Peter Trawl - The Adventures of a Whaler
by W. H. G. Kingston
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The weather still looked unsettled, and we feared that we should have another bad night of it. The greater part of the day had gone by, when Brown, who was at the helm while the mate was taking some rest, suddenly exclaimed—

"A sail! A sail! She's standing this way."

We all looked out to the northward, and there made out a large vessel steering directly for us.



The doctor awoke Mr Griffiths to tell him the good news. He at once hove the boat to. We sat eagerly watching the stranger. She could not possibly at present see us, and might alter her course before she came near enough to do so. Her topsails rose above the horizon, then in a short time her courses were seen, and then her hull itself as she came on swiftly before the breeze. I saw Mr Griffiths several times rub his eyes, then he stood up and looked fixedly at her.

"Brown," he said, "did you ever see that ship before?"

"Well, I was thinking that the same sail-maker cut her topsails that cut the Intrepid's; but there's no wonder in that," answered Brown.

"What do you say to that white patch in the head of her foresail?" asked the mate. "It looks to me like one we put in when we were last at the Sandwich Islands. To be sure it's where the sail is likely to get worn, and another vessel may have had one put in like it, still, the Intrepid's foresail had just such a patch as that."

"What! Do you mean to say that she's the Intrepid?" exclaimed the doctor, interrupting him.

"I mean to say that she's very like her, if she's not her," answered the mate.

We all of us now looked with even greater eagerness than before at the approaching vessel.

"Let draw the foresail," cried the mate.

We stood on so that we might be in the best possible position for running alongside the whaler, for such she was, as soon as she hove-to.

"We're seen!—we're seen!" shouted several of our crew.

We waved our hats, and shouted.

"She is the Intrepid!" cried Mr Griffiths.

Presently she came to the wind, and we, lowering our sail and getting out our oars, were soon alongside her. There stood Captain Hawkins— there the second mate, with many other faces we knew. I never saw people look so astonished as we sprang up the side, while our boat was hooked on and hoisted on board.

"Why, Griffiths!—Cockle! Where have you come from?" exclaimed Captain Hawkins. "I had given you up for lost long ago."

They gave a brief account of our adventures, but there was not much time for talking, for we had not been aboard five minutes before all hands were employed in shortening sail, and the gale came down upon us with even greater strength than on the previous night. Had we been exposed to it in our open boat there would have been little chance of our escape. We had thus much reason to be thankful to Heaven that we had got aboard in time.

There being plenty of sea room, the Intrepid was hove-to. Even as it was, the sea broke aboard and carried away one of her boats and did other damage. She had been nearly wrecked on the reef during the gale when we were on the island; and Captain Hawkins, believing that we had been lost, stood for Guam, where he had been detained for want of proper workmen and fresh hands. Had it not been for this she would long before have been on her homeward voyage.

For some time I felt very strange on board, often when half asleep fancying myself still in the boat, and the air below seemed close and oppressive.

The mate declared that he had caught cold from sleeping in a bed after not having been in one for so many months.

The doctor suggested that his bed might have been damp. However, the gale being over, the sun came out brightly, and he soon got rid of his chill.

The captain took no more notice of me than he did before, and did not even speak to Jack. His idea was to keep us at a proper distance, I suppose. He had heard, I have no doubt, of our adventures from Dr Cockle or the mate. It mattered very little to us, though I was afraid that he might take it into his head to turn Jack out of the ship at some place or other, on the plea that he did not belong to her.

I advised my brother, therefore, to keep out of his sight as much as possible, especially when in harbour. Jim and I agreed that if he was sent ashore we would go also, wherever it might be.

"So will I," said Miles Soper, who had heard us talking about the matter.

"And I no stop eider, and den he lose four good hands. He no like dat," said Sam Coal.

Brown, hearing from Jim of my apprehensions, said he would go likewise if the captain attempted to play any tricks of that sort.

Three days after the gale we hove-to off three small islands surrounded by a reef. Brown, Miles Soper, two Africans and the New Zealander, the second mate and I, were sent on shore to catch turtle. We hauled the boat up and waited till the evening, at which time the creatures land to lay their eggs.

Darkness approached, and we concealed ourselves behind some rocks, and watched for their coming. Presently one landed, and crawled slowly up the beach. Sam declared that she was as big as the boat. She was certainly an enormous creature. Then another and another came ashore, and commenced scraping away in the sand to make holes for their eggs. We waited till some thirty or forty had come ashore.

"Now is your time," cried the mate; and rushing out, grasping the handspikes with which we were armed, we got between them and the sea, and turned them over on their backs, where they lay kicking their legs, unable to move. We had brought ropes to assist us in dragging them down to the water and hauling them on board. We had turned a dozen or more, when I said to Jim.

