The South Sea Whaler
by W.H.G. Kingston
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Fortunately the weather remained calm, though even then it took three days to prepare the brig for the voyage. A third of her crew were received on board the Champion, they having volunteered to join her. Both vessels then made sail, the Champion accompanying the prize. They had not got far, however, when the lookout at the masthead gave the welcome cry of "There they spout! there they spout!"

"Where away?" asked the captain.

"On the weather bow," was the answer.

The captain made the signal for the brig to proceed on her voyage, and ordered the Champion's sails to be braced sharp up, to stand towards the whales which were seen to windward. There was a fresh breeze, which seemed likely to increase. After making a couple of tacks the ship was hove-to, and the captain ordered two boats to be lowered,—he going in one, and the second mate in the other. Away they pulled after the whales, which, however, caught sight of them, and went off in all directions. The captain made chase after one, which, taking several turns, at length came towards him. Ordering his men to lie on their oars, he stepped forward, waiting till the whale, a huge bull, came near enough, when with unerring aim he struck his harpoon deep into its side. The whale, smarting with pain, turned round, almost upsetting the boat, and away it went dead to windward at a tremendous speed right against the sea, which flew from the bows, covering her with showers of foam.

The second mate, who had gone away after another whale, observing the course the first was taking as it came by, dashed up and fixed his harpoon into the other side of the monster. Away went both the boats, towed with undiminished speed, till in a short time neither could be seen from the Champion's deck. Scarcely had they disappeared when several more whales were seen spouting at no considerable distance to windward. The opportunity of catching them was not to be lost, and Mr Shobbrok ordered the two remaining boats to be lowered,—he going in one and the fourth mate in the other, leaving the ship in charge of the surgeon.

Walter had long been anxious to see a whale actually caught; and not allowing the mate time to refuse him, he jumped into his boat.

"Do let me go," he exclaimed. "The whales are not far off, and we shall soon be back with a prize." The men in their eagerness had shoved off and were giving way. Walter sprang aft to the side of the mate, who was steering. "You won't be angry with me, Mr Shobbrok," he said; "I promise not to come again, if you object."

"I trust that no accident will happen, my boy," answered the mate. "It was for your own good alone that I wished you to remain on board, otherwise I should have been glad of your company, and given you the opportunity of seeing a whale caught."

A whole school of whales was in sight, several of them spouting together. The mates steered for them, making sure of getting hold of a couple at least. Some were spouting, others sounding, and others just coming up again to breathe. Mr Shobbrok steered for one which had just made its appearance above water; while the fourth mate's boat made way towards another huge monster which had already been blowing for some seconds.

The first mate's boat approached the whale he had selected. Stepping to the bows, he plunged his harpoon into the creature's side; and then taking one of the lances he thrust it deep into its body, singing out as he did so, "Back off, all!"

At that instant Walter heard a cry from the direction of the other boat. He looked round, when what was his horror to see that the boat had been struck by the whale and lifted into the air! The next instant down it came, dashed into fragments, while those in it were sent flying in all directions. The first mate, in his desire to go to the rescue of his shipmates, was on the point of heaving his own line overboard with a drogue fastened to it, when the whale he had struck, lifting up its huge flukes, sounded, nearly dragging him overboard as he let out the line. The men were backing out of its way, when suddenly it slewed round its tail. The men, well knowing their danger, made every effort to escape, and believing that they had got to a safe distance, and that the whale had gone down, pulled back to the assistance of their drowning shipmates. Just then a tremendous blow was felt, and the boat, struck amidships, was thrown into the air as the other had been, and smashed to fragments. The two men in the centre of the boat must have been killed instantaneously. Walter felt stunned for a moment, but, recovering his senses, found himself struggling in the water, and close to the broken stern of the boat, to which he clung fast. Only one person remained floating above the surface. Walter called to him; and Mr Shobbrok's voice answered, "Hold on, my lad; I'll be with you anon."

Walter saw that he was towing some of the fragments of the boat. The whale had disappeared, possibly having carried down some of the men in his mighty jaws. The first mate, after considerable exertion, reached Walter.

"Thank Heaven, you have escaped!" he said, helping him up on to the wreck of the boat. Fortunately the second line remained attached to it.

"We must put together a raft, Walter, and try to get back to the ship," said the mate. By means of the line he set to work, and lashed together the different pieces of the boat which he managed to pick up, till he had formed a raft sufficient to support Walter. The fragments of the other boat still remained floating at no great distance. Pushing the raft before him, he shoved it on till he reached the spot, when, collecting them, with the assistance of four oars he had picked up he formed a still larger raft, on which he, as well as Walter, could sit securely. He had also got two other oars with which to urge on the raft. Thus a considerable time was occupied, and it was now evening; before long it would be quite dark, and the difficulty of finding the ship much increased; they had less chance, also, of being picked up by either of the two other boats on their return to the ship.

Walter had not uttered a word of complaint, and had done his utmost to assist the mate. He could not help feeling how wrong he had been in getting into the boat, knowing, as he did, that his father would certainly have objected; and should he not find them, how grieved he would be on getting on board the ship to discover that they had not returned. The accident had occurred at too great a distance for those remaining on board to see what had happened, though they might, perhaps, conjecture that the boats had been destroyed.

The sun soon set, and darkness rapidly coming on, shrouded the far-distant ship from sight. The mate and Walter had done their utmost to impel the raft towards her; but gathering clouds obscured the sky, and they had no longer the means of directing their course.

"It will be impossible to reach her during the night," said the mate at length. "We are as likely to be pulling away from her as towards her; and I have a notion that the wind has shifted more than once. The best thing we can do is to lie on our oars and to wait patiently till the morning. Take care, however, my boy, that you do not drop asleep and fall off. Here, make a couple of beckets, and slip your arms through them; they will awake you if you move in your sleep."

"I have no wish to go to sleep," said Walter; "I feel too anxious to do that."

"You must not trust too much to that," said the mate. "Nature may be too powerful for you; and you will be all the better for the rest."

Still Walter insisted on endeavouring to keep awake. He was sitting up trying to pass the time with talking, when suddenly he exclaimed, "Look! look, Mr Shobbrok! Where can that light come from?"

The mate gazed for some time, and then said solemnly, "Walter, I am afraid the ship is on fire."



After the boats had left the ship, Alice remained on deck, attended by Nub, watching their progress. Now and then Mr Lawrie came and spoke to her, but she was so eager that she could scarcely reply to what he said. Away dashed the two boats dancing over the waves, and were soon almost lost to sight, though Alice saw that they had reached the spot where the whales had been seen spouting. They had been gone some time when she saw Tidy come from below and speak in a hurried, anxious tone to Mr Lawrie. He then hastened away, as if not wishing to be seen by his shipmates. Soon after the surgeon came to her, and begged that she would go into the cabin.

"Let me help you, Missie Alice," said Nub. "Better aff dere dan on deck."

Alice saw that something was wrong, but could not make out exactly what it was. She went, however, as Mr Lawrie requested her; and taking up a book endeavoured to read, but not with much success. She saw Mr Lawrie come in and put a brace of pistols in his belt. Nub and Tidy, with three or four of the other men, did the same. This, of course, made her very anxious. Several times she asked Nub if the boats were in sight, but always got the same answer: "No signs of boats yet, Missie Alice." Poor girl, she felt very forlorn with both her father and Walter away. Nub came in and placed the tea-things on the table, and she made tea. At last Mr Lawrie came in, apparently in a great hurry, and somewhat agitated. Of course she asked him if the boats were in sight.

"I hope they soon will be," he answered.

"Is there anything the matter?" she asked.

"I hope it will not be of much consequence," he replied evasively; and without saying more, quickly went again on deck.

It was now getting quite dark. Nub lighted the cabin-lamp.

"You had better take a book and read, Miss Alice, and dat pass your time till de captain return." Alice found it almost impossible to keep her eyes on the page. Presently she heard some loud shouts and cries, and the stamping of feet, and pistol-shots.

That there was fighting going forward on deck she felt sure, but she dared not go up to ascertain. The noise increased—there was more firing—then Nub rushed into the cabin.

"Oh, what has happened?" she asked.

"I come to take care of you, Miss Alice," he answered. "De prisoners and de bad men who mutiny before try to take de ship from de surgeon and us, and dey are now fighting; and Mr Lawrie told me to come to take care of you."

"Oh, thank you, Nub. How I wish my father was on board, to help poor Mr Lawrie. What will he do?"

"He fight like brave Scotchman," answered Nub; "and he soon make de mutineers ask pardon. Don't be afraid, Miss Alice; de captain soon come, and all go right."

