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near a hundred feet in height on its extremity, that an
swered admirably for a land-mark. Most of this hummock
must have been above water previously to the late erup
tion, though it appeared to our explorer, that all the visible
land, as he proceeded south, was lifted higher and on a
gradually-increasing scale, as if the eruption had exerted
its force at a certain point, the new crater for instance,
and raised the earth to the northward of that point, on an
inclined plane. This might account, in a measure, for the
altitude of the Peak, which was near the great crevice that
must have been left somewhere, unless materials on its op
posite side had fallen to fill it up again. Most of these
views were merely speculative, though the fact of the greater
elevation of all the rocks, in this part of the group, over
those further north, was beyond dispute. Thus the coast,
here, was generally fifty or eighty feet high; whereas, at
the Reef, even now, the surface of the common rock was
not much more than twenty feet above the water. The
rise seemed to be gradual, moreover, which certainly fa
voured this theory.

As a great deal of sand and mud had been brought up
by the eruption, there was no want of fresh water. Mark
found even a little brook, of as perfectly sweet a stream as
he had ever tasted in America, running into the little har
bour where he had secured the boat. He followed this
stream two miles, ere he reached its source, or sources ;
for it came from at least a dozen copious springs, that
poured their tribute from a bed of clean sand several miles
in length, and which had every sign of having been bare
for ages. In saying this, however, it is not to be supposed
that the signs, as to time, were very apparent anywhere.
Lava, known to have been ejected from the bowels of the
earth thousands of years, has just as fresh an appearance,
to the ordinary observer, as that which was thrown out ten
years ago; and, had it not been for the deposits of moist
mud, the remains of fish, sea-weed that was still unde-
cayed, pools of salt water, and a few other peculiarities of
the same sort, Mark would have been puzzled to find any



180 THE CRATER;

difference between the rocks recently thrown up, and those
which were formerly exposed to the air. Even the mud
was fast changing its appearance, cracking and drying
under the sun of the tropics. In a month or two, should
as much rain as usual fall, it was probable the sea-weed
would be far gone in decay.

It was still early when our adventurer kneeled on the
sand, near his boat, to hold his last direct communication
with his Creator, ere he slept. Those communications
were now quite frequent with Mark, it being no unusual
thing for him to hold them when sailing in his boat, on the
deck of the ship, or in the soft salubrious air of the Sum
mit. He slept none the less soundly for having com
mended his soul to God, asking support against tempta
tions, and forgiveness for past sins. These prayers were
usually very short. More than half the time they were
expressed in the compendious and beautiful words given
to man by Christ himself, the model and substance of all
petitions of this nature. But the words were devoutly ut
tered, the heart keeping even pace with them, and the soul
fully submitting to their influence.

Mark arose, next morning, two hours before the light
appeared, and at once left the group. Time was now im
portant to him ; for, while he anticipated the possibility of
remaining under the lee of the mountain during the suc
ceeding night, he also anticipated the possibility of being:
compelled to return. In a favourable time, with the wind
a little free, five knots in the hour was about the maximum
of the boat's rate of sailing, though it was affected by the
greater or less height of the sea that was on. When the
waves ran heavily, the Bridget's low sails got becalmed
in the troughs, and she consequently lost much of her way.
On the whole, however, five knots might be set down as
her average speed, under the pressure of the ordinary
trades, and with whole canvas, and a little off the wind.
Close-hauled, she scarcely made more than three ; while,
with the wind on the quarter, she often went seven, espe
cially in smooth water.

The course steered was about a point to the westward
of south, the boat running altogether by compass, for the
first two hours At the end of that time day returned



OR, VULCAN'S PEAK. 181

and the dark, frowning Peak itself became visible. The
gun had no sooner risen, than Mark felt satisfied with his
boat's performance. Objects began to come out of (he
mass of the mountain, which no longer appeared a pile of
dark outline, without detail. He expected this, and was
even disappointed that his eyes could not command more,
for he now saw that he had materially underrated the dis
tance between the crater and the Peak, which must be
nearer sixty than fifty miles. The channel between the
group and this isolated mass was, at least, twelve leagues
in width. These twelve leagues were now to be run, and
our young navigator thought he had made fully three ">f
them, when light returned.

