V N >
A GEM AMONG THE SEA-WEEDS.
PRINTED BY W. F. DRAPER
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1858, by
WARREN F. DRAPER,
In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of Massachusetts.
MY DARLING HAT TIE,
WOULD THAT THIS CASKET CONTAINED FOR SUCH AS THOU,
A PURER GEM.
PEEP AC E.
IN writing the following pages the author has
spent pleasant hours, which perhaps might have
been less profitably employed : if anything of
interest be found among them, it is well, and
should any be led to take up their Cross in meek-
ness and humility, searcliing out the path that
leads the wanderer home, it is indeed well.
" What was it that I loved so well about my childhood's home ?
It was the wide and wave-lashed shore, the black rocks crowned
with foam !
It was the sea-gull's flapping wing, all trackless in its flight,
Its screaming note, that welcomed on the fierce and stormy night !
The wild heath had its flowers and moss, the forest had its trees,
Which, bending to the evening wind, made music in the breeze;
But earth, ha I ha! I laugh e'en now, earth had no charms
Nor scene half bright enough to win my young heart from the sea.
No ! 't was the ocean, vast and deep, the fathomless, the free,
The mighty rushing waters, that were ever dear to me ! "
"But the goodly pearl which the merchant bought,
And for which his all he gave,
Was a purer pearl than will e'er be brought
From under the FOAMING wave." H. F. Gotru>.
" MASSA Grobener ! Massa Grobener ! Please,
ear, look here! De good Lord hab left his
8 NATALIE; OR,
mitest ob angels here on de beach ; and please,
sar, step low or de wee bit will take to its wings
and fly away. De good Lord be praised ! but
old Bingo hab found many a bright sea-weed in
his day, but dis am de sweetest sea-flower ob de
And as he spoke, the little one stretched out its
tiny arms toward the poor old black man and
gave a faint moan. Captain Grosvenor,who had
now come up with the negro, was no less sur-
prised than had been old Vingo, at discovering,
among the fresh, bright sea-weed, an infant some
eight months old. The babe was carefully lashed
into a large wooden trough or bowl, and a can-
vas firmly stretched over the top, permitting only
the head and arms to remain exposed, and judg-
ing from the dripping condition of the worthy
little sea-craft, it could not have been many mo-
ments since it had come to anchor on the smooth,
hard beach; probably the now receding waves
had borne the precious burden to this most wel-
come harbor " whereby hangs a tale.V
" De good Lord be praised, massa ! but dis am
de most curous ob all sea-ve'cles that eber trabers
de great waters ! I sure it must be a speint from
A GEM AMONG THE SEA-WEEDS. 9
de great scripture ark massa read about in de
good book ; or may be it am one ob those old-
time chariots, fiery chariots, we sings about ; only
it so moist around here, it put de fire all out and
leabe de chariot. Or I tink it may be one ob
dose machines Bingo used to see in old slabe-
massa's church, hung up ober de minister's head,
to make de good psalms or de prayers go de right
way, and I do n't remember which ; old Bingo
always retained a bery bad memory, eber since
before he was a child ; but I tink dey used
to call it a sound board, though it was full ob
Ah ! poor fellow, had you seen that heart-rend-
ing look of despair, mingled with sweet resigna-
tion, upon the face of that mother ! had you seen
the glistening tear in the eye of that noble father,
as, but a few hours before, they consigned their
idolized child to the mercies of the deep ; had you
heard that prayer to God, if it might be his will,
to spare their darling from an ocean-grave, your
great heart would have been, if possible, kindled
to a greater love for that helpless little one !
Captain Grosvenor, after having carefully taken
the child from the grotesque looking craft, which
10 NATALIE; OR,
had proved so trustworthy a sailor, and wiped the
drops of spray from its little face, wrapped it in a
large bandana, and gave it to the faithful Vingo,
while he took his glass and scanned the distant
horizon ; for well did he know, though even at
noon-day, that one more unfortunate bark had
gone down near that dread " Nantucket shoal,"
upon which so many noble hearts have found a
watery grave. " I see nothing," said the Captain,
" nothing, not even a passing sail ; which is quite
uncommon at this season, when so many vessels
are constantly passing and repassing our island ;
not even the light-boat do I see, which is probably
owing to a fog coming in from the sea, as yet
imperceptible to us here. Poor fellows! I fear
they have gone down without a soul to help
them! It seems hard when there are so many
stout hearts and ready arms here, willing to risk
their lives in the attempt to save. Those shoals,
Vingo, are the only unkind thing there is about
our cherished island ; but the will of God be done.
