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probably from having found animal food enough for their
present wants in the insects ; but, long before the game
was demolished, they had come in for their full share.
This experiment satisfied the mariners that there would be
no difficulty in furnishing plenty of food for a41 their stock,
and for any length of time, Kitty excepted. It is true, the
pork and the poultry would be somewhat fishy ; but that
would be a novelty, and should it prove disagreeable on
tasting it, a little clean feeding, at the proper moment,
would correct the flavour.

But the principal cargo of the dingui was not the dozen
fish mentioned. Bob had nearly filled the boat with a sort
of vegetable loam, that he had found lodged in the cavity
of one of the largest rocks, and which, from the signs
around the place, he supposed to have been formed by de
posits of sea-weed. By an accident of nature, this cavity
in the rock received a current, which carried large quan
tities of floating weed into it, while every storm probably
had added to its stores since the mass had risen above the
common level of the sea, by throwing fresh materials on
to the pile, by means of the waves, nothing quitting it.
Bob reported that there were no signs of vegetation around
the rock, which circumstance, however, was easily enough
accounted for by the salt water that was incessantly moist
ening the surface, and which, while it took with it the
principle of future, was certain to destroy all present, vege
table life ; or, all but that which belongs exclusively to
aquatic plants.

" How much of this muck do you suppose is to be found
on your rock, Bob ?" asked Mark, after he had examined
the dingui's cargo, by sight, taste, and smell. " It is sur
prisingly like a rich earth, if it be not actually so."

" Lord bless you, Mr. Mark, there ia enough on't to fill


the old 'Cocus, ag'in and ag'in. How deep it is, I don't
pretend to know ; but it 's a good hundred paces across it,
and the spot is as round as that there chimbly, that you
call a cr'ature."

" If that be the case, we will try our hands at it next
week, and see what can be done with an importation. I
do not give up the blessed hope of the boat, Bob that you
will always bear in mind but it is best to keep an eye on
the means of living, should it please God to prevent our
getting to sea again."

"To sea, Mr. Mark, neither you nor I, nor any mortal
man will ever get, in the old 'Cocus ag'in, as I know by
the looks of things outside of us. 'T will never do to plant
in my patch, however, for the salt water must wash it
whenever it blows; though a very little work, too, might
keep it out, when I come to think on it. Sparrowgrass
would grow there, as it is, desperately well ; and Friend
Abraham White had both seeds and roots put up for the
use of the savages, if a body only know'd whereabouts to
look for them, among the lot of rubbish of that sort, that
he sent aboard."

" All the seeds and roots are in two or three boxes, in
the steerage," answered Mark. " I '11 just step up to the
crater and bring a shovel, to throw this loam out of the
boat with, while you can clean the fish and cook the sup
per. A little fresh food, after so much salt, will be both
pleasant and good for us."

Bob assented, and each went his way. Mark threw the
loam into a wheelbarrow, of which Friend Abraham had
put no less than three in the ship, as presents to th savages,
and he wheeled it, at two or three loads, into the crater,
where he threw it down in a pile, intending to make a
compost heap of all the materials of the sort he could lay
his hands on.

As for Bob he cleaned both fish, taking them on board
the ship to do so. He put the largest and coarsest into
the coppers, after cutting it up, mixing with it onions,
pork, and ship's bread, intending to start a fire beneath it
early in the morning, and cook a sort of chowder. The
other he fried, Mark and he making a most grateful meal
on it, that evening.



Be thou at peace ! Th' all-seeing eye,
Pervading earth, and air, and sky,
The searching glance which none may flee,
Is still, in mercy, turn'd on thee."


THE Sabbath ever dawns on the piously-inclined, with
hope and a devout gratitude to the Creator for all his mer
cies. This is more apt to be the case in genial seasons,
and rural abodes, perhaps, than amidst the haunts of men,
and when the thoughts are diverted from the proper chan
nels by the presence of persons around us. Still greater
is the influence of absolute solitude, and that increased by
the knowledge of a direct and visible dependence on the
Providence of God, for the means of even prolonging ex
istence. In the world, men lose sight of this dependence,
fancying themselves and their powers of more account
than the truth would warrant, and even forgetting whence
these very boasted powers are derived ; but man, when
alone, and in critical circumstances, is made to feel that
he is not sufficient for his own wants, and turns with hu
mility and hope to the divine hand that upholds him.