"We mustn't let that big one go we first saw land."

She and the other turtles still on their feet, had taken the alarm, and were scuttling down the beach. We made her out and attempted to turn her, but that was more than we could do.

"She'll be off," cried Jim.

We hove the bight of a rope over her head.

"Hold on, Peter!" he cried; and he and I attempted to haul the turtle back, all the time shouting for help, for she was getting closer and closer to the water. At last in she got, dragging us after her. We could not stop her before, and there was very little chance of our doing so now.

"Let her go, Jim," I cried out.

"We shall lose the rope," he answered, still holding on.

We were already up to our middles in the water.

"It's of no use. Let go! Let go!" I cried out, "or we shall be dragged away to sea!"

Supposing that he would do as I told him, I let go at the same moment, when what was my dismay to see Jim dragged away out of his depth.

I swam off to him, still shouting loudly. Presently Soper and Sam Coal came up, and seeing what was happening, dashed into the water. Our united strength, however, could not stop the turtle, and Sam, who had a sharp knife in his pocket, drawing it, cut the rope, and we got Jim back to shore.

The mate rated Jim for losing the rope, though Brown and the rest declared that he had behaved very pluckily, and that if help had come in time we should have saved the turtle. As it was we had turned more than we could carry off.

Having been ordered not to attempt to regain the ship during the night, we turned the boat up and slept under it, while a couple of hands remained outside to watch the turtles and see that they did not manage to get on their feet again and escape.

In the morning we loaded the boat, and pulled back with our prizes.

The mate said nothing about the lost rope, as he knew the notion Brown and the rest had formed of Jim's courage.

We sighted after this several small islands, and then made the coast of New Guinea.

The captain, seeing a good place for landing, sent a boat ashore with the doctor and most of us who had been engaged in catching turtle.

It seemed a beautiful country, with magnificent trees, and birds flying about in numbers among them.

"This is a perfect paradise," said the doctor, as we approached the beach.

Just then a number of natives came rushing out from the forest, brandishing clubs and spears. They were the ugliest set of people I ever saw, their bodies nearly naked and their heads covered with hair frizzled out like huge mops. They had also bows at their backs, but they did not point their arrows at us.

The doctor and mate agreed that it would be folly to land amongst them, so we lay on our oars while the mate held up bottles and bits of iron hoops, beads and knives, and a few old clothes, to show them that we wished to trade. After a considerable time they seemed to understand what we wanted, and some of them going away returned with numbers of stuffed birds of a delicate yellow with long tails. We made signs that only those who wanted to trade must come near us. At last several came wading into the water bringing their birds. They set a high price on them, and we only bought a dozen or so. As the rest of the people behaved in as threatening a manner as before, as soon as the trading was over we pulled off, not wishing to risk an encounter with them.

The doctor said that the birds were birds of paradise, and that they were such as the ladies of England wore in their hats. The curious thing was that none of the birds had feet.

"Of course not," said the second mate, when I pointed this out to him; "they say that the birds come down from the skies and live in the air, and as they never perch, they don't want feet. That's why they're called birds of paradise."

The doctor laughed. "That's a very old notion," he remarked, "but it's a wrong one notwithstanding, and has long since been exploded. They have legs and claws like other birds, though the natives cut them off and dry the birds as these have been over a hot fire. It's the only way they have of preserving them."

The captain said we were very right not to land, as the natives might have been tempted to cut us off for the sake of possessing themselves of the articles in our boat.

As we sailed along the coast the country seemed to be thickly populated, and the boat was frequently sent to try and land, but we always met with the same inhospitable reception. The moment we drew near the shore the black-skinned natives would rush down, apparently to prevent our landing.

This was a great disappointment, for the captain was anxious to obtain fresh provisions, as several of the men, from having lived a long time on salt meat, were suffering from scurvy. Curiously enough, we, who had been in the boat, were free from it. At one place, however, we traded with the natives, and bought several more of the stuffed paradise birds, and a number of live lories, which we kept in cages, and beautiful little creatures they were. Our hope was to carry them safely home, but, either from improper food or change of climate, they all shortly died.

Rounding New Guinea, and passing the island of Mysole, we came to a small island called Gely, at the south-east end of Gillolo, lying exactly under the equator. It contains a magnificent and secure harbour, in which we brought up. There being an abundance of good water, and trees from which spars can be cut, it is an excellent place for repairing damages. The second mate said that those suffering from scurvy would, now have an opportunity of being cured.

