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THE DOOMED SHIP.
BLACKBIRD JIM'S ENCOUNTER WITH A BEAR,
Soomo t poip;
WILLIAM ANDREWS & CO., 5, FARRINGDON AVENUE.
Zbe Moomeb ship;
Zbe Wtrech in the trctic 1Regions.
F RIDAY, the seventh day of July, 1822, was appointed
for the sailing of the good barque Lady Emily,"
chartered from Hull to Tromso, in Nordland, with a cargo
of coals and salt, and thence in ballast up the Baltic to
St. Petersburgh to ship timber and deals for the return
voyage. The barque was a large, bluff-bowed, square-
sterned, old-fashioned craft of 389 tons O.M., very heavily
timbered, as she had originally been a Baffin's Bay whaler.
Although a mere tea waggon as regarding her sailing
qualities, she was in high repute'as a remarkably fortunate
craft (a reputation of great weight with sailors), for in all the
voyages she had made during the twenty years she had
been afloat, no accident of any consequence had ever
befallen her. The present crew consisted of captain, two
mates, carpenter, cook, steward, fourteen men before the
mast, and two boys-in all twenty-two hands. I was
nephew of the captain, and acted as second mate, being
then a young fellow of five-and-twenty.
A singular and melancholy occurrence attended our
THE DOOMED SHIP.
clearing out of port, and the superstitious among us might
well regard it as an evil augury.
We had taken in our cargo in the Humber Dock, and
thence warped out into the basin. After clearing the end
of the south pier, which was crowded with spectators, we
sent a boat off to fasten a hawser to the great pile-head at
the pier point, to drop the ship gently out whilst her sails
were being set. One of the hands remained in the boat,
and the other, a sailor named James Lenton, or Lentowr.,
secured the hawser. The tide was running strongly, and as
soon as the ship swung out, the hawser tightened, and kept
snapping and jerking till it smoked again, as the hands on
board payed it out. It was a six-inch rope, quite new, and
capable of bearing an immense strain : but Lenton, for-
seeing that an accident might happen, loudly warned the
spectators to stand back, as it is not unusual for legs to be
broken by the snapping of a hawser and the recoil of its
broken end. They took the hint, but he himself stood by,
ready to cast off when the signal was given from the ship.
The latter had dropped some fifty to sixty yards, when
the hawser fouled on board owing to its excessive stiffness
(for it had never been used before), and ere the men
could clear its kinks, the ship was brought up with a heavy
jerk. For an instant the hawser stretched out straight
and stiff as a bar of steel, and then with a report like a
small cannon it parted, a fathom from the pier post, and
the fragment whirled round in the air and struck poor
James Lenton full on the head. He fell like an ox in a
butcher's shambles, and never uttered moan nor any cry,
nor ever stirred more.
We perceived the accident from the ship, and the captain
THE DOOMED SHIP.
instantly ordered an anchor to be let go, and sent me to the
pier in a shore-boat that was holding on by our mizzen-
chains. When I landed I found poor Lenton quite dead.
His skull was fairly beaten in by the terrible blow. Loud
were the exclamations of the crowd, and I especially re-
member the remark of one gruff old mariner-
"Aye," said he, "that poor fellow '11 never stand his
watch any more, God forgive him But what better could
be expected from a ship's sailing on a Friday ?* Did any
of ye ever know such a v'yage to turn out good, mateys ?
No! there's a power aloft as won't be joked with anyhow !"
A murmur of assent ran through the nautical members of
the crowd, but one man boldly and emphatically laughed
the superstition to scorn.
"Sawdust! growled he. What's Friday more nor any
other day? D'ye mean to tell me, old Grampus, that if this
here hawser had parted in the same fashion on a Monday,
and had struck a fellow on the head, as it wouldn't have
stopt his grog? Gammon, old chaw-quid !"
The superstitions of sailors have been much sneered at, and none
more so than their belief that Friday is a very unlucky day for com-
mencing a voyage. Perhaps the author's early life and companionship
may have rendered him peculiarly susceptible of such impressions, but
at any rate he is not ashamed to confess that he himself firmly believes
there is more in some of the superstitions of mariners than proud philo-
sophy can explain. He has known many startling instances of disaster
occurring to vessels that left port on a Friday. On one occasion he
sailed in a foreign ship on a Friday, and for several days she was in
imminent peril. Very soon afterwards the same vessel again sailed (on
the evil day it is believed), and was wrecked on the coast of Sweden,
and every soul on board perished.
People may laugh at the idea as much as they please, but if the
author commanded a ship he would not set sail on a Friday for any
consideration. Fenimore Cooper mentions the following remarkable
fact in connection with the subject :-" A merchant of Connecticut,
THE DOOMED SHIP.
"But it wouldn't ha' parted on a Monday !" obstinately
retorted the dogmatic old tar, setting his arms a-kimbo, and
looking fiercely at his sceptical brother blue-jacket. Them
only laughs at sailing on Fridays as knows no better. Live
and larn, says I; but there's some as never'll larn, and
waint tek a warning. And I say that this here mischanter
is a God's judgment and warning of weat'll befall that there
ship on the v'yage. There she is," as he held out his
brawny arm in the direction of the "Lady Emily," which
had now swung round to her anchor, with her bowsprit
pointed to the pier, "and ye may look at her, for she'll
never come back again to port. I wouldn't swing my
hammock aboard on her, if ye would give me my chest full
o' Spanish doubloons."
Then I would !" answered the unbeliever in the popular
superstition, "and if the captain '11 give me a berth in room
o' this poor fellow, I'm ready and willing to ship this blessed
"And so you shall, my man !" exclaimed I, "for we
shall not sail short-handed. What name d'ye hail by?"
Blackbird Jim, sir !" replied the man, who was a deeply-
bronzed and thorough-looking seaman. The soubriquet of
"Blackbird Jim," as I subsequently learnt, had been
imagining that he could give a death-blow to the opinion sailors
entertain about Friday, caused the keel of a very large ship to be laid
on a Friday; she was launched on a Friday; christened "The
Friday"; a captain was found to command her whose name was also
Friday; and finally she sailed on her first voyage on a Friday, bound
with a costly cargo to China, and in every respect as noble an Indiaman
as ever left port. The result was that she was never seen nor heard of
Only a few hours after the above was written, the Amazon," West
India steamer was lost; and on reading the appalling narrative, I find
that she sailed on a Friday /
THE DOOMED SHIP.
bestowed on him because he had for many years been
engaged on the African coast in the respectable and
lucrative profession of "blackbird catching," i.e., aboard a
slaver, and under this name he had been repeatedly entered
on ships' books, for sailors frequently sign article, and sail
under the most extraordinary nicknames conceivable.
The departure of the "Lady Emily" was delayed four-
and-twenty hours by the accident, as a portion of the crew
and the officers were compelled to give evidence at the
inquest held on the body of the ill-fated sailor. I in-
troduced Mr. Blackbird Jim to the captain, who immediately
shipped him in the room of the deceased, well knowing that
Jim's enlightened opinions and bold offer to "step into a
dead man's shoes would have a very powerful effect in re-
moving the gloomy forebodings the crew would certainly
But we were fated to proceed on our voyage short-handed,
after all; for when we had passed Spurn Point and got into
the open sea, the crew were mustered to be divided into
watches, and one man was missing. As he had assuredly
been doing duty whilst we were in the Humber, we thought
he must either have fallen overboard unnoticed, or else have
deserted in the pilot-boat or in a fishing smack that had
been alongside and sold us some fish. All doubt was
settled by one of the crew producing a letter which he stated
he had found lying on the lid of the missing man's chest in
the forecastle. This epistle was directed to the captain,
and its strange contents were to the effect that the writer
was so awfully impressed by the accident on the pier at
Hull, together with a dream he had had as we lay at anchor
that night (and which he declared distinctly revealed to him
THE DOOMED SHIP.
that the ship and all on board were certain to be lost on the
voyage), that he had resolved to desert and save his life by
concealing himself on board the fishing-boat, which was
coming alongside at the time he wrote the letter in his
berth. He concluded by begging pardon of the captain for
this meditated crime, and added a wild kind of rhapsody
about his "sinful messmates doomed to perish in their
The sailor who wrote this (a well educated man, and a
capital seaman), was a firm believer in the Muggletonian*
creed, and he, at any rate, testified his sincerity on the
present occasion by leaving his chest, hammock, and all his
clothes on board,-everything, in a word, which the poor
fellow possessed in the world, except half-a-dozen precious
volumes of the Muggletonian writings, and these he man-
aged to smuggle away with him.
My uncle read the letter aloud to the deeply attentive
crew, and sternly, but judiciously, commented on the act of
their infatuated shipmate, forcibly pointing out its folly and
criminality. But still the men only listened in gloomy
silence; and it was very obvious that a profound super-
stitious idea-that we were indeed doomed to destruction-
was fast gaining an ascendency over them, when Blackbird
Jim most opportunely requested permission to "say his
say," as he expressed it; and that being granted, he boldly
Muggleton was a fanatic of the time of the Commonwealth, and
professed himself to be a prophet-and something more. The author
personally knows a veteran skipper who to this hour carries a library of
Muggleton's prophecies and hymns in his cabin, and most reverentially
and potentially does he believe them The same skipper once fancied
he beheld a vision when sailing on the Humber in the dead of night,
and avows his belief that it was identically the same as that which St.
John beheld in the Isle of Patmos.
THE DOOMED SHIP. 7
addressed them off-hand, with considerable acuteness and
tact, in precisely such language as was calculated to make
the deepest impression on foremost Jacks; and as he wound
up with facetious allusions to the creed and some of the
former doings of the deserter (who had once sailed in the
same ship as himself when engaged in the impious trade of
"blackbird-catching "), he not only brought the crew into
temporary good-humour, but set most of them on the broad
grin. The captain politically clenched the matter by
ordering the steward to serve out a stiff caulker of grog to
all hands, to drink success to the voyage.
A fine steady wind set in that night, and after a tolerably
quick and prosperous run, we safely cast anchor in the
harbour of Tromso, on the 28th day of July.
WE were nearly a month discharging our cargo; and
after we had shipped a heavy ballast, and warped
out midway between the island on which Tromso stands,
and the mainland of Finmark, we yet remained another
week at anchor, as a considerable time was consumed in
settling with the different merchants and traders who had
purchased our cargo in small quantities.
