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gether in use, in that day, almost as readily as axes. In
consequence of this bit of foresight, the Rancocus lay at a
distance of less than forty fathoms from her anchor, which
Mark knew had been dropped in four fathoms' water. He
now sounded abreast of the main-mast, and ascertained
that the ship itself was in nine fathoms. This was cheer
ing intelligence, and when Bob Betts heard it, he gave it
as his opinion that all might yet go well with them, could
they only recover the six men who had gone to leeward in



OR, VULCAN'S PEAK. 49

Ihe jolly-boat. The launch had carried off nine of their
crew, which, previously to this night, had .consisted of
nineteen, all told. This suggestion relieved Mark's mind
of a load of care, and he lent himself to the measures ne
cessary to the continued safety of the vessel, with renewed
animation and vigour.

The pump-well was once more sounded, and found to
be nearly empty. Owing to the nature of the bottom on
which they had struck, the lightness of the thumps, or the
strength of the ship herself, it was clear that the vessel
had thus far escaped without any material injury. For
this advantage Mark was deeply grateful, and could he
only recover four or five of the people, and find his way
out into open water, he might hope to live again to see
America, and to be re-united to his youthful and charming
bride.

The weather continued to grow more and more mode
rate, and some time before the day returned the clouds
broke away, the drizzle ceased, and a permanent change
was to be expected. Mark now found new ground fo"
apprehensions, even in these favourable circumstances
He supposed that the ship must feel the influence^of the
tides, so near the land, and was afraid she might tail the
other way, and thus be brought again over the reef. Irs
order to obviate this difficulty, he and Bob set to work to
get another cable bent, and another anchor clear for letting
go. As all our readers may not be familiar with ships, it
may be well to say that vessels, as soon as they quit a coast
on a long voyage, unbend their cables and send them all
below, out of the way, while, at the same time, they stow
their anchors, as it is called ; that is to say, get them from
under the cat-heads, from which they are usually sus
pended when ready to let go, and where they are necessa
rily altogether on the outside of the vessel, to positions
more inboard, where they are safer from the force of the
waves, and better secured. As all the anchors of the Ran-
cocus had been thus stowed, until Captain Crutchely got
the one that was down, off the gunwale, and all the cables
below, Mark and Bob had labour enough before them to
occupy several hours, in the job thus undertaken.
5



50 THE CRATKH;



CHAPTER IV.

"Deep in the wave is a coral grove,
Where the purple mullet and gold fish rove,
Where the sea-flower spreads its leaves of blue,
That never are wet with falling dew,
But in bright and changeful beauty shine,
Far down in the green and grassy brine."

PRCIVAL.

OUR young mate, and his sole assistant, Bob Belts, had
et about their work on the stream-cable and anchor, the
lightest and most manageable of all the ground-tackle in
the vessel. Both were strong and active, and both were
expert in the use of blocks, purchases, and handspikes ;
but the day was seen lighting the eastern sky, and the an
chor was barely off the gunwale, and ready to be stoppered
In the meanwhile the ship still tended in the right direc
tion, the wind had moderated to a mere royal-breeze, and
the sea had so far gone down as nearly to leave the vessel
without motion. As soon as perfectly convinced of the
existence of this favourable state of things, and of its being
likely to last. Mark ceased to work, in order to wait for
day, telling Bob to discontinue his exertions also. It was
fully time, for both of those vigorous and strong-handed
men were thoroughly fatigued with the toil of that eventful
morning.

The reader may easily imagine with what impatience
our two mariners waited the slow return of light. Each
minute seemed an hour, and it appeared to them as if the
night was to last for ever. But the earth performed its
usual revolution, and by degrees sufficient light was ob
tained to enable Mark and Bob to examine the state of
things around them. In order to do this the better, each
went into a top, looking abroad from those elevations on
the face of the ocean, the different points of the reef, and
all that was then and there to be seen. Mark went up
forward, while Bob ascended into the main-top. The di-



OR, VULCAN'S PEAK. 51

tance between them was so small, that there was no diffi
culty in conversing, which they continued to do, as was
natural enough to men in their situation.