From that moment every mile made a sensible difference
in the face of the mountain. Light and shadow first be
came visible; then ravines, cliffs, and colours, came into
the view. Each league that he advanced increased Mar c'r
admiration and awe ; and by the time that the boat was
on the last of those leagues which had appeared so long,
he began to have a more accurate idea of the sublime ua-
ture of the phenomenon that had been wrought so near
him. Vulcan's Peak, as an island, could not be less than
eight or nine miles in length, though its breadth did not
much exceed two. Running north and south, it offered
its narrow side to the group of the crater, which had de
ceived its solitary observer. Yes ! of the millions on earth,
Mark Woolston, alone, had been so situated as to become
a witness of this grand display of the powers of the ele
ments. Yet, what was this in comparison with the thou
sand vast globes that were rolling about in space, objects
so familiar as to be seen daily and nightly without raising
a thought, in the minds of many, from the created to the
creator 1 Even these globes come and go, and men remain
indifferent to the mighty change !

The wind had been fresh in crossing the strait, and
Mark was not sorry when his pigmy boat came under the
shadow of the vast cliffs which formed the northern ex
tremity of the Peak. When still a mile distant, he thought
he was close on the rocks ; nor did he get a perfectly true
idea of the scale on which this rare mountain had been
formed until running along at its base, within a hundred
16



182 THE CRATER;

yards of its rocks. Coming in to leeward, as a matter of
course, Mark found comparatively smooth water, though
the unceasing heaving and setting of the ocean rendered
it a little hazardous to go nearer to the shore. For some
time our explorer was fearful he should not be able to land
at all ; and he was actually thinking of putting about, to
make the best of his way back, while light remained to do
so, when he came off a place that seemed fitted by art,
rather than by nature, to meet his wishes. A narrow
opening appeared between two cliffs, of about equal height,
or some hundred feet in elevation, one of which extended
further into the ocean than its neighbour. The water
being quite smooth in this inlet, Mark ventured to enter
it, the wind favouring his advance. On passing this gate
way, he found himself nearly becalmed, in a basin that
might be a hundred yards in diameter, which was not only
surrounded by a sandy beach, but which had also a sandy
bottom. The water was several fathoms deep, and it was
very easy to run the bows of the boat anywhere on the
beach. This was done, the sails were furled, and Mark
sprang ashore, taking the grapnel with him. Like Colum
bus, he knelt on the sands, and returned his thanks to
God.

Not only did a ravine open from this basin, winding its
way up the entire ascent, but a copious stream of water
ran through it, foaming and roaring amid its glens. At
first, Mark supposed this was sea-water, still finding its
way from some lake on the Peak ; but, on tasting it, he
found it was perfectly sweet. Provided with his gun, and
carrying his pack, our young man entered this ravine, and
following the course of the brook, he at once commenced
an ascent. The route was difficult only in the labour of
moving upwards, and by no means as difficult in that as
he had expected to find it. It was, nevertheless, fortunate
that this climbing was to be done in the shade, the sun
seldom penetrating into those cool and somewhat damp
crevices through which the brook found its way.

Notwithstanding his great activity, Mark Woolston was
jast an hour in ascending to the Peak. In no place had
he found the path difficult, though almost always upward ;
but he believed he had walked more than two miles before



OR, VULCAN'S PEAK. 183

he came out on level ground. When he had got up about
three-fourths of the way, the appearances of things around
him suddenly changed. Although the rock itself looked
no older than that below, it had, occasionally, a covering
that clear.ly could never have emerged from the sea within
the last few days. From that point everything denoted an
older existence in the air, from which our young man in
ferred that the summit of Vulcan's Peak had been an island
long prior to the late eruption. Every foot he advanced
confirmed this opinion, and the conclusion was that the
ancient island had lain too low to be visible to one on the
Reef.

