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among the branches of some tree. In that day, spensers
were unknown, staysails doing their duty. Thus Bob
loosed the jib, main-topmast and mizen-staysails, and saw
the spanker clear for setting. While he was thus busied,
Mark was looking to the stopper and shank-painter of the
sheet-anchor, which had been got ready to let go, before
Captain Crutchely was lost. He even succeeded in get
ting that heavy piece of metal a cock-bill, without calling
on Bob for assistance.

It was indeed time for them to be in a hurry; for the
wind began to come in puffs, the sun was sinking into a
bank of clouds, and all along the horizon to windward the
sky looked dark and menacing. Once Mark changed hi*


mind, determining to hold on, and let go the sheet-anchor
where he was, should it become necessary; but a lull
tempted him to proceed. Bob shouted out that all was
ready, and Mark lifted the axe with which he was armed,
and struck a heavy blow on the cable. That settled the
matter ; an entire strand was separated, and three or four
more blows released the ship from her anchor. Mark now
sprang to the jib-halliards, assisting Bob to hoist the sail.
This was no sooner done than he went aft to the wheel,
where he arrived in time to help the ship to fall off. The
spanker was next got out as well as two men could do it
in a hurry, and then Bob went forward to tend the jib-
sheet, and to look out for the buoys.

It was indispensable in such a navigation to make no
mistake, and Mark enjoined the utmost vigilance on his
friend. Twenty times did he hail to inquire if the buoys
were to be seen, and at last he was gratified by an answer
in the affirmative.

" Keep her away, Mr. Mark keep her away, you may,
sir; we are well to windward of the channel. Ay, that'll
do, Mr. Woolston that 's your beauty, sir. Can't you get
a sight of them b'ys yourself, sir 1"

" Not just yet, Bob, and so much the greater need that
you should look out the sharper. Give the ship plenty of
room, and I '11 let her run down for the passage, square for
the channel."

Bob now ran aft, telling the mate he had better go on
the forecastle himself and conn the ship through the pas
sage, which was a place he did not like. Mark was vexed
that the change should be made just at that critical instant,
but bounding forward, he was between the knight-heads
in half a minute, looking out for the buoys. At first, he
could not see them ; and then he most felt the imprudence
of Bob's quitting his post in such a critical instant. In
another minute, however, he found one ; and presently the
other came in sight, fearfully close, as it now appeared to
our young mariner, to its neighbour. The position of the
ship, nevertheless, was sufficiently to windward, leaving
plenty of room to keep off in. As soon as the ship was far
enough ahead, Mark called out to Bob to put his helm
hard up. This was done, and away the Rancocus went,


Mark watching her with the utmost vigilance, lest shs
should sheer a little too much to the one side or to the
other. He hardly breathed as the vessel glided down upon
these two black sentinels, and, for an instant, he fancied
the wind or the current had interfered with their positions.
It was now too late, however, to attempt any change, and
Mark saw the ship surging onward on the swells of the
ocean, which made their way thus far within the reefs,
with a greater intensity of anxiety than he had ever before
experienced in his life. Away went the ship, and each
time she settled in the water, our young man expected to
hear her keel grating on the bottom, but it did not touch.
Presently the buoys were on her quarters, and then Mark
knew that the danger of this one spot was passed !

The next step was to find the southern end of the outer
ledge that formed the succeeding passage. This was not
done until the ship was close aboard of it. A change had
come over the spot within the last few hours, in conse
quence of the increase of wind, the water breaking all
along the ledge, instead of on its end only ; but Mark
cared not for this, once certain he had found that end.
He was now half-way between his former anchorage and
the crater, and he could distinguish the latter quite plainly.
But sail was necessary to carry the ship safely through the
channel ahead, and Mark called to Bob to lash the helm
a-midships after luffing up to his course, and to spring to
the main-topmast staysail halliards, and help him hoist the
sail. This was soon done, and the new sail was got up,
and the sheet hauled aft. Next followed the mizen stay
sail, which was spread in the same manner. Bob then
flew to the wheel, and Mark to his knight-heads again.
Contrary to Mark's apprehensions, he saw that the ship
was luffing up close to the weather ledge, leaving little
danger of her going on to it. As soon as met by the helm,
however, she fell off, and Mark no longer had any doubt
of weathering the northern end of the inner ledge of this
passage. The wind coming in fresher puffs, this was soon
done, when the ship was kept dead away for the crater.
There was the northern end of the reef, which formed the
inner basin of all, to double, when that which remained to
do was merely to range far enough within the reef to get


