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he sets fire, one feels one's self filled with respect for so ingenious an atom, for so persevering an ephemera. The ocean, with its immensity, is less powerful than he is." And a propos of the ocean. "Let us," says Theophile, " leave our card, as it is proper to do, on old Father Ocean, whose passions will no longer terrify any one; day and night he receives blows from gigantic paddles without the least resentment, aud he bears in his green bosom the Transatlantic cable without being able to decipher the messages that are exchanged between the Old World and the New." (We wish it only were so.) "Poor old Ocean become a mere postman 1 Separating nothing, preventing nothing, its very immensity is merely relative, for it is crossed in a week. Its beauty alone remains."
The whole port was full of vessels of all descriptions, men-of-war, frigates, ironclads, steamers, boats, all decked out with flags, and so crowded that it appeared impossible for any one of them to stir from its place. A compact crowd moved slowly along the quays, and as to the steamers that plied between them and the roadstead, they were so full, that the axiom, " that that which holds should be greater than the contents," was for once utterly reversed. One can form no conception of such an agglomeration of human beings.
The railway company of the "West" had chartered the steamboat L'Eclair for its passengers, and it is impossible to conceive with what dexterity and celerity it bore its living freight amidst this forest of ships, going and coming, and yet allowing everything to be seen that was worth seeing. The'ophile says that on passing out of the harbor into the roadstead he could not refrain an exclamation of admiration; it was a serious infraction of the rule of dandyism, for to admire is to exhibit one's own inferiority; but he is not, he says, a dandy, and the spectacle that confronted him was marvellous!
The yacht which had brought her Britannic Majesty was in the roadstead, its paddle-boxes painted straw-yellow, and its chimneys of a salmon-color: the Royal Albert floated close by, like a respectful bodyguard, its tapering sides reminding our traveller of the old French forms of the time of Louis XIV. Beyond, describing a slightly curved arc, was the flotilla of yachts, "for the most part," we are told, "English." (Were there half a dozen that were French ?) "There could not be less than one hundred and fifty to two hundred of the most exquisite shapes, built of teak or other valuable woods, and most richly furnished. This is a charming luxury, which our sportsmen will also provide for themselves when Paris shall have become a seaport; they will find ready-made crews among the ' canotiers' of the Seine!"
Every minute packet-boats were arriving from Southampton, New Haven, H4vrc, Trouville, and Rouen; so crowded, that not a particle of the deck was to be seen, — nothing but hats and dark-colored coats. Beyond all, were the French men-of-war: Saint Louis, Alexandre, Austerlitz, Ulm, Donawerth, Napoleon, Eylau, Bretagne, Isly (not one name recorded a great naval victory), which, disposed in a line at regular distances, displayed to the greatest advantage "that grandiose outline with severe elegance, which is characteristic of our navy." "Severe elegance " is not an inapt term by which to describe the modern ironclads, which have few pretensions to grace.
Then there were regattas; but our Parisian admit* that the "embarkations were kept at too re
spectful a distance to distinguish the chance of the contests. It was the same with regard to the review* of the fleet. It is true that the great gum uliltd the august visitors audibly, and lights were seen w burst from a white cloud, a sound like a clap d thunder was heard, and then the great skips *t« enveloped in smoke, like the sides of a mountain with vapor. The sun seen behind these clouds loi a remarkable effect. The discharges of the gum followed one another with chronometricalprecisoD, without intervals, and yet separate. What clo* logicians! they gave reason upon reason. And Uk first series of arguments exhausted, a second tat up the discussion, and so on through the whole 6wt. Ancient civilization was on the scale of man, modern civilization is on the scale of humanity. Heoo., groat guns are much better adapted for a festival is the present day than little flutes. The whole population of Attica did not equal the number of visitors to Cherbourg. The fireworks at sea were pretty, but the effect was much diminished by the immensity of the space. To the spectators who lined the short, it would have required colossal rockets loaded *iiii hundred-weights of powder to vie with ocean and sky. Those on the "Place d'Armes" were more' effective. M. Theophile is candid enough to adim that he has the passion of a Chinaman for firework; and who does not admire the wondrous transformations of light and form, and the play of incandesced rubies, emeralds, sapphires, and topazes'/ IT* chief piece represented the equestrian statue of Na- poleon I., the original of which, by Leveel, dominates the ocean on its granite pedestal.