With feelings of this character, did Mark and Betts keep
their first Sabbath on the reef. The former read the
morning service, from beginning to end, while the latter
sat by, an attentive listener. The only proof given of any
difference in religious faith between our mariners, was of
so singular a nature as to merit notice. Notwithstanding
Bob's early familiarity with Mark, his greater age, and the
sort of community of feeling and interest created by their
common misfortune, the former had not ceased to treat the
last with the respect due to his office. This deference
never deserted him, and he had not once since the ship
was embayed, entered the cabin without pulling off his hat
As soon as church commenced, however, Bob resumed his


tarpaulin, as a sort of sign of his own orthodoxy in the
faith of his fathers ; making it a point to do as they had
done in meeting, and slightly concerned lest his companion
might fall into the error of supposing he was a man likely
to be converted. Mark also observed that, in the course
of that Sabbath, Bob used the pronouns 'thee' and ' thou,'
on two or three occasions, sounding oddly enough in the
mouth of the old salt.

Well did both our mariners prove the efficacy of the
divine provision of a day of rest, in a spiritual sense, on
the occasion of this their first Sabbath on the reef. Mark
felt far more resigned to his fate than he could have be
lieved possible, while Betts declared that he should be
absolutely happy, had he only a better boat than the dingui ;
not that the dingui was at all a bad craft of its kind, but
it wanted size. After the religious services, for which
both our mariners had shaved and dressed, they took a
walk together, on the reef, conversing of their situation
and future proceedings. Bob then told Mark, for the first
time, that, in his opinion, there was the frame and the
other materials of a pinnace, or a large boat, somewhere
in the hold, which it was intended to put together, when
the ship reached the islands, as a convenience for cruising
about among them to trade with the savages, and to trans
port sandal-wood. The mate had never heard of this boat,
but acknowledged that a part of the hold had been stowed
while he was up at Bristol, and it might have been taken
in then. Bob confessed that he had never seen it, though
he had worked in the stevedore's gang ; but was confident
he had heard Friend Abraham White and Captain Crutch-
ely talking of its dimensions and uses. According to his
recollection it was to be a boat considerably larger than
the launch, and to be fitted with masts and sails, and to
have a half- deck. Mark listened to aH this patiently,
though he firmly believed that the honest fellow was de
ceiving himself the whole time. Such a craft could scarcely
be in the ship, and he not hear of it, if he did not actually
see it ; though he thought it possible that the captain and
owners may have had some such plan in contemplation,
and conversed together on it, in Betts's presence. As
there were plenty of tools on board, however, by using


stuff of one sort or another, that was to be found in the
ship, Mark had strong hopes of their being able, between
them, to construct, in the course of time though he be
lieved a long time might be necessary a craft of some
sort, that should be of sufficient stability to withstand the
billows of that ordinarily mild sea, and enable them to re
turn to their homes and friends. In conversing of things
of this sort, in religious observances, and in speculating
on the probable fate of their shipmates, did our mariners
pass this holy day. Bob was sensibly impressed with the
pause in their ordinary pursuits, and lent himself to the
proper feelings of the occasion with a zeal and simplicity
that gave Mark great satisfaction ; for, hitherto, while
aware that his friend was as honest a fellow as ever lived,
in the common acceptation of such a phrase, he had not
supposed him in the least susceptible of religious impres
sions. But the world had suddenly lost its hold on Betts,
the barrier offered by the vast waters of the Pacific, being
almost as impassable, in his actual circumstances, as that
of the grave; and the human heart turns to God in its
direst distress, as to the only being who can administer
relief. It is when men are prosperous that they vainly
imagine they are sufficient for their own wants, and are
most apt to neglect the hand that alone can give durable