During this interval an event happened, which although
apparently trivial in itself, and of ordinary occurrence on
board large vessels, must be narrated, as the reader will
eventually find that its result exercised a tremendous
influence over the fate of every soul on board.
First, let me introduce my uncle, Captain Larpent, and
his black steward, Smutta, personally to the reader. The
former was a native of the West Indies, where he and his
sister (my mother) were born, being the children of a small
planter, whose wife died in giving birth to my uncle, who
was reared at the breast of a young negro woman, a slave
on the estate. This negress had a little boy only a few
weeks older than my uncle, and a very particular affection
existed between him and his black foster-brother-an
affection they seemed to have imbibed with the milk they
sucked in turns from one generous bosom. As the children
grew up from infancy to boyhood, the little black slave was
the humble, but inseparable companion and friend of his
THE DOOMED SHIP.
young master; and when the latter chose the sea as a pro-
fession, poor Smutta was permitted to ship with him.
Time wore on, and in his twenty-fourth year, my uncle
became commander of a large West Indian privateer, and
Smutta, who had never parted from him, became, as a
matter of course, his steward. After several successful
cruises, the privateer unfortunately fell in with a French
frigate, and, after a desperate defence, was captured.
This blow ruined my grandfather, whose whole estate had
been mortgaged to fit her out. As to my uncle, he spent
three years in a French prison, with his devoted foster-
brother. After this, he commanded merchant vessels in
every quarter of the globe, and three years before the epoch
of this story, he became master of the Lady Emily,"-
Smutta still being his steward; and the glory of the faithful
follower was to boast that, from my uncle's birth, they
had never been separated more than three days at a time.
My uncle was now in his fiftieth year-a short, square-
built, powerful man, with a very dark complexion, and a
resolute cast of countenance. He was a most excellent
navigator, and a member of the Royal Society of London-
into which distinguished body he had been admitted in
consequence of several papers he communicated, containing
valuable results of nautical and astronomical observations.
He was a strict disciplinarian, but a kind-hearted man. He
had never married, and when the decease of my parents left
me a poor friendless orphan of fourteen, he adopted me,
and, taking me to sea with him, made, as he himself used
emphatically to say, a sailor and a man of me."
Smutta was a gigantic fellow with a skin as black and
shining as polished ebony. So vast was his physical power,
THE DOOMED SHIP.
that he could lift a bower anchor, weighing ten hundred-
weight, and hold it on a level with his breast; and I have
seen him take a piece of new half-inch rope, of the strongest
make, and, wrapping each end round his mighty hands,
snap it asunder with a single jerk, as easily as I could a bit
of packthread. His height was six feet nine inches, but his
bulk was so remarkable, that at a little distance he by no
means looked so tall as he really was. His arm was as
thick as an ordinary man's thigh, and the span of his hand
was fifteen inches. His features were of the true Congo
type, and certainly poor Smutta was anything but a beauty,
even for a negro. When he opened his enormous mouth
to the full extent, and displayed the cavity with rows of
huge teeth, white as the purest ivory, the effect was quite
startling to a stranger. He always dressed very smartly,
his invariable costume being white duck trousers, with a
broad black belt of varnished leather, confined by a bright
brass clasp ; a white shirt, and a blue jacket of fine cloth,
jauntily braided and frogged. He used to turn down the
broad collar of his shirt, and leave his bull-like neck
exposed to all seasons and in all weathers. He never wore
hat nor cap, and indeed his great head was thatched with
such a dense mass of frizzled wool, that any artificial cover-
ing would, to say the least, have been superfluous. For
ornament, he wore large gold ear-rings, richly chased. He
was, in his way, a nautical dandy, and had the rare merit,
in a negro, of being scrupulously clean, both in his dress
and person. Every morning, at eight bells, he went on the
forecastle, and, stripping to the waist, made one of the boys
scrub him heartily, and finish off by dashing over him a
couple of buckets of salt water.
THE DOOMED SHIP.
Such was Smutta the Great (no misnomer); but although
he had a giant's strength, he never used it tyrannously like
a giant, but was a gentle and kind-hearted creature. The
only thing that ever gave him personal offence was when
the men called him Snowball." He would reply-" I not
Snowball-I Smutta; dat you know berry well;" and, if
they teased him very much, he would. occasionally be so far
roused, as to coolly stretch forth one arm, and, seizing the
offender by the nape of the neck, lift him up and give him
a shake in the air, just as one might do a naughty child.
But if ever the crew had any little favour to beg of the
captain, they always made Smutta (he was Mister Smutta
then, not Snowball) the intercessor, and never in vain.
I remember once hearing some of the men bantering him
by a comparison between King George and his captain, they
pretending to be in dispute as to which was the greatest
man, and begging Smutta to decide the knotty question.
The steward listened very gravely to all their roguish mock
arguments, and then gave this oracular judgment-" Berry
good. King Shorge, be berry great man-yah, dat is so.
King Shorge I nebber hab seen,-but he no sailor; he not
eben know how splice rope Ugh Captain Larpen', he
my king !" Go along, yah !"
Smutta's love and devotion to his foster-brother and
captain was really quite affecting. Whatever Captain
Larpent said or did was, in Smutta's opinion, necessarily
right. He would go through fire and water at the slightest
hint from the captain; and once, when the latter was laid
up in his berth, dangerously ill, I thought Smutta would
have gone altogether distracted.
He would sit moaning to himself by the captain's bed-
THE DOOMED SHIP.
side, tending him, and watching him, as a fond mother does
a sick child, and would permit no living being but himself
to administer anything. At times his agony and despair
was such, that he would run sobbing on deck, and wring
his hands, crying, Oh de cappen he die-Smutta die
too !" And I verily think that if the "cappen had died,
Smutta would not have long survived him. One peculiar
act of this simple, but noble-hearted creature, affected me
One night, when the captain's disorder reached its crisis, I
went on deck. We were then in the latitude of the Azores,
and it was almost a dead calm. I was astonished to see all
hands congregated on the forecastle in a close group.
Stepping up, I found them surrounding Smutta, while one
of the boys, by the light of a lanthorn, was reading aloud the
prayers for a sick person from the Book of Common
Prayer. The reader stopped at my presence, and the crew
made a movement to separate, but I said, "Go on !" and
the lad read to the end, amid a silence broken only by the
convulsive sobs of Smutta, and the pattering of his heavy
tears, as they trickled down his sable cheeks, and fell on deck.
It seems that this devoted fellow had taken the captain's
large Prayer-book from the cabin, and, as he could not read
himself, he had made one of the boys his chaplain, and had
actually roused up the watch below, and induced all hands to
assemble to pray for his beloved captain! Heaven surely
listened to those prayers !
Thrice had Smutta saved the captain's life-on two
occasions from drowning, and once when in action with the
French. The bonds which united them were altogether
extraordinary. On his part, the captain reciprocated his
THE DOOMED SHIP.
foster-brother's affection with almost equal intensity. Next
to the captain, Smutta loved and reverenced me. I was near
akin to his idol, and looked upon as the great captain's son,
and from my boyhood had been constantly with them both.
And now for the incident I alluded to. One of the ship's
apprentices, who chiefly acted as cabin-boy, was a lad about
fifteen years of age, named Claude Chepini, born in
England, but of Italian parents. He was a tall, active
fellow, with strongly-marked Italian features, large black
eyes, and long black hair.
Three days before we sailed from Tromso, the captain
ordered this boy to clean his favourite telescope. In doing
this on deck, Chepini very carelessly laid the pieces of the
telescope on the top of the bulwark, and one of the largest
rolled overboard. The captain was so vexed, that at the
moment he snatched up a rope-end, and gave the boy three
or four blows, but not very severe ones.
Nothing more was thought of this at the time; but the
next morning the boat which had been lying alongside was
missing, and Chepini also. He had run the ship.
Inquiries were immediately made, and the boat was soon
found drifting along the shore of the opposite mainland. A
party was sent in search of the deserter, and in a few hours
they captured him hiding among the brushwood of
Tromsdal (a ravine near the shore), and brought him back
to the ship. He was forthwith marched to the quarter-deck
before the captain, who was naturally very angry.
"Now, Chepini, what made you run the ship?" said he.
The lad never spoke, but turned deathly pale, and hung
down his head.
"Have I not always been a good and kind captain to you?"
THE DOOMED SHIP.
My uncle had really been quite a father to the boy,
having paid for his out-fit, a year before, out of his own
pocket, and ever had treated him most kindly, and had
even recently begun to teach him navigation.
Still Chepini made no reply.
"Do you hear me, boy?" repeated the captain with
This time Chepini raised his head, and I shall never
forget the startling glance of malignancy which shot from
his flashing black eyes, as he hissed, rather than said,
"You struck me yesterday !"
"Struck you! and hadn't I a right? Who are you? It
is high time, I find, to teach you your station. Will you
beg pardon for running the ship?"
The boy clenched his teeth, and again hanging down his
head, muttered something inaudible.
"What do you say? Once more, will you beg pardon ?"
Not a syllable did the culprit reply. The captain's brow
grew black with passion, and turning round to the steward,
who, as usual, was at his elbow, following him like a dog,
he quickly said,
"Smutta, strip that lad and swing him up !"
No sooner said than done. The gigantic black handled
Chepini precisely as if he were an infant, and, stripping him
naked to the waist, lashed him fast by the wrists to the
"Now, Chepini." said the captain, biting his lip to
refrain his anger, "any other captain but me would flog you
within an inch of your life, but I will yet forgive you, if you
will only say you are sorry for what you have done, and beg
THE DOOMED SHIP.
Without wasting another word, the captain seized a coil
or two of the log-line (a hard-twisted cord, about the thick-
ness of a lady's little finger), and doubling the bight, took a
turn round his right hand, and inflicted half-a-dozen smart
lashes on the boy's bare back. Then he paused, and again
asked the obstinate offender if he would beg pardon, but, as
before, no reply could be elicited. Incensed by this, the
captain lashed him till his shoulders and back were covered
with weals, and began to bleed. He had, for a boy,
received a very sound flogging. But not a single expression
of pain, not a murmur of deprecation, escaped his firmly
"Take him down, and lock him up in the store-room till
the ship sails," said the captain.
As Chepini was led away, he lifted his head for a moment,
and fixed his glaring eyes on the captain with a look that
almost made me shudder. One read there the untamed
ferocity of the tiger, combined with the deadly malignancy
of the rattlesnake. Italian eyes alone could shoot forth
such a horrible expression.
