The South Sea Whaler
by W.H.G. Kingston
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We cannot follow the history of the unhappy men from day to day. Their provisions had now come nearly to an end. One cask of rum and a portion only of a breaker of water remained; and had not the doctor and Tidy exerted themselves, this also would have been exhausted. Several men were lying on the raft, and the doctor knew that they were dying, but he could do nothing for them. He warned the rest; but they only laughed at him, declaring that the men had only a little too much grog aboard, and would soon come round.

They had made some progress to the westward, sometimes becalmed, and sometimes considerably tossed about, when, soon after daybreak one morning, they caught sight of a dead whale floating on the surface. The boatswain steered towards it, intending, as he said, to get some blubber, which would help out their beef. But perceiving a fire on its back as he got nearer, he at once declared his conviction that the captain and his boat's crew, and perhaps those of the other boats, must be there; so he vowed that nothing should induce him to place himself in his power, telling his own people that if the captain were to take the command of the raft, he would stop their grog, and eat up the remainder of the provisions. He called on them, therefore, to stand by him while he kept the raft on a course which would carry her some distance from the whale. The Frenchmen, in the meantime, seeing the flag on the whale, and the fire burning, and believing that boats must be alongside, frantically stretched out their hands, and shouted at the top of their voices, not recollecting that they were too far off to be heard. They shrieked and shouted, and danced about, every now and then turning with violent gestures towards the boatswain, telling him to steer for the whale. He, however, took no heed of their entreaties, but, feeling dependence on the men about him, continued his course till the raft had got considerably to leeward of the whale, when it was impossible to get up to it—all the oars which had been on board, with the exception of the one by which he steered, having been lost during the frequent struggles which had taken place. The Frenchmen, finding their shouts disregarded, then returned to their seats, talking together, and casting threatening looks at the whaler's crew. The boatswain and his companions laughed at their threats.

Hunger and thirst were by this time assailing them, when one of the men proposed to broach the remaining cask of spirits. In vain the doctor endeavoured to dissuade them from touching it; the boatswain offered but a slight resistance. They dragged it from the spot in the after part of the raft, where it had been stowed, and were soon engaged in drinking its contents.

"A short life and a merry one," cried the party, as they passed the cup rapidly round. The liquor soon began to take effect on their already exhausted frames. They shouted and sang songs, but their voices sounded hollow and cracked; and several rolled over, laughing idiotically at their own condition. The Frenchmen, who had been watching these proceedings, and waiting their opportunity, now rushed aft, and knocking over those who opposed them, seized the cask, and carried it off in triumph. The French boatswain endeavoured to persuade them to take only a small quantity; but they laughed at his warnings, and were soon in the same condition as the Englishmen. Some sang and shrieked; and others, getting up, attempted to dance, till one unhappy man in his gyrations tumbled overboard. Some of his companions attempting to catch hold of him, nearly fell in likewise. Their efforts were of no avail, and he sank almost within arm's length. The accident partly sobered some of them. Capstick, calling on the Englishmen, who were still sober enough to move, then endeavoured to regain possession of the cask, when in the struggle the bung-hole was turned downwards, and the greater portion of the contents ran out. A general fight ensued, both parties accusing each other of being the cause of the loss. Knives were drawn, and wounds inflicted. The Englishmen, however, secured the prize, and had to continue the fight to preserve it. The two boatswains stood aloof encouraging their respective parties; while the doctor and Tidy, who attempted to act the part of pacificators, were knocked over, the Irishman narrowly escaping being thrown into the sea. The fight continued for some time, till the combatants, many of them badly wounded, sank down utterly exhausted. The doctor, notwithstanding the hurts he had received, wished to do his duty, and went among them to examine their hurts. His sorrow was great when he found that no less than five were dead,—chiefly, he believed, from the effects of the spirits they had drunk; while several more were in a state which showed him that, even should help speedily come, they were too far gone to recover. Before the sun rose next morning, not a dozen people remained alive on the raft.

The doctor and Tidy had agreed to keep watch and watch, to protect each other, and they were thus able to preserve a little of the water and a small piece of beef which remained in the cask. It might be supposed that the fearful results of the drink would have been a warning to the survivors; but their desire for liquor was as strong as ever; and as soon as they awoke, they insisted on again attacking the rum-cask. A common misfortune seemed at length to have united the two parties; but their leaders stood aloof from each other. The men, however, began sharing the rum out equally among themselves. This went on for some time, till, the liquor running short, they commenced quarrelling as before. The doctor urged Tidy to take no part in any dispute. "Our countrymen are as much to blame as the Frenchmen," he observed. "If we assist our boatswain, we shall be guilty of their death." Tidy's Irish spirit, however, would hardly allow him to follow the doctor's advice.

It had now fallen perfectly calm. Mr Lawrie, overcome by the heat, had fallen fast asleep, and Tidy, who had undertaken to keep watch, was dozing by his side. Most of the party were by this time reduced to such a state of weakness that very few appeared likely to survive much longer. Evening was rapidly approaching, when suddenly the doctor was awakened by hearing the Irishman exclaim, "Faith, sir, they are at it again; and if they are not stopped, one or both of them will get the worst of it." The doctor started up, when he saw the two boatswains standing facing each other at the further end of the raft. Each had a drawn knife in his hand. The Frenchman was at the outer end of the raft, while two of his countrymen, the only men among them able to exert themselves, were standing near him. "Hold! What murderous work are you about?" shouted the doctor. But his voice came too late; the combatants closed as he spoke, stabbing each other with their weapons. The next moment the Frenchman, driven back by the English boatswain, was hurled bleeding into the water. His two countrymen, who had hitherto remained looking on, sprang to his assistance. One of them, losing his balance, fell overboard; while the boatswain, seizing the other by the throat, stabbed him to the heart. Then turning round with fury in his eyes, he shrieked out, "I will treat every man in the same way who interferes with me!" No one, however, appeared inclined to do so. The sun, already dipping, disappeared beneath the horizon as the scene of blood was concluded; and the boatswain, who seemed suddenly to have been excited into savage fury, sank down exhausted on the raft.

Some more hours passed away, when Mr Lawrie, Tidy, and the boatswain alone remained alive of all those who had lately peopled the raft. The surgeon did his utmost to restore the wretched boatswain, binding up his wounds, and pouring a little of the remaining spirits and water down his throat. It seemed surprising, considering the injuries he had received, that he had not succumbed as the others had done. He evidently possessed no ordinary amount of vitality. A few scraps of beef remained in the cask, of which the surgeon gave him a portion. He ate it eagerly. His continual cry, however, was for water.

As the night advanced, the sea got up, tumbling the raft fearfully about. Mr Lawrie and Tidy dragged the boatswain to the centre of the raft, and it was only by great exertions they held themselves and him on. The dark, foam-crested seas came rolling up, threatening every instant to break aboard and sweep them away. The boatswain had sufficient consciousness to be well aware of his danger; and fearful must have been the sensations of that bold bad man, his hands red with the blood of his fellow-creatures, as he contemplated a speedy death and the judgment to come. He groaned and shrieked out, yet not daring to ask for mercy. The surgeon would thankfully have shut out those fearful cries from his ears. Like a true man, he resolved to struggle to the last to preserve his own life and the lives of his companions.

Thus hour after hour went slowly by, till the grey light of morning appeared above the horizon, broken by the rising and falling seas. Mr Lawrie found his own strength going, and Dan was in a still worse condition. They had no food, and not a drop of water remaining, and no land in sight. Stout-hearted as they both were, they could not help feeling that ere long they must yield, and share the fate of those who were already buried beneath the waves. The doctor knew, however, that it was his duty to struggle to the last, and he did his utmost to encourage poor Dan.

"Shure, Mr Lawrie, it's myself has no wish to become food for the fishes, if it can be helped at all at all, and as long as I can I'll hold fast for dear life to the planks," he said in answer to Mr Lawrie's exhortations. "Maybe a ship will come and pick us up. Just look out there, sir! What do you see? If my eyes don't decave me, there is a boat; and she's pulling towards us."

Mr Lawrie looked, as Dan told him; and there, sure enough, he saw a boat approaching the raft, but very slowly. Now she was hidden by intervening seas, and now again she came into sight on the crest of a wave.

"Shure, can it be the captain's boat, or one of the other boats which have been looking for us since the ship went down?" exclaimed Dan.

On hearing the word "captain," the boatswain lifted up his head and tried to get a glimpse of the approaching boat. "It may be one of our boats; but if it is the captain's, just heave me overboard at once, for he will hear all that's happened."

"Rest assured that if the captain is in yonder boat he will pity your condition, and not call your deeds to account," said the surgeon, anxious to soothe the mind of the dying man.

The boat got nearer and nearer, when the surgeon recognised Walter steering, with Alice by his side, and the mate and Nub pulling. They were soon near enough to hail him.

"Thankful to fall in with you," shouted Mr Shobbrok, who just then made out the surgeon and Tidy though he could not distinguish the boatswain. "Who's that with you?"

The surgeon told him.

"Where are the rest?" was the next question.

"Gone! all gone!" was the answer.

"Heave us a rope, and we will hold on under your lee till the water is calm enough to take you on board," cried the mate.

