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" Well, both mates are old hands at the business, and
we intend that all the ' ables' shall be as good men as you
are yourself."

"It needs good men, sir, to be operatin' among some of
them sea-elephants ! Sea-dogs ; for sea-dogs is my sayin'.
They tell of seals getting source ; but I say, it 's all in knowin'
the business 'There's young captain Gar'ner,' says I,
' that 's fittin' out a schooner for some onknown part of the
world,' says I, ' maybe for the South Pole, for-ti-know, or
for some sich out-of-the-way hole ; now he '11 come back
full, or I 'm no judge o' the business,' says I."

"Well, if this is your way of thinking, you have only to
clap your name to the articles, and take your lay."

"Ay, ay, sir ; when I 've seed my shipmates. There
isn't the business under the sun that so much needs that
every man should be true, as the sea-elephant trade.
Smaller animals may be got along with, with a narvous
crew, perhaps ; but when it comes to the raal old bulls, or
bull-dogs, as a body might better call 'em, give me stout
hearts, as well as stout hands."

' Well, now, to my notion, Watson, it is less dangerous
to take a sea-elephant than to fasten to a regular old bull-
whale, that may be has had half a dozen irons in him al

" Yes, sir, that 's sometimes skeary work, too ; though I
don't think so much of a whale as I do of a sea-elephant,
or of a sea-lion. ' Let me know my shipmates,' say I, ' on
a sealin' expedition.' "

" Captain Gar'ner," said the deacon, who necessarily
overheard this discourse, "you ought to know at once
whether this man is to go in the schooner or not. The
mates believe he is, and may come across from the main
without a hand to take his place should he leave us. The
thing should be settled at once."

" I 'm willing to come to tarms this minute," returned
Watson, as boldly as if he were perfectly sincere; "only


let me understand what I undertake. If I know'd to what
islands the schooner was bound, it might make a difference
in my judgment."

This was a well-devised question of the spy's, though it
failed of its effect, in consequence of the deacon's great
caution in not having yet told his secret, even to the mas
ter of his craft. Had Gardiner known exactly where he
was about to go, the desire to secure a hand as valuable as
Watson might have drawn from him some imprudent reve
lation ; but knowing nothing himself, he was obliged to
make the best answer he could.

"Going," he said; "why, we are going after seals, to
be sure ; and shall look for them where they are most to
be found. As experienced a hand as yourself ought to
know where that is."

"Ay, ay, sir," answered the fellow, laughing " it's just
neither here nor there that 's all."

" Captain Gar'ner," interrupted the deacon, solemnly,
" this is trifling, and we must come to terms with this
man, or write to Mr. Hazard to engage another in his
place. Come ashore, sir ; I have business with you up at
the house."

The serious manner in which this was uttered took both
the captain and the man a little by surprise. As for the
first, he went below to conceal his good-looking throat be
neath a black handkerchief, before he followed the deacon
where it was most probable he should meet with Mary.
While he was thus occupied, Watson came down out of
the main-rigging and descended into the forecastle. As
the young captain was walking fast towards the dwelling
of Deacon Pratt, Watson came on deck again, and hailed
Baiting Joe, who was fishing at no great distance from the
wharf. In a few minutes Watson was in Joe's boat, bag
and all he had not brought a chest on board and was
under way for the Harbour. From the Harbour he sailed
the same evening, in a whale-boat that was kept in readi
ness for him, carrying the news over to Holmes's Hole
that the Sea Lion, of Oyster Pond, would certainly be
ready to go out as early as the succeeding week. Although
Watson thus seemingly deserted his post, it was with a
perfect understanding with his real employers He had


need of a few days to make his own preparations before he
left the 41st degree of north latitude to go as far south aa
a vessel could proceed. He did not, however, leave his
post entirely vacant. One of Deacon Pratt's neighbours
had undertaken, for a consideration, to let the progress of
events be known, and tidings were sent by every oppor
tunity, reporting the movements of the schooner, and the
prospects of her getting to sea. These last were not quite
as flattering as Roswell Gardiner hoped and believed, the
agents of the Vineyard company having succeeded in
getting away two of Hazard's best men ; and as reliable
sealers were not to be picked up as easily as pebbles on a
beach, the delay caused by this new stroke of management
might even be serious. All this time the Sea Lion, of
Holmes' Hole, was getting ahead with untiring industry,
and there was every prospect of her being ready to go out
as soon as her competitor. But, to return to Oyster Pond,