The opinion of the crew on the matter was tolerably
well indicated by some remarks I overheard.
If that fellow grows up, he'll take his six dozen at the
gangway without so much as winking," said one.
"Ay," replied another, "but if I'd been the captain, I'm
not blessed if I wouldn't have cut his back to ribbons, till I
made him squeak for pardon. He's an ungrateful Italian
So he is, messmate, and a mischief-making son of a gun
to boot !"
T HE evening before the day appointed for sailing,
Captain Larpent told me that we were to take a
passenger with us, and land her at Copenhagen on our way
to St. Petersburgh. This passenger was a young Danish
lady, named Oriana Neilsen, who had been staying a year
with an uncle of hers, a merchant of Tromso, and who
would now take advantage of the rare opportunity presented
by our vessel to return direct to her home at Copenhagen.
The captain ordered me to go to her uncle's house, and
inform him that she must be prepared to embark the next
morning, as we should positively sail at noon.
On arriving at the merchant's residence, I found that the
young lady's friends, in anticipation of her departure, had
assembled a large party of guests to bid her farewell. My
message being delivered, her uncle warmly insisted on my
passing the evening with them, and he forthwith introduced
me to Jomfrue Oriana Neilsen herself.
She was a young lady twenty years of age, and a fair type
of her Danish countrywomen. She was middle-sized,
well-shaped, and of very lady-like demeanour. Her long,
light auburn hair, floated over her shoulders, and her pure
white brow rose above a set of features which, although
certainly not beautiful, were so pleasant and charming in
their general effect, that I felt delighted to gaze on them.
As soon as her uncle had told her who I was, her fine
blue eyes sparkled, and she extended her hand to me with
THE DOOMED SHIP.
winning frankness, and in somewhat broken, but very
tolerable English, and with a voice peculiarly sweet, said-
"How kind for you to come! I am very much glad, and
you shall be very welcome to-night with us all!"
I said something or other, and she smilingly added-
"Come with me, and let me give you to eat!"
So saying, she led me to the end of the spacious room,
in which about fifty people of all ages were assembled, and
seated me at a table covered with every delicacy this
far-northern region could furnish.
Although not hungry, in compliment to my fair young
hostess, I ate a little reindeer tongue, which she sliced for
me, spreading over it some delicious moltebcers, and then
she poured me a glass of generous wine, doing all with as
much innocent self-possession as though I were a very old
"Your ship, it really will set the sail to-morrow ?"
I assured her that it would.
Well, I am ready for to go, and you see how many good,
dear friends come to say, Farvel, Oriana !'"
Her eyes filled with tears as she glanced round, but,
hastily subduing her emotion, she added, with a smile-
"But we must all be- what is the English word?-
merry, dat is, to-night. Why not for your uncle, the good
captain, to come O, he must, I am so sure !"
She here called her own uncle to her side, and suggested to
him that a message should be sent to the ship to that effect.
He most heartily acquiesced, and at their request I wrote a
note inviting him to come and join the party, and to bring
his chief mate with him. This was immediately despatched
by our boat.
THE DOOMED SHIP.
Oriana-henceforth and for ever let me drop the surname,
as she herself very speedily taught me to do-then gracefully
introduced me to several of her friends, and, as dances were
going on with much animation, she said to me with
"Will you not have one little dance with me?"
I blushed to the very temples, and stammered,-
"I-I am very sorry, but I cannot dance "
"Cannot dance !" and she opened her bright eyes widely
"No, indeed, I cannot; I never was taught. I never
danced in all my life "
This was quite true; and never before had I felt my
deficiency so acutely. Indeed, poor fellow as I was, I had
not mixed in polished society half a dozen times in my life,
and although well enough educated, I was, consequently, as
bashful and out of my element in a large mixed company as
any fore-mast Jack could possibly be.
Oriana instantly divined my feelings with true womanly
tact, and, lightly laying her hand on my arm, she said, in a
soft winning tone, and with a look of gentle sympathy-
"Never mind dat; you can do many better things than
dancing. But I wish I had known you when your beautiful
ship first came here, for I would have taught you to dance.
You would let me teach you, I am so sure?" questioned
she, with an arch look.
I was about to reply when a young Norwegian came up
to ask her hand for a national dance, but as she left my
side, I saw her whisper a word or two to her uncle, the
import of which I rightly enough guessed, for the next
moment he joined me, and very delicately expressing his
THE DOOMED SHIP. 19
wish to make me feel at home, led me by the arm to a
group of friends, who knew a little English, and in a few
minutes set me at my ease, talking and chatting with them.
When the dance concluded in which Oriana was engaged,
she came back to me, and was in the act of exchanging a
few kind words, when my uncle entered in full togs. He
had answered the invitation even more promptly than I
expected, and he had not only brought our first mate with
him, but also no less a personage than Mr. Smutta!
"I must beg pardon," said my uncle, "for the liberty I
take of bringing a third party with me, but this faithful
fellow is my foster-brother, I owe my life to him; and, in
fact, he follows me like my shadow-a very black shadow
he'is, too, as you may see !"
Herr Duhrendahl, our host, laughed, and said that if
Captain Larpent had brought all his crew with him, they
should have been heartily welcome. As to Oriana, she went
to poor Smutta, who stood bolt upright, donned in his
smartest attire, his face shining like burnished mahogany,
while his great eyes rolled all round, and taking one of his
immense black paws between both her own little white
palms, she looked smilingly up to him, and said-
"You are very much welcome here! We are very glad
to see you, and you must make yourself comfortable and
Blacks don't blush, so it is said, but I am certain that
Smutta felt the blood tingling all over him. Never before
in his life had a real lady taken him by the hand, and
spoken such honeyed words. I saw that Oriana had won
the giant's simple heart in a moment, and that he was
henceforth her slave. He looked down at her genial
THE DOOMED SHIP.
countenance, and involuntarily the words broke from
"0, berry lubly lady! 0 berry kind, berry good, yah !"
Without more ado, she led him to the refreshment table,
and did not leave him till he had, at her repeated invitation,
commenced a terrible onslaught on the good things placed
before him. This trait of her unaffectedly amiable
disposition increased the already deep sentiment of respect
and admiration I entertained for her.
My uncle was quite at home at once. He danced with
Oriana and half the ladies in the room, and joked, sang,
drank, and enjoyed himself thoroughly.
As the night drew on, "the mirth and fun waxed fast and
furious." My uncle suddenly proposed that Smutta should
give us a fashionable Congo dance, and Smutta, nothing
loth, forthwith took to the floor, and, to the vociferous
delight of the Nordlanders, executed a series of flings and
capers, the like of which had never been seen in gamee
Norge" before, and never will again. I really thought he
would have brought down the house about our ears, for at
every leap he shook it like an earthquake; and he accom-
panied his performance with a song in his native Congo
dialect, which was, doubtless, very elegant and sentimental,
but after a few syllables, became a stunning supernatural yell.
It was three o'clock in the morning ere the party broke
up, and we strangers all slept at the house, and when we
departed, conveyed Oriana aboard with us, and set sail at
noon, September 2nd.
The first ten days after leaving port, we had a light wind
dead a-head, and did not make fifty miles of our southward
course all the time. One morning I said to Smutta-
THE DOOMED SHIP.
"How do you like our lady passenger?"
Massa Sharl" (my name was Charles Meredith), "I
like her berry much! She got good kind heart," and he
laid his black paw over that part of his body where he
imagined his own heart to beat, that is to say, some eleven
inches below its actual locality. "It good to hear her
'peak, she so berry sweet leetle tongue dat I lub much to
listen. Tree times she hab gibben me her lily leetle hand
to shake, and she nebber call me Snowball like de black-
guard peoples, but she look at me wid, 0, so nice a smile !
and she say, 'Massa Smutta,' she always call me Massa,
'you be so good as to do dis or dat!' 0, she good lubly
lady, yah !"
"You are very right, Smutta !" emphatically said I.
"Massa Sharl, I tell you what I tink !"
"Well, what is that?"
"I tink what a nice darling little wife she make you, and
den when Smutta grow too old to go to sea wid you, he
stay ashore and play wid your leetle piccaninies, yah !" and
he grinned from ear to ear at the conceit.
"Get along with you for a great ugly black porpoise !"
exclaimed I, giving him a hearty push, which moved him
no more than if he were a rock. But somehow, when I lay
in my berth that night, I couldn't help smiling complacently
over his honest suggestion.
SAILORS have a pleasant superstition that the presence
of a woman or child on ship-board is decidedly lucky.
Oriana was consequently welcomed heartily by the crew.
Just after she came on board at Tromso, Blackbird Jim
(who already considered himself a privileged person) doffed
his tarpauling, and making his best bow and scrape of the
"Bless your smiling face, ma'am! a lady like you is
sunshine on ship-board, and always brings fair winds and
fine weather !"
"What's that you say, my man?" cried my uncle, who
happened to overhear him. "I fancied that you didn't
believe in salt-water superstitions ?"
The gallant Blackbird was taken a little aback, but
twirling his tarpauling round his fist, he replied, with a
roguish twinkle of his large grey eyes,-" Oh yes, captain, I
believe in fortinit notions, but not in them as promises ill-
luck. And if this here pretty young lady doesn't bring us a
capful o' wind, and that of the right sort, I ain't no prophet!
The boys o' Copenhagen, ma'am," continued he in an
explanatory way, "they'll get hold o' the tow-rope and haul
us to the Sound hand-over-fist. That shall be true, as
Charley Baxter said when he banged his wife's head agen
the bed-post !"
Unfortunately for Mr. Blackbird Jim's prophetical
reputation, the first ten days, as already mentioned, the
THE DOOMED SHIP.
wind was chock ahead, but he took an opportunity of
explaining to the laughing Danish girl that the reason of
this was, that the Copenhagen boys were getting an extra
strong tow-rope expressly manufactured.
The cabin of the "Lady Emily" was large and well
furnished, and the state-room being devoted to Oriana, she
was very comfortable. Every evening Captain Larpent had
a game at chess with her, as the baffling wind was so light
that the ship was generally steady enough. My uncle
prided himself on his skill at chess, but he had met his
match now. Mr. Smutta on one occasion watched the
progress of a protracted game with intense admiration, and
in the fulness of his heart he at length exclaimed-
"O, de lubly lady play makingg, but it nebber possible to
beat Cappen Larpen !"
