Front Cover
 Front Matter
 Title Page
 A nautical visitor at Snape...
 Pistol practice, and its resul...
 The voyage begins badly
 Out in blue water
 The last night on board
 Shipwrecked seamen
 A boat voyage
 The order of release
 An unexpected meeting
 Back Cover

Title: On a coral reef
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00015598/00001
 Material Information
Title: On a coral reef the story of a runaway trip to sea
Physical Description: iv, 220 p., 8 leaves of plates : ill. ; 19 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Locker, Arthur, 1828-1893
Cassell & Company ( Publisher )
Publisher: Cassell & Company, Limited
Place of Publication: New York
Publication Date: 1883
Copyright Date: 1883
Subject: Boys -- Conduct of life -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Conduct of life -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Sailors -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Shipwrecks -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Survival after airplane accidents, shipwrecks, etc -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Voyages and travels -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Rescues -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Sea stories -- 1883   ( rbgenr )
Printed boards (Binding) -- 1883   ( rbbin )
Bldn -- 1883
Genre: Sea stories   ( rbgenr )
Printed boards (Binding)   ( rbbin )
novel   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage: United States -- New York -- New York
England -- London
France -- Paris
Statement of Responsibility: by Arthur Locker (J.H. Forbes)
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00015598
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: ltqf - AAA8110
notis - ALG7911
oclc - 50636550
alephbibnum - 002227612

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover 1
        Front Cover 2
    Front Matter
        Front Matter 1
        Front Matter 2
        Frontispiece 1
        Frontispiece 2
    Title Page
        Page i
        Page ii
        Page iii
        Page iv
    A nautical visitor at Snape farm
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
    Pistol practice, and its results
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 26a
        Page 26b
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
        Page 37
        Page 38
        Page 39
        Page 40
        Page 41
        Page 42
        Page 43
        Page 44
        Page 45
        Page 46
        Page 47
        Page 48
        Page 49
        Page 50
        Page 51
        Page 52
        Page 53
        Page 54
        Page 55
        Page 56
        Page 57
        Page 58
        Page 59
        Page 60
        Page 61
        Page 62
        Page 63
        Page 64
        Page 65
        Page 66
        Page 67
    The voyage begins badly
        Page 68
        Page 69
        Page 70
        Page 71
        Page 72
        Page 72a
        Page 72b
        Page 73
        Page 74
        Page 75
        Page 76
        Page 77
        Page 78
        Page 79
        Page 80
        Page 81
        Page 82
        Page 83
    Out in blue water
        Page 84
        Page 85
        Page 86
        Page 87
        Page 88
        Page 89
        Page 90
        Page 91
        Page 92
        Page 93
        Page 94
        Page 95
        Page 96
        Page 97
        Page 98
        Page 99
        Page 100
        Page 101
        Page 102
        Page 103
        Page 104
        Page 105
        Page 106
        Page 107
        Page 108
        Page 108a
        Page 108b
        Page 109
        Page 110
        Page 111
        Page 112
        Page 113
        Page 114
        Page 115
        Page 116
        Page 117
    The last night on board
        Page 118
        Page 119
        Page 120
        Page 121
        Page 122
        Page 123
        Page 124
        Page 125
        Page 126
        Page 127
        Page 128
        Page 129
        Page 130
        Page 131
        Page 132
        Page 133
        Page 134
        Page 134a
        Page 134b
        Page 135
        Page 136
        Page 137
        Page 138
    Shipwrecked seamen
        Page 139
        Page 140
        Page 141
        Page 142
        Page 143
        Page 144
        Page 145
        Page 146
        Page 147
        Page 148
        Page 149
        Page 150
        Page 151
        Page 152
        Page 153
        Page 154
        Page 155
        Page 156
        Page 157
        Page 158
        Page 158a
        Page 158b
        Page 159
        Page 160
        Page 161
        Page 162
        Page 163
        Page 164
        Page 165
        Page 166
    A boat voyage
        Page 167
        Page 168
        Page 169
        Page 170
        Page 171
        Page 172
        Page 173
        Page 174
        Page 175
        Page 176
        Page 177
        Page 178
        Page 179
        Page 180
        Page 181
    The order of release
        Page 182
        Page 183
        Page 184
        Page 185
        Page 186
        Page 187
        Page 188
        Page 189
        Page 190
        Page 191
        Page 192
        Page 192a
        Page 192b
        Page 193
        Page 194
        Page 195
        Page 196
    An unexpected meeting
        Page 197
        Page 198
        Page 199
        Page 200
        Page 201
        Page 202
        Page 203
        Page 204
        Page 205
        Page 206
        Page 206a
        Page 206b
        Page 207
        Page 208
        Page 209
        Page 210
        Page 211
        Page 212
        Page 213
        Page 214
        Page 215
        Page 216
        Page 217
        Page 218
        Page 219
        Page 220
        Page 221
    Back Cover
        Page 222
        Page 223
        Page 224
Full Text




DIR, L. S. PDWM< rj{fIT

North Si ..

The Baldwin Library

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[Fronm tsfiece



A Runaway Trip to Sea.





Forecastle Fancies.


zzoaus xxii. 6.


THIS story is intended for boys and girls, and
boys and girls instinctively avoid prefaces. They
prefer to plunge at once into the tale, caring
nothing for the Author's apologies and excuses.
Grown-up readers, however, are somewhat more
tolerant, and as some of them also may chance
to see this little book, perhaps they will kindly
permit me to offer a few words of explanation.
In the first place, although I have made
several lengthened voyages to various parts of
the world, and have also signed articles to serve
on board ship, I do not profess to be a sailor. I
might pass myself off as such before landsmen,
whose maritime experiences are confined to the
Straits of Dover, but a genuine salt" would
soon find me out. Should a true seaman, there-
fore, cast his eye over these pages, I beg him to

iv Preface.

excuse any technical errors into which I may have
In the second place, young people are always
anxious to know whether a story is true, or only
" made up." I can assure them that the main
incidents of this narrative are quite true, as they
occurred during the wreck of the Cabalva, East
Indiaman, which was lost, as I have described, on
the Cargados Carajos Reef about half a century

The Story of a Runaway Trip to Sea.

" I CAN'T recollect a finer hay harvest
than this, and if you search the country
for ten miles round you won't see six
bonnier ricks than those are, Jenny. Sir
Henry himself, with all his model farm-
ing, and deep draining, and patent
manures, can show nothing better."
Indeed, my love, we ought to be
truly thankful, and I try to be so, but it's
hard to be as grateful as one ought. After
last year's losses a bad hay crop would
have ruined us. But John, dear," con-
tinued the wife, as she laid her hand on

2 On a Coral Reef.

her husband's shoulder, "don't ye think
we should insure ?"
I've never insured yet. Why should
I pay over my hard-earned money to a
parcel of agents and secretaries for no-
thing ?"
For nothing I It isn't for nothing.
Think of the risks we run this hot weather;
think of all the haymakers and travellers
that are wandering about at this time of
the year. Everything is as dry as tinder,
and if a man were to lie down under one
of your ricks, and strike a light for his
I know what might happen only too
well," interrupted her husband, impatiently.
"Remember, last week there was a
stackyard fire at Finkley. I do wish,
There, there, don't bother any more
about it. Let a man alone to enjoy his
pipe after a hard day's work."

A Nautical Visitor at Snape Farm.

But will you insure the ricks, John ?"
Yes, I will, Jenny."
"To-morrow ?"
No, I can't manage it to-morrow.
There's too much work to be done on the-
Delays are dangerous, John."
What a worrying woman you are to-
night! I'll do it on market-day, that's
Saturday, when I go into Croxhaven.
Will that please you? Hollo here comes
Willie Pershore next, wanting something
or other. I can't get a moment's peace
among ye all."
Let us take the opportunity presented
by Willie Pershore's interruption to say a
few words about Snape Farm and its
inhabitants. Snape Farm was of consi-
derable extent, comprising several hundred
acres of land; but much of this land was
either rocky or boggy, and the best of it
would have been none the worse for some
B 2

On a Coral Reef.

of the deep draining of which John Baylis
spoke so contemptuously. The farm was
his own property, and had been in the
possession of the Baylises time out of
mind. John Baylis was an active, hard-
working farmer of the old school; up in
the morning as soon as his labourers, not
afraid to put his hand to any sort of work,
however dirty and troublesome the work
might be, but prejudiced and old-fashioned
in his notions, and especially jealous of Sir
Henry Tothill, the squire, because Sir
Henry was a pushing, money-making
personage, who was, bit by bit, buying
up all the surrounding small farms and
adding them to his own property. John
Baylis was already in debt and difficulty,
for the year before he had sustained several
serious losses ; the blight had rotted his
potatoes, the murrain had destroyed his
sheep, and, but for the bountiful hay-
harvest at the produce of which he now

A Nautical Visitor at Snape Farm. 5

sat gazing with such complacent eyes, he
would probably have been compelled to
accept the tempting offer made by Sir
Henry's agent, and, abandoning the patri-
mony which he had inherited from his
ancestors, would have sailed as an exile
from old England to begin life again under
some foreign sky. It was no wonder, then,
that his wife was anxious to insure the
safety of those precious hayricks on which
so much depended.
John and Jane Baylis had a large family
of sons and daughters, but as the farm was
small, and as the children were of an ener-
getic disposition, they had all gone out into
the world to seek a livelihood by other
occupations except the eldest son, John,
who assisted his father on the farm, and
the youngest son, Matthew, a smart, intelli-
gent boy of thirteen. It is with Matthew's
adventures that we shall have for the most
part to deal in the course of this narrative,

On a Coral Reef.

and therefore we may style him the hero of
our story.
Matthew might have been very happy
at home, for his mother was a sensible,
sweet-tempered woman; and his father,
though rough, and gruff, and passionate at
times, was really extremely fond of his
youngest boy; but the lad could not feel
very comfortable because of his brother
John. John was a hard-working, pains-
taking young man, but he was of a jealous
and suspicious disposition; he wanted to
have the farm all to himself, and he used
to grumble because his father did not
send Mat out to learn some trade, like his
brothers. Then John had a young wife as
jealous as himself, who was always fancying
her own children were being neglected, and
who was always ready to tell tales to the
old people about .Matthew's idleness and
We need not say in what county Snape

A Nautical Visitor at Snape Farm.

