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with impunity, on account of the depth of the sea on them.
Mark beat up, on short tacks, therefore, until he found the
two buoys between which he had brought the ship, and
passing to windward of them, he stood off in the direction
where he expected to find the reef over which the Ranco
cus had beaten. He was not long in making this disco
very. There still floated the buoy of the bower, watching
as faithfully as the seaman on his look-out ! Mark ran the
boat "up to this well-tried sentinel, and caught the lanyard,
holding on by it, after lowering his sails.

The boat was now moored by the buoy-rope of the ship's
anchor, and it occurred to our young man that a certain
use might be made of this melancholy memorial of the ca
lamity that had befallen the Rancocus. The anchor lay
quite near a reef, on it indeed in one sense ; and it was in
such places that fish most abounded. Fishing-tackle was
in the boat, and Mark let down a line. His success was
orodigious The fish were hauled in almost as fast as lie
14



158 THE CRA.TER;

could bait and lower his hook, and what was more their
proved to be larger and finer than those taken at the old
fishing-grounds. By the experience of the half hour he
passed at the spot, Mark felt certain that he could fill his
boat there in a day's fishing. After hauling in some twenty
or thirty, however, he cast off from the lanyard, hoisted his
sails, and crossed the reef, still working to windward.

It was Mark's wish to learn something of the nature and
extent of the shoals in this direction. With this object in
view, he continued beating up, sometimes passing boldly
through shallow water, at others going ajout to avoid that
which he thought might be dangerous, until he believed
himself to be about ten miles to windward of the island.
The ship's masts were his beacon, for the crater had sunk
below the horizon, or if visible at all, it was only at inter
vals, as the boat was lifted on a swell, when it appeared a
low hummock, nearly awash. It was with difficulty that
the naked spars could be seen at that distance; nor could
they be, except at moments, and that because the compass
told the young man exactly where to look for them.

As for the appearance of the reefs, no naked rock was
anywhere to be seen in this direction, though there were
abundant evidences of the existence of shoals. As well as
he could judge, Mark was of opinion that these shoals ex
tended at least twenty miles in this direction, he having
turned up fully five leagues without getting clear of them.
At that distance from his solitary home, and out of sight
of everything like land, did the young man eat his frugal,
but good and nourishing dinner, with his jib-sheet to wind
ward and the boat hove-to. The freshness of the breeze
had induced him to reef, and under that short sail, he found
the Bridget everything he could wish. It was now "about
the middle of the afternoon, and Mark thought it prudent
to turn out his reef, and run down for the crater. In half
an hour he caught a sight of the spars of the ship ; and ten
minutes later, the Summit appeared above the horizon.

It had been the intention of our young sailor to stay
out all night, had the weather been promising. His
wish was to ascertain how he might manage the boat,
single-handed, while he slept, and also to learn the extent
of the ahoals. As the extraordinary fertility of the crater



OR, VULCAN'S PEAK. 159

superseded the necessity of his labouring much to keep
himself supplied with food, he had formed a plan of cruis
ing off the shoals, for days at a time, in the hope of falling
in with something that was passing, and which might carry
him back to the haunts of men. No vessel would or could
come in sight of the crater, so long as the existence of the
reefs was known ; but the course steered by the Rancocus
was a proof that ships did occasionally pass in that quarter
of the Pacific. Mark had indulged in no visionary hopes
on this subject, for he knew he might keep in the offing a
twelvemonth and see nothing; but an additional twenty-
four hours might realize all his hopes.

The weather, however, on this his first experiment, did
not encourage him to remain out the whole night. On the
contrary, by the time the crater was in sight, Mark thought
he had not seen a more portentous-looking sky since he
had been on the Reef. There was a fiery redness in the
atmosphere that alarmed him, and he would have rejoiced
to be at home, in order to secure his stock within the cra
ter. From the appearances, he anticipated another tem
pest with its flood. It is true, it was not the season when
the last occurred, but the climate might admit of these
changes. The difference between summer and winter was
very trifling on that reef, and a hurricane, or a gale, was
as likely to occur in the one as in the other.