The plan he proposed was to bury them up to their necks in the sand, and to leave them there for some hours. The doctor was unwilling to try the experiment, though he did not deny that it might be effectual. Two of our men suffering from the complaint were, however, perfectly willing to submit to the remedy, and, our boats having to go on shore to fill the water-casks, we carried them with us. Holes were dug, and the poor fellows, being stripped naked, were covered up side by side in the warm sand, leaving only their heads above the surface, so that they could not possibly extricate themselves. The captain, I should have said, approved of the plan, having before seen it tried with success; but the doctor, declaring that he would have nothing to do with the matter, went with Jack and another man in an opposite direction. Horner and I had charge of the watering party. The stream from which we filled our casks was at some distance from the place where the men were buried. I undertook to see to the casks being filled if Horner would remain by the men. We had just finished our work and were rolling the casks down to the boat when Horner came rushing up, with his eyes staring and his hair almost on end.

"What's the matter? What has happened?" I asked, thinking he had gone out of his mind.

"I can't bear it!" he exclaimed. "It's too dreadful. I couldn't help it."

"What is dreadful? What could you not help?" I inquired.

"The brutes of crocodiles. Poor fellows," he stammered out. "There won't be a bit of them left presently!" and he pointed to where we had buried our poor shipmates, and where he ought to have been watching.

The men and I set off running to the spot. A dreadful sight met our eyes. The body of one man lay half eaten on the sand. A huge crocodile was dragging off the other. He had dragged it under the water before we could reach the spot. We could do nothing but shout at the crocodiles. Horner confessed that he had gone to a distance for a short time, during which the brutes had landed and killed the two men. We returned very sad to the boat. As for Horner, it was a long time before he could get over the horror he felt for his neglect of duty. Several canoes filled with natives came into the harbour from Gillolo, bringing potatoes and other vegetables. One of them brought a number of clam-shells of various sizes. One which we hoisted on board weighed four hundred-weight, and we afterwards saw on shore one which must have weighed a quarter of a ton. The natives use them as tubs; I saw a woman bathing a child in one. The meat of the creature when fried is very palatable. I also obtained some beautiful specimens of coral, which I wanted to carry home to Mary and my Shetland relations. I bought also two gallons of nutmegs for an old file, and a large number of shells for some old clothes. The harbour swarmed with sharks, which prevented us from bathing. We here cut some splendid spars for the use of the ship. I may mention that the inner harbour, from its perfect security, has obtained the name of "Abraham's Bosom." Were it not for the sharks and crocodiles the place would be perfect.

All the crew having recovered from scurvy, and the ship being refitted, we once more put to sea. The weather was delightful, and we sailed on over the calm ocean with a light breeze.

We had to keep a constant look-out for rocks and reefs.

I can assert, though it is often denied, that when passing under the lee of the Spice Islands, the scent which came off from the shore was perfectly delicious. Whether this arises from the flowers of the cloves and nutmegs, or from the nature of the soil, I cannot determine.

Though we generally had a light breeze, we were sometimes completely becalmed, on which occasions, when near shore, we ran the risk of being driven on the rocks by the currents, and more than once we had all the boats towing ahead to keep her off them till the breeze should spring up. We continued our course, passing to the eastward of Ceram and Banda, and steering for Timor, to the north-west of Australia. We had other dangers besides calms and currents. We had just left the Serwatty Islands astern when the wind dropped, and we lay becalmed.

Though there was little chance of catching whales, we always kept a look-out for them from the masthead, as we could stow one or two more away. We were most of us on deck whistling for a breeze, when the look-out aloft shouted that he saw three craft stealing up from behind the island to the eastward. The second mate went up to have a look at them through his glass, and when he returned on deck he reported that they were three large proas, pulling, he should say, twenty oars or more, and full of men, and that he had no doubt they were pirates. Those seas, we knew, were infested with such gentry—generally Malays, the most bloodthirsty and cruel of their race. Many a merchant vessel has been captured by them and sunk, all hands being killed.

"Whatever they are, we must be prepared for them!" cried Captain Hawkins. "I'll trust to you, lads, to fight to the last; and I tell you that if they once get alongside us we shall find it a difficult job to keep them off. We will have the arms on deck, Mr Griffiths, for if we don't get a breeze, as they pull fast, they'll soon be up to us."

All the muskets were at once brought up and arranged in order; our two guns were loaded, and the armourer and carpenter set to work to sharpen the blubber-spades, harpoons, and spears. We had thus no lack of weapons; our high bulwarks also gave us an advantage; but the pirates, we knew, would probably out-number us by ten to one.

However, we did not lose heart; Captain Hawkins looked cool and determined, and the mates imitated his example. I didn't think about myself, but the fear came over me that, after all, Jack might be killed, and that I should not have the happiness of taking him home.

As the pirates approached, we made all necessary preparations for defending ourselves. Muskets and ammunition were served out to the men most accustomed to firearms; the others had the blubber-spades and spears put into their hands. The two mates took charge of the guns, which were loaded to their muzzles, and matches were got ready for firing them. The doctor provided himself with a couple of muskets and a sword. The captain told him he must not run the risk of being wounded, as he might be required to bind up the hurts of the rest of us. He laughed, and said that the first thing to be done was to drive back our enemies should they attempt to board the ship.