Farm was situated; it is enough to
observe that the country thereabouts was
distinguished rather for its picturesqueness
than for its fertility. In some parts there
were barren peat mosses, where not a tree
or a shrub was visible; in other parts there
were thick fir plantations, which seemed to
Matthew as gloomy and as extensive as
the North American forests about which he
had read in an old-fashioned book called
" Hearne's Travels ;" on the horizon there
were lofty blue hills, whose summits
for several months in the year were
patched with snow, while the top of any
moderate-sized eminence commanded a
view of the bright green sea, which was
only some five or six miles distant. The
buildings of Snape Farm lay in a snug
hollow, sheltered from the furious south-
western blasts of the winter months by
a curiously-shaped conical hill exactly
resembling a sugarloaf, which rose to the

8 On a Coral Reef

height of about two hundred feet, imme-
diately behind the house, so that the
greater part of the kitchen-garden lay
on a steep slope. On the summit of
this hill stood two ash trees, gnarled and
stunted by the bleakness of their situation,
but held in high respect by the Baylis
family because they had been there for
centuries, and were indeed reported to be
the last remains of the great forest, which in
the days of the Danish incursions covered
all that region. The ingenuity of some
of the younger Baylises had erected a sort
of arbour between the trunks of these two
aged relics of a bygone era, and in this
arbour, which in the summer-time was
mantled with sweet scented creeping
plants, the farmer was fond of smoking his
evening pipe, and of surveying his broad
acres, as they lay spread like a map beneath
Willie Pershore was the head labourer

A Nautical Visitor at Snape Farm.

on Snape Farm, a tall handsome man of
sixty, lithe and active, as upright as a dart,
a skilful fisherman in the lakes and streams
with which the country abounded, and a
noted champion in the wrestling ring. He
and John Baylis had been boys together,
and though one was master and the other
was man, there was little or no deference
in Pershore's manner towards him. Indeed,
old Willie was not very deferential to any
body, he never made obeisance to Sir
Henry; and when Lady Tothill one day
sought shelter in his cottage during a
shower, he merely welcomed her with a
" Sit doon, lass," just as if she had been
the wife of the blacksmith or the wheel-
The steep ascent of Sugarloaf hill, which
would have tried the breath even of a young
man, if town-bred, had no effect on old
Willie's practised breathing-pipes. He
arrived in front of the arbour as fresh

On a Coral Reef.

as if he had been carried up in a sedan
chair, and addressed his master thus-
Ye're wanted."
"And who wants me?" answered Mr.
Baylis, rather fretfully.
I canna tell, because I didna ask. Ye
can ask him yersell, when he gets here.
He's coming up alang wi' young Mat."
So saying, old Willie calmly helped
himself to a pipeful of tobacco from his
master's pouch, which lay on the little
arbour table, and then seating himself on a
great sandstone rock that cropped out of
the earth, made preparations for smoking.
Let us, meanwhile, take a glance a little
lower down the hill. Matthew, a fresh-
coloured boy, with a bright curly head of
hair, tall of his age, clean-limbed, and deep-
chested, was ascending with a carelessly
elastic step. By his side toiled a short fat
man of forty, who paused every minute or
two to wipe his face and fetch his breath.

A Nautical Visitor at Snape Farm. II

He had a ruddy, good-humoured face, and
wore a black shiny hat, a black tail coat, a
loosely-tied black neckerchief, a black satin
waistcoat, and a pair of Russia duck
white trousers.
I was born in the Essex marshes," he
observed, as he stopped to take breath,
"and therefore hills are not much in my
line. But I'm very fond of a fine prospect."
There's a beautiful view from the top
of our Sugarloaf, sir," replied Matthew.
" Mountains, and rivers, and lakes; and
over yonder the sea."
The sea, eh Can you look down into
Croxhaven harbour ?"
No, sir. Bunt Hill lies between us
and Croxhaven, and hides our view of the
What a pity! I could have shown you
something worth seeing."
"What is that, sir?"
A big vessel that's lying there."

12 On a Coral Reef

I suppose you mean Mr. Jefferson's
new fishing-smack with three masts, sir?
We heard she was to be launched this week,
and she'll be the biggest ship ever built in
The fat man laughed a merry laugh.
" I wish," said he, that this telescope,"
producing one, as he spoke, from his pocket,
" had the power of making Bunt Hill trans-
parent. Then I could show you something
that would make Mr. Jefferson's three-
masted smack-but, hollo! here we are at
the top. This is something like a pros-
pect! This beats the Essex marshes all
to nothing !"
He took no notice of the arbour where
Matthew's father and mother were sitting,
nor of Willie Pershore, who sat on the big
sandstone rock quietly smoking his pipe,
but he instantly clapped the telescope to
his eye, and swept the horizon in every
direction, uttering various expressions of

A Nautical Visitor at Snape Farm. 13

delight, and winding up with, No, you're
right, my boy. Bunt hill isn't transparent,
and so we can't see the jolly old Cassiopeia."
"He's daft, I'm thinking," muttered
Willie, winking gravely at Mr. Baylis, and
pointing his pipe-stem towards the little fat
The farmer made no reply, but coughed
loudly, as if to attract the stranger's atten-
tion, upon which the little man started, took
the telescope from his eye, pulled off his
hat, made Mrs. Baylis a polite bow, and then
said, as he turned to her husband, "Mr.
Baylis, I believe ?"
"That's my name, sir," answered the
farmer, doggedly, as much as to say, I
should just like to hear you tell me it
My business is very soon told," said
the little man. I belong to the Cassio-
feia, a full-rigged ship of eleven hundred
tons register." As he uttered these words

On a Coral Reef.

he glanced slily at Matthew, as though to
imply, "What of Mr. Jefferson's three-
masted vessel now?" "A slight accident
has caused her to put into Croxhaven; and
now that she's here, it is thought advisable
to increase her stock of provisions. Mr.
Rigdon, the pilot-"
"Aye, I know him well," interrupted
Mr. Baylis, with more civility in his tone
than he had shown at first.
Mr. Rigdon, the pilot, told me you had
some prime young porkers-"
They're rale gude fattening ones, and
no mistake," exclaimed Willie Pershore,
I've seen 'em," said the little man.
" This young gentleman here has introduced
me to the pigsty. I've seen 'em ; I like the
looks of 'em, and I'm prepared to buy a
dozen of 'em, and pay you the cash as soon
as they're safe aboard the ship."
The conversation was becoming deci-

A Nautical Visitor at Snape Farm. 15

deadly interesting. Mr. Baylis rose from his
seat, and grew quite animated. A long
palaver followed. Everybody descended the
hill, and went into the farmyard. The pigs
were once more carefully inspected. Willie
lifted them one by one out of their sty,
and amid much squeaking, held them up
admiringly in his arms, just as a
nurse exhibits a fine baby. At last the
bargain was struck, and the little fat
man, having partaken of a bread and
cheese supper, and a jug of home-brewed
ale, set off to walk to Croxhaven by moon-
Neither Mr. Baylis, nor his wife, nor
his eldest son, nor his daughter-in-law, nor
young Matthew, had thought of asking the
stranger his name, for they all took it for
granted that he was the captain of the
Cassio15eia. As he was leaving the house
he quite won old Willie's heart by present-
ing him with a fig of real foreign tobacco,

16 On a Coral Reef.

and Willie accordingly offered to see him
a mile or two on his way.
"She is a terrible big ship, I reckon,
this Catch-ye-utf-here," observed Willie.
He could not' pronounce the hard name
"The Cassioteia P Yes, she's a pretty
tidy size. We had a job to get her into
the harbour, and I expect we shall have
a worse job still to get her out again."
"What might the owners give ye a
month for being master of her ?" asked old
Willie, who was an inquisitive fellow.
Me master of the Cassiofeia P Hal
ha! ha and the little man burst into a
jolly laugh. My friend, you pay me a
compliment which I don't deserve, by mis-
taking me for the captain of such a noble
vessel as she is. I can hardly call myself a
seaman. The only department I command
is the provision department. My name is
Torkington, and I'm the chief steward."