Just as the Bridget was passing the two buoys by which
the ship-channel had been marked, her sail flapped. This
was a bad omen, for it betokened a shift of wind, which
rarely happened, unless it might be from six months to six
months, without being the precursor of some sort of a storm.
Mark was still two miles from the Reef, and the little wind
there was soon came ahead. Luckily, it was smooth water,
and very little air sufficed to force that light craft ahead,
while there was usually a current setting from that point
towards the crater. The birds, moreover, seemed uneasy,
the air being filled with them, thousands flying over the
boat, around which they wheeled, screaming and appa
rently terrified. At first Mark ascribed this unusual be
haviour of his feathered neighbours to the circumstance of
their now seeing a boat for the commencement of such an
acquaintance ; but, recollecting how often ha had passed



160 THE CRATER;

their haunts, in the dingui, when they would hardly get
out of the way, he soon felt certain there must be another
reason for this singular conduct.

The sun went down in a bank of lurid fire, and the
Bridget was still a mile from the ship. A new apprehen
sion now came over our hermit. Should a tempest bring
the wind violently from the westward, as was very likely
to be the case under actual circumstances, he might be
driven out to sea, and, did the little craft resist the waves,
forced so far off as to make him lose the Reef altogether.
Then it was that Mark deeply felt how much had been
left him, by casting his lot on that beautiful and luxuriant
crater, instead of reducing him to those dregs of misery
whioh so many shipwrecked mariners are compelled to
swallow ! How much, or how many of the blessings that
he enjoyed on the Reef, would he not have been willing
to part with, that evening, in order to secure a safe arrival
at the side of the Rancocus ! By the utmost care to profit
by every puff of air, and by handling the boat with the
greatest skill, this happy result was obtained, however,
without any sacrifice.

About nine o'clock, and not sooner, the boat was well
secured, and Mark went into his cabin. Here he knelt
and returned thanks to God, for his safe return to a place
that was getting to be as precious to him as the love of life
could render it. After this, tired with his day's work, the
young man got into his berth and endeavoured to sleep.

The fatigue of the day, notwithstanding the invigorating
freshness of the breeze, acted as an anodyne, and our
young man soon forgot his adventures and his boat, in
profound slumbers. It was many hours ere Mark awoke,
and when he did, it was with a sense of suffocation. At
first he thought the ship had taken fire, a lurid light gleam
ing in at the open door of the cabin, and he sprang to his
feet in recollection of the danger he ran from the maga
zine, as well as from being burned. But no cracking of
flames reaching his ears, he dressed hastily and went out
on the poop. He had just reached this deck, when he felt
the whole ship tremble from her truck to her keel, and a
rushing of water was heard on all sides of him, as if a flood
ace coming, Hissing Bounds were heard, and streams



OR, VULCAN'S PEAK. 161

of fire, and gleams of lurid light were seen in the air. It
was a terrible moment, and one that might well induce any
man to imagine that time was drawing to its close.

Mark Woolston now comprehended his situation, not
withstanding the intense darkness which prevailed, except
in those brief intervals of lurid light. He had felt the
shock of an earthquake, and the volcano had suddenly be
come active. Smoke and ashes certainly filled the air, and
our poor hermit instinctively looked towards his crater,
already so verdant and lively, in the expectation of see
ing it vomit flames. Everything there was tranquil ; the
danger, if danger there was, was assuredly more remote.
But the murky vapour which rendered breathing exceed
ingly difficult, also obstructed the view, and prevented his
seeing where the explosion really was. For a brief space
our young man fancied he must certainly be suffocated;
but a shift of wind came, and blew away the oppressive
vapour, clearing the atmosphere of its sulphurous and most
offensive gases and odours. Never did feverish tongue
enjoy the cooling and healthful draught, more than Mark
rejoiced in this change. The wind had got back to its old
quarter, and the air he respired soon became pure and re
freshing. Had the impure atmosphere lasted ten minutes
longer, Mark felt persuaded he could not have breathed it
with any safety.

