seaman’s knife, somewhat resembling the bowie knife now so much used
throughout our western and southern country. A hundred of the black
skin warriors met us at the landing for the purpose of accompanying us
on our way. We noticed, however, with some surprise, that they were
now entirely without arms; and, upon questioning Too-wit in relation
to this circumstance, he merely answered that Mattee non we pa pa
si- meaning that there was no need of arms where all were brothers.
We took this in good part, and proceeded.
We had passed the spring and rivulet of which I before spoke,
and were now entering upon a narrow gorge leading through the chain of
soapstone hills among which the village was situated. This gorge was
very rocky and uneven, so much so that it was with no little
difficulty we scrambled through it on our first visit to
Klock-klock. The whole length of the ravine might have been a mile and
a half, or probably two miles. It wound in every possible direction
through the hills (having apparently formed, at some remote period,
the bed of a torrent), in no instance proceeding more than twenty
yards without an abrupt turn. The sides of this dell would have
averaged, I am sure, seventy or eighty feet in perpendicular
altitude throughout the whole of their extent, and in some portions
they arose to an astonishing height, overshadowing the pass so
completely that but little of the light of day could penetrate. The
general width was about forty feet, and occasionally it diminished
so as not to allow the passage of more than five or six persons
abreast. In short, there could be no place in the world better adapted
for the consummation of an ambuscade, and it was no more than
natural that we should look carefully to our arms as we entered upon
it. When I now think of our egregious folly, the chief subject of
astonishment seems to be, that we should have ever ventured, under any
circumstances, so completely into the power of unknown savages as to
permit them to march both before and behind us in our progress through
this ravine. Yet such was the order we blindly took up, trusting
foolishly to the force of our party, the unarmed condition of
Too-wit and his men, the certain efficacy of our firearms (whose
effect was yet a secret to the natives), and, more than all, to the
long-sustained pretension of friendship kept up by these infamous
wretches. Five or six of them went on before, as if to lead the way,
ostentatiously busying themselves in removing the larger stones and
rubbish from the path. Next came our own party. We walked closely
together, taking care only to prevent separation. Behind followed
the main body of the savages, observing unusual order and decorum.
Dirk Peters, a man named Wilson Allen, and myself were on the
right of our companions, examining, as we went along, the singular
stratification of the precipice which overhung us. A fissure in the
soft rock attracted our attention. It was about wide enough for one
person to enter without squeezing, and extended back into the hill
some eighteen or twenty feet in a straight course, sloping afterward
to the left. The height of the opening, is far as we could see into it
from the main gorge, was perhaps sixty or seventy feet. There were one
or two stunted shrubs growing from the crevices, bearing a species
of filbert which I felt some curiosity to examine, and pushed in
briskly for that purpose, gathering five or six of the nuts at a
grasp, and then hastily retreating. As I turned, I found that Peters
and Allen had followed me. I desired them to go back, as there was not
room for two persons to pass, saying they should have some of my nuts.
They accordingly turned, and were scrambling back, Allen being close
to the mouth of the fissure, when I was suddenly aware of a concussion
resembling nothing I had ever before experienced, and which
impressed me with a vague conception, if indeed I then thought of
anything, that the whole foundations of the solid globe were
suddenly rent asunder, and that the day of universal dissolution was
at hand.
CHAPTER XXI

As soon as I could collect my scattered senses, I found myself
nearly suffocated, and grovelling in utter darkness among a quantity
of loose earth, which was also falling upon me heavily in every
direction, threatening to bury me entirely. Horribly alarmed at this
idea, I struggled to gain my feet, and at last succeeded. I then
remained motionless for some moments, endeavouring to conceive what
had happened to me, and where I was. Presently I heard a deep groan
just at my ear, and afterward the smothered voice of Peters calling to
me for aid in the name of God. I scrambled one or two paces forward,
when I fell directly over the head and shoulders of my companion, who,
I soon discovered, was buried in a loose mass of earth as far as his
middle, and struggling desperately to free himself from the
pressure. I tore the dirt from around him with all the energy I
could command, and at length succeeded in getting him out.
As soon as we sufficiently recovered from our fright and
surprise to be capable of conversing rationally, we both came to the
conclusion that the walls of the fissure in which we had ventured had,
by some convulsion of nature, or probably from their own weight, caved
in overhead, and that we were consequently lost for ever, being thus
entombed alive. For a long time we gave up supinely to the most
intense agony and despair, such as cannot be adequately imagined by
those who have never been in a similar position. I firmly believed
that no incident ever occurring in the course of human events is
more adapted to inspire the supremeness of mental and bodily
distress than a case like our own, of living inhumation. The blackness
of darkness which envelops the victim, the terrific oppression of
lungs, the stifling fumes from the damp earth, unite with the
ghastly considerations that we are beyond the remotest confines of
hope, and that such is the allotted portion of the dead, to carry into
the human heart a degree of appalling awe and horror not to be
tolerated- never to be conceived.
At length Peters proposed that we should endeavour to ascertain
precisely the extent of our calamity, and grope about our prison; it
being barely possible, he observed, that some opening might yet be
left us for escape. I caught eagerly at this hope, and, arousing
myself to exertion, attempted to force my way through the loose earth.
Hardly had I advanced a single step before a glimmer of light became
perceptible, enough to convince me that, at all events, we should
not immediately perish for want of air. We now took some degree of
heart, and encouraged each other to hope for the best. Having
scrambled over a bank of rubbish which impeded our farther progress in
the direction of the light, we found less difficulty in advancing
and also experienced some relief from the excessive oppression of
lungs which had tormented us. Presently we were enabled to obtain a
glimpse of the objects around, and discovered that we were near the
extremity of the straight portion of the fissure, where it made a turn
to the left. A few struggles more, and we reached the bend, when to
our inexpressible joy, there appeared a long seam or crack extending
upward a vast distance, generally at an angle of about forty-five
degrees, although sometimes much more precipitous. We could not see
through the whole extent of this opening; but, as a good deal of light
came down it, we had little doubt of finding at the top of it (if we
could by any means reach the top) a clear passage into the open air.
I now called to mind that three of us had entered the fissure from
the main gorge, and that our companion, Allen, was still missing; we
determined at once to retrace our steps and look for him. After a long
search, and much danger from the farther caving in of the earth
above us, Peters at length cried out to me that he had hold of our
companion’s foot, and that his whole body was deeply buried beneath
the rubbish beyond the possibility of extricating him. I soon found
that what he said was too true, and that, of course, life had been
long extinct. With sorrowful hearts, therefore, we left the corpse
to its fate, and again made our way to the bend.