Deacon Pratt was in his porch ere Roswell Gardiner
overtook him. There the deacon gave his young friend to
understand he had private business of moment, and led the
way at once into his own apartment, which served the pur
poses of office, bed-room and closet; the good man being
accustomed to put up his petition to the throne of Mercy
there, as well as transact all his temporal affairs. Shutting
the door, and turning the key, not a little to Roswell's sur
prise, the old man faced his companion with a most earnest
and solemn look, telling him at once that he was now about
to open his mind to him in a matter of the last concern.
The young sailor scarce knew what to think of it all ; but
he hoped that Mary was, in some way, connected with the

" In the first place, captain Gar'ner," continued the
deacon, " I must ask you to take an oath."

"An oath, deacon! This is quite new for the sealing
business as ceremonious as Uncle Sam's people."

" Yes, sir, an oath ; and an oath that must be most reli
giously kept, and on this bible. Without the oath, our
whole connection must fall through, captain Gar'ner."

" Rather than that should happen, deacon, I will cheer
fully take two oaths ; one to clench the other."

" It is well. I ask you, Roswell Gar'ner, to swear on


this Holy Book that the secrets I shall now reveal to you
shall not be told to any other, except in a manner prescribed
by myself; that in no other man's employment will you
profit by them and that you will in all things connected
with them be true and faithful to your engagements to me
and to my interests so help you God I"

Roswell Gardiner kissed the book, while he wondered
much, and was dying with curiosity to know what was to
follow. This great point secured, the deacon laid aside the
sacred volume, opened a drawer, and produced the two all-
important charts, to which he had transferred the notes of

" Captain Gar'ner," resumed the deacon, spreading the
chart of the antarctic sea on the bed, " you must have
known me and my ways long enough to feel some surprise
at finding me, at my time of life, first entering into the
shipping concern."

"If I've felt any surprise, deacon, it is that a man of
your taste and judgment should have held aloof so long
from the only employment that I think fit for a man of real
energy and character."

"Ay, this is well enough for you to say,- as a seaman
yourself; though you will find it hard to persuade most of
those who live on shore into your own ways of thinking."

"That is because people ashore think and act as they
have been brought up to do. Now, just look at that chart,
deacon ; see how much of it is 'water, and how little of it
is land. Minister Whittle told us, only the last Sabbath,
that nothing was created without a design, and that a wise
dispensation of Divine Providence was to be seen in all the
works of nature. Now, if the land was intended to take
the lead of the water, would there have been so much more
of the last than of the first, deacon ? That was the idea
t.hat came into my mind when I heard the minister's words ;
and had not Mary "

" What of Mary ?" demanded the deacon, perceiving
that the young man paused.

" Only I was in hopes that what you had to say, deacon,
might have some connection with her."

" What I have to say is better worth hearing than fifty
Marvs. As to my niece, Gar'ner, you are welcome to her,


if she will have you ; and why she does not is to me unac
countable. But, you see that chart look at it well, and
tell me if you find anything new or remarkable about it."

" It looks like old times, deacon, and here are many
places that I have visited and know. What have we here?
Islands laid down in pencil, with the latitude and longitude
in figures ! Who says there is land, thereaway, Deacon
Pratt, if I may be so free as to ask the question?"

" I do and capital good land it is, for a sealing craft to
get alongside of. Them islands, Gar'ner, may make your
fortune, as well as mine. No matter how I know they are
there it is enough that I do know it, and that I wish you
to carry the Sea Lion to that very spot, as straight as you
can go; fill her up with elephant's oil, ivory, and skins,
and bring her back again as fast as she can travel."

" Islands in that latitude and longitude !" said Roswell
Gardiner, examining the chart as closely as if it were of
very fine print indeed "I never heard of any such land

" 'Tis there, notwithstanding ; and like all land in dis
tant seas that men have not often troubled, plentifully gar
nished with what will pay the mariner well for his visit."

" Of that I have little doubt, should there be actually
any land there. It may be a Cape Fly Away that some
fellow has seen in thick weather. The ocean is full of such
islands !"