A Nautical Visitor at Snape Farm. 17

"I like ye none the worse, lad, for
saying plainly what ye are. I hate stuck-
up folks. Good night. Ye can't mistake
the way into Croxhaven, it's straight afore
ye. My sakes that's prime tobaccy,"
muttered old Willie, as he put a quid into
his mouth.
"It ought to be. I brought it from
Virginia. Good night, and thank ye."


MRS. BAYLIS had her head so full of the
fire insurance project, and felt so nervous,
that before she went to bed she took a walk
to the rickyard, just to see that everything
was safe, and that no tramps, or gipsies,
or such-like wanderers, had taken up their
quarters there for the night. Even after
she fell asleep her thoughts still continued
to run on red-hot coals and lucifer matches,
and she made her husband very angry (for
he was tired out by a hard day's work), by
starting up in bed and screaming fire."
He got out of bed and looked out of
window. Everything was perfectly peaceful
and still. Even that restless old quad-
ruped, Towler, the watch-dog, had ceased
to bay the moon, and was lying asleep in
front of his kennel, dreaming, most likely,

Pistol Practice, and its Results.

of a paunch which he had seen hanging up
in the back kitchen ; while the six hayricks,
which shone so golden yellow in the bright
sunshine, looked in the cold moonlight as
if they were covered with snow. So, after
grumbling at his wife, and calling her a
silly doited body, the farmer got back into
bed again, and slept till sunrise.
Nor did young Matthew sleep so
soundly as usual, though his dreams were
of a different cast. They were all about
ships, and savages, and stormy seas; and
he woke up with a start just as a troop of
South Sea islanders were dancing round a
pig which they had roasted, the said pig's
face bearing a marvellous resemblance to
the features of the little fat man who had
visited Snape farm on the preceding
Soon after sunrise everybody was up
and bustling about their work. Mrs. Baylis
felt more easy in her mind than she had

On a Coral Reef.

been during the night, for nobody had set
fire to the ricks, and the next day would be
Saturday, when her husband had promised
to go to the insurance office. At breakfast
time the chief subject of conversation was
Mr. Torkington's purchase. The pigs were
wanted at once on board the Cassioheia,
and the question debated was who should
take them down to Croxhaven ?" Mr.
Baylis could not spare the time to go,
neither could he spare John or Willie
Pershore. He wanted all hands up at the
Long Croft, to get the ground ready for
sowing turnips, in case a shower should
fall. Mrs. Baylis could not go, for this was
Let me go, father," cried Matthew,
with sparkling eyes.
Mr. Baylis had just been rapping his
knuckles against the old-fashioned weather-
glass that hung in the passage, in hopes of
shaking the index from very dry," at

Pistol Practice, and its Results.

which it obstinately stood, and felt annoyed
because it did not stir a hair's breadth. He
was on the point of uttering an angry "no,"
when his eldest son, John, put in a word.
"A pretty market you'd take the pigs
to, Master Mat I" he said, with a sneer.
He'd spend the steward's money,
likely enough, on gingerbread and goodies,"
chimed in Mrs. John.
Mr. Baylis brought down his big fist on
the table with a bang that made all the
porridge bowls rattle, and the crockery ring
on the shelves. Everybody started.
Martha," he shouted; I don't like
these sneering speeches. You're trying to
make folks believe that my youngest boy
is a thief. Did ever you know him steal
anything ?"
Mrs. John turned very red, and mur-
mured that, she couldn't say she had."
"Then keep your tongue between your
teeth," continued Mr. Baylis, still in high

22 On a Coral Reef.

wrath. "You and John are for ever run-
ning Mat down. Now, just to show you
that I'm master in this house, and not you,
I'll send Mat over to Croxhaven with the
pigs, and if he doesn't do the business
rightly, he'll have to settle accounts with
me. D'ye hear, lad ?"
"Mat will do his best, won't ye, my
dear?" said Mrs. Baylis, patting his head.
I'll try to, mother," answered Mat,
who had turned very red during this scene.
As soon as he had swallowed his last
mouthful of porridge, John strolled away
with a sulky air into the yard, and presently
afterwards his wife followed him, under the
pretence that she heard her baby crying.
Now then, Jenny," said the farmer,
addressing his wife, directly he and she and
Mat were alone together, "was I right or
wrong to speak as I did just now to Master
"Right, my dear. John is apt to

Pistol Practice, and its Results. 23

presume too much because he is the
eldest son."
He'd better take care," cried Mr.
Baylis, smiting the table again, or when
I'm dead and gone he'll find himself- And
yet I won't say that, either," he continued,
" for he's a good farmer, the only one of the
family who- Now then, Mat," he ex-
claimed, suddenly turning on his youngest
son, what are you standing staring at me
for ? You've got a job to do. Go and do
it. Take your pigs to Croxhaven, and
bring me back the brass. D'ye hear?"
It was evident that the state of the
barometer, or his disturbed sleep, or some-
thing or other had put Mr. Baylis into a
bad humour that morning, so Matthew,
without saying a word in reply, darted out
of the room like a pellet from a pop-gun,
and within half an hour's time might have
been seen in the stable yard, assisting old
Willie Pershore to put the grey pony into

24 On a Coral Reef

the light cart. A few minutes later such
piercing cries of terror and anguish were
heard that you might have fancied a terrible
massacre was being perpetrated, but in
reality nothing very dreadful was taking
place. Matthew was merely chasing the
porkers, and, as he caught them, was
handing them one by one to old Willie,
who deposited them in the cart.
"Silly fellows I!" cried Mat, "you little
know the luck that's in store for you, or
you wouldn't make all this hallaballoo.
Instead of staying in this dull old pigsty
you are going on a voyage of discovery half
round the world."
I'd reether it was them than me,"
observed old Willie. Fresh water's well
enough for me, I've no stomach for salt.
Here's the reins, laddie. Be sure ye take
her easy uphill, and don't force her down-
hill, and mind she don't cast this near
hind-shoe. Ye'd best stop at Hobbie

Pistol Practice, and its Results. 25

Wilson's as ye pass, and get a nail or two
put in it. And, Mat," concluded Willie,
confidentially, as he polished the pony's
flank with his coat-sleeve, if the little fat
chap aboard the Catch-ye-u5-here should
say a word about tobaccy, ye can mind him
that Willie Pershore, who showed him
down the Croxhaven loaning,* is fond of
a whiff; and if he says nowt about tobaccy,
ye can just twist the talk round that way.
And noo," added the old man, changing to
a brisk, business-like tone, be off wi' ye."
The twelve porkers, which during
Willie's parting observations had settled
down pretty amicably at the bottom of the
cart, set up a piteous squeaking as soon as
they found themselves being jolted over the
rough road, and took up so much of Mat's
attention that he scarcely noticed the clink-
ing sound made by the loose shoe. When
he got to Hobbie Wilson's he found that
North-country for "lane." .

On a Coral Reef.

the shoe had come off, so was obliged to
stop there until another could be put on.
While he was waiting in the smithy, and
watching the red sparks flying up from
the anvil, somebody touched his arm. He
looked round, and saw a lad of about
his own age and size, with a queer, saucy
expression of face, dressed in a jacket and
trousers all covered with patches, carrying
in one hand a fishing-rod and in the other
a string, to which half-a-dozen fine trout
were fastened. This was Dicky Rigdon,
only son of Widow Rigdon, who kept the
little general shop in Finkley, and nephew
of Mr. Benjamin Rigdon, the pilot. An
idle young rascal was Dicky Rigdon, always
getting into scrapes, and never sticking
long to any steady work. His uncle had
sent him for three months on trial on board
of a coasting vessel, but though the captain
had pronounced him to be smart and clever
enough, he had soon tired of seafaring life ;


Pistol Practice, and its Results.

he had then been put to learn farming with
Mr. Baylis, but he had played such pranks
while there, setting the cocks to fight,
riding the cows about the fields, and
plaguing old Willie, that Mr. Baylis would
have nothing more to do with him, though,
as he had a great respect for Dicky's uncle,
he was sorry to send him away. After this
Master Dick spent his time, for the most
part, in snaring rabbits, in shooting small
birds (he now and then popped a grouse
into his bag when nobody was near at hand)
and in fishing. Next to Willie Pershore,
he was the most skilful fisherman in the
countryside, and he got himself out of many
a scrape by the presents of fish which he
sent to the farmers' wives.
Hallo, Mat," he said, as he familiarly
squeezed young Baylis's arm; I know
where you're taking those pigs to."
I don't think you do," replied Matthew,
rather haughtily; for he was proud of the

On a Coral Reef.

commission with which his father had
entrusted him, and had confided it to no

What will you
I won't bet."
"Will you give
I guess ?"
"I don't mind
answered Matthew.
He had hardly
vaulted nimbly into
porkers are for old

bet me, lad ?"

me a ride in the cart if

giving you a ride,"

spoken before Dicky
the cart, saying, The
Torkington, aboard of

the Cassiopeia. You look, surprised, Mat,
so I'll tell you how I know it. I met old
Tork last night, trudging into Croxhaven,
turned back, and walked a bit of the way
with him. They wouldn't mind having a
few more hands, he told me, aboard of the
Cassiopeia, and he asked me if I should
like to sail in her. I said that I'd had
enough of the sea, and that I preferred
liberty ashore. But if I was you, Mat, with