The breadth of the seam was barely sufficient to admit us, and,
after one or two ineffectual efforts at getting up, we began once more
to despair. I have before said that the chain of hills through which
ran the main gorge was composed of a species of soft rock resembling
soap. stone. The sides of the cleft we were now attempting to ascend
were of the same material, and so excessively slippery, being wet,
that we could get but little foothold upon them even in their least
precipitous parts; in some places, where the ascent was nearly
perpendicular, the difficulty was, of course, much aggravated; and,
indeed, for some time we thought insurmountable. We took courage,
however, from despair, and what, by dint of cutting steps in the
soft stone with our bowie knives, and swinging at the risk of our
lives, to small projecting points of a harder species of slaty rock
which now and then protruded from the general mass, we at length
reached a natural platform, from which was perceptible a patch of blue
sky, at the extremity of a thickly-wooded ravine. Looking back now,
with somewhat more leisure, at the passage through which we had thus
far proceeded, we clearly saw from the appearance of its sides, that
it was of late formation, and we concluded that the concussion,
whatever it was, which had so unexpectedly overwhelmed us, had also,
at the same moment, laid open this path for escape. Being quite
exhausted with exertion, and indeed, so weak that we were scarcely
able to stand or articulate, Peters now proposed that we should
endeavour to bring our companions to the rescue by firing the
pistols which still remained in our girdles- the muskets as well as
cutlasses had been lost among the loose earth at the bottom of the
chasm. Subsequent events proved that, had we fired, we should have
sorely repented it, but luckily a half suspicion of foul play had by
this time arisen in my mind, and we forbore to let the savages know of
our whereabouts.
After having reposed for about an hour, we pushed on slowly up the
ravine, and had gone no great way before we heard a succession of
tremendous yells. At length we reached what might be called the
surface of the ground; for our path hitherto, since leaving the
platform, had lain beneath an archway of high rock and foliage, at a
vast distance overhead. With great caution we stole to a narrow
opening, through which we had a clear sight of the surrounding
country, when the whole dreadful secret of the concussion broke upon
us in one moment and at one view.
The spot from which we looked was not far from the summit of the
highest peak in the range of the soapstone hills. The gorge in which
our party of thirty-two had entered ran within fifty feet to the
left of us. But, for at least one hundred yards, the channel or bed of
this gorge was entirely filled up with the chaotic ruins of more
than a million tons of earth and stone that had been artificially
tumbled within it. The means by which the vast mass had been
precipitated were not more simple than evident, for sure traces of the
murderous work were yet remaining. In several spots along the top of
the eastern side of the gorge (we were now on the western) might be
seen stakes of wood driven into the earth. In these spots the earth
had not given way, but throughout the whole extent of the face of
the precipice from which the mass had fallen, it was clear, from marks
left in the soil resembling those made by the drill of the rock
blaster, that stakes similar to those we saw standing had been
inserted, at not more than a yard apart, for the length of perhaps
three hundred feet, and ranging at about ten feet back from the edge
of the gulf. Strong cords of grape vine were attached to the stakes
still remaining on the hill, and it was evident that such cords had
also been attached to each of the other stakes. I have already
spoken of the singular stratification of these soapstone hills; and
the description just given of the narrow and deep fissure through
which we effected our escape from inhumation will afford a further
conception of its nature. This was such that almost every natural
convulsion would be sure to split the soil into perpendicular layers
or ridges running parallel with one another, and a very moderate
exertion of art would be sufficient for effecting the same purpose. Of
this stratification the savages had availed themselves to accomplish
their treacherous ends. There can be no doubt that, by the
continuous line of stakes, a partial rupture of the soil had been
brought about probably to the depth of one or two feet, when by
means of a savage pulling at the end of each of the cords (these cords
being attached to the tops of the stakes, and extending back from
the edge of the cliff), a vast leverage power was obtained, capable of
hurling the whole face of the hill, upon a given signal, into the
bosom of the abyss below. The fate of our poor companions was no
longer a matter of uncertainty. We alone had escaped from the
tempest of that overwhelming destruction. We were the only living
white men upon the island.
CHAPTER XXII

Our situation, as it now appeared, was scarcely less dreadful than
when we had conceived ourselves entombed forever. We saw before us
no prospect but that of being put to death by the savages, or of
dragging out a miserable existence in captivity among them. We
might, to be sure, conceal ourselves for a time from their observation
among the fastnesses of the hills, and, as a final resort, in the
chasm from which we had just issued; but we must either perish in
the long polar winter through cold and famine, or be ultimately
discovered in our efforts to obtain relief.
The whole country around us seemed to be swarming with savages,
crowds of whom, we now perceived, had come over from the islands to
the southward on flat rafts, doubtless with a view of lending their
aid in the capture and plunder of the Jane. The vessel still lay
calmly at anchor in the bay, those on board being apparently quite
unconscious of any danger awaiting them. How we longed at that
moment to be with them! either to aid in effecting their escape, or to
perish with them in attempting a defence. We saw no chance even of
warning them of their danger without bringing immediate destruction
upon our own heads, with but a remote hope of benefit to them. A
pistol fired might suffice to apprise them that something wrong had
occurred; but the report could not possibly inform them that their
only prospect of safety lay in getting out of the harbour
forthwith- nor tell them no principles of honour now bound them to
remain, that their companions were no longer among the living. Upon
hearing the discharge they could not be more thoroughly prepared to
meet the foe, who were now getting ready to attack, than they
already were, and always had been. No good, therefore, and infinite
harm, would result from our firing, and after mature deliberation,
we forbore.
Our next thought was to attempt to rush toward the vessel, to
seize one of the four canoes which lay at the head of the bay, and
endeavour to force a passage on board. But the utter impossibility
of succeeding in this desperate task soon became evident. The country,
as I said before, was literally swarming with the natives, skulking
among the bushes and recesses of the hills, so as not to be observed
from the schooner. In our immediate vicinity especially, and
blockading the sole path by which we could hope to attain the shore at
the proper point were stationed the whole party of the black skin
warriors, with Too-wit at their head, and apparently only waiting
for some re-enforcement to commence his onset upon the Jane. The
canoes, too, which lay at the head of the bay, were manned with
savages, unarmed, it is true, but who undoubtedly had arms within
reach. We were forced, therefore, however unwillingly, to remain in
our place of concealment, mere spectators of the conflict which
presently ensued.
In about half an hour we saw some sixty or seventy rafts, or
flatboats, with outriggers, filled with savages, and coming round
the southern bight of the harbor. They appeared to have no arms except
short clubs, and stones which lay in the bottom of the rafts.
Immediately afterward another detachment, still larger, appeared in an
opposite direction, and with similar weapons. The four canoes, too,
were now quickly filled with natives, starting up from the bushes at
the head of the bay, and put off swiftly to join the other parties.
Thus, in less time than I have taken to tell it, and as if by magic,
the Jane saw herself surrounded by an immense multitude of desperadoes
evidently bent upon capturing her at all hazards.
