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within the field-ice, the water was much less broken, though
the undulations of the restless ocean were still consider
able, and the grinding of ice occasioned by them was really
terrific. So loud was the noise produced by these constant
and violent collisions, indeed, that the roaring of the wind



THE SEA LIONS. 269

was barely audible, and that only at intervals. The sound
was rushing, like that of an incessant avalanche, attended
by cracking noises that resembled the rending of a glacier.

The schooners now took in their foresails, for the double
purpose of diminishing their velocity and of being in a
better condition to change their course, in order to avoid
dangers ahead. These changes of course were necessarily
frequent ; but, by dint of boldness, perseverance and skill,
Daggett worked his way into the comparatively open pas
sage already mentioned. It was a sort of river amid the
floes, caused doubtless by some of the inexplicable cur
rents, and was fully a quarter of a mile in width, straight
as an air-line, and of considerable length; though how
Jong could not be seen by moonlight. It led, moreover,
directly down towards the bergs, then distant less than a
mile. Without stopping to ascertain more, Daggett stood
on, Roswell keeping close on his quarter. In ten minutes
they drew quite near to that wild and magnificent ruined
city of alabaster that was floating about in the antarctic
sea!

Notwithstanding the imminent peril that now most se
riously menaced the two schooners, it was not possible to
approach that scene of natural grandeur without feelings
of awe, that were allied quite as much to admiration as to
dread. Apprehension certainly weighed on every heart;
but curiosity, wonder, even delight, were all mingled in
the breasts of the crews. As the vessels came driving down
into the midst of the bergs, everything contributed to
render the movements imposing in all senses, appalling in
one. There lay the vast maze of floating mountains,
generally of a spectral white at that hour, though many of
the masses emitted hues more pleasing, while some were
black as nigh* The passages between the bergs, or what
might be termed the streets and lanes of this mysterious-
iooking, fantastical, yet sublime city of the ocean, were
numerous, and of every variety. Some were broad, straight
avenues, a league in length; others winding and narrow;
while a good many were little more than fissures, that might
be fancied lanes.

The schooners had *ot run a league within the bergs
before they felt much less of the power of the gale, and the



270 THE SEA LIONS.

heaving and setting of the seas were sensibly diminished,
What was, perhaps, not to be expected, the field-ice had
disappeared entirely within the passages of the bergs, and
the only difficulty in navigating was to keep in such chan
nels as had outlets, and which did not appear to be closing.
The rate of sailing of the two schooners was now greatly
lessened, the mountains usually intercepting the wind,
though it was occasionally heard howling and scuffling in
the ravines, as if in a hurry to escape, and pass on fo the
more open seas. The grinding of the ice, too, came down
in the currents of air, furnishing fearful evidence of dan
gers that were not yet distant. As the water was now
sufficiently smooth, and the wind, except at the mouths of
particular ravines, was light, there was nothing to prevent
the schooners from approaching each other. This was
done, and the two masters held a discourse together on the
subject of their present situation.

" You 're a bold fellow, Daggett, and one I should not
like to follow in a voyage round the world," commenced
Roswell. " Here we are, in the midst of some hundreds
of ice-bergs ; a glorious sight to behold, I must confess
but are we ever to get out again ?"

" It is much better to be here, Gar'ner," returned the
other, " than to be among the floes. I 'm always afraid of
my starn and my rudder when among the field-ice ; where
as there is no danger hereabouts that cannot be seen before
a vessel is on it. Give me my eyes, and [ feel that I have
a chance."

" There is some truth in that ; but I wish these channels
were a good deal wider than they are. A man may feel a
berg as well as see it. Were two of these fellows to take
it into their heads to close upon us, our little craft would
be crushed like nuts in the crackers !"

" We must keep a good look-out for that. Here seems
to be a long bit of open passage ahead of us, and it leads
as near north as we can wish to run. If we can only get
to the other end of it, 1 shall feel as if half our passage
back to Ameriky was made."

The citizen of the United States calls his country "Ame
rica" par excellence, never using the addition of ' North,
as is practised by most European people. Daggett meant



THE SEA LIONS. 271

'jhome,' therefor i, by h'.s 'Ameriky,' in which he saw no
other than the east end of Long Island, Gardiner's Island,
and Martha's Vineyard. Roswell understood him, of
course ; so no breath was lost.