Pistol Practice, and its Results. 29

a Turk of a big brother always topping the
officer over me, I should be inclined to take
a sea voyage. Just pull up the pony, old
fellow, for half a minute; I want some of
that wet moss."
Matthew drew up the cart at a spot
where a clear stream was trickling down
from the hillside into a rude stone basin.
Dicky divided his fish into two parcels,
each of which he wrapped in a bundle of
moss. He hid one parcel under a thorn-
bush, the other he took in the cart with him.
Those are for your mother, Mat," he
said; "she likes a bit of fish for supper.
We'll fetch them as we come back. The
others I shall give to old Torkington."
The harbour of Croxhaven was not very
big, and usually contained no vessels of a
more imposing character than coasting brigs
and fishing smacks. Compared with these
diminutive craft, the Cassioteia was like
a whale among a shoal of porpoises. She

On a Coral Reef

was too deeply laden to be moored at the
quay side, so she lay out in the middle of
the basin. In spite of his disinclination to
stick to any regular work, Dick Rigdon was
a handy fellow, and Matthew was very glad
to have his assistance. Mr. Baylis's squeak-
ing merchandise was speedily transferred
to a boat, and rowed alongside of the
Cassio1eia. Mr. Torkington carefully ex-
amined the porkers to see that none of
them had received any injury during their
travels by land or water, and having ascer-
tained that they were all sound, wind and
limb, he handed them over to the care of
the ship's cook, and invited the two boys
into the chief cabin. Here he entertained
them with the remains of a meat pie and
some bottled porter, thanked young Rigdon
for his present of fish, which he said Captain
Cruikshank would enjoy as a relish when
he came aboard for tea; and finally paid
Matthew the price which he had agreed on

Pistol Practice, and its Results. 31

with his father for the pigs. He then took
the boys over the ship, and told them, in
answer to their numerous questions, that
she was bound for Calcutta with a general
cargo, but that where she was going to after
she left Calcutta was a profound secret,
known only to the owners, and not even to
Captain Cruikshank himself, who was for-
bidden to open the sealed letter containing
his instructions until he was safely moored
in the Hooghly. As they were leaving the
ship, Mr. Torkington presented Dicky
Rigdon with a fishing line, and gave
Matthew another fig of tobacco for Willie
Pershore, and a shilling for himself. The
two lads went away delighted with their
reception, but Matthew felt quite sor-
rowful to think that this was possibly
his last sight of the Cassioteia, for the
friendly steward had told him that
she was now perfectly ready for sea,
and would very likely sail within a few

32 On a Coral Reef.
hours after Captain Cruikshank's arrival
on board.
"How I should like to be going with
her I" murmured Matthew, as he drove the
pony cart through the narrow High street of
Croxhaven, and turned his head to obtain
the last glimpse of her towering masts.
Well, you've only got to go on board,
and offer yourself as a volunteer. I believe
the chief officer would take you," answered
Dicky, carelessly. You can trust me to
drive Rosey safe to Snape Farm, and I'll
take care your father gets his pig-money."
Don't talk nonsense, Dick. Do you
think I'd skulk away like a thief, without
asking my parents' leave ? My father
would never forgive me, and my mother
would be heart-broken."
Mine wouldn't," replied Dick, with a
Matthew made no reply, for he would
not have cared to tell Dick his thoughts.

Pistol Practice, and its Results.

"I am not such a scapegrace, as you, Master
Dick," he said to himself, I have always
been dutiful and industrious."
Well," observed Dicky, after a pause,
" as we don't intend to sail aboard of
the Cassiopeia, it's of no use talking any
more about her." He put his hand into
his pocket, and drew out the fishing
line which Mr. Torkington had given
him. "One mustn't look a gift horse in
the mouth," he said; "but I'd sooner
have had a shilling, like you, Matthew.
What do you mean to do with your
shilling ?"
It is my sister Annie's birthday next
week, and I think I shall buy her a present
with it." Matthew blushed as he spoke. It
is astonishing how ashamed we often are of
doing a good action.
Dick once more put his hand into his
pocket, and produced a pistol. It was a
small, old-fashioned, rusty weapon, but

34 On a Coral Reef.
Matthew Baylis was a boy, and his eyes
sparkled at the sight.
"-Where did you get that?" he cried.
"A present from Watty Nichols, the
gunsmith in Finkley, in exchange for a sure
killing salmon-fly I made for him. But
the stingy loon wouldn't give me either
powder or bullets, and I've no money to
buy any."
I'll buy you some, Dick," answered
Matthew. I owe you something for
helping me with the pigs." So the greater
part of Mr. Torkington's present was con-
verted into powder and bullets.
Dick wanted to begin pistol practice as
soon as they got clear of Croxhaven, but
Matthew very properly refused to stop.
" Let me get back home," he said, and
hand this money over to my father. After
that you may shoot as much as you please."
Mr. Baylis, and John, and Willie Per-
shore, were so busy up in the Long Croft

Pistol Practice, and its Results. 35

that they had not found time to come home
to dinner, so Mrs. John had carried their
dinner to them; and as the afternoon was
very warm, she had stayed with her baby and
her needlework under the shade of a stone
wall within view of the workers. Nobody
was at home but Mrs. Baylis, busy with her
ironing. She was pleased to perceive that
Matthew had properly executed the com-
mission which had been entrusted to him,
but she was not so well pleased to see his
companion, the idle Dicky Rigdon, though
she could not help allowing that it was
kind of him to remember her fondness for
"As soon as you've had something to
eat, Mat," said Mrs. Baylis, as she locked
up the money in her husband's strong box,
"you'd better go and help your father in the
Long Croft." But after dinner Matthew
felt very lazy, and, being secretly stimu-
lated by his companion, he began to make
rn a

On a Coral Reef.

various excuses. The pony wanted rubbing
down, the sun was very hot, he would go
to work when it grew a little cooler. The
end was that Mrs. Baylis returned to her
ironing, and that Mat never went near the
Long Croft, but remained with Dicky
Rigdon, firing shots at a bottle which they
had set on a gatepost. Before long they
grew tired of this amusement, and lay
down to sleep under the shadow of one
of the hayricks. They slept longer than
they intended, and when they awoke, the
lengthening shadows showed that evening
was close at hand.
I say, Dicky," exclaimed Mat, as he
glanced at the reddening sun, "we're too
late for tea."
Dick made no answer. He was groping
among the loose hay at the foot of the rick.
" I can't find the pistol," he said presently,
"and yet I could swear that I went to sleep
with my hand on it-just here," pointing to

Pistol Practice, and its Results.

a particular spot. The two boys turned the
hay over and over but could discover no
trace of the pistol.
You must have left it where we were
shooting," said Matthew.
I feel sure I didn't," answered Dick;
"but we will go there and look, if you like."
The gatepost at which they had been
shooting was three fields distant from the
stackyard, for the two lads, knowing that
Mrs. Baylis did not exactly approve of
their proceedings, had wished to get out of
earshot. They searched, and searched, and
were at last compelled to leave off looking
by the increasing darkness.
How late it is," exclaimed Matthew;
"it must be supper time." He hoped that
Dick would say in reply, "Then I must run
away home at once," for Finkley was three
long miles distant. Mat had an uneasy
feeling that his father would not be too well
pleased to see Dick after the idle afternoon

On a Coral Reef.

they had spent together. But instead of
showing any anxiety to get home to his
widowed mother at Finkley, Master Dicky
remarked, in his careless, saucy style:
Supper! How glad I am to hear such
a word, for I'm desperately hungry; and
after supper, if I can persuade old Willie
to lend me a lantern, I must come and have
another look for the pistol. Let's go up to
the house now, Mat."
Mat, who was not gifted with Dicky
Rigdon's brass-like impudence, entered the
stone kitchen, which was the living-room of
the family, with fear and trembling. The
supper-table was spread, everybody was
seated, and Mr. Baylis was in the act of
carving a mutton ham.
"Well, Mat," cried the farmer; but in
a much more good-natured tone than Mat
had expected; where ever have ye been
hiding yourself?" Your mother told me
that you'd brought the money home all

Pistol Practice, and its Results.

right and straight, and that Dick Rigdon
had helped ye to take the pigs aboard. Sit
down, Master Dick, sit down; don't be
afeared. I shall always be glad to hear of
your doing any honest work."
So Dick sat down, and presently all the
company were too busily engaged in eating
and drinking to find time for talking.
Gentlefolks like to season their meals with
conversation, but to people who work hard
the time spent in eating is generally too
precious to be frittered away in such a
manner. "One thing at a time," farmer
Baylis used to say; when you work, work;
when you eat, eat; and when you talk,
talk." As soon, however, as he had finished
his supper, he pushed back his chair, and
bade Matthew fetch his tobacco-pouch from
the pocket of his working coat, which hung
in the passage.
I wish, Jenny," observed the farmer,
addressing his wife, while his youngest son