Tidy unrove the halliards, and made several attempts to heave the end on board the boat. At length she came in nearer, when he succeeded; and the rope being made fast, the boat floated back to a safe distance. Questions were now put and answered between them, but they could offer little consolation to each other. The surgeon had to acknowledge that they were without food and water. "If you can manage to send us a little, we shall be thankful," he shouted out.

"We have scarcely enough for another day for ourselves," was the alarming answer; "though we will share what we have when we get you on board."

It was nearly noon before Mr Shobbrok thought it safe to haul up to the raft, when the surgeon and Tidy, exerting all their strength, and with the mate and Nub's assistance, lifted the boatswain into the boat.



The mate and Nub, with their young companions, cordially welcomed the surgeon and Tidy. "We should have been more thankful to see you, had we food and water to offer," said the mate; "but we must pray that a shower may be sent down on us, and that we may fall in before long with a sword-fish or a bonito."

The weather had somewhat moderated, and casting off from the raft, they put the boat's head towards the shore. Walter, as before, took the helm, while the mate and Nub pulled away as hard as their strength would allow, neither the doctor nor Dan being able to exert themselves. As the sun got high in the sky, and distant objects could be seen, the mate stood up and looked out anxiously for the land. "I see it," he exclaimed; "but it's still a long way off. We must not despair however, my friends." Saying this, he again sat down.

"Pull away, lads; pull away!" faintly sang out poor Nub, though his strength was almost gone; for, in order that Walter and Alice might have enough, he had eaten but little food for many hours. The wind once more came ahead, and unless they continued to exert themselves, they might be blown back again a considerable distance. Nub had not spoken for some time, still pulling on; but suddenly his oar fell from his grasp, and he sank down in the bottom of the boat, while the oar, on which so much depended, fell into the water. Dan Tidy, who was sitting next to him, in vain attempted to catch it. It passed by, too far off for Walter to reach. The mate in vain endeavoured with his single oar so to manage the boat as to come up with it, and in the violent efforts he made, his oar almost broke in two. The helpless voyagers now floated on the wild waters deprived of the means of urging on their boat.

"What are we to do, Mr Shobbrok?" asked Walter, as the mate stepped aft and sat down by the side of the young people.

"All we can do is to pray to God for help, for vain is the help of man," answered the mate.

"Oh yes, yes! that we will!" exclaimed Alice; and she and her brother lifted up their hands and eyes to heaven, and uttered a prayer, which was surely heard, as true prayers always are.

Poor Nub lay in the bows, too much exhausted to move; Dan Tidy sat with his head cast down, hope almost gone, his brave Irish heart for the first time yielding to despair; while the surgeon, nearly overcome with weakness, watched the boatswain, who lay at the bottom of the boat with his head resting on one of the thwarts, holding on by the side, his groans expressing the terror and agony of his mind. Gradually the wretched man's hands relaxed their hold, and his eyes became fixed.

"He has gone to his terrible account," said Mr Lawrie at length. Not another word was spoken for some time.

"We must bury the man," said the mate; "the sooner that's done the better." The doctor summoned Dan to assist him, and they and the mate taking the body up, were about to let it over the side, when the latter exclaimed, "Stay! his jacket and shirt will be of use in making a sail. It's our only chance of reaching the shore." The garments were taken off the body, which was then committed to the deep; and although without any weight attached, it immediately sank beneath the surface. Not a word was spoken. The surgeon did not think for a moment of going through the mockery of a service; but they all lifted up their hearts in prayer that they might be preserved.

The boat continued drifting before the land-wind further and further from the shore, till all hope of reaching it was lost. Alice, who was seated with her brother gazing across the ocean, perhaps in the expectation of catching sight of an approaching sail, suddenly exclaimed, "Look—look! Walter! what can that be?"

"A piece of wreck," he answered; "or it's one of the rafts."

The boat was drifting directly towards it. The rest of the party turned their eyes in the direction Walter and Alice were looking.

"It's our raft," exclaimed Mr Shobbrok, getting out the broken oar. "Walter, take the helm and steer as I tell you." They quickly neared the raft. "Heaven be praised!" exclaimed the mate, as they got close to it; "the sail and mast are still there, and also the two oars."

The boat was made fast to the raft, and the mate, with the assistance of Walter and Tidy, lifted the mast, yard, and sail into the boat, with the two oars. The chest, being securely lashed, still remained. The mate quickly opened it, and took out the tools likely to prove most useful, with an ample supply of nails. Scarcely had they been transferred to the boat, when Alice, who had been the harbinger of good tidings, exclaimed, "See! see that large fish!" Walter seized one of the harpoons, and handed it to the mate, The fish was swimming round close to the raft; the harpoon flew from the grasp of the mate, and he calling to Tidy to help him, they together in another minute brought to the surface a large bonito, which was quickly hauled on to the raft. Poor Nub, who had hitherto scarcely been able to open his languid eyes, dragging himself up, exclaimed, "We cook it on de raft for Missie Alice."

The suggestion was acted upon, and the lighter portions of the raft, which were sufficiently dried to serve as fuel, were cut up. The fire being kindled, large slices of the meat were arranged round it. Before they were thoroughly cooked, however, most of the starving party began to devour them, though Alice waited till the piece intended for her was done. They were still engaged in cooking the fish, when dark clouds arose in the east. How anxiously they watched them! One passed over their heads, then another.

"Here comes the rain," cried the mate. "Heaven be praised!"

The sail was stretched out as before. Down came the blessed rain. The fire was put out,—which was, however, of minor consequence; and the almost exhausted voyagers were able to quench their thirst, the cask being filled before the rain ceased. The cooked and uncooked portions of the fish were taken on board; and the mate set to work to fit a step for the mast. This was soon done; and a fresh breeze blowing towards the shore, the sail was hoisted, and the boat went gliding over the ocean. How grateful were the hearts of all on board! Food and water had been amply provided, when the blessing was least expected.

Before night set in, land was clearly seen ahead. The mate was of opinion that it was an island of no great extent, or a promontory of New Guinea. Both Nub and Tidy were greatly restored by a night's rest, and the late ample supply of food they had enjoyed. Mr Shobbrok kept at the helm nearly the whole time, and only when the wind fell would he allow Walter to take his place, with the doctor, to keep watch while he slept. The land-wind, which blew during the morning, tried their patience; but the sea-breeze at length setting in, they rapidly approached the shore, which appeared thickly wooded down to the very edge of the water, with high ground rising at a short distance from it. A belt of coral, such as is now called a "fringing reef," against which the sea beat with considerable violence, throwing up a heavy surf, extended along the shore, making an attempt to land highly dangerous, if not impossible. The mate accordingly hauling the boat to the wind, stood to the southward, in the hope of finding some bay or inlet into which they might run. All eyes were eagerly turned towards the shore. As they coasted along, no huts or habitations of any kind were seen, nor was there any appearance of the island being inhabited. The water in the cask was by this time nearly exhausted, and the uncooked fish began to exhibit the effects of the hot sun. The day was drawing on, and the mate felt especially anxious not to have to spend another night at sea. Just as he was beginning to fear that they might have to do so, his practised eyes discovered an opening in the reef; and telling the doctor and Nub to keep a bright lookout for rocks ahead, he steered for it.

As the boat approached, the shore opened out, and the thankful voyagers soon found themselves entering a deep inlet, fringed with graceful trees down to the very edge of the water. A spot appearing, not far from the entrance, where the rocks, running out, afforded a natural landing-place, sail was lowered, and the boat being rowed carefully in, they soon reached the beach. Walter was the first to spring on shore, followed by Nub, who stretched out his arms to receive Alice from the mate. Her young heart beat with gratitude as she stood, holding her brother's hand, safe on firm land. The rest followed; and having hauled up the boat, they all knelt down and offered up their thanks to Heaven for their preservation from the numberless dangers they had gone through.

"And let us still trust, my friends, to Him who has taken care of us," added the mate. "We should always pray for protection against unseen as well as seen dangers; and it would be folly not to expect to meet with more."

The sail of the boat and the other articles in her were now landed, the mate wishing to form a tent which would protect Alice during the night. As but little water remained in the cask, and the fish was scarcely eatable, it was important to find a fresh stream or spring, and some fruit, if live creatures could not be caught, to satisfy their hunger. The doctor and Tidy set out to explore the neighbourhood for that purpose, while Walter remained to take care of Alice, and to assist the mate in putting up the tent and preparing a fire. Nub begged to be allowed to go in search of wood, observing that he had a notion on the subject, though what it was he did not say.

The mate and Walter had been very busy; the latter in collecting a quantity of dried grass and leaves to form a bed for Alice. He was thus engaged, when, looking up, he saw Nub coming out of the water, carrying on his shoulders what looked like a round basin or saucer of enormous dimensions, with long streamers down which the water trickled hanging from it.

"What can it be?" exclaimed Alice.

"It is, I suspect, a large shell-fish; a mollusc, learned people call it; and if so, the creature will afford all hands an ample meal," observed the mate.

Walter and Alice ran down to meet Nub.

"Yes, Missie Alice, bery good fish inside here," he answered. "Nuf for good supper for eberybody; only we cook it first."

The large clam—such was the species to which the shell-fish belonged— was placed on the ground.

"Where de oders?" asked Nub. "I want Tidy to help make fireplace. Dan Tidy, where are you?" shouted Nub.