The first look that each of our mariners bestowed, after
he was in his top, was to leeward, which being to the
westward, was of course yet in the darkest point of ihe
horizon. They expected to obtain a sight of at least one
island, and that quite near to them, if not of a group. But
no land appeared ! It is true, that it was still too dark to
be certain of a fact of this sort, though Mark felt quite
assured that if land was finally seen, it must be of no great
extent, and quite low. He called to Bob, to ascertain what
Jie thought of appearances to leeward, his reputation as a
look-out being so great.

"Wait a few minutes, sir, till we get a bit more day,"
answered his companion. " There is a look on the water,
about a league off here on the larboard quarter, that seems
as if something would come out of it. But, one thing can
be seen plain enough, Mr. Mark, and that's the breakers.
There's a precious line on 'em, and that too one within
another, as makes it wonderful how we ever got through
'em as well as we did !"

This was true enough, the light on the ocean to wind
ward being now sufficient to enable the men to see, in that
direction, to a considerable distance. It was that solemn
hour in the morning when objects first grow distinct, ere
they are touched with the direct rays from the sun, and
when everything appears as if coming to us fresh and reno
vated from the hands of the Creator. The sea had so far
gone down as to render the breakers much less formi
dable to the eye, than when it was blowing more heavily;
but this very circumstance made it impossible to mistake
their positions. In the actual state of the ocean, it was
certain that wherever water broke, there must be rocks or
shoals beneath ; whereas, in a blow, the combing of an
ordinary sea might be mistaken for the white water of
some hidden danger. Many of the rocks, however, lay so
low, that the heavy, sluggish rollers that came undulating
along, scarce did more t'han show faint, feathery lines of
white, to indicate the character of the places across which
they were passing. Such was now the case with the reef



52 THE CRATER;

over which the ship had beaten, the position of which could
hardly have been ascertained, or its danger discovered, at
the distance of half a mile. Others again were of a very
different character, the water still tumbling about them like
so many little cataracts. This variety was owing to the
greater depth at vrhich some of the rocks lay than others.

As to the number of the reefs, and the difficulty in get
ting through them, Bob was right enough. It often hap
pens that there is an inner and an outer reef to the islands
of the Pacific, particularly to those of coral formation; but
Mark began to doubt whether there was any coral at all
in the place where the Rancocus lay, in consequence of
the entire want of regularity in the position of these very
breakers. They were visible in all directions; not in con
tinuous lines, but in detached parts; one lying within
another, as Bob had expressed it, until the eye could not
reach their outer limits. How the ship had got so com
pletely involved within their dangerous embraces, without
going to pieces on a dozen of the reefs, was to him matter
of wonder; though it sometimes happens at sea, that dan
gers are thus safely passed in darkness and fog, that no
man would be bold enough to encounter in broad daylight,
and with a full consciousness of their hazards. Such then
had been the sort of miracle bv which the Rancocus had
escaped ; though it was no more easy to see how she was
to be got out of her present position, than it was to see
how she had got into it. Bob was the first to make a re
mark on this particular part of the subject.

"It will-need a reg'lar branch here, Mr. Mark, to carry
the old Rancocus clear of all them breakers to sea again,"
he cried. " Our Delaware banks is just so many fools to
'em, sir !"

" It is a most serious position for a vessel to be in, Bob,"
answered Mark, sighing " nor do I see how we are ever
to get clear of it, even should we get back men enough to
handle the ship."

1 'm quite of your mind, sir," answered Bob, taking
out his tobacco-box, and helping himself to a quid. "Nor
would I be at all surprised should there turn out to be a
bit of land to leeward, if you and I was to Robinson Crusoe
it for the rest of oui days. My good mother was always



OR, VULCAN'S PEAK. 53

tnost awarse to my following the seas on account of that
very danger ; most especially from a fear of the savages
from the islands round about."

" We will look for our boats," Mark gravely replied, the
image of Bridget, just at that instant, appearing before his
mind with a painful distinctness.

Both now turned their eyes again to leeward, the first
direct rays of the sun beginning to illumine the surface of
the ocean in that quarter. Something like a misty cloud
had been setried on the water, rather less than a league
from the ship, in the western board, and had hitherto pre
vented a close examination in that part of the horizon.
The power of the sun, however, almost instantly dispersed
it, and then, for the first time, Bob fancied he did discover
something like land. Mark, however, could not make it
out, until he had gone up into the cross-trees, when he,
too, got a glimpse of what, under all the circumstances,
he did not doubt was either a portion of the reef that rose
above the water, or was what might be termed a low,
straggling island. Its distance from the ship, they esti
mated at rather more than two leagues.