Nub, however, was more sanguine than the state of the case warranted. Mr Lawrie, aided by the true men, had managed to drive the mutineers forward; but they were too numerous to allow him to hope for victory, unless the loyal part of the crew away in the boats should speedily return. For a short time all was again quiet; but the mutineers were merely gathering to make another rush aft. Several who had before been faithful joined them; and now again began to utter the most savage cries, this time shouting out, "Overboard with all who oppose us! Down with the officers! Death to our enemies!" They were already on the point of dashing aft to execute their threats; when thick smoke was seen ascending from the fore-hatchway, a bright flame shooting up directly afterwards in the midst of it.

"Fire! fire! fire!" shouted both parties of the crew.

"My lads, we must try and put it out, if we don't want to be burned alive," exclaimed the surgeon, addressing those about him. Then turning to the mutineers, he shouted out, "You men who are about to attack us,— if you have any sense left in you, I entreat you for your own sakes to assist in extinguishing the fire."

"Ay, ay, sir," cried the boatswain; and then addressing his own party, he exclaimed, "There's sense in what the doctor says. Let's put the fire out first, and settle our differences afterwards."

All hands turned to and tried to save the ship; but the fire had already made so much progress below that there appeared little probability of their succeeding. The buckets were collected and filled; the hatches torn off; and the boatswain, heading a party of the boldest, went below, while the others passed the buckets to them. Mr Lawrie and the other officers exerted themselves to the utmost, he setting a good example by his courage and activity. Dense volumes of smoke, however, continued to ascend both from the fore and main hatchway; while flames which had at first only flickered up occasionally now burst forth through the fore-hatchway, circling round the foremast and catching the rigging and sails.

Nub, in the meantime, who would have willingly worked with the rest, considered it his duty to remain with Alice, every now and then putting his head out of the companion-hatch to see how matters were proceeding. At last he came back, his countenance exhibiting anxiety rather than terror. "De ship will be burned; no doubt about dat, Missie Alice," he said; "and de sooner we get away de better. You help me, and we make raft on which we float till de captain comes back to take us. Don't be afraid, Missie Alice; no harm will come to you, for God will take care of us better dan we can take care of ourselves. Still, we do what we can."

"I will do whatever you advise, Nub," answered Alice, endeavouring to overcome her alarm. She did what every truly wise person under such circumstances would do—she commended herself and her companion to the care of God. She then took Nub's hand, who led her up the companion-ladder to the poop. Having obtained an axe, he immediately began to cut loose the hen-coops, spars, and gratings, and the lighter part of the woodwork of that part of the ship. Securing them to ropes, he forthwith lowered them over the side. Fortunately at this time the wind had fallen completely, so that the ship was making no way through the water. Placing Alice in one of the ports, from which she could leap if necessary into his arms, he descended, and began lashing together the spars and gratings and pieces of woodwork which he had thrown overboard. He could only do this in a very rough manner, as he knew that from the rapid progress the fire was making there was no time to be lost. He would have called the surgeon and Tidy to his assistance, but he was afraid if he did so that the rest of the crew would take possession of the raft he had commenced. His great object was to save Alice, leaving the others to do the best they could for themselves. He had put materials together sufficient to bear his and her weight. While he was working, it occurred to him that it would be necessary to get some provisions; and securing the raft, he sprang on deck by means of some ropes he had hung overboard for the purpose, and rushing into the cabin, he got hold of a small box of biscuit, a bottle of wine, and an earthen jar full of water. With these prizes he again descended to the raft. On his way he observed that the surgeon and the rest of the people were still labouring in vain endeavours to put out the fire, and he could not help shouting to Mr Lawrie, "You had better build a raft, sir; no use trying to put out the fire."

Whether or not Mr Lawrie heard him he could not tell. As he was getting over the quarter, he caught sight of a boat's sail, which he threw on the raft. Having deposited his provisions in a hen-coop in which a couple of fowls still remained, he sprang up again to assist Alice down, as he had a feeling that she would be safer on the raft than on board the ship. He had secured a boat-hook for the purpose of catching hold of the articles he threw overboard, and was stretching out his arm to reach a piece of timber which had floated away, while Alice was holding on to a rope close to him, when a thundering sound echoed in their ears.

"O Nub, what is that?" cried Alice in a terrified tone, gazing at the fearful scene before her.

"Ship blow up, I s'pose," answered Nub, working away energetically. "Hold on, Missie Alice; no harm come to you,—we shove off directly."

An explosion had, indeed, taken place in the fore-part of the ship, scattering destruction around, blowing up the deck, and sending all on that part into the water, killing some and fearfully mangling others. The fire now burst forth with increased fury, enveloping in flames the whole of the fore-part of the ship. Nub, fearing that another explosion of still more terrific character would occur should the fire reach the chief magazine, which it would do, he thought, before long, shoved off with his young charge, so precious in his sight, to put as great a distance as possible between her and the danger he apprehended. He had already fastened together several pieces of wood, which he had not time to secure as perfectly as he desired; and on his way he picked up many more such fragments, as well as some casks which had been on deck, and were sent overboard by the explosion. Without loss of time he began lashing them together, soon forming a raft which he considered would be able to withstand a tolerable amount of knocking about should the sea get up.

Nub was not destitute of humanity, but though he heard the cries of his shipmates as they struggled in the water, he continued labouring away at the raft without attempting to go to the rescue.

"Oh, poor men! cannot we help them?" exclaimed Alice.

"Dey take care of demselves, Missie Alice," answered Nub. "My business is to sabe you."

"Oh, don't think of me," exclaimed Alice. "I cannot bear the thoughts of their perishing if it is possible to save them."

"It not possible, den," answered Nub; "unless I run de risk ob losing you." And he worked away as before.

The flames had now burst forth from all sides of the ship, affording him sufficient light for the purpose. Having preserved a stout spar to serve as a mast, he fixed it firmly at one end of the raft, staying it up with the remainder of the rope, with the exception of a piece which he kept for halyards. The sail was already attached to a light yard, so that he had only to secure it to his halyards and hoist it up. This he did, bringing the sheet aft, where he placed himself, with an oar to serve as a rudder.

His great object was to get to a sufficient distance from the ship, to avoid the danger of another explosion. By this time the cries from the drowning men had ceased; and had he thought it safe to venture back to the ship, it would probably have been too late to save them. What had become of the rest of his shipmates he could not tell. He fancied, indeed, that he heard the sound of voices; but if so, they must have been on the other side of the ship, and were thus shut out from view.

A light breeze having now got up, the raft made tolerable way, and soon got to some distance from the ship; but still fearing that the fragments might reach them and injure Alice, Nub stood on. Now and then he cast a look at the ship. It appeared to him that the flames were not making such rapid progress as at first. "After de fire burn out, we go back, Missie Alice; but still I tink we safer here dan on board de ship," he observed. "S'pose we near and de ship go down, den de oder men get on de raft and sink her."

Nub, indeed, knew that there were two dangers to be apprehended. Should the ship blow up, he and Alice might be injured by the fragments, which would probably be sent to a great distance from her; while, should she go down, the raft might be drawn into the vortex: and sink with her. He could not tell at what distance they would be free from either of these two dangers; and this made him stand on much further than was in reality necessary.

On and on he went. It seemed foolish to him to stop short of a spot of positive safety. The fierce flames were blazing up from every part of the ship, making her appear much nearer than she really was. The wind was increasing, driving the raft rapidly before it; and as the sea got up and rolled under the raft, Nub saw that the only means of preserving it from being swamped was to continue on his course.

On and on he sailed. The sea rose higher and higher, and the clouds gathered thickly in the sky. His great fear was that the seas would break aboard and sweep Alice off. To prevent so fearful a catastrophe, he begged her to let him fasten her to a hen-coop, which he lashed tightly down in the centre of the raft. "Don't be afraid, Missie Alice; don't be afraid," he kept continually saying.

"I am not afraid for myself," answered Alice; "but I am thinking how miserable poor papa and Walter will be when they get back to the ship and find that I am gone. They will not know that you are taking care of me, and that we are safe on a raft. And then, if Mr Lawrie and Dan Tidy should escape, they will not be able to say where we are gone, as they did not see us get away. For their sakes, I wish that we could go back."

"Dat we can't do, Missie Alice; for, if I try eber so hard, I not pull against such a gale as dis," answered Nub.

Alice was silent; she saw that Nub's reason was a true one. Though she had assured him that she was not frightened, she felt very anxious and alarmed about her own fate and his.

The thunder rolled, the lightning flashed, and the seas tumbled the raft so fearfully about, that had it not been put strongly together it would speedily have been broken into fragments, and she and her companion left without any support on which to preserve their lives. The burning ship appeared further and further off, and even should the storm cease it would be almost impossible to get back to her. At length there came a loud roar which sounded above the noise of the thunder. The flames seemed to rise higher than before in the sky; and even at that distance the masts, spars, and rigging could be discerned, broken into fragments, and hanging, as it were, above the fire. Then after a few minutes all became dark!