That they would succeed in so doing could not be doubted for an
instant. The six men left in the vessel, however resolutely they might
engage in her defence, were altogether unequal to the proper
management of the guns, or in any manner to sustain a contest at
such odds. I could hardly imagine that they would make resistance at
all, but in this was deceived; for presently I saw them get springs
upon the cable, and bring the vessel’s starboard broadside to bear
upon the canoes, which by this time were within pistol range, the
rafts being nearly a quarter of a mile to windward. Owing to some
cause unknown, but most probably to the agitation of our poor
friends at seeing themselves in so hopeless a situation, the discharge
was an entire failure. Not a canoe was hit or a single savage injured,
the shots striking short and ricocheting over their heads. The only
effect produced upon them was astonishment at the unexpected report
and smoke, which was so excessive that for some moments I almost
thought they would abandon their design entirely, and return to the
shore. And this they would most likely have done had our men
followed up their broadside by a discharge of small arms, in which, as
the canoes were now so near at hand, they could not have failed in
doing some execution, sufficient, at least, to deter this party from a
farther advance, until they could have given the rafts also a
broadside. But, in place of this, they left the canoe party to recover
from their panic, and, by looking about them, to see that no injury
had been sustained, while they flew to the larboard to get ready for
the rafts.
The discharge to larboard produced the most terrible effect. The
star and double-headed shot of the large guns cut seven or eight of
the rafts completely asunder, and killed, perhaps, thirty or forty
of the savages outright, while a hundred of them, at least, were
thrown into the water, the most of them dreadfully wounded. The
remainder, frightened out of their senses, commenced at once a
precipitate retreat, not even waiting to pick up their maimed
companions, who were swimming about in every direction, screaming
and yelling for aid. This great success, however, came too late for
the salvation of our devoted people. The canoe party were already on
board the schooner to the number of more than a hundred and fifty, the
most of them having succeeded in scrambling up the chains and over the
boarding-netting even before the matches had been applied to the
larboard guns. Nothing now could withstand their brute rage. Our men
were borne down at once, overwhelmed, trodden under foot, and
absolutely torn to pieces in an instant.
Seeing this, the savages on the rafts got the better of their
fears, and came up in shoals to the plunder. In five minutes the
Jane was a pitiable scene indeed of havoc and tumultuous outrage.
The decks were split open and ripped up; the cordage, sails, and
everything movable on deck demolished as if by magic, while, by dint
of pushing at the stern, towing with the canoes, and hauling at the
sides, as they swam in thousands around the vessel, the wretches
finally forced her on shore (the cable having been slipped), and
delivered her over to the good offices of Too-wit, who, during the
whole of the engagement, had maintained, like a skilful general, his
post of security and reconnaissance among the hills, but, now that the
victory was completed to his satisfaction, condescended to scamper
down with his warriors of the black skin, and become a partaker in the
spoils.
Too-wit’s descent left us at liberty to quit our hiding place
and reconnoitre the hill in the vicinity of the chasm. At about
fifty yards from the mouth of it we saw a small spring of water, at
which we slaked the burning thirst that now consumed us. Not far
from the spring we discovered several of the filbert-bushes which I
mentioned before. Upon tasting the nuts we found them palatable, and
very nearly resembling in flavour the common English filbert. We
collected our hats full immediately, deposited them within the ravine,
and returned for more. While we were busily employed in gathering
these, a rustling in the bushes alarmed us, and we were upon the point
of stealing back to our covert, when a large black bird of the bittern
species strugglingly and slowly arose above the shrubs. I was so
much startled that I could do nothing, but Peters had sufficient
presence of mind to run up to it before it could make its escape,
and seize it by the neck. Its struggles and screams were tremendous,
and we had thoughts of letting it go, lest the noise should alarm some
of the savages who might be still lurking in the neighbourhood. A stab
with a bowie knife, however, at length brought it to the ground, and
we dragged it into the ravine, congratulating ourselves that, at all
events, we had thus obtained a supply of food enough to last us for
a week.
We now went out again to look about us, and ventured a
considerable distance down the southern declivity of the hill, but met
with nothing else which could serve us for food. We therefore
collected a quantity of dry wood and returned, seeing one or two large
parties of the natives on their way to the village, laden with the
plunder of the vessel, and who, we were apprehensive, might discover
us in passing beneath the hill.
Our next care was to render our place of concealment as secure
as possible, and with this object, we arranged some brushwood over the
aperture which I have before spoken of as the one through which we saw
the patch of blue sky, on reaching the platform from the interior of
the chasm. We left only a very small opening just wide enough to admit
of our seeing the, bay, without the risk of being discovered from
below. Having done this, we congratulated ourselves upon the
security of the position; for we were now completely excluded from
observation, as long as we chose to remain within the ravine itself,
and not venture out upon the hill, We could perceive no traces of
the savages having ever been within this hollow; but, indeed, when
we came to reflect upon the probability that the fissure through which
we attained it had been only just now created by the fall of the cliff
opposite, and that no other way of attaining it could be perceived, we
were not so much rejoiced at the thought of being secure from
molestation as fearful lest there should be absolutely no means left
us for descent. We resolved to explore the summit of the hill
thoroughly, when a good opportunity should offer. In the meantime we
watched the motions of the savages through our loophole.
They had already made a complete wreck of the vessel, and were now
preparing to set her on fire. In a little while we saw the smoke
ascending in huge volumes from her main hatchway, and, shortly
afterward, a dense mass of flame burst up from the forecastle. The
rigging, masts and what remained of the sails caught immediately,
and the fire spread rapidly along the decks. Still a great many of the
savages retained their stations about her, hammering with large
stones, axes, and cannon balls at the bolts and other iron and
copper work. On the beach, and in canoes and rafts, there were not
less, altogether, in the immediate vicinity of the schooner, than
ten thousand natives, besides the shoals of them who, laden with
booty, were making their way inland and over to the neighbouring
islands. We now anticipated a catastrophe, and were not
disappointed. First of all there came a smart shock (which we felt
as distinctly where we were as if we had been slightly galvanized),
but unattended with any visible signs of an explosion. The savages
were evidently startled, and paused for an instant from their
labours and yellings. They were upon the point of recommencing, when
suddenly a mass of smoke puffed up from the decks, resembling a
black and heavy thundercloud- then, as if from its bowels, arose a
tall stream of vivid fire to the height, apparently, of a quarter of a
mile- then there came a sudden circular expansion of the flame- then
the whole atmosphere was magically crowded, in a single instant, with
a wild chaos of wood, and metal, and human limbs-and, lastly, came the
concussion in its fullest fury, which hurled us impetuously from our
feet, while the hills echoed and re-echoed the tumult, and a dense
shower of the minutest fragments of the ruins tumbled headlong in
every direction around us.
The havoc among the savages far exceeded our utmost expectation,
and they had now, indeed, reaped the full and perfect fruits of
their treachery. Perhaps a thousand perished by the explosion, while
at least an equal number were desperately mangled. The whole surface
of the bay was literally strewn with the struggling and drowning
wretches, and on shore matters were even worse. They seemed utterly
appalled by the suddenness and completeness of their discomfiture, and
made no efforts at assisting one another. At length we observed a
total change in their demeanour. From absolute stupor, they appeared
to be, all at once, aroused to the highest pitch of excitement, and
rushed wildly about, going to and from a certain point on the beach,
with the strangest expressions of mingled horror, rage, and intense
curiosity depicted on their countenances, and shouting, at the top
of their voices, “Tekeli-li! Tekeli-li!”