" In my judgment," returned Gardiner, " we shall not
get clear of this ice for a thousand miles. Not that I ex
pect to be in a wilderness of it, as we are to-night; but
after such a summer, you may rely on it, Daggett, that the
ice will get as far north as 45, if not a few degrees fur
ther."

" It is possible : I have seen it in 42 myself; and in 40
to the nor'ard of the equator. If it get as far as 50, how
ever, in this part of the world, it will do pretty well. That

will be play to what we have just here In the name of

Divine Providence, what is that, Gar'ner !"

Not a voice was heard in either vessel ; scarcely a breath
was drawn ! A heavy, groaning sound had been instantly
succeeded by such a plunge into the water, as might be
imagined to succeed the fall of a fragment from another
planet. Then all the bergs near by began to rock as if
agitated by an earthquake. This part of the picture was
both grand and frightful. Many of those masses rose above
the sea more than two hundred feet perpendicularly, and
showed wall-like surfaces of half a league in length. At
the point where the schooners happened to be just at that
moment, the ice-islands were not so large, but quite as
high, and consequently were more easily agitated. While
the whole panorama was bowing and rocking, pinnacles,
arches, walls and all, seeming about to totter from theii
bases, there came a wave sweeping down the passage thai
lifted them high in the air, some fifty feet at least, and bore
them along like pieces of cork, fully a hundred yards.
Other Vaves succeeded, though of less height and force;
when, gradually, the water regained its former and more
natural movement, and subsided.

" This has been an earthquake !" exclaimed Daggett.
" That volcano has been pent up, and the gas is stirring
up the rocks beneath the sea."

" No, sir," answered Stimson, from the forecastle of his
own schooner, " it 'a not that, Captain Daggett. One of



272 THE SEA LIONS.

them bergs has turned over, like a whale wallowing, and it
has set all the others a-rocking."

This was the true explanation ; one that did not occur
to the less experienced sealers. It is a danger, however,
of no rare occurrence in the ice, and one that ever needs
to be looked to. The bergs, when they first break loose
from their native moorings, which is done by the agency
of frosts, as well as by the action of the seasons in the
ivarm months, are usually tabular, and of regular outlines;
but this shape is soon lost by the action of the waves on
ice of very different degrees of consistency ; some being
composed of frozen snow ; some of the moisture precipi
tated from the atmosphere in the shape of fogs ; and some
of pure frozen water. The first melts soonest ; and a berg
that drifts for any length of time with one particular face
exposed to the sun's rays, soon loses its equilibrium, and
is canted with an inclination to the horizon. Finally, the
centre of gravity gets outside of the base, when the still
monstrous mass rolls over in the ocean, coming literally
bottom upwards. There are all degrees and varieties of these
ice-slips, if one may so term them, and they bring in their
train the many different commotions that such accidents
would naturally produce. That which had just alarmed
and astonished our navigators was of the following charac
ter. A mass of ice that was about a quarter of a mile in
length, and of fully half that breadth, which floated quite
two hundred feet above the surface of the water, and twice
that thickness beneath it, was the cause of the disturbance.
It had preserved its outlines unusually well, and stood up
right to the last moment ; though, owing to numerous strata
of snow-ice, its base had melted much more on one of its
sides than on the other. When the precise moment arrived
that would have carried a perpendicular line from the cen
tre of gravity without this base, the monster turneB leisurely
in its lair, producing some such effect as would have been
wrought by the falling of a portion of a Swiss mountain
into a lake ; a sort of accident of which there have been
many and remarkable instances.

Stimson's explanation, while it raised the curtain from
all that was mysterious, did not serve very much to quieV
apprehensions. If one berg had performed such an evolu-



THE SEA LIONS 273

lion, it was reasonable to suppose that others might do the
same thing; and the commotion made by this, which was
at a distance, gave some insight into what might be ex
pected from a similar change in another nearer by. Both
Daggett and Gardiner were of opinion that the fall of a
berg of equal size within a cable's length of the schooners
might seriously endanger the vessels by dashing them
against some wall of ice, if in no other manner. It was
too late, however, to retreat, and the vessels stood on gal
lantly.

