James Fenimore Cooper.

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" I wish you would show me, yourself, the precise places
on the chart, where them islands are to be found. There
is nothing like seeing a thing with one's own eyes."

" You forget my oath, deacon Pratt. Every man on us
took his bible oath not to point out the position of the
islands, until a'ter the year 1820. Then, each and all on
us is at liberty to do as he pleases. But, the chart is in
my chest, and not only the islands, but the key, is so plainly
laid down, that any mariner could find 'em. With that
chest, however, I cannot part so long as I live. Get me
well, and I will sail in the Sea Lion, and tell your captain
Gar'ner all he will have occasion to know. The man's
fortune will be made who first gets to either of them places."

" Yes, I can imagine that, easy enough, from your ac
counts, Daggett but, how am I to be certain that some
other vessel will not get the start of me ?"

" Because the secret is now my own. There was but
seven on us, in that brig, all told. Of them seven, four
died at the islands of the fever, homeward bound ; and of
the other three, the captain was drowned in the squall I
told you of, when he was washed overboard. That left
only Jack Thompson and me ; and Jack, I think, must be
4



36 THE SEA LIONS.

the very man whose death I see'd, six months since, as be
ing killed by a whale on the False Banks."

" Jack Thompson is so common a name, a body never
knows. Besides, if he was killed by that whale, he may
have told the secret to a dozen before the accident."

" There's his oath ag'in it. Jack was sworn, as well as
all on us, and he was a man likely to stand by what he
swore to. This was none of your custom-house oaths, of
which a chap might take a dozen of a morning, and all
should be false ; but it was an oath that put a seaman on
his honour, since it was a good-fellowship affair, all round."

Deacon Pratt did not tell Daggett that Thompson might
have as good reasons for disregarding the oath as he had
himself; but he thought, it. These are things that no wise
man utters on such occasions; and this opinion touching
the equality of the obligation of that oath was one of them.

" There is another hold upon Jack," continued Daggett,
after reflecting a moment. " He never could make any
fist of latitude and longitude at all, and he kept no journal.
Now, should he get it wrong, he and his friends might
hunt a year without finding either of the places."

" You think there was no mistake in the pirate's account
of that key, and of the buried treasure?" asked the deacon,
anxiously.

" I would swear to the truth of what he said, as freely as
if I had seen the box myself. They was necessitated, as
you may suppose, or they never would have left so much
gold, in sich an uninhabited place; but leave it they did,
on the word of a dying man."

"Dying? You mean the pirate, I suppose?"

" To be sure I do. We was shut up in the same prison,
and we talked the matter over at least twenty times, before
he was swung off. When they was satisfied I had nothing
to do with the pirates, I was cleared ; and I was on my way
to the Vineyard, to get some craft or other, to go a'ter
these two treasures (for one is just as much a treasure as
t'other) when I was put ashore here. It 's much the same
to me, whether the craft sails from Oyster Pond or from
the Vineyard."

" Of course. Well, as much to oblige you, and to put
your mind at rest, as anything else, 1 've bought this Sea



THE SEA LIONS. 37

Lion, and engaged young Roswell Gar'ner to go out in her,
as her master. She 'il be ready to sail in a fortnight, and,
if things turn out as you say, a good voyage will she make.
All interested in her will have reason to rejoice. I see but
one thing needful just now, and that is that you should give
me the chart at once, in order that I may study it well, be
fore the schooner sails."

" Do you mean to make the v'y'ge yourself, deacon ?"
asked Daggett, in some surprise.

"Not in person, certainly," was the answer. "I'm
getting somewhat too old to leave home for so long a time ;
and, though born and brought up in sight of salt-water,
I 've never tried it beyond a trip to York, or one to Boston.
Still, I shall have my property in the adventure, and it's
nat'ral to keep an eye on that. Now, the chart well studied
before-hand would be much more use/ul, it seems to me,
than it can possibly be, if taken up at a late hour."

" There will be time enough for captain Gar'ner to over
haul his chart well, afore he reaches either of his ports,"
returned the mariner, evasively. "If I sail with him, as I
suppose I must, nothing will be easier than for me to give
all the courses and distances."