"Dere goes de ship to de bottom," exclaimed Nub; "I hope no one on board her. De people had time to get away on a raft if dey got deir senses about dem."

"Indeed, I hope that Mr Lawrie, and honest Dan Tidy and the others, managed to escape," cried Alice. "But oh, Nub, do you think papa and Walter can have been on board?"

"No, I tink not, Missie Alice," answered Nub. "Dey too wise to stay when de ship was burning like dat. Dey knew well enough dat she would go up in de air when de fire reach de magazine, which has just happened. Dey eider not get back, or put off again in time."

"But they will think that we were blown up, should they not have visited the ship first," said Alice; "and that will break their hearts."

"I hope not, Missie Alice. Dey know dat I had got to take care of you, and dat I got head on my shoulders, and would not do so foolish a ting as to stay on board and be blown up if I could get away. Don't be unhappy, derefore, about dat."

"I will try not," said Alice, "though it is very, very terrible."

"No doubt about dat, Missie Alice," answered Nub; "but tings might be worse, and if de raft hold together in dis sea it will swim through any we are likely to have. Already de wind down, and it grow calmer. Suppose now we had been close to de ship when she blow up, we much worse off dan we are now. Suppose de people had made me work to put out de fire, den I had not built a raft, and we blown up,—dat much worse dan we are now; or suppose de sea had washed over de raft and carried us away, den also we much worse off dan we are now; or suppose I had not got de biscuits and de water, den we starve, and much worse off dan we are now: so you see, Missie Alice, we bery fortunate, and hab no right to complain."

"Oh no, I am not complaining," exclaimed Alice; "I feel that we have been very mercifully preserved, and I trust that we shall be saved, though I cannot say how that is to be."

"No more can I, Missie Alice, 'cept the captain find us, or one of de oder boats; and den we have a long way to go before we reach land, I s'pose; but dere are many islands in dese seas, and perhaps we get to one of dem where we find cocoanuts, yams, bananas, and plenty of oder tings to eat; and den perhaps de captain build ship, and we get back some day to Old England."

By such like remarks honest Nub tried to amuse the mind of the young girl, and draw her thoughts from the fearful dangers which he saw clearly enough surrounded them. He knew perfectly well how difficult it would be for the boats to find them in that wide sea, low down as they were on the surface of the ocean. Though they might float many days, their provisions must come to an end, while their supply of water was fearfully limited, and would soon be exhausted. He resolved to touch but the smallest drop himself, that he might have more for her.

Nub was unwilling to increase his distance from the place where the ship had gone down, as the further he went away the less chance there was of the boats coming up with them. Still there was too much sea, he considered, to make it safe to lower the sail; for though the raft floated lightly over the waves, should its progress be stopped he feared that they would break on board. The wind, which had subsided for some time, again increased, and the danger he had apprehended became greater. He had stepped the mast in a hurried, and therefore imperfect manner, while he had not stayed it up as he could have wished. As it was very necessary to remain at the helm, he could do nothing to strengthen it. All he could say was, "Hold on, good mast! hold on!" as he saw it straining and bending before the breeze. In what direction he was going he could not tell. Land had been seen the day before, and he might be running towards it; but then, again, the attempt to get on shore might be more dangerous than to remain on the raft. He also knew well that the inhabitants of the islands in that part of the world were generally savage cannibals, who would murder Alice and him without the slightest compunction; or if their lives were spared, that they would probably be reduced to the most abject slavery. Though he could not keep these thoughts from entering his own mind, he did his best to cheer up the little girl by assuming a confidence which he himself did not feel.

The sky still looked wild and threatening, the wind blew stronger than ever. Suddenly there came a sharp report and a cracking sound, and in an instant the mast was broken off, the shrouds torn away, and, with the sail, carried overboard. Nub sprang forward to secure it, but it was too late; the raft, with the impetus it had received, drove on, and the sail was irretrievably lost. Happily at the same instant the wind suddenly dropped, and though the seas dashed the raft alarmingly about, none washed over it.

Alice, hearing the noise, and seeing Nub's agitation, became frightened. "Oh, what has, happened?" she exclaimed, for the first time giving way to tears. Nub did his utmost to quiet her alarm by assuring her that they were in no greater danger than before, and begged her to hold fast to the hen-coop, lest any of the seas which were tumbling about around them should break on the raft and sweep her overboard. Nub did his best with the long oar he had fixed as a rudder in the after part of the raft to keep it before the wind, so that it still drove on, though at much less speed than when the sail was set. Happily, soon after the last violent blast, the gale began sensibly to abate and the sea to go down, and when at length the long wished-for morning came it was almost calm. As soon as it was light enough Nub looked anxiously around in the hopes of seeing some of the boats approaching from the direction of the ship; but no object was visible on the wild waste of waters, the raft appearing to float in the midst of a vast circle bounded by the concave sky, without a break on either side.

Alice felt very tired and sleepy, for she had not closed her eyes all the night; and Nub himself began to get excessively hungry. This reminded him of the provisions he had stowed away in the hen-coop, and he bethought him that Alice would also want some breakfast. He could now venture to leave the helm; and going to the hen-coop, he got out some biscuits and the wine and water.

"Here, Missie Alice," he said; "will you take some breakfast? It will do you good and raise your spirits. When people hungry dey always melancholy."

"But I am not melancholy, Nub, though I cannot say that I am merry; and I am not especially hungry, but if you think I ought to eat I will do so."

"Yes, yes; you will get ill if you don't eat," said Nub, offering the biscuits, and pouring out a little wine and water into a cup, which he had slipped into his pocket as he left the cabin.

Alice thanked him, and was going to eat. "Stop!" she murmured. "I have not said my prayers this morning, and I was going to begin breakfast without saying grace."

"Oh, Missie Alice, you are an angel," exclaimed Nub.

"I forgot all about saying my prayers, and I am sure an angel would not have done that," she answered. "Oh, how ungrateful I was; but it is not too late." Before she would touch anything, she knelt down and offered up her short morning prayer, adding a petition that she and Nub, and all others she loved or was interested in, might be preserved from the dangers which surrounded them. Rising from her knees, she then reverently said grace, and ate some of the biscuit with a better appetite than she had supposed she possessed. Nub took a very small portion, and merely wetted his lips with the wine and water to quench the thirst he was already beginning to feel. He gave Alice, indeed, but a small allowance, wishing to make it last as long as possible, as he knew that they might have to remain on the raft for a long time. Again and again he looked round to see if anyone was coming to their rescue; but no object being in sight, he sank down, intending to watch over Alice, who, overcome with weariness, at length fell asleep. Though he himself wished to keep awake, before long his eyelids closed, the slow up and down movement of the raft having the effect of making both the occupants sleep soundly.

The solitary raft lay on the waste of waters. Hour after hour passed by, and still the little girl and faithful black slept on, watched over by One who ever cares for the helpless and distressed who trust in Him. Hungry sharks might have jumped up and seized them in their maws; huge whales might have struck the raft with their snouts, and upset it as they rose above the water; or birds of prey might have pounced down and struck them with their sharp beaks;—but from all such dangers they were preserved, while a veil of clouds covered the sky and sheltered them from the burning rays of the hot sun of that latitude.

At length Nub started up. He had been dreaming that Alice had fallen overboard, and that he had plunged in after her to save her from a hungry shark. For a few moments, so confused were his senses, he could not tell what had happened; then finding himself on the raft, and Alice sleeping close to him, he recollected all about it. His first impulse was to stand up and look round, in the hope of seeing the boats; but, as before, not an object was in sight.

"Well, well, I s'pose de boats come in good time," he said to himself, sitting down again with a sigh. "We must wait patiently. If any land was in sight I would row to it, for though de raft might move very slowly, we should get dere at last; but now, though I pull on all day, I get nowhere. Better wait till God sends some one to help us. Perhaps when de breeze gets up again another whaler come dis way and take us on board." Nub looked at Alice. She was sleeping calmly; and knowing that the more she slept the better, he would not awake her. He himself felt very hungry, but he did not like to eat except she was sharing the meal. He could not, however, refrain from nibbling a piece of biscuit, to try and stop the gnawings of hunger. Several times he stood up and gazed anxiously around; sitting down, however, on each occasion with a sigh, and saying to himself, as before, "No sail, no boat. Well, well, help come in good time."

At length Alice awoke, and seemed even more surprised than Nub had been to find herself on the raft. He at once got out the biscuits, and begged her to eat several, and to take a little wine and water.

