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3 1822 00194 1046




A







JNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA



3 1822 00194 1046



L6?



LOVE AND LONGITUDE



Websdale, Shoosmith and Co., Printers, 117 Clarence- street, Sydney



LOVE AND
LONGITUDE

A STORY OF THE PACIFIC IN THE YEAR 1900

R. SCOT SKIRVING



ANGUS AND ROBERTSON
SYDNEY AND MELBOURNE l()Ol



The English edition is published by The Australian
Boole Coy., 38 West Smithfield, London, E.G.






CONTENTS



CHAP. PACK

I IN WHICH I INTRODUCE MYSELF . . . 1
II MY MEETING WITH CAPTAIN LEIGH, AND WHAT

CAME OP IT 4

III I AM TOLD THE OBJECT OF THE VOYAGE AND

INTRODUCED TO MISS LEIGH . . 16

IV WE SAIL FROM SYDNEY .... 22

V WE LEAVE COOK STRAIT . . 36

VI THE RATS DIE ON BOARD THE SHIP . . 47

VII WE LOSE A MAN ... .54

VIII FRESH TROUBLES OVERTAKE US . .65

IX CAPTAIN LEIGH HAS A PRESENTIMENT . . 74

X WE REACH THE CLIMAX OF OUR MISFORTUNES 83

XI WE LOSE OUR GREENWICH DATE, BUT FIND

AN ISLAND ...... 93

XII WE ANCHOR OFF THE ISLAND . . . 107

XIII HOW I RECOVERED TIME AND PLACE . .119

XIV WE FIND A COMPASS AND PREPARE TO SAIL 126

XV A GALE OF WIND, AND WHAT CAME OF IT . 136

XVI II. M.S. ALBATROSS THE GOOD SAMARITAN . 150



v CONTENTS

CHAP. PAQB

XVII TOWARDS APIA, A DIGRESSION, AND A TRAGEDY

BY THE WAY . . . . .164

XVIII THE STORY OP THE MARION C. COLBOItNE . 177

XTX CONCERNING OUR STAY IN APIA . . 185

XX THE ADMIRAL'S DINNER AND HIS OFFER TO us 203

XXI WE SAIL FOR LEIGH ISLAND . . .215
XXII SHOWS THAT IT IS AS EASY TO FALL OVER-
BOARD AS TO FALL IN LOVE . . 229
XXIII THE ISLAND AT LAST .... 239
XXIV IN WHICH I COIL UP ROPES GENERALLY

AND SAY GOOD-BYE .... 248

APPENDIX 258






ILLUSTEATIONS

MEASURING A LUNAR DISTANCE . . Frontispiece

' THERE'S YOUR SHIP,' SAID MY COMPANION facing page 12

THE SKIPPER TOLD US TO BRING THE BODY

RIGHT AFT ,, 64

SHORTLY AFTERWARDS HESTER AWOKE . 96

PLAN OF PANDORA ISLAND ... ,, 140
THE LITTLE VESSEL LAY HEAVILY OVER

TO PORT ..... 148

BEHIND US CAME THE NOBLE SHIP . ,, 220
TRACK CHART OF THE VOYAGE OF THE

PANDORA 240



CHAPTER I
IN WHICH I INTRODUCE MYSELF



the adventurous keels of Elizabethan
seamen furrowed the Atlantic, oversea voyages
were new and strange.

Beyond every horizon lay the great unknown wild
countries, alien peoples, gold, and I know not what
gallant possibilities

' Magic casements opening on the foam
Of perilous seas in faery lands forlorn.'

The simplest events of the sea-day were then full
of mystery and wonder.

The Grulf Stream, the trade wind, the variation of
the compass, all spoke of some unseen Power. Need
we wonder then at the spirit of religion which
coloured with its picturesque tints the minds and
actions of the sixteenth-century adventurers ? Ship
boys sing vespers at the foot of the main mast ;
Drake solemnly takes communion with a ship-mate he
is about to execute ; the privateersman goes to
prayers before plundering the galleon ; while to the
seeing eyes of Spaniards, St. James himself leads the
ranks of Catholic Christendom against the enemy.