An agreeable surprise awaited our traveller oa his return to the camp. A theatre had been improvised at the station. There were both vaudeville and pantomime. Madame Doche, and an actor d the name of Poirier, performed "Un Monsieur fi une Dame "; Deburau and his troop, " Pierrot coiffeur." This is another hint for the master of certmonies, who will be an indispensable adjunct to Uk "British Excursionist Camp Hostelry Compinj" (limited liability and unlimited accommodation). Unfortunately, the only scene available represenKd a forest, and was not precisely adapted for the incident of a gentleman and a lady obliged to paw that night in the same room at an inn. Again, what a always disagreeable to artists, in the midst of their zealous exertions a hiss now and then made it*Jf significantly heard; but it came from the brawn lungs of a locomotive letting off its steam, for the theatricals were in no way permitted to interfere with the railway trains, which kept arriving, swan? at the stage with their great red eyes, and bringing with them crowds of new-comers.
An early walk next morning before breakfast tool M. Gautier to the chateau of Tourlaville, wmethrw miles from Cherbourg, and of which he had h«w much. It is an old ruinous castle, with a leg*1" like those on the Rhine. It is a pretty walk, u* up hills, from whence Cherbourg, its harbors,*1" roadstead, are all seen to advantage. This «**• just sufficiently ruinous to be picturesque, b sud H have been formerly inhabited by the family of Wv" alets, who held the lordship of Tourlaville. Two descendants of this house, Julien de Raralet, «m the beautiful Margaret his sister, wife of John i« Falconer, were said to have been guilty of inset, and were both condemned to death, and execute'1 on the Place de la Grive, at Paris, on the H of December, 1603.
On his return to Cherbourg, Theophile found u*
whole of the population, local and foreign, in movement to see the filling of the new port Napoleon, and the launch of the ville de Nantes. The ocean precipitated itself through the ruins of the gaps opened for its ingress, carrying stones and earth, piles and planks, before it; and soon the granite bottom, which no human eye may ever see again, disappeared beneath the torrent. Two Niagaras pouring their waters into the gigantic bowl, took from two to three hours to fill it. But by the time anticipated the water attained the proper elevation, and the signal was given from the Imperial stand to launch the Ville de Nantes. "Nothing," we are told, " can be more noble or more majestic than a ship taking possession of the sea!" Next day the equestrian statue of Napoleon I. was unveiled, and Tbeophile Gautier returned to Paris, " to see if the vaudeville and the drama had behaved themselves well in his absence."
THE GOOD SHIP SHOOTING STAR.
"Captain Ritbon, allow me to introduce to you Mr. Pennant, your new purser. Mr. Pennant, pray take a chair, while I have a little talk on business with Captain Ritson."
Mr. Blizzard, of the firm of David and Blizzard, 72 Limehouse Street, Liverpool, continued:—
"Captain Ritson, we want to make this first trip of the Shooting Star an auspicious trip; we want to have our vessel the first into Quebec this year. We save the dues; for they always return the dues to the first vessel that arrives from England; but it is not so much for the sake of the value of the dues as the eclat of the thing. Our trade with Canada is large, and we want to get our name up. We do not, of course, want you to run any danger. No, that is by no means the wish of the firm; but we wish you to skirt the ice, and run in on the very first opening. You will get off Labrador just in time for the frost to have thawed, and, with care, there need be no risk whatever."
Mr. Blizzard said all this leaning against his railed desk, and nestled in among the files of invoices and bills of lading. He was a hearty, fresh-colored, portly man, very neat in his dress, and remarkable for a white waistcoat, that seemed as hard and stainless as enamel. He played with his watchchain as he spoke, and eyed the captain, the purser, and the first mate, who sat in an uncomfortable half-circle. With his well-polished boots planted on the immovable rock of a large capital, Mr. Blizzard seemed to look boldly seaward metaphorically, and consider wrecks and such casualties as mere well-devised fictions.