At that moment Oriana demurely gave check-mate,-a
practical lesson for Smutta that even his "cappen was not
invincible. Poor Smutta constantly studied how to pay
every convenient attention to promote the comfort of the
"lubly lady," and his manifestations of affection and respect
were at times droll enough.
One night I heard him soundly rating a seaman for having
carelessly flung a heavy chain-tye down on the deck just
over Oriana's berth, for Smutta fancied the crash would
awake and frighten her. He led the wooden-legged cook a
sad life, also, owing to his anxiety that everything intended
for the cabin table should be served up in the most perfect
style, and to do Smutta justice, few ship's stewards could
excel him in his vocation.
Oriana had with her a beautiful little silken-haired dog,
and Smutta used to pamper this unfortunate animal with
THE DOOMED SHIP.
delicate tit-bits to such a degree that the dog's mistress
found it necessary to check the steward's well-meant kind-
ness, else the creature would have died of absolute repletion.
Chepini, the cabin-boy, was liberated from confinement
the day after we left Tromso. I expected that he would
have been sullen and obstinate, but he was the reverse; he
set about his usual duties with surprising alacrity, and
answered the captain promptly, and in the most respectful
manner, when spoken to.
His countenance bore no trace of lingering irritation, and
to all outward appearance, he had already forgotten his
punishment. Come, thought I, the whipping and the two
or three days of solitude have had a beneficial effect on you,
my fine fellow But somehow I could not help remember-
ing the fearful display of revengeful passion he had previously
manifested; and singularly enough, the young Danish lady,
although ignorant that the boy had grossly misbehaved,
entertained an involuntary feeling of repulsion towards him.
I noticed her gazing strangely at him whenever he was
occupied in the cabin, and once she fairly shuddered when
he suddenly met her look. I hinted to her that she did not
seem to like the lad, and the reply she made struck me
"No, I am very much sorry, but dat boy I cannot like.
He has the evil eye "
"The evil eye! What do you mean?"
O, I am so sure he has I have seen him look at the
captain, oh, so dreadful a look, I will never forget! Pray,"
added she, in an earnest and frightened tone, do not you
do anything to make dat boy hate you "
This opinion of hers, joined to my own secret misgivings,
THE DOOMED SHIP.
induced me to henceforth watch Chepini pretty closely, but
there was certainly nothing whatever in his actions or his
words to enable me to judge whether he was hypocritically
acting a part, with revenge gnawing his soul.
Something even worse than head-winds befel us after the
teens were ended, for a dead calm ensued, which lasted an
entire week-a very unusual circumstance in that latitude,
where a wind of some kind or other is nearly always blowing,
and a calm rarely lasts twelve hours. This certainly was a
gloomy commencement of the voyage, and we were hard put
to shifts to keep the men employed-for on shipboard it
will not do to let a man be idle. Officers say (and very
truly), "If we don't find the men something to do, the
devil will!" We had actually not got one degree south in
seventeen days! This state of inaction was the more
trying, because the days were now rapidly shortening, and
in the latitude we were (a degree north of the Arctic Circle),
we had now only a very few hours of daylight.
On the seventh day of the calm, Oriana cheerfully chatted
with me on deck, and I was astonished to find that she
knew the names of almost every sail and rope in the ship.
I told her she was quite a sailor, and she replied-" So I
ought! my forefathers were Vikings, dat is, Sea Kings, a
thousand years ago."
This, like all ladies' logic, was unanswerable.
Smutta was by, most industriously engaged in polishing
one of the brass signal-carronades, for lack of better employ-
ment, but he paused, and addressing her, said-
"Spose, now, you be so good as bring us good wind."
"Ah, I wish I could, Mr. Smutta!"
0 berry easy. A lubly lady can make wind come as
THE DOOMED SHIP.
she like. All got to do, look out in de right quarter, and
whistle in de proper way, and de wind hear and come, yah !"
"But I do not know the right way to whistle."
0, for dat," grinned the sable rascal, "Massa Sharl dere,
him know berry well, he tell you !"
I explained the way to her, and she forthwith pursed her
rosy mouth, and to Smutta's glee, invoked the unseen
Spirit of Air by the most silvery, coaxing little whistle ever
heard on shipboard.
"0, dat is makingg good!" cried the delighted black,
" noting could be betterer. Ah, you small see, we small hab
de good big wind come down before eight bells.
For once in his life, Smutta proved a partially true
prophet, for sure enough, just after sunset, a roaring gale
suddenly sprung up, but as it happened to be as unfavour-
able as possible, the chief benefit we derived from it was to
give all hands plenty to do in tacking and reefing throughout
the long hours of utter darkness.
WHAT most materially aggravated our position was,
that we were very likely to run short of provisions.
We had been detained much longer at Tromso than we had
anticipated, and we found it impossible to make up the
deficiency of our stores at that place, for no supply could be
had except at an enormous price. In fact, the people lived
then, as they do yet, chiefly on fish-the poorer classes
subsisting almost entirely on fish and coffee. On leaving
Tromso, we had not more than thirty-five days' stock of
provisions, but we hoped to reach Copenhagen (where
provisions were abundant and cheap) in three, or at most
four, weeks, and therefore felt no inquietude at sailing; but
the startling fact that seventeen days had already passed
without taking us a degree on our voyage, made my uncle
resolve to put the crew on half allowance. The gale, which
had set in after the calm, moderated the next day, but the
wind continued a-head, and after a full allowance had once
more been served out, the men were informed that they
necessarily would be put on short allowance henceforward.
They seemed taken by surprise, and some murmurs were
heard, but taking their recent heavy exertion into considera-
tion (all hands having been up many hours), the captain
ordered the steward to serve out a liberal allowance of grog,
and the good humour of the crew (for the time being, at any
rate) was restored. Shall I confess the truth? I myself
secretly felt rather glad than sorry that we were likely to
THE DOOMED SHIP.
have an exceedingly protracted voyage. Never before in
my life had I been accustomed to the society of an amiable
and accomplished woman-and now to spend many hours
in close contact with her daily-to listen to her inexpressibly
melodious voice-to feast on her pleasant countenance-to
exchange kindly little courtesies with her-was to me a new
and delicious existence. Feelings which I have never known
before, and which I as yet only half understood, swelled my
bosom, and I even felt an increased affection for the old ship
that had been my home three years, because it was the
medium of my enjoying undreamt-of happiness. Gentlemen
who enjoy constant communion with refined circles, graced
by the female sex, can little imagine what a wondrous
charm a poor sailor like me found in the society of a young
lady whom they, perchance, would have thought very
ordinary and common-place. During the night of the gale,
I slipped down several times into the cabin, and listened at
the door of her state-room, fearful that she would be very ill
and alarmed, but I heard not the slightest noise, and at
daybreak she entered the cabin, fresh as a rose, and in
answer to my inquiries, she said she believed the storm had
only made her sleep sounder than usual.
"But were you not frightened at the roar of the waves,
and the tossing of the ship ? "
"O no, why should I? Did I not tell you that I am the
daughter of Vikings ? Besides," added she with her winning
frankness, and truthful, innocent way of speaking, "I knew
dat I was in a good ship, and dat you and all the brave
men were keeping watch over me."
How my heart leapt as I mentally repeated, "And you
were keeping watch over me !" To her I said aloud-
THE DOOMED SHIP.
"Aye, and the angels in heaven were keeping watch over
you also !"
"God's angels keep watch over us always, in the calm as
well as in the storm," responded she; adding in Danish,
whilst a lovely expression of religious faith lit up her
features-" Hans hellig Engleskare en Skanse om os
Slade!" [His (God's) holy angel-host a fence around us
The best and holiest emotions of our nature are surely
sympathetic, for I who, throughout life, had been brought,
as a sailor, into frequent contact with the most sublime and
impressive manifestations of God's omnipotence and
sublimity, and consequently always felt in my better
moments a certain degree of that rude and brief, but sincere,
piety characteristic of seamen, I, in listening to this innocent
young creature's artless expression of her perfect reliance in
His watchful providence, experienced a warmer and more
spiritual influence of devotional gratitude and faith than I
had ever before been conscious of.
A strange visitor boarded us in the course of the night,
and when the gale was at its worst," said I, after a pause.
Indeed was it the Ghost of a Viking ?"
Faith your suggestion is not a bad one," laughed I.
"Tell me its shape, and I shall know whether it was one
of my brave old practical ancestors."
"That of a beautiful white bird. It fell suddenly on the
quarter-deck, and I have taken care of it for you. Here
I thereupon opened a locker, and showed her the bird,
which was of a species unknown to me. Its body was the
size of a dove, but its tapering wings were of extraordinary
THE DOOMED SHIP.
length. Its feet and long beak were of a bright red colour,
and the former were partially webbed. All its feathers were
"Ah !" exclaimed she, with a cry of pleasure, "it is a
Himmelsfugl, dat is, heaven's bird O, I am so glad you
have given it to me I will feed it till it is strong enough to
She tenderly released it from its prison, and pressing its
head to her lips, began to caress and smooth its tempest-
ruffled plumage. The bird, which had previously struggled
much in my rough grasp, seemed instinctively to know that
it had nothing to fear now, for it gave a little twittering cry
or two, and then, hiding its head in Oriana's bosom, spread
forth its wings and remained quite motionless. I left her
fondling her Himmelsfugl, and thought that she herself was
equally a "heaven's bird."
A day and night more of head-wind, and then it changed
to a light but favourable breeze. On the twentieth day after
leaving Tromso, we got an observation at noon, and found
our latitude to be 65.37.42 N. and our longitude 6.3.19 E.
We were consequently only seven or eight miles north of the
Arctic Circle-Calliskaal, on the coast of Norway, bearing
about one hundred miles distant. We had given the coast
a wide berth, to be thoroughly clear of the numerous
dangerous rocks, which rise far out at sea. I mention our
exact position, because this actually proved the very last
observation ever taken on board the Lady Emily." Just as
I had marked off our position and laid down my quadrant,
Oriana came on deck, with her Himmelsfugl pressed to her
It is quite strong now," said she "and I will let it
THE DOOMED SHIP. 31
fly, for it would be cruel to keep the poor bird a
I had my own private doubts about the presumed
"cruelty" of the matter, for the bird had thriven making,"
as Smutta said, under Oriana's tender and judicious care,
and although she allowed it to go about the cabin at perfect
liberty, it never seemed inclined to escape by the medium
of the open companion. She fed it in a very singular way,
giving it nothing but the white of hard boiled eggs, chopped
fine, and rolled in powdered loaf-sugar. Strange to say,
the Himmelsfugl took at once to this diet, and in a few
hours it pecked out of her hand as though it had been
domesticated for years.