The light was now most impatiently expected by our
young man. The minutes seemed to drag ; but, at length,
the usual signs of returning day became apparent to him,
and he got on the bowsprit of the ship, as if to meet it in
its approach. There he stood looking to the eastward,
eager to have ray after ray shoot into the firmament, when
he was suddenly struck with a change in that quarter of
the ocean, which at once proclaimed the power of the effort
which the earth had made in its subterranean throes.
Naked rocks appeared in places where Mark was certain
water in abundance had existed a few hours before. The
sea-wall, directly ahead of the ship, and which never showed
itself above the surface more than two or three inches, in
any part of it, and that only at exceedingly neap tides,
was now not onJy bare for a long distance, but parts rose
ten and fifteen feet above the surrounding sea. This
14*



162 THE CRATER;

proved, at once, that the earthquake had thrust upward a
vast surface of the reef, completely altering the whole ap
pearance of the shoal ! In a word, nature had made another
effort, and islands had been created, as it might be in the
twinkling of an eye.

Mark was no sooner assured of this stupendous fact, than
he hurried on to the poop, in order to ascertain what
changes had occurred in and about the crater. It had
been pushed upward, in common with all the rocks for
miles on every side of it, though without disturbing its
surface ! By the computation of our young man, the Reef,
which previously lay about six feet above the level of the
ocean, was now fully twenty, so many cubits having been,
by one single but mighty effort of nature, added to its sta
ture. The planks which led from the stern of the vessel
to the shore, and which had formed a descent, were now
nearly level, so much water having left the basin as to pro
duce this change. Still the ship floated, enough remaining
to keep her keel clear of the bottom.

Impatient to learn all, Mark ran ashore, for by this time
it was broad daylight, and hastened into the crater, with
an intention to ascend at once to the Summit. As he
passed along, he could detect no change whatever on the
surface of the Reef; everything lying just as it had been
left, and the pigs and poultry were at their usual business
of providing for their own wants. Ashes, however, were
strewn over the rocks to a depth that left his footprints as
distinct as they could have been made in a light snow.
Within the crater the same appearances were observed,
fully an inch of ashes covering its verdant pastures and the
whole garden. This gave Mark very little concern, for
he knew that the first rain would wash this drab-looking
mantle into the earth, where it would answer all the pur
poses of a rich dressing of manure.

On reaching the Summit, our young man was enabled
to form a better opinion of the vast changes which had
been wrought around him, by this sudden elevation of the
earth's crust. Everywhere sea seemed to be converted
into land, or, at least, into rock. All the white water had
disappeared, and in its place arose islands of rock, or
mud, or saud. A good deal of the last was to be seen, and



OR, VULCAN'S PEAK. 163

some quite near the Reef, as we shall still continue to call
the island of the crater. Island, however, it could now
nardly be termed. It is true that ribands of water ap
proached it on all sides, resembling creeks, and rivers and
small sounds ; but, as Mark stood there on the Summit, it
seemed to him that it was now possible to walk for leagues,
in every direction, commencing at the crater and following
the lines of reefs, and rocks, and sands, that had been laid
bare by the late upheaving. The extent of this change
gave him confidence in its permanency, and the young man
had hopes that what had thus been produced by the Provi
dence of God would be permitted to remain, to answer his
own benevolent purposes. It certainly made an immense
difference in his own situation. The boat could still be
used, but it was now possible for him to ramble for hours,
if not for days, along the necks, and banks, and hummocks,
and swales that had been formed, and that with a dry foot.
His limits were so much enlarged as to offer something
like a new world to his enterprise and curiosity.

The crater, nevertheless, was apparently about the centre
of this new creation. To the south, it is true, the eye
could not penetrate more than two or three leagues. A
vast, dun-looking cloud, still covered the sea in that direc
tion, veiling its surface far and wide, and mingling with
the vapours of the upper atmosphere. Somewhere within
this cloud, how far or how near from him he knew not,
Mark made no doubt a new outlet to the pent forces of the
inner earth was to be found, forming another and an active
crater for the exit of the fires beneath. Geology was a
science that had not made its present progress in the day
of Mark Woolston, but his education had been too good to
leave him totally without a theory for what had happened.
He supposed that the internal fires had produced so much
gas, just beneath this spot, as to open crevices at the bot
tom of the ocean, through which water had flowed in suffi
cient quantities to create a vast body of steam, which steam
had been the immediate agent of lifting so much of the
rock and land, and of causing the earthquake. At the
same time, the internal fires had acted in concert; 'and
following an opening, they had got so near the surface as
,o force a chimney for their own exit, in the form of this