Captain Ritson was a big North-countryman, with a broad acreage of chest, clear gray eyes, and large, red hands, — a sturdy, honest, self-reliant man, without a fear in the world. The mate, Mr. Cardew, by no means so pleasant to look on, being a little, spare, thin-legged, cadaverous person, with yellowish eyes, sat in sullen subserviency on the very edge of his chair just behind the captain. The purser, a brisk, cheery, stout young fellow, sat deprccatingly (as if he thought he ought to stand) a trifle farther back still.
"Right it is, Mister Blizzard," said the captain, buttoning his pilot-coat across his chest, as if preparing for an immediate gale, and about to order everything to be battened down. "Right it is, and
a better weasel than the Shooting Star I don't hope to see. She's sound, Mr. Blizzard, I do believe, from main truck to keel, — sound, if I may use the expression, as a pious man's conscience. The only thing that wexes me, howsomever, is that, having been sent for to my native place, down Allonby way, on very sad business " (here the captain held up sorrowfully an enormous hat covered with black crape,) "I could n't see to the lading of this ere vessel as I generally likes to do with wessels I am called upon to command."
"That is of no consequence at all, Captain Ritson," said Mr. Blizzard, pouring out three glasses of sherry all in a row from a decanter on an inky mantel-piece near him. "I have been away at Manchester, and my partner, Mr. David, has been very ill with a touch of pleurisy, but our first mate here, Mr. Cardew, has seen to it all."
The mate nodded assent.
"And the cargo is—?"
"Agricultural implements, machinery, and cloth goods.
Mr. Blizzard referred to a ledger for this information, as he spoke, as if he scarcely knew, in his multiplicity of business, whether the Shooting Star might not be laden with frankincense, pearls, golddust, and poll-parrots, — but he would see.
Having ascertained the fact, Mr. Blizzard carefully replaced the ledger, and, turning his back on his company, poked the fire, and consulted a large sheet almanac over the mantel-piece, as a sign die interview was over.
"We sail to-morrow morning, Sunday," said Captain Ritson, who was a Wesleyan, to the purser, as they left the office of Messrs. David and Blizzard; "Ilikes to hear the blessed Sabbath bells calling to one another as I go out of the Mersey, and the men like it; and, what 'e more, it's lucky. It*s like the
wavs start, Sunday is."
The purser expressed his hope that he should succeed in doing his duty, and pleasing the captain and all his employers.
"O, you 'll do, young man, I can see; don't you be afraid. Won't he, Mr. Cardew? Clear, straightforward eyes, and all aboveboard."
Mr. Cardew thought he would do, but he did not look on the purser at all. His mind was running on very different things.
"Joe," said the purser's wife, when Pennant returned to his little cottage at Birkenhead, and announced his new. appointment, " I don't know how it is, but I "ve got a strong presentiment, and I wish you would n't go in this snip. I never did like ships with those sort of names. The best run you ever had was in the Jane Parker, and the worst one in the Morning Star. Stick to the plain names. Besides, it 'a too early in the season. Now, do oblige me, Joe, and give it up. Stay for a fortnight later; get an Australian ship. It's too early for Canada. It is, indeed. Mrs. Thompson says so."
"Jenny, my love, you 're a silly little woman. A pretty sailor's wife you make! Come, pack up my kit, for I 'm going, that is the long and the short of it. Nonsense about sentiments. And who is Mrs. Thompson, I should like to know? Who wants her poking her nose here? Why did she drive her husband away with her nagging, and temper, and botheration? Tell her to mind her own business. Pretty thing, indeed! Come, dear, no nonsense; pack up my kit."
"But, Joe dear, there was your photograph fell off* the nail on Tuesday, that night I saw a shooting star fall, close to the docks, and it was n't sent for nothing. Don't go, Joe; don't go."
"Go I must, Jenny dear, and go I shall, so don't make it painful, there's a good little woman. Come, I '11 go up with you now, and kiss George and Lizzy. I won't wake them; then we '11 go and look out the shirts and things for the chest. Keep a good heart; you know I shall soon be back. I've got a nice captain, and a smart first mate."
"Why, Captain Thompson, who eyer thought to have found you here, and only quartermaster 'i" said the purser, as lie stood at the gangway of the Shooting Star, watching the fresh provisions brought in. "Well, I am sorry to see you so reduced, sir, I am, indeed. How was it?"