The pirates came closer and closer. The captain looked anxiously round the horizon, for though, like a brave man, he was prepared to defend his ship to the last, he had no wish for a fight. As I looked over the sides I saw some cats-paws playing along the surface of the water. The pirates by this time were not a quarter of a mile astern. Presently the lighter canvas, which had hung down against the masts, bulged out, and then the topsails filled.

"All hands trim sails!" shouted the captain.

The breeze came from the eastward; the yards were squared, and the Intrepid began to move through the water. She glided on but slowly; the pirates were still gaining on us. The wind, however, freshened.

As we watched our pursuers, first one raised a mast and a long taper yard, then another, and they were soon under all sail standing after us. The breeze increased; we gave a cheer, hoping soon to get well ahead of them. Still on they came, and it seemed very doubtful whether we should succeed. I believe that some of the crew would rather have had a fight than have escaped without it.

The pirates, by keeping their oars moving, still gained on us. To look at the captain, one might have supposed that it was a matter of indifference to him whether they came alongside or not, but our cargo was too valuable to risk the chance of being lost. We had soon studding-sails rigged below and aloft. Again the wind dropped, and the pirates were now almost within musket shot.

"We will slew round one of our guns, and run it through the after port, Griffiths," said the captain. "A shot or two will teach the rascals what to expect should they come up to us."

Just, however, as we had got the gun run out the wind again freshened. The Intrepid, deep in the water though she was, showed that she had not lost her power of sailing. Though the pirates were straining every nerve, we once more drew ahead of them. The more the breeze increased the faster we left them astern, and by the time the sun had set we had got fully four miles ahead, but still by going aloft we could see them following, evidently hoping that we should be again becalmed, and that they might get up with us. During the night we continued our course for Timor. At the usual hour the watch below turned in, though the captain remained on deck, and a sharp look-out was kept astern. However, as long as the breeze continued we had no fear of being overtaken.

It was my morning watch. As soon as it was daylight I went aloft, and saw the proas the same distance off that they had been at nightfall. I told Mr Griffiths when I came below.

"The rascals still expect to catch us," he said, "but we must hope that they'll be disappointed. However, we're prepared for them."

For some hours the breeze continued steady. Soon after noon it again fell, and our pursuers crept closer to us. It was somewhat exciting, and kept us all alive, though it did not spoil our appetites. The whole of the day they were in sight, but when the wind freshened up again in the evening we once more distanced them. The night passed as the former had done. We could not tell when we went below what moment we might be roused up to fight for our lives. I for one did not sleep the worse for that.

The breeze was pretty steady during the middle watch, and I was not on deck again till it was broad daylight. The second mate, who had been aloft, reported that the pirates were still in sight, but farther off than they were the day before, and the breeze now freshening, their hulls sank beneath the horizon, and we fully expected to see no more of them. We sighted Timor about three weeks after leaving Gely, and in the evening brought up in a small bay, with a town on its shore, called Cushbab. Our object was to obtain vegetables and buffalo meat.

The natives are Malays, and talk Portuguese. Nearly all those we met on shore carried creeses, or long, sharp knives, in their belt, which they use on the slightest provocation. Every boy we saw had a cock under his arm. The people seemed to spend all their time in cock-fighting. They are very fond of the birds, which are of enormous size; considerably larger than any English cocks. Being unable to obtain any buffaloes here, we got under way, and anchored in another bay some way to the west, where we obtained twelve animals.

At first they were very wild when we got them on board, but in a few hours became tame, and would eat out of our hands. They were destined, however, for the butcher's knife. Some of the meat we ate fresh, but the larger quantity was salted down for sea stores. The unsalted meat kept for a very short time, and we had to throw a large piece overboard. The instant it reached the water up came two tiger sharks, which fought for it, seizing each other in the most ferocious manner possible, and struggling together, although there was enough for both of them.

After leaving Timor we steered along the south-east coast of Java, and then shaped a course across the Indian Ocean for the Cape of Good Hope. The wind was fair, the sea smooth, and I never remember enjoying a longer period of fine weather. In consequence of the light winds our passage was lengthened more than we had expected, and we were running short of provisions of all sorts. There were still two casks of bread left, each containing about four hundred-weight.

"Never mind," observed the second mate, "we shall have enough to take us to the Cape."

At length the first was finished, and we went below to get up the second. It was marked bread clearly enough, but when the carpenter knocked in the head, what was our dismay to find it full of new sails, it having been wrongly branded! The captain at once ordered a search to be made in the store-room for other provisions. The buffalo meat we had salted had long been exhausted, part of it having turned bad; and besides one cask of pork, which proved to be almost rancid, a couple of pounds of flour with a few other trifling articles, not a particle of food remained in the ship. Starvation stared us in the face.