Both Mark and Bob remained aloft near an hour longer,
or until they had got the best possible view of which their
position would allow, of everything around the ship. Bob
went down, and took a glass up to his officer, Mark sweep
ing the whole horizon with it, in the anxious wish to make
out something cheering in connection with the boats. The
drift of these unfortunate craft must have been towards tno
land, and that he examined with the utmost care. Aided
by the glass, and his elevation, he got a tolerable vie* of
the spot, which certainly promised as little in the way of
supplies as any other bit of naked reef he had evi seen.
The distance, however, was so great as to prevent iis ob
taining any certain information on that point. One, thing,
however, he did ascertain, as he feared, with considerable
accuracy. After passing the glass along the whole of that
naked rock, he could see nothing on it in motion. Of
birds there were a good many, more indeed than horn the
extent of the visible reef he might have expected ; but no
signs of man could be discovered. As the ocean, in all
directions, was swept by the glass, and this single fragment
5*



54 THE CRATER;

of a reef, which was less than a mile in length, was the
only thing that even resembled land, the melancholy con
viction began to force itself on Mark and Bob, that all
their shipmates had perished ! They might have perished
in one of several ways; as the naked reef did not lie pre
cisely to leeward of the ship, the boats may have driven
by it, in the deep darkness of the past night, and gone far
away out of sight of the spot where they had left the vessel,
long ere the return of day. There was just the possibility
that the spars of the ship might be seen by the wanderers,
if they were still living, and the faint hope of their regain
ing the vessel, in the course of the day, by means of their
oars. It was, however, more probable that the boats had
capsized in some of the numerous fragments of breakers,
that were visible even in the present calm condition of the
ocean, and that all in them had been drowned. The best
swimmer must have hopelessly perished, in such a situa
tion, and in such a night, unless carried by a providential
interference to the naked rock to leeward. That no one
was living on that reef, the ^'ass pretty plainly proved.

Mark and Bob Belts descended to the deck, after pass
ing a long time aloft making their observations. Both
were pretty well assured that their situation was almost
desperate, though each was too resolute, and too thoroughly
imbued with the spirit of a seaman, to give up while there
was the smallest shadow of hope. As it was now getting
past the usual breakfast hour, some cold meat was got out,
and, for the first time since Mark had been transferred to
the cabin, they sat down on the windlass and ate the meal
together. A little, however, satisfied men in their situa
tion ; Bob Betts fairly owning that he had no appetite,
though so notorious at the ship's beef and a biscuit, as to
be often the subject of his messmates' jokes. That morn
ing even he could eat but little, though both felt it to be a
duty they owed to themselves to take enough to sustain
nature. It was while these two forlorn and desolate mari
ners sat there on the windlass, picking, as it might be,
morsel by morsel, that they first entered into a full and
frank communication with each other, touching the reali
ties of their present situation. After a good deal had
passed between them, Mark suddenly asked



OR, VULCANSPEAK. 55

" Do you think it possible, Bob, for us two to take care
of the ship, should we even manage to get her into deep
water again ?"

" Well, that is not so soon answered, Mr. Woolston/'
returned Bob. " We 're both on us stout, and healthy, and
of good courage, Mr. Mark ; but 't would be a desperate
long way for two hands to carry a wessel of four hundred
tons, to take the old 'Cocus from this here anchorage, aK
the way to the coast of America; a., i short of the coast
there 's no ra'al hope for us. Hows""?r, sir, that is a sub
ject that need give us no consarn."

" I do not see that, Bob ; we shall have to do it, unless
we fall in with something at sea, could we only once get
the vesse^ out from among these reefs."

"Ay, ay, sir could we get her out from among these
reefs, indeed ! There 's the rub, Mr. Woolston ; but I
fear 't will never be ' rub and go.' "

" You think, then, we are too fairly in for it, ever to get
the ship clear?"