This reply produced a long and brooding silence. By
this time, the reader will have got a clue to the nature of
the secret that was discussed so much, and so often, be
tween these two men. Daggett, finding himself sick, poor,
and friendless, among strangers, had early cast about him
for the means of obtaining an interest with those who
might serve him. He had soon got an insight into the
character of Deacon Pratt, from the passing remarks of the
Widow White, who was induced to allude to the uncle, in
consequence of the charitable visits of the niece. One day,
when matters appeared to be at a very low ebb with him,
and shortly after he had been put ashore, the sick mariner
requested an interview with the deacon himself. The re
quest had been reluctantly granted ; but, during the visit,
Daggett had managed so well to whet his visitor's appetite
for gain, that henceforth there was no trouble in procuring
the deacon's company. Little by little had Daggett let out
his facts, always keeping enough in reserve to render him
self necessary, unti/ he had got his new acquaintance in



38 THE SEA LIONS.

the highest state of feverish excitement. The schooner
was purchased, and all the arrangements necessary to het
outfit were pressed forward as fast as prudence would at
all allow. The chart, and the latitude and longitude, were
the circumstances over which Daggett retained the control
These he kept to himself, though he averred that he had
laid down on the charts that were in his chest the two im
portant points which had been the subjects of his commu
nications.

Although this man had been wily in making his revela
tions, and had chosen his confidant with caution and saga
city, most of that which he related was true. He had
belonged to a sealer that had been in a very high southern
latitude, where it had made some very important disco
veries, touching the animals that formed the objects of its
search. It was possible to fill a vessel in those islands in a
few weeks ; and the master of the sealer, Daggett having
been his mate, had made all his people swear on their
" bible oaths" not to reveal the facts, except under pre
scribed circumstances. His own vessel was full when he
made the discoveries, but misfortune befel her on her
homeward-bound passage, until she was herself totally lost
in the West Indies, and that in a part of the ocean where
she had no business to be.

In consequence of these several calamities, Daggett and
one more man were the sole living depositories of the im
portant information. These men separated, and, as stated,
Daggett had reason to think that his former shipmate had
been recently killed by a whale. The life and movements
of a sailor are usually as eccentric as the career of a comet.
After the loss of the seal ing-vessel, Daggett remained in the
West Indies and on the Spanish Main for some time, until
falling into evil company he was imprisoned on a charge
of piracy, in company with one who better deserved the
imputation. While in the same cell, the pirate had made a
relation to Daggett of all the incidents of a very eventful
life. Among other things revealed was the fact that, on a
certain occasion, he and two others had deposited a very
considerable amount of treasure on a key that he described
very minutely, and which he now bestowed on Daggett ag
Borne compensation for his present unmer ted sufferings.



THE SEA LIONS. 39

his companions having both been drowned by the upsetting
of their boat on the return from the key in question. Sub
sequently, this pirate had been executed, and Daggett
liberated. He was not able to get to the key without
making friends and confidants on whom he could rely, and
he was actually making the best of his way to Martha's
Vineyard with that intent, when put ashore on Oyster
Pond. In most of that which this man had related to the
deacon, therefore, he had told the truth, though it was the
truth embellished, as is so apt to be the case with men of
vulgar minds. He might have been misled by the narrative
of the pirate, but it was his own opinion that he had not
been. The man was a Scot, prudent, wary, and sagacious ;
and in the revelations he made he appeared to be governed
by a conviction that his own course was run, and that it
was best that his secret should not die with him. Daggett
had rendered him certain services, too, and gratitude might
have had some influence.

" My mind has been much exercised with this matter of
he hidden gold," resumed the deacon, after the long pause
already mentioned. " You will remember that there may
be lawful owners of that money, should Gar'ner even suc
ceed in finding it."

" 'T would be hard for 'em to prove their claims, sir, if
what McGosh told me was true. Accordin' to his account,
the gold came from all sides starboard and larboard, as a
body might say and it was jumbled together, and so mixed,
that a young girl could not pick out her lover's keepsake
from among the other pieces. 'Twas the 'arnin's of three
years cruisin', as I understood him to say j and much of the
stuff had been exchanged in port, especially to get the cus
tom-house officers and king's officers out of its wake.
There 's king's officers among them bloody Spaniards,
Deacon Pratt, all the same as among the English."