On hearing of the alarming scarcity of food on board, the captain called the crew aft.

"Lads," he said, "I don't want to hide anything from you. Should the wind shift to the westward, it may be a month or more before we reach the Cape, so if you wish to save your lives, you must at once be put on a short allowance of food and water. A quarter of a pint of water, two ounces of pork, and half an ounce of flour is all I can allow for each man, and the officers and I will share alike with you."

Not a word was said in reply, and the men went forward with gloomy looks. To make the flour go farther we mixed whale oil with it, and, though nauseous in the extreme, it served to keep body and soul together.

At first the crew bore it pretty well, but they soon took to grumbling, saying that it was owing to the captain's want of forethought in not laying in more provisions that we were reduced to this state.

Hitherto the wind had been fair, but any day it might change, and then, they asked, what would become of us? Most of them would have broken into open mutiny had not they known that the mates and doctor, Jack and I, Jim, and probably Brown and Soper, would have sided with the captain, though we felt that they were not altogether wrong in their accusation.

I heard the doctor tell Mr Griffiths that he was afraid the scurvy would again appear if we were kept long on our present food. Day after day we glided on across the smooth ocean with a cloudless sky, our food and water gradually decreasing.

We now often looked at each other, wondering what would be the end. At last, one night, when it was my middle watch on deck, Jim came aft to me.

"I'm afraid the men won't stand it any longer," he said. "They vow that if the captain don't serve out more food and water they'll take it. I know that it will be death to all of us if they do, or I would not tell on them. You let Mr Griffiths know; maybe he'll bring them to a right mind. They don't care for Jack or me, and Brown, Soper, and Sam seemed inclined to side with the rest. Jack says whatever you do he'll do."

"Thank you, Jim," I answered. "You try to show them what folly they'll commit if they attempt to do as they propose. They won't succeed, for the captain is a determined man, and there'll be bloodshed if they keep to their purpose."

Jim went forward, and I took a turn on deck to consider what was best to be done. It was the second mate's watch, and it had only just struck two bells. I did not wish to say anything to him. I waited for a little, and then asked the second mate to let me go below for a minute, for I could not quit the deck without his leave.

"You may go and turn in if you like," he said. "There's no chance of your being wanted on a night like this."

"Thank you, sir," I answered, and at once ran down to Mr Griffiths's cabin.

He awoke when I touched his shoulder, and I told him in a low voice what I had heard.

"You have acted sensibly, Peter," he answered. "I'll be on deck in a moment. When the men see that we are prepared for them they'll change their minds."

I again went on deck, and he soon appeared, with a brace of pistols in his belt, followed by the captain and the doctor, with muskets in their hands.

At that moment up sprang from the fore-hatchway the greater part of the crew, evidently intending to make their way to the after store-room, where the provisions and water were kept.

"What are you about to do, lads?" shouted the captain. "Go below, every one of you, except the watch on deck, and don't attempt to try this trick again."

His tall figure holding a musket ready to fire cowed them in an instant, and they obeyed without uttering a word. The captain said that he should remain on deck, and told Mr Griffiths and the doctor that he would call them if they were wanted.

Some time afterwards, going forward, I found Jim, who told me that they had all turned in.

The night passed away without any disturbance. As soon as it was daylight the captain ordered me to go aloft and take a look round. I obeyed, though I felt so weak that I could scarcely climb the rigging. I glanced round the horizon, but no vessel could I see. A mist still hung over the water.

I was just about to come down when the sun rose, and at the same moment I made out over our quarter, away to the southward, a white sail, on which his rays were cast, standing on the same course that we were.

"Sail ho!" I shouted in a joyful tone, and pointed out in the direction in which I saw her.

The captain, immediately I came down, ordered me to rouse up all hands, and every sail the ship could carry being set, we edged down to the stranger, making a signal that we desired to speak her. She was an English barque, also bound for the Cape.

As we got close together, a boat being lowered, Mr Griffiths and I went on board and stated our wants. Her captain at once agreed to supply us with everything he could spare, and we soon had our boat loaded with a cask of bread, another of beef, and several other articles, and in addition a nautical almanack, for we had run out our last one within a week before this. We had a second trip to make, with casks to fill with water. As may be supposed, we had quenched our own thirst on our first visit. When we again got back we found the cook and two hands assisting him busily employed in preparing breakfast, and a right hearty one we had.

We kept our charitable friends in sight till we reached the Cape, by which time we had expended all the provisions with which they had furnished us.