" Such is just my notion, Mr. Woolston, on that subject,
and I've no wish to keep it a secret. In my judgment,
was poor Captain Crutchely alive and back at his post, and
all hands just as they was this time twenty-four hours since,
and the ship where she is now, that here she would have
to stay. Nothing short of kedging can ever take the wes
sel clear of the reefs to windward on us, and man-of-war
kedging could hardly do it, then."

" I am sorry to hear you say this," answered Mark,
gloomily, " though I feared as much myself."

" Men is men, sir, and you can get no more out on 'era
than is in 'em. I looked well at these reefs, sir, when
aloft, and they 're what I call as hopeless affairs as ever I
laid eyes on. If they lay in any sort of way, a body might
have some little chance of getting through 'em, but they
don't lay, no how. 'T would be ' luff' and ' keep her
away' every half minute or so, should we attempt to beat
up among 'em ; and who is there aboard here to brace up,
and haul aft, and ease off, and to swing yards sich as
our'n ?"

" I was not altogether without the hope, Bob, of getting
the ship into clear water ; though I have thought it would



56 i HE CRATER;

be done with difficulty. I am still of opinion we had bette*
try it, for the alternative is a very serious matter."

" I don't exactly understand what you mean by attorney-
tives, Mr. Mark; though it's little harm, or little good
that any attorney can do the old 'Cocus, now ! But, as
for getting this craft through them reefs, to windward, and
into clear water, it surpasses the power of man. Did you
just notice the tide-ripples, Mr. Mark, when you was up
in the cross-trees?"

" I saw them, Bob, and am fully aware of the difficulty
of running as large a vessel as this among them, even with
a full crew. But what will become of us, unless we get
the ship into open water 1"

" Sure enough, sir. I see no other hope for us, Mr.
Mark, but to Robinson Crusoe it awhile, until our times
come ; or, till the Lord, in his marcy, shall see fit to have
us picked up."

"Robinson Crusoe it!" repeated Mark, smiling at the
quaintness of Bob's expression, which the well-meaning
fellow uttered in all simplicity, and in perfect good faith
" where are we to find even an uninhabited island, on
which to dwell after the mode of Robinson Crusoe?"

" There's a bit of a reef to leeward, where I dare say a
man might pick up a living, arter a fashion," answered
Bob, coolly ; " then, here is the ship."

"And how long would a hempen cable hold the ship in
a place like this, where every time the vessel lifts to a sea,
the clench is chafing on a rock ? No, no, Bob the ship
cannot long remain where she is, depend on that. We
must try and pass down to leeward, if we cannot beat the
ship through the dangers to windward."

" Harkee, Mr. Mark ; I thought this matter over in my
mind, while we was aloft, and this is my idee as to what
is best to be done, for a start. There 's the dingui on the
poop, in as good order as ever a boat was. She will easily
carry two on us, and, on a pinch, she might carry half a
dozen. Now, my notion is to get the dingui into the
water, to put a breaker and some grub in her, and to pull
down to that bit of a reef, and have a survey of it. I 'II
take the sculls going down, and you can keep heaving the
lead, by way of finding out if there be sicii a thmg a *



OR, VULCAN'S PEAK. 57

channel in that direction. If the ship is ever to be moved
by us two, it must be by going to leeward, and not by at
tempting to turn up ag'in wind and tide among them 'ere
rocks, out here to the eastward. No, sir ; let us take the
dingui, and surwey the reef, and look for our shipmates ;
a'ter which we can best tell what to undertake, with some
little hope of succeeding. The weather seems settled, and
the sooner we are off the better."

This proposal struck Mark's young mind as plausible,
as well as discreet. To recover even a single man would
be a great advantage, and he had lingering hopes that some
of the people might yet be found on the reef. Then Bob's
idea about getting the ship through the shoal water, by
passing to leeward, in preference to making the attempt
against the wind, was a sound one; and, on a little reflec
tion, he was well enough disposed to acquiesce in it. Ac
cordingly, when they quitted the windlass, they both set
about putting this project in execution.

