'4 )- 2'y~t
THE BOY CAPTAIN.
ELLEN E. FREWER.
CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS,
743 AND 745 BROADWAY.
[All rights reserved.]
PART THE FIRST.
I. THE PILGRIM I
II. THE APPRENTICE 14
III. A RESCUE 24
IV. THE SURVIVORS OF THE WALDECK" .36
V. DINGO'S SAGACITY 45
VI. A WHALE IN SIGHT 60
VII. PREPARATIONS FOR AN ATTACK 68
VIII. A CATASTROPHE 74
IX. DICK'S PROMOTION 89
X. THE NEW CREW 99
XI. ROUGH WEATHER 115
XII. HOPE REVIVED 129
XIII. LAND AT LAST 142
XIV. ASHORE 158
XV. A STRANGER 174
XVI. THROUGH THE FOREST 191
XVII. MISGIVINGS 207
XVIII. A TERRIBLE DISCOVERY 223
PART THE SECOND.
I. THE DARK CONTINENT .
II. ACCOMPLICES .
III. ON THE MARCH AGAIN .
IV. ROUGH TRAVELLING 276
V. WHITE ANTS 291
VI. A DIVING-BELL 305
VII. A SLAVE CARAVAN 320
VIII. NOTES BY THE WAY 330
IX. KAZONDE 346
X. MARKET-DAY 358
XI. A BOWL OF PUNCH 368
XII. ROYAL OBSEQUIES 382
XIII. IN- CAPTIVITY 396
XIV. A RAY OF HOPE 406
XV. AN EXCITING CHASE 422
XVI. A MAGICIAN 436
XVII. DRIFTING DOWN THE STREAM 446
XVIII. AN ANXIOUS VOYAGE 458
XIX. AN ATTACK 470
XX. A HAPPY REUNION 1 484
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
Cousin Benedict 7
Captain Hull advanced to meet Mrs. Weldon and her party I
Dick and Little Jack 22
Negoro had approached without being noticed by anyone 27
The dog began to swim slowly and with manifest weakness towards the
Mrs. Weldon assisted by Nan and the ever active Dick Sands, was doing
everything in her power to restore consciousness to the poor sufferers 37
The good-natured negroes were ever ready to lend a helping hand 44
'- There you are, then, Master Jack 47
Jack cried out in the greatest excitement that Dingo knew how to read 56
Negoro, with a threatening gesture that seemed half involuntary, with-
drew immediately to his accustomed quarters 58
" This Dingo is nothing out of the way" .. 61
Occasionally Dick Sands would take a pistol, and now and then a rifle 63
" What a big fellow !" .. 66
The captain's voice came from the retreating boat 72
"I must get you to keep yJur eye upon that man" .73
The whale seemed utterly unconscious of the attack that was threaten-
ing it 75
The boat was well-nigh full of water, and in imminent danger of being
There is no hope 87
"Oh, we shall soon be on shore 94
" Oh yes, Jack; you shall keep the wind in order" 97
All three of them fell flat upon the deck 103
Jack evidenced his satisfaction by giving his huge friend a hearty shake
of the hand 107
A light shadow glided stealthily along the deck- 12
For half an hour Negoro stood motionless 120
Under bare poles 128
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
Quick as lightning, Dick Sands drew a revolver from his pocket 131
"There! look there 37
"You have acquitted yourself like a man" 143
They both examined the outspread chart 48
The sea was furious, and dashed vehemently upon the crags on either
Surveying the shore with the air of a man who was trying to recall some
past experience .. 161
Not without emotion could Mrs. Weldon, or indeed any of them,
behold the unfortunate ship. 167
The entomologist was seen making his way down the face of the cliff at
the imminent risk of breaking his neck 171
" Good morning, my young friend" .. 176
" He is my little son" .. 181
They came to a tree to which a horse was tethered 187
The way across the forest could scarcely be called a path 94
Occasionally the soil became marshy 197
A halt for the night 201
Hercules himself was the first to keep watch 205
"Don't fire !" ............ 212
A herd of gazelles dashed past him like a glowing cloud 215
A halt was made for the night beneath a grove of lofty trees 219
"Look here I here are hands, men's hands" 227
The man was gone, and his horse with him 1 231
They were seated at the foot of an enormous banyan-tree. 248
Both men, starting to their feet, looked anxiously around them 253
Dingo disappeared again amongst the bushes 259
" You must keep this a secret" .. 263
"Harris has left us" 267
The march was continued with as much rapidity as was consistent with
It was a scene only too common in Central Africa 278
Another brilliant flash brought the camp once again into relief 283
One after another, the whole party made their way inside 288
Cousin Benedict's curiosity was awakened 294
The naturalist now fairly mounted on a favourite hobby 298
" My poor boy, I know everything" .. 303
They set to work to ascertain what progress the water was making 307
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
All fired simultaneously at the nearest boat 313
The giant clave their skulls with the butt end of his gun 318
The start was made 328
If ever the havildar strolled a few yards away, Bat took the opportunity
of murmuring a few words of encouragement to his poor old father 332
The caravan had been attacked on the flank by a dozen or more
crocodiles .. 335
The creature that had sprung to my feet was Dingo 340
More slaves sick, and abandoned to take their chance 343
Adjoining the commercial quarter was the royal residence 348
With a yell and a curse, the American fell dead at his feet 356
Accompanied by Coimbra, Alvez himself was one of the first arrivals .360
The potentate beneath whose sway the country trembled for a hundred
miles round 370
Alvez advanced and presented the king with some fresh tobacco 374
The king had taken fire internally 379
" Your life is in my hands 386
All his energies were restored 389
Friendless and hopeless 394
He contented himself with the permission to go where lie pleased within
the limits of the palisade 399
" I suppose Weldon will not mind coming to fetch you ?" 404
Dr. Livingstone 409
With none to guide him except a few natives 413
"You are Dr. Livingstone, I presume?" 418
The insufferable heat had driven all the residents within the depot indoors 426
Before long the old black speck was again flitting just above his head 429
For that day at least Cousin Benedict had lost his chance of being the
happiest of entomologists 434
The entire crowd joined in 440
" Here they are, captain both of them 1 444
Hercules could leave the boat without much fear of detection 452
It was caused by a troop of a hundred or more elephants 456
He stood face to face with his foe 460
Instantly five or six negroes scrambled down the piles 464
Upon the smooth wood were two great letters in dingy red 472
The dog was griping the man by the throat 476
The bullet shattered the rudder-scull into fragments 481
THE BOY CAPTAIN.
ON the 2nd of February, 1873, the "Pilgrim," a tight little
craft of 400 tons burden, lay in lat. 430 57', S. and long.
1650 19', W. She was a schooner, the property of James
W. Weldon, a wealthy Californian ship-owner who had
fitted her out at San Francisco, expressly for the whale-
fisheries in the southern seas.
James Weldon was accustomed every season to send his
whalers both to the Arctic regions beyond Behring
Straits, and to the Antarctic Ocean below Tasmania and
Cape Horn; and the "Pilgrim," although one of the smallest,
was one of the best-going vessels of its class ; her sailing-
powers were splendid, and her rigging was so adroitly
adapted that with a very small crew she might venture
without risk within sight of the impenetrable ice-fields of
the southern hemisphere: under skilful guidance she could
dauntlessly thread her way amongst the drifting ice-bergs
that, lessened though they were by perpetual shocks and
undermined by warm currents, made their way north-
wards as far as the parallel of New Zealand or the Cape
of Good Hope, to a latitude corresponding to which in the
northern hemisphere they are never seen, having already
melted away in the depths of the Atlantic and Pacific
2 DICK SANDS, THE BOY CAPTAIN.
For several years the command of the Pilgrim had been
entrusted to Captain Hull, an experienced seaman, and one
of the most dexterous harpooners in Weldon's service.
The crew consisted of five sailors and an apprentice. This
number, of course, was quite insufficient for the process of
whale-fishing, which requires a large contingent both for
manning the whale-boats and for cutting up the whales
after they are captured; but Weldon, following the
example of other owners, found it more economical to em-
bark at San Francisco only just enough men to work the
ship to New Zealand, where, from the promiscuous gather-
ing of seamen of well-nigh every nationality, and of
needy emigrants, the captain had no difficulty in
engaging as many whalemen as he wanted for the season.
This method of hiring men who could be at once discharged
when their services were no longer required had proved
altogether to be the most profitable and convenient.
The "Pilgrim" had now just completed her annual
voyage to the Antarctic circle. It was not, however, with her
proper quota of oil-barrels full to the brim, nor yet with an
ample cargo of cut and uncut whalebone, that she was thus
far on her way back. The time, indeed, for a good haul
was past; the repeated and vigorous attacks upon the
cetaceans had made them very scarce ; the whale known as
"the Right whale," the "Nord-kapper" of the northern
fisheries, the Sulpher-boltone of the southern, was hardly
ever to be seen; and latterly the whalers had had no
alternative but to direct their efforts against the Finback or
Jubarte, a gigantic mammal, encounter with which is
always attended with considerable danger.
So scanty this year had been the supply of whales that
Captain Hull had resolved next year to push his way into
far more southern latitudes; even, if necessary, to advance
to the regions known as Clarie and Ad6lie Lands, of which
the discovery, though claimed by the American navigator
Wilkes, belongs by right to the illustrious Frenchman
Dumont d'Urville, the commander of the "Astrolabe" and
The season had been exceptionally unfortunate for the
THE "PILGRIM." 3
" Pilgrim." At the beginning of January, almost in the
height of the southern summer, long before the ordinary
time for the whalers' return, Captain Hull had been obliged
to abandon his fishing-quarters. His hired contingent, all
men of more than doubtful character, had given signs of
such insubordination as threatened to end in mutiny; and
he had become aware that he must part company with them
on the earliest possible opportunity. Accordingly, without
delay, the bow of the Pilgrim was directed to the north-
west, towards New Zealand, which was sighted on the
15th of January, and on reaching Waitemata, the port of
Auckland, in the Hauraki Gulf, on the east coast of North
Island, the whole of the gang was peremptorily discharged.
The ship's crew were more than dissatisfied. They were
angry. Never before had they returned with so meagre
a haul. They ought to have had at least two hundred
barrels more. The captain himself experienced all the
mortification of an ardent sportsman who for the first time
in his life brings home a half-empty bag; and there was a
general spirit of animosity against the rascals whose rebellion
had so entirely marred the success of the expedition.
Captain Hull did everything in his power to repair the
disappointment; he made every effort to engage a fresh
gang; but it was too late; every available seaman had
long since been carried off to the fisheries. Finding there-
fore that all hope of making good the deficiency in his
cargo must be resigned, he was on the point of leaving
Auckland, alone with his crew, when he was met by a
request with which he felt himself bound to comply.
It had chanced that James Weldon, on one of those
journeys which were necessitated by the nature of his
business, had brought with him his wife, his son Jack, a
child of five years of age, and a relation of the family who
was generally known by the name of Cousin Benedict
Weldon had of course intended that his family should
accompany him on his return home to San Francisco; but
little Jack was taken so seriously ill, that his father, whose
affairs demanded his immediate return, was obliged to leave
him behind at Auckland with his wife and Cousin Benedict
4 DICK SANDS, THE BOY CAPTAIN.
Three months had passed away, little Jack was convales-
cent, and Mrs. Weldon, weary of her long separation from her
husband, was anxious to get home as soon as possible. Her
readiest way of reaching San Francisco was to cross to
Australia, and thence to take a passage in one of the
vessels of the Golden Age Company, which run between
Melbourne and the Isthmus of Panama: on arriving in
Panama she would have to wait the departure of the next
American steamer of the line which maintains a regular
communication between the Isthmus and California. This
route, however, involved many stoppages and changes, such
as are always disagreeable and inconvenient for women
and children, and Mrs. Weldon was hesitating whether she
should encounter the journey, when she heard that her
husband's vessel, the Pilgrim," had arrived at Auckland.
Hastening to Captain Hull, she begged him to take her
with her little boy, Cousin Benedict, and Nan, an old
negress who had been her attendant from her childhood,
on board the Pilgrim," and to convey them to San Fran-
Was it not over hazardous," asked the captain, "to ven-
ture upon a voyage of between 5000 and 6000 miles in so
small a sailing-vessel ? "
But Mrs. Weldon urged her request, and Captain Hull,
confident in the sea-going qualities of his craft, and anti-
cipating at this season nothing but fair weather on either
side of the equator, gave his consent.