a cover, and to drop the anchor. In order to do this with
success, Mark now commenced hauling down the jib. By
the time he had that sail well in, the ship was off the end
of the sunken reef, when Bob put his helm a-starboard and
rounded it. Down came the main-topmast staysail, and
Mark jumped on the forecastle, while he called out to Bob
to lash the helm a-lee. In an instant Bob was at the young
man's side, and both waited for the ship to luff into the
wind, and to forge as near as possible to the reef. This
was successfully done also, and Mark let go the stopper
within twenty feet of the wall of the sunken reef, just as
the ship began to drive astern. The canvas was rolled up
and secured, the cable payed out, until the ship lay just
mid-channel between the island and the sea-wall without,
and the whole secured. Then Bob took off his tarpaulin
and gave three cheers, while Mark walked aft, silently
returning thanks to God for the complete success of this
important movement.

Important most truly was this change. Not only wag
the ship anchored, with her heaviest anchor down, and
her best cable out, in good holding ground, and in a basin
where very little swell ever penetrated, and that entering
laterally and diminished in force ; but there she was within
a hundred and fifty feet of the island, at all times accessible
by means of the dingui, a boat that it would not do to trust
in the water at all outside when it blew in the least fresh.
In short, it was scarcely possible to have a vessel in a safer
berth, so long as her spars and hull were exposed to the
gales of the ocean, or one that was more convenient to
those who used the island. By getting down her spars and
other hamper, the power of the winds would be much
lessened, though Mark felt little apprehension of the winds
at that season of the year, so long as the sea could not
make a long rake against the vessel. He believed the ship
safe for the present, and felt the hope of still finding a pas
sage, through the reef to leeward, reviving in his breast.

Well might Mark and Bob rejoice in the great feat they
had just performed. That night it blew so heavily as to
leave little doubt that the ship never could have been kept
at her anchor, outside ; and had she struck adrift in the
darkness nothing could have saved them from almost in>



mediate destruction. The rollers came down in tremen
dous billows, breaking and roaring on all sides of the island,
rendering the sea white with their foam, even at midnight j
but, on reaching the massive, natural wall that protected
the Rancocus, they dashed themselves into spray againsf
it, wetting the vessel from her truck down, but doing her
no injury. Mark remained on deck until past twelve
o'clock, when finding that the gale was already breaking,
he turned in and slept soundly until morning. As for Bob,
he had taken his watch below early in the evening, and
there he remained undisturbed until the appearance of
day, when he turned out of his own accord.

Mark took another look at the sea, reefs and islands,
from the main-topmast cross-trees of the ship, as she lay
in her new berth. Of course, the range of his vision was
somewhat altered by this change of position, and especially
did he see a greater distance to the westward, or towards
the lee side of the reefs. Nothing encouraging was made
out, however ; the young man rather inclining more to the
opinion than he had ever done before, that the vessel could
not be extricated from the rocks which surrounded her.
With this conviction strongly renewed, he descended to
the deck, to share in the breakfast Bob had set about pre
paring, the moment he quitted his cat-tails; for Bob in
sisted on sleeping in the forecastle, though Mark had
pressed him to take one of the cabin state-rooms. This
time the meal, which included some Tery respectable ship's
coffee, was taken on the cabin-table, the day being cloud
less, and the sun's rays possessing a power that made it
unpleasant to sit long anywhere out of a shade. While
the meal was taken, another conversation was held touch
ing their situation.

" By the manner in which it blew last night," Mark ob
served, " I doubt if we should have had this comfortable
cabin to eat in this morning, and these good articles to
consume, had we left the ship outside until morning."