The quartermaster drew him on one side with a rueful look. He was a purple, jolly, sottish-looking man, with swollen features.
"It was the grog, Joe, as did it, — all the infernal grog," he said. "I lost my last ship, the Red Star, and then everything went wrong; but I 've struck off drinking now, Joe; I was n't fit to have a ship, that's about it, — lost myself, too, Joe; and here I am with my hands in the tar-bucket again, trying to do my dooty in that station of life, as the Catechism used to say."
"And how do you like pur captain and crew, sir ?" Pennant said, under his breath.
"Captain 's as good a man as ever trod in shoeleather,— upright man, though he will have the work done, but the crew ain't much, between ourselves. Four of them first-class, the rest loafers and skulkers, wanting to emigrate, picked up on the quays, half thieves, half deserters, not worth their salt. They '11 all run when they get to Quebec. Then there 'a the first mate, he's a nice niggerdriver, he is, bound for a bad port, I think. I would n't trust him with a ship, that's all I can say, unless it was a pirate ship, that he might get on with; but he is smooth enough before the captain, — he takes care of that, — curse him."
Just at that moment there came a shrill voice screaming curses from the shore.
"Look alive, you skulkers, there," it cried, — it was the mate's voice, — " or I '11 let you know. We sha'n't be ready by Tuesday, if you don't hurry. Not a drop of grog before the work 's done, mind that. I '11 have no infernal grumbling while I 'm mate; and what are you doing there, quartermaster, idling? Mr. Purser, see at once if the stores are all in, and hand in the bills to me to give to Captain Ritson."
.The men, ragged, sullen fellows, worked harder, but cursed in an underbreath.
The moment the captain came on board, the mate's manner entirely altered. He crouched and whispered, and asked for orders, and spoke to the men with punctilious quietude.
Cardew had some strange hold over the captain, as the purser soon discovered, — some money matters,— some threat, which he held over Ritson's head, about his father's farm in Cumberland, — some power that the captain dreaded, though he tried to appear cheerful, trusting, and indifferent. At first tyrannical to the men, Cardew had now begun to
conciliate them in every possible way, especaBy when Captain Ritson was not on deck.
The purser was in his cabin, the twentieth day after the Shooting Star had started. He was Ib i down at his accounts, and the luminous green shad? over the lamp threw a golden light upon Ton of figures and the red lines that divided them. He was working silently, honest, zealous fellow that be was, when a low tap came at the cabin-door. He leaped off his seat and opened the door; it »as eld Thompson, the quartermaster, who shut it after liai with a suspicious care.
"Well, Thompson," said the purser, looking ap with an overworked and troubled expression,'•*!« is it?"
The quartermaster sat down with a hand on either knee. "I tell you what it is, Mr. Pennant, benrea you and me, there 's mischief brewing."
"Thompson, you 've been at the rum again," said the amazed purser, in a reproachful voice.
"No, Mr. Pennant, I have n't; no, I am sober is the day I was born. Never you mind howllearaai what I am going to tell you. There was a tinu when no one dared accuse Jack Thompson of eavedropping, without getting an answer straight between the eyes, and quick too; but now I 'm a po? rascal no one cares for; only fit to mend old rope and patch sails, and I can stoop now to do thins I should have been ashamed of once, even if 11*1 done them, as I did this, for good."
There came at this moment a pert rap at ths door, and Harrison, the ship's boy, thrust in his he*!
"Well, what do you want ?" said the purser, in his sharp, honest way.
"If you please, sir, there's an ice-fog coming <* and Mr. Cardew says the men are to have an oitn glass of grog round, as there will be extra watchs.
"Did Captain Ritson himself give the order?"
"No, sir; Mr. Cardew. Captain's been np ill night, and is gone to lie down."
"Tell Mr. Cardew, with my compliments, to the captain told me yesterday never to serve oat rum without his special orders."
"Yes, sir." The boy left.
"Now, Mr. Quartermaster, let us know the worSI think — I suspect — it is something about our ft*mate. This is going to be an unlucky voyagf.' can see. Let us hear the worst quick, that we ^ do something to stop the leak."