"But you are not eating any yourself, Nub," she said.

"I have had some; but I take a little more to keep you company," he answered, not telling her that he had before merely nibbled a small piece. In the same way he merely wetted his lips with the liquid, though he would gladly have taken a cupful.

Another night was coming on. Just before the sun sank beneath the horizon, Nub took a last look round. Alice glanced up in his face.

"Can you see anything?" she asked in an anxious tone.

"No, noting, Missie Alice. Perhaps to-morrow de boats come," he answered. "We not despair; we got food and water, and we tank God for dem."

"I will say my evening prayer," said Alice, kneeling down with her arms on the hen-coop. Nub reverently placed himself on his knees by her side, and repeated the words she used.

"I will now sing a hymn," she said, reseating herself on the hen-coop. From that solitary spot on the desert ocean arose to heaven a sweet hymn of praise, Nub, who, like many negroes, could sing well, joining with his voice.

Darkness came down over the deep, shrouding the raft with its sable canopy. Alice, having slept so much during the day, could not for some time close her eyes; so Nub did his best to amuse her. She talked to him not only of the past but of the future, and of the hope of deliverance. Nub calculated that their stock of provisions would last, if he could manage to exist without eating more than he had hitherto done, at least for four or five days; this would give Alice enough to keep up her strength. But should help not come at the end of that time he must, he knew, die of hunger; and though she might live a few days longer, what could she do all alone on the raft? This thought made him very sad, but he tried to put it from him.

At last Alice fell asleep, and the sea remaining calm, he thought it best to follow her example, that he might endure his hunger and obtain the refreshment which sleep would give him.

Another day broke. It was spent almost as the previous one had been. No sail hove in sight, and the raft floated calmly as at first. He had thought the loss of the sail a great misfortune, but for the last two days it would have been of no use except to afford some shelter to Alice; and perhaps, like other things which people at first look on as misfortunes, the loss might prove ultimately advantageous.

With Nub's assistance Alice could move about a little on the raft, to prevent her limbs from becoming benumbed. Frequently she begged him to let her stand upon the hen-coop, that she might look around to watch for any sail which might heave in sight; each time, however, only meeting with disappointment. The arching sky and circling expanse of water were, as before, alone visible.

Towards evening Nub became more anxious. He did not like the look of the weather. Dark clouds were gathering overhead, and the sea rose and fell in ominous undulations, which he fancied betokened a storm. Still he could do nothing. He felt his own helplessness; and this God often designs should be the case, that men may place their entire dependence on Him who alone can afford help in time of need.

Nub did not speak of his fears to Alice, who at length fell asleep while he sat watching by her side, ready to hold her fast should the sea get up as he expected it would do. He was mistaken, however, in his anticipations of evil; for though the threatening appearance of the weather did not go off, the ocean remained as calm as before.

Another day came round. Nub was constantly on his feet looking about for the expected sail, as there was a light breeze, which might have brought one towards them. Hour after hour passed by and no sail appeared.

"Will a ship neber come?" frequently ejaculated Nub. He was losing patience, and it was but natural. "The biscuits and water will soon be all gone, and den what shall we do?" he thought to himself; but he did not say that aloud, lest Alice might be alarmed.

"I am sure that the boats, or a ship, will find us to-morrow," said Alice.

"Why do you tink dat?" asked Nub.

"Because our biscuits are coming to an end," said Alice calmly; "and, Nub, I see that you eat very few of them, and you are growing weak and thin. You ought to take twice as many as I do, as you are twice as big; and yet I am sure that you eat much fewer."

"How you know dat, Missie Alice?" asked Nub.

"Because the last time you served them out I counted the number you took; and while you gave me four, you only ate two yourself."

"Well, you bery cunning girl," said Nub, trying to laugh. "But den remember you are growing, and want food more dan I do. I have only to eat enough to keep body and soul togeder; and you have not been accustomed to hardships as I have since I can remember; so you see dat it's right I should give you more dan I take myself."

Alice did not quite understand Nub's reasoning, but she felt very hungry, and was thankful to obtain the food.

"Now, Missie Alice, I am not going to eat any more of de biscuits," said Nub. "De next food I take will be one of de fowls."

"But how can you light a fire to cook them?" asked Alice.

"I eat dem raw! Much better eat dem dan die."

Poor Alice shuddered. Nub knew that it was high time to kill one of the fowls, for though their troughs were full of food when he lowered the coop on to the raft, it had long since been exhausted. Alice turned her head aside when Nub put one of the fowls out of its misery, and eagerly drank up the blood to quench the burning thirst from which he was suffering. He did not offer her any, as he knew that while any wine and water remained she would not touch it. He felt in better spirits, and much stronger, after this meal.

He also imbibed some of the hope which inspired Alice, that they might be relieved before long. Still, when the sun went down again, and the night once more began, his spirits drooped. He could no longer keep awake as he had done on the previous night, and as soon as she had closed her eyes his head began to nod, and he fell asleep. He slept soundly, for the raft moved quietly about. Nothing occurred for several hours to disturb him. At length he was startled by a loud peal of thunder. He looked up. The sky was overcast; a vivid flash of lightning darted from the clouds, followed by another terrific peal, which awoke Alice.

"Oh! what is the matter?" she exclaimed.

"A thunderstorm," he answered. "But de sea calm, and de lightning not hurt us." It required firm faith, however, to believe that such would not be the case.

At times the whole heavens were lighted with vivid flashes, while the thunder roared and crashed on every side. This continued for some time. Nub stood up and looked around him, Alice saw him gazing intently to windward; she rose and took his hand.

"What is it you see?" she asked.

"It may be only de white top of a wave," he answered.

There was a cessation of the lightning in that part of the heavens for a minute or more, but Nub kept looking steadily in the same direction. Presently another vivid flash darted across the sky, lighting up a wide portion of the ocean.

"Dere! dere now! I see it again!" exclaimed Nub. "Yes, Missie Alice, yes, dat is a sail; I am sure of it. Dere it gone again; but you will see it soon, if you look with all your eyes." Alice did look with might and main, waiting for another flash. Presently the heavens were lighted up more brilliantly than before, the glare falling fully on a white sail, which seemed at no great distance off. Once more all was dark; but Alice and Nub continued to gaze in the direction where they had seen the sail, in the expectation that it would reappear. They waited in vain. They raised their voices together, and shouted, in the hope of being heard by those on board. Nub's voice, however, was weak and hollow; Alice's was almost as loud, and far shriller.

"Dey cannot hear us," said Nub at length. "Dey too far off." Still he stood and gazed, and again and again shouted out. His fear was that the boat, (for such, he conjectured, was the object he had seen, and which appeared to be running before the wind), might pass in the darkness either on one side or the other, and that he and his beloved charge might be left to perish on the waste of waters. He waited for some time.

"Dey must be bit nearer now," he said at length. "We try to make dem hear." He and Alice again lifted up their voices, and shouted till they could shout no more.

"Hark!" cried Nub, "I tink I hear a voice."



We left Walter and Mr Shobbrok on their hastily-constructed raft at the moment they had discovered that the ship was on fire. Having now a light from the burning ship to direct their course, they got out their oars and urged on the raft with all the strength they could exert. They had succeeded in fixing the bow of the shattered boat to one end of it, and they were thus able, in the calm water, to make far better way than they would otherwise have done. They were in a terrible state of anxiety. Walter more than ever blamed himself for having left the ship. Had he remained on board, he might have been able to assist Alice; and should she perish, he could never forgive himself. There were no boats on board, they knew, and the people would scarcely have time to construct a raft without an officer of experience to direct them. They rowed and rowed with all their power, and it was evident that they were approaching the ship.

"The fire seems at present to be confined to the fore-part of the ship," observed Mr Shobbrok. "If so, we may have time to assist in forming a raft for saving ourselves and the rest. If I had been on board, I would have set every man with axes to cut away the upper works and mizzen-mast, and we should soon have materials for the purpose."

"I am thinking of poor, dear Alice," exclaimed Walter. "How dreadfully frightened she will be! Oh, what shall I do should anything happen to her?"

"We must trust to Him who will, if He thinks fit, find the means of preserving her," said the mate. "Row away, Walter; we must not think about what may happen, but exert ourselves to the utmost to do our duty, and that is to get on board as soon as possible. Row away, my boy, row away."

Walter did not need any incitement to labour; but, though he was not aware of it, while he was talking he had actually relaxed his efforts.—(Not an unusual circumstance. People, when talking, too often forget to do. There is no lack of talkers in the world. Doers are much rarer. We want our readers to belong to the latter class.)—Taking Mr Shobbrok's advice, Walter did not utter another word, but rowed away as hard as he could. Their united exertions made the raft move at a considerable rate through the water. They were still at some distance, when Mr Shobbrok, who was guiding the raft, and in order to do so had to look towards the ship, uttered an exclamation of grief.