In order to provide as far as possible for the comfort of
the lady during a voyage that must occupy from forty to fifty
days, the captain placed his own cabin at her entire disposal.
Everything promised well for a prosperous voyage. The
only hindrance that could be foreseen arose from the cir-
cumstance that the "Pilgrim" would have to put in at
Valparaiso for the purpose of unlading; but that business
once accomplished, she would continue her way along
the American coast with the assistance of the land breezes,
which ordinarily make the proximity of those shores such
agreeable quarters for sailing.
Mrs. Weldon herself had accompanied her husband in
TIE PILGRIM." 5
so many voyages, that she was quite inured to all the
makeshifts of a seafaring life, and was conscious of no
misgiving in embarking upon a vessel of such small tonnage.
She was a brave, high-spirited woman of about thirty years
of age, in the enjoyment of excellent health, and for her
the sea had no terrors. Aware that Captain Hull was an
experienced man, in whom her husband had the utmost
confidence, and knowing that his ship was a substantial
craft, registered as one of the best of the American whalers,
so far from entertaining any mistrust as to her safety, she
only rejoiced in the opportuneness of the chance which
seemed to offer her a direct and unbroken route to her
Cousin Benedict, as a matter of course, was to accom-
pany her. He was about fifty ; but in spite of his mature
age it would have been considered the height of imprudence
to allow him to travel anywhere alone. Spare, lanky,
with a bony frame, with an enormous cranium, and a pro-
fusion of hair, he was one of those amiable, inoffensive
savants who, having once taken to gold spectacles, appear
to have arrived at a settled standard of age, and, however
long they live afterwards, seem never to be older than
they have ever been.
Claiming a sort of kindredship with all the world,
he was universally known, far beyond the pale of
his own connexions, by the name of Cousin Benedict."
In the ordinary concerns of life nothing would ever have
rendered him capable of shifting for himself; of his meals
he would never think until they were placed before him;
he had the appearance of being utterly insensible to heat or
cold; he vegetated rather than lived, and might not
inaptly be compared to a tree which, though healthy
enough at its core, produces scant foliage and no fruit.
His long arms and legs were in the way of himself and
everybody else ; yet no one could possibly treat him with
unkindness, As M. Prudhomme would say, "if only he
had been endowed with capability," he would have rendered
a service to any one in the world; but helplessness was
his dominant characteristic; helplessness was ingrained
6 DICK SANDS, THE BOY CAPTAIN.
into his very nature; yet this very helplessness made him
an object of kind consideration rather than of contempt, and
Mrs. Weldon looked upon him as a kind of elder brother
to her little Jack.
It must not be supposed, however, that Cousin Benedict
was either idle or unoccupied. On the contrary, his whole
time was devoted to one absorbing passion for natural
history. Not that he had any large claim to be regarded
properly as a natural historian ; he had made no excursions
over the whole four districts of zoology, botany, mineralogy,
and geology, into which the realms of natural history are
commonly divided ; indeed, he had no pretensions at all to
be either a botanist, a mineralogist, or a geologist; his
studies only sufficed to make him a zoologist, and that in a
very limited sense. No Cuvier was he; he did not aspire
to decompose animal life by analysis, and to recompose it
by synthesis; his enthusiasm had not made him at all
deeply versed in vertebrata, mollusca, or radiata; in fact,
the vertebrata-animals, birds, reptiles, fishes-had had no
place in his researches ; the mollusca-from the cephalopoda
to the bryozia-had had no attractions for him ; nor had
he consumed the midnight .oil in investigating the radiata,
the echinodermata, acalephse, polypi, entozoa, or infusoria.
No ; Cousin Benedict's interest began and ended with the
articulata; and it must be owned at once that his studies
were very far from embracing all the range of the six
classes into which articulataa" are subdivided; viz., the
insecta, the myriapoda, the arachnida, the crustacea, the
cirrhopoda, and the anelides; and he was utterly unable
in scientific language to distinguish a worm from a leech,
an earwig from a sea-acorn, a spider from a scorpion, a
shrimp from a frog-hopper, or a galley-worm from a centi-
To confess the plain truth, Cousin Benedict was an
amateur entomologist, and nothing more.
Entomology, it may be asserted, is a wide science; it
embraces the whole division of the articulata;. but our
friend was an entomologist only in the limited sense of the
popular acceptation of the word; that is to say, he was an
Cousin Benedict. Page 6.
THE PILGRIM." 9
observer and collector of insects, meaning by "insects"
those articulata which have bodies consisting of a number
of concentric movable rings, forming three distinct segments,
each with a pair of legs, and which are scientifically desig-
nated as hexapods.
To this extent was Cousin Benedict an entomologist; and
when it is remembered that the class of insecta of which he
had grown up to be the enthusiastic student comprises no
less than ten' orders, and that of these ten the coleoptera
and diptera alone include 30,000 and 60,ooo species re-
spectively, it must be confessed that he had an ample field
for his most persevering exertions.
Every available hour did he spend in the pursuit of his
favourite science : hexapods ruled his thoughts by day and
his dreams by night. The number of pins that he carried
thick on the collar and sleeves of his coat, down the front
of his waistcoat, and on the crown of his hat, defied com-
putation ; they were kept in readiness for the capture of
specimens that might come in his way, and on his return
from a ramble in the country he might be seen literally
encased with a covering of insects, transfixed adroitly by
This ruling passion of his had been the inducement that
had urged him to accompany Mr. and Mrs. Weldon to New
Zealand. It had appeared to him that it was likely to be
a promising district, and now having been successful in
adding some rare specimens to his collection, he was anxious
to get back again to San Francisco, and to assign them
their proper places in his extensive cabinet.
Besides, it never occurred to Mrs. Weldon to start without
him. To leave him to shift for himself would be sheer
cruelty. As a matter of course whenever Mrs. Weldon went
on board the Pilgrim," Cousin Benedict would go too.
1 These ten orders are (i) the orthoptera, e. g. grasshoppers and crickets;
(2) the neuroptera, e. g. dragon-flies; (3) the hymenoptera, e. g. bees, wasps,
and ants; (4) the lepidoptera, e.g. butterflies and moths; (5) the hemiptera,
e.g. cicadas and fleas; (6) the coleoptera, e.g. cockchafers and glow-worms;
(7) the diptera, e.g. gnats and flies; (8) the rhipiptera, e.g. the stylops; (9)
the parasites, e.g. the acarus; and (Io) the thysanura, e.g. the lepisma and
IO DICK SANDS, THE BOY CAPTAIN.
Not that in any emergency assistance of any kind could be
expected from him ; on the contrary, in the case of difficulty
he would be an additional burden-; but there was every
reason to expect a fair passage and no cause of misgiving
of any kind, so the propriety of leaving the amiable
entomologist behind was never suggested.
Anxious that she should be no impediment in the way
of the due departure of the Pilgrim" from Waitemata,
Mrs. Weldon made her preparations with the utmost haste,
discharged the servants which she had temporarily engaged
at Auckland, and accompanied by little Jack and the old
negress, and followed mechanically by Cousin Benedict,
embarked on the 22nd of January on board the schooner.
The amateur, however, kept his eye very scrupulously
upon his own special box. Amongst his collection of
insects were some very remarkable examples of new
staphylins, a species of carnivorous coleoptera with eyes
placed above their head; it was a kind supposed to be
peculiar to New Caledonia. Another rarity which had been
brought under his notice was a venomous spider, known
among the Maoris as a "katipo ;" its bite was asserted to
be very often fatal. As a spider, however, belongs to the
order of the arachnida, and is not properly an insect,"
Benedict declined to take any interest in it. Enough for
him that he had secured a novelty in his own section of
research; the Staphylin Neo-Zelandus was not only the
gem.of his collection, but its pecuniary value baffled ordinary
estimate; he insured his box at a fabulous sum, deeming it
to be worth far more than all the cargo of oil and whale-
bone in the Pilgrim's" hold.
Captain Hull advanced to meet Mrs. Weldon and her
party as they stepped on deck.
"It must be understood, Mrs. Weldon," he said, courteously
raising his hat, that you take this passage entirely on
your own responsibility."
Certainly, Captain Hull," she answered; "but why do
yo-i ask ?"
Simply because I have received no orders from Mr.
Weldon," replied the captain.
Captain H-ull advanced to meet Mrs. Weldon and her party. Page 1o.
THE "PILGRIM." 13
But my wish exonerates you," said Mrs. Weldon.
Besides," added Captain Hull, I am unable to provide
you with the accommodation and the comfort that you
would have upon a passenger steamer."
"You know well enough, captain," remonstrated the lady
"that my husband would not hesitate for a moment to
trust his wife and child on board the 'Pilgrim.'"
"Trust, madam! No no more than I should myself. I
repeat that the 'Pilgrim' cannot afford you the comfort
to which you are accustomed."
Mrs. Weldon smiled.
Oh, I am not one of your grumbling travellers. I shall
have no complaints to make either of small cramped
cabins, or of rough and meagre food."
She took her son by the hand, and passing on, begged
that they might start forthwith.
Orders accordingly were given; sails were trimmed;
and after taking the shortest course across the gulf, the
" Pilgrim turned her head towards America.
Three days later strong easterly breezes compelled the
schooner to tack to larboard in order to get to windward.
The consequence was that by the 2nd of February the
captain found himself in such a latitude that he might
almost be suspected of intending to round Cape Horn rather
than of having a design to coast the western shores of the
Still, the sea did not become rough. There was a slight
delay, but, on the whole, navigation was perfectly easy.
14 DICK SANDS, THE BOY CAPTAIN.
THERE was no poop upon the "Pilgrim's" deck, so that
Mrs. Weldon had no alternative than to acquiesce in the
captain's proposal that she should occupy his own modest
Accordingly, here she was installed with Jack and old
Nan; and here she took all her meals, in company with the
captain and Cousin Benedict.
For Cousin Benedict tolerably comfortable sleeping-
accommodation had been contrived close at hand, while
Captain Hull himself retired to the crew's quarter, occupy-
ing the cabin which properly belonged to the chief mate,
but as already indicated, the services of a second officer
were quite dispensed with.
All the crew were civil and attentive to the wife of their
employer, a master to whom they were faithfully attached.
They were all natives of the coast of California, brave and
experienced seamen, and united by tastes and habits in a
common bond of sympathy. Few as they were in number,
their work was never shirked, not simply from the sense of
duty, but because they were directly interested in the profits
of their undertaking; the success of their labours always
told to their own advantage. The present expedition was
the fourth that they had taken together ; and, as it turned out
to be the first in which they had failed to meet with success,
it may be imagined that they were full of resentment
against the mutinous whalemen who had been the cause of
so serious a diminution of their ordinary gains.
The only one on board who was not an American was a
man who had been temporarily engaged as cook. His
name was Negoro; he was a Portuguese by birth, but
spoke English with perfect fluency. The previous cook
had deserted the ship at Auckland, and when Negoro, who
was out of employment, applied for the place, Captain
Hull, only too glad to avoid detention, engaged him at
once without inquiry into his antecedents. There was not
the slightest fault to be found with the way in which the
cook performed his duties, but there was something in his
manner, or perhaps, rather in the expression of his counte-
nance, which excited the Captain's misgivings, and made
him regret that he had not taken more pains to investigate
the character of one with whom he was now brought into
such close contact.
Negoro looked about forty years of age. Although he
had the appearance of being slightly built, he was muscular;
he was of middle height, and seemed to have a robust con-
stitution; his hair was dark, his complexion somewhat
swarthy. His manner was taciturn, and although, from
occasional remarks that he dropped, it was evident that he
had received some education, he was very reserved on the
subjects both of his family and of his past life. No one knew
where he had come from, and he admitted no one to his
confidence as to where he was going, except that he made
no secret of his intention to land at Valparaiso. His free-
dom from sea-sickness demonstrated that this could hardly
be his first voyage, but on the other hand his complete
ignorance of seamen's phraseology made it certain that
he had never been accustomed to his present occupation.
He kept himself aloof as much as possible from the rest of
the crew, during the day rarely leaving the great cast-iron
stove, which was out of proportion to the measurement of
the cramped little kitchen; and at night, as soon as the fire
was extinguished, took the earliest opportunity of retiring
to his berth and going to sleep.