Just then Dan made his appearance, with the information that they had found a stream of fresh water running down from the hills not far off, and that the doctor had sent him back to get the cask, he himself remaining on the watch for any birds or quadrupeds which might come down to drink. The remaining contents were therefore shared among the thirsty party, and the Irishman went away with the empty cask on his shoulder; while the mate and Walter assisted Nub in building a fireplace—the materials being furnished by some masses of coral rock which lay on the beach. Fuel was then collected and arranged between the two piles of stone, and the mollusc being placed so that its edges rested on the top of them, the mate set fire to the wood.

Scarcely was the fire lighted when Dan returned with the cask. "Arrah, now, Nub, you are mighty clever; but there's one thing I think I can beat you in, and that is in blowing up a fire. Shure, they used to call me 'little bellows' at home, and set me to make the turf blaze up when the praties were put on to boil." Saying this, Dan threw himself on the ground, and began blowing away with a vehemence which soon made the sparks fly, speedily followed by a flickering flame. The sticks caught and crackled, and the smoke rose in dense volumes.

While he was so employed, the doctor arrived with a large water-fowl which he had cleverly caught, as he lay hid in the long grass, while the bird was passing by, unconscious of danger. "I will undertake the cooking of the mollusc," he said. "If the creature is cut up into small pieces, it will be much more rapidly and perfectly done. We must first open the shell, however. Walter, fetch me the cold chisel and hammer which you brought on shore."

After the mollusc had been for some time exposed to the fire, he with a few strokes opened it, allowing each half to rest on the piles of stone. Honest Nub was in no way offended at being superseded in his office of cook, and went off to collect a further supply of fuel, with which he quickly returned; while Walter employed himself in plucking the wild fowl captured by the doctor. Dan finding it no longer necessary to perform the part of bellows, got up and surveyed the mollusc with infinite satisfaction.

"Arrah, now, if there were but some praties to cook with it, we should be having as fine an Irish stew as we could wish to set eyes on. It's done to a turn now, doctor; and if you will please to lend a hand, we will carry it to a clear place, away from the smoke, where Miss Alice can sit down and enjoy herself." Suiting the action to the word, Dan took hold of the edge of the shell, but sprang back again with a howl, wringing his burnt fingers as he exclaimed, "Arrah, now, I forgot entirely how hot it was!" The doctor could scarcely help laughing at Dan's mistake, into which he himself had, however, narrowly escaped falling. At his suggestion, the fire being raked away, two sticks were laced under the shell, and it was carried to a level spot, where all the party gathered round it, and thankfully ate their first meal on shore, The food was well-tasted and nutritious, though they would gladly have had some vegetable diet to take after it. All had eaten as much as they required, and still a considerable portion remained. The doctor suggested that it should be covered up with the upper shell, and kept for the next day's breakfast. As it was now getting dark, the mate advised Alice to retire to her tent, which he had erected close to the spot where they were sitting, while the rest of the party made such preparations as they deemed necessary for passing the night.

"Though we are not at sea, my friends," said the mate, "we must set a watch, to guard against the attack of wild animals or savages; for though we saw no habitations as we coasted along the shore, people may possibly inhabit the interior. If each of us take two hours apiece, we shall easily get through the dark hours of the night."

"Shure, Mr Shobbrok, how are we to fight the wild bastes or savages, if they come, without arms?" asked Dan.

"With regard to the savages, I do not, I confess, expect a visit from them; but if any do come, we must try to win their friendship," answered the mate. "As for the wild beasts, we will at once cut some long poles, and sharpen the ends in the fire to serve as lances. If, however, we keep up a good blaze all night, none are likely to come near us; but should any appear, the person on watch must instantly rouse up the rest."

"No fear of dat, Mr Shobbrok," observed Nub. "If lion or tiger come, me make a precious hollobolo."

"We need not be afraid of either lions or tigers," answered the mate, "as, to the best of my belief, they are not to be found in this part of the world; but what other savage animals there are, I am not prepared to say."

Alice quickly retired to the tent her friends had arranged for her. The mate assigned their watch to each of the party,—telling Walter, however, that he must consider his over, and get a good night's rest. No one thought it necessary to provide shelter, all of them being by this time inured to sleeping in the open air. A lump of wood or a few bundles covered with grass served for pillows. The doctor took the first watch, Tidy the second, and Nub the third, while the mate chose the last, that he might arouse the rest of the party in time. There being an abundance of fuel, a large fire was kept up, which would serve to prevent any wild beasts from approaching the camp; for they, unlike fishes and insects, which are attracted by a bright light, generally show a dislike to approach a fire.

Alice and Walter were the first on foot—even before the mate intended to call them. Alice had conceived a wish to visit the fresh stream the doctor had described, to enjoy a draught of cool water and the luxury of a bath, should a spot be found which no sharks could reach, and where no other savage creature was likely be lying hid. Walter willingly agreed to accompany her, and to stand guard while she was performing her ablutions. The mate did not object; and when Mr Lawrie heard of their intention, he said that he considered the place perfectly safe, and that he would shortly follow. Nub and Tidy, in the meantime, collected more wood to keep up the fire, as it was important not to let it out, their stock of matches being limited. They then went down to the beach to search for more shell-fish, while Mr Shobbrok remained at the camp to watch the fire. He and the doctor put their heads together to invent various traps, with which they hoped to catch some of the numerous birds flitting about the woods, or any of the smaller quadrupeds inhabiting the neighbourhood.

Walter provided himself with a long stick, which he hoped would be a sufficient weapon of defence against any creatures they were likely to encounter, and in good spirits they set out on their expedition. They had not got far when Alice, touching Walter's arm, whispered, "Do not speak, or we shall frighten them. Look at those beautiful birds; what can they be?" She pointed to a tree a short distance off, on which were perched a number of birds of the most magnificent plumage, with bodies about the size of thrushes, having a mass of feathers which extended far beyond their tails, making them look much larger than they really were. The birds did not apparently observe the intruders on their domain, and continued dancing about on the boughs, exhibiting their richly coloured feathers to each other, as if proud of their beauty. Walter and Alice had never seen any birds to be compared in beauty to them, though they differed considerably from each other. The most beautiful had a bill, slightly bent, of a greenish colour, around the base of which was a fringe of velvet-like black plumes. The head and part of the neck was of a pale golden-green, the throat being of a still richer hue, while the remaining plumage on the body and the tail was of a deep chestnut,— except on the breast, which was a rich purple. From each side of the body beneath the wings sprang a mass of long floating plumes of the most delicate texture, of a bright yellow; and beyond the tail projected a pair of naked shafts, far longer even than the yellow plumes. Sometimes, when the bird was at rest, it allowed these plumes to hang down close together; then suddenly it would raise them, when they arched over, covering the whole of the body, which shone brightly in the sun. This was evidently a male bird; the females, though possessing much beauty, were not nearly so richly adorned. Another bird, much smaller, was seen among them, perched on a bough above the rest, and evidently considering itself of no small importance. Its colour was mostly of a beautiful red-chestnut, the base of the bill being surrounded with velvet-like plumes, while the throat and upper part of the breast were of a deep purple-red; a bright golden-green zone running across the lower part, separated from the red above by a line of yellow; the lower portion of the body being perfectly white. On each side was a bunch of feathers, tinged with the richest golden-green; and from the middle of the tail extended two very long, naked shafts, which terminated in a broad golden-green web of spiral form. So delighted were the young people with the spectacle, that they could not tear themselves from the spot, forgetting all about the object of their excursion. They were still intently watching the birds, when they were aroused by the voice of the doctor, which had also the effect of startling the beautiful creatures. Away flew the birds, the doctor, however, catching a glimpse of them.

"Oh, what a pity you did not come sooner!" exclaimed Alice.

"Had I done so, I should have deprived you of the pleasure of watching the birds," answered Mr Lawrie. "From the glimpse I caught of them, I have no doubt that they are birds of paradise, which, I have heard, inhabit New Guinea and the surrounding islands. I have seen some dead specimens, but of course they can give but a very inadequate idea of the birds when living, which I believe are the most beautiful of the whole feathered tribe."

The doctor's arrival was most opportune, for Walter and Alice had remained so long looking at the birds, that they had forgotten the direction to take, and would very probably have lost their way. Conducted by the surgeon, they reached a spot where a bright, sparkling stream fell over a high rock, forming a small cascade, into a pool of clear water about three feet deep. A ledge enabled them to reach the cascade, where they could drink the water as it fell. How cool and refreshing it tasted! They all felt wonderfully invigorated; and the doctor owned that, under their circumstances, no tonic medicine he could have given them would have a more beneficial effect. The rock extended some way down on the opposite side of the stream, and the path they had pursued appeared to be the only one by which the pool could be approached.

"What a delightful place for a bath!" said Alice, looking at it with a longing eye.

"You shall have it all to yourself," answered Walter; "but let me sound it with my stick first. It may be deeper than we suppose."

Walter, as he suggested, went round the pool, plunging in his stick. It was fortunate he did so, for the upper side, into which the cascade fell, was, he found, much out of Alice's depth. He charged her, therefore, to keep on the lower side, where the water was less deep. He was satisfied, too, that no creature lurked within, for the bottom was everywhere visible, though, from the clearness of the water, it was difficult to judge the depth by the eye.