An exclamation of delight escaped from our explorer,
as he suddenly came out on the broken plain of the Peak.
It was not absolutely covered, but was richly garnished with
wood ; cocoa-nut, bread-fruits, and other tropical trees ; and
it was delightfully verdant with young grasses. The latter
were still wet with a recent shower that Mark had seen
pass over the mountain, while standing for the island ; and
on examining them more closely, the traces of the former
shower of volcanic ashes were yet to be seen. The warmth
in the sun, after so sharp a walk, caused the young man
to plunge into the nearest grove, where he had no diffi
culty in helping himself to as many cocoa-nuts, fresh from
the trees, as a thousand men could have consumed. Every
one has heard of the delicious beverage that the milk of
the cocoa-nut, and of the delicious food that its pulp fur-
nfthes, when each is taken from the fruit before it hardens.
How these trees came there, Mark did not know. The
common theory is that birds convey the seeds from island
to island ; though some suppose that the earth contains the
elements of all vegetation, and that this or that is quick
ened, as particular influences are brought to bear by means
of climate and other agents.

After resting himself for an hour in that delicious grove,
Mark began to roam around the plain, to get an idea of its
beauties and extent. The former were inexhaustible, of
fering every variety of landscape, from the bold and mag
nificent to the soft and bewitching. There were birds
innumerable, of the most brilliant plumage, and some that
Mark imagined must be good to eat. In particular did he



184 THE CRATER;

observe an immense number of a very small sort that were
constantly pecking at a wild fig, of which there was a grove
of considerable extent. The fig, itself, he did not find as
palatable as he had hoped, though it was refreshing, and
served to vary the diet; but the bird struck him to be of
the same kind as the celebrated reed-bird, of the Philadel
phia market, which we suppose to be much the same as
the beccafahi of Italy. Being provided with mustard-seed
shot, Mark loaded his piece properly, and killed at least
twenty of these little creatures at one discharge. After
cleaning them, he struck a light by means of the pan and
some powder, and kindled a fire. Here was wood, too, in
any quantity, an article of which he had feared in time he
might be in want, and which he had already begun to hus
band, though used only in his simple cookery. Spitting
half-a-dozen of the birds, they were soon roasted. At the
same time he roasted a bunch of plantain, and, being pro
vided with pepper and salt in his pack, as well as with
some pilot-bread, and a pint-bottle of rum, we are almost
ashamed to relate how our young explorer dined. Nothing
was wanting to such a meal but the sweets of social con
verse. Mark fancied, as he sat enjoying that solitary re
past, so delicious of itself, and which was just enough
sweetened with toil to render it every way acceptable, that
he could gladly give up all the rest of the world, for the
enjoyment of a paradise like that before him, with Bridget
for his Eve.

The elevation of the mountain rendered the air far mftre
grateful and cool than he was accustomed to find it, at
mid-summer, down on the Reef, and the young man was
in a sort of gentle intoxication while breathing it. Then
it was that he most longed for a companion, though little
did he imagine how near he was to some of his species, at
that very moment ; and how soon that, the dearest wish of
his heart, was to be met by an adventure altogether so
unexpected to him, that we must commence a new chapter,
in order to relate it.



VULCAN'S PEAK. 185



CHAPTER XIII.

"The merry homes of England !

Around their hearths by night,
What gladsome looks of household love

Meet in the ruddy light !
There woman's voice flows forth in song,

Or childhood's tale is told,
Or lips move tunefully along
Some glorious page of old."

MRS. HEMANS.

THE peak, or highest part of the island, was at its north
ern extremity, and within two miles of the grove in which
Mark Woolston had eaten his dinner. Unlike most of the
plain, it had no woods whatever, but rising somewhat ab
ruptly to a considerable elevation, it was naked of every
thing but grass. On the peak itself, there was very little
of the last even, and it was obvious that it must command
a full view of the whole plain of the island, as well as of
the surrounding sea, for a wide distance. Resuming his
pack, our young adventurer, greatly refreshed by the deli
cious repast he had just made, left the pleasant grove m
which he had first rested, to undertake this somewhat sharp
acclivity. He was not long in effecting it, however, stand
ing on the highest point of his new discovery within an
hour after he had commenced its ascent.