The following morning our mariners resumed their more
worldly duties with renewed powers. While the kettle
was boiling for their tea, they rolled ashore a couple of
empty water-casks, and filled them with fresh water, at one
of the largest natural reservoirs on the reef; it having
rained hard in the night. After breakfast, Mark walked
round to examine his piles of loam, in the crater, while
Bob pulled away in the dingui, to catch a few fish, and to
get a new cargo of the earth ; it being the intention of
Mark to join him at the next trip, with the raft, which re
quired some little arranging, however, previously to its
being used for such a purpose. The rain of the past night
had thoroughly washed the pile of earth, and, on tasting
it, Mark was convinced that much of the salt it contained
had been carried off. This encouraged him to persevere
in hia gardening projects. As yet, the spring had only


just commenced, and he was in hopea of being able to
prepare one bed, at least, in time to obtain useful vegetables
from it.

The Rancocus had a great many planks and boards in
her hold, a part of the ample provision made by her own
ers for the peculiar voyage on which she had been sent.
Of real cargo, indeed, she had very little, the commerce
between the civilized man and the savage being ordinarily
on those great principles of Free Trade, of which so much
is said of late years, while so little is understood, and which
usually give the lion's share of the profit to them who need
it least. With some of these planks, Mark made a staging
for his raft. By the time he was ready, Bob returned with
a load of loam, and, on the next outward voyage, the raft
was taken as well as the dingui. Mark had fitted pins and
grummets, by which the raft was rowed, he and Bob im
pelling it, when light, very easily at the rate of two miles
in the hour.

Mark found Betts's deposit of decayed vegetable matter
even larger and more accessible tha'n he had hoped for.
A hundred loads might be got without even using a wheel
barrow ; and to all appearances there was enough of it to
give a heavy dressing to many acres, possibly to the whole
area of the crater. The first thing the young man did was
to choose a suitable place, dig it well up, mixing a suffi
ciency of guano with it, agreeably to Betts's directions,
and then to put in some of his asparagus roots. After this
he scattered a quantity of the seed, raking the ground well
after sowing. By the time this was done, Bob had both
dingui and raft loaded, when they pulled the last back to
the reef, towing the boat. In this manner our two mari
ners continued to work most of the time, for the next fort
night, making, daily, more or less trips to the ' loam-rock,'
as they called the place where this precious deposit had
been made ; though they neglected none of their other ne
cessary duties. As the distance was short, they could
come and go many times in a day, transporting at each
trip about as much of the loam as would make an ordinary
American cart-load of manure. In the whole, by Mark's
computation, they got across about fifty of these cargoes,
in the cou r se of their twelve days' work. The entire day,


however, was on no occasion given up wholly to this put
suit. On the contrary, many little odd tasks were com
pleted, which were set by their necessities, or by fore
thought and prudence. All the empty water-casks, for one
thing, were rolled ashore, and filled at the largest pool ;
the frequency of the rains admonishing them of the wisdom
of making a provision for the dry season. The Rancocus
had a good deal of water still left in her, some of it being
excellent Delaware river water, though she had filled up
at Valparaiso, after passing the Horn. Mark counted the
full casks, and allowing ten gallons a day for Bob and him
self, a good deal more than could be wanted, there re
mained in the ship fresh water enough to last them two
years. It is true, it was not such water as the palate often
craved of a warm day ; but they were accustomed to it, and
it was sweet. By keeping it altogether between decks, the
sun had no power on it, and it was even more palatable
than might have been supposed. Mark occasionally longed
for one good drink at some gushing spring that he remem
bered at home, it is true; and Bob was a little in the habit
of extolling a particular well that, it would seem, his family
were reputed to have used for several generations. Not
withstanding these little natural backslidings on this sub
ject, our mariners might be thought well off on the score
of water, having it in great abundance, and with no rea
sonable fear of ever losing it altogether. The casks taken
ashore were filled for their preservation, as well as for con
venience, an old sail being spread over them, after they
were rolled together and chocked. As yet, no water was
given to any of the stock, all the animals finding it in
abundance, in the cavities of the lava.