" I look upon it as a good job well done, Mr. Mark,"
answered Bob. " I must own I had no great hopes of our
ever getting here, but was willing to try it ; for them rollers
didn't mind half-a-dozen reefs, but came tumbling in over
them, in a way to threaten the old 'Cocus with being


ground into powder. For my part, sir, I thank God, from
the bottom of my heart, that we are here."

" You have reason to do so, Bob ; and while we may
both regret the misfortune that has befallen us, we had
need remember how much better off we are than our ship
mates, poor fellows ! or how much better we are off than
many a poor mariner who loses his vessel altogether."

" Yes, the saving of the ship is a great thing for us.
We can hardly call this a shipwreck, Mr. Mark, though
we have been ashore once ; it is more like being docked,
than anything else !"

" I have heard, before, of vessels being carried over
reefs, and bars of rivers, into berths they could not quit,"
answered Mark. " But, reflect a moment, Bob, how much
better our condition is, than if we had been washed down
on this naked reef, with only such articles to comfort us,
as could be picked up along shore from the wreck !"

" I 'm glad to hear you talk in this rational way, Mr.
Mark ; for it 's a sign you do not give up, or take things
too deeply to heart. I was afeard that you might be think
ing too much of Miss Bridget, and make yourself more
unhappy than is necessary for a man who has things so
comfortable around him."

" The separation from my wife causes me much pain,
Betts, but I trust in God. It has been in his pleasure to
place us in this extraordinary situation, and I hope that
something good will come of it."

" That 's the right sentiments, sir only keep such feel
ings uppermost, and we shall do right down well. Why,
we have water, in plenty, until after the rainy season shall
be along, when we can catch a fresh supply. Then, there
is beef and pork enough betwixt decks to last you and me
five or six years ; and bread and flour in good quantities,
to say nothing of lots of small stores, both forward and aft."

" The ship is well found, and, as you say, we might live
a long time, years certainly, on the food she contains
There is, however, one thing to be dreaded, and to provide
against which shall be my first care. We are now fifty
days on salted provisions, and fifty more will give us both
the scurvy."

" The Lord in his mercy protect me from that disease I"


exclaimed Bob. " I had it once, in an old v'y'ge round
the Horn, and have no wish to try it ag'in. But there
must be fish in plenty among these rocks, Mr. Mark, and
we have a good stock of bread. By dropping the beef and
pork, for a few days at a time, might we not get shut of
the danger ?"

" Fish will help us, and turtle would be a great resource,
could we meet with any of that. But, man requires mixed
food, meats and vegetables, to keep him healthy ; and no
thing is so good for the scurvy as the last. The worst of
our situation is a want of soil, to grow any vegetables in.
I did not see so much as a rush, or the coarsest sea-plant,
when we were on the island yesterday. If we had soil,
there is seed in plenty on board, and this climate would
bring forward vegetation at a rapid rate."

" Ay, ay, sir, and I '11 tell you what I 've got in the way
of seeds, myself. You may remember the delicious music
and water-melons we fell in with last v'y'ge, in the east.
Well, sir, I saved some of the seed, thinking to give it to
my brother, who is a Jarsey farmer, you know, sir ; and,
sailor-like, I forgot it altogether, when in port. If a fellow
could get but a bit of earth to put them melon-seeds in,
we might be eating our fruit like gentlemen, two months
hence, or three months, at the latest."

" That is a good thought, Belts, and we will turn it over
in our minds. If such a thing is to be done at all, the
sooner it is done the better, that the melons may be getting
ahead while we are busy with the other matters. This is
just the season to put seed into the ground, and I think
we might make soil enough to sustain a few hills of melons.
If I remember right, too, there are some of the sweet pota
toes left."

Bob assented, and during the rest of the meal they did
nothing but pursue this plan of endeavouring to obtain
half-a-dozen or a dozen hills of melons. As Mark felt all
the importance of doing everything that lay in his power
to ward off the scurvy, and knew that time was not to be
lost, he determined that the very first thing he would now
attend to, would be to get all the seed into as much ground
as he could contrive to make. Accordingly, as soon as
the breakfast was ended, Mark went to collect his seeds


while Bob set the breakfast things aside, after properly
cleaning them.