Truly his ways are unsearchable."
" Den you tinks, massa, dis little sea-flower was
left here trough mistake, by de Lord?"
" It most assuredly was left here by the Lord,
A GEM AMONG THE SEA- WEEDS. 11
Vingo, but not by mistake. The fact is, my boy,
there has been a wreck off to the east south-
east of the island; probably some vessel has mis-
taken her bearings, or, being unacquainted with
the coast, has run on to the shoals and gone to
pieces ; and this infant was made fast to the first
floatable object that could be found, and with a
mother's dying prayer for a rudder, and the hand
of Him who guides us all at the helm, she has
come to us here ; and with eyes of heaven's own
blue, she silently asks for that protection which
shall not be withheld from her so long as it shall
be within my power to give. And now, Vingo,
boy, you may turn the horse's head for the town."
" Yes, massa."
And though some fifty years had passed over
the old negro's head, he sprang with the agility of
boyhood's days; although, as the poor fellow
often remarked, " he had a wonderful constitution
for enduring rest," the thought of his good missus's
surprise, when she should learn of their morning's
adventure, gave him new life, and he fairly
danced about the beach for joy. Seated in the
spring-cart, Captain Grosvenor took the babe in
his arms, that had now fallen into a quiet sleep,
12 NATALIE ; OR,
while Vingo, perching himself first on one foot
and then the other, to keep his balance, gath-
ered up the reins, and all started for home.
" I am tinking, massa, dat my missus be quite
ober-much-come at de sight of dis little sea-
" Yes, boy ; yes, sea-flower indeed. I have
travelled the wide world from stem to stern, but
never have I met with such an emblem of inno-
cence before." And though the hardy sea-captain
had spent the greater part of his life among the
whales, he stooped down and pressed his lips to
the brow of the unconscious sleeper.
" Luff off there a little, Vingo ; keep to the
right; these bare commons are not the easiest
grounds to ride over, though with a light spring-
cart like this one can navigate with some degree
of comfort. The broad ocean is the place, after
all. Give me the old ship Tantalizer, and I am
at home. Take the glass, Vingo, and see if you
can make out whether the steamboat is in sight
" Cannot eben make de staff, massa. Ah ! now
I sees him; de flag is up, old Massachusetts am
A GEM AMONG THE SEA-WEEDS. 13
" She will be in early to-day. Travels decently
fast, considering she is all out of joint. I hope
we sha'l get a new steamer some day ; then we
may keep posted with what is going on in the
" Yes, massa, people tink we a piece ob de con-
An hour's ride brought our worthy captain to
his own door, where stood Mrs. Grosvenor, with
her son Harry, their only child, of seven years,
" You have made a long stay at the shore this
morning, my husband; but if these little excur-
sions will deter you from making a longer voyage,
I will not complain."
" Yes, wife, yes ; but for a peace offering I
have brought to you a gem from among the
" My dear husband, where can you have found
this child ? " and tears were in the eyes of the
lady as she received the little unknown from his
" Is it for you ? to be yours, mother ? Mother,
may it stay with us here ? " asked Harry ; and in
his delight he stumbled over old Neptune, who
14 NATALIE ; OR,
was stretched at full length upon the floor, and
the two went rolling over and over, first one up
and then the other, till finally the boy came off
victorious, seated astride the animal's back, who
marched up to Mrs. Grosvenor's side, where they
both remained, eyeing the little stranger in silence.
" The child's dress denotes no common birth,"
remarked the Captain, as his lady disrobed it of
its rich lace dress, saturated with the salt sea-
water. " And the gold bands ; are there no
marks? nothing, by which we may gain the
least clue of its history ? "
"I see nothing; and it is Avell; for my heart
already yearns towards the little creature, and in
my selfish human nature, I can't but hope that
we may be able to keep her for our own." And
as she spoke she pressed the clasp of the band,
and, behold ! the miniature likeness of a lady was
brought to view. The foster mother gazed upon
those features, as if it were the face of an angel.
" I cannot have the heart to wish to retain her
child! To deprive that mother of anything that
can give her pain to lose. Would I could ask
her to forgive my cruel thoughts; forgive the
desire to retain this her gem. But I know she
A GEM AMONG THE SEA-WEEDS. 15
has gone to her home in the skies ; she was too
pure for earth. Yes, this must be the mother, the
child is so like her."