Farevel, dear, pretty Himmelsfugl !" cried she, holding
forth her arm, with the bird perched on her wrist. But it did
not at all seem desirous of quitting so kind a protector, for
after giving two or three flutters with its wings, it folded them
closely, and nestled very composedly where it was.
The bird loves you too well already to wish to leave
you," cried I.
Vent lidt It will go very soon ;" replied she, and she
was right, as, after a minute of inaction, the Himmelsfugl
gave a powerful swoop with its snowy pinions, and launched
into the air, rising in a spiral direction till it remained, to all
appearance, quite stationary, a mere speck directly overhead.
Then it rapidly descended, and hovered in narrow circles
round our mizzen top-gallant mast-head, and finally settled
on the truck. Throughout the afternoon it remained there,
-sometimes quitting its perch for a few minutes, during
which it resumed its aerial circlings, and then settled again.
Towards night-fall, after a longer rest than usual, it gave a
32 THE DOOMED SHIP.
prolonged shrill wild cry, as though to say, "Farewell for
ever !" and disappeared with astonishing swiftness, flying
due North in a horizontal line.
"Who will feed and cherish the poor Himmelsfugl to
night ?" said I.
"It is God's own bird, and He will do that," responded
Oriana, with devout simplicity.
The sailors had watched the manoeuvres of the bird with
much curiosity, and drew their own omens from its visit
and mysterious departure. Could any of us have foreseen
what would befal us, we should indeed have been justified
in regarding the Himmelsfugl as a mystic messenger from
AS I entered up our day's reckoning in the log-book
that evening, Oriana peeped over my shoulder a
long while, and at length she said :-
"What use for so many columns ?"
"The daughter of the Vikings," replied I, somewhat
maliciously, ought to know that intuitively."
"Det er muligt, min ven !" responded she good-
humouredly, but you know that the Vikings were so good
sailors, they never kept any reckoning at all !"
Very true, I dare say, but, unfortunately, they forgot to
bequeath their wonderful skill to us poor timid modern
mariners Now, I will tell you what these columns are for.
The entries, you perceive, are made every hour of the day
and night, and show the knots run, the courses, the winds,
the leeway, the latitude, and longitude, and the last column
is for remarks. These other entries give the compass,
course, the tack, the points of leeway, the points of
variation, and, finally, the true course."
Thank you, all very good, but I think your ship makes
very much more leeway than you write here."
The demure way in which she spoke, added to my
high opinion of the degree of nautical knowledge she had
evidently some way acquired, completely deceived me, and
I hastily replied with great earnestness:-
No, indeed, it does not. We have had a light wind all
day, and yet I have allowed a full point for leeway. My
THE DOOMED SHIP.
uncle, a first-rate navigator, often allows only one point
when there is a strong breeze, and he never allows more
than three points, or at most three and a-half, even when
under close-reefed topsails."
Ah, you don't understand me," laughed she. I am
very sure that you and Captain Larpent are brave, good
sailors, but the ship is bewitched. Yes, dat is it, I am so
sure She sails like a crab sideways. Oh pray do not bite
your lip, and be angry with me !"
It is natural," I replied, with a heavy sigh, "that you
should be weary of our poor old ship, and we certainly have
been very unfortunate this voyage so far, but"-
"Who told you I am weary of it?" promptly but
soothingly interrupted she.
I-I feared so. There is nothing whatever to amuse
you, and you doubtless long to embrace your parents at
"My parents are in heaven !" solemnly answered she,
and her eyes filled with tears.
Oh pray forgive me: I knew not that. I, also, have
been an orphan from childhood."
"You an orphan, like me !" and as though she were
impelled by an irresistible impulse of subtle sympathy, she
offered me her hand. I pressed it warmly; and not with-
drawing it, she continued :-
Have you broders and sisters ?"
No, I have neither. Have you ?"
Yes, one broder and one sister."
"Ah, how often have I yearned for a sister's love How
often have I intensely wished that God had given me a
THE DOOMED SHIP.
Well, you must let me be your sister !" responded she
in an affectionate tone, and with a look of the most innocent
endearment; and you shall be my broder."
I raised her hand to my trembling lips, and turned away
to hide my emotion.
That night I had the middle watch (twelve p.m. to four
a.m.) on deck, and two bells (one o'clock) had just been
struck, and I was in the act of glancing at the compass in
the binnacle, when a cry of agony arose from the companion-
way-a cry so fearful, so thrilling, so unearthly, that I felt my
heart give one convulsive bound, and then momentarily
cease to beat.
"Gracious heaven! what is that?" ejaculated I, gazing
at the pallid face of the steersman, who in his alarm let the
wheel slip half round.
A moment of confused irresolution, and then I rushed
headlong down into the cabin, which, as usual, was obscurely
lighted by a large night lamp swinging from a beam overhead.
Startling and incomprehensible was the sight that I beheld.
Captain Larpent, whose berth was on the larboard side of the
cabin, and opened into the latter simply by a slide (in the
old-fashioned style), was half out of bed, supported in the
arms of Smutta, who had sprung from his own berth at the
foot of the stairs, on being aroused by the dreadful cry.
The captain's features were agonizingly distorted; his glaring
eyeballs vacantly wandered round; great drops of sweat
trickled down his forehead; his naturally dark bronzed
complexion was pallid as a corpse; and his entire body shook
as though he were in a violent ague-fit.
"0, Cappen! O, my broder !" moaned the terrified
THE DOOMED SHIP.
Uncle, dear uncle !" exclaimed I, in the name of
goodness what is the matter ?"
He clenched my hand in an iron grip, and his eyes settled
on me at the sound of my familiar voice, and a great groan
burst from him, but he did not speak. The first mate, Mr.
Shields, a plain, honest, warm-hearted fellow, who had a
particular affection for my uncle, now hurried in.
"Good gracious what is it? Is the captain in a fit?"
"No, Shields, I-I'm better know!" and he stretched
forth a hand that trembled like an aspen leaf.
"Thank God!" responded we both, and poor Smutta
burst into tears, crying, Oh de cappen 'peak again ? Me
nebber tink me hear him 'peak more !"
"Don't leave me, Smutta! You won't desert me now?"
tremulously exclaimed the captain.
Had my uncle been himself he never would have uttered
such a request as this. Smutta leave him? Why, if the
ship were sinking, or on fire, Smutta would not stir an inch
from his captain's side for the universe.
"Oh," groaned my uncle, reclining heavily on Smutta's
breast, and covering his face with his hands, "'twas horrible,
most horrible !"
Shields and myself exchanged a glance, and I said,-
Dear uncle, what was most horrible ?"
Yes it will-it must come to pass. God have mercy on
all our souls But, Charles," and suddenly he withdrew his
hands from his face and grasped my right hand between
both his, "there is that poor dear Danish girl on board.
Promise me, boy, that you will defend and save her with
"Before God I do promise it, uncle !"
THE DOOMED SHIP.
"His mind is wandering-he does not know what he
says," whispered Shields in my ear.
But I myself was far from thinking that his mind
"Cappen Larpen' know me-know Smutta-know him
broder?" blubbered the devoted black, bending over his
shattered idol with mingled despair and hope.
"Oh! yes," faintly murmured the foster-brother, "I
know you, Smutta, and shall know you when we meet aloft!
We have lived together, and we shall die together."
All this while the captain trembled so that the berth
shook, but the appalling distortion of his features gradually
was passing away. His brow and hands were cold as ice,
and clammy with sweat, but he was becoming calmer and
"How did this illness seize you?"-
"Illness !" murmured he with a ghastly smile, "I'm not
seized with illness, but it is,. it was-don't ask me, boy !"
What was it, or is it? thought I. What can have caused
this inexplicable attack? Captain Larpent was as brave a
seaman as ever trod a deck; a man of undaunted resolution
and iron nerve. He had retired to his berth two hours
before in perfect health, and now his body and mind
seemed alike awfully stricken. Had some tremendous
vision of impending calamity appeared to him in his sleep?
Or could it be that, long years ago, he had committed some
dark deed of sin, and the spirit of his victim had now stood
before him in the silent watches of the night, to warn him
that he must prepare to soon meet his Judge on high ? All
was a mystery.
"Mr. Meredith, go to your duty, Sir!" all at once
THE DOOMED SHIP.
exclaimed the captain, in such a tone of stern, prompt
command, that I started in renewed amazement. "An
officer should not quit his watch on deck for a moment."
"I did not know what had happened, Sir," replied I.
"The cry was so terrible that I- "
"Captain Larpent," kindly interrupted the first mate,
"let me take charge of the deck, that Mr. Meredith may
stay with you."
"You are a good fellow, Shields," replied the captain, in
a softened tone, "and you may. But he shall relieve you
soon, for I am better; I shall be myself in the morning "
As the mate turned away, I happened to look towards the
cabin stairs, and there I beheld the face of Chepini, who
was stretching forward as far as he dare, to see and hear all
that was going on. The instant he perceived himself
observed, he disappeared, but the glimpse of his features
struck a fresh chill to my heart, for I thought of all that had
passed, and the vague suspicions and dread entertained of
him. There was no mistaking the feeling that animated his
soul on the present occasion. His flashing eyes, and every
lineament of his features were expressive of savage triumph.
He regarded the prostration of the captain as the first sweet
morsel of his anticipated feast of revenge. So, at least, I
instinctively interpreted it at the time.
"You had better lie down," said I.
"Ay, I will, for I shiver like a sail in the blast," replied
the captain; and he did so.
At this moment, to my astonishment, Oriana noiselessly
entered the cabin. I had forgotten her in my agitation-
although, as related, the captain himself had made an
unaccountable allusion to her. She had heard the cry, and
THE DOOMED SHIP.
had hurriedly risen and dressed herself. She appeared to
understand at a glance what had occurred-at any rate, as
well as I did myself-and though very pale, was quite
composed. Captain Larpent saw her, and after hastily
muttering something to himself, he said aloud,-
"My dear young lady, I am very sorry indeed that you
have been disturbed."