The passage between the bergs now became quite
straight, reasonably broad, and was so situated as regarded
the gale, as to receive a full current of its force. It was
computed that the schooners ran quite three marine leagues
in the hour that succeeded the overturning of the berg.
There were moments when the wind blew furiously ; and,
taking all the accessories of that remarkable view into the
account, the scene resembled one that the imagination
might present to the mind in its highest flights, but which
few could ever hope to see with their proper eyes. The
moon-light, the crowd of ice-bergs of all shapes and dimen
sions, seeming to flit past by the rapid movements of the
vessels.; the variety of hues, from spectral white to tints
of orange and emerald, pale at that hour yet distinct;
streets and lanes that were scarce opened ere they were
passed ; together with all the fantastic images that such
objects conjured to the thoughts ; contributed to make that
hour much the most wonderful that Roswell Gardiner had
ever passed. To add to the excitement, a couple of whales
came blowing up the passage, coming within a hundred
yards of the schooners. They were fin-backs, which are
rarely if ever taken, and were suffered to pass unharmed.
To capture a whale, however, amid so many bergs, would
be next to impossible, unless the animal were killed by the
blow of the harpoon, without requiring the keener thrust
of the lance.

At the end of the hour mentioned, the Sea Lion of the
Vineyard rapidly changed her course, hauling up by a sud
den movement to the westward. The passage before her
was closed, and there remained but one visible outlet, to
wards which the schooner slowly made her way, having



274 THE SEA LIONS.

got rather too much to leeward of it, in consequence of
not earlier seeing the necessity for the change of course in
that dim and deceptive light. Roswell, being to windward,
had less difficulty, but, notwithstanding, he kept his station
on his consort's quarter, declining to lead. The passage into
which Daggett barely succeeded in carrying his schooner
was fearfully narrow, and appeared to be fast closing;
though it was much wider further ahead, could the schooner*
but get through the first dangerous strait. Roswell re
monstrated ere the leading vessel entered, and pointed out
to Daggett the fact that the bergs were evidently closing,
each instant increasing their movement, most probably
through the force of attraction. It is known that ships are
thus brought in contact in calms, and it is thought a simi
lar influence is exercised on the ice-bergs. At all events,
the wind, the current, or attraction, was fast closing the
passage through which the schooners had now to go.

Scarcely was Daggett within the channel, when an enor
mous mass fell from the summit of one of the bergs, literally
closing the passage in his wake, while it compelled Gardi
ner to put his helm down, and to tack ship, standing off
from the tottering berg. The scene that followed was
frightful ! The cries on board the leading craft denoted
her peril, but it was not possible for Roswell to penetrate
to her with his vessel. All he could do was to heave-to his
own schooner, lower a boat, and pull back towards the
point of danger. This he did at once, manfully, but with
an anxious mind and throbbing heart. He actually urged
his boat into the chasm beneath an arch in the fallen frag
ment, and made his way to the very side of Daggett's vessel.
The last was nipped again, and that badly, but was not
absolutely lost. The falling fragment from the berg alone
prevented her and all in her from being ground into powder.
This block, of enormous size, kept the two bergs asunder ;
and now that they could not absolutely come together, they
began slowly to turn in the current, gradually opening and
separating, at the very point where they had so lately seem
ed attracted to a closer union. In an hour the way was
clear, and the boats towed the schooner stern foremost into
the broader passage.



THE SEA LIONS. 275



CHAPTEE XX

'A Toice upon the prairies,
A cry of woman's woe,
That mingleth with the autumn blast
AH fitfully and low."

MRS. SIOOURNET.

THE accident to the Sea Lion of the Vineyard occurred
very neir the close of the month of March, which, in the
southern hemisphere, corresponds to our month of Septem
ber. This was somewhat late for a vessel to remain in so
high a latitude, though it was not absolutely dangerous to
be found there several weeks longer. We have given a
glance at Mary Pratt and her uncle, about this time; but
it has now become expedient to carry the reader forward
for a considerable period, and take another look at our he
roine and her miserly uncle, some seven months later. In
that interval a great change had come over the deacon and
his niece ; and hope had nearly deserted all those who had
friends on board the Sea Lion of Oyster Pond, as the fol
lowing explanation will show was reasonable, and to be
expected.