In a few days, from the abundance of fresh meat and vegetables which we obtained from the shore, our health and strength returned, and I for one was eager once more to put to sea, that Jack and I might the sooner reach home. We had got so far on our way that it seemed to me as if we were almost there. We were, however, detained for several days refitting and provisioning the ship.

Once more, however, the men showed their mutinous disposition, for when they were ordered to heave up the anchor they refused to man the windlass, on the plea that they had had no liberty on shore. Though this was the case, there having been work for all hands on board, there was no real excuse for their conduct, as they were amply supplied with provisions, and had not been really over-worked.

"We shall see, my fine fellows," exclaimed the captain, on seeing them doggedly standing with their arms folded in a group forward.

At once ordering his boat, which was pulled by Jack and Jim, Miles Soper and Brown, he went on shore. He soon returned, with the deputy captain of the port, who, stepping on board, called the men aft, and inquired what they had to complain of. As they were all silent, Captain McL—- made them a speech, pointing out to them that they were fortunate in being aboard a well-found and well-provisioned ship.

"And, my lads," he continued, "you need not have any fear of falling sick, for the captain has an ample supply for you of anti-scorbutics."

As none of the mutineers had a notion what this long word meant, they were taken completely aback; and after staring at him and then at each other, first one and then another went forward to the windlass, and we soon had the ship under way.

Whenever during the voyage any of us talked about the matter, we always called Captain McL—- "Old Anti-Scorbutic." I felt happier than I had been for a long time when the ship's head was directed northward, and as we had a fresh breeze the men declared that their friends at home had got hold of the tow-rope, and that we should soon be there.

On running down to Saint Helena we were followed for several days by some black whales of immense length. Sometimes they were so close to the ship's side that we might have lanced them from the deck. The fourth day after we saw them the second mate and Horner took it into their heads wantonly to fire musket-shots at them. At last one of the poor creatures was hit, when it dived, the others following its example, and we saw them no more. The only object of interest we met with crossing the north-east trades was the passage through the Gulf Stream, or Sargasso Sea, as it is sometimes called. It was curious to find ourselves surrounded by thick masses of seaweed as far as the eye could reach on every side, so that no clear water could be seen for miles away. I can compare it to nothing else than to sailing through a farmyard covered with deep straw.

The first land we made was Fyal. Thence we ran across to Pico, where we obtained provisions and water. If we had got nothing else it would have been well, but the crew managed to smuggle on board a quantity of new rum, the effects of which were soon visible.

Leaving Pico, we shaped a course for old England. The wind was now freshening, and all sail was made, as the captain was in a hurry to get the voyage over. In the evening, when the watch was called, not a man came on deck, every one of them being drunk, while most of the men in the other watch, who had managed to slip down every now and then, were in no better condition. The captain, who had been ailing, was in bed. Mr Griffiths, the doctor and I, Jim and Brown, were the only sober ones. The second mate evidently did not know what he was about. Mr Griffiths advised him to turn in. I was very sorry to see my brother Jack nearly as bad as the rest, though he afterwards told me that, having been so long without spirits, they had had an unexpected effect upon him. We sober ones had to remain all night on deck, running off when a puff of wind struck the sails. It was a mercy that it didn't come on to blow hard, for we could never have managed to shorten sail in time to save the spars. Indeed, very probably the masts would have gone. Brown, Jim, and I took it by turns to steer till morning broke, by which time some of the rest of the crew began to show signs of life. As we got into northern latitudes a strong north-easterly breeze made the weather feel bitterly cold to us, who had been for so long a time accustomed to a southern climate.

During all that period I had not worn shoes. For the sake of warmth I now wanted to put on a pair, but my feet had so increased in size that I could not find any large enough in the slop-locker.

At last the wind shifted to the south-west, and we ran before it up Channel.

The first object we made was the Owers light-vessel, about ninety miles from the Downs. Having made a signal for a pilot, one boarded us out of a cutter off Dungeness. How eagerly all of us plied the old fellow for news, though as he was a man of few words it was with difficulty that the captain or mates could pump much out of him. We remained but a few hours in the Downs to obtain provisions, of which we were again short, and thence proceeded to the Thames, where we dropped our anchor for the last time before going into dock to unload.

Jim and I, although we had been kept on board against our will and had never signed articles, found that we could claim wages. Though I had no reason to like Captain Hawkins, yet I felt that I ought to wish him good-bye.

To my surprise, he seemed very friendly, and said that if I ever wished to go to sea again he should be very glad to have me with him, as well as my brother and Jim. Poor man! He had made his last voyage, for I heard of his death shortly afterwards. I was very sorry to part from Mr Griffiths and Dr Cockle. They invited me to come and see them, both of them saying that they never intended again to go afloat, though I heard that Mr Griffiths got the command of a fine ship shortly afterwards; so I supposed that like many others similarly situated he was induced to change his mind and tempt once more the dangers of the ocean.