"O Walter, the fore-part has blown up!" he cried out, "and must have sent many of the poor fellows to the bottom. But pull on! pull on! we may yet be in time to save your young sister."

Walter said nothing, but his heart was almost breaking with anxiety.

"The flames are not spreading as fast as I thought they would," said Mr Shobbrok. "We may still be in time."

On they rowed, till at length they got near enough to have seen anyone remaining on the deck of the ship; but not a person appeared, although the mizzen-mast was still standing, and the flames had not yet reached the poop.

At length they got under the quarter, and making fast their raft by means of a rope which hung down, they hauled themselves on board. Walter rushed into the cabin, but Alice was not there, and no one was to be seen.

"Don't be cast down, Walter," said Mr Shobbrok. "It is evident that they must have built a raft and left the ship. We must do what we can, while time is allowed us, to build one for ourselves. We must be quick about it, for before long the fire will reach the magazine, and we must take care to be at a safe distance before then." Saying this, he rushed into the cabin, and returned with a couple of axes. One he gave to Walter, and the other he took himself, and they both began cutting away at the taffrail and quarter rail. He then sprang aloft, and telling Walter to stand from under, with a few strokes brought the gaff, the cross-jack, and mizzen-topsail yards down on deck, while he at the same time cleared the mass of the running rigging, preserving the most perfect coolness and exhibiting the most wonderful activity. He soon collected ample materials for the purpose he had in view. The spars were light, and were soon cut into the lengths he required; and ably seconded by Walter he quickly hove them overboard, secured to ropes to prevent them from floating away from the ship as she moved through the water. Having collected their materials, they descended upon their former raft and began at once to lash the pieces of timber closely together, so as to form an oblong and compact raft.

"Take care, Walter, to secure every lashing properly," said Mr Shobbrok; "it is better to spend a little more time about it now, than to find our raft come to pieces in the first heavy sea we encounter."

The mizzen-royal, which had been sent down at nightfall, remained on deck, and the mate had lowered it on to their first raft. The framework having been formed, he once more sprang up on deck.

"You remain, Walter; I will be back in a moment," he sang out.

Walter was very anxious while he was gone, for he had not forgotten what Mr Shobbrok had said about the magazine. He soon heard him crying out,—"Take hold of this, and see it does not capsize." Looking up, he found that a basket was being lowered. He placed it on the most secure part of the raft. Directly afterwards Mr Shobbrok lowered down a hammer and a large bag of nails.

"I must see what more can be got," he cried out. Directly afterwards he sprang over the side and descended rapidly on to the raft.

"Shove off, my boy, shove off! there's not an instant to be lost!" he exclaimed; and he and Walter, seizing the oars, pulled away on their former raft, towing the one they had just formed after them. As it floated lightly, they managed to make fair way, though by this time the sea had somewhat increased, the wind having suddenly got up. They had not got more than two cables length from the ship when a loud roar announced that the magazine had exploded; the foremast and mainmast, which had hitherto stood, fell over the side, while the mizzen-mast shot up into the air. They narrowly escaped from some of the smaller pieces of the burnt fragments of the ship, which came down on the raft.

"There goes the Champion," cried Mr Shobbrok. "It's a sad ending; but sadder for those will it be who come to look for her, and find only a blackened wreck floating on the water."

As he spoke, the stern of the ship lifted out of the water, while the burning bows dipping beneath the surface, she gradually descended into the depths of the ocean, and ere a minute was over, had disappeared from sight.

"We may be thankful that we got away in time," sighed the old mate. "Well, well, I thought we should have got home safely in her; but it was God's will. We must trust to Him, and not despair, whatever happens."

"I try to do so," said Walter; "but I wish I knew what had become of dear Alice and our father. If he has not yet visited the ship, it will well-nigh break his heart when he does come back, to find her gone. He will think we are all lost."

"If he has not visited the ship, he will not be certain whether she has gone down,—though, to be sure, that would be almost as bad; for he will suppose that the scoundrel of a boatswain and the French prisoners have got possession of her and made off,—knowing to a certainty that we should never have left the spot till he had returned," answered the mate.

"Then I hope that he has visited the ship," said Walter; "and now I think of it, he must have seen the fire at a great distance, and would have come back as fast as he could. He might easily have passed us in the dark without seeing us. Perhaps his boat and the other took the people off, and he has Alice safe with him."

"I don't think that," said the mate; "for from what I observed when I was on board, I am sure that they must have made a raft. The main and main-topsail-yards, and all the spare spars on deck, and a good part of the bulwarks and the hatches and gratings, were gone; had they been left, I should at all events have seen the burnt ends. I took it in at a glance, though I did not tell you so at the time."

"But that does not prove that the boats did not visit the ship," observed Walter. "They could not carry all the people. I rather think that my father did come back, and had the raft built under his orders."

"Well, well, lad," answered the mate, "as I said before, we will hope for the best; and as soon as it is daylight we must set to work and secure our raft better than it is at present, or it will not stand the sea we are likely to have on before long."

By this time the wind had greatly increased, and the sea was tumbling the raft about from side to side in a way which would have made it impossible for any one but a practised seaman, as was the mate, and an active boy like Walter, to keep their footing. Dark clouds had gathered in the sky; the lightning flashed and the thunder roared. Still the mate and Walter did not lose courage, but exerted themselves to keep the materials with which they intended to complete their raft, together. Happily, however, though the weather was so threatening, the sea did not continue to increase, and towards dawn it once more sensibly abated.

"Now, Walter, while we have got a lull, let us set to work to finish this raft of ours," said Mr Shobbrok.

"Ay, ay," answered Walter; "tell me what to do, and I will do it as soon as we have got light enough to see with."

"We shall have that before long: the first streaks of dawn are appearing in the sky," observed the mate.

"Then I hope we may get a sight of the boats, for they are not likely to have run far from the ship," said Walter.

As the light increased sufficiently to enable them to see objects at a distance, they stood up and took an anxious glance around; but the horizon on all sides was unusually obscured, and their view consequently limited. Walter, whose young eyes were keener than those of the mate, fancied that he caught sight of an object which looked like a boat's sail away to leeward, but if such was the case it soon disappeared. He made out, however, on the part of the ocean where the ship had gone down, numerous pieces of wreck, casks, and spars, and other articles, which, escaping burning, had floated; but they were too far off to enable him to distinguish clearly what they were.

"Come, lad, let's turn to and work," said the mate.

The first thing they did was more completely to secure the spars and pieces of timber which formed the framework of their raft. They then took the wreck of the boat to pieces and nailed the planks down on the centre, so as to make a thick flooring, which enabled them to walk about and keep their feet out of the water, though it here and there still spouted up through the interstices of the planks. They also gave it greater buoyancy by sinking some of the casks they had secured under the framework, and firmly securing them. They then fixed two oars at either side of one end of the raft, and stayed them up, so that a sail might be hoisted between them. Some time was thus spent, for the sea tumbled them about a good deal, and it was no easy matter to work. It was necessary, indeed, to keep all the articles lashed together till they were wanted, or they would have been washed away.

They had been too eagerly employed to think of eating; at length, however, when their task was accomplished, Walter looked up and said, "Are you hungry, Mr Shobbrok?"

"I think you must be," answered the mate. "We will see what the basket contains, for I tumbled into it whatever I could get hold of in a hurry, and I am greatly afraid that there is not as much food as we could wish for."

The mate and Walter sat down on the centre of their raft and anxiously examined the contents of their basket. There was a small piece of cooked salt beef, a few biscuits, and part of a Dutch cheese; a scanty supply for two persons with little prospect of obtaining more till they could reach land. There were, however, several bottles, but what they contained it was difficult to say without opening them: one certainly had oil in it, two were full of red wine, and two others of a clear liquid, as it appeared when they were held up to the sun.

"I hope it may be water," exclaimed Walter; "for I am very thirsty already."

"I am sorry to say that it's not," answered the mate; "for they are tightly corked up. It must be gin, which is at all events better than nothing."

"I would give both of them for a bottle of water," said Walter.

"We must try to do without it, however, and endure thirst as long as we can," said the mate. "Let us be thankful for what we have got."

Walter and the mate each ate one of the biscuits and a small piece of the meat and cheese; but they did not take much meat, for fear of exciting thirst. Walter took a very little wine.

"We must husband our stores, to make them last longer. I will tell you what we will do to prevent ourselves suffering from thirst—I have known the plan to succeed, and enable people to go many days without drinking, without being much the worse for it. We will dip our clothes twice a day in the water, and our skins will thus soak up as much moisture as we absolutely require; though I will allow it would be pleasanter if we had a little cold water to pour down our throats."