2 LOVE AND LONGITUDE

Even a hundred years ago, when our grandfathers
ambled over the world, their logbooks were filled with
the swift surprises, the strange vicissitudes, which old
ocean gave to these tough, pig-tailed seamen, the
makers of this larger Britain this imperial realm
which we are still enlarging.

Now all is changed and prosaic.

In these days the parallels have shrunk, and the
meridians are no longer vague to the navigator. He
knows well where he is, and he knows, too, that the
untiring thrust of the propeller will surely bring him
to his port on a certain day, nay, at a certain hour.

There are now no quaint stoppings on the ocean
highway, no high-pooped Indiamen nod sea courtesies
to each other over tropic swells, nor is the pirate a
possible event in a Southern voyage.

In these days of hurry, steamers pass each other
with a careless waft, or in pre-occupied, surly silence.
The sea is safer than Piccadilly, and each step of our
journey upon it is heralded by the electric pulse which
throbs around the world. Yet every now and then
there comes to our ears some story of the ocean, some
echo of its vanished life, sometimes curious, more
often tragic, which, as it were, rolls the clock back to
those days of oak and hemp when steam was not.

Such a story I propose to tell. I wish I could tell
it deftly, but as I can only set forth a plain tale in
plain language, I must ask my readers to judge me
leniently.

I shall first say who I am that write this narrative.
My name, then, is Richard Blackburne, and I am
twenty-eight years old. My father was a rector in



IN WHICH I INTRODUCE MYSELF 3

Devonshire, and sent me to school at Rugby, where I
remained several happy years. I insisted on going to
sea, but being too old for the Royal Navy, I went into
the Merchant Service and served my apprenticeship
in a vessel trading to Australia.

How well I remember her, with her white masts,
black yards, and chequered sides. Years before I
was born, years before steam elbowed sailing ships
into humbler trades, this grand old clipper had carried
passengers to Sydney. How many partings must her
decks have witnessed ? How many merry dances and
soft speeches must have taken place on her long poop
as she rolled to the southward in the push of the
trade wind ?

Her captain was a good sailor, a very father to the
boys, and a kindly gentleman. His memory is still
fragrant to me. I stayed in this ship till I was her
second mate. There followed short voyages in steam
tramps, then back to sail again as mate, in both square-
rigged and fore-and-aft craft.

Finally, I got into a good employ on the coast of
China, and would soon have held command had not
my health broken down and forced me to return to
England.

A rich cousin now offered me the chance of joining
him in squatting pursuits in New South Wales. The
chance I gladly took, and the year 1899 saw me in
that colony.

Unfortunately, my cousin and I fell out. Perhaps
I was to blame, perhaps he. Anyway we parted. I
never saw him again, and, in February, 1900, I found
myself in Sydney looking for something to do.



CHAPTER II

MY MEETING WITH CAPTAIN LEIGH, AND
WHAT CAME OF IT

T HAD looked about some time for a shore job,
but found, as I might have expected, that billets
such as I was fit for were few and far between ; so I
made up my mind that nothing remained but to go
once more to sea.

One Sunday afternoon I was in a tram-car on my
way to a suburb, and opposite me sat an elderly man
with a deeply-tanned face, keen, kindly eyes, and hair
salted with grey.

He had apparently gone past his proper stopping-
place, and discovering his mistake, suddenly started
up to get out on the wrong side.

He did not see, as I did, that another tram was
crossing us.

I caught him by the arm just as he was making a
spring, which most surely would have been his last.

' Thanks, awfully ! ' he said. ' I fancy, if you
hadn't brought me up all standing, there would have
been an inquest to-morrow/

'Well,' I replied, ' there was no time for ceremony.



MY MEETING WITH CAPTAIN LEIGH 5

I saw you didn't notice that juggernaut coming along,
and I am thankful I was quick enough to block your
being immolated.'