" The same features, the same expression ;
and," said the Captain, " I will use every means
of finding out if there is one left of that ill-fated
crew to tell the tale. It will probably be reported
in a few days, if there are any missing vessels,
either from our coasts or foreign ports. In the
meantime I will take care to have this discovery
registered at head-quarters, and then if we can
discover no trace of her parentage we may have
her for our own."
" Have her for our own ! Nep, do you hear
that? We are to have a new sister!" shouted
the boy ; and Nep, as if comprehending his young
master's words, laid his great honest face on the
feet of the child, and caressed her.
" Please, missus, do n't make little Sea-flower
too fresh ; she be pining for de sea ;" remarked
Vingo, as Mrs. Grosvenor proceeded to bathe the
child in cool fresh water; and having brought out
the baby-clothes worn by Harry, she was soon,
by the aid of a little new milk, made comfortable,
and, creeping down after old Nep, sat with her
16 NATALIE; OR,
hands buried in his shaggy coat, crowing with
delight. The lights at Captain Grosvenor's
burned long into the night of that eventful day,
of the discovery of the Sea-flower, while he
related to his wife how they had found the little
one among the sea-weeds, and in forming plans
for her future adoption, should nothing be learned
of her parentage, and no friends come to claim
Soon after the commencement of our story, a
fearful storm swept the New England coast.
'T would seem as if the rage of the storm-king
knew no bounds ; and many hearts there were
made desolate in that long-to-be-remembered Sep-
tember gale. Fragments of wrecks came ashore
on different parts of the island, together with
casks, chests, rigging, stoven boats, etc., which
were picked up in various places, and by vari-
ous characters. Some would watch eagerly for
these trophies of destruction, and with grasping
hand seize upon them, viewing the storm as
sent for their own particular benefit; increas-
ing their worldly goods, regardless of others'
woes. While some there were, who turned
away with a heart sick at the scene of devas-
A GEM AMONG THE SEA- WEEDS. IT
tation, yet submissively bowing to His will,
" who holds the waters in his hand." Wreck
upon wreck was reported. The total loss of ves-
sels from all parts of the world was very great,
which only served to increase the mystery in
regard to the unknown, which went down 'neath
a calm noon-day sky. Days and months passed
on, and still no tidings ; till finally they came to
look upon the loved one as their own.
The child grew in strength and beauty, and
was a source of great amusement to them alL
Old Vingo would delight to make one of his
" squantums," as he called it, to the shore ; and
with master Harry, who was now taking his first
lessons in driving, (a point once attained, boy-
hood thinks to gain no higher) and Sea-flower
in his arms ; with Nep, who is determined to be
" head horse," bounding off in the distance, is
happiness enough for the negro, and his white
teeth glisten in the bright sunshine like so many
African pearls, as he jabbers away to Sea-flower, as
i f she were comprehending the whole. But 't was
enough for Vingo, that she in reply to his half
hour's remarks, would put out her hand toward
18 NATALIE ; OR,
the blue waters, and with eyes dilated with won;
derment, would say. " Tee ! Indo, Tee ! "
There on the beach they would have a fine race
with the surf, Vingo following with the child the
receding wave, and then, as it came in with a
roar from the sea, he would run as if pursued by
a foe, sometimes the spray dashing up all around
them, much to the joy of the Sea-flower, her
merry laugh according strangely with the music
of the waters. Harry amused himself for a while,
throwing the bits of drift-wood into the water,
that he might see old Newfoundland dash in and
combat with the waves, to secure the prize, which
he never failed to do ; but wearying of this, he
came and took his seat by the side of his sister,
and commenced whittling diligently on an old
piece of plank.
" Vingo, do you think my father will ever go to
" I do n't know, young massa ; but why you
" O, I have often thought I would like to go
with rny father away over the great ocean. I
long to see more of the world ; and I often think
of the time when I shall be a man, and have a
A GEM AMONG THE SEA-WEEDS. 19
ship of my own. I never hear of a ship arrived
at the bar, but it sends a thrill of delight over me,
and I watch the sailors as they come on shore
after a three years' voyage, and think how happy
they must be, though they look as if they had met
with the rubbers. O, I know I shall be a sailor
boy! there is something noble about the very
" Missus be berry sorry to hear you talk so,"
" I know my mother would be very sorry to
have me go to sea, for I remember how sad she
looked for many days after father went away,
though I was but a little boy. And I remember
my father took me in his arms, and told me I
must be a good boy, and take care of mother
until he came back. But now you would be
here, Vingo, to see that my mother knew no
" Yes, de good Lord be praised for sending
good massa Grobener to take me away from old
slabe massa. I gets so filled wid liberty some-
times, dat I mistakes myself for white man."