*' Be temperate in your language, friend ; a rough speech
is unseemly, particularly of the Lord's day."

Daggett rolled the tobacco over his tongue, and his eyes
twinkled with a sort of leer, which indicated that the fellow
was not without some humour. He submitted patiently to
the rebuke, however, making no remonstrance against its
'reception.
4*



40 THE SEA LIONS.

" No, no," he added presently, " a starn chase, they say,
is a long chase; and the owners of them doubloons, if
owners they can now be called, must be out of sight, long
before this. Accordin' to McGosh, some of the gold r'aally
captured had passed back through the hands of them that
sent it to sea, and they did not know their own children !"

" It is certainly hard to identify coin, and it would be a
bold man who should stand up, in open court, and make
oath to its being the same he had once held. I have heard
of the same gold's having answered the purposes of twenty
banks, one piece being so like another."

" Ay, ay, sir, gold is gold; and any of it is good enough
for me, though doubloons is my favourites. When a fellow
has got half-a-dozen doubloons alongside of his ribs, he can
look the landlord full in the eye; and no one thinks of
saving to sich as he, ' it 's time to think of shipping ag'in.' "

From the nature of this discourse, it will not be easy for
the reader to imagine the real condition of Daggett. At
the very moment he was thus conversing of money, and
incidentally manifesting his expectations of accompanying
Roswell Gardiner in the expedition that was about to sail,
the man had not actually four-and-twenty hours of life in
him. Mary Pratt had foreseen his true state, accustomed
as she was to administer to the wants of the dying ; but
no one else appeared to be aware of it, not even the deacon.
It was true that the fellow spoke, as it might be, from his
throat only, and that his voice was hollow, and sometimes
reduced to a whisper ; but he ascribed this, himself, to the
circumstance that he had taken a cold. Whether the dea
con believed this account or not, it might be difficult to
say ; but he appeared to give it full credit. Perhaps his
mind was so much occupied with the subject of his discus
sions with Daggett, that it did not sufficiently advert to the
real condition of the man.

Twice, that afternoon, did Deacon Pratt go between the
cottage of the Widow White and his own dwelling. As often
did the relict fly across the way to express her wonder to
the Widow Stone, at the frequency of the rich man's visits.
The second time that he came was when he saw the whale-
boat rounding the end of Shilter Island, and he perceived,
by means of his glass, that Dr. Sage was in it. At this



THE SEA LIONS. 41

sight the deacon hurried off to the cottage again, having
something to say to Daggett that could no longer be de
layed.

" The whale-boat will soon be in," he observed, as soon
as he had taken his seat, " and we shall shortly have the
doctor here. That young Gar'ner does what he has to do,
always, with a jerk ! There was no such haste, but he
seems to be ever in a hurry !"

" Do what is to be done at once, and then lie by, is the
sailor's rule, deacon," rejoined the mariner. " Squalls,
and gusts, and reefin', and brailin' up, and haulin' down,
won't wait for the seaman's leisure. His work must be
done at once, or it will not be done at all. I 'm not afeard
of the doctor; so let him come as soon as he pleases. Me
dicine can't hurt a body, if he don't take it."

" There 's one thing I wish to say to you, Daggett, be
fore Dr. Sage comes in. Talking too much may excite
you, especially talking of matters that are of interest; and
you may give him a false impression of your state, should
you get the pulse up, and the cheek flushed, by over-talk-
ing."

"I understand you, deacon. My secret is my secret,
and no doctor shall get it out of me as long as I know what
I say. I 'm not so friendly with them, as to seek counsel
among doctors."

" Then it 's the Lord's day," added the Pharisee, " and
it is not seemly to dwell too much on worldly interests, on
the Sabbath."

A novice might have been surprised, after what had
passed, at the exceeding coolness with which the deacon ut
tered this sentiment. Daggett was not so in the least, how
ever ; for he had taken the measure of his new confidant's
conscience, and had lived lotig enough to know how marked
was the difference between professions and practice. No
thing, indeed, is more common than to meet with those
who denounce that in others, which is of constant occur
rence with themselves; and who rail at vices that are so
interwoven with their own moral being, as to compose in
tegral portions of their existence. As for the deacon, he
really thought it would be unseemly, and of evil example,
for Daggett to converse with Dr. Sage, touching these



42 THE SEA LIONS.

doubloons, of the Lord's day ; while he had felt no scru
ples himself, a short hour before, to make them the theme
of a long and interesting discussion, in his own person.
It might not repay us for the trouble, to look for the salve
that the worthy man applied to his own conscience, by way
of reconciling the apparent contradiction ; though it pro
bably was connected with some fancied and especial duty
on his part, of taking care of the sick man's secrets. Sick
ness, it is well known, forms the apology for many an error,
both of omission and commission.