It has been already stated that the crew of the "Pilgrim"
consisted of five seamen and an apprentice. This appren-
tice was Dick Sands.
DICK SANDS, THE BOY CAPTAIN.
Dick was fifteen years old; he was a foundling, his
unknown parents having abandoned him at his birth, and
he had been brought up in a public charitable institution.
He had been called Dick, after the benevolent passer-by
who had discovered him when he was but an infant a few
hours old, and he had received the surname of Sands as a
memorial of the spot where he had been exposed, Sandy
Hook, a point at the mouth of the Hudson, where it forms
an entrance -to the harbour of New York.
As Dick was so young it was most likely he would yet
grow a little taller, but it did not seem probable that he
would ever exceed middle height, he looked too stoutly and
strongly built to grow much. His complexion was dark,
but his beaming blue eyes attested, with scarcely room for
doubt, his Anglo-Saxon origin, and his countenance
betokened energy and intelligence. The profession that he
had adopted seemed to have equipped him betimes for
fighting the battle of life.
Misquoted often as Virgil's are the words
Audaces fortune juvat 1"
but the true reading is
Audentes fortune juvat 1"
and, slight as the difference may seem, it is very significant.
It is upon the confident rather than the rash, the daring
rather than the bold, that Fortune sheds her smiles; the
bold man often acts without thinking, whilst the daring
always thinks before he acts.
And Dick Sands was truly courageous ; he was one of
the daring. At fifteen years old, an age at which few boys
have laid aside the frivolities of childhood, he had acquired
the stability of a man, and the most casual observer could
scarcely fail to be attracted by his bright, yet thoughtful
countenance. At an early period of his life he had realized
all the difficulties of his position, and had made a resolution,
from which nothing tempted him to flinch, that he would
carve out for himself an honourable and independent career.
Lithe and agile in his movements, he was an adept in
every kind of athletic exercise; and so marvellous was his
THE APPRENTICE. 19
success in everything he undertook, that he might almost
be supposed to be one of those gifted mortals who have two
right hands and two left feet.
Until he was four years old the little orphan had found
a home in one of those institutions in America where for-
saken children are sure of an asylum, and he was subse-
quently sent to an industrial school supported by charitable
aid, where he learnt reading, writing, and arithmetic. From
the days of infancy he had never deviated from the ex-
pression of his wish to be a sailor, and accordingly, as soon
as he was eight, he was placed as cabin-boy on board one
of the ships that navigate the Southern Seas. The officers
all took a peculiar interest in him, and he received, in con-
sequence, a thoroughly good grounding in the duties and
discipline of a seaman's life. There was no room to doubt
that he must ultimately rise to eminence in his profession,
for when a child from the very first has been trained in the
knowledge that he must gain his bread by the sweat of his
brow, it is comparatively rare that he lacks the will to do so.
Whilst he was still acting as cabin-boy on one .of those
trading-vessels, Dick attracted the notice of Captain Hull,
who took a fancy to the lad and introduced him to his
employer. Mr. Weldon at once took a lively interest in
Dick's welfare, and had his education continued in San
Francisco, taking care that he was instructed in the doctrines
of the Roman Catholic Church, to which his own family
Throughout his studies Dick Sands' favourite subjects
were always those which had a reference to his future
profession ; he mastered the details of the geography of the
world; he applied himself diligently to such branches of
mathematics as were necessary for the science of navigation ;
whilst for recreation in his hours of leisure, he would
greedily devour every book of adventure in travel that came
in his way. Nor did he omit duly to combine the practical
with the theoretical; and when he was bound apprentice
on board the Pilgrim," a vessel not only belonging to his
benefactor, but under the command of his kind friend
Captain Hull, he congratulated himself most heartily, and
20 DICK SANDS, THE BOY CAPTAIN.
felt that the experience he should gain in the southern
whale-fisheries could hardly fail to be of service to him in
after-life. A first-rate sailor ought to be a first-rate fisher-
It was a matter of the greatest pleasure to Dick Sands
when he heard to his surprise that Mrs. Weldon was about
to become a passenger on board the "Pilgrim." His
devotion to the family of his benefactor was large and
genuine. For several years Mrs. Weldon had acted towards
him little short of a mother's part, and for Jack, although he
never forgot the difference in their position, he entertained
well-nigh a brother's affection. His friends had the satisfac-
tion of being assured that they had sown the seeds of
kindness on a generous soil, for there was no room to doubt
that the heart of the orphan boy was overflowing with
sincere gratitude. Should the occasion arise, ought he not,
he asked, to be ready to sacrifice everything in behalf of
those to whom he was indebted not only for his start in
life, but for the knowledge of all that was right and holy ?
Confiding in the good principles of her prot6g6, Mrs.
Weldon had no hesitation in entrusting her little son to his
especial charge. During the frequent periods of leisure,
when the sea was fair, and the sails required no shifting,
the apprentice was never weary of amusing Jack by making
him familiar with the practice of a sailor's craft; he made
him scramble up the shrouds, perch upon the yards, and
slip down the back-stays; and the mother had no alarm;
her assurance of Dick Sands' ability and watchfulness to
protect her boy was so complete that she could only
rejoice in an occupation for him that seemed more than any-
thing to restore the colour he had lost in his recent illness.
Time passed on without incident; and had it not been
for the constant prevalence of an adverse wind, neither pas-
sengers nor crew could have found the least cause of com-
plaint. The pertinacity, however, with which the wind kept
to the east could not do otherwise than make Captain Hull
somewhat concerned; it absolutely prevented him from
getting his ship into her proper course, and he could not
altogether suppress his misgiving that the calms near the
Dick and little Jack.
Tropic of Capricorn, and the equatorial current driving him
on westwards, would entail a delay that might be serious.
It was principally on Mrs. Weldon's account that the Cap-
tain began to feel uneasiness, and he made up his mind that if
he could hail a vessel proceeding to America he should ad-
vise his passengers to embark on her; unfortunately, how-
ever, he felt that they were still in a latitude far too much
to the south to make it likely that they should sight a
steamer going to Panama; and at that date, communication
between Australia and the New World was much less fre-
quent than it has since become.
Still, nothing occurred to interrupt the general monotony
of the voyage until the 2nd of February, the date at which
our narrative commences.
It was about nine o'clock in the morning of that day that
Dick and little Jack had perched themselves together on
the top-mast-yards. The weather was very clear, and they
could see the horizon right round except the section behind
them, hidden by the brigantine-sail on the main-mast.
Below them, the bowsprit seemed to lie along the water with
its stay-sails attached like three unequal wings; from the lads'
feet to the deck was the smooth surface of the fore-mast;
and above their heads nothing but the small top-sail and
the top-mast. The schooner was running on the larboard
tack as close to the wind as possible.
Dick Sand was pointing out to Jack how well the ship
was ballasted, and was trying to explain how it was
impossible for her to capsize, however much she heeled to
starboard, when suddenly the little fellow cried out,-
"I can see something in the water!"
"Where ? what ?" exclaimed Dick, clambering to his
feet upon the yard.
"There!" said the child, directing attention to the
portion of the sea-surface that was visible between the
Dick fixed his gaze intently for a moment, and then
shouted out lustily,-
"Look out in front, to starboard! There is something
afloat. To windward, look out I"
24 DICK SANDS, THE BOY CAPTAIN.
AT the sound of Dick's voice all the crew, in a moment,
were upon the alert. The men who were not on watch
rushed to the deck, and Captain Hull hurried from his
cabin to the bows. Mrs. Weldon, Nan, and even Cousin
Benedict leaned over the starboard taffrails, eager to get a
glimpse of what had thus suddenly attracted the attention
of the young apprentice. With his usual indifference,
Negoro did not leave his cabin, and was the only person on
board who did not share the general excitement.
Speculations were soon rife as to what could be the
nature of the floating object which could be discerned
about three miles ahead. Suggestions of various character
were freely made. One of the sailors declared that it
looked to him only like an abandoned raft, but Mrs.
Weldon observed quickly that if it were a raft it might
be carrying some unfortunate shipwrecked men who must
be rescued if possible. Cousin Benedict asserted that it
was nothing more nor less than a huge sea-monster; but
the captain soon arrived at the conviction that it was the
hull of a vessel that had heeled over on to its side, an opinion
with which Dick thoroughly coincided, and went so far as
to say that he believed he could make out the copper keel
glittering in the sun.
"Luff, Bolton, luff!" shouted Captain Hull to the
helmsman; "we will at any rate lose no time in getting
"Ay, ay, sir," answered the helmsman, and the "Pil-
grim in an instant was steered according to orders.
A RESCUE. 25
In spite, however, of the convictions of the captain and
Dick, Cousin Benedict would not be moved from his
opinion that the object of their curiosity was some huge
"It is certainly dead, then," remarked Mrs. Weldon ; "it
is perfectly motionless."
"Oh, that's because it is asleep," said Benedict, who,
although he would have willingly given up all the whales
in the ocean for one rare _specimen of an insect, yet could
not surrender his own belief.
"Easy, Bolton, easy!" shouted the captain when they
were getting nearer the floating mass; "don't let us be
running foul of the thing; no good could come from
knocking a hole in our side; keep out from it a good
"Ay, ay, sir," replied the helmsman, in his usual cheery
way; and by an easy turn of the helm the "Pilgrim's"
course was slightly modified so as to avoid all fear of
The excitement of the sailors by this time had become
more intense. Ever since the distance had been less than
a mile all doubt had vanished, and it was certain that what
was attracting their attention was the hull of a capsized
ship. They knew well enough the established rule that a
third of all salvage is the right of the finders, and they were
filled with the hope that the hull they were nearing might
contain an undamaged cargo, and be "a good haul," to
compensate them for their ill-success in the last season.
A quarter of an hour later and the Pilgrim was within
half a mile of the deserted vessel, facing her starboard side.
Water-logged to her bulwarks, she had heeled over so com-
pletely that it would have been next to impossible to stand
upon her deck. Of her masts nothing was to be seen; a
few ends of cordage were all that remained of her shrouds,
and the try-sail chains were hanging all broken. On the
starboard flank was an enormous hole.
Something or other has run foul of her," said Dick.
"No doubt of that," replied the captain; "the only
wonder is that she did not sink immediately."
26 DICK SANDS, THE BOY CAPTAIN.
"Oh, how I hope the poor crew have been saved !" ex-
claimed Mrs. Weldon.
"Most probably," replied the captain, they would all
have taken to the boats. It is as likely as not that the
ship which did the mischief would continue its course quite
Surely, you cannot mean," cried Mrs. Weldon, "that
any one could be capable of such inhumanity ? "
"Only too probable," answered Captain Hull; "un-
fortunately, such instances are very far from rare."
He scanned the drifting ship carefully and continued,-
"No; I cannot see any sign of boats here; I should
guess that the crew have made an attempt to get to land ;
at such a distance as this, however, from America or from
the islands of the Pacific I should be afraid that it must
"Is it not possible," asked Mrs. Weldon, "that some
poor creature may still survive on board, who can tell what
has happened ?"
"Hardly likely, madam; otherwise there would have
been some sort of a signal in sight. But it is a matter
about which we will make sure."
The captain waved his hand a little in the direction in
which he wished to go, and said quietly,-
Luff, Bolton, luff a bit "
The "Pilgrim by this time was not much more than
three cables' lengths from the ship; there was still no
token of her being otherwise than utterly deserted, when
Dick Sands suddenly exclaimed,-
"Hark! if I am not much mistaken, that is a dog
Every one listened attentively ; it was no fancy on Dick's
part; sure enough a stifled barking could be heard, as if
some unfortunate dog had been imprisoned beneath the
hatchways; but as the deck was not yet visible, it was
impossible at present to determine the precise truth.
Mrs. Weldon pleaded,-
If it is only a dog, captain, let it be saved "
Oh, yes, yes, mamma, the dog must be saved !" cried
Negoro had approached without being noticed by any one. Page 29.
A RESCUE. 29
little Jack; "I will go and get a bit of sugar ready
A bit of sugar, my child, will not be much for a starved
"Then it shall have my soup, and I will do without,"
said the boy, and he kept shouting, "Good dog! good
dog !" until he persuaded himself that he heard the animal
responding to his call.
The vessels were now scarcely three hundred feet apart;
the barking was more and more distinct, and presently a
great dog was seen clinging to the starboard netting. It
barked more desperately than ever.