164 THE CRATER;

new crater, of the existence of which, from all the signs to
the southward, Mark did not entertain the smallest doubt

This theory may have been true, in whole or in part, or
it may have been altogether erroneous. Such speculations
seldom turn out to be minutely accurate. So many un
known causes exist in so many unexpected forms, as to
render precise estimates of their effects, in cases of physical
phenomena, almost as uncertain as those which follow
similar attempts at an analysis of human motives and hu
man conduct. The man who has been much the subject
of the conjectures and opinions of his fellow-creatures, in
this way, must have many occasions to wonder, and some
to smile, when he sees how completely those around him
misjudge his wishes and impulses. Although formed of
the same substance, influenced by the same selfishness,
and governed by the same passions, in nothing do men
oftener err than in this portion of the exercise of their in
tellects. The errors arise from one man's rigidly judging
his fellow by himself, and that which he would do he fan
cies others would do also. This rule would be pretty safe,
could we always penetrate into the wants and longings of
others, which quite as often fail to correspond closely with
our own, as do their characters, fortunes, and hopes.

At first sight, Mark had a good deal of difficulty in un
derstanding the predominant nature of the very many
bodies of water that were to be seen on every side of him.
On the whole, there still remained almost as much of one
element as of the other, in the view ; which of itself, how
ever, was a vast change from what had previously been the
condition of the shoals. There were large bodies of water,
little lakes in extent, which it was obvious enough must
disappear under the process of evaporation, no communi
cation existing between them and the open ocean. But,
on the other hand, many of these sheets were sounds, or
arms of .the sea, that must always continue, since they
might be traced, far as eye could reach, towards the mighty
Pacific. Such, Mark was induced to believe, was the fact
with the belt of water that still surrounded, or nearly sur
rounded the Reef; for, placed where he was, the young
man was unable to ascertain whether the latter had, or had
not, at a particular point, any land communication with an



OR, VULCAN'S PEAK. 165

extensive range of naked rock, sand, mud, and deposit,
that stretched away to the westward, for leagues. In ob
vious connection with this broad reach of what might be
termed bare ground, were Guano and Loam Islands ; nei
ther of which was an island any longer, except as it was a
part of the whole formation around it. Nevertheless, our
young man was not sorry to see that the channel around
the Reef still washed the bases of both those important
places of deposit, leaving it in his power to transport their
valuable manures by means of the raft, or boat.

The situation of the ship next became the matter of
Mark's most curious and interested investigation. She
was clearly afloat, and the basin in which she rode had a
communication on each side of it, with the sound, or inlet,
that still encircled the Reef. Descending to the shore,
our young mariner got into the dingui, and pulled out round
the vessel, to make a more minute examination. So very
limpid was the water of that sea, it was easy enough to
discern a bright object on the bottom, at a depth of several
fathoms. There were no streams in that part of the world
to pour their deposits into the ocean, and air itself is
scarce more transparent than the pure water of the ocean,
when unpolluted with any foreign substances. All it wants
is light, to enable the eye to reach into its mysteries for a
long way. Mark could very distinctly perceive the sand
beneath the Rancocus' keel, and saw that the ship still
floated two or three feet clear of the bottom. It was near
high water, however ; and there being usually a tide of
about twenty inches, it was plain enough that, on certain
winds, the good old craft would come in pretty close con
tact with the bottom. All expectation of ever getting the
vessel out of the basin must now be certainly abandoned,
since she lay in a sort of cavity, where the water was six
or eight feet deeper than it was within a hundred yards on
each side of her.