Presently we saw a large body go off into the hills, whence they
returned in a short time, carrying stakes of wood. These they
brought to the station where the crowd was the thickest, which now
separated so as to afford us a view of the object of all this
excitement. We perceived something white lying upon the ground, but
could not immediately make out what it was. At length we saw that it
was the carcass of the strange animal with the scarlet teeth and claws
which the schooner had picked up at sea on the eighteenth of
January. Captain Guy had had the body preserved for the purpose of
stuffing the skin and taking it to England. I remember he had given
some directions about it just before our making the island, and it had
been brought into the cabin and stowed away in one of the lockers.
It had now been thrown on shore by the explosion; but why it had
occasioned so much concern among the savages was more than we could
comprehend. Although they crowded around the carcass at a little
distance, none of them seemed willing to approach it closely.
By-and-by the men with the stakes drove them in a circle around it,
and no sooner was this arrangement completed, than the whole of the
vast assemblage rushed into the interior of the island, with loud
screams of “Tekeli-li! Tekeli-li!”
CHAPTER XXIII

During the six or seven days immediately following we remained
in our hiding-place upon the hill, going out only occasionally, and
then with the greatest precaution, for water and filberts. We had made
a kind of penthouse on the platform, furnishing it with a bed of dry
leaves, and placing in it three large flat stones, which served us for
both fireplace and table. We kindled a fire without difficulty by
rubbing two pieces of dry wood together, the one soft, the other hard.
The bird we had taken in such good season proved excellent eating,
although somewhat tough. It was not an oceanic fowl, but a species
of bittern, with jet black and grizzly plumage, and diminutive wings
in proportion to its bulk. We afterward saw three of the same kind
in the vicinity of the ravine, apparently seeking for the one we had
captured; but, as they never alighted, we had no opportunity of
catching them.
As long as this fowl lasted we suffered nothing from our
situation, but it was now entirely consumed, and it became
absolutely necessary that we should look out for provision. The
filberts would not satisfy the cravings of hunger, afflicting us, too,
with severe gripings of the bowels, and, if freely indulged in, with
violent headache. We had seen several large tortoises near the
seashore to the eastward of the hill, and perceived they might be
easily taken, if we could get at them without the observation of the
natives. It was resolved, therefore, to make an attempt at descending.
We commenced by going down the southern declivity, which seemed to
offer the fewest difficulties, but had not proceeded a hundred yards
before (as we had anticipated from appearances on the hilltop) our
progress was entirely arrested by a branch of the gorge in which our
companions had perished. We now passed along the edge of this for
about a quarter of a mile, when we were again stopped by a precipice
of immense depth, and, not being able to make our way along the
brink of it, we were forced to retrace our steps by the main ravine.
We now pushed over to the eastward, but with precisely similar
fortune. After an hour’s scramble, at the risk of breaking our
necks, we discovered that we had merely descended into a vast pit of
black granite, with fine dust at the bottom, and whence the only
egress was by the rugged path in which we had come down. Toiling again
up this path, we now tried the northern edge of the hill. Here we were
obliged to use the greatest possible caution in our manoeuvres, as the
least indiscretion would expose us to the full view of the savages
in the village. We crawled along, therefore, on our hands and knees,
and, occasionally, were even forced to throw ourselves at full length,
dragging our bodies along by means of the shrubbery. In this careful
manner we had proceeded but a little way, when we arrived at a chasm
far deeper than any we had yet seen, and leading directly into the
main gorge. Thus our fears were fully confirmed, and we found
ourselves cut off entirely from access to the world below.
Thoroughly exhausted by our exertions, we made the best of our way
back to the platform, and throwing ourselves upon the bed of leaves,
slept sweetly and soundly for some hours.
For several days after this fruitless search we were occupied in
exploring every part of the summit of the hill, in order to inform
ourselves of its actual resources. We found that it would afford us no
food, with the exception of the unwholesome filberts, and a rank
species of scurvy grass, which grew in a little patch of not more than
four rods square, and would be soon exhausted. On the fifteenth of
February, as near as I can remember, there was not a blade of this
left, and the nuts were growing scarce; our situation, therefore,
could hardly be more lamentable.* On the sixteenth we again went round
the walls of our prison, in hope of finding some avenue of escape; but
to no purpose. We also descended the chasm in which we had been
overwhelmed, with the faint expectation of discovering, through this
channel, some opening to the main ravine. Here, too, we were
disappointed, although we found and brought up with us a musket.

* This day was rendered remarkable by our observing in the south
several huge wreaths of the grayish vapour I have spoken of.

On the seventeenth we set out with the determination of
examining more thoroughly the chasm of black granite into which we had
made our way in the first search. We remembered that one of the
fissures in the sides of this pit had been but partially looked
into, and we were anxious to explore it, although with no
expectation of discovering here any opening.
We found no great difficulty in reaching the bottom of the
hollow as before, and were now sufficiently calm to survey it with
some attention. It was, indeed, one of the most singular-looking
places imaginable, and we could scarcely bring ourselves to believe it
altogether the work of nature. The pit, from its eastern to its
western extremity, was about five hundred yards in length, when all
its windings were threaded; the distance from east to west in a
straight line not being more (I should suppose, having no means of
accurate examination) than forty or fifty yards. Upon first descending
into the chasm, that is to say, for a hundred feet downward from the
summit of the hill, the sides of the abyss bore little resemblance
to each other, and, apparently, had at no time been connected, the one
surface being of the soapstone, and the other of marl, granulated with
some metallic matter. The average breadth or interval between the
two cliffs was probably here sixty feet, but there seemed to be no
regularity of formation. Passing down, however, beyond the limit
spoken of, the interval rapidly contracted, and the sides began to run
parallel, although, for some distance farther, they were still
dissimilar in their material and form of surface. Upon arriving within
fifty feet of the bottom, a perfect regularity commenced. The sides
were now entirely uniform in substance, in colour, and in lateral
direction, the material being a very black and shining granite, and
the distance between the two sides, at all points facing each other,
exactly twenty yards. The precise formation of the chasm will be
best understood by means of a delineation taken upon the spot; for I
had luckily with me a pocketbook and pencil, which I preserved with
great care through a long series of subsequent adventure, and to which
I am indebted for memoranda of many subjects which would otherwise
have been crowded from my remembrance.
This figure (see fig. 1) gives the general outlines of the
chasm, without the minor cavities in the sides, of which there were
several, each cavity having a corresponding protuberance opposite. The
bottom of the gulf was covered to the depth of three or four inches
with a powder almost impalpable, beneath which we found a continuation
of the black granite. To the right, at the lower extremity, will be
noticed the appearance of a small opening; this is the fissure alluded
to above, and to examine which more minutely than before was the
object of our second visit. We now pushed into it with vigor,
cutting away a quantity of brambles which impeded us, and removing a
vast heap of sharp flints somewhat resembling arrowheads in shape.