"Howick," said Captain Hull, calling to the boatswain,
"heave to, and lower the small boat."
The sails were soon trimmed so as to bring the schooner
to a standstill within half a cable's length of the disabled
craft, t'le boat was lowered, and the captain and Dick, with
a couple of sailors, went on board. The dog kept up a
continual yelping; it made the most vigorous efforts
to retain its hold upon the netting, but perpetually slipped
backwards and fell off again upon the inclining deck. It
was soon manifest, however, that all the noise the creature
was making was not directed exclusively towards those
who were coming to its rescue, and Mrs. Weldon could not
divest herself of the impression that there must be some
survivors still on board. All at once the animal changed
its gestures. Instead of the crouching attitude and sup-
plicating whine with which it seemed to be imploring the
compassion of those who were nearing it, it suddenly
appeared to become bursting with violence and furious
"What ails the brute? exclaimed Captain Hull.
But already the boat was on the farther side of the
wrecked ship, and the captain was not in a position to
see that Negoro the cook had just come on to the schooner's
deck, or that it was obvious that it was against him that
the dog had broken out in such obstreperous fury. Negoro
had approached without being noticed by any one; he
made his way to the forecastle, whence, without a word
DICK SANDS, THE BOY CAPTAIN.
or look of surprise, he gazed a moment at the dog, knitted
his brow, and, silent and unobserved as he had come, -
retired to his kitchen.
As the boat had rounded the stern of the drifting hull, it
had been observed that the one word "Waldeck" was
painted on the aft-board, but that there was no intimation
of the port to which the ship belonged. To Captain Hull's
experienced eye, however, certain details of construction
gave a decided confirmation to the probability suggested
by her name that she was of American build.
Of what had once been a fine brig of 500 tons burden
this hopeless wreck was now all that remained. The large
hole near the bows indicated the place where the disastrous
shock had occurred, but as, in the heeling over, this aperture
had been carried some five or six feet above the water, the
vessel had escaped the immediate foundering which must
otherwise have ensued ; but still it wanted only the rising
of a heavy swell to submerge the ship at any time in a few
It did not take many more strokes to bring the boat close
to the larboard bulwark, which was half out of the water,
and Captain Hull obtained a view of the whole length of
the deck. It was clear from end to end. Both masts had
been snapped off within two feet of their sockets, and had
been swept away with shrouds, stays, and rigging. Not a
single spar was to be seen floating anywhere within sight
of the wreck, a circumstance from which it was to be
inferred that several days at least had elapsed since the
Meantime the dog, sliding down from the taffrail, got to
the centre hatchway, which was open. Here it continued
to bark, alternately directing its eyes above deck and
Look at that dog! said Dick; "I begin to think there
must be somebody on board."
"If so," answered the captain, "he must have died of
hunger; the water of course has flooded the store-room."
"No," said Dick; "that dog wouldn't look like that if
there were nobody there alive."
I'he dog began Luo wimn slowly and with manifest weakness towards the boat.
Taking the boat as close as was prudent to the wreck,
the captain and Dick called and whistled repeatedly to the
dog, which after a while let itself slip into the sea, and began
to swim slowly and with manifest weakness towards the
boat. As soon as it was lifted in, the animal, instead of
devouring the piece of bread that was offered him, made its
way to a bucket containing a few drops of fresh water, and
'began eagerly to lap them up.
The poor wretch is dying of thirst !" said Dick.
It soon appeared that the dog was very far from being
engrossed with its own interests. The boat was being
pushed back a few yards in order to allow the captain to
ascertain the most convenient place to get alongside the
Waldeck," when the creature seized Dick by the jacket,
and set up a howl that was almost human in its piteousness.
It was evidently in a state of alarm that the boat was
not going to return to the wreck. The dog's meaning could
not be misunderstood. The boat was accordingly brought
against the larboard side of the vessel, and while the two
sailors lashed her securely to the "Waldeck's" cat-head,
Captain Hull and Dick, with the dog persistently accom-
panying them, clambered, after some difficulty, to the open
hatchway between the stumps of the masts, and made their
way into the hold. It was half full of water, but perfectly
destitute of cargo, its sole contents being the ballast sand
which had slipped to larboard, and now served to keep the
vessel on her side.
One glance was sufficient to convince the captain that
there was no salvage to be effected.
"There is nothing here ; nobody here," he said.
"So I see," said the apprentice, who had made his way
to the extreme fore-part of the hold.
"Then we have only to go up again," remarked the
They ascended the ladder, but no sooner did they re-
appear upon the deck than the dog, barking irrepres-
sibly, began trying manifestly to drag them towards the
Yielding to what might be called the importunities of the
34 DICK SANDS, THE BOY CAPTAIN.
dog, they followed him to the poop, and there, by the dim
glimmer admitted by the sky-light, Captain Hull made out
the forms of five bodies, motionless and apparently lifeless,
stretched upon the floor.
One after another, Dick hastily examined them all, and
emphatically declared it to be his opinion, that not one ot
them had actually ceased to breathe ; whereupon the captain
did not lose a minute in summoning the two sailors to his
aid, and although it was far from an easy task, he succeeded
in getting the five unconscious men, who were all negroes,
conveyed safely to the boat.
The dog followed, apparently satisfied.
With all possible speed the boat made its way back
again to the "Pilgrim," a girt-line was lowered from the
mainyard, and the unfortunate men were raised to the
"Poor things !" said Mrs. Weldon, as she looked com-
passionately on the motionless forms.
But they are not dead," cried Dick eagerly; "they are
not dead ; we shall save them all yet "
What's the matter with them ?" asked Cousin Benedict,
looking at them with utter bewilderment.
"We shall hear all about them soon, I dare say," said
the captain, smiling; but first we will give them a few
drops of rum in some water."
Cousin Benedict smiled in return.
Negoro shouted the captain.
At the sound of the name, the dog, who had hitherto
been quite passive, growled fiercely, showed his teeth, and
exhibited every sign of rage.
The cook did not answer.
Negoro!" again the captain shouted, and the dog
became yet more angry.
At this second summons Negoro slowly left his kitchen,
but no sooner had he shown his face upon the deck than
the animal made a rush at him, and would unquestionably
have seized him by the throat if the man had not knocked
him back with a poker which he had brought with him in
A RESCUE. 35
The infuriated beast was secured by the sailors, and
prevented from inflicting any serious injury.
"Do you know this dog ?" asked the captain.
"Know him? Not I! I have never set eyes on the
brute in my life."
"Strange!" muttered Dick to himself; "there is some
mystery here. We shall see."
36 DICK SANDS, THE BOY CAPTAIN.
THE SURVIVORS OF THE "WALDECK."
IN spite of the watchfulness of the French and English
cruisers, there is no doubt that the slave-trade is still
extensively carried on in all parts of equatorial Africa, and
that year after year vessels loaded with slaves leave the
coasts of Angola and Mozambique to transport their living
freight to many quarters even of the civilized world.
Of this Captain Hull was well aware, and although he
was now in a latitude which was comparatively little
traversed by such slavers, he could not help almost involun-
tarily conjecturing that the negroes they had just found
must be part of a slave-cargo which was on its way to some
colony of the Pacific ; if this were so, he would at least
have the satisfaction of announcing to them that they had
regained their freedom from the moment that they came on
board the Pilgrim."
Whilst these thoughts were passing through his mind,
Mrs. Weldon, assisted by Nan and the ever active Dick
Sands, was doing everything in her power to restore con-
sciousness to the poor sufferers. The judicious administra-
tion of fresh water and a.limited quantity of food soon had
the effect of making them revive; and when they were
restored to their senses it was found that the eldest of them,
a man of about sixty years of age, who immediately regained
his powers of speech, was able to reply in good English to
all the questions that were put to him. In answer to
Captain Hull's inquiry whether they were not slaves, the
old negro proudly stated that he and his companions were
Mrs. Weldon, assisted by Nan and the ever active Dick Sands, was doing
everything in her power to restore consciousness to the poor sufferers.
THE SURVIVORS OF THE "WALDECK." 39
all free American citizens, belonging to the state of Penn-
"Then, let me assure you, my friend," said the captain,
"you have by no means compromised your liberty in having
been brought on board the American schooner Pilgrim.'"
Not merely, as it seemed, on account of his age and
experience, but rather because of a certain superiority and
greater energy of character, this old man was tacitly
recognized as the spokesman of his party ; he freely com-
municated all the information that Captain Hull required
to hear, and by degrees he related all the details of his
He said that his name was Tom, and that when he was
only six years of age he had been sold as a slave, and
brought from his home in Africa to the United States ; but
by the act of emancipation he had long since recovered his
freedom. His companions, who were all much younger
than himself, their ages ranging from twenty-five to thirty,
were all free-born, their parents having been emancipated
before their birth, so that no white man had ever exercised
upon them the rights of ownership. One of them was his
own son; his name was Bat (an abbreviation of Bartholo-
mew); and there were three others, named Austin, Acteon,
and Hercules. All four of them were specimens of that
stalwart race that commands so high a price in the African
market, and in spite of the emaciation induced by their
recent sufferings, their muscular, well-knit frames betokened
a strong and healthy constitution. Their manner bore the
impress of that solid education which is given in the North
American schools, and their speech had lost all trace of the
"nigger-tongue," a dialect without articles or inflexions,
which since the anti-slavery war has almost died out in the
Three years ago, old Tom stated, the five men had been
engaged by an Englishman who had large property in
South Australia, to work upon his estates near Melbourne.
Here they had realized a considerable profit, and upon the
completion of their engagement they determined to return
with their savings to America. Accordingly, on the 5th of
40 DICK SANDS, THE BOY CAPTAIN.
January, after paying their passage in the ordinary way,
they embarked. at Melbourne on board the "Waldeck."
Everything went on well for seventeen days, until, on the
night of the 22nd, which was very dark, they were run into
by a great steamer. They were all asleep in their berths,
but, roused by the shock of the collision,, which was ex-
tremely severe, they hurriedly made their way on to the
deck. The scene was terrible; both masts were gone, and
the brig, although the water had not absolutely flooded her
hold so as to make her sink, had completely heeled over on
her side. Captain and crew had entirely disappeared, some
probably having been dashed into the sea, others perhaps
having saved themselves by clinging to the rigging of the
ship which had fouled them, and which could be dis-
tinguished through the darkness rapidly receding in the
distance. For a while they were paralyzed, but they soon
awoke to the conviction that they were left alone upon a
half-capsized and disabled hull, twelve hundred miles from
the nearest land.
Mrs. Weldon was loud in her expression of indignation
that any captain should have the barbarity to abandon an
unfortunate vessel with which his own carelessness had
brought him into collision. It would be bad enough, she
said for a driver on a public road, when it might be pre-
sumed that help would be forthcoming, to pass on uncon-
cerned after causing an accident to another vehicle ; but
how much more shameful to desert the injured on the open
sea, where the victims of his incompetence could have no
chance of obtaining succour! Captain Hull could only
repeat what he had said before, that incredibly atrocious as
it might seem, such inhumanity was far from rare.
On resuming his story, Tom said that he and his com-
panions soon found that they had no means left for getting
away from the capsized brig; both the boats had) been
crushed in the collision, so that they- had no alternative
except to await the appearance of a passing vessel, whilst
the wreck was drifting hopelessly along under the action of
the currents. This accounted for the fact of their being
found so far south of their proper course.
THE SURVIVORS OF THE "WALDECK." 41
For the next ten days the negroes had subsisted upon a
few scraps of food that they found in the stern cabin; but
as the store room was entirely under water, they were quite
unable to obtain a drop of anything to drink, and the fresh-
water tanks that had been lashed to the deck had been
stove in at the time of the catastrophe. Tortured with
thirst, the poor men had suffered agonies, and having on
the previous night entirely lost consciousness, they must
soon have died if the Pilgrim's" timely arrival had not
effected their rescue.
All the outlines of Tom's narrative were fully confirmed
by the other negroes; Captain Hull could see no reason to
doubt it; indeed, the facts seemed to speak for them-
One other survivor of the wreck, if he had been gifted
with the power of speech, would doubtless have corroborated
the testimony. This was the dog who seemed to have
such an unaccountable dislike to Negoro.