Dr. Sage now arrived; a shrewd, observant, intelligent
man, who nad formerly represented the district in which
he lived, in Congress. He was skilful in his profession,
and soon made up his mind concerning the state of his
patient. As the deacon never left him for a moment, to
him he first communicated his opinion, after the visit, as
the two walked back towards the well-known dwelling of
the Pratts.

" This poor man is in the last stages of a decline," said
the physician, coolly, " and medicine can do him no good.
He may live a month ; though it would not surprise me to
hear of his death in an hour."

" Do you think his time so short !" exclaimed the deacon.
" I was in hopes he might last until the Sea Lion goes out,
and that a voyage might help to set him up."

" Nothing will ever set him up again, deacon, you may
depend on that. No sea-voyage will do him any good ;
and it is better that he should remain on shore, on account
of the greater comforts he will get. Does he belong on
Oyster Pond ?"

" He comes from somewhere east," answered the dea
con, careful not to let the doctor know the place whence
the stranger had come, though to little purpose, as will
presently be seen. " He has neither friend nor acquaint
ance, here ; though I should think his effects sufficient to
meet all charges."

" Should they not be, he is welcome to my visit," an
swered the doctor, promptly ; for he well understood the
deacon's motive in making the remark. " I have enjoyed
a pleasant sail across the bays with young Gar'ner, who
has promised to take me back again. I like boating,



THE SEA LION. S. 43

and am always better for one of these sailing excursions.
Could I carry ray patients along, half of them would be
benefited by the pure air and the exercise."

" It 's a grateful thing to meet with one of your temper
ament, doctor but Daggett "

" Is this man named Daggett V interrupted the physician.

" I believe that is what he calls himself, though a body
never is certain of what such people say."

" That 's true, deacon ; your rambling, houseless sailor
is commonly a great liar at least so have I always found
him. Most of their log-books will not do to read ; or, for
that matter, to be written out, in full. But if this man's
name is really Daggett, he must come from the Vineyard.
There are Daggetts there in scores ; yes, he must be a
Vineyard man."

" There are Daggetts in Connecticut, as I know, of a
certainty "

" We all know that, for it is a name of weight there;
but the Vineyard is the cradle of the breed. The man has
a Vineyard look about him, too. I dare say, now, he has
not been home for many a day."

The deacon was in an agony. He was menaced with
the very thing he was in the hope of staving off, or a dis
cussion on the subject of the sick man's previous life.
The doctor was so mercurial and quick of apprehension,
that, once fairly on the scent, he was nearly certain he
would extract every thing from the patient. This was the
principal reason why the deacon did not wish to send for
him ; the expense, though a serious objection to one so
niggardly, being of secondary consideration when so many
doubloons were at stake. It was necessary, however, to
talk on boldly, as any appearance of hesitation might ex
cite the doctor's distrust. The answers, therefore, came
instantaneously.

" It may be as you say, doctor," returned the deacon ;
" for them Vineyard folks (Anglice folk) are great wan
derers."

" That are they. I had occasion to pass a day there, a
few years since, on my way to Boston, and I found five
W3men on the island to one man. It must be a particu
larly conscientious person who could pass a week there.



44 THE SEA LIONS.

and escape committing the crime of bigamy. As for your
bachelors, I have heard that a poor wretch of that descrip
tion, who unluckily found himself cast ashore there, was
married three times the same morning."

As the doctor was a little of a wag, deacon Pratt did not
deem it necessary religiously to believe all that now escaped
him ; but he was glad to keep him in this vein, in order to
prevent his getting again on the track of Daggett's early
life. The device succeeded, Martha's Vineyard being a
standing joke for all in that quarter of the world, on the
subject of the ladies.