"It's a mercy that you thought of trying the depth," said Alice; "for I intended to have gone under the cascade and enjoyed a shower-bath."

Leaving Alice to bathe in the retired pool, the doctor and Walter hunted about in search of game or fruits, which might serve as an addition to their breakfast. Birds of gorgeous plumage flew about overhead, or flitted among the branches of the trees; and high up, far beyond their reach, they observed some tempting-looking fruit, on which numerous birds were feeding. They gazed at them with envious eyes.

"Our only chance of getting any will be if those feathered gentlemen should be kind enough to let some fall," observed the doctor. "We must not be too proud to take advantage of their negligence."

While he was speaking, a large bird of black plumage, with an enormous beak, and a horn-shaped ornament on the top of it, flew at one of the fruits, and nipping it off, down it came to the ground; while the bird, perching on a bough, attacked another, with more benefit to himself. Walter picked up the fallen fruit, which, though it had a somewhat hard skin, was full of a delicious juicy pulp. While he was examining the fruit, the doctor watched the bird, which, picking off fruit after fruit, appeared to throw them up and catch them in its mouth as they fell. The bird having apparently satisfied itself, then flew off to the trunk of a tree of enormous size and height. The doctor followed it, and found that it made use of its beak to carry food, with which it was supplying another of its species—poking its head out of a hole in the trunk.

"We must have those birds if we are hard pressed, as I am afraid we shall be unless our traps succeed, or we can manage some serviceable bows and arrows for shooting game," said the doctor to Walter, who had followed him.

On their way back to the pool they picked up several more fruits which had dropped. They met Alice, who had not only bathed herself, but had washed her clothes, and dried them in the hot sun, which struck with great force against the side of the rock, so that in a few minutes they were again fit to be put on.

"We must follow your wise example by-and-by," said the doctor; "but we will now go back to breakfast, or Mr Shobbrok will wonder what has become of us."



The doctor, with Alice and Walter, had just left the side of the stream to return to the camp, when they met Dan and Nub carrying the cask, slung on a pole between them.

"We go to get fresh water, and be back soon wid it," said Nub as they passed. "Mr Shobbrok, him roast de duck ready for breakfast."

The doctor and his young companions hurried on, for their morning's walk had made them very hungry. They found the mate employed in roasting the duck in the usual camp fashion, on a spit supported by two forked sticks. Near it was the large shell of the mollusc on another fire, where Nub had placed it to warm up its contents.

"We have fish and fowl; but I wish that we had some farinaceous or other vegetable diet in addition—for the sake of our young lady, especially," observed the mate.

"We have, at all events, brought something of the sort," said Walter, producing his handkerchief, full of the fruits he had picked up.

"I am indeed thankful to see them," said the mate; "for I began to fear that we should all suffer from living so entirely on animal food."

"I have little doubt that we shall find more fruits and probably various vegetables," said the doctor; "and I will undertake to go in search of them after breakfast."

"I should like to accompany you," said Walter; "though, if the fruit in these regions only grows high up on the trees such as these do, we shall be puzzled to get them."

"We must climb the trees, then, or find some other means of bringing it down," said the mate. "My idea is, that, before we do anything else, we should set about making some bows and arrows, as well as some spears, to defend ourselves against any savage animals, or to kill any we may be able to chase."

The doctor agreed to the mate's proposal, though he believed, he said, that there were no savage animals of any size in the Pacific islands likely to annoy them. As the duck was not quite cooked, they sat themselves down under the shade of a lofty tree, to await the return of Nub and Dan. They very soon appeared; and while Nub went to have a look at the mollusc which he and Dan were to have for breakfast, the seaman came and threw himself down at the mate's side with a small branch of tree in his hand, which he was examining attentively.

"What is that you have got there?" asked the mate, turning round to him.

"Faith, your honour, it's something, I suppose; for Nub says that if we can cut enough of it, and can get a ship to carry it away, we shall all make our fortunes." Dan as he spoke handed the branch to the mate, who turned it about, evidently puzzled to know what it was.

"Let us look at it," said the doctor, who then examined the branch carefully. After biting the thick end, he observed: "This is undoubtedly santulum, of the natural order Santalaceae. From it is produced santalin, with which certain tinctures are made. It is also used in India for colouring silk and cotton. Yes, this is indeed the valuable sandal-wood, which the Chinese burn as incense, and employ largely in the manufacture of fans, and of which in England the cases for lead pencils are formed. Nub is right; and as it is of great commercial value, if, as he suggests, we can cut down a quantity, and find a ship to carry it away, we may make enough to pay our expenses home and have something in our pockets at the end of the voyage. From what sort of a tree did you break this off?" inquired the doctor, turning to Dan.

"A big shrub, or what they would call a good-sized tree in other parts; but those near it were so much larger, that I suppose they would be offended if we called it a shrub," answered Dan. "It is not far off, and we saw a good many like it in that part of the forest."

"We will go and examine it presently," said the doctor, who was an enthusiastic naturalist.

"We must see about getting food first," observed the mate. "We have many things to do before we can think of cutting down sandal-wood."

"Yes; we must eat our duck first," said the doctor.

"I tink de duck done now," observed Nub, who had been employed during the discussion in giving the roast a few more turns. Plucking some large leaves, he arranged them on the ground before the party, to serve the double purpose of table-cloth and plates; then, taking the duck up by the end of the spit, he placed it before the doctor, remarking, "You carve better than anyone of us, sir."

The doctor scientifically cut up, the bird, a portion of which Nub presented to Alice and Walter. When the doctor offered some to him and Dan, they both declared that the stewed mollusc was quite enough for them. The voyagers' first breakfast on the island would have been more satisfying had they possessed some bread or biscuit, and, above all, some tea or coffee; but as they could finish it with a good supply of fruit and fresh water, they acknowledged that they had ample reason to be thankful.

Their plans for the future were naturally brought under discussion. "Don't you think, Mr Shobbrok, that we could manage to enlarge our boat so that we might reach some civilised place?" asked Walter.

"We might certainly improve her," answered the mate; "and if we could obtain a sufficient amount of provisions and water, we might make a long voyage in her, provided we were favoured with fine weather. But the risk, I warn you, would be very great. Occasionally the seas in these latitudes are excessively heavy and dangerous, and no improvement we could make would enable her to stand them. We should also, as I observed, have to carry a large supply of provisions and water, or we might be compelled to land on a part of the coast where we should have to encounter savages, who would probably attack and destroy us before we had time to convince them that we came upon a peaceable errand. Or, even should they be friendly, we have no goods with which to purchase provisions; and from what I have heard of them, they are not likely to supply us without payment. However, we will examine the boat, and consider how we can enlarge her. We must first ascertain if we can manage to cut out a sufficient number of planks and ribs; and then, if we enlarge the boat, we shall want more sails and spars and rigging. We shall also require casks to carry the water, and a stove for cooking; and as we have no compass or quadrant or chart we can only make a coasting voyage. We are also many hundred miles from Sydney in New South Wales, which is the nearest port where we can obtain assistance. It is my belief that we are now off the north-eastern end of New Guinea, either on the mainland or on an island; though I suspect the latter, or we should probably have fallen in with natives. This point we must ascertain as soon as possible, for we should do well to avoid them, as at the best they are a savage race, who are more likely to prove foes than friends. Now, the first thing we have to do is to provide food for ourselves. See, I was not idle during your absence."

The mate on this showed several contrivances for catching game. The question was where to place them. It was first necessary to ascertain the places frequented by the birds or beasts in the neighbourhood. Dan had formed some traps composed of stones collected on the seashore, such as boys in England are accustomed to set for sparrows and robins; but the doctor very much doubted whether the birds of those regions were likely to hop into them, as they appeared, he observed, to take their food from the tops of the trees, and seldom descended to the ground.

"Arrah, I hope they will be after changing their custom when they see the traps, and just come down to have a look into them," said Dan. "I will place them under the trees and give them the chance, at all event."

"I would rather trust to bows and arrows," said Walter. "We must look out for the proper sort of trees to make the bows. Perhaps we may find some wood similar to the yew-tree of old England."

The doctor and Nub set off with Walter for the object he had in view, while Alice remained with the mate and Dan, who were finishing their traps. They first proceeded towards the stream. On their way Nub showed them the sandal-wood trees which he had discovered. The doctor was satisfied that he was right. Many of them were of considerable size, really deserving the name of trees, though some could only be called large bushes. In general appearance they were something like myrtles, the trunk being about nine inches in diameter, the leaves very small, alternate or nearly opposite. The doctor, who had carried the axe, cut into the trunk of one of them, which was of a deep red colour. "At all events, though we cannot carry a cargo away with us, we may return here some day and obtain one," he said. "If there are no inhabitants, the trees cannot be claimed as the property of anyone; and we may load a vessel with great ease in the harbour."

"I tink, Mr Lawrie, dat we better look out for food just now," said Nub, who thought the doctor was spending more time than necessary in speculating on the future.

"You are right Nub," answered the surgeon, leading the way. They examined numerous saplings of small size, but none seemed likely to suit their purpose. On the banks of the stream they came to a magnificent grove of bamboos of all sizes, some being as thick as a man's leg.

"Here we have the means of building a house ready to our hands," said the doctor. "Perhaps they will assist also in decking over the boat."