Here, Mark found all his expectations realized touching
the character of the view. The whole plain of the island,
with the exceptions of the covers made by intervening
woods, lay spread before him like a map. All its beauties,
its shades, its fruits, and its verdant glades, were placed
beneath his eye, as if purposely to delight him with their
glories. A more enchanting rural scene the young man
had never beheld, the island having so much the air of
cultivation and art about it, that he expected, at each in-
ttant. to see bodies of men running across its surfaee, He
16*



THE CRATER;

carried the best glass of the Rancocus with him, in al his
excursions, not knowing at what moment Providence might
bring a vessel in sight, and he had it now slung from his
shoulders. With this glass, therefore, was every part of
the visible surface of the island swept, in anxious and
almost alarmed search for the abodes of inhabitants. No
thing of this sort, however, could be discovered. The
island was unquestionably without a human being, our
young man alone excepted. Nor could he see any trace
of beast, reptile, or of any animal but birds. Creatures
gifted with wings had been able to reach that little para
dise; but to all others, since it first arose from the sea,
had it probably been unapproached, if not unapproachable,
until that day. It appeared to be the very Elysium of
Birds !

Mark next examined the peak itself. There was a vast
deposit of very ancient guano on it, the washings of which
for ages, had doubtless largely contributed to the great
fertility of the plain below. A stream of more size than
one would expect to find on so small an island, meandered
through the plain, and could be traced to a very copious
spring that burst from the earth at the base of the peak.
Ample as this spring was, however, it could never of itself
have supplied the water of the brook, or rivulet, which
received the contributions of some fifty other springs, that
reached it in rills, as it wound its way down the gently
inclined plane of the island. At one point, about two
leagues from the Peak, there was actually a little lake visi
ble, and Mark could even trace its outlet, winding its way
beyond it. He supposed that the surplus tumbled into the
sea in a cascade.

It will readily be imagined that our young man turned
his glass to the northward, in search of the group he had
left that morning, with a most lively interest. It was easy
enough to see it from the great elevation at which he was
now placed. There it lay, stretched far and wide, extend
ing nearly a degree of latitude, north and south, and an
other of longitude, east and west, most truly resembling a
vast dark-looking map, spread upon the face of the waters
for his special examination. It reminded Mark of the
moon, with its ragged outlines of imaginary continents, as



OR, VULCAN'S PEAK. 18?

seen by the naked eye, while the island he was now on, bora
a fancied resemblance to the same object viewed through ?
telescope ; not that it had the look of molten silver which
is observed in the earth's satellite, but that it appeared
gloriously bright and brilliant. Mark could easily see
many of the sheets of water that were to be found among
the rocks, though his naked eye could distinguish neither
crater nor ship. By the aid of the glass, however, the first
was to be seen, though the distance was too great to leave
the poor deserted Rancocus visible, even with the assist
ance of magnifying-glasses.

When he had taken a good look at his old possessions,
Mark made a sweep of the horizon with the glass, in
order to ascertain if any other land were visible, from the
great elevation on which he now stood. While arranging
the focus of the instrument, an object first met his eye that
caused his heart almost to leap into his mouth. Land was
looming up, in the western board, so distinctly as to admit
of no cavil about its presence. It was an island, moun
tainous, and Mark supposed it must be fully a hundred
miles distant. Still it was land, and strange land, and
might prove to be the abode of human beings. The glass
told him very little more than his eye, though he could
discern a mountainous form through it, and saw that it
was an island of no great size. Beyond this mountain,
again, the young man fancied that he could detect the
haze of more land ; but, if he did, it was too low, too dis
tant, and too indistinct, to be certain of it. It is not easy
to give a clear idea of the tumult of feeling with which
Mark Woolston beheld these unknown regions, though it
might best be compared with the emotions of the astrono
mer who discovers a new planet. It would scarce exceed
the truth to say that he regarded that dim, blue mountain,
which arose in the midst of a watery waste, with as much
of admiration, mysterious awe and gratification united, as
Herschel may have been supposed to feel when he esta
blished the character of Uranus. It was fully an hour
before our hermit could turn his eyes in any other di
rection.