40 On a Coral Reef.
was absent from the room; that I saw in
Mat the makings of a farmer, the same
as I. see them in John. John lad," he
continued, bestowing a hearty thump on his
eldest son's back; "I was surly to ye at
breakfast time, so it's all the more reason
that I should testify to your mother that
you're a real good working farmer; a true
descendant of the old Baylis stock. See
how your wife's colouring I She's pleased
to hear me praise you. And don't fancy
that I'm blind to your good points, Martha,
because I scolded you this morning. She
isn't a bad sort of wife that'll cook a good
dinner, and bring it out to the field, as
you did."
Aye, and it was a rare good dinner,"
chimed in old Willie. If there's a thing I
do love, it's raisin pudding."
"And a pipe of true Virginia tobacco
after it, Willie; eh, man?" answered the
farmer, with a wink at his wife. What a

Pistol Practice, and its Results.

time that boy is fetching the pouch I Hand
me your tobacco meanwhile, Willie, ye sly
owd villain. Talking of Mat, I'm afraid
his heart isn't in the farm work. How was
it he didn't come up to the Long Croft this
afternoon, Jenny ?"
He was tired, my dear, after the drive
to Croxhaven, and the sun was very hot,"
observed Mrs. Baylis, who always strove to
put everybody's conduct in the best possible
Matthew, who had at length found his
father's tobacco-pouch, reached the door
just as these words were being spoken.
Curiosity to hear more prevented him from
"The sun was not so hot," remarked
Mrs. John, in her softest and most sneering
tones, as to prevent him and Mr. Richard
Rigdon from amusing themselves with
pistol shooting for the greater part of the

On a Coral Reef.

"Ha! what's that?" exclaimed the
farmer, rising suddenly into wrath, and
turning upon his youthful guest. So
that's what you came here for, Master Dick,
to make my son as idle as yourself. I don't
want Mat to become a crack marksman
with the pistol; it leads to nothing but
pigeon matches, and betting, and all manner
of extravagance."
Indeed, sir," cried Dick, who, if he
chose, could assume a very persuasive and
respectful tone; indeed, sir, I had no such
intention. It was only an old pistol that
Watty Nichols-"
Watty Nichols, indeed I Pretty com-
pany for my boy to keep: a drunken old
vagabond, that spends half his time in
fishing, and the other half in poaching."
He wasn't with us at all, sir," said
Dick, and we only fired the pistol about
twenty times."
And that was twenty times too often,"

Pis/j1 Practice, and its Results.

growled Mr. Baylis, in reply. Is this
the weather to be firing pistols about
people's fields, when every blade of grass
is withered and dry? How do you know
but that some wad isn't now lying smoul-
dering? Young master," he exclaimed,
suddenly checking himself, "-you've made
me feel quite nervous. I shall begin to
"At all events, John," said his wife with
a smile, "you won't forget the insurance
when you go to market to-morrow."
"Forget it! No, I should think not.
You've dinned it into my ears too often, to
let me forget it," replied the farmer, with
a surly air.
It's a great mercy," observed Mrs.
John, casting up her eyes with a devotional
expression, that the ricks have not been
burnt to-day. During this dry weather
pistol-shooting seems scarcely a proper
amusement in a stack-yard."

On a Coral Reef.

Pistol-shooting in my stackyard !"
roared Mr. Baylis, starting to his feet.
"We never did anything of the sort,
sir," cried Dicky Rigdon, undauntedly.
I can't bear to make mischief," said
Mrs. John, with a virtuous air; "and
therefore I determined to say nothing
about this affair. But," continued she, I
must speak now." With these words, she
put her hand into her dress pocket and drew
out a small parcel, which she gave to her
father-in-law, saying: I found this under-
neath one of your hay-ricks as I came home
from the Long Croft. I wrapped it up
carefully in brown paper, for fear it should
blow up in my pocket."
Mr. Baylis opened the parcel. It con-
tained the missing pistol.
I swear, sir, that we never fired a shot
near your ricks," began Dicky.
But Mr. Baylis would not listen to a
word of evidence. He had worked him-

Pistol Practice, and its Results. 45

self up into a towering passion, and his
daughter-in-law, being a malicious woman,
forbore to tell him that when she passed
the hay-rick both boys were fast asleep, and
that the pistol had dropped out of young
Rigdon's hand.
Take your cap, Rigdon," he shouted,
" and get out of my house. I never wish
to see you in it again. As for the pistol,
I shall hand it over to your uncle, and
recommend him to give you a taste of a
rope's end. Not another word, sir, but go."
"Whisht!" cried old Willie, suddenly,
in a tone of voice that made everyone start
and look round. See yonder," he said,
pointing with his finger towards the open
window; what's that strange light in the
sky ?"
All eyes were directed towards the
window. The trees, and shrubs, and the
slope of Sugarloaf Hill were bathed in a
ruddy, flickering glare that evidently did

46 On a Coral Reef.

not proceed from the placid silvery beams
of the moon.
At this moment a face appeared at the
half-open door, a white and terrified face.
It was the face of Matthew Baylis; and
then his voice, which seemed hoarse and
choked in its utterance, spoke thus :
Oh! father and mother, the ricks are
on fire !"
On hearing these terrible words, which
seemed like a message from the 'invisible
world, Mr. Baylis staggered back, and
uttered a loud, despairing cry. The next
moment he recovered himself, and grasping
the pistol, which he had been holding
mechanically in his hand, he hurled it
with all the force of his powerful right
arm at Dicky Rigdon's head. The boy
spied the coming danger, ducked his head,
and an instant later sprang nimbly out of
the open window, and disappeared among
the shrubbery. Unfortunately, the pistol

Pistol Practice, and its Results.

was loaded, and at the moment of its
rebound from the wall, against which it
had been thrown with such violence, it
exploded and burst into several pieces. A
portion of the lock struck Mrs. Baylis on
the head, and to the horror of the un-
fortunate farmer he saw her, as the smoke
of the explosion cleared away, stretched
apparently lifeless on the floor, with a
small stream of blood trickling down
her face. He sank into a chair, stupefied.
Willie Pershore tried to arouse him, but
was unable to make any impression
upon him; till at length the faithful old
labourer, in a state of mind bordering on
desperation, rushed out to try and save
some portion of the ricks, which were by
this time, under the influence of a strong
easterly breeze, lapped in a sheet of flame.
John Baylis the younger and Martha
had enough to do in attending to the
wounded wife and the distracted husband.

MATTHEW BAYLIS, standing in the passage,
saw the flash and heard the report of the
pistol as it exploded, but he did not see
Dicky Rigdon jump out of window, and
he fancied that his father had deliberately
fired at his companion, and had killed him.
He was so shocked and terrified by all that
had happened in the brief space of a few
minutes, that without staying to think, he
snatched up his cap from the peg on which
it hung, and ran away from the house, not
caring whither he went.
One road was as good to him as another,
provided only that it took him away from
Snape Farm, and as it happened, he ran
down the lane which led to Croxhaven. As
he rushed swiftly along, his thoughts were
something of this sort: Is this only a


horrid dream, a night-mare from which I
shall presently wake up, or are the ricks
really on fire? It can't be a dream," he
said to himself, as he turned his head, and
saw the red glare in the sky; "but who
could have set them on fire? I'm sure we
didn't. Oh! what a wicked woman Martha
is I It was she who worked father up into
such a passion; it was she who made him
shoot Dicky. I do believe it was she who
set the ricks on fire to spite us I"
Matthew had just reached a sharp turn
in the road, when his meditations were
interrupted by the sound of approaching/
voices. He at once climbed the high bank
which bordered the roadside, got through a
gap in the hedge, and hid himself. Pre-
sently six or seven men came by, cottagers
living in the neighbourhood, who had been
aroused by the sight of the fire, and were
now loudly arguing among themselves as
to where it was. Some said it was only a

On a Coral Reef.

few fields off-and they were nearest the
truth-while one man declared that if they
walked ten miles they would not come up
with it. This man carried a gun in his
hand, and had a big dog at his heels. The
dog scented Matthew, and rushed up the
steep bank barking furiously. Matthew felt
so like a culprit at that moment that he
would not, on any account, have been dis-
covered. Yet he very narrowly escaped
being found out, for the owner of the gun
vowed that there must be a stoat or a pole-
cat hiding near at hand, and if his com-
panions had not pressed him to hurry on he
would have discharged his fowling-piece at
random into the hedge. In another minute
the eager, excited assemblage had passed on,
and by degrees the sound of their voices
died away in the distance.
Then Matthew cautiously climbed down
the bank, with the intention of re-com-
mencing his journey. That side of the road


was hidden in deep shadow, and just as
he had reached level ground, he stumbled
against some person, who immediately
seized him firmly by the collar. A moment
later his assailant relaxed his grasp, and a
familiar voice said, Why, Mat, how come
you here ?"
Oh, Dicky I" exclaimed Mat, without
replying to the question, I thought you
were shot dead."
"So I should have been if I hadn't
jumped out of window, for your father
deliberately aimed the pistol at me. He is
mad, as mad as a mad bull or a mad dog,
and you have done quite right to run away,
for he will kill you if you go back."
Master Rigdon did not speak altogether
truly when he said this. He knew that
Mr. Baylis had only thrown the pistol at
him, and as he had afterwards returned and
had peeped in at the window, he knew that
Mrs. Baylis had been seriously wounded.
E 9

On a Coral Reef.