"0, never mind dat!" cheerfully cried she, frankly
coming close up to the side of his berth. "You have been
"Yes-that is, I-a sudden attack-a-better now!"
confusedly answered the captain, and he pressed one hand
tightly over his eyes, as though to shut out some horrid
sight, whilst I distinctly overheard the words, God have
mercy !" involuntarily burst from his quivering white lips.
"Oh! de cappen hab been almost die! I nebber seen
him in so way afore!" cried Smutta, whose eyes glistened
with pleasure at the presence of Oriana, as though he
actually fancied she possessed some heavenly power to charm
away the evil demon from the captain's soul. His remark,
that he had never seen the latter afflicted in the same way
before, was a satisfaction to me, for I had felt doubtful on
that head. Even as Smutta spoke, the strong shivering
again seized the captain, and Oriana laid her hand on his
cold, wet temples with the grave air of a physician. I trust
I shall have such an one, if ever I fall sick thought I at the
"Dear Captain Larpent," said she, in her sweet, winning
voice, "I see you are indeed very ill, but if you will let me
be your nurse, you shall be quite well to-morrow."
I gave her an eager, grateful look, and she smiled gently,
THE DOOMED SHIP.
saying, "Yes, I know what to do. The captain shall be the
strong man again on the morrow, but he must obey me
My uncle removed his hand from his eyes, and gazed at
her a moment in silent amazement, and then cried, "You
are very good, but go back to your room at once, my dear
young lady-this is no place for you."
"I will not leave you till you are better, and you must,
and shall, obey me this one night," answered she, very
quietly, but with an air of firmness that evinced her deter-
mination to have her will.
The captain looked again at this extraordinary girl, and
sighed deeply, while some inaudible utterance trembled on
his lips, and his head sank backward on the pillow. I
nodded an approval of what Oriana said, for I loved my
uncle dearly, and I knew not myself what to do to relieve
him, but I felt an instinctive reliance on Oriana. Smutta,
however, settled the matter. "Cappen," said he, with great
solemnity, "you must do what de lubly lady tink good-
"Get some water boiled directly, and bring me brandy
and sugar," said Oriana to the steward-who jumped up
with such precipitation to obey her, that he struck his woolly
head against the beams with a loud crash.
In a very few minutes the ingredients were set down on
the locker-lid by the side of the berth, and Oriana
rapidly mixed a large tumbler full of half-and-half, or nearly
so. All this while, the captain had never uttered a
word, but occasionally groaned, and shivered as much as
"Now, captain," said she, "here is your medicine. You
THE DOOMED SHIP.
know dat I have mixed your grog several times before, and
you praised my skill very much."
"Yah!" eagerly cried Smutta; and without ceremony he
lifted up the captain, and sustained him with his mighty arm.
"Drink dat-every little drop !" exclaimed the physician.
My uncle looked at all of us with a queer, puzzled air,
and tried to grasp the glass, but his hand shook like that of
one in the palsy.
"I shall give you to drink !" said Oriana; and she held
the tumbler to his lips, from time to time, until he had
drained it. Ere he had done this, his shivering gradually
lessened, but the sweat poured from him. "Now lie down,"
said she; and he obeyed as submissively as a child; and
then Oriana wiped his brow, and drew the covering well up
to his throat. How I could have hugged her to my heart
at that moment!
After a few minutes spent silent in watching, she again
laid her hand on the captain's brow, and withdrew it
smilingly. "Feel!" said she to me: I did so, and found
that it was now warm.
"Mr. Smutta, some more water!" cheerfully cried she,
"and keep up a good fire."
Mr. Smutta sprang about like a harlequin to do her
bidding, and she mixed a second tumbler equally potent as
"Now, another dose of my medicine-you do not dislike
it, I am so sure !"-The way in which she pronounced her
frequent phrase of "I am so sure," had an inexpressible
charm for me.
The captain made no demur this time.
"You are very much better now !"
THE DOOMED SHIP.
"Thank heaven, yes !"-and indeed it was evident that
the simple remedy of brandy and water, combined with, as
I suspect, some marvellous faith in Oriana on the part of
the patient, had already worked wonders-" Yes," continued
the fair physician, "you will be quite yourself after a sound
sleep, and you will play a little game of chess with me the
"God Almighty bless you, lady!" ejaculated my uncle,
and, for the first time in my life, I beheld him burst into
"Amen !" responded I, from the depth of my soul; and
then I felt choked with emotions of thankfulness and love.
"Oh!" exclaimed Smutta, blubbering, and rubbing his
hands for joy, "de cappen's himself-de lubly lady hab
cure him, yah !"
"There are no lubly ladies here, Mr. Smutta!" cried
Oriana, laughing; and she playfully gave a hearty lug at the
wool of the enraptured steward, who was quite ready to fall
down and worship her.
In a few minutes after this, the captain sank into a sound
sleep, and as Oriana refused to quit him at present, I left
her and Smutta, and went on deck, anxious to relieve the
first mate. I found him leaning pensively over the
"How is the captain ?" inquired he, anxiously.
I told him all that had occurred, and he exclaimed,
"Bless my soul! what a wonderful girl that is! He will
be quite himself at daybreak."
"She says he will," returned I, "and I have faith in her."
"But," whispered Shields, "whatever could be the cause
of the captain's queer illness ?"
THE DOOMED SHIP.
"Heaven only knows."
I wonder," continued he, reflectively, "whether it was a
"Pooh said I, desirous of turning the conversation;
"dreams are nothing to such a man as the captain-he is
not very likely to be shaken by a dream."
I don't know that," replied Shields, very seriously;
"your grand philosophers may sneer at dreams, but when a
man has sailed the blue water as long as I have, he knows
better than to laugh at 'em,"
"Laugh at what ?-philosophers or dreams?"
"You don't mean to say that any dream of yours was
ever realized ? "
"Yes, I do," stoutly answered Shields, "and I'll show
how. When I was a young fellow, serving before the mast
in a Yankee ship called the Diana," I was one day ordered
on the look-out at the fore-topmast cross-trees. We were
then under the tropics, and the heat was such that it gave
me a motion, more lively than pleasant, of what crabs must
feel while they are being slowly boiled alive. I hadn't been
long perched on the cross-trees before I began to nod, and
in half-a-bell I was fast as a church. How long I slept I
never knew, but I had a horrible dream. I fancied I was
dozing on the summit of the North Cape of Lapland, when
suddenly a serpent twisted his tail round my body, just
below the arm-pits, and hauled me along till I was at the
brink of the precipice which overhangs the sea at the height
of a thousand feet, and is almost sheer perpendicular. Then
I imagined myself hurled forth, I felt my body cleaving the
air-I felt my body plunge into the water with the
THE DOOMED SHIP.
momentum of a cannon-ball-I felt a tremendous sense of
suffocation, and I awoke with a bubbling yell. And where
d'ye think I found myself? Not on the cross-trees, but
overboard, as I am a sinner! And the serpent's tail I
dreamt about was nothing else than a spare halyard tightly
jambed round me. It seems that I slept so soundly that
our old man,* Zebulun Salter, hailed me two or three times
without rousing me, and finding how matters were, what did
the old grampus do, but order three or four hands to run
aloft and reeve a halyard through the starboard fore-topsail
yard-arm, one end being dropped on deck, for all hands to
tail on to, and the other end turned into a noose, with a
bow-line knot, and slipped over my shoulders while I snored.
Then the hands aloft slid me to the yard-arm so softly that
I didn't wake, and when the old man gave the word-' Let
fall by the run !'-sink me, if they didn't let me drop souse
into the sea A dozen times they hauled me chock-a-block,
and let me drop again by the run; and at length, when I
was more dead than alive, Zebulun let me be swayed on
deck, and as I lay vomiting out the salt water I had
swallowed by the bucketful, he laughed in his dry, crackling
fashion, and cried, Wal, younker, I rather calkelate that
arter this, ye'll never again shut both eyes at a time when
Zebulun Salter sends ye aloft to keep a bright look out.'
And so my dream was fulfilled."
Sailors frequently call the captain the Old Man."
WHEN morning at length dawned, Captain Larpent
was on deck again, and to one who knew not
how he had been prostrated a few hours before, there was
nothing in his manner to indicate what had recently befallen
him. He had enjoyed an unbroken sleep of nine hours, and
although his complexion was pallid, his eye was steady and
piercing as usual, his features composed, and his bearing
quiet, grave, and rather subdued than excited. He enquired
the ship's course, and what knots she had run in the night,
and expressed his satisfaction to find that we had made very
good way, and that a very strong and highly-favourable wind
was now blowing, although the weather was obscure. What
was yet more extraordinary, he did not make the slightest
allusion whatever to his illness, and appeared unconscious
that it had occurred. When Oriana reminded him at dinner
that he was to play a game of chess with her that evening,
he slightly started, and a sickening smile swept over his
features, as he simply bowed assent. During the day he gave
his orders in his usual prompt and able manner, and seemed
anxious to pack sail on the ship to the utmost. Ere turning
in for the night, he repeated his instructions, that all safe sail
should be kept on the ship, and the log should be regularly
hove, and a careful reckoning kept.
Some hours after dark, I was much surprised to see
Oriana come on deck, and step close up to me, as I stood on
THE DOOMED SHIP.
the windward quarter, for the weather was very cold, and a
drizzling rain fell.
"I want to speak," whispered she. "What for has
Captain Larpent made the steward load all the guns and
pistols in the cabin this afternoon?"
Load the irearn !" exclaimed I, in amazement; "you
surely must be mistaken. I suppose the steward was only
cleaning out the barrels with a ramrod and cotton ?"
Oh, no," replied she, in an earnest, positive tone, I was
in my state-room a;iicr r':::er, and I heard the captain order
Mr Smutta to get them all out of their racks and ,ir-u= '.T-a,
and I o:;.'c-d my d :, r a little bit, and could seethe steward
load four guns and two great pistols, and the captain stood
by, and said s:,,chi--. to the s:eWa:d.. dat I n:.:i... not
"But what did he load them with ?'
"But it is true. Two bullets in =v.-.-. gun and pistaoL
And then the s.-,r,-.ri :: Jt hem all -.;=:r in dat :--. _.:..ri
just over the captain's 7:.i. :and took three actlasses out of
a locker, and put them in the cupboard also, and :.::;=d it,
and gave the key to the captain. Do tel mnie what Captain
Larpent is .:--'. to shoot ?"