" Well, you are as good as a white man, any
day ; but tell me, Vingo, if you have ever been
much on the water ?"
20 NATALIE; OR,
" Not a great deal ; I used to take old massa
wid his children out for a sail sometimes, and den
I hab a slight recollection ob being brought from
a great way off; but dat must hab been before I
come to be berry great. De pleasantest sail I
eber take was when I leabe old Berginny in de
good Tantalizer; and I swings my hat at old
slabe massa on de bank, and asks him if he do n't
wish he as free as dis individual. Dat was but
a few years ago ; den you wear little dress like
Sea-flower, and now you talk 'bout going to sea!
Well, dat am de way wid you sea-fish here."
As the three sat on the beach, enjoying the
morning breeze, Harry observed a gentleman not
far off, who appeared to be taking sketches of the
scenery around, and occasionally would give a
glance towards where our little party were sitting,
somewhat to the disquietude of Nep, who came
and stood sentinel, as much as to say, " I will
protect you;" but finding the stranger disposed
to do them no harm, he composed himself for a
nap. The whittling process being now finished,
Harry produced what he termed a " two-master,"
the which, Vingo declared it would be no sin to
worship, as it was not in the likeness of anything.
A GEM AMONG THE SEA-WEEDS. 21
" She is not a very polished looking craft, to
be sure, but I know she is a sailer, for all that.
At any rate, she shall be of some service;"
and he seized old Nep by the ear, and making
fast his dogship t6 the little ark, he carefully
seated the Sea-flower at the helm, and with Vin-
go's rainbow bandana flying from the mast-head,
they were soon under full headway. Either Nep
being proud of his charge, or the little one mis-
taking the thoughtful face, lit up with the glow
of enthusiasm, of the stranger, for a beacon light ;
they came up with him, who called to Harry to
" What is your name, my son ? "
" Harry Grosvenor, sir," answered the boy,
drawing himself up to his full height.
" And what have you here ? " added he. " I
suppose you came along as supercargo ; pray tell
me with what are you freighted ? "
" The Sea-flower is my only freight, sir."
" And God grant that you may always find as
valuable! but tell me$ is this angelic child your
sister ? "
" Yes, sir, my sister, and we all love her very
much ; we could not be without her, for we might
22 NATALIE; OR,
forget to thank our Father for his kindness to us,
if we had no Sea-flower to remind us of Heaven."
" So young, and can appreciate so rare a gift,"
mused the gentleman ; " childhood, indeed, is the
first to discover purity ; " and the eye of the stran-
ger grew moist, and the melancholy smile which
sat upon his countenance gave place to the
shadows of grief. " What is the child's name ? "
" We call her Sea-flower, sir."
"'Tis a peculiar, sweet name; but has she no
" We have always called her by that name.
Mother says she came to us from God, and he
loves the little flowers ; he smiles upon each one,
as it holds up its little head, all shining with pearly
tears wept by the stars. But do you not love my
sister ? I did not think she could make you sad."
" Yes, yes, my son ; take good care of her, be a
true brother to her, ever. Many long years have
passed since my own little Natalie played in rny
arms, but they are gone ; " and the kind gentle-
man gathered his sketching instruments to depart.
That night, as Mrs. Grosvenor talked with her
children, as was her wont, of the good Father
A GEM AMONG THE SEAWEEDS. 23
who loves us all, Harry related the interview with
the stranger gentleman ; and in the prayer which
followed he was not forgotten. The Sea-flower
folded her tiny hands meekly, while from the win-
dows of her soul went up the love she could not
speak. As that faithful mother sat meditating
upon the story of Harry in regard to the stranger,
which she had related to her husband, Captain
Grosvenor remarked, " It is just one year to-day
when our dear child came to us, being also my
birthday ; but instead of adding a year to my life,
it seems to me old Father time has made a mis-
take, and made a deduction of a year. Just one
year to-day, and she is the Sea-flower still. Yes,
she will ever be the Sea-flower to us ; yet I sup-
pose she must have a name more in keeping with
the ideas of the world. What was the name of
the lost one the sad gentleman mused of?"