"This is none of them. It is bony fidy 'arth, as I know
from the man who trod it. You must take good care,
Gar'ner, and not run the schooner on it" with a small
chuckling laugh, such as a man little accustomed to this
species of indulgence uses, when in high good-humour.
" I am not rich enough to buy and fit out Sea Lions for
you to cast 'em away."

" That 's a high latitude, deacon, to carry a craft into.
Cook, himself, fell short of that, somewhat!"

" Never mind Cook he was a king's navigator my
man was an American sealer ; and what he has once seen
he knows where to find again. There are the islands
three in number and there you wil find 'em, with animals
on their shores as plenty as clam-shells on the south


11 1 hope it may be so. If land is there, and you '11 risk
the schooner, I '11 try to get a look at it. I shall want you
to put it down in black and white, however, that I 'in to go
as high as this."

" You shall have any authority a man may ask. On that
point there can be no difficulty between me and you. The
risk of the schooner must be mine of course ; but I rely on
you to take as good care of her as a man can. Go then,
direct, to that point, and fill up the schooner. But, Gar'ner,
my business doesn't end with this ! As soon as the schooner
is full, you will come to the southward, and get her clear
of everything like ice as fast as possible."

" That I should be very likely to do, deacon, though you
had said nothing on the subject."

" Yes, by all accounts them are stormy seas, and the
sooner a body is shut of them the better. And now, Gar'ner,
I must swear you again. I have another secret to tell you,
and an oath must go with each. Kiss this sacred volume
once more, and swear to me never to reveal to another that
which I am about to reveal to you, unless it may be in a
court of law, and at the command of justice, so help you

" What, a second oath, deacon ! You are as bad as the
custom-houses, which take you on all tacks, and don't be
lieve you when you 've done. Surely, I 'm sworn in al

" Kiss the book, and swear to what I have put to you,"
said the deacon, sternly, " or never go to sea in a craft of
mine. Never to reveal what I shall now tell you, unless
compelled by justice, so help you God !"

Thus cornered, Roswell Gardiner hesitated no longer,
but swore as required, kissing the book gravely and reve
rently. This was the young man's first command, and he
was not going to lose it on account of so small a matter as
swearing to keep his owners secrets. Having obtained the
pledge, the deacon now produced the second chart, which
was made to take the place of the other on the bed.

" There !" he exclaimed, in a sort of triumph " that is
the real object of your voyage !"

"That key ! Why, deacon, that is in north latitude *
", and you make a crooked road of it truly, when you


tell me to go as far south as ", in order to reach

" It is well to have two strings to a body's bow. When
you hear what you are to bring from that key, you will
understand why I send you south, before you are to come
here to top off your cargo."

" It must be with turtle, then," said Roswell Gardiner,
laughing. " Nothing grows on these keys but a few stunted
shrubs, and nothing is ever to be found on them but turtle.
Once in a while a fellow may pick up a few turtle, if he
happen to hit the right key."

" Gar'ner," rejoined the deacon, still more solemnly
" that island, low and insignificant as it is, contains trea
sure. Pirates made their deposits here a long time ago,
and the knowledge of that fact is now confined to my

The young man stared at the deacon as if he had some
doubts whether the old man were in his right mind. He
knew the besetting weakness of his character well, and had
no difficulty in appreciating the influence of such a belief
as that he had just expressed, on his feelings ; but it seemed
so utterly improbable that he, living on Oyster Pond, should
learn a fact of this nature, which was concealed from
others, that, at first, he fancied his owner had been dream
ing of money until its images had made him mad. Then
he recollected the deceased mariner, the deacon's many
conferences with him, the interest he had always appeared
to take in the man, and the suddenness, as well as the
time, of the purchase of the schooner ; and he at once ob
tained a clue to the whole affair.

" Daggett has told you this, Deacon Pratt" said Gardi
ner, in his off-hand way. " And he is the man who has
told you of those sealing-islands too?"

" Admitting it to be so, why not Daggett as well as any
other man ?"

" Certainly, if he knew what he was saying to be true
but the yarn of a sailor is not often to be taken for gospel.'