We were encouraged to persevere, however, by perceiving some little
light proceeding from the farther end. We at length squeezed our way
for about thirty feet, and found that the aperture was a low and
regularly formed arch, having a bottom of the same impalpable powder
as that in the main chasm. A strong light now broke upon us, and,
turning a short bend, we found ourselves in another lofty chamber,
similar to the one we had left in every respect but longitudinal form.
Its general figure is here given. (See fig. 2.)
The total length of this chasm, commencing at the opening a and
proceeding round the curve b to the extremity d, is five hundred and
fifty yards. At c we discovered a small aperture similar to the one
through which we had issued from the other chasm, and this was
choked up in the same manner with brambles and a quantity of the white
arrowhead flints. We forced our way through it, finding it about forty
feet long, and emerged into a third chasm. This, too, was precisely
like the first, except in its longitudinal shape, which was thus. (See
fig. 3.)
We found the entire length of the third chasm three hundred and
twenty yards. At the point a was an opening about six feet wide, and
extending fifteen feet into the rock, where it terminated in a bed
of marl, there being no other chasm beyond, as we had expected. We
were about leaving this fissure, into which very little light was
admitted, when Peters called my attention to a range of
singular-looking indentures in the surface of the marl forming the
termination of the cul-de-sac. With a very slight exertion of the
imagination, the left, or most northern of these indentures might have
been taken for the intentional, although rude, representation of a
human figure standing erect, with outstretched arm. The rest of them
bore also some little resemblance to alphabetical characters, and
Peters was willing, at all events, to adopt the idle opinion that they
were really such. I convinced him of his error, finally, by
directing his attention to the floor of the fissure, where, among
the powder, we picked up, piece by piece, several large flakes of
the marl, which had evidently been broken off by some convulsion
from the surface where the indentures were found, and which had
projecting points exactly fitting the indentures; thus proving them to
have been the work of nature. Fig. 4 presents an accurate copy of
the whole.
After satisfying ourselves that these singular caverns afforded us
no means of escape from our prison, we made our way back, dejected and
dispirited, to the summit of the hill. Nothing worth mentioning
occurred during the next twenty-four hours, except that, in
examining the ground to the eastward of the third chasm, we found
two triangular holes of great depth, and also with black granite
sides. Into these holes we did not think it worth while to attempt
descending, as they had the appearance of mere natural wells,
without outlet. They were each about twenty yards in circumference,
and their shape, as well as relative position in regard to the third
chasm, is shown in figure 5.
CHAPTER XXIV

On the twentieth of the month, finding it altogether impossible to
subsist any longer upon the filberts, the use of which occasioned us
the most excruciating torment, we resolved to make a desperate attempt
at descending the southern declivity of the hill. The face of the
precipice was here of the softest species of soapstone, although
nearly perpendicular throughout its whole extent (a depth of a hundred
and fifty feet at the least), and in many places even overarching.
After long search we discovered a narrow ledge about twenty feet below
the brink of the gulf; upon this Peters contrived to leap, with what
assistance I could render him by means of our pocket-handkerchiefs
tied together. With somewhat more difficulty I also got down; and we
then saw the possibility of descending the whole way by the process in
which we had clambered up from the chasm when we had been buried by
the fall of the hill- that is, by cutting steps in the face of the
soapstone with our knives. The extreme hazard of the attempt can
scarcely be conceived; but, as there was no other resource, we
determined to undertake it.
Upon the ledge where we stood there grew some filbert bushes;
and to one of these we made fast an end of our rope of
handkerchiefs. The other end being tied round Peters’ waist, I lowered
him down over the edge of the precipice until the handkerchiefs were
stretched tight. He now proceeded to dig a deep hole in the
soapstone (as far in as eight or ten inches), sloping away the rock
above to the height of a foot, or thereabout, so as to allow of his
driving, with the butt of a pistol, a tolerably strong peg into the
levelled surface. I then drew him up for about four feet when he
made a hole similar to the one below, driving in a peg as before and
having thus a resting place for both feet and hands. I now
unfastened the handkerchiefs from the bush, throwing him the end,
which he tied to the peg in the uppermost hole, letting himself down
gently to a station about three feet lower than he had yet been- that
is, to the full extent of the handkerchiefs. Here he dug another hole,
and drove another peg. He then drew himself up, so as to rest his feet
in the hole just cut, taking hold with his hands upon the peg in the
one above. It was now necessary to untie the handkerchiefs from the
topmost peg, with the view of fastening them to the second; and here
he found that an error had been committed in cutting the holes at so
great a distance apart. However, after one or two unsuccessful and
dangerous attempts at reaching the knot (having to hold on with his
left hand while he laboured to undo the fastening with his right),
he at length cut the string, leaving six inches of it affixed to the
peg. Tying the handkerchiefs now to the second peg, he descended to
a station below the third, taking care not to go too far down. By
these means (means which I should never have conceived of myself,
and for which we were indebted altogether to Peters’ ingenuity and
resolution) my companion finally succeeded, with the occasional aid of
projections in the cliff, in reaching the bottom without accident.
It was some time before I could summon sufficient resolution to
follow him; but I did at length attempt it. Peters had taken off his
shirt before descending, and this, with my own, formed the rope
necessary for the adventure. After throwing down the musket found in
the chasm, I fastened this rope to the bushes, and let myself down
rapidly, striving, by the vigour of my movements, to banish the
trepidation which I could overcome in no other manner. This answered
sufficiently well for the first four or five steps; but presently I
found my imagination growing terribly excited by thoughts of the
vast depths yet to be descended, and the precarious nature of the pegs
and soapstone holes which were my only support. It was in vain I
endeavoured to banish these reflections, and to keep my eyes
steadily bent upon the flat surface of the cliff before me. The more
earnestly I struggled not to think, the more intensely vivid became my
conceptions, and the more horribly distinct. At length arrived that
crisis of fancy, so fearful in all similar cases, the crisis in
which we begin to anticipate the feelings with which we shall fall-
to picture to ourselves the sickness, and dizziness, and the last
struggle, and the half swoon, and the final bitterness of the
rushing and headlong descent. And now I found these fancies creating
their own realities, and all imagined horrors crowding upon me in
fact. I felt my knees strike violently together, while my fingers were
gradually but certainly relaxing their grasp. There was a ringing in
my ears, and I said, “This is my knell of death!” And now I was
consumed with the irrepressible desire of looking below. I could
not, I would not, confine my glances to the cliff; and, with a wild,
indefinable emotion, half of horror, half of a relieved oppression,
I threw my vision far down into the abyss. For one moment my fingers
clutched convulsively upon their hold, while, with the movement, the
faintest possible idea of ultimate escape wandered, like a shadow,
through my mind- in the next my whole soul was pervaded with a longing
to fall; a desire, a yearning, a passion utterly uncontrollable. I let
go at once my grasp upon the and, turning half round from the
precipice, remained tottering for an instant against its naked face.
But now there came a spinning of the brain; a shrill-sounding and
phantom voice screamed within my ears; a dusky, fiendish, and filmy
figure stood immediately beneath me; and, sighing, I sunk down with
a bursting heart, and plunged within its arms.