"But I doubt if they would keep out the water," observed Walter. "I think, however, that the fine ends or some of the very small canes may serve for arrows."

"Dey make very good cups for drinking out of," said Nub; and asking for the axe, he cut down a large bamboo cane, though not one of the thickest, and showed Walter that numerous divisions or knots filled up the centre of the cane, and that thus each knot would make the bottom of a cup.

On passing near the tree where the doctor had seen the hornbills, they observed one of the birds poking its long beak out of its hole.

"We pay you visit before long," said Nub, nodding his head. "Me tink I know how."

Going up the stream, they found a tree which had fallen over it, by which they crossed to the opposite bank. Nub begged to go first. "I go see de way. We no want to pop into de middle of a village; if we do, de women begin to shriek, and de babies cry out, and tink dat white debils come among dem, and den de men come out and kill us."

The doctor agreed to Nub's proposal, and they proceeded more cautiously than before. Walter pulled away at every young tree they met, and at last he found one which the doctor thought would suit their purpose. Nub, who came to examine it, was of the same opinion; and they quickly cut down several which grew near to the proper length, and returned with them the way they had come. As they passed under the tree in which they had seen the hornbills, Nub exclaimed, "I tink we come and get dese fellows at once, if de mate will please to accompany us."

On passing under the tree where the fruit had been found, Walter looked about for some more; but the birds were not feeding, and none had fallen since they had been there. On their arrival at the camp, the mate and Dan had to confess that their traps had not as yet been successful; Nub then told them his plan for reaching the hornbills, which could not fail with regard to the hen, who was certain not to leave her nest, and might possibly either be sitting on her eggs or have some young ones.

"How is that?" asked Walter. "When she sees you, if you succeed in reaching her, she will surely fly away."

"No, Massa Walter," said Nub, "she not do dat, for de hole is shut up with clay, and she only got room to poke her head out."

Nub's plan was to form a ladder up the tree with the bamboos they had seen. With a little patience, he assured them, the feat could be accomplished; so they all eagerly set out to commence operations, Alice accompanying them; while the doctor continued his search for the vegetable food they so much required. He first, however, cut a stick from the thick end of a bamboo, for the purpose of digging edible roots, which he thought it probable he might discover.

Nub also suggested that they should forthwith set to work to build a house large enough to contain the whole party. A house would be far better for Alice than the tent, in which she had to lie close to the ground, with some risk of the intrusion of snakes or noxious insects; besides which, bad weather might come on, when they would all require shelter.

"Nothing like bamboo-house," observed Nub. "If earthquake come, it no shake down; if storm come on, it no blow away."

The mate assented to the black's proposal, and agreed at once to cut down a sufficient number of bamboos, not only for the ladder, but for the house. This was not quite so easy a task as it at first appeared, for though the canes were hollow they were excessively hard, and it was only by chopping downwards all round that they could be broken off. At length, however, a sufficient number for the proposed ladder were cut down and carried to the foot of the tree.

Nub was not going to make a ladder of double poles; the tree being of soft wood, he intended to stick in the rounds horizontally, and to support them with a single pole. They had also to collect a quantity of tough and lithe vines, which would serve to bind the rounds to the outer pole; the thickest end of which was stuck deep into the ground. This done, the work went on rapidly, round after round being driven into the tree, about three feet apart. Nub, continuing his work, went on ascending step after step, Dan following him when he got too high up to reach the long poles from the ground. The height looked perilous in the extreme, and Alice, as she watched him, could not help dreading that he might miss his footing and fall down; but Nub was highly delighted with the success of undertaking, and seemed to have no fears on the subject.

"Nub puts me in mind of 'Jack and the Bean Stalk,'" said Walter, laughing. "I only hope that he won't find an ogre at the top of the tree."

"No fear about Nub," observed the mate. "I hope that he may soon wring the necks of the hornbills and send them down to us."

Nub was now near the hole where the female hornbill had been seen. She had drawn in her head; and her mate was either absent from home or was concealed among the thick foliage at the top of the tree. The last round was in, and Nub was seen preparing to mount on it, that he might put in his hand and haul out Madam Hornbill. He was just about to do so, when she put out her long beak, and began pecking away furiously at his hand; while, at the same moment, down flew Mr Hornbill from a bough on which he had been snugly ensconced till a favourable opportunity arose of making an attack on the assailant of his fortress. That every man's home is his castle, is rightly held in England as an established law, and the hornbills naturally considered their nest their castle. With loud screams of rage the male bird attacked poor Nub, who slipped down to the next round, where he held on with might and main, trying to defend his head from the furious onslaught of his feathered foe. Fortunately, his curly head of hair was a good thick one, and prevented the bird from inflicting the injury it might otherwise have done. Keeping his head down, so as to defend his eyes, he rapidly descended the ladder, the hornbills cawing and screaming all the time. The male bird, however, did not attempt to descend beyond the upper rounds of the ladder.

"I no tink we lose our dinner, though," said Nub, as he got to the bottom. "What say you, Massa Shobbrok?"

"Certainly not, Nub," answered the mate. "I have got a notion which I am pretty sure will succeed."

"Den, if you show me what it is, I go up again, pretty quick," said Nub, who was afraid that the mate would deprive him of the honour of catching the bird. The mate took a line from his pocket, forming a noose, which he secured to a light bamboo. "I see it," cried Nub, "I see it. I soon catch both of dem, one after de oder."

Taking the bamboo, he quickly ascended the ladder till he got near enough to reach the hornbill, which was still standing screaming defiantly on the upper round; and before it was aware of what the black was about, the latter slipped the noose over the bird's head and drew it tight, and then with a violent jerk pulling it off its perch, down it came, with its huge bill first and its wings fluttering, to the ground, where Dan quickly despatched it. Nub immediately descended for the bamboo; and mounting again, slipped the noose over the head of the hen hornbill, which she had poked out to see what had become of her partner. He held her fast enough, but could not drag her out of her hole. By standing on the upper round, however, he was able to batter in her fortress with his fist, after which he speedily sent her to the ground. Then putting in his hand, he drew out a curious creature like a ball of down, bearing no resemblance whatever to its parents. Though scarcely fledged, it was not to be despised, being very fat, and about the size of, a young chicken. So Nub threw it down to join its parents, shouting out, "Dere, dat make a fine dinner for Missie Alice." Poor Alice was grieved when she saw the little creature come tumbling to the earth, and declared she could not touch it.

"Bery sorry, Missie Alice," said Nub, when he came down again, putting on a penitent look. Then turning aside to Dan, he whispered, "She talk bery differently when she see it nicely roasted by-and-by."

Their success in obtaining food encouraged the voyagers to hope that they were not doomed to starve on an inhospitable shore, but that with diligence and a due exertion of their wits they might obtain sufficient food to support life. The hornbills would, at all events, afford them an ample meal for that day, and they might reasonably expect to obtain a further supply of shell-fish from the seashore; though Nub might not succeed in finding another huge mollusc.

"Shall we remove the ladder?" asked Walter. "It might help to build the house."

"I tink not," answered Nub, looking up. "Perhaps anoder hornbill come and make her nest dere, den we catch her and her husband. Bery good chance of dat, I tink."

As it was important to get their house built without delay, they all returned laden with as many bamboos as they could carry,—Alice taking charge of the birds, slung, Chinese fashion, at the end of a bamboo, which she balanced on her shoulder: the little one being hung behind her, that her tender heart might not be grieved at seeing it.

"Shall we all assist in putting up the house, Mr Shobbrok, or might it not be as well to try and get one or two bows made first?" asked Walter.

"We cannot obtain food without them, so, by all means, make two or three," answered the mate. "You and Nub can work at them, while Dan and I arrange the plan for the house, and begin to put in the uprights."

Alice assisted the mate in holding the line.

"We must try to get the opposite sides even, and the walls at right angles with each other, and the corner-posts perpendicular," he observed. "The sides of our house must depend very much, in the first instance, on the length of the bamboos; and we can so arrange it that we may increase it without difficulty."

As it was not time to begin cooking, all hands set to work at the occupations they had settled to follow. While Walter and Nub were shaping the bows with their knives, the mate, with his two assistants, having selected a flat spot a considerable height above the water, marked out the plan for the house—in front of which they intended to add a broad verandah, facing the seashore. The ground-floor they divided into two rooms, with space for a staircase to lead to the upper floor. This floor was to be divided into three rooms,—one for Alice, another for Walter, and the third for the surgeon; while the mate and the two men were to occupy one of the lower rooms, the other being intended for a parlour. The kitchen, they agreed, it would be best to form at a little distance from the house, lest it might by any accident catch fire.

While they were thus busily employed, the doctor came back with a large supply of two different kinds of fruit—one like a plum, the other having a hard rind but a delicious pulp—while his pockets were filled with some roots, which he considered were of even more value. He also reported that he had found a palm which he had no doubt would yield an abundance of sago; but it would take some time and labour to prepare it. He proposed forming a manufactory near the stream, as an abundant supply of water was required for the necessary operations: also that they should commence the work next morning; for he considered that no time should be lost, as it would afford them an abundant supply of nutritious food, on which they could depend under all circumstances. He would, however, require one hand to assist him. Nub at once volunteered his services. "I hope by that time to have one of the bows finished," said Walter, "and I will go and shoot game, while Mr Shobbrok, Dan, and Alice continue working away at the house." The mate agreed to this proposal, though he observed that he thought it would be advisable, as soon as a sufficient supply of sago was got, for all hands to set to work at the house, so that they might have shelter should bad weather come on.