" Daggett was near his end, and cannot be classed with
those who talk idly in the pride of their health and strength
men who are ever ready to say ' Tush, God has for-
gotten.' "


" Why was this told to you, when the man had natural
friends and relatives by the dozen over on the Vineyard ?"

" He had been away from the Vineyard and them rela
tives fifty years ; a length of time that weakens a body's
feelings considerably. Take you away from Mary only a
fourth part of that time, and you would forget whether her
eyes are blue or black, and altogether how she looks."

" If I should, a most miserable and contemptible dog
should I account myself! No, deacon, twice fifty years
would not make me forget the eyes or the looks of Mary !"

" Ay, so all youngsters think, and feel, and talk. But
let 'em try the world, and they '11 soon find out their own
foolishness. But Daggett made me his confidant because
Providence put me in his way, and because he trusted to
being well enough to go in the schooner, and to turn the
expedition to some account in his own behalf."

" Had the man the impudence to confess that he had
been a pirate, and helped to bury treasure on this key T'

" That is not, by any means, his history. Daggett was
never a pirate himself, but accident placed him in the same
prison and same room as that in which a real pirate was
confined. There the men became friends, and the con
demned prisoner, for such he was in the end, gave this
secret to Daggett as the last service he could do him."

" I hope, deacon, you do not expect much in the way of
profit from this part of the voyage?"

" I expect the most from it, Gar'ner, as you will too,
when you come to hear the whole story."

The deacon then went into all the particulars of the re
velations made by the pirate to his fellow-prisoner, much
as they had been given by Daggett to himself. The young
man listened to this account at first with incredulity, then
with interest; and finally with a feeling that induced him
to believe that there might be more truth in the narrative
than he had originally supposed possible. This change
was produced by the earnest manner of the deacon as
much as by the narrative itself; for he had become graphic
under the strong impulses of that which, with him, was a
master passion. So deep had been the impression made
on the mind of the old man by Daggett's account, and so
intense the expectations thereby awakened, that he omitted


nothing, observed the most minute accuracy in all his
details, and conveyed just as distinct impressions to his
listener, as had been conveyed to himself, when the story
was first told to him.

" This is a most extr'or'nary account, take it on what
ever tack you will !" exclaimed Roswell Gardiner, as soon
as a pause in the deacon's story enabled him to put in an
other word. " The most extr'or'nary tale I ever listened
to ! How came so much gold and silver to be abandoned
for so long a timet"

" Them three officers hid it there, fearing to trust their
own crew with it in their vessel. Their pretence was to
stop for turtle, just as you must do ; whilst the hands were
turtling, the captain and his mates walked about the key,
and took occasion to make their deposits in that hole on
the coral rock, as you have heard me say. Oh ! it 's all too
natural not to be true !"

Roswell Gardiner saw that the old man's hopes were too
keenly excited to be easily cooled, and that his latent co
vetousness was thoroughly awakened. Of all the passion?
to which poor human nature is the slave, the love of gold
is that which endures the longest, and is often literally
carried with us to the verge of the grave. Indeed, in minds
so constituted originally as to submit to an undue love of
money, the passion appears to increase, as others more de
pendent on youth, and strength, and enterprise, and ambi
tion, gradually become of diminished force, slowly but
surely usurping the entire sway over a being that was once
subject to many masters. Thus had it been with the dea
con. Nearly all his passions now centred in this one. He
no longer cared for preferment in politics, though once it
had been the source of a strong desire to represent Suffolk
at Albany ; even the meeting, and its honours, was loosen
ing its hold on his mind; while his fellow-men, his kindred
included, were regarded by him as little more than so many
competitors, or tools.

"A lie may be made to seem very natural," answered
Roswell Gardiner, " if it has been put together by one who
understands knotting and splicing in such matters. Did
this Daggett name the amount of the sum that he supposed
the pirates may have left on that key I"


" He did," returned the deacon, the whole of his narrow
and craving soul seeming to gleam in his two sunken eyes
as he answered. "According to the account of the pirate,
there could not have been much less than thirty thousand
dollars, and nearly all of it in good doubloons of the coin
of the kings doubloons that will weigh their full sixteens
to the pound ay, and to spare !"

" The Sea Lion's cargo, well chosen and well stowed,
would double that, deacon, if the right animals can only be

"May be so but, just think, Gar'ner this will be in
good bright coined gold !"