I had swooned, and Peters had caught me as I fell. He had observed
my proceedings from his station at the bottom of the cliff; and
perceiving my imminent danger, had endeavoured to inspire me with
courage by every suggestion he could devise; although my confusion
of mind had been so great as to prevent my hearing what he said, or
being conscious that he had even spoken to me at all. At length,
seeing me totter, he hastened to ascend to my rescue, and arrived just
in time for my preservation. Had I fallen with my full weight, the
rope of linen would inevitably have snapped, and I should have been
precipitated into the abyss; as it was, he contrived to let me down
gently, so as to remain suspended without danger until animation
returned. This was in about fifteen minutes. On recovery, my
trepidation had entirely vanished; I felt a new being, and, with
some little further aid from my companion, reached the bottom also
in safety.
We now found ourselves not far from the ravine which had proved
the tomb of our friends, and to the southward of the spot where the
hill had fallen. The place was one of singular wildness, and its
aspect brought to my mind the descriptions given by travellers of
those dreary regions marking the site of degraded Babylon. Not to
speak of the ruins of the disrupted cliff, which formed a chaotic
barrier in the vista to the northward, the surface of the ground in
every other direction was strewn with huge tumuli, apparently the
wreck of some gigantic structures of art; although, in detail, no
semblance of art could be detected. Scoria were abundant, and large
shapeless blocks of the black granite, intermingled with others of
marl,* and both granulated with metal. Of vegetation there were no
traces whatsoever throughout the whole of the desolate area within
sight. Several immense scorpions were seen, and various reptiles not
elsewhere to be found in the high latitudes.

* The marl was also black; indeed, we noticed no light-coloured
substances of any kind upon the island.

As food was our most immediate object, we resolved to make our way
to the seacoast, distant not more than half a mile, with a view of
catching turtle, several of which we had observed from our place of
concealment on the hill. We had proceeded some hundred yards,
threading our route cautiously between the huge rocks and tumuli,
when, upon turning a corner, five savages sprung upon us from a
small cavern, felling Peters to the ground with a blow from a club. As
he fell the whole party rushed upon him to secure their victim,
leaving me time to recover from my astonishment. I still had the
musket, but the barrel had received so much injury in being thrown
from the precipice that I cast it aside as useless, preferring to
trust my pistols, which had been carefully preserved in order. With
these I advanced upon the assailants, firing one after the other in
quick succession. Two savages fell, and one, who was in the act of
thrusting a spear into Peters, sprung to his feet without
accomplishing his purpose. My companion being thus released, we had no
further difficulty. He had his pistols also, but prudently declined
using them, confiding in his great personal strength, which far
exceeded that of any person I have ever known. Seizing a club from one
of the savages who had fallen, he dashed out the brains of the three
who remained, killing each instantaneously with a single blow of the
weapon, and leaving us completely masters of the field.
So rapidly had these events passed, that we could scarcely believe
in their reality, and were standing over the bodies of the dead in a
species of stupid contemplation, when we were brought to
recollection by the sound of shouts in the distance. It was clear that
the savages had been alarmed by the firing, and that we had little
chance of avoiding discovery. To regain the cliff, it would be
necessary to proceed in the direction of the shouts; and even should
we succeed in arriving at its base, we should never be able to
ascend it without being seen. Our situation was one of the greatest
peril, and we were hesitating in which path to commence a flight, when
one of the savages whom I had shot, and supposed dead, sprang
briskly to his feet, and attempted to make his escape. We overtook
him, however, before he had advanced many paces, and were about to put
him to death, when Peters suggested that we might derive some
benefit from forcing him to accompany us in our attempt to escape.
We therefore dragged him with us, making him understand that we
would shoot him if he offered resistance. In a few minutes he was
perfectly submissive, and ran by our sides as we pushed in among the
rocks, making for the seashore.
So far, the irregularities of the ground we had been traversing
hid the sea, except at intervals, from our sight, and, when we first
had it fairly in view, it was perhaps, two hundred yards distant. As
we emerged into the open beach we saw, to our great dismay, an immense
crowd of the natives pouring from the village, and from all visible
quarters of the island, making toward us with gesticulations of
extreme fury, and howling like wild beasts. We were upon the point
of turning upon our steps, and trying to secure a retreat among the
fastnesses of the rougher ground, when I discovered the bows of two
canoes projecting from behind a large rock which ran out into the
water. Toward these we now ran with all speed, and, reaching them,
found them unguarded, and without any other freight than three of
the large Gallipago turtles and the usual supply of paddles for
sixty rowers. We instantly took possession of one of them, and,
forcing our captive on board, pushed out to sea with an the strength
we could command.
We had not made, however, more than fifty yards from the shore
before we became sufficiently calm to perceive the great oversight
of which we had been guilty in leaving the other canoe in the power of
the savages, who, by this time, were not more than twice as far from
the beach as ourselves, and were rapidly advancing to the pursuit.
No time was now to be lost. Our hope was, at best, a forlorn one,
but we had none other. It was very doubtful whether, with the utmost
exertion, we could get back in time to anticipate them in taking
possession of the canoe; but yet there was a chance that we could.
We might save ourselves if we succeeded, while not to make the attempt
was to resign ourselves to inevitable butchery.
The canoe was modelled with the bow and stern alike, and, in place
of turning it round, we merely changed our position in paddling. As
soon as the savages perceived this they redoubled their yells, as well
as their speed, and approached with inconceivable rapidity. We pulled,
however, with all the energy of desperation, and arrived at the
contested point before more than one of the natives had attained it.
This man paid dearly for his superior agility, Peters shooting him
through the head with a pistol as he approached the shore. The
foremost among the rest of his party were probably some twenty or
thirty paces distant as we seized upon the canoe. We at first
endeavoured to pull her into the deep water, beyond the reach of the
savages, but, finding her too firmly aground, and there being no
time to spare, Peters, with one or two heavy strokes from the butt
of the musket, succeeded in dashing out a large portion of the bow and
of one side. We then pushed off. Two of the natives by this time had
got hold of our boat, obstinately refusing to let go, until we were
forced to despatch them with our knives. We were now clear off, and
making great way out to sea. The main body of the savages, upon
reaching the broken canoe, set up the most tremendous yell of rage and
disappointment conceivable. In truth, from every thing I could see
of these wretches, they appeared to be the most wicked,
hypocritical, vindictive, bloodthirsty, and altogether fiendish race
of men upon the face of the globe. It is clear we should have had no
mercy had we fallen into their hands. They made a mad attempt at
following us in the fractured canoe, but, finding it useless, again
vented their rage in a series of hideous vociferations, and rushed
up into the hills.
We were thus relieved from immediate danger, but our situation was
still sufficiently gloomy. We knew that four canoes of the kind we had
were at one time in the possession of the savages, and were not
aware of the fact (afterward ascertained from our captive) that two of
these had been blown to pieces in the explosion of the Jane Guy. We
calculated, therefore, upon being yet pursued, as soon as our
enemies could get round to the bay (distant about three miles) where
the boats were usually laid up. Fearing this, we made every exertion
to leave the island behind us, and went rapidly through the water,
forcing the prisoner to take a paddle. In about half an hour, when
we had gained, probably, five or six miles to the southward, a large
fleet of the flat-bottomed canoes or rafts were seen to emerge from
the bay evidently with the design of pursuit. Presently they put back,
despairing to overtake us.