"We will meet again, Peter," said Miles Soper; "and I hope that if you and Jack go to sea, we shall all be aboard the same ship."

Brown said the same thing, but from that day to this I have never been able to learn what became of him. Such is often the case in a sea life. For years people are living on the most intimate terms, and separate never to meet again in this life.

After remaining a week in London for payment of our wages, Jim and I each received five-and-twenty pounds, Jack also obtaining nearly half that amount. Our first care before we set off for Portsmouth, to which we were eager to return, was, our clothes being worn out, to supply ourselves with decent suits of blue cloth and other necessaries.

At daylight the morning after we were free, carrying our bundles and the various treasures we had collected, a pretty load altogether, we went to the place from which the coach started for Portsmouth, and finding three seats on the top, off we set with light hearts, thinking of the friends we should meet on our arriving there. Jack confessed that he had forgotten the appearance of most of them, though he longed to see Mary and to give her the curiosities he had brought. We had a couple of parrots, three other beautifully coloured birds, a big basket of shells, and a whole bundle of bows, and arrows, and darts, and a lot of other things.

Rattling down the Portsmouth High Street, we at last dismounted and set off for Mr Gray's house, where I fully expected I should still find Mary living. As we walked along, the boys gathered round us to look at our birds, and some asked where we had come from with so many curious things.

"From round the world," answered Jim, "since we were last at home," which was not a very definite answer.

In vain we looked, about expecting to see some old acquaintances, but all the faces we set eyes on were strange. No wonder, considering how long we had been away, while certainly no one would have recognised us. It was not quite an easy matter to find our way to Mr Gray's house, and we had to stop every now and then while Jim and I consulted which turning to take, for we were ashamed to ask any one. At last, just as we got near it, we saw an old gentleman in a Quaker's dress coming along the road. He just glanced at us, as other people had done; when I, looking hard at him, felt sure he must be Mr Gray. I nudged Jim's shoulder.

"Yes, it's he, I'm sure," whispered Jim.

So I went up to him, and pulling off my hat said—

"Beg pardon, sir; may I be so bold as to ask if you are Mr Gray?"

"Gray is my name, young man," he answered, looking somewhat surprised, "Who art thou?"

"Peter Trawl, sir; and this Jim Pulley, and here is my brother Jack."

If the kind Quaker had ever been addicted to uttering exclamations of surprise he would have done so on this occasion, I suspect, judging from the expression of astonishment which came over his countenance.

"Peter Trawl! James Pulley! Why, it was reported that those two lads were lost in the North Sea years ago," he said.

"We are the lads, sir, notwithstanding," I answered; and I briefly narrated to him how we had been picked up by the Intrepid and carried off to the Pacific, and how I had there found my brother Jack.

"Verily, this is good news, and will cheer the heart of thy young sister, who has never ceased to believe that thou wouldst turn up again some day or other," he said.

"Is Mary well, sir? Is she still with you?" I inquired, eagerly.

"Yes, Peter, thy sister is as one of my family. Though greatly pressed by her newly-found relatives in Shetland to go there and reside with them, she has always replied that she was sure thou wast alive, and that thou wouldst come back to Portsmouth to look for her and that it would grieve thee much not to find her."

"How kind and thoughtful!" I exclaimed. "Do let me go on, sir, at once to see my young sister."

"Stay, lad, stay," he answered. "The surprise might be too great for her. I will go back to my house and tell her that thou hast returned home safe. Thou art so changed that she would not know thee, and therefore thou and thy companions may follow close behind."

We saw Mr Gray go to his door and knock. It was opened by a woman-servant, who I was sure, when I caught sight of her countenance, was Nancy herself. She saw me at the same moment, and directly Mr Gray had entered, came out on the doorstep, and regarded me intently.

"Yes, I'm sure it is!" she exclaimed. "Peter, Peter, aren't you Peter, now? I have not forgotten thy face, though thee be grown into a young man!" and she stretched out her arms, quite regardless of the passers-by, ready to give me such another embrace as she had bestowed on me when I went away. I could not restrain myself any longer, but, giving the things I was carrying to Jack, sprang up the steps.

"Here he is, Miss Mary, here he is!" cried Nancy, and I saw close behind her a tall, fair girl.

Nancy, however, had time to give me a kiss and a hug before I could disengage myself, and the next moment my sweet sister Mary had her arms round my neck, and, half crying, half laughing, was exclaiming—

"I knew you would come, I knew you would, Peter; I was sure you were not lost!"

My brother Jack and Jim were, meantime, staying outside, not liking to come in till they were summoned. Nancy did not recognise them, and thought that they were two shipmates who had accompanied me to carry my things.