" But what right can we have to that gold, even admitting
that it is there, and can be found?"

" Right !" exclaimed the deacon, staring. " Does not
that which Divine Providence gives man become his own ?"

" By the same rule it might be said Divine Providence
gave it to the pirates. There must be lawful owners to all
this money, if one could only find them."

"Ay, if one could only find them. Harkee, Gar'ner ;
have you spent a shilling or a quarter lately?"

"A good many of both, deacon," answered the young
man, again betraying the lightness of his heart with a
laugh. " I wish I had more of your saving temper, and I
might get rich. Yes, I spent a quarter only two hours
since, in buying fish for the cabin, of old Baiting Joe."

" Well, tell me the impression of that quarter. Had it a
head, or only pillars? What was its date, and in whose
reign was it struck ? Maybe it was from the mint at Phi
ladelphia if so, had it the old eagle or the new? In a
word, could you swear to that quarter, Gar'ner, or to any
quarter you ever spent in your life?"

" Perhaps not, deacon. A fellow doesn't sit down to
take likenesses, when he gets a little silver or gold.'

" Nor is it very probable that any one could say -' that
is my doubloon.' "

'* Still there must be a lawful owner to each piece of
that money, if any such money be there," returned Roswell
Gardiner, a little positively. " Have you ever talked with
Mary, deacon, on this subject?"

"I talk of such a matter with a woman! Do you think


I'm mad, Gar'ner ? If I wanted to hare the secret run
through old Suffolk, as fire runs over the salt meadows in
the spring, I might think of such a thing : but not without
I have talked with no one but the master of the craft that I
am about to send out in search of this gold, as well as in
search of the sealing-islands I have shown you. Had there
been but one object in view, I might not have ventured so
much ; but with two before my eyes, it would seem like
flying in the face of Divine Providence to neglect so great
an opportunity !"

Roswell Gardiner saw that arguments would avail no
thing against a cupidity so keenly aroused. He abstained,
therefore, from urging any more of the objections that
suggested themselves to his mind, but heard all that the
deacon had to tell him, taking full notes of what he heard
It would seem that Daggett had been sufficiently clear in
his directions for finding the hidden treasure, provided
always that his confidant the pirate had been as clear with
him, and had not been indulging in a mystification. The
probability of the last had early suggested itself to one of
Deacon Fran's cautious temperament; but Daggett had
succeeded in removing the impression by his forcible state
ments of bis friend's sincerity. There was as little doubt
of the sincerity of the belief of the Martha's Vineyard ma
riner, as there was of that of the deacon himself.

The day that succeeded this conference, the Sea Lion
hauled off from the wharf, and all communications with her
were now made only by means of boats. The sudden dis
appearance of Watson may have contributed to this change,
men being more under control with a craft at her moorings
than when fast to a wharf. Three days later the schooner
lifted her anchor, and with a light air made sail. She
passed through the narrow but deep channel which sepa
rates Shelter Island from Oyster Pond, quitting the waters
of Peconic altogether. There was not an air of departure
about her, notwithstanding. The deacon was not much
concerned ; and some of Roswell Gardiner's clothes were
still at his washerwoman's, circumstances that were fully
explained, when the schooner was seen to anchor in Gar
diner's Bay, which is an outer roadstead to all the ports and
havens of that region.



"Walk in the light! so shall tbou know

That fellowship of love,
His spirit only can bestow

Who reigns in light above.
Walk in the kght ! and sin, abhorr'd,

Shall ne'er defile again ;
The blood of Jesus Christ, the Lord,
Shall cleanse from every stain."


ABOUT an hoar after the Sea Lion, of Oyster Pond, had
let go her anchor in Gardiner's Bay, a coasting sloop ap
proached her, coming from the westward. There are two
passages by which vessels enter or quit Long Island Sound,
at its eastern termination. The main channel is between
Plum and Fisher's Islands, and, from the rapidity of its
currents, is known by the name of the Race. The other
passage is much less frequented, being out of the direct
line of sailing for craft that keep mid-sound. It lies to the
southward of the Race, between Plum Island and Oyster

Online LibraryJames Fenimore CooperWorks (Volume 32) → online text (page 8 of 39)