Nub had not forgotten to spit and put the hornbills before the fire in good time; and when evening came on, and they could no longer see to work, they sat down to the most ample meal they had yet enjoyed, aided by the roots and fruits the doctor had collected.

"In a couple of days more, Miss Alice, I hope you will have a good roof over your head, and a room to yourself," observed the mate. "I shall not rest satisfied till I see you comfortably lodged."

Alice declared that she was perfectly satisfied with her tent.

"That's very well while the weather is calm and dry; but should the rain begin to fall, which, from the look of the foliage, I have no doubt is very heavy hereabouts, it would be a very different matter," he answered.

"I was, selfishly, only thinking of myself," said Alice, "and forgetting that you, at all events, would be exposed to the rain; so I hope that you will set to work and get the house up as soon as possible. I only wish that I was a man, to be able to help you more than I have done."

"You do help us, Miss Alice," said the mate; "and you encourage us by your patience and uncomplaining spirit, and your cheerful temper. Do not think that you are of little use, for I don't think that we could do without you." Alice, being assured that the mate spoke the truth, was well pleased to think that young as she was, she was of use to her companions.

Not only on a desolate island, but in the quiet homes of England, many little girls like Alice have the power, by their cheerfulness and good spirits, and, we may add, by their piety and kindness, to be of inestimable use to all around them.



The house was nearly finished. The whole of it was constructed of bamboos. The uprights were the thickest canes; the next in size formed the horizontal beams, lashed together tightly with the long trailing vines which abounded in the forest. The rafters of the flooring and the roof were of a third size; while the flooring itself and the walls were composed of the larger canes split in two, and, after being well wetted, pressed down by heavy stones till they were perfectly flat. The roof was thickly thatched with palm-leaves, which served also to cover the outside walls of Alice's room. There was a broad verandah in front, in which the occupants could sit and work during the heat of the day. The common sitting-room was intended to serve them chiefly at night, when the weather proved bad. There was no fear of cold in that climate, and they had, consequently, only to guard against wet and an inconvenient amount of wind. The lower rooms were not more than seven feet in height, and the upper scarcely so high; so that the whole building, independent of the roof, which had a steep pitch, did not reach more than fourteen feet from the ground. A ladder with numerous rounds, which would allow Alice to climb up and down with ease, led from the sitting-room to the upper story. As, of course, they had no glass, window-shutters were formed of the same material as the house, and served well to exclude either the sun or rain.

"Why, we have forgotten a store-room!" exclaimed Walter, just as the house was finished. "If we have no larder, how are we to keep our game, and the sago which the doctor is going to make, and the roots and fruits, and anything else we may obtain?"

"It was indeed an omission, and I wonder none of us thought of it before," said the mate. "However, a few more hours' labour will enable us to set up a building which will answer the purpose better than had we put it inside the house."

Another journey to the bamboo brake supplied them with the necessary amount of canes, and a small building was erected at one end of the house—which served for one of its walls. It had three stories, each about three feet in height, with a ladder reaching to them, so that no marauders, unless they were climbers, could get in. This could not have prevented either monkeys or snakes, or such active creatures as tiger-cats, from robbing their stores. Well-fitting shutters were therefore fixed on in front of the building, which was completed before dark, and was considered strong enough for the purpose they had in view. It was, indeed, a gigantic safe standing on four legs, the lower part being quite open.

"Now we must set to work to kill game, and obtain other provisions, to put in it," observed the mate.

"I shall be able to manufacture more bows for the rest of the party; for though I am improving, I can scarcely expect, as yet, to kill game enough for all hands, or to obtain a sufficient supply to lay by for the voyage," said Walter.

"We will devote the remainder of this evening, then, to manufacturing bows and arrows," said the mate.

"To-morrow I must beg you all to come and assist me in manufacturing sago," observed the doctor. "I can employ all hands. We must first cut down a tree, and then divide it into lengths, and drag them to the water, where we must erect our machinery, which need only be of a very rough character,—and probably the bamboo canes will help us to form it."

"Mr Shobbrok, when do you propose to begin enlarging the boat? I do so long to set sail in search of papa," said Alice.

"I have been considering the subject, young lady, and I am as anxious as you can be, but there is a great deal to be done first. We must collect provisions, and also ascertain that they will keep good during a long voyage. One difficulty can be got over more easily than I at first supposed; for the thick ends of the large bamboos will, I have no doubt, carry a quantity of water, though I am afraid they will take more space in stowing than I would wish. If the doctor succeeds in producing sago, we shall have a substitute for bread; and it also may be preserved in bamboo casks. I think, too, that we may manage to salt and smoke the birds and fish we may catch; though, without hooks and lines, we can only hope occasionally to kill some larger fish with our harpoons."

"I have been thinking, Mr Shobbrok," observed Walter, "that I could make some fish-hooks from nails, with the help of a small file which I have in my knife; and as we have plenty of rope, we may unpick some of it, and twist some strong line."

"Pray set about it then, Walter," said the mate; "for time will be lost if we go out in the boat in search of large fish to harpoon, when small ones may be caught from the rocks on the seashore."

The next day the whole party started, under the guidance of the doctor, to the spot where he had seen the sago palm. He observed that it was the best time to cut down the tree, as the leaves were covered with a whitish dust, which was a sign that the flower-bud was about to appear, and that the sago, or pith within the stem, was then most abundant—it being intended by nature for the support of the flowers and fruit. Nub having climbed to the top of a tree, secured a rope, at which the whole of the party hauling together, hoped to bring it down in the right direction. The mate, axe in hand, then commenced chopping away. The wood was tolerably soft, and as the weapon was sharp and he was a good axe-man, the tree was soon cut through, and came crashing down to the ground. He then, by the doctor's directions, divided the trunk into pieces five feet in length. While he was thus occupied, the doctor got his other companions to pull off the leaves, and to manufacture a number of cylindrical baskets—in which, he told them, he intended to put the pulp produced from the pith. The tree being cut up, ropes were fastened to each piece, to enable them to be dragged to the side of the river. Two men were required for each. Walter and Alice tried to drag one of the smallest, but could not move it over the rough ground; they therefore carried the baskets, and remained by the river to assist the doctor and Nub, while the mate and Dan went back to bring up the other logs. The first operation was to slice off a part of the outer hard wood till the pith appeared. The log was then rested on bamboo trestles a couple of feet from the ground. The two workmen now cut across the longitudinal fibres and the pith together, leaving however, a part at each end untouched, so that the log formed a rough trough. The pulp thus cut into small pieces, and mixed with water, was beaten by a piece of wood, by which means the fibres were separated from it, they floating on the top, while the flour sank to the bottom. A number of bamboo buckets, manufactured by Nub, enabled Walter and Alice to bring the water required for the operation. The coarser fibres floating on the top being thrown away, the water was drained off, and the remaining pulp was again cleared by more water. This operation was repeated several times, till a pure white powder alone remained.

"There, Miss Alice," said the doctor, showing it to her, "I beg to offer you some, with which you can make cakes or puddings,—though I confess that it is not equal to wheaten flour, as this is in reality starch: but it will afford nourishment to us, as it would have done to the flowers and roots of the tree had we not cut it down."

"I thought sago was like little white seeds," remarked Alice.

"What is imported is so in appearance," answered the doctor. "In order that it may keep, it is prepared by being first moistened, and then passed through a sieve into a shallow dish, and placed over a fire, which causes it to assume a globular form. The sago, when properly packed, will keep a long time; but the flour we have here would quickly turn sour, if exposed to the air. I propose filling the baskets we have made with what sago we do not require for immediate use, and sinking them in fresh water, when it will thus keep for a long time. Had we but an iron pot, we might easily prepare it for a voyage; but we must, of necessity, find some other means of doing so."

"Don't you think the large mollusc-shell will answer the purpose?" observed Walter. "If it will cook meat, it will surely bake the sago."

"In that instance it had water in it," observed the doctor. "I am afraid that with dry sago in it the shell will take fire. However, we will try. Perhaps we may find a large flat stone which we can surround with a rim of wood; and by applying heat under the centre our object may be attained."

"Oh, that will do capitally," said Walter; "and I am sure that we can easily manufacture a sieve."

The mate and Dan had now brought up all the logs; and seeing how well the doctor had succeeded, they heartily congratulated him.

In a short time the pith of the whole tree was turned into sago powder, amounting, they calculated, to about one hundred pounds. The doctor told them that this was but a small quantity compared with that which a large tree produces, as frequently one tree alone yields five to six hundred pounds' weight of sago. The greater part of the sago having been buried in a quiet pool, where there was little fear of its being disturbed, the party returned with the remainder late in the evening to their house.