When Captain Gardiner sailed, it was understood that
his absence would not extend beyond a single season. All
who had friends and connections on board his schooner,
had been assured of this ; and great was the anxiety, and
deep the disappointment, when the first of our own summer
months failed to bring back the adventurers. As week
tucceeded week, and the vessel did not return, the concern
increased, until hope began to be lost in apprehension.
Deacon Pratt groaned in spirit over his loss, finding little
consolation in the gains secured by means of the oil sent
home, as is apt to be the case with the avaricious, when
their hearts are once set on gain. As for Mary, the load
on her heart increased in weight, as it might be, day by
day, until those smiles, which had caused her sweet coun
tenance to be radiant with innocent joy, entirely disappeared,
and she was seen to smile no more. Still, complaints never
24



THE SEA LIONS.

passed her lips. She prayed much, and found all her relief
in such pursuits as comported with her feelings, but she
seldom spoke of her grief; never, except at weak moments,
when her querulous kinsman introduced the subject, in his
frequent lamentations over his losses.

The month of November is apt to be stormy on the At
lantic coasts of the republic. It is true that the heaviest
gales do not then occur, but the weather is generally stern
and wintry, and the winds are apt to be high and boiste
rous. At a place like Oyster Pond, the gales from the
ocean are felt with almost as much power as on board a
vessel at sea; and Mary became keenly sensible of the
change from the bland breezes of summer to the sterner
blasts of autumn. As for the deacon, his health was actu
ally giving way before anxiety, until the result was getting
to be a matter of doubt. Premature old age appeared to
have settled on him, and his niece had privately consulted
Dr. Sage on his case. The excellent girl was grieved to
find that the mind of her uncle grew more worldly, his de
sires for wealth more grasping, as he was losing his hold
on life, and was approaching nearer to that hour when time
is succeeded by eternity. All this while, however, Deacon
Pratt " kept about," as he expressed it himself, and strug
gled to look after his interests, as had been his practice
through life. He collected his debts, foreclosed his mort
gages when necessary, drove tight bargains for his wood
and other saleable articles, and neglected nothing that he
thought would tend to increase his gains. Still, his heart
was with his schooner ; for he had expected much from
that adventure, and the disappointment was in proportion
to the former hopes.

One day, near the close of November, the deacon and his
niece were alone together in the " keeping-room," as it
was, if it be not still, the custom among persons of New
England origin to call the ordinary sitting-apartment, he
bolstered up in an easy-chair, on account of increasing in
firmities, and she plying the needle in her customary way.
The chairs of both were so placed that it was easy for either
to look out wpon that bay, now of a wintry aspect, where
Roswell had last anchored, previously to sailing.
\ "What; a pleasant sight it would be, uncle," Mary, al-



THE SEA LIONS. 277

most unconsciously to herself, remarked, as, with tearful
eyes, she sat gazing intently on the water, " could we only
awake and find the Sea Lion at anchor, under the point of
Gardiner's Island ! I often fancy that such may be nay,
must be the case yet ; but it never comes to pass ! I would
not tell you yesterday, for you did not seem to be as well
as common, but I have got an answer, by Baiting Joe, to
my letter sent across to the Vineyard."

The deacon started, and half-turned his body towards
his niece, on whose face his own sunken eyes were now
fastened with almost ferocious interest. It was the love of
Mammon, stirring within him the lingering remains of co-
vetousness. He thought of his property, while Mary thought
of those whose lives had been endangered, if not lost, by
the unhappy adventure. The latter understood the look,
however, so far as to answer its inquiry, in her usual gentle,
feminine voice.

" I am sorry to say, sir, that no news has been heard
from Captain Daggett, or any of his people," was the sad
reply to this silent interrogatory. " No one on the island
has heard a word from the Vineyard vessel since the day
before she sailed from Rio. There is the same uneasiness
felt among Captain Daggett's friends, as we feel for poor
Roswell. They think, however, that the two vessels have
kept together, and believe that the same fate has befallen
both."

" Heaven forbid !" exclaimed the deacon, as sharply as
wasting lungs would allow " Heaven forbid ! If Gar'ner
has let that Daggett keep in his company an hour longer
than was necessary, he has deserved to meet with shipwreck,
though the loss always falls heaviest on the owners."