Some of the time, moreover, Betts passed in fishing,
supplying not only Mark and himself, but the pigs and the
poultry, with as much food as was desired. Several of the
fish caught turned out to be delicious, while others were
of a quality that caused them to be thrown into the com
post heap. A cargo of guano was also imported, the rich
manure being mixed up in liberal quantities with the loam.
At the end of the first week of these voyages to ' loam-
rock,' Betts went out to fish in a new direction, passing to
windward of the ' sea-wall,' as they called the reef that


protected the ship, and pulling towards a bit of naked rock
a short distance beyond it, where he fancied he might find
a particular sort of little fish, that greatly resembled the
Norfolk Hog-fish, one of the most delicious little creatures
for the pan that is to be found in all the finny tribe. He
had been gone a couple of hours, when Mark, who was at
work within the crater, picking up the encrusted ashes that
formed its surface, heard Bob's shout outside, as if he
wished assistance. Throwing down the pick, our young
man ran out, and was not a little surprised to see the sort
of cargo with which Bob was returning to port. It would
seem that a great collection of sea-weed had formed to
windward of the rock where Bob had gone to fish, at which
spot it ordinarily gathered in a pile until the heap became
too large to lodge any longer, when, owing to the form of
the rock, it invariably broke adrift, and passed to the
southward of the Reef, floating to leeward, to fetch up on
some other rock, or island, in that direction. Bob had
managed to get this raft round a particular point in the
reef, when the wind and current carried it, as near as
might be, directly towards the crater. He was calling to
Mark to come to his assistance, to help get the raft into a
sort of bay, ahead of him, where it might be lodged; else
would there be the danger of its drifting past the Reef,
after all his pains. Our young man saw, at once, what
was wanted, got a line, succeeded in throwing it to Bob,
and by hauling upon it brought the whole mass ashore in
the very spot Betts wished to see it landed.

This sea-weed proved to be a great acquisition on more
accounts than one. There was as much of it in quantity
as would have made two good-sized loads of hay. Then,
many small shell-fish were found among it, which the pigs
and poultry ate with avidity. It also contained seeds, that
the fowls picked up as readily as if it had been corn. The
hogs moreover masticated a good deal of the weed, and
poor Kitty, the only one of the domestic animals on the
Reef that was not now living to its heart's content, nibbled
at it, with a species of half-doubting faith in its salubrity.
Although it was getting to be late in the afternoon, Mark
and Bob got two of Friend Abraham White's pitchforks
(for the worthy Quaker had sent these, among other im-


plements of husbandry, as a peace-offering to the Fejee
savages), and went to work with a hearty good-will, landed
all this weed, loaded it up, and wheeled it into the crater,
leaving just enough outside to satisfy the pigs and the
poultry. This task concluded the first week of the labour
already mentioned.

At the termination of the second week, Mark and Betts
held a council on the subject of their future proceedings.
At this consultation it was decided that it would be better
to finish the picking up of a considerable plot of ground,
one of at least half an acre in extent, that was already
commenced, within the crater, scatter their compost over
it, and spade all up together, and plant, mixing in as much
of the sea-weed as they could conveniently spade under.
Nothwithstanding their success in finding the loam, and
this last discovery of a means of getting sea-weed in large
supplies to the Reef, Mark was not very sanguine of suc
cess in his gardening. The loam appeared to him to be
cold and sour, as well as salt, though a good deal fresh
ened by the rain since it was put in the crater ; and he
knew nothing of the effects of guano, except through the
somewhat confused accounts of Bob. Then the plain of
the crater offered nothing beside a coarse and shelly ashes.
These ashes were deep enough for any agricultural pur
pose, it is true, for Mark could work a crowbar down into
them its entire length ; but they appeared to him to be
totally wanting in the fertilizing principle. Nor could he
account for the absence of everything like vegetation, on
or about the reef, if the elements of plants of any sort were
to be found in the substances of which it was composed.
He had read, however, that the territory around active
volcanoes, and which was far enough removed from the
vent to escape from the destruction caused by lava, scoriae
and heat, was usually highly fertile, in consequence of the
ashes and impalpable dust that was scattered in the air ;
but seeing no proofs of any such fertility here, he supposed
that the adjacent sea had swallowed up whatever there
might have been of these bountiful gifts. With these im
pressions, it is not surprising that Mark was disposed to
satisfy himself with a moderate beginning, in preference


to throwing away time and labour in endeavouring to pro
duce resources which after all would fail them.