There were four shoats on board, which had been kept
in the launch, until that boat was put into the water, the
night the Rancocus ran upon the rocks. Since that time
they had been left to run about the decks, producing a
good deal of dirt, and some confusion. These shoats Bob
now caught, and dropped into the bay, knowing that their
instinct would induce them to swim for the nearest land.
All this turned out as was expected, and the pigs were
soon seen on the island, snuffing around on the rocks, and
trying to root. A small quantity of the excrement of these
animals still lay on the deck, where it had been placed
when the launch was cleaned for service, no one thinking
at such a moment of cleaning the decks. It had been
washed by the sea that came aboard quite across the deck,
but still formed a pile, and most of it was preserved. This
manure Mark was about to put in a half-barrel, in order
to carry it ashore, for the purpose of converting it into
soil, when Bob suddenly put an end to what he was about,
by telling him that he knew where a manure worth two of
that was to be found. An explanation was asked and
given. Bob, who had been several voyages on the western
coast of America, told Mark that the Peruvians and Chi
lians made great use of the dung of aquatic birds, as a
manure, and which they found on the rocks that lined their
coast. Now two or three rocks lay near the reef, that
were covered with this deposit, the birds still hovering
about them, and he proposed to take the dingui, and go
in quest of a little of that fertilizing manure. A very little,
he said, would suffice, the Spaniards using it in small
quantities, but applying it at different stages in the growth
of the plant. It is scarcely necessary to say that Bob had
fallen on a knowledge of the use of the article which is
now so extensively known under the name of guano, in the
course of his wanderings, and was enabled to communicate
the fact to his companion. Mark knew that Betts was a
man of severe truth, and he was so much the more disposed
to listen to his suggestion. While our young mate was
getting the boat ready, therefore, Bob collected his tools,
provided himself with a bucket, passed the half-barrel, into

78 .-it. THE CRATER; ^o

which Mark had thrown the sweepings of the decks, into
the dingui, and descended himself and took the sculls.
The two then proceeded to Bob's rock, where, amid the
screams of a thousand sea-birds, the honest fellow filled his
bucket with as good guano as was ever found on the coast
of Peru.

While the boat was at the rock, Mark saw that the pigs
had run round to the western end of the island, snuffing at
everything that came in their way, and trying in vain to
root wherever one of them could insert his nose. As a
hog is a particularly sagacious animal, Mark kept his eyes
on them while Bob was picking out his guano, in the faint
hope that they might discover fresh water, by means of
their instinct. In this way he saw them enter the gate
way of the crater, pigs being pretty certain to run their
noses into any such place as that.

On landing, Mark took a part of the tools and the bucket
of guano, while Bob shouldered the remainder, and they
went up to the hole, and entered the crater together, hav
ing landed as near to the gate-way as they could get, with
that object. To Mark's great delight he found that the
pigs were now actually rooting with some success, so far
as stirring the surface was concerned, though getting ab
solutely nothing for their pains. There were spots on the
plain of the crater, however, where it was possible, by
breaking a sort of crust, to get down into coarse ashes that
were not entirely without some of the essentials of soil.
Exposure to the air and water, with mixing up with sea
weed and such other waste materials as he could collect,
the young man fancied would enable him to obtain a suffi
ciency of earthy substances to sustain the growth of plants.
While on the summit of the crater-wall, he had seen two
or three places where it had struck him sweet-potatoes and
beans might be made to grow, and he determined to ascend
to those spots, and make his essay there, as being the most
removed from the inroads of the pigs. Could he only suc
ceed in obtaining two or three hundred melons, he felt
that a great deal would be done in providing the means of
checking any disposition to scurvy that might appear in
Bob or himself. In this thoughtful manner did one so
young look ahead, and make provision for the future.



" that done, partake

The season, prime for sweetest scents and airs ;
Then commune how that day they best may ply
Their growing work ; for much their work outgrew
The hands dispatch of two gard'ning so wide."