The quartermaster, a stolid man, of Dutch teaperament, and by no means to be burned, p* ceeded as calmly as if he were spinning a yarn on: the galley fire. "What I heard the first mate u» the carpenter talk about only two hours ago JTM this. The ice-fog's come on, and the men (a I* lot in any weather, all but Davis and two or thr* more) are beginning to think we 're running a* gerously near the ice, and that we shall get mpp*1 The mate, when the captain is away, encounf« them in this idea, and the worst of them Uli j** of forcing the captain to steer more southward-» as to keep clear of the ice-packs off Labrador.
The purser started, and uttered an exclaauW of surprise and indignation.
"Belay there, Mr. Pennant," said the quarts master, forcing his sou'wester firmer on his beau J express hatred for the mate; "that was onlj j* first entry in their log. Then they went on to p^ pose sinking the ship, lashing down the captaffl a» those who wouldn't join.them, destroying all' dence, and taking to the boats as soon as ti«* * a sight of land."
"But what for?"
"What for? Why, for this. The first mate, as he let out, has had the lading of the vessel. Well, what did he do, with the help of some scoundrel friend of his, a shipping agent, but remove two thirds of the machinery from the cases, unknown, of course, to Mr. Blizzard, and pile them up with old iron, unknown to the captain, who was away because his father was dying, and now they want to sink the vessel, and then to go home and sell the plunder. That's about the size of it."
"Come this moment and tell the captain of this scoundrel," said the purser, leaping up and locking his desk resolutely.
"Now, avast heaving there, not just yet, Mr. Purser, by your leave; let the thing ripen a little; let me pick up what I can in the fo'ksal, they don't mind a poor old beast like me."
"What's all this?" cried a shrill, spiteful voice, as the door was thrust violently open. "Where is this purser fellow? Who is it dares to disobey my orders? What do you mean, purser, by not serving out this rum? No skulking here. Thompson, go on deck, see all made taut for the night, and the fog-bell rigged, or we shall be run down in this cursed fog."
Thompson slunk out of the cabin.
The purser did not flinch ; he took his cap quietly from its peg. "Mr. Cardew," he said, "I only obeyed the captain's orders, and I shall continue to do so till you take command of the vessel. I 'm going on deck for a smoke before I turn in. Good night, sir."
The mate's eyes became all at once bloodshot and phosphorescent with a cruel light.
"I tell you what it is, Pennant," he said; "if I «ras your captain, I 'd maroon you on an iceberg before you were five hours older, and I 'd let you know first, with a good bit of pickled rope, what it was to disobey your superior officer."
"Good night, sir; threatened men live long. And perhaps you will allow me to lock up my cabin? Thank you."
With this good-humored defiance the purser ran, laughing and singing, up the cabin stairs.
It was Sunday morning, and the ice-fog had lifted. The vessel had met with mere pancake ice, loose sheets thin as tinsel, but nothing more; the wind blew intensely cold as if from ice-fields of enormous size, but no bergs had been seen, and the captain, judging from the ship's reckoning, hoped still to make a swift and successful voyage, and to be the first to reach Quebec that season.
The men were mustered for prayers in the state cabin. It was a pleasant sight to see them file in, two and two, so trim, with their blue shirts turned back from their big brown necks, their jaunty-knotted black silk neckerchiefs and their snowy-white trousers; the petty officers in their best blue jackets, and all so decorous and disciplined, as they took their prescribed seats.
Pleasant, too, it was to see the hardy captain in that wild and remote sea so calmly and gravely reading the chapter from the Bible relating to Paul's voyage, with an unconscious commandingofficer air. If the ship-boy dared to cough, that item, gray eye nailed him to his seat; if the boatswain shuffled his feet, there was a reproving pause between the verses; if even the spray broke over the hatchway, the captain was down upon it
The purser was the last to leave the cabin when
the service was over. As he collected the Bibles, the captain touched him on the shoulder.
"I want a word with you, Mr. Pennant," he said, sitting sorrowfully down at the table with his hand on his telescope, and his large prayer-book still open before him. "You are an honest, faithful fellow, and I want to ask you a simple question. Have you seen or heard anything lately that makes you think the first mate is playing double, and exciting the men to mutiny? Yes or no?"