Walter was up next morning at daybreak, searching along the shore for a flat stone to serve for the bottom of the pan he wished to make for granulating the sago. To his great delight, he found one of considerable size, almost circular, and with the edges washed smooth by the action of the waves. He had brought some strips of the palm which had been chopped off the sago tree on the previous day. One of these was of sufficient length to bind round the stone; another served for the rim of the sieve, and a number of large leaves cut into strips made the bottom. Both contrivances had a rough look, but he hoped they would answer the purpose. He placed the pan between two stones in the way the mollusc had been fixed; and then hurrying to the doctor, brought him to see what he had done. The fire was soon lighted under the stone, which was heated without cracking; and the doctor then shook some flour from the sieve on to the pan, and, greatly to his and Walter's delight, it granulated perfectly.

"You have rendered our community a great service, Walter!" exclaimed the doctor. "We may perhaps improve upon your contrivance, or, at all events, make a number of pans and sieves, as the process at present is a slow one, and it would take a long time to manufacture as much sago as we shall require for the voyage."

Walter, however, begged that he might continue the manufacture, so that he might be able to judge how much could be produced. Though he laboured all day, he had only two or three pounds' weight to show; still that was something, and no doubt remained that a supply of sago could be obtained for the voyage. Alice, who had watched him at work, felt sure that she could carry it on as well as he could; so the next day she took his place, while he accompanied the doctor on a shooting expedition. Nub was to attend them. Each carried a bow, with a quiver full of arrows, and a long spear. They were neither of them as yet very expert marksmen. The doctor was the best, while Walter was improving. Dan always declared that his bow had a twist in it, and shot crooked; but he was more successful than any of the party in catching birds in other ways.

They had been waiting for Nub, who had gone out early in the morning; but just as they were starting, they met him coming back with a couple of hornbills, which had taken refuge in the hole occupied by the birds before captured.

"I thought oders would come," he observed, holding them up; "and I got one egg, too, which do nicely for Missie Alice's breakfast."

The doctor told him to take the birds home, and then to follow them. They several times caught sight, as they went along, of some beautiful birds of paradise, which, however, kept too high up in the trees to be shot by arrows.

"We are out of luck this morning," said the doctor, when they had gone some way without killing a bird.

"Don't you think that if we could make some bird-lime we might have a better chance of catching the smaller birds?" asked Walter.

"No doubt about it, if we could get the ingredients, and a bait to attract the birds," answered the doctor. "The idea is worth considering. Keep your mind at work, my lad; you may be, at all events, of great use in our present circumstances. I have known instances where shipwrecked crews have starved when they might have supported their lives, simply because they were too ignorant or too dull to exert themselves and search diligently for food. An Australian savage will live in the wilds where the white man will perish. But then the savage knows the habits of all the living creatures in the neighbourhood, and the roots and herbs, and indeed every vegetable substance which will afford him nourishment. Had we more skill as marksmen, and did we know the haunts of the animals frequenting these woods, I have no doubt that we should have before this abundantly supplied ourselves with food of all sorts. We are, however, improving, and I have no longer any anxiety on the subject."

While the doctor was speaking, Walter had been intently looking towards the branch of a large tree seven or eight feet above the ground.

"Oh, Mr Lawrie," he exclaimed, "what is that terrific monster? If it should run at us it will kill us. The head looks to me like that of a crocodile; but do such creatures exist on land? Shall we attack it, or will it be better to get out of its way?" he asked, quickly recovering his courage, and bringing his spear ready for battle. Walter's sharp eyes had detected what Mr Lawrie had before failed to see in the gloom of the forest.

"If we are not cautious, it will be getting out of our way, which I should be sorry for," answered the surgeon with a calmness which surprised his companion. "That creature is a species of iguana, some few of which inhabit the East, though the larger number are found in South America and the West India Islands. They are not very formidable antagonists, and are more likely to run away than attack us. If we had a good strong noose, we might throw it over the head of the animal, and soon haul it down from its perch, where it at present seems to be sleeping."

While they were speaking, Nub overtook them, and was highly pleased when they pointed out to him the hideous-looking lizard.

"Look, I brought dis," he said, producing a piece of rope. "Now I go and slip it ober de head of de iguana; and when I pull him down, you pin him to de ground with your spears."

The doctor and Walter agreed to follow Nub's advice, and cautiously approached the sleeping brachylophus, as the doctor called the creature. It looked still more formidable as they approached; for it had a long pointed tail, large claws, a row of spines down its back, and numerous teeth in its long jaws. Lumps and excrescences of various sizes added to the hideous appearance of its head.

Nub got the noose ready to throw, while the doctor and Walter held their spears prepared for action. Nub drew nearer and nearer; the reptile opened one of its eyes, and then the other, and moved its tail slightly. In a moment the noose was dexterously thrown over its head, when Nub gave a violent pull before it had time to grasp the branch with its claws, and hauled it to the ground. "Now, Massa Walter," he shouted out; "hold on to him tail." But though both Walter and the doctor attempted to catch the creature's tail, it whisked it about so violently that the task was no easy one. Nub meantime kept jumping round and round, as it made attempts to bite his legs. The doctor at length getting in front, ran his spear into its open mouth; while Walter, with the point of his, pressed its neck down to the ground. The creature had, however, still an abundance of life, and made desperate efforts to escape. When it advanced, the doctor drove his spear further down its throat; and when it retreated, finding the point unpleasant, Nub hauled away on the rope, which grew tighter and tighter round its neck.

"Hit it on the tail with your spear, Walter; a few heavy blows will soon render it helpless," said the doctor; and Walter, as directed, belaboured the unfortunate creature, till at length its struggles ceased.

"Hurrah! we got him now,—and plenty of dinner to last us for many days," shouted Nub. "I tink what we now got to do is to make ropes fast round him neck and drag him home."

Nub's suggestion was acted on; and having cut some vines and fastened them round the creature's neck, they harnessed themselves and began hauling it along. The operation was somewhat fatiguing, owing to the roughness of the ground and the numerous roots which projected in all directions. Their arrival was welcomed cordially by the mate and Dan; Alice, however, could not believe that they intended to eat so hideous a creature. It was forthwith hoisted up to the branch of a tree; and while Nub and Dan prepared the fire for cooking it, the doctor cut open its inside, which was found full of tree-frogs, small lizards, and other creatures. Walter stood by watching him, as with scientific skill he dissected the huge lizard, discoursing as he did so in technical language, which was perfectly incomprehensible to his young hearer, on the curious formation of the creature,—on its bones, muscles, and other internal parts.

"I tink one ting," observed Nub, who, after he had deposited a bundle of faggots near the fire, had come back to watch the proceedings. "I tink that he make bery good roast, and remarkably fine stew, if we had salt and pepper, and a few oder tings to eat wid him. I bery glad if we catch one of dese beasts ebery oder day."

As soon as the doctor had satisfied his curiosity, Nub begged that he might have the joints, as it was time to begin cooking them for dinner. The remainder of the carcass was now hung up in the larder, which had been finished in time for its reception.

"We must see about preserving our meat, however," observed the doctor, "or we shall always be liable to starvation; and the sooner we begin the better."

"What do you propose doing?" asked Walter. "I was thinking of searching for salt on the seashore."

"A still more effectual way of preserving the meat will be to smoke it, I suspect," said the doctor. "We have an abundance of stones, and we can easily build a 'smoking-house,' with the ever-useful bamboos for rafters. We shall have time to do something before dinner."

"At all events, we can make a beginning. There's nothing like setting at once about a thing which has to be done," observed Walter.

"You are right, my boy; and we will get the mate and Dan to help us, as Nub, I see, is busy attending to our roast," said the doctor.

They immediately set to work to erect a circular wall about six feet in diameter. They did not stop to procure cement, as even should the structure tumble down no great damage would be done, and it might easily be built up again. They had already raised it two or three feet in height before Nub had finished his culinary operations. Dinner was laid out, not, as hitherto, on the ground, but on a rustic-looking table, with benches on one side, and a large arm-chair at one end for Mr Shobbrok. Alice superintended the arrangements. They had leaves for plates, sticks for forks, and their clasp-knives enabled them to cut up their meat; and a neat bamboo cup stood by the side of each person, while one of larger dimensions served to hold their only beverage, pure water. At length Nub shouted, "Dinner is ready;" and he and Dan entered the house, each bearing a large shell which they had picked up on the shore,—one containing a piece of roast lizard, and the other one of the hornbills captured in the morning. Nub then hurried out again, and returned with a third shell full of sago; while a fourth was filled with some roots which the doctor had dug up. The latter assured his friends that they were perfectly wholesome, as he knew the nature of the plants. They complimented Nub on his cooking, and all sat down with excellent appetites, and hearts thankful for the substantial meal which had been supplied them. Little had they expected to find so large a supply of wholesome food when they first landed.

The next day the doctor and Nub went on with the erection of the smoking-house; while the mate, assisted by Dan, made preparations for the proposed alterations in the boat. He looked somewhat grave, however, over the business; and Dan heard him saying to himself, "I wish that I thought it would do. But it's a fearful risk for those young people to run."

The doctor having at length finished the smoking-house, which was covered over thickly with palm-leaves, he observed,—"And now we have finished our house, we must get some game to put in it. Your bow and arrows, Walter, will, I hope, give us a good supply."

"But are we not to try and catch some fish?" asked Walter. "They can be more effectually smoked than birds, and will keep better, I fancy. I have begun a hook, and I think that I may be able to finish two or three more before night."

"By all means. If Mr Shobbrok does not intend to commence immediately on the boat, we might take her into the middle of the harbour, or out to sea, and try what we can catch."