' I don't know your name, sir,' he said. ' But I am
exceedingly obliged to you I quite recognise that
your quickness saved my life. Here is my card I
shall be glad to see you again.'

I was about to hunt for one of my own to give him
in return when the tram stopped and he jumped out,
leaving me fumbling for my card case, on which I can
never lay my hands when I want it.

I read the address on the pasteboard : ' Nicholas
Leigh, Australian Club.'

The man's personality interested me, and his
manner, when he asked me to see him again, seemed
more than the conventional ' Look-me-up-when-you-
can ' kind of invitation which we carelessly fling
about to all sorts of people whom we don't want to
see, and who happily do not often want to see us.

However, in this case, I did call at his club one
afternoon, found him in, and thus was laid the
foundation of an acquaintanceship which, as you will
learn, had the most momentous consequences on my
fortunes.

' I am glad that you have turned up/ he said, * for
in the hurry of a tram car I went off without your
name and address.'

I had my card in a get-at-able position on this
occasion, and handed it to him.

He looked at it, and then turning his face round to
me, he said : ' What is your occupation ? '

' None at present, unfortunately,' I replied, { but I
am a sailor.'



6 LOVE AND LONGITUDE

' So I imagined/ said he with a smile, ' and you are
out of a ship. Is that the case ? '

' Yes/ I answered.

'Well/ he said, 'I've been stewing indoors all
day, and I want to go out now. Suppose we go into
the Palace Gardens and have a pipe. I daresay no
one will stop us smoking, and if they do, we can at
least talk/

I assented, aud shortly afterwards we were seated
with one of the noblest panoramas in the world spread
out before us.

Behind us lay the busy, rich city with its thousand
industries and that strange subdued hum which is the
complex result of countless diverse sounds blended by
distance.

Between us and the town itself lay the long rampart
of Macquarie-street surely one of the handsomest
highways in any capital, combining the most dis-
similar interests stately Government buildings,
palatial clubs, handsome dwelling-houses, and a great
hospital. Imagine Pall Mall Park Lane, and
Victoria-street rolled into one, and Macquarie-street
gives you such a picture in miniature.

The westering sun lit up the scene in front of us
with a mellowed glory.

Furthest away was the bold ridge of land which
shuts in Sydney Harbour from the ceaseless beat of
an ocean which does not always deserve its name.
Closer to us, lay here an island, there a peninsula,
crowned with timber, that gave variety to the land-
scape ; the sombre greys and dark greens of native
trees being relieved by the more vivid colours and



MY MEETING WITH CAPTAIN LEIGH 7

shapely forms of Norfolk Island pine or English oak.
Between the points of land, vistas of sparkling water,
ships at anchor, and white-sailed yachts, gave the
interest of movement, and of human life, to the noble
setting in which the city stands. Beside us stood the
statue of Arthur Phillip, the first Governor of the
territory of New South Wales, the face turned towards
the Heads, looking to the ocean, as if, after a hundred
years, his anxious eyes still swept the horizon for the
succour on which the life of the infant colony once so
greatly depended.

Several minutes passed before either of us began
conversation. I think the striking scene, and all that
had been done since the brave seaman, whose statue
stood at our side, had lived and toiled, was in both
our minds, and we smoked in silence.

At length my companion turned to me. ' I do not
think,' ho said, ' that I sufficiently thanked you for
your smartness in saving me from an accident last
Sunday.'

I made some reply. He then went on to talk of
other matters the South African war, and the plague
topics which were in all men's mouths about that
time.

With the easy frankness of colonial society, ho
asked mo a few questions about my own career. 1
told him somewhat of my life and times, and of my
various employments at sea. He listened with interest,
and I felt sure before long that he belonged to the
same craft as my own.

'What should you take me to be ?' said he, with a
twinkle in his eye.



8 LOVE AND LONGITUDE

' May I use the method of exclusion ?' I replied.