M'y astonishment was now so great, that I jf-L.L.:'I not
k" Youan need not fear to tell me, I ami so sme ,.l she,
"' I. .. :. ; I have no '.' .t. I never knew my munme keep
aireamas loaded with '.Jl in his cabin ....r. '"
"Alh, I see dat you r.. ii i not know, cmntinuedl: -t. -.3
THE DOOMED SHIP.
girl; and, after a pause, she added, "I thought it so very
strange thing, dat I ought to tell you; but pray do not let
the captain know, for he would be very angry with me for
being a naughty little spy."
"You may depend I will not. But do not be frightened
-the guns will not go off in the cupboard."
Frightened at guns O, Himlen you don't know me !
I have charged guns for my uncle when shooting ptarmigans
in Nordland, and I have fired them more than once
Bless my heart you are quite a heroine, Oriana."
"No; dat I am not. But I am a Danish girl, and
daughter of the Vikings "-and she laughed archly. But
I do very much wonder why the captain has loaded all his
guns with two bullets."
"So do I. Is Smutta in the cabin ?"
"I think so."
Well, pray go below, for it is very cold, and just whisper
to him that I wish to speak to him on deck, will you ?"
She nodded understandingly, and without another word,
descended to the cabin, and in a few minutes the steward
was by my side.
You want to 'peak to me, Massa Sharl ?"
"Ay, I do, Smutta. What have you been doing in the
cabin after dinner ?"
"Oh, berry many tings. Why you ask ?"
"Because I want to know why you have loaded all the
firearms-why you have charged them with double balls-
why you have put them in the captain's private locker, and
the cutlasses also ?"
Gorra de somebody himself must hab tell you all dis,
THE DOOMED SHIP.
Massa Sharl !" exclaimed the astonished Smutta. "Not a
body was in the cabin to see."
"Never mind who told me-I know, and that's enough.
Why did you load with ball ?"
"Cappen Larpen' order me."
"And he told you the reason."
I not know."
"Come, Smutta, I'm aware that my uncle tells you his
mind more freely than he does to me, and I'm very sure
you know what the guns are loaded for, so it is no use
trying to deceive me."
"Massa Sharl, I neber hab tell you lie in all my life,"
said the poor fellow, reproachfully.
"Then you really don't know."
"No, Massa Sharl, dat I don't. De cappen order me to
load-Gorra I do it; and I tink it like de old time when I
wid him in de privateer. De happen used to say I de best
hand to load musket he hebber hab see-but plenty practice
den He neber tell me to-day why I load, but he order
me put two balls; and he order me not tell anybody what I
done. De cappen himself must hab tell you ?"
"No, Smutta, he didn't. But did he ever before order
you to load the guns in the cabin with ball since the war
was over ?"
It is very strange ?"
"I tink so my own self. But what Cappen Larpen'
order, dat must be right, and we no business ask why."
"Very true; but, Smutta, I wish you would take good
care to be near the captain while this voyage lasts, and
attend well to him."
THE DOOMED SHIP.
"Eigh, no need tell Smutta do dat!" answered he. And
indeed there was not.
After the steward left me, I reflected whether the
mysterious attack of illness had not disordered the captain's
intellect, for it seemed otherwise quite incomprehensible
why he had done such a thing as the Danish girl had so
singularly revealed to me. It was very evident that he
wished the affair to be kept a secret even from me. Can
this, thought I, be the cunning of a madman, preparing to
carry out some insane freak ? But the captain's demeanour
all day showed him to be perfectly rational in word and
deed, so far as related to the ship's management. In fine,
I was bewildered, and knew not what to conclude. I
resolved, however, to watch him closely, and the result was,
that during the several succeeding days, I perceived nothing
whatever in his conduct but what indicated him to be in
perfect possession of his faculties, although he grew more
and more grave and reserved-and that might reasonably
be attributed to the unsatisfactory nature of the voyage.
DURING the four following days the same powerful
wind blew with occasional lulls, and we averaged
for the whole time about six knots an hour-a good rate of
sailing for such a slow craft as the Lady Emily." All this
time the sun was constantly obscured, and at nights fogs
prevented our getting any observation from the heavenly
bodies, so that we had no other means of judging our
position than the reckoning kept by frequent and careful
heaving of the log, and I need hardly say that this mode of
estimating a ship's way is, for many reasons, very far from
being accurate and reliable. The consequent anxiety of
Captain Larpent, and indeed of all of us, grew hourly
greater, for according to the best calculations we could
make, we must be about latitude 59'N.-Stavanger, in
Norway, bearing probably fifty miles distant. What we
deemed especially unaccountable was the fact that the days,
which ought to have materially lengthened, seemed to grow,
if anything, shorter; but the foggy weather prevented us
from coming to any clear understanding on the subject.
On the evening of the 27th of September, Captain
Larpent appeared particularly uneasy about our uncertain
latitude, and for the first time in his life (as I believe) he
held a formal consultation with his officers on such a subject.
We all three went over the reckonings since our last solar
observation, and our united opinions were, that the ship's
course had been so carefully kept by the log, that unless we
THE DOOMED SHIP.
had met with unknown currents-and it happened that none
of us had sailed these seas before-we must be somewhere
about the position above named. The determination of the
captain finally was (and both the first mate and myself fully
agreed with him), that in case we got no observation by
noon the next, we should bear up for the Skagerrack, for we
reckoned that if the wind held the same we should certainly
be abreast of it by that time. We could not help thinking
it very remarkable, not only that we had experienced such
foul weather, but also that we met with no vessels, although
the last two or three days we must have crossed the track of
such as were bound to and from Trondhjem, Christiansund,
All that night the wind blew a gale, and we rushed along at
the rate of eight or nine knots, under close-reefed topsails.
All hands were up the greater part of the night, and Captain
Larpent himself never quitted the deck. We had large
lanterns lighted forward and aft, and triced in the rigging, to
guard against the danger of collisions with other vessels, but
the look-out we kept was necessarily of small avail, for snow,
hail, and sleet pelted us without intermission, and the cold
grew intense. Grog was served to all hands every two
hours. It was indeed dismal weather, and we anxiously
prayed for day-break. But day did not dawn perceptibly
till considerably after ten o'clock in the forenoon, a circum-
stance utterly inexplicable for such a latitude as we pre-
sumed we were in. Not long after this came the awful,
thrilling cry of-" Hard a-port Rocks ahead !"
The helm was ported instantly, and we swept close by an
enormous rock, as we thought at the moment, but im-
mediately after the first mate exclaimed-
THE DOOMED SHIP.
"An Iceberg, by heaven "
The ship tore by the berg, amidst the oaths and exclama-
tions of the amazed and excited crew, and a minute later
came the cry-
Starboard-hard-a-starboard Another iceberg!"
"A fleet of them, by-- !" echoed the man at the
wheel; and indeed it was so, for several more loomed in
"0 God! the hour has come!" ejaculated Captain
Larpent in a tone of piercing anguish and despair, and for a
brief space nothing but horror and consternation prevailed
fore and aft.
Where are we? No man knew, and the sense of
impending destruction, imminent and appalling as it was,
made the seamen rage and tear about like madmen. But
the captain, after the first shock, was himself again. Seizing
his speaking-trumpet, he sprang on the bulwarks, and passing
his left arm round the mizen backstay to hold on by, he
cried-" Silence in the ship !"
The instinct of obedience prevailed, and then the captain
rapidly issued energetic orders for working the ship in this
astounding and inexplicable emergency. The fog suddenly
lifted, and without being able to conceive by what accursed
means we had been brought hither, the youngest boy in the
ship now knew we were on the coast of the Arctic Regions!
The horror of this discovery blanched the heart of the
bravest man on board. An Arctic winter close at hand-
few day's provisions left-hourly in danger of being crushed
to pieces by icebergs, or fast frozen up-no knowledge of
our locality-what could be more appalling and hopeless ?
But the imminency of the danger from the nearest bergs did
THE DOOMED SHIP.
not permit any present pause, and the crew were kept in
constant exertion for half-an-hour.
"Stand clear of the binnacle !" cried the man at the
wheel, to somebody who obstructed his view of the compass.
The captain turned sharply round at the words, and a
withering expression of savage contempt distorted his
features, as he thundered-
"Leave the compass! Steer as I order, Sir! Don't look
at that- thing !"
Shields exchanged a glance with me, but neither of us then
understood the motives of the captain, who continued to
work the ship, motioning with his hand the way in which
the wheel was to be turned, and at times sternly giving his
orders aloud. At length he got the barque so clear of the
numerous icebergs, that there was sufficient room to lay to,
and this was immediately done in the captain's usual
No sooner was the vessel stationary than Captain Larpent
ordered Smutta to bring up a spare compass instantly, and
when it was brought, he compared its bearing with that of
the binnacle-compass, and it was then seen that the needles
of the two compasses were almost diametrically at variance.
Loud cries burst from all around at the sight, and the
captain hoarsely exclaimed-
"Here is the mystery of our false course! All hands
There was little necessity for this order, as every man
crowded aft the moment the compass had been brought
from the cabin.
Men!" continued the captain, "treachery has been at
work. There is a fiendish villain among ye!"
THE DOOMED SHIP.
The crew were now silent as death, but each man
looked ferociously at the rest, as though to detect signs of
"Take that compass out of the binnacle," was the next
It was done, and on being removed and examined, all
saw to their horror and unspeakable rage, that several bits
of iron had been dexterously fixed in such a way between
the outer and inner box, that although the compass-needle
would apparently revolve well enough, it was nevertheless
attracted altogether in a false direction. So great is the
precaution taken on shipboard to guard against iron
attracting the compass, that not a nail is used in constructing
the binnacle, and the "gimbals" on which the compass-box
swings, are of course made of brass. But what avails every
human precaution when subtle villany is aboard ? The crew
began to fiercely question each other, but the captain cried-
"Silence, all! Who attends to the lights in the binnacle ?"
"Chepini !" responded a dozen voices.
My heart turned sick, for I now understood all.
"Where is he ?"
In a moment the Italian lad was dragged before the
"Hold him, Smutta."
The steward instantly grasped Chepini by one arm, and a
steel vice would not have held him more securely. I fixed
my gaze on the boy's face, and beheld it positively radiant
with triumphant revenge. His black eyes glowed like balls
of fire, and the conscious peril of his position seemed not to
appal him in the least. The demon who possessed the dark
soul of that young lad must have been very strong.
THE DOOMED SHIP.
Chepini," slowly said the captain, in a deep distinct voice,
amid the breathless silence of the crew, it has been your duty
to attend to the binnacle-light ever since we left Tromso?"