They both did as the mate advised, and found much benefit from it. It has been known, indeed, under similar circumstances, to preserve the lives of people who might otherwise have perished. The mate, however, cautioned Walter on no account to drink the salt water, however tempted by thirst, as it has a powerful effect, and in many instances has produced madness. Walter promised strictly to follow the mate's advice.

"I give it to you now," said the mate, "because there is no saying what may happen to me. You are young, and may survive, while I may knock under from the hardships we may have to endure. I would give my few remaining years of life to know that you were safe, and restored to your father."

"Oh, don't talk thus, Mr Shobbrok," said Walter; "I hope that you may live and get back safely to Old England."

The mate had waited near to the spot where the ship had gone down, on the possibility of the boats returning, but the day was now drawing on, and they did not appear.

"There's no use in remaining here longer, I am afraid," he said at length. "We will make sail, and run before the breeze. There's land away to the eastward, though I'm afraid it's a long way off; however, if we can get there, we may obtain food and water, at all events. As far as I can judge, it's the only thing we can do under present circumstances. Perhaps we may be picked up by a ship, as whalers frequent these seas."

Walter of course agreed to the mate's proposal, and accordingly the sail was hoisted between two oars, a third oar serving as a rudder. The breeze freshened, and the raft ran swiftly over the water. Night at length approached. Walter felt very drowsy, and could with difficulty keep his eyes open, though he made strenuous efforts to do so. The mate observing him, said, "Lie down, Walter; you are less accustomed to long watches than I am. Get some sleep, my lad; and when I think you have had enough of it, and should the weather continue moderate, I will call you, and you can take a spell at the helm."

Walter thankfully did as the mate advised, and was soon in the land of dreams, and far away in old England. He once, when a little boy, had had a fever, and he thought he was lying on his bed as he then did, with his fond mother watching over him, and giving him cooling draughts, and singing a sweet song he loved to hear. He was awakened at length by the old mate calling him. His mouth felt dreadfully parched. What would he not have given for a cup of that refreshing beverage which he had dreamt of in his sleep!

"Come, Walter," said the mate, "you may take the helm; and mind you don't fall overboard. An hour's sleep will set me to rights, and then you shall have some more rest."

"I will give the old man more than an hour's sleep," thought Walter, as he got up and took the oar in his hand.

"Keep her before the wind," said Mr Shobbrok, lying down; "and if there is any change, call me immediately."

Walter steered on as directed, keeping the raft before the wind, and watching the stars which ever and anon shone out between the passing clouds. He felt almost sure that the wind had shifted several points, and that he was now steering much more to the north than at first. It was very light, and the raft made but little progress. He suspected that the old mate had purposely allowed him to sleep on till near daylight; and he determined to return his kindness by not arousing him, but allowing him to awake of his own accord. Mr Shobbrok, however, was so accustomed to awake at the hour he intended, that before long he got up, and smilingly said, "Well, Walter, I hope you are the better for your rest; I can honestly say that I am. And now, I dare say that you are ready for breakfast."

Walter confessed that he was; but when he tried to get the salt meat and dry biscuit down, he could scarcely swallow it. How he longed for a cup of cold water! A little wine which the mate served out slightly relieved him, but he soon got thirsty again. They both tried the effect of wetting their clothes; but that was only a partial relief. When the sun came out, and its rays struck down with fiery heat on their heads, they both began to suffer painfully. Wine enabled them to swallow their food, but it was water they wanted. The wind fell, and the raft lay rocking about, making no progress. They neither of them felt much inclined to talk. While Walter took the helm, the mate, with his hammer and nails, gave a few finishing touches to the raft, and added fresh lashings to the parts which he thought required to be better secured.

The next night passed away much as the first had done. The mate told Walter he must keep the first watch. Walter fancied that he should be able to let the mate have a good long spell of sleep; but he was mistaken, for in less than a couple of hours the old man got up and insisted on his lying down; and when he awoke he found that daylight had returned. They were both by this time beginning to suffer greatly from want of water. Mr Shobbrok kept his thoughts to himself, but he knew too well what must be the result. Both wetted their clothes; their thirst continued to increase; they felt, however, that it would have been much worse had they not adopted that course. The day wore on, and poor Walter gave signs of severe suffering though he did not complain aloud. The wind had fallen to a dead calm, and the raft floated motionless on the water; then, the sail being useless, the mate lowered it. Ceasing to look out for any sail in sight, for he knew that none could approach, he pounded up some biscuit and moistened it with wine; but even then Walter could scarcely get it down his throat. The old man gazed on the lad with pitying eye and sorrowing heart, as he saw that he could not much longer endure his sufferings. He himself, strong as he was and inured to hardships, began to feel the agony of thirst; his lips were parched, his mouth dry. He wetted Walter's clothes and his own, and he washed his mouth out frequently with salt water, bidding Walter do the same; but they found their throats become almost immediately afterwards as dry as before.

The sun again went down, and the comparative coolness of night somewhat relieved them. The mate feared that Walter would not be able to endure another day. The stars shining brightly from the sky were reflected on the mirror-like surface of the deep. All around looked calm and peaceful. Walter soon fell asleep. "He will forget his sorrows, poor boy, and will be the better for it," thought the mate as he sat watching by his side; yet he could not help dreading that it might be his young friend's last sleep here below. "Well, well, he is a true Christian lad, and will be saved much pain and sorrow, and many trials. God knows what is best. He takes those he loves most; though, if the captain survives, it will go well-nigh to break his heart." These thoughts occupied the mind of the worthy mate, till, overcome by weariness and exhaustion, he himself lay down, resting his head on a piece of timber which served as Walter's pillow. He soon fell asleep, and seldom, perhaps, had he slept so soundly. He was awakened at length by a bright glare in his eyes; and starting up, he found that the sun had just risen out of his ocean bed. The whole sky, however, was quickly obscured; for dark clouds hanging low down were gliding across the heavens. The mate watched them eagerly, for he saw that in several directions they were sending down copious showers on to the still calm surface of the ocean. Now on one side, now on another, he saw the rain falling, but none came near where the raft lay. He would not arouse Walter—who was still sleeping—knowing how the sight would tantalise him; but he knelt by his side, and prayed that the rain might reach them. Then he stood up and gazed around, hoping against hope that a sail might be in sight; but not an object was to be seen. In every side to the edge of the horizon the sea presented the same glass-like surface. The clouds were coming from the north-east, and a breeze would probably spring up from that direction. He stood watching the clouds, and while he watched he bethought him of a plan for catching the rain should it come at last. Two or three of the boat's planks were still not nailed down; he took one of them, and with his knife split it into thin strips; these he fastened together so as to form a large hoop; then casting off the sail from the yard, he placed it over the hoop, and allowed it to sink down in the centre, thus making a large basin. He next considered how the precious water, if caught, could be preserved,—when he recollected that he had secured a small empty water-cask under the stem of the raft. He at once cast loose the lashing which held it, and hauled it on board; and it apparently made but little difference on the buoyancy of the raft. After some difficulty he got out the bung, and held it with the hole downwards, to be sure that no salt water had got within; and lastly, he placed it in readiness to be filled.

He had just accomplished his task, when, looking to windward, he exclaimed, "Thank Heaven, it's coming!" He now touched his companion on the arm. "Rouse up, my lad," he said; "we are not forsaken."

Walter slowly raised his head.

"There, there!" added the mate; "look at yonder blessed shower! It will reach us before many minutes are over. I can almost see the drops as they splash into the salt sea."

Poor Walter crawled to the other end of the raft, to hold up the hoop as the mate bade him. The shower approached, its course marked by a line of hissing bubbles. The sound of the drops, as they struck the surface of the ocean and bounded up again could be heard. It reached them sooner than they expected. They raised the sail which had been prepared to catch it. Down came the precious rain, quickly filling the sail; while they eagerly opened their mouths, that not a drop more than they could help should be lost. But as the water rose in the sail, they could no longer help dipping down their heads and taking a long refreshing draught. It produced an almost instantaneous effect on Walter, whose strength seemed suddenly to return. "Oh, how merciful God has been to us!" were the first words he uttered. "I now feel sure that we shall be saved; but last night I had begun to fear that we were doomed to perish."

"I thought the same," said the mate; "but it was wrong of us. Under all circumstances, however hopeless, we should trust in God."

The cask had been placed directly under the centre of the sail, in which the mate making a small hole with the point of his knife, the water ran through into it. So rapidly descended the rain, that it was quickly filled. Had they possessed another cask, they would gladly have filled it; but they could not venture to withdraw any of the larger casks from beneath their raft; and they trusted that the supply they had now obtained would last them till land was made, or they were relieved by a passing ship, "At all events," said Walter, "we may hope to get another shower to replenish our cask of water when this is exhausted."