Dingo, as the dog was named, belonged to the fine breed
of mastiffs peculiar to New Holland. It was not, however,
from Australia, but from the coast of West Africa, near the
mouth of the Congo, that the animal had come. He had
been picked up there, two years previously, by the captain
of the Waldeck," who had found him wandering about
and more than half starved. The initials S. V. engraved
upon his collar were the only tokens that the dog had
a past history of his own. After he had been taken on
board the "Waldeck," he remained quite unsociable,
apparently ever pining for some lost master, whom he had
failed to find in the desert land where he had been met
Larger than the dogs of the Pyrenees, Dingo was a mag-
nificent example of his kind. Standing on his hind legs,
with his head thrown back, he was as tall as a man. His
agility and strength would have made him a sure match
for a panther, and he would not have flinched at facing a
bear. His fine shaggy coat was a dark tawny colour,
shading off somewhat lighter round the muzzle, and
his long bushy tail was as strong as a lion's. If he were
43 DICK SANDS, THE BOY CAPTAIN.
made angry, no doubt he might become a most formidable
foe, so that it was no wonder that Negoro did not feel
altogether gratified at his reception.
But Dingo, though unsociable, was not savage. Old
Tom said that, on board the Waldeck," he had noticed that
the animal seemed to have a particular dislike to negroes;
not that he actually attempted to do them any harm, only
he uniformly avoided them, giving an impression that he
must have been systematically ill-treated by the natives of
that part of Africa in which he had been found. During
the ten days that had elapsed since the collision, Dingo
had kept resolutely aloof from Tom and his companions;
they could not tell what he had been feeding on; they
only knew that, like themselves, he had suffered an excru-
Such had been the experience of the survivors of the
"Waldeck." Their situation had been most critical. Even
if they survived the pangs of want of food, the slightest
gale or the most inconsiderable swell might at any moment
have sunk the water-logged ship, and had it not been that
calms and contrary winds had contributed to the opportune
arrival of the "Pilgrim," an inevitable fate was before them;
their corpses must lie at the bottom of the sea.
Captain Hull's act of humanity, however, would not be
complete unless he succeeded in restoring the shipwrecked
men to their homes. This he promised to do. After com-
pleting the unlading at Valparaiso, the "Pilgrim" would
make direct for California, where, as Mrs. Weldon assured
them, they would be most hospitably received by her hus-
band, and provided with the necessary means for return-
ing to Pennsylvania.
The five men, who, as the consequence of the shipwreck,
had lost all the savings of their last three years of toil,
were profoundly grateful to their kind-hearted benefactors;
nor, poor negroes as they were, did they utterly resign the
hope that at some future time they might have it in their
power to repay the debt which they owed their deliverers.
- / *
The good-natured negroes were ever ready to lend a helping hand.
DINGO'S SAGACITY. 45
MEANTIME the Pilgrim" pursued her course, keeping as
much as possible to the east, and before evening closed in
the hull of the Waldeck was out of sight.
Captain Hull still continued to feel uneasy about the
constant prevalence of calms; not that for himself he
cared much about the delay of a week or two in a voyage
from New Zealand to Valparaiso, but he was disappointed
at the prolonged inconvenience it caused to his lady
passenger. Mrs. Weldon, however, submitted to the
detention very philosophically, and did not utter a word of
The captain's next care was to improvise sleeping
accommodation for Tom and his four associates. No room
for them could possibly be found in the crew's quarters, so
that their berths had to be arranged under the forecastle;
and as long as the weather continued fine, there was no
reason why the negroes, accustomed as they were to a
somewhat rough life, should not find themselves sufficiently
After this incident of the discovery of the wreck, life on
board the Pilgrim" relapsed into its ordinary routine.
With the wind invariably in the same direction, the sails
required very little shifting ; but whenever it happened, as
occasionally it would, that there was any tacking to be
done, the good-natured negroes were ever ready to lend a
helping hand ; and the rigging would creak again under
the weight of Hercules, a great strapping fellow, six feet
46 DICK SANDS, THE BOY CAPTAIN.
high, who seemed almost to require ropes of extra strength
made for his special use.
Hercules became at once a great favourite with little
Jack; and when the giant lifted him like a doll in his
stalwart arms, the child fairly shrieked with delight.
"Higher! higher! very high!" Jack would say some-
"There you are, then, Master Jack," Hercules would
reply as he raised him aloft.
"Am I heavy ? asked the child.
"As heavy as a feather."
Then lift me higher still," cried Jack; "as high as ever
you can reach."
And Hercules, with the child's two feet supported on
his huge palm, would walk about the deck with him like
an acrobat, Jack all the time endeavouring, with vain
efforts, to make him "feel his weight."
Besides Dick Sands and-Hercules, Jack admitted a
third friend to his companionship. This was Dingo. The
dog, unsociable as he had been on beard the "Waldeck,"
seemed to have found society more congenial to his tastes,
and being one of those animals that are fond of children, he
allowed Jack to do with him almost anything he pleased.
The child, however, never thought of hurting the dog in
any way, and it was doubtful which of the two had the
greater enjoyment of their mutual sport. Jack found a
live dog infinitely more entertaining than his old toy upon
its four wheels, and his great delight was to mount upon
Dingo's back, when the animal would gallop off with him
like a race-horse with his jockey. It must be owned that
one result of this intimacy was a serious diminution of the
supply of sugar in the store-room. Dingo was the delight
of all the crew excepting Negoro, who cautiously avoided
coming in contact with an animal who showed such
unmistakable symptoms of hostility.
The new companions that Jack had thus found did not
in the least make him forget his old friend Dick Sands,
who devoted all his leisure time to him as assiduously as
ever. Mrs. Weldon regarded their intimacy with the
" There you are, then, Master Jack!"
DINGO'S SAGACITY. 49
greatest satisfaction, and one day made a remark to that
effect in the presence of Captain Hull.
"You are right, madam," said the captain cordially;
"Dick is a capital fellow, and will be sure to be a first-rate
sailor. He has an instinct which is little short of a genius;
it supplies all deficiencies of theory. Considering how
short an experience and how little instruction he has
had, it is quite wonderful how much he knows about a ship."
"Certainly for his age," assented Mrs. Weldon, "he is
singularly advanced. I can safely say that I have never
had a fault to find with him. I believe that it is my
husband's intention, after this voyage, to let him have
systematic training in navigation, so that he may be
able ultimately to become a captain."
"I have no misgivings, madam," replied the captain;
"there is every reason to expect that he will be an honour
to the service."
Poor orphan!" said.the lady; "he has been trained in
a hard school."
Its lessons have not been lost upon him," rejoined
Captain Hull; "they have taught him the prime lesson
that he hai his own way to make in the world."
The eyes of the two speakers turned as it were
unwittingly in the direction where Dick Sands happened
to be standing. He was at the helm.
"Look at him now!" said the captain; "see how
steadily he keeps his eye upon the fore; nothing distracts
him from his duty; he is as much to be depended on as
the most experienced helmsman. It was a capital thing
for him that he began his training as a cabin-boy. Nothing
like it. Begin at the beginning. It is the best of training
for the merchant service."
"But surely," interposed Mrs. Weldon, "you would not
deny that in the navy there have been many good officers
who have never had the training of which you are
True, madam ; but yet even some of the best of them
have begun at the lowest step of the ladder. For instance,
50 DICK SANDS, THE BOY CAPTAIN.
Just at this instant Cousin Benedict emerged from the
stern-cabin, and completely absorbed, according to his wont,
in his own pursuit, began to wander up and down the deck,
peering into the interstices of the network, rummaging
under the seats, and drawing his long fingers along the
cracks in the floor where the tar had crumbled away.
"Well, Benedict, how are you getting on ?" asked
I ? Oh, well enough, thank you," he replied dreamily;
"but I wish we were on shore."
"What were you looking for under that bench ?" said
Insects, of course," answered Benedict; "I am always
looking for insects."
"But don't you know, Benedict," said Mrs. Weldon,
"that Captain Hull is far too particular to allow any vermin
on the deck of his vessel ? "
Captain Hull smiled and said,-
"Mrs Weldon is very complimentary; but I am really
inclined to hope that your investigations in the cabins of
the 'Pilgrim' will not be attended with much success."
Cousin Benedict shrugged his shoulders in a manner
that indicated that he was aware that the cabins could
furnish nothing attractive in the way of insects.
"However," continued the captain, I dare say down in
the hold you could find some cockroaches ; but cockroaches,
I presume, would be of little or no interest to you."
"No interest?" cried Benedict, at once warmed into en-
thusiasm ; "why, are they not the very orthoptera that
roused the imprecations of Virgil and Horace ? Are they
not closely allied to the Periplaneta orientalis and the
American Kakerlac, which inhabit-"
"I should rather say infest," interrupted the captain.
"Easy enough to see, sir," replied Benedict, stopping
short with amazement, "that you are not an entomo-
I fear I must plead guilty to your accusation," said the
"You must not expect every one to be such an entils-
DINGO'S SAGACITY. 51
siast in your favourite study as yourself," Mrs. Weldon
interposed; but are you not satisfied with the result of
your explorations in New Zealand ? "
"Yes, yes," answered Benedict, with a sort of hesitating
reluctance; "I must not say I was dissatisfied; I was
really very delighted to secure that new staphylin which
hitherto had never been seen elsewhere than in New
California; but still, you know, an entomologist is always
craving for fresh additions to his collection."
While he was speaking, Dingo, leaving little Jack, who
was romping with him, came and jumped on Benedict, and
began to fawn on him.
"Get away, you brute !" he exclaimed, thrusting the dog
"Poor Dingo! good dog!" cried Jack, running up and
taking the animal's huge head between his tiny hands.
"Your interest in cockroaches, Mr. Benedict," observed
the captain, "does not seem to extend to dogs."
"It isn't that I dislike dogs at all," answered Benedict;
"but this creature has disappointed me."
How do you mean ? You could hardly want to cata-
logue him with the diptera or hymenoptera ?" asked Mrs
Oh, not at all," replied Benedict, with the most unmoved
gravity. But I understood that he had been found on the
West Coast of Africa, and I hoped that perhaps he might
have brought over some African hemiptera in his coat;
but I have searched his coat well, over and over again,
without finding a single specimen. The dog has disap-
pointed me," he repeated mournfully.
I can only hope," said the captain, "that if you had
found anything, you were going to kill it instantly."
Benedict looked with mute astonishment into the
captain's face. In a moment or two afterwards, he
I suppose, sir, you acknowledge that Sir John Franklin
was an eminent member of your profession ?"
"Because Sir John would never take away the life of
52 DICK SANDS, THE BOY CAPTAIN.
the most insignificant insect; it is related of him that when
he had once been incessantly tormented all day by a
mosquito, at last he found it on the back of his hand and
blew it off, saying, 'Fly away, little creature, the world is
large enough for both you and me!'"
"That little anecdote of yours, Mr. Benedict," said the
captain, smiling, "is a good deal older than Sir John
Franklin. It is told, in nearly the same words, about Uncle
Toby, in Sterne's 'Tristram Shandy'; only there it was not
a mosquito, it was a common fly."
"And was Uncle Toby an entomologist?" asked
Benedict; "did he ever really live ? "
No," said the captain, "he was only a character in a
Cousin Benedict gave a look of utter contempt, and
Captain Hull and Mrs Weldon could not resist laughing.
Such is only one instance of the way in which Cousin
Benedict invariably brought it about that all conversation
with him ultimately turned upon his favourite pursuit, and
all along, throughout the monotonous hours of smooth
sailing, while the Pilgrim' was making her little head-
way to the east, he showed his own devotion to his pet
science, by seeking to enlist new disciples. First of all, he
tried his powers of persuasion upon Dick Sands, but soon
finding that the young apprentice had no taste for entomo-
logical mysteries, he gave him up and turned his attention
to the negroes. Nor was he much more successful with
them; one after another, Tom, Bat, Actmon, and Austin had
all withdrawn themselves from his instructions, and the class
at last was reduced to the single person of Hercules; but
in him the enthusiastic naturalist thought he had discovered
a latent talent which could distinguish between a parasite
and a thysanura.
Hercules accordingly submitted to pass a considerable
portion of his leisure in the observation of every variety of
coleoptera; he was encouraged to study the extensive
collection of stag-beetles, tiger-beetles and lady-birds; and
although at times the enthusiast trembled to see some of
his most delicate and fragile specimens in the huge grasp
DINGO'S SAGACITY. 53
of his pupil, he soon learned that the man's gentle docility
was a sufficient guarantee against his clumsiness.