" He spoke of the long time ago, before his own
Natalie had gone."
"Poor man! Each life must have its portion
of bitterness. Natalie, I like the sound ; it
reminds me of my home on the waters. With
your consent, my wife, the Christian name of the
child shall be Natalie, for she came to us from the
THE ISLAND HOME.
"Long may this ocean-gem be bright,
And long may it be fair,
In Freedom's pure and blessed light,
And Virtue's hallowed air !
While still across its ocean bound,
Shall e'er be borne the truthful sound,
Our island home ! our island home !
We love our island home ! "
MKS. J. H. HAXAFORD.
" And yet that isle remaineth,
A refuge for the free,
As when true-hearted Macy
Beheld it from the sea.
God bless the sea-beat island !
And grant for evermore,
That Charity and Freedom dwell,
As now, upon the shore ! "
J. G. WHITTIER.
GENTLE reader, pause a little, and let us for a
few moments turn our thoughts toward that
A GEM AMONG THE SEA-WEEDS. 25
Island of the sea, upon which it was the fate of
our heroine, through the guidance of a divine
providence, to find a home in the bosoms of those
whose hearts' beatings were of love for our
unknown. Yea, love ever encircleth purity.
Properly, this chapter, descriptive of the Island
of Nantucket, should have been our first; but
had that been the case, alas, for the simple tale of
Natalie! How many would have passed it by
with but one thought, and that thought invari-
ably, Nantucket ! pooh ! a fish story, strikingly
embellished with ignorance. And you may in-
deed discover in the feebleness of my unpre-
tending pen, much that is food for critics ; yet
give not a thought of ridicule to Nantucket's fa-
vored ones, for it is not for me to enlist under her
banner of superiority of intellect. To the many
questions which I know you have it in your heart
to ask, as touching the civilization, etc., of these
islanders, I do not reply, as I might be tempted
under other circumstances to do, that it wouhLbe
advisable to procure a passport before landing on
those shores r lest one might stand in danger of
being harpooned by the natives ; but rather let
me, in as correct a light as I may, set forth to
26 NATALIE; OB,
those who have heretofore known but little of
those who inhabit that triangular bit of land in
the wide ocean, which, when we were six year
olds, we passed over on our maps with the thought,
I wonder if they have Sundays there.
Situated nearly one hundred miles, in a south-
easterly course from the city of Boston, and about
thirty miles from the nearest point of main land,
Nantucket lifts her proud head from out the broad
Atlantic, whose waters, even when lashed to mad-
ness, have been kind to her. And now, on this
oppressive July morning, let us throw aside our
cares, and come out from our daily round of du-
ties, where we have been scaling with our eyes
the tall brick barriers which shut out God's beau-
tiful blue sky and sunshine. Yes, let us off, any-
where, to get one glimpse of Nature. On board
the good steamer " Island Home," a two hours'
sail carries us over that distance which separates
Cape Cod from Nantucket. If you have not
passed most of your days among the Connecticut
hills, you pay little attention to that " green-
eyed monster," who considers it a part of his duty
to prepare the uninitiated for the good time com-
ing. Arrived at the bar, which stretches itself
A GEM AMONG THE SEA-WEEDS. 27
across the entrance to the harbor, our first impres-
sions taUe to themselves the forms of sundry ven-
erable windmills, church spires and towers, repre-
senting various orders of architecture; but that
which strikes us most is the scarcity of shipping,
not more than a dozen vessels lying at the
wharves. In former times Nantucket numbered
as many whaleships belonging to her port, as did
any town on our seaboard. Indeed, she was built
up from the produce of the ocean, and carried the
palm for years as being first among the American
whale fisheries ; but her number has dwindled
away, till not^ one-fourth of those homeward-
bound ships are destined for the port of Nan-
The town, we find, is situated on the northern
shore of the island, at the harbor's head. The
houses are compact, and most of them built of
wood, with little regard to beauty ; though some
few residences there are, of modern style, which
do credit to their designers ; but the greater num-
ber speak only of antiquity, with their shingled
sides ; and you will rarely see a house that has
not a " walk " upon its roof, \vith w r hich they