OUR two mariners had come ashore well provided with
the means of carrying out their plans. The Rancocus
was far better provided with tools suited to the uses of the
land, than was common for ships, her voyage contemplating
a long stay among the islands she was to visit. Thus, axes
and picks were not wanting, Captain Crutchely having had
an eye to the possible necessity of fortifying himself against
savages. Mark now ascended the crater-wall with a pick
on his shoulder, and a part of a coil of ratlin-stuff around
his neck. As he went up, he used the pick to make steps,
and did so much in that way, in the course of ten minutes,
as greatly to facilitate the ascent and descent at the parti
cular place he had selected. Once on the summit, he
found a part of the rock that overhung its base, and dropped
one end of his line into the crater. To this Bob attached
the bucket, which Mark hauled up and emptied. In this
manner everything was transferred to the top of the crater-
wall that was needed there, when Bob went down to the
dingui to roll up the half-barrel of sweepings that had been
brought from the ship.

Mark next looked about for the places which had seemed
to him, on his previous visit, to have most of the character
of soil. He found a plenty of these spots, mostly in de
tached cavities of no great extent, where the crust had not
yet formed ; or, having once formed, had been disturbed
by the action of the elements. These places he first picked
to pieces with his pick ; then he stirred them well up with
a hoe, scattering a little guano in the heaps, according to


the directions of Betts. When this was done, he sens
down the bucket, and hauled up the sweepings of the deck,
which Bob had ready for him, below. Nor was this all
Bob had done, during the hour Mark was at work, in the
sun, on the summit of the crater. He had found a large
deposit of sea-weed, on a rock near the island, and had
made two or three trips with the dingui, back and forth,
to transfer some of it to the crater. After all his toil and
trouble, the worthy fellow did not get more than a hogs
head full of this new material, but Mark thought it well
worth while to haul it up, and to endeavour to mix it with
his compost. This was done by making it up in bundles,
as one would roll up hay, of a size that the young man
could manage.

Bob now joined his friend on the crater-wall, and as
sisted in carrying the sea-weed to the places prepared to
receive it, when both of the mariners next set about mixing
it up with the other ingredients of the intended soil. After
working for another hour in this manner, they were of
opinion that they might make the experiment of putting in
the seed. Melons, of both sorts, and of the very best
quality, were now put into the ground, as were also beans,
peas, and Indian-corn, or maize. A few cucumber-seeds,
and some onions were also tried, Captain Crutchely having
brought with him a considerable quantity of the common
garden seeds, as a benefit conferred on the natives of the
islands he intended to visit, and through them on future
navigators. This care proceeded from his owners, who
were what is called ' Friends,' and who somewhat oddly
blended benevolence with the practices of worldly gain.

Mark certainly knew very little of gardening, but Bob
could turn his hand to almost anything. Several mistakes
were made, notwithstanding, more particularly in the use
of the seed, with which they were not particularly ac
quainted. Mark's Reef lay just within the tropics, it is
true (in 21 south latitude), but the constant sea-breeze
rendered its climate much cooler than would otherwise
have been the case. Thus the peas, and beans, and even
the onions, did better, perhaps, on the top of the crater,
than they would have done in it ; but the ochre, egg-plants,
melons, and two or three other seeds that they used, would


probably have succeeded better had they been placed in
the warmest spots which could be found. In one respect
Mark made a good gardener. He knew that moisture waa
indispensable to the growth of most plants, and had taken
care to put all his seeds into cavities, where the rain that
fell (and he had no reason to suppose that the dry season
had yet set in) would not run off and be wasted. On thia
point he manifested a good deal of judgment, using his
hoe in a way to avoid equally the danger of having too
much or too little water.

It was dinner-time before Mark and Betts were ready
to quit the ' Summit,' as they now began to term the only
height in their solitary domains. Bob had foreseen the
necessity of a shade, and had thrown an old royal into the
boat. With this, and two or three light spars, he contrived
to make a sort of canopy, down in the crater, beneath
which he and Mark dined, and took their siestas. While
resting on a spare studding-sail that had also been brought
along, the mariners talked over what they had done, and
what it might be best to undertake next.

Thus far Mark had been working under a species of
excitement, that was probably natural enough to his situa
tion, but which wanted the coolness and discretion that are
necessary to render our efforts the most profitable to our
selves, or to others. Now, that the feverish feeling which
set him at work so early to make a provision against wants

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