" Surely, uncle, it is more cheering to think that the two
schooners are together in those dangerous seas, than to
imagine one, alone, left to meet the risks, without a com
panion !"

" You talk idly, gal as women always talk. If you
know'd all, you wouldn't think of such a thing."

" So you have said often, uncle, and I fear .there is some
mystery preying all this time on your spirits. Why not
relieve your mind, by telling your troubles to me? I am
your child in affection, if not by birth." ^ f



THE SEA LIONS.

"You're a good gal, Mary," answered the deacon, a
good deal softened by the plaintive tones of one of the gen
tlest voices that ever fell on human ear, "an excellent crea-
tur' it the bottom but of course you know nothing of the
sealing business, and next to nothing about taking care of
property."

" I hope you do not think me wasteful, sir ? That id a
character I should not like to possess."

" No, not wasteful ; on the contrary, curful (so the dea
con pronounced the word) and considerate enough, as to
keeping, but awfully indifferent as to getting. Had I been
as indifferent as you are yourself, your futur' days would
not be so comfortable and happy as they are now likely to
be, a'ter my departure if depart I must."

"My future life happy and comfortable !" thought Mary;
then she struggled to be satisfied with her lot, and contented
with the decrees of Providence. " It is but a few hours
that we lire in this state of trials, compared to the endless
existence that is to succeed it."

" I wish I knew all about this voyage of Roswell's," she
added, aloud ; for she was perfectly certain that there was
something to be told that, as yet, the deacon had concealed
from her. " It might relieve your mind, and lighten your
spirits of a burthen, to make me a confidant."

The deacon mused in silence for more than five minutes.
Seldom had his thoughts gone over so wide a reach of in
terests and events in so short a space of time; but the con
clusion was clear and decided.

"You ought to know all, Mary, and you shall know all,''
he answered, in the manner of a man who had made up his
-mind beyond appeal. " Gar'ner has gone a'ter seal to some
islands that the Daggett who died here, about a year and
a half ago, told me of; islands of which nobody know'd
anything, according to his account, but himself. His ship
mates, that saw the place when he saw it, were all dead,
afore he let me into the secret."

" I have long suspected something of the sort, sir, and
have also supposed that the people on Martha's Vineyard
had got some news of this place, by the manner in which
Captain Daggett has acted."

" Isn't it wonderful, gal ? Islands, they tell me, where



THE SEA LIONS. 279

a schooner can fill up with ile and skins, in the shortest
season in which the sun ever shone upon an antarctic sum
mer 1 Wonderful ! wonderful !" #

" Very extraordinary, perhaps ; but we should remember,
uncle, at how much risk the young men of the country go
on these distant voyages, and how dearly their profits are
sometimes bought."

" Bought ! If the schooner would only come back, I
should think nothing of all that. It's the cost of the vessel
and outfit, Mary, that weighs so much on my spirits. Well,
Gar'ner's first business is with them islands, which are at
an awful distance for one to trust his property ; but, ' no
thing ventured, nothing got,' they say. By my calculations,
the schooner has had to go a good five hundred miles among
the ice, to get to the spot; not such ice as a body falls in
with, in going and coming between England and Ameriky,
as we read of in the papers, but ice that covers the sea as
we sometimes see it piled up in Gar'ner's Bay, only a hun
dred times higher, and deeper, and broader, and colder !
It 's desperate cold ice, the sealers all tell me, that of the
antarctic seas. Some on 'em think it 's colder down south
than it is the other way, up towards Greenland and Iceland
itself. It's extr'or'nary, Mary, that the weather should
grow cold as a body journeys south ; but so it is, by all
accounts. 1 never could understand it, and it isn't so in
Ameriky, I 'm sartain. I suppose it must come of their
turning the months round, and having their winter in the
midst of the dog-days. I never could understand it, though
Gar'ner has tried, more than once, to reason me into it. I
believe, but I don't understand."

"It is all told in my geography here," answered Mdry,
mechanically taking down the book, for her thoughts were
far away in those icy seas that her uncle had been so gra
phically describing. " I dare say we can find it all explained
in the elementary parts of this book."

" They do make their geographies useful, now-a-days,"
said the deacon, with rather more animation than he had
shown before, that morning. " They 've got 'em to be,



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