"You must not count too much on that, my lad," answered the mate.

"What think you, then, of throwing away some of the wine or spirits, and filling up the bottles with water," asked Walter.

"I should be sorry to throw it all away; for, though the water is the most precious liquid of the two, the wine may yet be of great service to us, as it is the only medicine we have got. I am willing to empty one bottle of wine and one of spirits; but we will keep the rest in case we need it."

On this the mate drew two of the bottles out of the basket. He looked at them, evidently doubting whether he was acting wisely in throwing the contents away. At the bottom of the basket he discovered a large cup which he had before overlooked. He half filled it with wine; then casting an affectionate look at the bottle, he exclaimed, "It would be a pity." And putting it to his mouth, sailor-like, he took a few hearty gulps. "Now, Walter," he said, "before we throw the wine away, just take some biscuit and this bit of beef. It will give you the strength you want so much; and then, to my mind, some wine and water will help to make it go further than it would otherwise do."

Walter very willingly did as the mate advised, and ate the biscuit and beef with more appetite than he had felt since they had been on the raft. The mate then handed him a cup of wine, which he had diluted with water. Walter thankfully swallowed the liquid.

"Now, it has done you good, has it not?" said the mate.

Walter nodded.

"I knew it would; and instead of throwing the wine away, we will fill the bottle up with water. We shall then have a mixture all ready. Now, as for the rum, that's bad by itself, I know; but, mixed with water, it will help to digest our dry biscuit and cheese, and any other food we may obtain,—which, if we do get any, we shall have to eat raw."

The mate was a temperate man, and had never been drunk in his life. But what are called temperance principles were not known in those days. He took his share of biscuit and beef; then pouring some rum into the cup, mixed it with water from the sail, afterwards filling up the rum bottle with water. He evidently felt satisfied that they had not yielded to their first impulse and thrown the wine and spirits away.

"Now, to my mind, Walter, both the wine and spirits are given to us as blessings; and what we have got to do is not to abuse them. If we had a disorderly crew, I would stave every spirit-cask on board sooner than let them get drunk. But our case is very different; and as neither you nor I are likely to take more than would be good for us, and having a wine-cask full, of the more precious liquid, I am sure we should be wrong in throwing away what may, under present circumstances, help to preserve our lives."

All this time Walter and the mate had been kneeling with the sail, still half-full of water, between them. The rain had ceased. They looked affectionately at the precious fluid. It might be long before they could get any more. Once again they each dipped down their heads and took another long draught. The mate suddenly exclaimed,—"We will still make use of it. We will first bathe our heads and faces, and then wash our clothes, to get some of the salt out of them. It will make us feel more comfortable, and help to keep the scurvy at bay. At present I feel like a Yarmouth bloater."

Walter was greatly refreshed by his ablutions. He then thoroughly washed his shirt, and wringing it out, hung it up to dry. The old mate afterwards performed the same operation. At length they allowed the water to escape from the sail. Scarcely had they done so when, a light breeze springing up, they hoisted it and stood on to the westward. The raft made but slow progress; and though the voyagers no longer suffered from thirst, they could not help feeling anxious as they looked after each meal at the scanty supply of food which remained. The meat was almost exhausted, and scarcely half-a-dozen biscuits were left, while their piece of cheese had been reduced to very small dimensions.

"We have a bottle of oil," said the mate, as he saw Walter gazing anxiously into the basket. "That will help to keep life in us; though train oil was never much to my fancy."

"Nor to mine," said Walter. "But our biscuits would prove more nutritious if we were to soak them in it; though I confess that I would rather eat them as they are."

"We will try your plan," said the mate; and accordingly, the next time he served out provisions, he broke up some biscuit into the cup, and poured a little oil upon it. Walter made a wry face as he took his share; but he ate it notwithstanding, owning that, although the taste was not pleasant, it seemed to go much further than dry biscuit itself. The mate being of opinion that there was no use in dying by inches, gave Walter rather more of the meat and cheese than perhaps was prudent—he taking a much less quantity himself.

Another day passed away, and the only food remaining were the biscuits, with the oil, which, nauseous as it tasted, was not to be despised. The calm continued. The old mate felt conscious that he himself was growing weaker and weaker, and he feared that poor Walter would begin to suffer even more severely before long. There was just wind enough to waft on the raft; but many days must pass before they could possibly reach land. Wine and water would help to sustain them, and they might even gnaw the leather of their shoes.

"Well, well," thought the mate, "I won't alarm the lad; and Heaven may send us aid when we least expect it."



The raft glided on over the smooth surface of the ocean. The old mate was standing up steering, while Walter, already feeling the pangs of hunger, was lying stretched at his length in the shade cast by the sail; for the intense heat of the sun, which was striking down from an almost cloudless sky, was almost insupportable. Mr Shobbrok constantly looked around on every side.

"Any vessel in sight?" asked Walter, sitting up. A shake of the head was the answer he received; and lying down again, he closed his eyes. Once more he sat up, and seeing the mate casting an eager glance around, he asked him what he saw.

"Dolphins or bonitoes playing about. If we had a harpoon, we might chance to get hold of one."

"Could we manage to manufacture something that would answer the purpose?" asked Walter.

"Nothing that would be of use, I am afraid," said the mate. "But see, Walter, see! there comes what I have been praying for."

Walter looked in the direction the mate was pointing out, and saw a large covey of flying-fish darting towards them. First a couple, then three, then four more, fell directly on to the raft. Walter and the mate quickly secured them. As most of them appeared to be directing their course some way ahead, the mate allowed the raft to glide on, by that means being able to knock down four more, which would otherwise have flown over it—the remainder quickly disappearing beneath the surface. The two voyagers collected the fish which lay on the raft.

"I wish we could keep them alive," said Walter.

"That's more than we can do. We must be thankful that we have got these; and He who sent them to us may send us more when we require them. And now, my lad, the sooner we get some of them down our throats the better, for you want food, and so, I confess, do I."

"What! eat them raw?" exclaimed Walter.

"Ay, lad; and for my part I could almost eat them alive. But I will try how I can make them more fit for you to swallow. Hand me that bit of board and the axe. Now, just get out some biscuit and the oil."

Walter gave the articles to the mate, who, kneeling down, cut off the heads and tails of the fish, and separated the flesh from the bones. He then mashed it up with some biscuit, moistening it with some oil till he had made a thick paste.

"Now, try this. But first let us thank God for sending us the food; and may He feed our souls as well as He feeds our bodies." Saying this, he put a large lump into his own mouth, and quickly swallowed it, adding another portion in like haste, for he was in truth famishing. Walter found the mixture far more tolerable than he had expected, for he had got accustomed to the taste of the oil. The meal was soon finished, and was washed down with some wine and water. Both the mate and Walter found themselves much stronger after the meal, and did not fail again to return thanks to God for sending it to them. They then collected the rest of the fish, which they cut open, and, at the mate's suggestion, hung up in the sun to dry; reserving two to eat fresh at their next meal. The heat of the sun and the nature of their food made them very thirsty, and Walter especially was much inclined to drink freely from the water-barrel.

"Remember, my lad," said the mate, "that won't last for ever, and we must take care to economise it. Just take a little now and then when you feel overcome with thirst. To my mind, under our circumstances it would be as wrong to keep drinking away at our water-barrel as it is for a man to spend his fortune without thinking of the future. That's our chief wealth just now."

Walter, after this, followed the mate's example, and only took a mouthful at a time, when he felt his throat unusually dry.

Onward they sailed, not always in a straight course; for they were obliged to keep before the wind, which occasionally shifted a few points of the compass. They were several times tantalised by seeing other coveys of flying-fish rising out of the water, and darting fifty feet, and sometimes even one hundred feet, over the surface; but none came near them. They saw also dolphins and bonitoes swimming near them, and occasionally caught sight of a large shark, with its black fin just above the water. Now and then a bonito came so near to the raft, that had they possessed a harpoon they could easily have caught it. The mate, indeed, could not resist the temptation of giving one of them a blow on the head with his oar, hoping to stun it; but the creature, notwithstanding the heavy thump it had received, darted off, and was lost to sight. "If I had been wise, I should have had a running bowline ready, and we would have caught the fellow," said the mate. "I will have one for the next, and if we are quick about it we may get him on board." The rope was prepared, and Walter kept eagerly on the watch; but the wished-for opportunity, as is often the case when once a chance has been lost, did not return. Two or three big fish came swimming by them, however, but too far off to be caught—apparently to have a look at the strangers passing across their domain.

The end of another day was approaching, and the weather, hitherto calm and fine, gave indications of a change.