The captain did not lift his eyes from the table at this answer, but giving a slight, half-disdainful sigh, poured out a glass of water and drank it, then rose, shook the purser by the hand, and looked steadily in his face.
"Come up with me, purser, on deck," he said, "and we will settle this matter at once. Some one has been altering the vessel's course, I feel sure, since the morning. If it is the mate, I will put him in irons. If it cost me my right arm, I 'll keep him in irons. I 'm a fool not to have seen it all before. I was warned about that man in Liverpool."
When the captain stood upon the deck, the chill, white ice-fog was again bearing down fast on the Shooting Star. It was bearing down with a spectral gloom that was depressing in a sea known to be still half blocked with ice-packs. A Sabbath calm reigned over the vessel. The men were lying down by the trim rope coils, some reading, some conversing; not a plank but was clean as a pink; not a bolt-head or brass but shone as well as anything could shine in that lurid light. The mate and carpenter were sitting near the wheel, looking at the advancing fog; at the entrance to the fo'ksal were some men stretched out half asleep.
The captain said not a word, but walked straight up to the man at the wheel, and looked at the compass.
"Why, you're steering south," he said, quietly, "and I told you nor'-nor'-west an hour ago."
"I am steering as the first mate told me," said the fellow, sullenly. "I can't steer as every one wants me. If it was my way, I 'd 'steer home.'"
The first mate, as the man said this, came up and took the wheel from him insolently, as if in defiance of the captain.
"Jackson's steering right," he said.
"Right you call it," said the captain, storming. "I 'm a plain man, and I like plain dealing. Mr. Cardew, I 've had enough of your lying tricks; let go the wheel, sir, and go to your cabin. Consider yourself under arrest for mutinous conduct. Purser, you are witness; take this man down."
Cardew still refused to let go the wheel. With the quickness of thought, the captain felled him with a blow; in a moment the deck seemed alive with shouting and leaping men. Five sailors threw themselves on the captain, three on the purser. The mutiny had broken out at last. A cruel yell rang from stem to stern. All who favored the captain were in a moment, with curses and cruel threats, overpowered and bound to the mast and rigging.
"Now, Captain Ritson," said Cardew, as he rose with a yellow face, down which the blood streamed, and advanced to where the captain stood bound and pale with rage, "you see I am stronger than you thought. If I chose, I could at once let you overboard with a rope and freeze you to death; I could have you pelted with bottles, or put an end to in some other agreeable way; but I shall spare you now, to pay you out better for that blow and other.
indignities. Last night you refused to join me in my sensible scheme for baffling the rascals who expose us to danger and then underpay us. Now I will not accept your partnership. O, you "re a rash, violent man, though you are so pious; where's your Providence now 7 Come, my boys, leave these fools, and get out the wine; we 'll have a spree tonight, for to-morrow we shall be on shore, and perhaps starting again for England. Come, get out this man's brandy. We 'll have a night of it. It 's cold enough for these fellows, ain't it? But it 'll make them warm seeing us drinking."
That night, as the liquor went round, and the songs circulated among the mutineers to the doleful accompaniment of the monotonous and funeral fogbell, the captain and seven friends lying bound against the frozen shrouds, the vapor lifted for a moment eastward and disclosed an aurora borealis that lit up all the horizon with a majestic fan of crimson and phosphorescent light that darted upward its keen rays, and throbbed and quivered with almost supernatural splendor. The electric lustre lit the pale faces of the captain and his fellow-prisoners.
"Why, here are the merry dancers," said the first mate, now somewhat excited by drinking, as he walked up to the captain, and waved a smoking hot glass of grog before his face. "Why, I 'll be hanged if they ain't the blessed angels dancing for joy because you and your brother saints will so soon join them. What do you think of Providence by this time, Ritson, eh?"
The mutineers put their glasses together, and laughed hideously at this.
"Just as I always did. God watches us at sea as well as by land," was the captain's calm reply. "I'd rather even now be bound here, than change my conscience with yours, Cardew. I "m a plain man, and I mean it when I say that it's no worse dying here than at home in a feather-bed. It is less hard to part with the world here."