The dingui was no great matter of a boat, and they had
not much difficulty in getting it into the water. First by
slinging, it was swayed high enough to clear the rail, when
Bob bore it over the side, and Mark lowered away. It
was found to be tight, Captain Crutchely having kept it
half full of water ever since they got into the Pacific, and
in other respects it was in good order. It was even pro
vided with a little sail, which did very well before the
wind. While Bob saw to provisioning the boat, and filling
its breakers with fresh water, Mark attended to another
piece of duty that he conceived to be of the last import
ance. The Rancocus carried several guns, an armament
prepared to repel the savages of the sandal-wood islands,
and these guns were all mounted and in their places.
There were two old-fashioned sixes, and eight twelve-pound
carronades. The first made smart reports when properly
loaded. Our young mate now got the keys of the maga
zine, opened it, and brought forth three cartridges, with
which he loaded three of the guns. These guns he fired,
with short intervals between them, in hopes that the reports
would be carried to the ears of some of the missing people,
and encourage them to make every effort to return. The
roar of artillery sounded strangely enough in the midst of



58 THE CRATER;

that vast solitude ; and Bob Betts, who had often been in
action, declared that he was much affected by it. As no
immediate result was expected from the firing of these
guns, Mark had no sooner discharged them, than he joined
Betts, who by this time had everything ready, and prepared
to quit the ship. Before he did this, however, he made an
anxious and careful survey of the weather it being all-im
portant to be certain no change in this respect was likely
to occur in his absence. All the omens were favourable,
and Bob reporting for the third time that everything was
ready, the young man went over the side, and descended,
with a reluctance he could not conceal, into the boat.
Certainly, it was no trifling matter for men in the situation
of our two mariners, to leave their vessel all alone, to be
absent for a large portion of the day. It was to be done,
however ; though it was done reluctantly, and not without
many misgivings, in spite of the favourable signs in the
atmosphere.

When Mark had taken his seat in the dingui, Bob let go
his hold of the ship, and set the sail. The breeze was
light, and fair to go, though it was by no means so certain
how it would serve them on the return. Previously to
quitting the ship, Mark had taken a good look at the
breakers to leeward, in order to have some general notion
of the course best to steer, and he commenced his little
voyage, but entirely without a plan for his own govern
ment. The breakers were quite as numerous to leeward
as to windward, but the fact of there being so many of
them made smooth water between them. A boat, or a ship,
that was once fairly a league or so within the broken lines
of rocks, was like a vessel embayed, the rollers of the open
ocean expending their force on the outer reefs, and coming
in much reduced in size and power. Still the uneasy
ocean, even in its state of rest, is formidable at the points
where its waters meet with rocks, or sands, and the break
ers that did exist, even as much embayed as was the dingui,
were serious matters for so small a boat to encounter. It
was necessary, consequently, to steer clear of them, lest
they should c'apsize, or fill, this, the only craft of the sort
that now belonged to the vessel, the loss of which would
be a most serious matter indeed.



OR, VULCAN'S PEAK. 59

The dingui slided away from the ship with a very easy
movement. There was just about as much wind as so
small a craft needed, and Bob soon began to sound, Mark
preferring to steer. It was, however, by no means easy to
sound in so low a boat, while in such swift motion ; and
Bob was compelled to give it up. As they should be
obliged to return with the oars, Mark observed that then
he would feel his way back to the ship. Nevertheless, the
few casts of the lead that did succeed, satisfied our mari
ners that there was much more than water enough for the
Raricocus, between the reefs. On them, doubtless it would
turn out to be different.

Mark met with more difficulty than he had anticipated
in keeping the dingui out of the breakers. So very smooth
was the sort of bay he was in a bay by means of the reefs
to windward, though no rock in that direction rose above
the surface of the sea so very smooth, then, was the sort
of bay he was in, that the water did not break, in many
places, except at long intervals; and then only when a
roller heavier than common found its way in from the
outer ocean. As a consequence, the breakers that did
suddenly show themselves from a cause like this, were the
heaviest of all, and the little dingui would have fared badly
had it been caught on a reef, at the precise moment when
such a sea tumbled over in foam. This accident was very
near occurring once or twice, but it was escaped, more by
jrovidential interference than by any care or skill in the
d venturers.

It is very easy to imagine the intense interest with which
our two mariners drew near to the visible reef. Their
observations from the cross-trees of the ship, had told them
this was all the land anywhere very near them, and if they



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