But as he had made up his own mind to
run away-for he feared the wrath of his
uncle Benjamin, the pilot-he determined to
frighten Matthew into going with him. So
he said nothing about Mrs. Baylis's injury,
being well aware that the boy would go
back at any risk if he knew how badly
hurt his mother had been.
Did you meet Jemmy Atkinson and
the others ?" asked Matthew.
Yes, they came right upon me before I
could hide myself. I told them I was going
to Croxhaven for the fire engine. Come
along, Mat, let's step out as hard as we
Matthew was still in such a state of
excitement that he scarcely knew what he
was doing, so he obeyed Dick Rigdon, and
walked swiftly along. It was quite late
when they reached Croxhaven, and most of
the inhabitants of the little sea-port had
gone to bed. The boys went down to the

Flight. 53

quay, and being tired with their hurried
walk, they seated themselves on the steps of
a landing-place where two or three boats
were moored. The easterly breeze was
blowing freshly, and the surface of the
harbour was rippled with little dancing
waves, which sparkled in the brilliant
moonlight. The Cassiofeia was still lying
in the middle of the basin, but Dicky
Rigdon's eye, accustomed to look upon
shipping, detected an alteration in her
appearance since he had last seen her.
Her sails had been bent on to the yards;
her standing rigging was taut and trim,
and she was evidently ready for an imme-
diate departure.
I say, Mat," he said, as he idly dipped
the toe of his boot into the water that
plashed against the steps, don't you wish
you were aboard of her ?"
Matthew made no reply for a minute or
two. The long walk, during which he had

54 On a Coral Reef.
remained remarkably silent, had caused his
excitement to cool down. At length he said:
I think, Dick, I shall go back home.
It seems so cruel to run away at such a
time as this."
"Very well, my boy," answered Dick.
"Do so, if you please. My mind is made
To do what ?"
To offer myself as a volunteer on board
the Cassioheia. We heard this morning
that they were short-handed."
I should like to go too," said Matthew,
" but I wish I had my father's consent."
"Go back and ask it," returned Dick
with a sneer. "He'll give it you fast
enough, I warrant I Your brother John
will give you something else: a dressing
with the cart whip. Indeed, I shouldn't
be surprised if he handed you over to
the police. Nothing will make him believe
that we didn't set the ricks on fire."


Matthew sighed. I feel very miserable,
Dick," he said; I don't know what to do."
Then I do," cried his companion,
cheerily; and as he spoke he jumped into
the nearest boat, and began to unloose the
painter from the ring-bolt to which it was
fastened. Look, there's a pair of sculls
aboard. Come, Mat, you must help me
to row to the Cassioheia, else how shall I
get the boat back again? Jump in 1"
Matthew stepped in mechanically, still
feeling as if he was in a kind of dream.
The moment he had entered the boat
Dick took up one of the sculls, pushed
vigorously out from the quay, and then,
dropping both sculls into the rowlocks,
began to pull towards the Cassiofeia.
A name painted on the stern-sheets
caught Matthew's attention. Dick !" he
exclaimed, we mustn't take this boat, she
belongs to the Cassiopeia."
All the better," cried the reckless

56 On a Coral Reef.

Dick; "perhaps they've forgotten her, and
left her behind. They'll be much obliged
to us for bringing her alongside."
While the lads were discussing this
question, the door of a tavern which stood
on the quay was opened, and two men
came out. One of them, a short, squat,
broad-shouldered fellow, dressed in sea-
man's clothes, was evidently somewhat the
worse for liquor, for he staggered in his
gait, and leant heavily on his comrade,
as they made their way towards the
water-side. His comrade was a tall, thin
young man, of rather dandified appear-
ance, wearing a white hat, a cutaway
coat, and a massive gold chain at his
"For she's the darling of my heart,
sweet Peggy of Torbay," murmured the
sailor, in a hoarse yet sentimental voice,
very much out of tune. "I say, Mr.
Tyrrell," he said, suddenly changing to

Flight. 57

prose; "is this the water ? The fog's got
into my eyes."
"Yes, yes," answered the young man,
pettishly; that's the water, and you'd
better have a care, or you'll tumble head
foremost into it, and go down five fathoms
deep. Bother these Jack Tarsl" he con-
tinued, speaking to himself; I never wish
to go on a long-shore cruise with one of
them again. They told me Rawlins was
the soberest of men, yel here he is in such
a helpless condition that I shall have to
row him aboard." For while Tyrrell was
indulging in this soliloquy, Mr. Rawlins
had quietly seated himself on the steps,
upon the very spot occupied a few
minutes before by Dick and Matthew,
and with his head bent upon his breast,
was apparently making active prepara-
tions for going to sleep. Rawlins," cried
the young man, as he gave his shoulder
a hearty shake ; Rawlins, can you pick

On a Coral Reef.

out our boat from these? for I'm sure I
At these words Mr. Rawlins roused
himself, opened his eyes, and gazed vacantly
around. "Which is our boat, Mr. Tyrrell?"
he muttered, sleepily. Then suddenly, as if
a ray of intelligence had pierced the recesses
of his bemuddled brain, he exclaimed,
pointing towards Dick and Harry, who
sat motionless, and wondering who these
new comers might be: Why, yonder she
is, Mr. Tyrrell, and two of the hands wait-
ing to take us aboard."
"Thank goodness I" murmured the
young man; "then I shan't have the trou-
ble of pulling you, my grog-smitten friend."
"Boat ahoy, there!" roared Mr. Raw-
lins, temporarily regaining his faculties.
"Is that the Cassiofeia's boat ?"
"Yes, sir," said Dick, briskly.
"Then what d'ye mean by keeping two
gentlemen waiting? Pull alongside, you


dogs, pull I" Here Mr. Rawlins gave vent
to a tremendous yawn, and then, being
completely exhausted by the effort, fell fast
Pull alongside as quickly as you can,
my lads," said Tyrrell, in a pleasant but
somewhat authoritative tone, and help me
to lift"-he was going to say this gentle-
man," but he could not resist indulging in
a little bit of sarcasm, so he said, to lift
one of your officers on board."
Dick winked at Matthew, as much as to
say, "That's a bit of information for us,"
and then proceeded to assist the young man
in lifting Mr. Rawlins, who was by this
time fast asleep and snoring, into the boat.
I'll take the tiller ropes, but I won't
promise to steer very correctly," observed
Tyrrell, as they pushed off from the shore.
This remark at once proved to Dick,
whose naturally sharp faculties were now
strained to the utmost by the peculiar

60o On a Coral Reef.

position in which he was placed, that the
dandified young gentleman in the stern-
sheets could not be, as he had at first
fancied, the great Captain Cruikshank
himself. It was not, after all, such an
unnatural supposition, for very young men
are sometimes appointed, through interest,
to the command of large vessels. As for
poor Matthew, he was so bewildered by
all he had gone through during the last
few hours, that he quietly bent to his oar
without heeding anything.
Mr. Tyrrell's next observation was still
more welcome to Dick, who was watching,
like a hungry robin on a winter's day, for
every crumb of information which he could
pick up.
"As I see you are fresh hands, shipped,
I presume, this morning, by Mr. Rawlins,
I suppose you don't know who I am ?"
No, sir," replied Dick, with the utmost
deference in his tone.


"Then I wish you at once to know,"
pursued Tyrrell, in order that you may
treat me with proper respect, that I am the
son of the principal owner of the Cas-
siopeia, and that I am making this voyage
as supercargo.
Dick touched his cap respectfully, and
Matthew said, "Aye, aye, sir," which was
not exactly the proper reply to make; but
as Dick afterwards remarked, it sounded
nautical, and no doubt pleased Tyrrell, who
at that time was far better acquainted .with
the technical terms of the hunting-field
than with the phraseology of the sea.
As they drew near the Cassioteia, the
boys perceived there was plenty of bustle
and animation aboard of her, in spite of
the lateness of the hour, and moreover,
that the arrival of the boat was anxiously
expected. He took the opportunity of
whispering to Matthew, Nothing but
impudence will carry us safely through,'

On a Coral Reef.

and then hailed the noble vessel in proper
seaman-like style. In obedience to a gruff
order, delivered from the deck, the davits
were immediately manned by some half-
dozen of the crew, and a few moments later
the boat and all its contents being hauled
up, Matthew and Dick found themselves
on a level with the top of the bulwarks.
"Well, Captain Cruikshank, here we
are at last," said Tyrrell, as he shook hands
familiarly with a tough, wiry, weather-
beaten, red-whiskered man, of five-and-fifty.
'And, indeed, I'm well pleased to see
ye, sir," replied the captain, whose accent
proclaimed him a native of North Britain;
" for the pilot's been aboard these two
hours, and I'm thinking we'll be losing this
propeetious breeze before long." Here the
supercargo spoke a few words in his ear,
which caused Captain Cruikshank to fix a
keen glance on Mr. Rawlins, who had
managed to flounder out of th'0 boat on to