He laughed. ' Yes, if you don't exclude too many
things. I'll only give you three chances.'

' I shall only want one, I think,' said I, for I had a
very shrewd notion that I was going to make a good
guess.

' Well, go on,' he answered.

( You're not a squatter?'

' No ; I wish I was one. That is, if I owned the
station, if there were no droughts, and wool was
half a crown a pound. Guess again/

1 Well, then, you have been a sailor,' I answered.
' If I'm wrong I give the matter up, and you'll have
to give me something easy.'

' Quite right,' said my new friend : ' only it is not
" have been " I am a sailor now.'

He then went on to tell me that he owned and
commanded an Island trader.

He was clearly a man of good breeding and
education, and I speculated, as one often does, as to
what had been his history.

I had an appointment in the city that afternoon, so
I mentioned presently that I should have to make a
move. He said he wanted a walk, and so he accom-
panied me as far as the Post Office.

The Post Office of Sydney is a handsome building,
but it has one grotesque blot. Absurd carvings
disfigure part of its front. They are supposed to
represent certain industries. To anyone with the
slightest artistic sense they are poisonous in the
extreme.

As we walked towards this building we saw two



MY MEETING WITH CA1TAIN LEIGH 9

young people, evidently ' new chums/ in front of us
globe-trotters, probably; one, a young man,
unmistakably just out from England high collar,
stick, trousers turned up, &c. ; the other a rosy-
cheeked girl. But both wholesome specimens of our
home folks.

Suddenly they stopped : stiffening like two pointers
close on game : astonishment on their faces.

' I'll bet they're looking at the carvings/ said
Captain Leigh. f Let's be mean and listen to what
they say.'

' All right/ I replied, and we walked quietly up
behind them and stood still, also looking at these
carven caricatures of human beings.

' My goodness/ said the young man to the girl at
his side, ' what a country ! What a people ! How
can they bear it ?'

' Awful/ said the girl. ' After this, old England is
good enough for me. Why, such an outrage would
not be tolerated, even in the middle of the Potteries ! '

We looked at each other and laughed quietly.

' Isn't it wonderful that these poisonous things
have not been taken away ?' said my companion.

* It is/ I answered, ' but I should miss them ; for
ever since I have sailed out of this port I can find a
certain amount of diversion in looking at their
absurdities. They act as a kind of fun-doctor to me.'

' Nevertheless, it is bad for a new country to have
things like these distorting the rising generation in
their sense of what is fitting in art. They are not
realistic; they are simply libels on humanity/ replied
Captain Leigh.



10 LOVE AND LONGITUDE

I then bade him good-bye.

I met him several times during the next fortnight,
and learned more of his interesting personality. His
information on all sorts of subjects was great and
exact. He told me that his monetary circumstances
would allow him to live on shore, but that asthma,
from which he suffered, drove him to sea, to obtain a
respite. He seemed a strong-willed, somewhat silent
man, yet I felt greatly attracted to him.

At the end of about ten days I received a letter
from him asking me if I had yet succeeded in finding
employment, and saying that if I had not, he might
be able to offer me something that would suit.

I need not say what satisfaction this communication
gave me, for in truth I was passing weary of playing
the part of the importunate widow of Biblical fame.
I do not mean to imply that all the people whom I
pestered were unjust. But they certainly did not
seem to hunger after my services. I answered all
sorts of advertisements ; I hunted round the shipping
offices. Two or three tutorships I inquired after, but,
apparently, the applicant was expected to possess
every known branch of knowledge fine sewing and
crochet-work perhaps excepted. I therefore saw
within reasonable distance a time when I should find
myself truly ' on my uppers ' and sharing in the
ample caravanserai afforded by Hyde Park or the
Domain.

How punctual I was in keeping this appointment !
How full of hope and expectation I came to
Macquarie-street that same morning !

1 Well, Blackburne not got a billet yet ? ' he began.



MY MEETING WITH CAPTAIN LEIGH 11

' Colonies not what they used to be, eh ? Too much
Labour Party ? Is that what's wrong?'