Mary was in the porch to receive her ancle and the
physician. It was unnecessary for her to ask any questions,
for her speaking countenance said all that was required, in
order to obtain an answer.

"He's in a bad way, certainly, young lady," observed
the doctor, taking a seat on one of the benches, " and I
can give no hope. How long he may live, is another mat
ter. If he has friends whom he wishes to see, or if he ha
any affairs to settle, the truth should be told him at once,
and no time lost."

" He knows nothing of his friends," interrupted the
deacon, quite thrown off his guard by his own eagerness,
and unconscious, at the moment, of the manner in which
he was committing himself on the subject of a knowledge
of the sick man's birth-place, " not having been on the
Vineyard, or heard from there, since he first left home,
quite fifty years since."

The doctor saw the contradiction, and it set him think
ing, and conjecturing, but he was too discreet to betray
himself. An explanation there probably was, and he trusted
to time to ascertain it.

" What has become of captain Gar'ner T' he asked, look
ing curiously around, as if he expected to find him tied to
the niece's apron-string.

Mary blushed, but she was too innocent to betray any
real confusion.

" He has gone back to the schooner, in order to have the
boat ready for your return."

" And that return must take place, young lady, as soon
as I have drunk two cups of your tea. I have patients at



THE SEA LIONS. 45

the Harbour who must yet be visited this evening, and the
wind goes down with the sun. Let the poor man take the
draughts I have left for him they will soothe him, and
help his breathing more than this my skill can do nothing
for him. Deacon, you need say nothing of this visit 1
am sufficiently repaid by the air, the sail, and Miss Mary's
welcome. I perceive that she is glad to see me, and that
is something, between so young a woman and so old a
man. And now for the two cups of tea."

The tea was drunk, and the doctor took his leave,
shaking his head as he repeated to the niece, that the
medical science could do nothing for the sick man.

" Let his friends know his situation at once, deacon,"
he said, as they walked towards the wharf, where the
whale-boat was all ready for a start. " There is not an
hour to lose. Now I think of it, the Flash, captain Smith,
is to take a cargo of oil to Boston, and sails to-morrow. I
can write a line by her, as it is ten to one she will go into
the Hole. All our craft get into that Hole, or into Tar
paulin Cove, before they venture across the Shoals ; and a
letter addressed to any person of the name of Daggett
might find the right man. I '11 write it this very evening."

The announcement of this intention threw the deacon
into a cold-sweat, but he did not think it prudent to say
aught against it. He had bought the Sea Lion, engaged
Roswell Gardiner, and otherwise expended a large sum of
money, in the expectation of handling those doubloons, to
say nothing of the furs ; and here was a chance of all his
calculations being defeated by the interference of imperti
nent and greedy relatives ! There was no remedy but pa
tience, and this the deacon endeavoured to exercise.

Deacon Pratt did not accompany the doctor beyond the
limits of his own orchard. It was not deemed seemly for a
member of the meeting to be seen walking out on the Sab
bath, and this was remembered in season to prevent neigh
bourly comments. It is true, the doctor might furnish an
apology ; but, your strictly religious people, when they un
dertake the care of other people's consciences, do not often
descend to these particulars.

No sooner had Gardiner and the physician re-embarked,
than the deacon returned to the cottage of the Widow



46 THE SEA LIONS.

White. Here he had another long and searching discourse
with the sick mariner. Poor Daggett was wearied with
the subject; but Dr. Sage's predictions of an early ternji
nation of the case, and the possibility that kinsmen might
cross over from the ' Vineyard,' in order to learn what the
long absent man had in his possession, acted on him as
keen incentives. By learning the most material facts now,
the Sea Lion might get so far ahead of all competitors as
to secure the prizes, even should Daggett let others into
the secret, and 'start another vessel on the same expedition.
His own schooner was nearly ready for sea, whereas time
would be needed in order to make an entire outfit.

But Daggett did not appear to be disposed to be more
communicative than heretofore. He went over the narra
tive of the discovery of the sealing-island, and gave a gra
phic account of the number and tame condition of the
animals who frequented it. A man might walk in their
midst without giving the smallest alarm. In a word, all
that a gang of good hands would have to do, would be to
kill, and skin, and secure the oil. It would be like pick



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