"Provided we get a good stiff breeze from the eastward, I shall be thankful," said the mate.

"We shall the sooner reach shore or fall in with a ship; and although our raft will stand a good deal of sea, I would rather be in a good whale-boat under such circumstances," said Walter.

"So would I, lad; but we must be contented with what we have got. That's my opinion, and it's about the best a man can have. Now, Walter, I want you to take the helm," said the mate. "I expect to have a pretty long watch at night, and a few winks of sleep will enable me to stand it. Call me if it comes on to blow harder than at present—as I expect it will—or if you see anything which you cannot quite make out."

Walter quickly went to the helm, for the food he had taken had greatly restored his strength, and enabled him to stand up firmly. The mate lay down, and before Walter could count thirty the old sailor was fast asleep.

Walter steered on. Although clouds were already gathering in the sky, the wind continued moderate, and he hoped that the mate would be able to take a longer spell of sleep than he had expected to do.

The sun went down with a fiery red appearance, and scarcely had it sank beneath the horizon when the gloom of night came sweeping over the deep. The wind shortly afterwards began to increase; but still, as the raft did not tumble about much, Walter considered that he was right in not calling the mate. Presently, however, a vivid flash of lightning darted from the clouds, followed almost immediately by a crashing peal. Mr Shobbrok started up. "Why, Walter," he said, "you should have called me when the weather changed."

"The storm has only this instant burst on us," answered Walter. "I wished you to have as much rest as possible. I do not feel myself inclined to go to sleep."

"I suppose not, my lad," said the mate; "but I will take the helm, at all events, and you can stand by the halliards. We must take a reef in our sail, if it comes on to blow much harder."

The wind, however, did not greatly increase, and they stood on. The lightning continued to flash and the thunder to roar, but the sea remained calm. Frequently the whole heavens were lighted up altogether; then only in one direction, and now in another. Walter, who had never seen such vivid lightning or heard the thunder roar so loudly, very naturally felt somewhat alarmed.

"Is the lightning likely to strike us?" he asked at length.

"I think not, my lad. We have but little iron about our raft; and though iron is said to attract it, we are so low down on the surface that I believe it will pass harmlessly over our heads. A large ship, with her taunt masts, would be in much greater danger than this small raft. We must trust to Him who rules the winds and seas, and the lightning also. It won't do to be sometimes trusting Him and sometimes not. It's as easy for Him to save us out of a great danger as out of what we call a small one. Not that I think we are in any especial danger now; nor shall we be as long as the sea remains calm."

Walter's anxiety was greatly relieved by the mate's assurances. He sat down on the raft. They had been steadily running on for some time, when a vivid flash lighted up the sky and all the ocean to the westward.

"I saw something floating on the water, right ahead," said Walter. "What it was I cannot exactly say, though it seemed to me to be like a piece of wreck, and I thought for the moment that I saw people on it."

"Keep a bright lookout then, my lad," answered the mate. "We shall probably have another flash presently, and then you will see clearly. Stand by to lower the sail, that I may have a look at it too."

Walter cast off the halliards, and tried with all his might to pierce the gloom.

"There! there!" he exclaimed, letting go the halliards as another flash darted from the sky. "It's a raft with two people on it. We are close upon them."

A hail came from the raft uttered by two voices.

"O Mr Shobbrok, that was Nub's voice, and Alice's too! I am sure of it," exclaimed Walter, scarcely able to speak from excitement. He then, lifting up his own voice, shouted in return—"Is that you, Alice? Is that you, Nub?"

"Yes, yes," answered Nub; "praise Heaven, we all right! Is dat you, Massa Walter?"

"Yes," answered Walter.

"O Walter! O Walter! is it you?" cried Alice.

"I am Walter, and Mr Shobbrok is with me," he shouted.

"Here, Walter, take the helm," cried the mate, "but work away on the starboard side; I will get a rope ready to heave to Nub."

Walter did as directed, and their raft was soon brought up alongside the other, when Nub, having secured the rope hove to him, in his eagerness forgot the difference of their rank, and sprang forward with delight to embrace the old mate. Walter sprang on to the other raft, and quickly had his dear little sister in his arms. They no longer thought of the thunder roaring or the lightning flashing around them as they eagerly recounted to each other their adventures. It seemed for the moment, indeed, that all danger to them was over. They soon, however, inquired of each other news of their father, and the fear that he might be lost, or might be hopelessly searching for them, soon made them feel the reality of their position. Nub in the meantime had told the mate all that had happened on board, and his belief that a large raft had been formed, and that the rest of the people had got away from the ship. He told him also that he had seen nothing of it. It was possible, however, that the captain's boat might have fallen in with it; and if so, they would certainly have proceeded together towards the land.

"Our poor, poor father! how unhappy he will be at not finding us," ejaculated Walter and Alice together.

"He will not give up all hopes of your being restored to him; so don't fret too much about it, my dear Miss Alice," said the mate, anxious to comfort her. "He will know very well that Nub would not have deserted you; and he will have heard from the people on board that Walter went off with me; and very likely he will guess something like the truth. And not knowing our boat was destroyed, he will fancy that I picked you up, and that we have made our way in a well-found whale-boat towards the shore."

"I hope he may think so," answered Alice. "I will try not to be too anxious about him; and perhaps we shall meet each other before long."

"That's it, Miss Alice," said the mate. "Hope for the best. 'Hope still in God,' as He Himself in the Bible tells us to do, and don't be cast down."

The night had been much further spent than those on the raft supposed. The thunder gradually rolled away to the southward, and soon afterwards the sun arose in the clear sky, shedding a brilliant glare across the water. Directly the light appeared the mate exclaimed, "Now, Walter,— now, Nub, as we have doubled our numbers, we must turn to and increase the size of our raft."

"As you think best, Mr Shobbrok," answered Walter.

"Anything you tell me do, I do," said Nub.

"Well, we will pull your raft to pieces, and put the bow and stern on to ours, and raise our bulwarks."

"Ay, ay, mate," answered Nub; and they immediately set to work. It was an operation requiring a good deal of skill, as it was necessary to lash the fresh timbers very securely, or they would prove a source of much danger; for should the sea get up, and should they break loose, they would be thrown upon the raft, and thus endanger the safety of those on it. A portion of Nub's raft was composed of spars, one of which was found long enough to serve as a mast, instead of the two oars which had hitherto done duty as such; and they would now be of much use in impelling on the raft. The mast was securely fixed between the two cross spars, fastened at either end to the raised sides, and it was then well stayed up, so that the whole sail bent to a yard could now be hoisted up. The casks were then lashed securely to the two sides of the raft as well as to the bow and stern; and when all was finished, the mate declared that he believed their craft would weather out a heavy gale as well as many a ship at sea. He might have said much better than many, which, over-laden and leaky, go helplessly down into the depths of the ocean without any land in sight or help near, the hapless crew perishing miserably.

It was nearly mid-day when all was completed. Nub had not uttered a complaint. At last he could not help exclaiming, "Oh, Mr Shobbrok, can you give me just one mouthful of water? I give de last to Missie Alice, and she not know I go all de time without any."

"Of course, my lad, of course," answered the mate, filling a cup from the cask. "We must be careful of it; but I know what you are feeling, and there would be no use in giving you just one mouthful."

Nub drank the water, and, heaving a sigh as he smacked his lips, he exclaimed, "Dat is delicious!"

"Now I think of it, we have not breakfasted. Miss Alice and Walter must be pretty hungry, and thirsty too," said the mate.

"I am not very thirsty, but I should like to have a few of the biscuits Nub and I brought," answered Alice.

Nub looked downcast. There were only two remaining. He had not let Alice discover this, that she might not know how close run they were for food. For many hours he, honest fellow, had eaten nothing. The mate, suspecting this, gave Alice the biscuits with a cup of wine and water, and then beat up some more fish, oil, and pounded biscuit, which he shared with Walter and Nub. The latter thought the food especially good, and would have been perfectly ready to eat twice as much of it had it been given to him. Some more wine and water restored the strength of all the party, but poor Nub wanted something besides food. For many a long hour he had not closed his eyes. He told the mate so, and asking his leave, threw himself down on the deck. Almost before his head reached the piece of wood Walter had placed for a pillow, he was fast asleep. Alice was very nearly as sleepy as poor Nub; and the mate saying he would steer, Walter sat down on the deck, and taking her in his arms, she also in less than a minute closed her eyes, feeling far happier than she had done since she had left the burning ship. Having perfect confidence in the mate, it seemed to her that they had now only to sail on till they reached the shore. Happily, she little thought of the dangers before them, or knew that the scanty stock of provisions they possessed would not last long, and that before many days were over famine must overtake them.

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