* I don't exactly know what's wrong. But it seems
at least certain that I'm all wrong/ I answered rather
bitterly.

' Tut, tut, my boy,' he rejoined, ' your case is not a
very evil one. How old are you ? '

' Twenty-eight,' I answered.

' Well, you've got youth. Are you in good health?'

' Excellent,' I replied. ' Indeed, it is my appetite I
so much dread.'

'A valuable ailment/ said Captain Leigh; 'cherish
it, Blackburne, cherish it carefully. In truth, you are
grumbling without cause. You confess to youth and
an excellent digestion. What the deuce have you to
complain about. Isn't the sun shining ? How will
you relish growing old?'

' Well, then, sir, if these troubles are trifles, what
about idleness? I am suffering from that badly.'

1 Good/ said he, ' that is a serious malady. But
believe I can cure it. You have a master's certificate,
haven't you ? '

' Yes/ I replied.

' Have you been in fore-and-afters and small craft ?
I don't want the sticks taken out of the Pandora some
fine night. Eh ? '

' I was nearly two years in a schooner/ I answered.

' I'm glad to hear that, for I have a vacancy in one
of my vessels the Pandora. If you like you may sail
in her as mate.'

' I gladly accept your offer/ I replied at once, ' and
thank you.'



12 LOVE AND LONGITUDE

' No thanks, no thanks, please/ he interrupted.
' I'd. have offered you the place a week ago, only my
last mate was uncertain whether he would leave me or
not. He has been trying for a shore job and has got
it. Good chap he is, too ! '

He paused a moment, and then added :

' Well, the thing's fixed, so now we'll go over to
Balmain and I'll show you your ship/

We got over to John stone's Bay, and there my eye
quickly caught sight of a very handsome topsail
schooner, painted white, and rather heavily sparred
for her size.

* There's your ship/ said my companion.

1 She's a beauty/ I replied.

' Yes/ he said, ' she is, and you'll find her as good
as she looks.'

As we came closer to her one could hardly believe
that she was a vessel designed for trade She had a
single topsail, and a mainsail that I thought relatively
larger than I cared for. It was a sail that, I fore-
saw, needed careful management.

' By Jove/ I exclaimed, ' she's a regular flyer.
Looks like a yacht ! '

Captain Leigh seemed pleased.

'Yes, she does look well. Walter Smokes, the
marine architect, designed her for me ; she's well put
together and as tight as a drum. Martin/ said he to the
elderly seaman who pulled us on board, ' this gentle-
man is our new mate/ He turned aside to me and
added, ' You'll find him a prime sailor, and one of the
most honest men you ever met. I have had him with
me in prosperity and adversity for many years, and I
don't know anybody I trust and respect more highly.'




" THKKK'S vui u snii','' SAID MY COMPANION



MY MEETING WITH CAPTAIN LEIGH 13

The man looked the good character just given him
a sturdy, broad-shouldered Englishman, about the
Captain's own age, with bright, intelligent eyes, a
weather-beaten skin, and close, curling grey hair
the type of alert, active seaman who manned our
ships fifty years ago, before steam and the influence
of foreigners made a British sailor about as common
as a dodo.

1 Come below, Blackburne,' said the Skipper, as he
descended the companion.

I followed and looked round me in some surprise.

The trade in which the ship was employed necessi-
tated the occasional carriage of passengers, and
consequently her cabin accommodation was unex-
pectedly handsome for a small vessel.

Comfort and the best utilisation of space were
everywhere apparent.

We stood in a plain, bright little saloon, lit by a
skylight let into the small raised deck-house. Flowers
stood on the swing tray, and broke the rays of the
sun as they streamed through the open sides of the
aperture above. Round the table were four or five
revolving chairs.

Opening out of this cabin were two staterooms,
right aft on each side of the rudder trunk.

' Come into my room/ said Captain Leigh.