Flight. 63

the deck, and now stood blinking sleepily
at the mainmast. Aye, aye," continued
the captain, in a lower tone, I perceive
the cause of the delay preceesely. Rawlins,
get awa' to your bunk, man; get awa', and
dinna disgrace yerself before the hands."
As he spoke these words, Mr. Rawlins
slunk aft, and then the captain said,
turning sharply on Dick and Matthew,
"And who are these twa lads ?"
Matthew wished the deck would open
under his feet and allow him to sink below,
as he had once seen a malignant fairy
disappear from the boards of the Croxhaven
Theatre; but he was somewhat relieved
when Tyrrell replied-
Two fresh hands, shipped by Rawlins
this morning."
They're ower juveneel for the wark,
but they're likely-looking boys," observed
Captain Cruikshank. He then at once
changed the subject by saying to Tyrrell,

64 On a Coral Reef.

in an anxious tone, We'd best up anchor
at once, sir, and be off. Fugit, fugit,
irreoarabile temrnus, as our minister used
to say, and I misdoubt me this north-
easterly breeze is dying away. Therefore
I'll away below, and deliver the Cassioteia
over to the tender mercies of the Crox-
haven pilot."
Within a few minutes after he had thus
spoken, the ship became, to the fancy of an
unpractised landsman, a scene of unbridled
riot and confusion. Half-a-dozen hoarse
voices seemed to be shouting orders all at
the same moment; the planks of the deck
resounded with the heavy measc'ed tramp
of the men who were working the capstan;
the chain cable clanged, as its successive
lengths rattled through the hawse-holes;
while a select body of topmen, who swarmed
up the ratlines as actively as monkeys,
proceeded to shake out the sails, under the
violent adjurations of the boatswain. Dick


and Matthew, being hustled hither and
thither, and not knowing what to do, or
from whom they ought to take orders,
finally took refuge under the shadow of the
very boat which had brought them from
the shore.
'Well, old fellow," whispered Dick,
" thus far we've managed capitally, haven't
"But are we really going to stay on
board," asked Matthew, till we reach
"Stay on board? Of course we are;
unless the skipper finds out our tricks and
sends us ashore."
What are we to do for clothes, Dick?
We have none, except those which we
"We'll see about that to-morrow, Mat.
The point now to be considered is, where
we are to berth to-night. I'm tired out;
and as for you, Mat, you can hardly keep

On a Coral Reef.

your eyes open. Let me see." And Dick
began to meditate.
His meditations were cut short by an
unexpected incident. The pilot, who had
hitherto been giving his commands from
the poop, being annoyed because some
of his orders had not been immediately
executed, rushed angrily into the waist of
the ship, and began to abuse Mr. Watts,
the chief officer. He paused close by the
spot where Dick and Matthew were crouch-
ing, and as at that moment the moon passed
out of a dark cloud which had obscured
her light, her silvery rays fell direly on
his rubicund face. Dick clutched his
companion's arm with a movement of
terror. "It's Uncle Benjamin !" he whis-
pered. "If he sees us, we're ruined. I
thought he was safe at Belfast."
Dick was quite justified in supposing
that it would be impossible to meet his
uncle on board the Cassioheia. Mr. Rigdon


had been summoned over to Belfast, where
he was well known and highly valued, for
the purpose of taking a foreign vessel down
the Irish Channel, a job that would occupy
at least a week; but at the last moment
he had received news that the foreigner's
departure was delayed, so had accepted the
task of piloting the Cassiofeia among the
dangerous shoals and sandbanks that lay
between Croxhaven and the open sea.
We must not let him see us," said Dick.
"Look! the moon is just going behind a
cloud again. Watch your opportunity, and
climb into the boat. We will lie there till
Uncle Ben goes ashore."
A spare studding-sail had been thrown
over the boat; so the two lads hid them-
selves under it, and made themselves as
comfortable as they could.

F 2


DURING the night the wind shifted to the
westward, so that the yards were braced up
sharp; the studding sails were not wanted,
and consequently the two boys were left
undisturbed. Being thoroughly fatigued
by all the exciting events of the preceding
day, they soon fell asleep, and slept as
soundly as if they had been in their beds
at home.
The change of wind produced a change
of weather. The breeze still continued so
light that the royals were set; but the
atmosphere, which hitherto had been per-
fectly clear, became thick and hazy. A
bright look-out was therefore kept on deck.
At daybreak, the Dunster light-ship, whose
green revolving light had been for some

The Voyage Begins Badly. 69

time visible, was seen looming through the
mist. She was a queer-looking craft,
something like a child's Noah's Ark, and
was painted bright red. She was moored
at the edge of the great Dunster Shoal, and
was placed expressly to mark the termina-
tion of that dangerous sand-bank. As the
daylight grew stronger, Mr. Watts, the
chief mate, who had not forgiven the pilot
his rough language while they were getting
up the anchor-for he held that it was sub-
versive of discipline to abuse an officer in
the presence of the crew-remarked to the
captain that he didn't at all fancy the colour
of the water, and would he give orders to
heave the lead ?
Ye'd better speak to Rigdon," replied
cautious Captain Cruikshank; I've no
authority while he's aboard."
So Mr. Watts returned to the deck, and
expressed his uneasiness to the pilot.
The colour of the water puzzles me

70 On a Coral Reef.

too," replied the pilot, "and I've known
this coast for forty year. I never saw it
look dirtier after a heavy gale of wind, and
we haven't had anything that can be called
a breeze for weeks. Heave the lead by all
"I believe we're too near the shore,"
said Mr. Watts. If the fog was to lift,
it's my opinion you'd see the land close
to us."
Nonsense, man! I'm taking your ship
exactly the same course as I've taken
hundreds of others. I always keep a mile, at
least, to seaward of the light-ship, and if"-
He was interrupted by the approach of
one of the look-out men.
If you please, sir, the light-ship is
signalling us."
Fetch my glass," said Mr. Watts.
It was difficult to discern anything
clearly on account of the mist, but there
was evidently a flag flying from the peak of

The Voyage Begins Badly.

the light-vessel, and, as far as Mr. Watts
could make out,' the colour of the flag was
That's their signal of distress," ob-
served Mr. Rigdon. There's something
the matter aboard tfie old Geranium, that's
By this time everybody on the Cas-
sioteia's deck was gazing, with eyes of
eager curiosity, at the light-ship, wondering
what was amiss with her. The leadsman,
who had been summoned to take soundings,
forbore to heave his plummet overboard,
and stared with the rest. While they were
looking, a bright flash and a puff of white
smoke broke from the side of the Geranium.
She had fired one of her guns, a six-pound
carronade, which stood on her deck for
signalling purposes.
"There's something wrong aboard, that's
certain," repeated Mr. Rigdon, more em-
phatically than before.

72 On a Coral Reef.

Yes, there was something wrong on
board, but not on board the vessel where
Mr. Rigdon supposed the mischief to be.
The people assembled on the Cassiofeia's
deck were in the act of speculating on the
probable nature of the distress aboard
the Geranium. Perhaps," said one, a
murder has been committed there, and
we ought at once to lower a boat and go
to her assistance." They were gossiping
thus, and the leadsman was still standing
with his line poised in his hand, when-
Let us pause for a moment, and turn to
look at our two runaway friends, Dick and
Matthew. Matthew was still curled up
fast asleep under the friendly studding-sail,
dreaming most likely of the turnip-sowing
in the Long Croft, or of some such un-
seamanlike business. Dick, however, was
broad awake, and every now and then he
peeped cautiously over the gunwale of the
boat, just as a wary old rat peeps out of his


The Voyage Begins Badly.

hole when there is a terrier about. The
keen morning air fnade him feel pleasantly
hungry, and he looked with covetous eyes
on a tray containing two cups of coffee and
two slices of toast which our old friend Mr.
Torkington was carrying from the cook's
galley towards the cabin. Dick was just
thinking how nicely the coffee and toast
would line his stomach, and how much
more he wanted such refreshment than
either Captain Cruikshank or Mr. Tyrrell,
when suddenly he experienced a shock, or
rather a series of shocks. Had he been on
shore, he would have fancied it an earth-
quake; as it was, it seemed as if some
mighty monster had risen out of the depths
of the sea, and had taken the Cassiopeia on
its back. The shock was so violent that
Matthew started up from his dreams with
a cry of alarm. Mr. Torkington let his
tray fall upon the deck, and all those who
were below, dressed or undressed, came

74 On a Coral Reef.
rushing up with terror depicted on their
countenances. As for Mr. Rigdon, the
pilot, the first shock nearly threw him off
his feet; he steadied himself, however, by
clinging to the rigging, and then cast a
glance over the vessel's side. As soon as
he had done so, he uttered a deep groan,
his usually red face became almost purple,
he fell heavily forward, and lay with the
blood flowing copiously from his nose.
The ship was in such a state of confusion
that for some time nobody paid any atten-
tion to him. A very few minutes sufficed
to inform everybody of the disaster which
had befallen them. The Cassiofeia had
grounded on the dreaded Dunster Shoal,
and already the carpenter reported that
there were four inches of water in the well.
Dick and Matthew got out of the boat, and
boldly mingled with the crowd, for every
one was too much occupied to pay any
attention to them; indeed Dick, who, under