Mark's plan, as laid before his companion, on the occa
sion of the council mentioned, was briefly this : He pro
posed to pass the next month in preparing the half-acre
they had commenced upon, and in getting in seed; after
which they could do no more than trust their husbandry
to Providence and the seasons. As soon as done with the
tillage, it was his idea that they ought to overhaul the ship
thoroughly, ascertain what was actually in her, and, if the
materials of the boat mentioned by Belts were really to be
found, to set that craft up as soon as possible, and to get
it into the water. Should they not find the frame and
planks of the pinnace, as Betts seemed to think they would,
they must go to work and get out the best frame they
could themselves, and construct such a craft as their own
skill could contrive. After building such a boat, it was
Mark's opinion that he and Bob could navigate her across
that tranquil ocean, until they reached the coast of South
America, or some of the islands that were known to be
friendly to the white man ; for, fifty years ago, it will be
remembered, we did not possess the same knowledge of
the Pacific that we possess to-day, and mariners did not
trust themselves always with confidence among the natives
of its islands. With this plan pretty well sketched out,
then, our mariners saw the first month of their captivity
among the unknown reefs of this remote quarter of the
world, draw to its close.

Mark was a little surprised by a proposal that he re
ceived from Bob, next morning, which was the Sabbath, of
course. " Friends have monthly meetings," Betts observed,
" and he thought they ought to set up some such day on
the Reef. He was willing to keep Christmas, if Mark
saw fit, but rather wished to pay proper respect to all the
festivals and observances of Friends." Mark was secretly
amused with this proposition, even while it pleased him.
The monthly meeting of the Quakers was for the secular
part of church business, as much as for the purposes of
religious worship ; and Bob having all those concerns in
his own hands, it was not so easy to see how a stated day
was to aid him any in carrying out his church government.


But Mark understood the feeling which dictated this re
quest, and was disposed to deal gently by it. Betts wa
becoming daily more and more conscious of his depend
ence n a Divine Providence, in the situation in which he
was thrown ; and his mind, as well as his feelings, natu
rally enough reverted to early impressions and habits, in
their search for present relief. Bob had not the clearest
notions of either the theory or practice of his sect, but he
remembered much of the last, and believed he should be
acting right by conforming as closely as possible to the
' usages of Friends.' Mark promised to take the matter
into consideration, and to come to some decision on it, at
an early day.

The following Monday it rained nearly the whole morn
ing, confining our mariners to the ship. They took that
occasion to overhaul the ' 'twixt-deck more thoroughly
than had yet been done, and particularly to give the seed-
boxes a close examination. Much of the lumber, and most
of the tools too, were stowed on this deck, and something
like a survey was also made of them. The frame and
other materials of the pinnace were looked for, in addition,
but without any success. If in the ship at all, they were
certainly not betwixt decks. Mark was still of opinion no
such articles would ever be found ; but Betts insisted on
the conversation he had overheard, and on his having
rightly understood it. The provision of tools was very
ample, and, in some respects, a little exaggerated in the
way of Friend White's expectations of civilizing the people
of Fejee. It may be well, here, to say a word concerning
the reason that the Rancocus contained so many of these
tributes to civilization. The voyage of the ship, it will
be remembered, was in quest of sandal-wood. This san
dal-wood was to be carried to Canton and sold, and a cargo
of teas taken in with the avails. Now, sandal-wood was
supposed to be used for the purposes of idolatry, being said
to be burned before the gods of that heathenish people.
Idolatry being one of the chiefest of all sins, Friend Abra
ham White had many compunctions and misgivings of
conscience touching the propriety of embarking in the
trade at all. It was true, that our knowledge of the Chi
nese customs did not extend far enough to render it cer-


tain that the wood was used for the purpose of burning
before idols, some pretending it was made into ornamented
furniture : but Friend Abraham White had heard the first,

Online LibraryJames Fenimore CooperWorks (Volume 29) → online text (page 9 of 42)