CHAPTER XXV

We now found ourselves in the wide and desolate Antarctic Ocean,
in a latitude exceeding eighty-four degrees, in a frail canoe, and
with no provision but the three turtles. The long polar winter, too,
could not be considered as far distant, and it became necessary that
we should deliberate well upon the course to be pursued. There were
six or seven islands in sight belonging to the same group, and distant
from each other about five or six leagues; but upon neither of these
had we any intention to venture. In coming from the northward in the
Jane Guy we had been gradually leaving behind us the severest
regions of ice- this, however little it may be in accordance with the
generally received notions respecting the Antarctic, was a fact
experience would not permit us to deny. To attempt, therefore, getting
back would be folly- especially at so late a period of the season.
Only one course seemed to be left open for hope. We resolved to steer
boldly to the southward, where there was at least a probability of
discovering lands, and more than a probability of finding a still
milder climate.
So far we had found the Antarctic, like the Arctic Ocean,
peculiarly free from violent storms or immoderately rough water, but
our canoe was, at best, of frail structure, although large, and we set
busily to work with a view of rendering her as safe as the limited
means in our possession would admit. The body of the boat was of no
better material than bark- the bark of a tree unknown. The ribs
were of a tough osier, well adapted to the purpose for which it was
used. We had fifty feet room from stern to stern, from four to six
in breadth, and in depth throughout four feet and a half- the boats
thus differing vastly in shape from those of any other inhabitants
of the Southern Ocean with whom civilized nations are acquainted. We
never did believe them the workmanship of the ignorant islanders who
owned them; and some days after this period discovered, by questioning
our captive, that they were in fact made by the natives of a group
to the southwest of the country where we found them, having fallen
accidentally into the hands of our barbarians. What we could do for
the security of our boat was very little indeed. Several wide rents
were discovered near both ends, and these we contrived to patch up
with pieces of woollen jacket. With the help of the superfluous
paddles, of which there were a great many, we erected a kind of
framework about the bow, so as to break the force of any seas which
might threaten to fill us in that quarter. We also set up two paddle
blades for masts, placing them opposite each other, one by each
gunwale, thus saving the necessity of a yard. To these masts we
attached a sail made of our shirts- doing this with some difficulty,
as here we could get no assistance from our prisoner whatever,
although he had been willing enough to labour in all the other
operations. The sight of the linen seemed to affect him in a very
singular manner. He could not be prevailed upon to touch it or go near
it, shuddering when we attempted to force him, and shrieking out,
“Tekeli-li!”
Having completed our arrangements in regard to the security of the
canoe, we now set sail to the south southeast for the present, with
the view of weathering the most southerly of the group in sight.
This being done, we turned the bow full to the southward. The
weather could by no means be considered disagreeable. We had a
prevailing and very gentle wind from the northward, a smooth sea,
and continual daylight. No ice whatever was to be seen; nor did I ever
see one particle of this after leaving the parallel of Bennet’s Islet.
Indeed, the temperature of the water was here far too warm for its
existence in any quantity. Having killed the largest of our tortoises,
and obtained from him not only food but a copious supply of water,
we continued on our course, without any incident of moment, for
perhaps seven or eight days, during which period we must have
proceeded a vast distance to the southward, as the wind blew
constantly with us, and a very strong current set continually in the
direction we were pursuing.
March 1.*- Many unusual phenomena now indicated that we were
entering upon a region of novelty and wonder. A high range of light
gray vapour appeared constantly in the southern horizon, flaring up
occasionally in lofty streaks, now darting from east to west, now from
west to east, and again presenting a level and uniform summit- in
short, having all the wild variations of the Aurora Borealis. The
average height of this vapour, as apparent from our station, was about
twenty-five degrees. The temperature of the sea seemed to be
increasing momentarily, and there was a very perceptible alteration in
its colour.

* For obvious reasons I cannot pretend to strict accuracy in these
dates. They are given principally with a view to perspicuity of
narration, and as set down in my pencil memorandum.

March 2.- To-day by repeated questioning of our captive, we came
to the knowledge of many particulars in regard to the island of the
massacre, its inhabitants, and customs- but with these how can I now
detain the reader? I may say, however, that we learned there were
eight islands in the group- that they were governed by a common king,
named Tsalemon or Psalemoun, who resided in one of the smallest of the
islands; that the black skins forming the dress of the warriors came
from an animal of huge size to be found only in a valley near the
court of the king- that the inhabitants of the group fabricated no
other boats than the flat-bottomed rafts; the four canoes being all
of the kind in their possession, and these having been obtained, by
mere accident, from some large island in the southwest- that his own
name was Nu-Nu- that he had no knowledge of Bennet’s Islet- and that
the appellation of the island he had left was Tsalal. The commencement
of the words Tsalemon and Tsalal was given with a prolonged hissing
sound, which we found it impossible to imitate, even after repeated
endeavours, and which was precisely the same with the note of the
black bittern we had eaten up on the summit of the hill.
March 3.- The heat of the water was now truly remarkable, and in
colour was undergoing a rapid change, being no longer transparent, but
of a milky consistency and hue. In our immediate vicinity it was
usually smooth, never so rough as to endanger the canoe- but we were
frequently surprised at perceiving, to our right and left, at
different distances, sudden and extensive agitations of the
surface- these, we at length noticed, were always preceded by wild
flickerings in the region of vapour to the southward.
March 4.- To-day, with the view of widening our sail, the breeze
from the northward dying away perceptibly, I took from my
coat-pocket a white handkerchief. Nu-Nu was seated at my elbow, and
the linen accidentally flaring in his face, he became violently
affected with convulsions. These were succeeded by drowsiness and
stupor, and low murmurings of “Tekeli-li! Tekeli-li!”
March 5.- The wind had entirely ceased, but it was evident that
we were still hurrying on to the southward, under the influence of a
powerful current. And now, indeed, it would seem reasonable that we
should experience some alarm at the turn events were taking- but we
felt none. The countenance of Peters indicated nothing of this nature,
although it wore at times an expression I could not fathom. The
polar winter appeared to be coming on- but coming without its
terrors. I felt a numbness of body and mind- a dreaminess of
sensation- but this was all.
March 6.- The gray vapour had now arisen many more degrees above
the horizon, and was gradually losing its grayness of tint. The heat
of the water was extreme, even unpleasant to the touch, and its milky
hue was more evident than ever. To-day a violent agitation of the
water occurred very close to the canoe. It was attended, as usual,
with a wild flaring up of the vapour at its summit, and a momentary
division at its base. A fine white powder, resembling ashes- but
certainly not such- fell over the canoe and over a large surface of
the water, as the flickering died away among the vapour and the
commotion subsided in the sea. Nu-Nu now threw himself on his face in
the bottom of the boat, and no persuasions could induce him to arise.