It was a simple little sea bedroom. A standing cot
was on one side ; on the other, a chest of drawers, the
top of which opened with a lid, and underneath which
were stowed two chronometers and other nautical
tools. The deck was uncarpeted and of a snowy
whiteness. On the walls hung a few small sketches,



14 LOVE AND LONGITUDE

chiefly of ships. By the side of the bed were two
pictures one of a handsome young matron, the other
of a girl, whose strong, bright face at once suggested
relationship with the man who stood looking at it.

' My wife and my daughter/ he said simply. ' My
daughter sails with me sometimes. She is coming
with us this trip.'

We walked into the adjoining stateroom. It needed
nothing more than a glance to see the touch of a
woman's hand the hand of a woman with an artistic
sense.

This cabin was carpeted, and contained two berths,
the upper of which could be unshipped if there was
only one occupant of the stateroom.

The walls were a faint grey, picked out with some
other colour. Cunningly sewn hanging pockets and
neatly-made brackets clothed the bulkheads. And
here and there were photographs prettily framed,
whilst a pair of flowering plants afforded pleasant
rest to the eye.

' This is my girl's room,' said the Captain. ' She
takes great pride in it.' It was one of the cosiest
cabins I ever saw on board a ship, and I said as much.

Forward of these two rooms were two smaller
cabins, one of which I found would be mine. These,
with a pantry, a lavatory, and a small berth for a
steward, or a cabin boy, completed the domestic
arrangements under the quarter deck.

The schooner which, by the way, was about two
hundred tons burden carried, besides Captain Leigh
and myself, a second mate, six seamen, a cook, and a
boy.



MY MEETING WITH CAPTAIN LEIGH 15

Altogether the vessel pleased me immensely. She
was a wholesome, stout, and capable little craft.

' Come to dinner to-morrow night ; I wish you to
meet my daughter/ said the Captain as we parted on
our return to town. ( Come a little after five, as I
intend first to go into a number of business matters.'



CHAPTER III

I AM TOLD THE OBJECT OF THE VOYAGE
AND INTRODUCED TO MISS LEIGH



'T^HE following afternoon I called at the boarding-
house in Macquarie-street where Captain Leigh
and his daughter were staying, and found myself
in their sitting-room, looking over the gardens.
Presently my host came in, and we were soon deeply
immersed in ship's business work which he wished
done on board, directions as to stores and cargo, and
so forth. All this took a good deal of time ; but at
last we had finished, and I said :

1 What is our destination ? '

' Well,' he replied, ( that's a secret ; you will
therefore regard what I am about to tell you as con-
fidential. The voyage is an out-of-the-way trip, and
may lead to nothing ; on the other hand it may prove
a most profitable undertaking.

' I propose,' continued the Captain, ' to sail from
Sydney to a certain uncharted island in the Eastern
Pacific, where I have reason to think there is a large
deposit of guano, and upon which I have secured the
necessary rights to work. If the deposit is of payable



I AM TOLD THE OBJECT OF THE VOYAGE 17

quantity and quality, I intend to load the schooner
partially, by way of a sample cargo, and then
proceed to Apia, where I shall get fresh information
as to visiting certain copra stations in which I am
interested, and for which I am carrying stores, even
if by rather a circuitous route. This done, we return
here. I shall clear the schooner " for Guam." '

I may explain that in Sydney, as well as other
places, the curious fiction obtains of taking out a
vessel's clearance for Guam when you don't wish the
public to know where she is going, or don't quite
know yourself. Our conversation now came to an
end, for just then Miss Leigh entered the room.

The picture I had looked at on the schooner
certainly had given me the impression of a handsome
face ; but the artist had evidently not done justice to
the original.

She was tall and well proportioned, strong and
healthy looking ; but her real strength lay concealed
by the grace which was present in her every
movement. I shall not commit myself as to the
colour of her eyes, but I think hazel is nearest
to the correct hue. She had a low, broad fore-
head, and her shapely head was covered by masses


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