The Voyage Begins Badly. 75

the most trying circumstances, retained a
cool head, had actually managed to appro-
priate those two precious pieces of toast,
which were being trodden under foot,
muttering to himself as he did so that
self-preservation is the first law of nature.
He was not, however, so selfish as to keep
all his provision for himself; on the con-
trary, he thrust one piece into Matthew's
unwilling hand. The carpenter now re-
ported nine inches of water in the well,
whereupon an order was given to man the
pumps; and Dick and Matthew, anxious to
be employed, at once took up their stations.
Mr. Rawlins, whom Dick now dis-
covered to be the second mate, presided
over the pumps. Except that his eyes
looked glazed, and his broad coarse face
sallow, he had almost got over the outward
effects of the carousal of the previous night,
but he had also parted with all his joviality.
A racking headache, added to the unfor-

76 On a Coral Reef.
tunate mishap which had befallen the
Cassiopeia at the very outset of the
voyage, had made him exceedingly ill-
Who are you ?" he said, gruffly, to
One of the new hands, sir."
Who shipped you ?"
"You did, sir," replied the imperturb-
able Dick.
I don't recollect it."
"Ask Mr. Tyrrell, sir," pursued Dick.
Yes, I suppose it's all right," continued
the mate, with a sigh. "Confound that
rum-punch I" he muttered. Now, I'll tell
you what, you two young uns, you'll have
to work smart aboard this ship; I'll have
no skulking. D'ye hear?"
Dick and Matthew both replied, "Aye,
aye, sir," and then set to work pumping
with a hearty goodwill.
If it had come on to blow, and the sea

The Voyage Begins Badly. 77

had got up, most likely before many hours
the Cassiofeia would 'have been a hopeless
wreck; but the breeze continued quite light
and the sea smooth. It was fortunate also
that the Dunster Shoal was composed, not
of rocks, but of soft sand.
As by degrees order was restored, some of
the hands picked up Mr. Rigdon, whose in-
voluntary blood-letting had probably saved
him from an apoplectic fit, and carried him
down into the captain's cabin. The poor old
man was totally dejected, and afflicted with
the deepest melancholy. "-Forty years on the
coast," he murmured, and to run a vessel
ashore such weather as this! I must be
daft." Confidence began to be somewhat
restored when the carpenter informed
Captain Cruikshank that the pumps were
keeping the leak well under control, and
the people grew still more cheerful when
a boat arrived from the Geranium and
informed them that the Cassiopeia had

78 On a Coral Reef.

grounded nearly at the end of ebb-tide, and
that, as it was then the season of spring-
tides, there was a fair prospect of floating
her off with the flood.
The boat's crew from the light-ship, more-
over, told the people on board the stranded
vessel something still more extraordinary
than this : they showed them how it was that
they had got on to the shoal, without any
blame attaching to Pilot Rigdon. During
the night, the Geranium, from some cause
at present unexplained, had drifted from her
moorings, and had floated fully three miles
nearer the coast. Had the morning been
clear the pilot would have seen, by the
different aspect of the coast line, that he
had got astray of the proper channel; but
as the morning was thick, he had nothing
to guide him but the muddy colour of the
water. Directly the crew of the light-ship
discovered the strange accident which had
befallen them, and saw a large vessel,

The Voyage Begins Badly. 79

drawing upwards of twenty feet of water,
making right across "the sandbank, they
at once endeavoured to warn her of her
perilous position by hoisting their danger-
flag and firing a gun.
Mr. Rigdon was much comforted when he
heard this news, for it exonerated him from
what would otherwise have been a piece of
wilful blundering; but he was too much
weakened by the shock he had received to re-
sume active duty. He issued his instructions
however, as he lay in the cabin, with much
clearness to Captain Cr-uikshank, as to the
best mode of extricating the Cassioteia
from the sandbank. While the tide was still
ebbing it was of course not possible to do
anything, except to keep down the leak in
her hold. As the waters which supported
her enormous bulk gradually receded from
her she began to heel over in an alarming
manner, so that it was almost impossible to
walk the deck ; but her timbers were stout

80 On a Coral Reef.

and strong, and her cargo, fortunately, ex-
cept a bottom layer of salt by way of ballast,
was chiefly composed of light and buoyant
articles. No injury therefore resulted.
At last the moment of lowest tide ar-
rived, and a large strip of sand within a
hundred yards of the vessel was completely
uncovered. All the boats were then manned
and lowered into the water, and the sails,
which had been taken in as soon as the
accident occurred, were kept in readiness
for immediate setting. The value of Mr.
Rigdon's advice now became apparent. He
was so thoroughly acquainted with the
peculiar configuration of the sandbanks on
that dangerous coast that he had a complete
ground plan of them, as it were, in his
mind's eye, and he knew that the Cassioteia
had grounded on the edge of a sort of gulf,
where the water was deep, but which was
surrounded on three sides by shallows. On
the fourth side there was a narrow channel,

The Voyage Begins Badly.

along which he hoped to conduct her into
the open sea. He 'was now, therefore,
brought on deck, and slung in a hammock
in the mizen-rigging, from which point of
observation he could see all that was going
on and issue his orders accordingly.
For a long time the crews of the various
boats remained motionless, seated on their
thwarts, with their oars feathered, ready to
pull, as soon as the word of command was
given, at a stout warp which had been at-
tached to the stem of the stranded vessel, for
she had run stern-foremost on to the bank.
With anxious eyes they watched the strip
of naked sand, which was gradually being
covered by the advancing tide. Meanwhile
Captain Cruikshank was anxiously consult-
ing the barometer, which had begun to fall
ever since daylight. The fog had cleared
away, and the bold headlands of the coast
appeared dangerously close at hand. A
breeze, which was each moment increasing

82 On a Coral Reef.

in strength, began to whistle among the
shiouds, and the little waves danced angrily
against the sides of the stout old Cassio-
peia, as though they would willingly do her
a mischief.
At length, Pilot Rigdon, raising himself
in his hammock, gave the long-expected
word of command; immediately all the oars
dipped into the water, and the warp was
pulled taut. The crew tugged with all their
force, but for some time the vessel refused to
budge an inch; every moment, however, the
rising tide gave her increasing buoyancy, and
at last a joyful cry arose, She moves I! she
moves !" At this juncture the square sails
were set and the yards backed, andwithin five
minutes the great ship slid smoothly and
gently into five fathoms of water. A loud and
involuntary cheer rose from every throat;
but the vessel was not yet out of danger,
for she was in a diminutive hollow, hemmed
in by sandbanks, and it was necessary to get

The Voyage Begins Badly. 83

her head round, so as to face the narrow
channel which led to the open sea. There
was no room to wear her, so the operation
of tacking was performed, and cleverly
performed too, by the hands who had been
retained on board, among whom Dick and
Matthew rendered themselves conspicuous
by their activity and energy. Another
anxious period followed, and then Pilot
Rigdon exclaimed, She is safe now,
thank God I"
The Cassiofeia had not escaped a
moment too soon from her imprisonment,
for within half an hour a spanking westerly
breeze was blowing, a rough sea began to
get up, and before long the pilot ordered
the top-gallant sails to be taken in.


A PERIOD of several days in the history of
our two adventurers may be passed over
pretty rapidly. It is enough to observe
that Mr. Rigdon quitted the Cassiofeia
without any notion that his scapegrace of a
nephew was on board of her, and that, the
weather being rather rough for some days
after leaving the British coast, Matthew
suffered severely from sickness.
Seasick, eh ?" quoth Mr. Rawlins, as
he saw the poor boy sitting on the spare
spars with a face as pale as ashes. I'll
soon cure yer. Go and ask the doctor for
a bucket of slush."
Matthew rose slowly from his seat, and
in obedience to the second mate's orders,
tottered away towards the chief cabin.

Out in Blue Water. 85

Mr O'Halloran was going out to India,
to practise as a surgeon in a tea-planting
district, and had obtained his cabin passage
on board the Cassioheia at a reduced rate
on condition of his physicking the ships'
company. Matthew encountered this
gentleman at the foot of the companion.
Mr. O'Halloran, who at all times was
an irascible personage, was particularly
out of temper at that moment, having
been called away from a comfortable
game of chess with the supercargo for
the purpose of extracting a tooth from
the mouth of an unlucky foretopman. In
fact, he held the tooth in his forceps as
Matthew descended, and was just bidding
his patient be off, and not make a mess
with his blood on the cabin floor.
So it's your great ugly carcase," said
he, turning to Matthew, that was blocking
out the light while I was in the act of
performing a delicate operation 1"

On a Coral Reef.

*" I'm very sorry, sir," answered Matthew.
"Sorry! If I had broken his jaw, I'd
have had you up for manslaughter. Now
what d'ye want with me ?"
Please, sir, Mr. Rawlins told me to
ask you for a bucket of slush."
"A bucket of whatt" roared O'Halloran.
Of slush, sir," answered Matthew, a
blush rising to his pale face.
I say, Tyrrell, for goodness' sake come
here !" Whereupon the supercargo, who
was lolling on the cabin sofa, rose lazily,
and sauntered to the doorway.
My young friend of Croxhaven
Harbour," observed Tyrrell, as he surveyed
Matthew through an eyeglass. ".What's
the row, doctor ?"
"I want your advice; I've been grossly
insulted by that fellow, Rawlins. Do you
mane to tell me, sir," he said, turning to
Matthew, that Mr. Rawlins sent you with
that message ?"

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