While the science of entomology was thus occupying its
two votaries, Mrs. Weldon was giving her own best
attention to the education of Master Jack. Reading and
writing she undertook to teach herself, while she entrusted
the instruction in arithmetic to the care of Dick Sands.
Under the conviction that a child of five years will make a
much more rapid progress if something like amusement be
combined with his lessons, Mrs. Weldon would not teach
her boy to spell by the use of an ordinary school primer,
but used a set of cubes, on the sides of which the various
letters were painted in red. After first making a word and
showing it to Jack, she set him to put it together without
her help, and it was astonishing how quickly the child
advanced, and how many hours he would spend in this way,
both in the cabin and on deck. There were more than
fifty cubes, which, besides the alphabet, included all the
digits ; so that they were of service for Dick Sands' lessons
as well as for her own. She was more than satisfied with
On the morning of the 9th an incident occurred which
could not fail to be observed as somewhat remarkable. Jack
was half lying, half sitting on the deck, amusing himself
with his letters, and had just finished putting together a
word with which he intended to puzzle old Tom, who, with
his hand sheltering his eyes, was pretending not to see the
difficulty which was being labouriously prepared to bewilder
him; all at once, Dingo, who had been gambolling round
the child, made a sudden pause, lifted his right paw, and
wagged his tail convulsively. Then darting down upon a
capital S, he seized it in his mouth, and carried it some
"Oh, Dingo, Dingo! you mustn't eat my letters!"
shouted the child.
But the dog had already dropped the block of wood, and
coming back again, picked up another, which he laid
quietly by the side of the first. This time it was a capital
V. Jack uttered an exclamation of astonishment which
54 DICK SANDS, THE BOY CAPTAIN.
brought to his side not only his mother, but the captain
and Dick, who were both on deck. In answer to their
inquiry as to what had occurred, Jack cried out in the
greatest excitement that Dingo knew how to read. At
any rate he was sure that he knew his letters.
Dick Sands smiled and stooped to take back the letters.
Dingo snarled and showed his teeth, but the apprentice
was not frightened ; he carried his point, and replaced the
two blocks among the rest. Dingo in an instant pounced
upon them again, and having drawn them to his side, laid
a paw upon each of them, as if to signify his intention of
retaining them in his possession. Of the other letters of
the alphabet he took no notice at all.
It is very strange," said Mrs. Weldon ; "he has picked
out S V again."
"S V! repeated the captain thoughtfully ; "are not
those the letters that form the initials on his collar ?"
And turning to the old negro, he continued,-
"Tom, didn't you say that this dog did not always
belong to the captain of the Waldeck' ?"
"To the best of my belief," replied Tom, "the captain
had only had him about two years. I often heard him tell
how he found him at the mouth of the Congo."
Do you suppose that he never knew where the animal
came from, or to whom he had previously belonged?"
asked Captain Hull.
"Never," answered Tom, shaking his head ; "a lost dog
is worse to identify than a lost child ; you see, he can't
make himself understood any way."
The captain made no answer, but stood musing; Mrs.
Weldon interrupted him.
"These letters, captain, seem to be recalling something
to your recollection."
I can hardly go so far as to say that, Mrs. Weldon," he
replied; "but I cannot help associating them with the
fate of a brave explorer."
"Whom do you mean ?" said the lady.
"In 1871, just two years ago," the captain continued,
a French traveller, under the auspices of the Geographical
Jack cried out in the greatest excitement that Dingo knew how to read.
DINGO'S SAGACITY. 57
Society of Paris, set out for the purpose of crossing Africa
from west to east. His starting-point was the mouth of
the .Congo, and his exit was designed to be as near as
possible to Cape Deldago, at the mouth ot the River
Rovuma, of which he was to ascertain the true course.
The name of this man was Samuel Vernon, and I confess
it strikes me as somewhat a strange coincidence that the
letters engraved on Dingo's collar should be Vernon's
"Is nothing known about this traveller?" asked Mrs.
"Nothing was ever heard of him after his first departure.
It appears quite certain that he failed to reach the east
coast, and it can only be conjectured either that he
died upon his way, or that he was made prisoner by the
natives; and if so, and this dog ever belonged to him, the
animal might have made his way back to the sea-coast,
where, just about the time that would be likely, the captain
of the 'Waldeck' picked him up."
"But you have no reason to suppose, Captain Hull, that
Vernon ever owned a dog of this description ?"
"I own I never heard of it," said the captain ; "but still
the impression fixes itself on my mind that the dog must
have been his; how he came to know one letter from
another, it is not for me to pretend to say. Look at him
now, madam! he seems not only to be reading the letters
for himself, but to be inviting us to come and read them
Whilst Mrs. Weldon was watching the dog with much
amusement, Dick Sands, who had listened to the previous
conversation, took the opportunity of asking the captain
whether the traveller Vernon had started on his expedition
That is really more than I can tell you, my boy,"
answered Captain Hull; "but I should almost take it for
granted that he would have a considerable retinue of
The captain spoke without being aware that Negoro had
meanwhile quietly stolen on deck. At first his presence
58 DICK SANDS, THE BOY CAPTAIN.
was quite unnoticed, and no one observed the peculiar
glance with which he looked at the two letters over which
Dingo still persisted in keeping guard. The dog, however,
no sooner caught sight of the cook than he began to
bristle with rage, whereupon Negoro, with a threatening
gesture which seemed half involuntary, withdrew imme-
diately to his accustomed quarters.
The incident did not escape the captain's observation.
"No doubt," he said, there is some mystery here;"
and he was pondering the matter over in his mind when
Dick Sands spoke.
"Don't you think it very singular, sir, that this dog
should have such a knowledge of the alphabet ?"
Jack here put in his word.
My mamma has told me about a dog whose name was
Munito, who could read as well as a schoolmaster, and
could play dominoes."
Mrs. Weldon smiled.
I am afraid, my child, that that dog was not quite so
learned as you imagine. I don't suppose he knew one
letter from another; but his master, who was a clever
American, having found out that the animal had a very
keen sense of hearing, taught him some curious tricks."
What sort of tricks ? asked Dick, who was almost as
much interested as little Jack.
When he had to perform in public," continued Mrs.
Weldon, "a lot of letters like yours, Jack, were spread out
upon a table, and Munito would put together any word
that the company should propose, either aloud or in a
whisper, to his master. The creature would walk about
until he stopped at the very letter which was wanted. The
secret of it all was that the dog's owner gave him a signal
when he was to stop by rattling a little tooth-pick in his
pocket, making a slight noise that only the dog's ears were
acute enough to perceive."
Dick was highly amused, and said,-
"But that was a dog who could do nothing wonderful
without his master."
"Just so," answered Mrs. Weldon; "and it surprises me
.Negoro, with a threatening gesture that seemed half involuntary, with-
drew immediately to his accustomed quarters. Page 58.
DINGO'S SAGACITY. 59
very much to see Dingo picking out these letters without
a master to direct him."
The more one thinks of it, the more strange it is," said
Captain Hull; but, after all, Dingo's sagacity is not
greater than that of the dog which rang the convent bell in
order to get at the dish that was reserved for passing
beggars; nor than that of the dog who had to turn a
spit every other day, and never could be induced to work
when it was not his proper day. Dingo evidently has no
acquaintance with any other letters except the two S V;
and some circumstance which we can never guess has made
him familiar with them."
What a pity he cannot talk!" exclaimed the apprentice;
"we should know why it is that he always shows his teeth
"And tremendous teeth they are!" observed the
captain, as Dingo at that moment opened his mouth, and
made a display of his formidable fangs.
60 DICK SANDS, THE BOY CAPTAIN.
A WHALE IN SIGHT.
IT was only what might be expected that the dog's singular
exhibition of sagacity should repeatedly form a subject of
conversation between Mrs. Weldon, the captain, and Dick.
The young apprentice in particular began to entertain a
lurking feeling of distrust towards Negoro, although it
must be owned that the man's conduct in general afforded
no tangible grounds for suspicion.
Nor was it only among the stern passengers that Dingo's
remarkable feat was discussed ; amongst the crew in the bow
the dog not only soon gained the reputation of being able
to read, but was almost credited with being able to write
too, as well as any sailor among then; indeed the chief
wonder was that he did not speak.
Perhaps he can," suggested Bolton, the helmsman, and
likely enough some fine day we shall have him coming to
ask about our bearings, and to inquire which way the wind
Ah! why not ?" assented another sailor; parrots talk,
and magpies talk; why shouldn't a dog? For my part, I
should guess it must be easier to speak with a mouth than
with a beak."
Of course it is," said Howick, the boatswain; only a
quadruped has never yet been known to do it."
Perhaps, however, the worthy fellow would have been
amazed to hear that a certain Danish savant once possessed
a dog that could actually pronounce quite distinctly nearly
twenty different words, demonstrating that the construction
"This Dingo is nothing out of the way." arge 61.
A WHALE IN SIGHT. 61
of the glottis, the aperture at the top of the windpipe, was
adapted for the emission of regular sounds: of course the
animal attached no meaning to the words it uttered any
more than a parrot or a jay can comprehend their own
Thus, unconsciously, Dingo had become the hero of the
hour. On several separate occasions Captain Hull repeated
the experiment of spreading out the blocks before him, but
invariably with the same result; the dog never failed,
without the slightest hesitation, to pick out the two letters,
leaving all the rest of the alphabet quite unnoticed.
Cousin Benedict alone, somewhat ostentatiously, pro-
fessed to take no interest in the circumstance.
"You cannot suppose," he said to Captain Hull, after
various repetitions of the trick, "that dogs are to be
reckoned the only animals endowed with intelligence
Rats, you know, will always leave a sinking ship, and
beavers invariably raise their dams before the approach of
a flood. Did not the horses of Nicomedes, Scanderberg
and Oppian die of grief for the loss of the:r masters ? Have
there not been instances of donkeys with wonderful memo-
ries ? Birds, too, have been trained to do the most
remarkable things ; they have been taught to write word
after word at their master's dictation; there are cockatoos
who can count the people in a room as accurately as a
mathematician; and haven't you heard of the old Cardinal's
parrot that he would not part with for a hundred gold
crowns because it could repeat the Apostles' creed from
beginning to end without a blunder ? And insects," he
continued, warming into enthusiasm, "how marvellously
they vindicate the axiom-
'In minimis maximus Deus I'
Are not the structures of ants the very models for the
architects of a city ? Has the diving-bell of the aquatic
argyroneta ever been surpassed by the invention of the
most skilful student of mechanical art ? And cannot fleas
go through a drill and fire a gun as well as the most
accomplished artilleryman ? This Dingo is nothing out
62 DICK SANDS, THE BOY CAPTAIN.
of the way. I suppose he belongs to some unclassed species
of mastiff. Perhaps one day or other he may come to be
identified as the 'canis alphabeticus' of New Zealand."
The worthy entomologist delivered this and various
similar harangues; but Dingo, nevertheless, retained his
high place in the general estimation, and by the occupants
of the forecastle was regarded as little short of a phenome-
non. The feeling, otherwise universal, was not in any
degree shared by Negoro, and it is not improbable that the
man would have been tempted to some foul play with the
dog if the open sympathies of the crew had not kept him
in check. More than ever he studiously avoided coming
in contact in any way with the animal, and Dick Sands in
his own mind was quite convinced that since the incident
of the letters, the cook's hatred of the dog had become still
After continual alternations with long and wearisome
calms the north-east wind perceptibly moderated, and on the
Ioth, Captain Hull really began to hope that such a change
would ensue as to allow the schooner to run straight before
the wind. Nineteen days had elapsed since the Pilgrim"
had left Auckland, a period not so long but that with a
favourable breeze it might be made up at last. Some days
however were yet to elapse before the wind veered round
to the anticipated quarter.
It has been already stated that this portion of the
Pacific is almost always deserted. It is out of the line of
the American and Australian steam-packets, and except a
whaler had been brought into it by some such exceptional
circumstances as the Pilgrim," it was quite unusual to see
one in this latitude.
But, however void of traffic was the surface of the sea, to
none but an unintelligent mind could it appear monotonous
or barren of interest. The poetry of the ocean breathes
forth in its minute and almost imperceptible changes. A
marine plant, a tuft of seaweed lightly furrowing the water,
a drifting spar with its unknown history, may afford
unlimited scope, for the imagination; every little drop
passing, in its process of evaporation, backwards and
Occasionally Dick Sands would take a pistol, and now and then a rifle.