The mate agreed to the doctor's proposal; so the next day they and Walter went off, taking Alice, who wished to accompany them. Nub and Dan remained on shore to attend to the traps, and shoot some birds, if they could, for dinner. The fishing-party first threw their lines overboard in the harbour, but after trying for some time they caught only two small fish; they therefore pulled some way out to sea, where the water was sufficiently shallow to allow them to anchor by means of a large stone which they had brought for the purpose. They quickly got bites, and began rapidly to pull up some large fish, which the doctor believed, from their appearance, were likely to prove wholesome, though he could not tell their names. They were so busily employed that the time passed rapidly away, and evening was approaching before they thought how late it was. They did not fail, as may be supposed, to keep a bright lookout for any passing sail; but none appeared. With nearly four dozen fine large fish, they returned to the harbour. Nub's eyes glistened, as he came down to assist in hauling up the boat, on seeing the number of fish.

"No fear now of starving, I tink," he observed. "I neber thought we get so much as dat. God gives us all good tings, and we tank Him."

The rest of the day was employed in preparing the fish and hanging them up to dry, after which a fire of green wood was placed under them; and the doctor expressed his confidence that his plan for curing both fish and fowl would succeed.

The mate had for some time wished to explore the island, and at supper he proposed that they should set out the next day. Being unwilling to expose Alice to the dangers they might have to encounter, he suggested that she and Walter, with Nub, should remain behind at the house; for, as they had now an ample supply of provisions, they might safely do so without fear of starving. They both, however, begged so hard to go, that he at length yielded to their wishes; and it was agreed that the whole party should set off directly after breakfast the next morning.



Alice and Walter were up betimes, eager for the intended expedition. As it was uncertain whether fresh water would be met with, they all carried bamboo casks slung over their backs, with a small quantity of smoked fish,—the doctor's plan having been found to answer admirably. Each one of the party also carried a supply of sago flour packed in cases of the invaluable bamboo. Walter had one evening, for his amusement, cut out a fork of bamboo for Alice, and his example had been followed by the rest of the party. The bamboo likewise made very fair dinner-knives; and he had contrived some spoons by putting a piece of wood at one end— though, seeing they had as yet no soup for dinner, they were not of much use.

"So we must leave all these luxuries and conveniences of life for the wild bush," said Walter, with a pretended sigh. "Well, well, we shall enjoy them so much the more when we come back again."

"We are not likely to be long absent from home," observed Mr Shobbrok. "If we find that we are on the mainland, we will certainly not venture further into the interior. As far as my recollection serves me, there are only small islands off the coast; and I am inclined to the opinion that we are on one of these,—in which case we shall speedily return."

"I trust so, for I have no wish to fall in with the inhabitants, who are sure to be savages, and will probably treat us as enemies," observed the doctor.

"But, Mr Shobbrok," said Walter, "suppose we get back safely, when do you propose altering the boat, so that we may commence our voyage to Sydney?"

"Immediately on our return,—if, as I expect, we shall be able on our expedition to discover spots where we can obtain a more ample supply of game than we have found in this neighbourhood."

"I shall indeed be very thankful," said Alice, with a sigh; "for though I am very happy here, I long to see papa again; and I cannot help thinking that he is safe at Sydney by this time."

This conversation took place at breakfast. As soon as it was over the whole of the party got into marching order. The doctor and Dan went first to explore; the mate, with Alice and Walter, followed next; and Nub brought up the rear. It was agreed that, should any Indians or human habitations be seen, the doctor and Dan were to fall back on the rest of the party; when, as the safest course, they would all quickly retreat rather than run the risk of a collision. Dan was well adapted for the task he had undertaken. Active as a monkey, lithe as a snake, and possessed of so keen pair of eyes, he made his way among the bushes, looking carefully ahead before he exposed himself in any open space. The doctor kept at a short distance behind him, generally in sight of the rest of the party, so that he could make a sign to them should he receive a warning signal from Dan.

They took the way to the stream, over which the mate carried Alice on his shoulders. They then continued along its banks, till the dense foliage compelled them to turn aside and proceed towards the seashore. Dan carried an axe, which he had to use occasionally in cutting his way through the underwood; but the mate had charged him to avoid doing so as much as possible, as, should there be natives in the neighbourhood, they would be more likely to discover their traces and follow them up. Fortunately the underwood was perfectly free from thorns, or they would have had their clothes torn to shreds, even had they been able to penetrate it. It was generally of a reed or grass-like nature, so that they could push it aside or trample it down; and under the more lofty trees the ground was often for a considerable distance completely open, when they made more rapid progress. They seldom, however, went far from the seashore; but in many places they found walking on it very difficult, from the softness of the sand, or from its rugged and rocky nature. Besides this, they were there exposed to the full heat of the sun; while by keeping inland they were sheltered from its scorching rays by the wide-spreading tops of the lofty trees. Now and then, when the beach presented a long stretch of hard sand, they were tempted to go down to it, but were soon glad to return to the shelter of the woods.

As they advanced, the beach trended more and more to the west, and the mate's opinion that they were on an island became fully confirmed. At noon they sat down to rest and dine in a shady spot with the sea in view, Dan having first gone out some distance ahead to ascertain whether any native village was in sight.

"All right!" he exclaimed as he returned, flourishing his stick. "As far as my eyes can see, there is no other living being anywhere on the island; and we would be after adding a fine counthry to the possessions of England, if we had but the British flag to hoist to the top of a tall pole, and take possession of it in the name of King George." Dan was a loyal Irishman, and there were many such in his day.

"We may take possession of the island, though we should find it a different matter to keep it should any one choose to dispute our right," said the mate. "However, when we have finished our survey, we will think about the matter; and if we get to Sydney, we will petition the governor to follow up your suggestion, Dan. At present, we must get our dinner ready."

Till Dan's return they had refrained from lighting a fire; but wood having been collected, a light was set to it, and their smoked fish and iguana flesh were put before it to cook. They were thankful that they had brought water, as not a rivulet or pool had they come to, and they would otherwise have suffered greatly.

They had just finished their meal, and were still sitting, no one speaking, as they all felt somewhat tired, when Walter, hearing a whistle or chirp close behind him, turned his head and saw standing not far off a large bird of dark plumage,—or rather with feathers, for he saw no wings,—with a helmet-like protuberance at the top of its head resembling mother-of-pearl darkened with black-lead. It had enormous feet and legs of a pale ash colour; the loose skin of its neck was coloured with an iridescent hue of bluish-purple, pink, and green; the body being of a rufous tinge, but of a purple-black about the neck and breast. The bird stood its ground boldly, not in the slightest degree alarmed at the appearance of the strangers, as it eyed them with a look of intense curiosity. Now it poked forward its head, and advanced a little: now it stood up, raising its head to the ordinary height of a man; now it sank down again, till its back did not appear more than three feet from the ground. Though strange-looking, there was nothing ferocious in its aspect; on the contrary, it appeared to have come simply to have a look at the intruders on its domain.

"Well, you are an extraordinary creature!" exclaimed Walter. His remark made the rest of the party turn their heads, when Nub and Dan started up with the intention of catching the bird.

"Ho! ho! is that your game, my lads?" the strange creature seemed to say, as it struck out alternately in front with both its feet, sending the black and the Irishman sprawling on their backs to a considerable distance—happily not breaking their limbs, which, from the apparent strength of its legs, it might very easily have done. It then whisked round, and rushed off with a curious action at a great rate through the forest, leaping over fallen trees and all other impediments in its way in a manner which would have made it a hard matter for the best steeple-chase rider in all Ireland to follow it. Dan and Nub, picking themselves up again, attempted, along with the doctor, to catch it, but they were soon left far behind. At length returning, they threw themselves on the ground panting and blowing.

"I would have given fifty pounds to have got hold of that creature!" exclaimed the doctor, "I have never seen anything like it before. I have heard that there are similar wingless birds in New Zealand; but as no Englishman has ever caught sight of one, I was inclined to doubt the fact."

The bird seen by the party was a species of cassowary, which is found in Java and other East India islands. Several specimens have long since been brought to England from the island of New Britain, the natives of which call it the "mooruk," and hold it in some degree sacred. When they are found very young, they are brought up as pets, and become thoroughly domesticated, exhibiting the most perfect confidence and a wonderfully curious disposition.

Dan and the doctor had both started up with their bows; Nub had taken his, but when the mooruk kicked him it had been sent flying out of his hand, and before he could recover it the bird had got to such a distance that his arrow would have glanced harmlessly off its thick feathers, had he attempted to shoot. Dan was excessively vexed at having let the bird escape.

"Shure, now, if we had thought of throwing a noose over its head, we might have caught the baste; and it would have given us as many dinners as a good-sized sheep!" he exclaimed.

"Not for five hundred pounds would I have allowed it to have been killed!" cried the doctor. "If we could have taken it to England, it would have been of inestimable value, and would have made ample amends for all the dangers and hardships we have gone through."

"Well, well, doctor, I don't know that the owners of the Champion would be exactly of your opinion, any more than the rest of us," observed the mate, laughing; "but perhaps we may find some other curious creature before long to recompense you for your loss. It's time, however, to be on the tramp. I should like to ascertain before dark how far we are from the mainland; for that we are on an island I feel confident."

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