And when our young mariner did look aside, it was
more with the intention of relieving eyes that had grown



188 THE CRATER;

dim with gazing, than of not returning to the same objects
again, as soon as restored to their power. It was while
walking to and fro on the peak, with this intent, that a
new subject of interest caused him almost to leap into the
air, and to shout aloud. He saw a sail ! For the first
time since Betts disappeared from his anxious looks, his
eyes now surely rested on a vessel. What was more, it
was quite near the island he was on, and seemed to be
beating up to get under its lee. It appeared but a speck
on the blue waves of the ocean, seen from that height, it
is true ; but Mark was too well practised in his craft to be
mistaken. It was a vessel, under more or less canvas, how
much he could not then tell, or even see but it was most
decidedly a vessel. Mark's limbs trembled so much that
he was compelled to throw himself upon the earth to find
the support he wanted. There he lay several minutes,
mentally returning thanks to God for this unexpected fa
vour; and when his strength revived, these signs of grati
tude were renewed on his knees. Then he arose, almost
in terror lest the vessel should have disappeared, or it
should turn out that he was the subject of a cruel illusion.
There was no error. There was the little white speck,
and he levelled the glass to get a better look at it. An
exclamation now clearly broke from his lips, and for a
minute or two the young man actually appeared to be out
of his senses. " The pinnace," " the Neshamony," how
ever, were words that escaped him, and, had there been a
witness, might have given an insight into this extraordinary
conduct. Mark had, in fact, ascertained that the sail be
neath the peak was no other than the little craft that had
been swept away, as already described, with Betts in it.
Fourteen months had elapsed since that occurrence, and
here it was again, seemingly endeavouring to return to the
place where it had been launched ! Mark adopted per
haps the best expedient in his power to attract attention to
himself, and to let his presence be known. He fired both
barrels of his fowling-piece, and repeated the discharges
several times, or until a flag was shown on board the sloop,
which was now just beneath the cliff, a certain sign that
he had succeeded. A musket was also fired from the
vessel.



OR, VULCAN'S PEAK. 189

Our young man rather flew than ran to the ravine, down
which he went at a pace that several times placed his neck
in jeopardy. It was a very different thing to descend from
ascending such a mountain. In less than a quarter of an
hour the half-distracted hermit was in his boat, nearly
crazy with the apprehension that he might yet not meet
with his friend ; for, that it was Bob looking for the Reef
and himself, he did not now entertain the least doubt.
The most plausible course for him to adopt was precisely
that which he followed. He pushed off in the Bridget,
making sail on the boat, and getting out of the cove in the
shortest time he could. On quitting his little haven, and
coming out clear of all the rocks, another shout burst out
of his very soul, when he saw the Neshamony, beyond all
cavil, within a hundred fathoms of him, running along the
shore in search of a place to land. That shout was returned,
and Mark and Bob recognised each other at the next in
stant. As for the last, he just off tarpaulin, and gave three
hearty cheers, while the former sank on a seat, literally
unable to stand. The sheet of the sail got away from him,
nor could he be said to know what he was about, until
some little time after he was in the arms of his friend, and
on board the pinnace.

It was half-an-hour before Mark was master of himself
again. At length tears relieved him ; nor was he ashamed
to indulge in them, when he saw his old companion not
only alive and well, but restored to him. He perceived
another in the boat ; but as he was of a dark skin, he natu
rally inferred this second person was a native of some
neighbouring island where Bob had been, and who had
consented to come with him in this, his search after the
shipwrecked mariner. At length Bob began to con
verse.

" Well, Mr. Mark, the sight of you is the pleasantest
prospect that has met my eyes this many a day," exclaimed
the honest fellow. " It was with fear and trembling that
I set out on the search, and little did I hope to fall in with
you so early in the cruise."

"Thank you, thank you, Bob, and God be praised for
this great mercy ! You have been to some other island, I
see, by your companion ; but the miraculous part of all is.



190 THE CRATER;

that you should find your way back to the Reef, since you
are no navigator."

"The Reef! If this here mountain is the Reef, the
country has greatly altered since I left it," answered Bob.
Mark then briefly explained the great change that had
actually occurred, and told his own story touching his boat
and his late voyages of discovery. Betts listened with the
greatest attention, casting occasional glances upward at the



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