A WHALE IN SIGHT. 63
forwards from sea to sky, might perchance reveal its own
special secret; and happy are those minds which are
capable of a due appreciation of the mysteries of air and
Above the surface as well as below, the restless flood is
ever teaming with animal life; and the passengers on
board the Pilgrim" derived no little amusement from
watching great flocks of birds migrating northwards to
escape the rigour of the polar winter, and ever and again
descending in rapid flight to secure some tiny fish.
Occasionally Dick Sands would take a pistol, and now and
then a rifle, and, thanks to Mr. Weldon's former instructions,
would bring down various specimens of the feathered
Sometimes white petrels would congregate in consi-
derable numbers near the schooner; and sometimes petrels
of another species, with brown borders on their wings,
would come in sight; now there would be flocks of damiers
skimming the water; and now groups of penguins, whose
clumsy gait appears so ludicrous on shore; but, as Captain
Hull pointed out, when their stumpy wings were employed
as fins, they were a match for the most rapid of fish,
so that sailors have often mistaken them for bonitos.
High over head, huge albatrosses, their outspread wings
measuring ten feet from tip to tip, would soar aloft, thence
to swoop down towards the deep, into which they plunged
their beaks in search of food. Such incidents and scenes
as these were infinite in their variety, and it was accordingly
only for minds that were obtuse to the charms of nature
that the voyage could be monotonous.
On the day the wind shifted, Mrs. Weldon was walking
up and down on the Pilgrim's stern, when her attention
was attracted by what seemed to her a strange phenomenon.
All of a sudden, far as the eye could reach, the sea had
assumed a reddish hue, as if it were tinged with blood.
Both Dick and Jack were standing close behind her, and
Look, Dick, look! the sea is all red. Is it a sea-weed
that is making the water so strange a colour ?
64 DICK SANDS, THE BOY CAPTAIN.
No," answered Dick, "it is not a weed; it is what the
sailors call whales' food; it is formed, I believe, of
innumerable myriads of minute crustacea."
"Crustacea they may be," replied Mrs. Weldon, "but
they must be so small that they are mere insects. Cousin
Benedict no doubt will like to see them."
She called aloud,-
"Benedict! Benedict! come here we have a sight here
to interest you."
The amateur naturalist slowly emerged from his cabin
followed by Captain Hull.
Ah! yes, I see!" said the captain; whales' food ; just
the opportunity for you, Mr. Benedict; a chance not to be
thrown away for studying one of the most curious of the
"Nonsense!" ejaculated Benedict contemptuously;
"utter nonsense !"
"Why ? what do you mean, Mr. Benedict ?" retorted
the captain; "surely you, as an entomologist, must know
that I am right in my-conviction that these crustacea
belong to one of the six classes of the articulata."
The disdain of Cousin Benedict was expressed by a
"Are you not aware, sir, that my researches as an
entomologist are confined entirely to the hexapoda ?"
Captain Hull, unable to repress a smile, only answered
I see, sir, your tastes do not lie in the same direction
as those of the whale."
And turning to Mrs. Weldon, he continued,-
"To whalemen, madam, this is a sight that speaks for
itself. It is a token that we ought to lose no time in
getting out our lines and looking to the state of our
harpoons. There is game not far away."
Jack gave vent to his astonishment.
"Do you mean that great creatures like whales feed on
such tiny things as these ? "
"Yes, my boy," said the captain; and I daresay they
are as nice to them as semolina and ground rice are to you.
A WHALE IN SIGHT.
When a whale gets into the middle of them he has.nothing
to do but to open his jaws, and, in a minute, hundreds of
thousands of these minute creatures are inside the fringe or
whalebone around his palate, and he is sure of a good
So you see, Jack," said Dick, "the whale gets his
shrimps without the trouble of shelling them."
"And when he has just closed his snappers is the very
time to give him a good taste ot the harpoon," added
The words had hardly escaped the captain's lips when a
shout from one or the sailors announced,-
"A whale to larboard !"
"There's the whale!" repeated the captain. All his
professional instincts were aroused in an instant, and he
hurried to the bow, followed in eager curiosity by all the
Even Cousin Benedict loitered up in the rear, constrained,
in spite of himself, to take a share in the general interest.
There was no doubt about the matter. Four miles or so
to windward an unusual commotion in the water betokened
to experienced eyes the presence of a whale; but the
distance was too great to permit a reasonable conjecture to
be formed as to which species of those mammifers the
Three distinct species are familiarly known. First there
is the Right whale, which is ordinarily sought for in the
northern fisheries. The average length of this cetacean is
sixty feet, though it has been known to attain the length of
eighty feet. It has no dorsal fin, and beneath its skin is a
thick layer of blubber. One of these monsters alone will
yield as much as a hundred barrels of oil.
Then there is the Hump-back, a typical representative
of the species "balaenoptera," a definition which may at
first sight appear to possess an interest for an entomologist,
but which really refers to two white dorsal fins, each half
as wide as the body, resembling a pair of wings, and in
their formation similar to those of the flying-fish. It must
be owned, however, that a flying whale would decidedly be,
a rara avis.
6O DICK SANDS, THE BOY CAPTAIN.
Lastly, there is the Jubarte, commonly known as the
Finback. It is provided with a dorsal fin, and in length
not unfrequently is a match for the gigantic Right whale.
While it was impossible to decide to which of the three
species the whale in the distance really belonged, the
general impression inclined to the belief that it was a
With longing eyes Captain Hull and his crew gazed at
the object of general attraction. Just as irresistibly as it is
said a clockmaker is drawn on to examine the mechanism
of every clock which chance may throw in his way, so
is a whaleman ever anxious to plunge his harpoon into
any whale that he can get within his reach. The larger
the game the more keen the excitement; and no elephant-
hunter's eagerness ever surpasses the zest of the whale-
fisher when once started in pursuit of the prey.
To the crew the sight of the whale was the opening of an
unexpected opportunity, and no wonder they were fired
with the burning hope that even now they might do
something to supply the deficiency of their meagre haul
throughout the season.
Far away as the creature still was, the captain's practised
eye soon enabled him to detect various indications that
satisfied him as to its true species. Amongst other things
that arrested his attention, he observed a column of water
and vapour ejected from the nostrils. "It isn't a right
whale," he said ; "if so, its spout would be smaller and it
would rise higher in the air. And I do not think it is a
hump-back. I cannot hear the hump-back's roar. Dick,
tell me, what do you think about it ?"
With a critical eye Dick Sands looked long and steadily
at the spout.
It blows out water, sir," said the apprentice, "water, as
well as vapour. I should think it is a finback. But it must
be a rare large one."
Seventy feet, at least! rejoined the captain, flushing
with his enthusiasm.
What a big fellow said Jack, catching the excitement
of his elders.
" What a big fellow !"
A WHALE IN SIGHT. 67
"Ah, Jack, my boy," chuckled the captain, "the whale
little thinks who are watching him enjoy his breakfast! "
"Yes," said the boatswain ; "a dozen such gentlemen as
that would freight a craft twice the size of ours ; but this
one, if only-we can get him, will go a good way towards
filling our empty barrels."
"Rather rough work, you know," said Dick, "to attack a
You are right, Dick," answered the captain; "the boat
has yet to be built which is strong enough to resist the flap
of a jubarte's tail."
But the profit is worth the risk, captain, isn't it ?"
"You are right again, Dick," replied Captain Hull, and
as he spoke, he clambered on to the bowsprit in order that
he might get a better view of the whale.
The crew were as eager as their captain. Mounted on
the fore-shrouds, they scanned the movements of their
coveted prey in the distance, freely descanting upon the
profit to be made out of a good finback and declaring that
it would be a thousand pities if this chance of filling the
casks below should be permitted to be lost.
Captain Hull was perplexed. He bit his nails and
knitted his brow.
Mamma cried little Jack, I should so much like to
see a whale close,-quite close, you know."
"And so you shall, my boy," replied the captain, who
was standing by, and had come to the resolve that if his
men would back him, he would make an attempt to capture
He turned to his crew,-
"My men what do you think? shall we make the ven-
ture ? Remember, we are all alone; we have no whale-
men to help us; we must rely upon ourselves; I have
thrown a harpoon before now; I can throw a harpoon
again ; what do you say ?"
The crew responded with a ringing cheer,-
"Ay, ay, sir! Ay, ay!"
68 DICK SANDS, THE BOY CAPTAIN.
PREPARATIONS FOR AN ATTACK.
GREAT was the excitement that now prevailed, and the
question of an attempt to capture the sea-monster became
the ruling theme of conversation. Mrs. Weldon expressed
considerable doubt as to the prudence of venturing upon so
great a risk with such a limited number of hands, but when
Captain Hull assured her that he had more than once
successfully attacked a whale with a single boat, and that
for his part he had no fear of failure, she made no further
remonstrance, and appeared quite satisfied.
Having formed his resolve, the captain lost no time in
setting about his preliminary arrangements. He could not
really conceal from' his own mind that the pursuit of a
finback was always a matter of some peril, and he was
anxious, accordingly, to make every possible provision
which forethought could devise against all emergencies.
Besides her long-boat, which was kept between the two
masts, the "Pilgrim had three whale-boats, two of them
slung to the starboard and larboard davits, and the third
at the stern, outside the taffrail. During the fishing season,
when the crew was reinforced by a hired complement of
New Zealand whalemen, all three of these boats would be
brought at once into requisition, but at present the whole
crew of the Pilgrim was barely sufficient to man one of
the three boats. Tom and his friends were ready to
volunteer their assistance, but any offers of service from
them were necessarily declined; the manipulation of a
whale-boat can only be entrusted to those who are experi-
PREPARATIONS FOR AN ATTACK. 69
enced in the work, as a false turn of the tiller or a
premature stroke of the oar may in a moment compromise
.the safety of the whole party. Thus compelled to take all
his trained sailors with him on his venturous expedition,
the captain had no alternative than to leave his appren-
tice in charge of the schooner during his absence. Dick's
choice would have been very much in favour of taking a
share in the whale-hunt, but he had the good sense to know
that the developed strength of a man would be of far
greater service in the boat, and accordingly without a
murmur he resigned himself to remain behind.
Of the five sailors who were to man the boat, there were
four to take the oars, whilst Howick the boatswain was to
manage the oar at the stern, which on these occasions gene-
rally replaces an ordinary rudder as being quicker in action
in the event of any of the side oars being disabled. The post
of harpooner was of course assigned to Captain Hull, to
whose lot it would consequently fall first to hurl his weapon
at the whale, then to manage the unwinding of the line to
which the harpoon was attached, and finally to kill the
creature by lance-wounds when it should emerge again
from below the sea.
A ,method sometimes employed for commencing an
attack is to place a sort of small cannon on the bows or
deck of the boat and to discharge from it either a harpoon
or some explosive bullets, which make frightful lacerations
on the body of the victim; but the Pilgrim" was not
provided with apparatus of this description ; not only are
all the contrivances of this kind very costly and difficult
to manage, but the fishermen generally are averse to
innovations, and prefer the old-fashioned harpoons. It
was with these alone that Captain Hull was now about to
encounter the finback that was lying some four miles
distant from his ship.
The weather promised as favourably as could be for the
enterprise. The sea was calm, and the wind moreover was
still moderating, so that there was no likelihood of the
schooner drifting away during the captain's absence.
When the starboard whale-boat had been lowered, and
70 DICK SANDS, THE BOY CAPTAIN.
the four sailors had entered it, Howick passed a couple of
harpoons down to them, and some lances which had been
carefully sharpened; to these were added five coils of stout
and supple rope, each 600 feet long, for a whale when
struck often dives so deeply that even these lengths of line
knotted together are found to be insufficient. After these
implements of attack had been properly stowed in the bows,
the crew had only to await the pleasure of their captain.
The Pilgrim," before the sailors left her, had been made
to heave to, and the yards were braced so as to secure her
remaining as stationary as possible. As the time drew
near for the captain to quit her, he gave a searching look
all round to satisfy himself that everything was in order;
he saw that the halyards were properly tightened, and the
sails trimmed as they should be, and then calling the
young apprentice to his side, he said,-
"Now, Dick, I am going to leave you for a few hours:
while I am away, I hope that it will not be necessary for
you to make any movement whatever. However, you must
be on the watch. It is not very likely, but it is possible
that this finback may carry us out to some distance. If so,
you will have to follow; and in that case, I am sure you
may rely upon Tom and his friends for assistance."