At last, when I told Mary that I had not only come myself, but had brought back our brother Jack, she was eager to see him, though she was so young when he went away that she had no recollection of his countenance, and scarcely knew him from Jim.

Mary had let me into the parlour. I now went and beckoned them in. Nancy, when she knew who they were, welcomed them warmly, but did not bestow so affectionate a greeting on them as she had done on me. Jim stood outside the door while I brought Jack in. Though Mary kissed him, and told him how glad she was to see him, it was easy to see that she at first felt almost as if he were a stranger.

Mr Gray left us to ourselves for some time, and then all the family came in and welcomed us kindly, insisting that Jack should remain with me in the parlour, while Nancy took care of Jim in the kitchen, where he was much more it his ease than he would have been with strangers. Jack, indeed, looked, as he afterwards confessed to me he felt, like a fish out of water in the presence of so many young ladies.

Though I had twice written to Mary, and had directed my letters properly, neither had reached her; yet for all these fears she had not lost hope of seeing me.

After supper, Jack and I were going away, but Mr Gray insisted that we should remain, as he had had beds arranged for us in the house.

"I must not let you lads be exposed to the dangers and temptations of the town," he said in a kind tone. "You must stay here till you go to sea again."

Mary at once wrote to Mr Troil to tell him of my return, and of my having brought my brother Jack back with me.

While waiting for an answer, one day Jack and Jim and I were walking down the High Street, when we saw a large placard stating that the Thisbe frigate, commissioned by Captain Rogers, was in want of hands.

"I shouldn't wonder but what he was my old skipper," observed Jack. "And you fine young fellows couldn't do better than join her," exclaimed a petty officer, who was standing near, clapping Jack on the back.

"Why I think I know your face," he added.

"Maybe. I'm Jack Trawl. I'm not ashamed of my name," said my brother.

"Jack Trawl!" exclaimed the man-of-war's man; "then you belong to the Lapwing. We all thought you were lost with the rest of the boat's crew."

"No, I wasn't; Miles Soper and I escaped. Now I look at you, ain't you Bill Bolton?"

"The same," was the answer. "Tell us how it all happened."

Jack in a few words told his old shipmate what is already known to the reader. While he was speaking, who should come up but Miles Soper himself, come down to Portsmouth to look out for a berth, accompanied by Sam Coal. The long and the short of it was that they all three agreed to enter aboard the Thisbe, and did their best to persuade Jim to follow their example.

I had no notion of doing so myself, for I knew that it would break Mary's heart to part with me again so soon, and I feared, indeed, that she would not like Jack's going. Still, taking all things into consideration, he could not do better I thought—for having been so long at sea, he felt, as he said, like a fish out of water among so many fine folks.

Jim made no reply, but drawing me aside, said—

"Peter, I can't bear the thoughts of leaving you, and yet I know you wouldn't like to ship before the mast again; but if I stay ashore what am I to do? I've no fancy to spending my days in a wherry, and haven't got one if I had. I've taken a liking to Jack, and you've many friends, and can do without me, so if you don't say no I'll ship with the rest."

I need not repeat what I said to Jim. I was sure that it was the best thing he could do, and advised him accordingly.

"I'm with you, mates," he said, in a husky tone, going back to the rest, and away they all went together, while I returned to Mr Gray's.

"I wish the lads had shipped on board a peaceable merchantman," he observed when I told him, "but I can't pretend to dictate to them. I am glad thou hast been better directed, Peter."

Jack and Jim came to see us before the ship went out of harbour. Jack said he knew that he must work for his living, and that he would rather serve aboard a man-o'-war than do anything else.

"I'll look after him as I used to do you, Peter," said Jim. "And I hope some day we'll come back with our pockets full of gold, and maybe bear up for wherever you've dropped your anchor."

A few days after this a letter came from Mr Troil, inviting Mary, Jack, and me to Shetland. Mary was very unwilling to leave her kind friends, but Mr Gray said that it would be to our advantage, and advised Mary and me to go.

He was right, for when we arrived Mr Troil received us as relatives. Mary became like a second daughter to him. I assisted in managing his property, and in the course of a few years Maggie, to whom he left everything he possessed, became my wife, while Mary married the owner of a neighbouring estate.

Some few years after a small coaster came into the Voe. I went down to see what she had on board. A sailor-looking man, with a wooden leg, and a woman, stepped ashore.

"That's him—that's him!" I heard them exclaim, and in a moment I was shaking hands with Jim and Nancy, who had become his wife. He had got his discharge, and had come, he said, to settle near me. I several times heard from my brother Jack, who, after serving as bo'sun on board a line-of-battle ship, retired from the service with a pension, and joined our family circle in Shetland, where he married, and declared that he was too happy ever to go to sea again.


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