March 7.- This day we questioned Nu-Nu concerning the motives of
his countrymen in destroying our companions; but he appeared to be too
utterly overcome by terror to afford us any rational reply. He still
obstinately lay in the bottom of the boat; and, upon reiterating the
questions as to the motive, made use only of idiotic gesticulations,
such as raising with his forefinger the upper lip, and displaying
the teeth which lay beneath it. These were black. We had never
before seen the teeth of an inhabitant of Tsalal.
March 8.- To-day there floated by us one of the white animals whose
appearance upon the beach at Tsalal had occasioned so wild a commotion
among the savages. I would have picked it up, but there came over me a
sudden listlessness, and I forbore. The heat of the water still
increased, and the hand could no longer be endured within it. Peters
spoke little, and I knew not what to think of his apathy. Nu-Nu
breathed, and no more.
March 9.- The whole ashy material fell now continually around us,
and in vast quantities. The range of vapour to the southward had
arisen prodigiously in the horizon, and began to assume more
distinctness of form. I can liken it to nothing but a limitless
cataract, rolling silently into the sea from some immense and
far-distant rampart in the heaven, The gigantic curtain ranged along
the whole extent of the southern horizon. It emitted no sound.
March 21.- A sullen darkness now hovered above us- but from out
the milky depths of the ocean a luminous glare arose, and stole up
along the bulwarks of the boat. We were nearly overwhelmed by the
white ashy shower which settled upon us and upon the canoe, but melted
into the water as it fell. The summit of the cataract was utterly lost
in the dimness and the distance. Yet we were evidently approaching
it with a hideous velocity. At intervals there were visible in it
wide, yawning, but momentary rents, and from out these rents, within
which was a chaos of flitting and indistinct images, there came
rushing and mighty, but soundless winds, tearing up the enkindled
ocean in their course.
March 22.- The darkness had materially increased, relieved only
by the glare of the water thrown back from the white curtain before
us. Many gigantic and pallidly white birds flew continuously now
from beyond the veil, and their scream was the eternal Tekeli-li! as
they retreated from our vision. Hereupon Nu-Nu stirred in the bottom
of the boat; but upon touching him, we found his spirit departed.
And now we rushed into the embraces of the cataract, where a chasm
threw itself open to receive us. But there arose in our pathway a
shrouded human figure, very far larger in its proportions than any
dweller among men. And the hue of the skin of the figure was of the
perfect whiteness of the snow.
NOTE
NOTE

The circumstances connected with the late sudden and distressing
death of Mr. Pym are already well known to the public through the
medium of the daily press. It is feared that the few remaining
chapters which were to have completed his narrative, and which were
retained by him, while the above were in type, for the purpose of
revision, have been irrecoverably lost through the accident by which
he perished himself. This, however, may prove not to be the case,
and the papers, if ultimately found, will be given to the public.
No means have been left untried to remedy the deficiency. The
gentleman whose name is mentioned in the preface, and who, from the
statement there made, might be supposed able to fill the vacuum, has
declined the task- this for satisfactory reasons connected with the
general inaccuracy of the details afforded him, and his disbelief in
the entire truth of the latter portions of the narration. Peters, from
whom some information might be expected, is still alive, and a
resident of Illinois, but cannot be met with at present. He may
hereafter be found, and will, no doubt, afford material for a
conclusion of Mr. Pym’s account.
The loss of the two or three final chapters (for there were but
two or three) is the more deeply to be regretted, as, it cannot be
doubted, they contained matter relative to the Pole itself, or at
least to regions in its very near proximity; and as, too, the
statements of the author in relation to these regions may shortly be
verified or contradicted by means of the governmental expedition now
preparing for the Southern Ocean.
On one point in the Narrative some remarks may be well offered;
and it would afford the writer of this appendix much pleasure if
what he may here observe should have a tendency to throw credit, in
any degree, upon the very singular pages now published. We allude to
the chasms found in the island of Tsalal, and to the whole of the
figures presented in Chapter XXIII.
Mr. Pym has given the figures of the chasm without comment, and
speaks decidedly of the indentures found at the extremity of the
most easterly of these chasms as having but a fanciful resemblance
to alphabetical characters, and, in short, as being positively not
such. This assertion is made in a manner so simple, and sustained by a
species of demonstration so conclusive (viz., the fitting of the
projections of the fragments found among the dust into the
indentures upon the wall), that we are forced to believe the writer in
earnest; and no reasonable reader should suppose otherwise. But as the
facts in relation to all the figures are most singular (especially
when taken in connexion with statements made in the body of the
narrative), it may be as well to say a word or two concerning them
all- this, too, the more especially as the facts in question have,
beyond doubt, escaped the attention of Mr. Poe.
Figure 1, then figure 2, figure 3, and figure 5, when conjoined
with one another in the precise order which the chasms themselves
presented, and when deprived of the small lateral branches or arches
(which, it will be remembered, served only as means of communication
between the main chambers, and were of totally distinct character),
constitute an Ethiopian verbal root- the root (SEE ILLUSTRATION)
“To be shady”- whence all the inflections of shadow or darkness.
In regard to the “left or most northwardly” of the indentures in
figure 4, it is more than probable that the opinion of Peters was
correct, and that the hieroglyphical appearance was really the work of
art, and intended as the representation of a human form. The
delineation is before the reader, and he may, or may not, perceive the
resemblance suggested; but the rest of the indentures afford strong
confirmation of Peters’ idea. The upper range is evidently the
Arabic verbal root (SEE ILLUSTRATION) “To be white,” whence all the
inflections of brilliancy and whiteness. The lower range is not so
immediately perspicuous. The characters are somewhat broken and
disjointed; nevertheless, it cannot be doubted that, in their perfect
state, they formed the full Egyptian word (SEE ILLUSTRATION),
“The region of the south.” It should be observed that these
interpretations confirm the opinion of Peters in regard to the “most
northwardly” of the figures. The arm is outstretched towards the
south.
Conclusions such as these open a wide field for speculation and
exciting conjecture. They should be regarded, perhaps, in connexion
with some of the most faintly-detailed incidents of the narrative;
although in no visible manner is this chain of connexion complete.
Tekeli-li! was the cry of the affrighted natives of Tsalal upon
discovering the carcass of the white animal picked up at sea. This
also was the shuddering exclamation of the captive Tsalalian upon
encountering the white materials in possession of Mr. Pym. This also
was the shriek of the swift-flying, white, and gigantic birds which
issued from the vapoury white curtain of the South. Nothing white
was to be found at Tsalal, and nothing otherwise in the subsequent
voyage to the region beyond. It is not impossible that “Tsalal,” the
appellation of the island of the chasms, may be found, upon minute
philological scrutiny, to betray either some alliance with the
chasms themselves, or some reference to the Ethiopian characters so
mysteriously written in their windings.
“I have graven it within the hills, and my vengeance upon the dust
within the rock.”

THE END

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