One and all, the.negroes assured the captain of their
willingness to obey Dick's instructions, the sturdy Hercules
rolling up his capacious shirt-sleeves as if to show that he
was ready for immediate action.
The captain went on,-
"The weather is beautifully fine, Dick, and I see no
prospect of the wind freshening; but come what may, I
have one direction to give you which I strictly enforce.
You must not leave the ship. If I want you to follow us,
I will hoist a lag on the boat-hook."
"You may trust me, sir," answered Dick; "and I will
keep a good look-out."
All right, my lad; keep a cool head and a good heart.
You are second captain now, you know. I never heard of
any one of your age being placed in such a post; be a
credit to your position I "
PREPARATIONS FOR AN ATTACK. 71
Dick blushed, and the bright flush that rose to his cheeks
spoke more than words.
The lad may be trusted," murmured the captain to
himself; "he is as modest as he is courageous. Yes ; he
may be trusted."
It cannot be denied that the captain was not wholly
without compunction at the step he was taking; he was
aware of the danger to which he was exposing himself, but
he beguiled himself with the persuasion that it was only for
a few hours ; and his fisherman's instinct was very keen. It
was not only for himself; the desire upon the part of the
crew was almost irresistibly strong that every opportunity
ought to be employed for making the cargo of the schooner
equal to her owner's expectations. And so he finally
prepared to start.
"I wish you all success said Mrs. Weldon.
"Many thanks !" he replied.
Little Jack put in his word,-
"And you will try and catch the whale without hurting
him much ?"
"All right, young gentleman," answered the captain; "he
shall hardly feel the tip of our fingers!"
"Sometimes," said Cousin Benedict, as if he had been
pondering the expedition in relation to his pet science,
" sometimes there are strange insects clinging to the backs
of these great mammifers; do you think you are likely to
procure me any specimens ? "
You shall soon have the opportunity of investigating
for yourself," was the captain's reply.
And you, Tom ; we shall be looking to you for help in
cutting up our prize, when we get it alongside," continued he.
"We shall be quite ready, sir," said the negro.
One thing more, Dick," added the captain ; you may as
well be getting up the empty barrels out of the hold ; they
will be all ready."
It shall be done, sir," answered Dick promptly.
If everything went well it was the intention that the
whale after it had been killed should be towed to the side
of the schooner, where it would be firmly lashed. Then
72 DICK SANDS, THE BOY CAPTAIN.
the sailors with their feet in spiked shoes would get upon
its back and proceed to cut the blubber, from head to tail,
in long strips, which would first be divided into lumps
about a foot and a half square, the lumps being subsequently
chopped into smaller portions capable of being stored away
in casks. The ordinary rule would be for a ship, as soon
as the flaying was complete, to make its way to land where
the blubber could be at once boiled down, an operation
by which it is reduced by about a third of its weight, and
by which it yields all its oil, the only portion of it which is
of any value. Under present circumstances, however,
Captain Hull would not think of melting down the blubber
until his arrival at Valparaiso, and as he was sanguine that
the wind would soon set in a favourable direction, he
calculated that he should reach that port in less than three
weeks, a period during which his cargo would not be
The latest movement with regard to the Pilgrim had
been to bring her somewhat nearer the spot where the
spouts of vapour indicated the presence of the coveted
prize. The creature continued to swim about in the
reddened waters, opening and shutting its huge jaws like
an automaton, and absorbing at every mouthful whole
myriads of animalcula. No one entertained a fear that it
would try to make an escape; it was the unanimous
verdict that it was a fighting whale," and one that would
resist all attacks to the very end.
As Captain Hull descended the rope-ladder and took his
place in the front of the boat, Mrs. Weldon and all on board
renewed their good wishes.
Dingo stood with his fore paws upon the taffrail, and
appeared as much as any to be bidding the adventurous
When the boat pushed off, those who were left on board
the Pilgrim made their way slowly to the bows, from
which the most extensive view was to be gained.
The captain's voice came from the retreating boat,-
A sharp look-out, Dick; a sharp look-out; one eye on
us, one on the ship 1"
The captain's voice came from the retreating boat.
" I must get you to keep your eye upon that man." Page 73.
PREPARATIONS FOR AN ATTACK. 73
"Ay, ay, sir," replied the apprentice.
By his gestures the captain showed that he was under
some emotion; he called out again, but the boat had made
such headway that it was too far off for any words to be
Dingo broke out into a piteous howl.
The dog was still standing erect, his eye upon the boat
in the distance. To the sailors, ever superstitious, the
howling was not reassuring. Even Mrs. Wel-don was
"Why, Dingo, Dingo," she exclaimed, "this isn't the way
to encourage your friends. Come here, sir; you must
behave better than that !"
Sinking down on all fours the animal walked slowly up
to Mrs. Weldon, and began to lick her hand.
"Ah !" muttered old Tom, shaking his head solemnly,
"he doesn't wag his tail at all. A bad omen."
All at once the dog gave a savage growl.
As she turned her head, Mrs. Weldon caught sight o
Negoro making his way to the forecastle, probably actuated
by the general spirit of curiosity to follow the manceuvres
of the whale-boat. He stopped and seized a handspike as
soon as he saw the ferocious attitude of the dog.
The lady was quite unable to pacify the animal, which
seemed about to fly upon -the throat of the cook, but
Dick Sands called out loudly,-
Down, Dingo, down!"
The dog obeyed; but it seemed to be with extreme
reluctance that he returned to Dick's side; he continued to
growl, as if still remembering his rage. Negoro had turned
very pale, and having put down the handspike, made his
way cautiously back to his own quarters.
Hercules," said Dick, "I must get you to keep your
eye upon that man."
"Yes, I will," he answered, significantly clenching his fists.
Dick took his station at the helm, whence he kept an
earnest watch upon the whale-boat, which under the vigour-
ous plying of the seamen's oars had become little ,more
an a speck upon the water.
74 DICK SANDS, THE BOY CAPTAIN.
EXPERINCED whaleman as he was, Captain Hull knew
the difficulty of the task he had undertaken; he was alive
to the importance of making his approach to the whale
from the leeward, so that there should be no sound to
apprize the creature of the proximity of the boat. He had
perfect confidence in his boatswain, and felt sure that he
would take the proper course to insure a favourable result
to the enterprise.
"We mustn't show ourselves too soon, Howick," he
Certainly not," replied Howick ; I am going to skirt
the edge of the discoloured water, and I shall take good
care to get well to leeward."
All right," the captain answered ; and turning to the
crew said, now, my lads, as quietly as you can."
Muffling the sound of their oars by placing straw in the
rowlocks, and avoiding the least unnecessary noise, the men
skilfully propelled the boat along the outline of the water
tinged by the crustacea, so that while the starboard oars
still dipped in the green and limpid sea, the larboard were
in the deep-dyed waves, and seemed as though they were
dripping with blood.
"Wine on this side, water on that," said one of the
"But neither of them fit to drink," rejoined the captain
sharply; "so just hold your tongue "
Under Howick's guidance the boat now glided stealthily
The whale seemed utterly unconscious of the attack that was threatening it.
A CATASTROPHE. 77
on to the greasy surface of the reddened waters, where she
appeared to float as on a pool of oil. The whale seemed
utterly unconscious of the attack that was threatening it,
and allowed the boat to come nearer without exhibiting any
sign of alarm.
The wide circuit which the captain had thought it
advisable to take had the effect of considerably increasing
the distance between his boat and the Pilgrim," whilst the
strange rapidity with which objects at sea become diminished
in apparent magnitude, as if viewed through the wrong end
of a telescope, made the ship look farther away than she
Another half-hour elapsed, and at the end of it the
captain found himself so exactly to leeward that the huge
body of the whale was precisely intermediate between his
boat and the Pilgrim." A closer approach must now be
made; every precaution must be used; but the time had
come to get sufficiently near for the harpoon to be
"Slowly, my men," said the captain, in a low voice;
"slowly and softly!"
Howick muttered something that implied that the whale
had ceased blowing so hard, and that it was aware of their
approach; the captain, upon this, enjoined the most perfect
silence, but urged his crew onwards, until, in five or six
minutes, they were within a cable's length of the finback.
Erect at the stern the boatswain stood, and manceuvred to get
the boat as close as possible to the whale's left flank, while
he made it an object of special care to keep beyond the
reach of its formidable tail, one stroke of which could
involve them all in instantaneous disaster.
The manipulation of the boat thus left to the boatswain,
the captain made ready for the arduous effort that was before
him. At the extreme bow, harpoon in hand, with his legs
somewhat astride so as to insure his equilibrium, he stood
prepared to plunge his weapon into the mass that rose
above the surface of the sea. By his side, coiled in a pail,
and with one end firmly attached to the harpoon, was the
first of the five lines wh;c,. if the whale should dive to a
78 DICK SANDS, THE BOY CAPTAIN.
considerable depth, would have to be joined end to end, one
"Are you ready, my lads?" said he, hardly above a
"Ay, ay, sir," replied Howick, speaking as gently as
his master, and giving a firmer grip to the rudder-oar that
he held in his hands.
"Then, alongside at once," was the captain's order, which
was promptly obeyed, so that in a few minutes the boat
was only about ten feet from the body of the whale. The
animal did not move. Was it asleep ? In that case there
was hope that the very first stroke might be fatal. But it
was hardly likely. Captain Hull felt only too sure that
there was some different cause to be assigned for its
remaining so still and stationary; and the rapid glances
of the boatswain showed that he entertained the same
suspicion. But it was no time for speculation ; the moment
for action had arrived, and no attempt was made on either
hand to exchange ideas upon the subject.
Captain Hull seized his weapon tightly by the shaft, and
having poised it several times in the air, in order to make
more sure of his aim, he gathered all his strength and
hurled it against the side of the finback.
"Backwater! he shouted.
The sailors pushed back with all their might, and the
boat in an instant was beyond the range of the creature's
And now the immoveableness of the animal was at once
See; there's a youngster exclaimed Howick.
And he was not mistaken. Startled by the blow of the
harpoon the monster had heeled over on to its side, and the
movement revealed a young whale which the mother had
been disturbed in the act of suckling. It was a discovery
which made Captain Hull aware that the capture of the
whale would be attended with double difficulty; he knew
that she would defend "her little one (if such a term can
be applied to a creature that was at least twenty feet long)
with the most determined fury ; yet having made what he
A CATASTROPHE. 79
considered a successful commencement of the attack, he
would not be daunted, nor deterred from his endeavour to
secure so fine a prize.
The whale did not, as sometimes happens, make a pre-
cipitate dash upon the boat, a proceeding which necessi-
tates the instant cutting of the harpoon-line, and an
immediate retreat, but it took the far more usual course of
diving downwards almost perpendicularly. It was followed
by its calf; very soon, however, after rising once again to
the surface with a sudden bound, it began swimming along
under water with great rapidity.
Before its first plunge Captain Hull and Howick had
sufficient opportunity to observe that it was an unusually
large balenoptera, measuring at least eighty feet from
head to tail, its colour being of a yellowish-brown, dappled
with numerous spots of a darker shade.
The pursuit, or what may be more aptly termed "the
towing," of the whale had now fairly commenced. The
sailors had shipped their oars, and the whale-boat darted like
an arrow along the surface of the waves. In spite of the
oscillation, which was very violent, Howick succeeded in
maintaining equilibrium, and did not need the repeated in-
junctions with which the agitated captain urged his boat-
swain to be upon his guard.
But fast as the boat flew along, she could not keep pace
with the whale, and so rapidly did the line run out that
except proper care had been taken to keep the bucket in
which it was coiled filled with water, the friction against
the edge of the boat would inevitably have caused it to
take fire. The whale gave no indication of moderating its
speed, so that the first line was soon exhausted, and the
second had to be attached to its end, only to be run out with
like rapidity. In a few minutes more it was necessary to
join on the third line ; it was evident that the whale had
not been hit in a vital part, and so far from rising to the
surface, the oblique direction of the rope indicated that the
creature was seeking yet greater depths.
Confound it! exclaimed the captain; "it seems as if
the brute is going to run out all our line."
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