Having ascertained these facts, Mark provided himself
with a fowling-piece, provisions, &c., and set out to ex
plore his newly acquired territories on foot. His steps
were first directed to the point where it appeared to the
eye, that the vast range of dry land to the westward, ex
tending both north and south, had become connected with



166 THE CRATER;

the Reef. If such connection existed at all, it was by two
very narrow necks of rock, of equal height, both of which
had come up out of the water under the late action, which
action had considerably altered and extended the shores
of Crater Island. Sand appeared in various places along
these shores, now ; whereas, previously to the earthquake,
they had everywhere been nearly perpendicular rocks.

Mark was walking, with an impatient step, towards the
neck just mentioned, and which was at no great distance
from the ship-yard, when his eye was attracted towards s
sandy beach of several acres in extent, that spread itself
along the margin of the rocks, as clear from every impurity
as it was a few hours before, when it had been raised from
out of the bosom of the ocean. To him, it appeared that
water was trickling through this sand, coming from beneath
the lava of the Reef. At first, he supposed it was merely
the remains of some small portion of the ocean that had
penetrated to a cavity within, and which was now trickling
back through the crevices of the rocks, to find its level,
under the great law of nature. But it looked so pleasant
to see once more water of any sort coming upwards from
the earth, that the young man jumped down upon the sands,
and hastened to the spot for further inquiry. Scooping up
a little of the water in the hollow of his hand, he found it
sweet, soft, and deliciously cool. Here was a discovery,
indeed ! The physical comfort for which he most pined
was thus presented to him, as by a direct gift from heaven ;
and no miser who had found a hoard of hidden gold, could
have felt so great pleasure, or a tenth part of the gratitude,
of our young hermit, if hermit we may call one who did
not voluntarily seek his seclusion from the world, and who
worshipped God less as a penance than from love and
adoration.

Before quitting this new-found treasure, Mark opened a
cavity in the sand to receive the water, placing stone around
it to make a convenient and clean little basin. In ten
minutes this place was filled with water almost as limpid
as air, snd every way as delicious as the palate of man
could require. The young man could scarce tear himself
away from the spot, but fearful of drinking too much he
did so, after a time. Before quitting the spring, however,



OR, VULCAN'S PEAK. 167

he placed a stone of some size at a gap in the rock, a pre
caution that completely prevented the hogs, should they
stroll that way, from descending to the beach and defiling
the limpid basin. As soon as he had leisure, Mark re
solved to sink a barrel in the sand, and to build a fence
around it ; after which the stock might descend and drink
at a pool he should form below, at pleasure.

Mark proceeded. On reaching the narrowest part of
the ' Neck,' he found that the rocks did not meet, but the
Reef still remained an island. The channel that separated
the two points of rock was only about twenty feet wide,
however, though it was of fully twice that depth. The
young man found it necessary to go back to the ship-yard
(no great distance, by the way), and to bring a plank with
which to make a bridge. This done, he passed on to the
newly emerged territory. As might have been expected,
the rocks were found tolerably well furnished with fish,
which had got caught in pools and crevices when the water
flowed into the sea ; and what was of still more importance,
another and a much larger spring of fresh water was found
quite near the bridge, gushing through a deposit of sand
of some fifteen or twenty acres in extent. The water of
this spring had run down into a cavity, where it had already
formed a little lake of some two acres in surface, and
whence it was already running into the sea, by overflowing
its banks. These two discoveries induced Mark to return
to the Reef again, in quest of the stock. After laying
another plank at his bridge, he called every creature he
had over into the new territory ; for so great was the com
mand he had obtained over even the ducks, that all came
willingly at his call. As for Kitty, she was never more
happy than when trotting at his side, accompanying him
in his walks, like a dog.

Glad enough were the pigs, in particular, to obtain this
new range. Here waj everything they could want ; food
in thousands, sand to root on, fresh water to drink, pools
to wallow in, and a range for their migratory propensities.
Mark had no sooner set them at work on the sea-weed and
shell-fish that abounded there, for the time being at least,
than he foresaw he should have to erect a gate at his
bridge, and keep the hogs here most of the time. With



168 THE CRATER;

such a range, and the deposits of the tides alone, they
would have no great difficulty in making their own living.
This would enable him to increase the number kept, which
he had hitherto been obliged to keep down with the most



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