"O, if you 're satisfied, I am. Here, glasses round to drink to the Pious Captain. All Lis gang are here but that boy, that little devil Harrison; search for him everywhere, men; he must n't be left; if he is in the hold, smoke him out with brimstone; never mind if he does n't come out, he 'll have his gruel if you keep the hatches well down."
"Ay, ay, sir," was the reply, with a brutal and disgusting laugh; and away the men went on their search, eager as boys for a rat-hunt.
An hour after, all but the watch to toll the fogbell, the mutineers on board the Shooting Star were sunk into a drunken and wallowing sleep. That night, from time to time, Captain Ritson, kept his men's hearts up with cheerful words; the cold was hard to bear, but they survived it. When day broke, they all united in prayer that God would allow them to die soon and together. They had sunk into a torpid semi-sleep, when the sound of a gun through the fog, in the distance, aroused them. At the same moment, the loud taunting voice of the mate awoke the bound men to a sense of their misery and despair.
"Good morning, Captain Ritson," said the mate. "Lord, lads, how chopfallen that smart fellow the purser is, and look at those A.B. sailors, who used to sneer at you, and call you skulkers, loafers, and Liverpool dregs. How our fat friend the quartermaster must miss his grog; hard, is n't it? Captain Ritson, it is my painful duty to inform you (lower the two boats there, quick, men, and stave the third) that we are about to leave this ship, which will sink,
as I am informed by my excellent friend the carpenter here, almost exactly three hours after our departure. A more pliant disposition and a more graceful concession to those business arrangements, in which I solicited your co-operation, would hate led to very different results; gentlemen, that gene is from a vessel lying off the ice-field which we are now skirting; that vessel will take us up. How about that blow now? We have money enough to pay for our passage. Farewell. Lower the boats there. Captain Ritson, I have the honor of wishing you a pleasant voyage to heaven."
Captain Ritson made no answer till the boats were lowered. "God will avenge us, if it seemed good to him," was the only malediction he uttered '• Men, I thank God that I still trust in his mercy, and, worst come to the worst, I am ready to die."
"So am I," said the purser, "if I could only first look up and see that yellow rascal dangling at the yard-arm."
"It's all up with us," said the quartermaster. •• I only wish the black villains had given us one noggin round before they left."
An hour passed, the last sound of the receding boats had died away. The sailors began to groan and lament their fate.
"Have you any hope left, Captain Ritson, now ':* said the purser, in a melancholy voice. "0 Jenny, Jenny, my dear wife, I shall never see you again."
"As for my wife," said the quartermaster, "it's no great loss. I 'm thinking more of myself. Oh, those villains."
"I have no hope," said the captain, bravely, "but I am ready to die. I trust in the mercy of God. He will do the best for us, and he will guard my poor children.'
Just then, like a direct answer from Heaven, the fog grew thinner and thinner, and the sun shone through with a cold yellow lustre, showing the line of land for miles; alas! it was not land, but ice-pack, miles of it, rising into mountainous bergs, green as emerald, blue as sapphire, golden as crysolite, and stretching away into snow-plains and valleys. The nearest cliffs were semi-transparent, and glistened with prismatic colors, but in the distance they merged again into cold clinging fog. The nearest ice was about two miles off.
The captain looked at his companions, and they at him, but they did not speak, their hearts were so full, for the water could be now heard gurgling and bubbling upward in the hold.
"We have two hours more to live, and let ffl spend it," said the captain, bravely, " in preparin;,' for death. After all, it is better than dying of cold and hunger, and it is only the death us sailors have been taught to expect at any moment."
"I should n't care if it was not for my poor old mother," said one of the sailors, "but now she 1] have to go on the parish. O, it's hard, bitter hard."
"Fie, man," said the captain, with his unquenchable courage, "have I not my children, and the purser his wife. What must be, must be, —bear it like a man."
At that moment a shrewd boyish face showed itself round the corner of the cabin stairs, and the next instant up leaped and danced Harrison, the ship's boy, with a sharp carving knife in his handHe capered for joy round the captain, and wi hailed with a tremendous shout of delight and wdcome as he released the men one by one, beginning with his master.