"Yes !" firmly responded the boy.
"Look there," and the captain pointed to the damning
"Did you do it ?"
Chepini glanced round at the terribly menacing faces of
the exasperated crew, and then meeting the captain's eye,
he unflinchingly answered-" I did !"
A roar of rage burst from the men, but the captain
"Wretch !" exclaimed he, Why have you done this deed ?"
"Because you flogged me like a dog I'd do it again a
thousand times if I could Kill me !-I don't care-I'm
revenged If I go below, you'll all soon follow !"
Again did the entire crew break forth in imprecations,
and many cried-" Kill him !" and rushed forward to rend
him to pieces. Once more the captain silenced them, and
then with fearful calmness he spake as follows:-
"Officers and crew of this ship !-Claude Chepini, by
his own confession, which you have just heard, declares that
he has committed an infernal act that has now brought us all
into dreadful jeopardy of our lives. I ask you what
punishment ought to be at once inflicted on him."
"Death !" cried the crew, with one voice.
"Officers and crew," resumed the captain, if there is one
among you says that this boy ought to be permitted to live,
let him now speak, or for ever hold his peace."
Not a voice among us all was raised for mercy-an awful
silence prevailed for the space of a minute. The captain
THE DOOMED SHIP.
uncovered his head, and, as if actuated by the same impulse,
his example was followed by every one of us. We were now
judges of life and death, and our captain was about to
pronounce in our names a judgment which would render us
murderers by the law of our country.
"Officers and crew !" solemnly cried the captain, amid a
brooding stillness, "for the doom I now pronounce in my
name and yours, I hold us justified in the sight of God.
We condemn Claude Chepini to be forthwith hanged by the
neck from the fore topsail yard-arm till he be dead !"
A perfect silence of a second ensued, and then the crew,
as one man, gave a tremendous cheer in testimony of their
approval of the sentence. Next they tumultuously hurried
forward and began to reeve a rope through the yard-arm on
the starboard side.
Officers," said Captain Larpent, addressing the first mate
and myself, "remain on the quarter-deck with me. Steward,
lead Chepini to his doom !"
In a very few minutes the rope was reeved and secured
round the neck of the condemned, whose arms were
pinioned behind him, and several fathoms of chain were
lashed to his legs. The crew then tailed-on to the fall of
the rope, and everything being prepared, with one accord
they looked towards the quarter-deck for the signal.
"All ready, forward ?" demanded Captain Larpent, with
as much self-possession as though he was about to issue an
"All ready, Sir!"
The captain once more uncovered, and instantly
afterwards the fatal words issued from his lips in firm
sonorous tones-" Run him up !"
THE DOOMED SHIP. 57
In a moment the fiendish boy (who had never quailed in
his demeanour, nor uttered one word after quitting the
quarter-deck) was swinging between sea and sky. Not-
withstanding the heavy weight at his feet, he convulsively
jerked up his knees, till they almost touched his breast-
writhed and quivered for a minute or two-and then swang
to and fro a corpse. After being suspended ten minutes,
the rope was severed, and the body cleaved the dark waters,
to rise no more till the day of judgment.
HARDLY had the bubbles ceased to rise over the spot
where Chepini was entombed, ere we were recalled
from our rapt excitement regarding his execution, to attend
to the pressing danger by which we were menaced by the
near approach of five or six icebergs, brought down upon us
by the wind. These floating mountains rolled heavily in
the water, and one or two loomed high upon our trucks.
Captain Larpent took a rapid survey of our position, and
in a couple of minutes the ship was put about before the
wind, and bore up what we soon perceived to be either an
estuary or a strait-perceived, alas! too late. The bergs
closed astern, and forbad all hope of beating back, and
scores of small floes of ice threatened us on every side.
There was nothing left but the desperate expedient of
steering onward-whither we knew not.
The strait narrowed the further we advanced, and the
quantity of smaller bergs and floes increased to a fearful
degree. We tacked every minute to avoid them, but it was
speedily evident that a powerful current, or the tide, or both
combined, was aiding the wind to urge us on at a rapid rate.
At length we were driven shorewards, and three several
times the ship missed stays. The noise caused by the
masses of ice grinding over each other was appalling. Great
fragments would suddenly be forced out of the conglomera-
ting heaps, and rise perpendicularly from twenty to fifty feet
in the air-then fall with a horrible crash, and splinter to
THE DOOMED SHIP.
"God have mercy upon us !" groaned Shields, fast losing
his presence of mind, and yielding to the despair whichh now
filled every soul. As to the crew, they executed -ewry fresh
manoeuvre with less alacrity, and too evidently looked upon
our fate as sealed, and were beginning to be desperate and
reckless of what might next befall. And wheri one considers
all they had undergone, and the frightful ,prospect before
them, there was some excuse for this. Tje hour of doom
was now nigh at hand-Nemesis sat i/ the clouds and
For the fourth time we were in the very act of attempting
to wear, when a sudden and heavy s5uall caught us, and at
the same moment a huge submerged iceberg rose under our
stern, and shattered the rudder to pieces. The barque was
now unmanageable, and filling away before the wind, she
plunged wildly ahead, and in five minutes her bows struck
smash against a berg, and another simultaneously rolled
against her starboard quarter', and heeled her over almost on
her beam-ends. The shock carried away the foremast short
off by the deck, and the main and mizen topmasts were both
dragged over with it, and the bowsprit was torn clean out of
the bitts. Had it not been that the Lady Emily" was an
exceedingly strong vessel, (built, as I mentioned at the
commencement, for the whale fishery,) and also in ballast,
down she must have g6iie in a moment; but the brave "old
barkey" righted, and li:,r bows remained embedded in the
iceberg on which -hei struck, her head being bodily lifted
three feet out of "a'cr, and thus held immovable.
The catastrophe precipitated the unfortunate first mate,
the carpe-nt..r, and a boy into the sea, where they miserably
perished v.ithout the possibility of our saving them.
THE DOOMED SHIP.
Woull to God I could blot out of my memory the scenes
that ensued The crew had by this time become stimulated
to the pitch of madness, and when the captain, whose stern
self-possesson did not waver even at this dread moment,
issued his orders to clear away the wreck of the masts, and
to man the pumps, &c., the crew refused to obey, and
clustered together in violent and rapid consultation. Again
and again did t.e captain reiterate his orders, and I seconded
them, but open mutiny now prevailed. The crew were
aware of the fact that we had only a few days' provisions left
for all hands, and conceiving themselves certainly doomed
to destruction, happen what might, or do what they would,
they, with the reckless desperation seamen have too often
evinced when similarly circumstanced, resolved to die in a
state of drunkenness and blasphemy.
The captain, well understanding their intention, advanced
to the break of the quarter-deck, and attempted to reason
with them, but they were excited to a pitch of madness, and
drowned his voice with yells and mocks, openly expressing
their determination to break into the steerage and cabin, to
get at the spirits, &c. May God forgive me if I wrong them,
but I certainly thought then, and think now, that the worst
among them were also tempted by the hope of subjecting
our helpless passenger to their brutal lusts. It was my
uncle's opinion also.
This day was Friday-oh, that ever fatal day !-on a
Friday we commenced our disastrous voyage-on a Friday
Chepini received the punishment which awoke his fiendish
spirit of revenge-on a Friday our do-om was to be con-
Finding all efforts to regain his ascendanryv over the crew
THE DOOMED SHIP.
hopeless, Captain Larpent strode aft, and seizing my hand,
gripped it till the blood almost started from the finger-ends
whilst he hoarsely exclaimed-" Boy, let us die doing our
duty before God and man !"
"We will, uncle !"
Go," said he, with terrible significance; "lose not a
moment. Go and speak to her Take her below till all is
over Tell her we will defend her to the last gasp!"
He alluded to Oriana, who had witnessed the whole of
the recent horrible scenes, standing close to the companion-
way, and never uttering word nor cry from first to last. She
now resembled a statue, her features rigid and colourless,
her eyes expanded and fixed on us, her arms hanging down
full length before her, with the hands clutched together. I
sprang to her side, but for the life of me I could not utter a
word. I threw my arm around her, and hurried her below,
without the least resistance: Soon as we were in the cabin,
I found broken utterance.
"Oriana," said I, "you must stay here. The ship is not
sinking, but a worse danger threatens. I-we-we will die
Her lips parted, quivered, and closed again. But she
placed both her hands in mine, and turned her eyes upward
with a look of sublime resignation which could not be mis-
Yes," responded I, "God can strengthen us-and God
can save you if we perish !"
At this moment the steward rushed into the cabin, and
opening the locker over the captain's berth, handed out the
arms. Oriana and myself exchanged a glance, for we now
fully understood the captain's reason for having ordered
THE DOOMED SHIP.
them to be loaded. But how was it possible that he had
had the prescience to foresee such a use for them as this ?
"Here is Smutta-worth a dozen men himself!" said I.
The steward turned round, and made a step to our side.
Hab no fear," cried he; "Smutta hab often fought side
o' cappen Larpen', and Smutta will die for de lubly lady !-
She gave him her hand in a moment, and he pressed it
very hard against his honest, faithful breast-then turned
away, saying-" Come a-deck, Massa Sharl-come dis
minute!" and he gathered the whole of the weapons, and
sprang up stairs with them.
The gaze which Oriana and myself now exchanged,
revealed our souls more than if we had spoken for hours. I
strained her convulsively to my breast, and pressed her lips
to mine. 'Twas our first kiss-Heaven only knew if 'twere
our last !-and 'twas the first time I had ever pressed the lips
of woman since my childhood.
"God save my-my broder!" murmured the heroic
Danish girl, and as I released her from my embrace, she
fell on her knees, and bowed her head, and clasped her
hands in an attitude of prayer. So I left her.
THE first thing of which I became conscious, as I
emerged on deck was the appalling yells, oaths, and
threats of the mutineers, who had by this time armed them-
selves with handspikes, and the axes kept on deck, and also
with the axes, &c., out of the carpenter's chest, which they
had broken open. They were tumultously gathering together
for an attack upon us, and evidently were resolved to take
the ship, and carry out their diabolical designs. The captain
had already girded on a cutlass, and held a musket in his
hands. The two pistols and the other cutlasses laid upon
the top of the binnacle, and two muskets reared against
the companion, the other being in the grasp of Smutta. My
uncle silently pointed to the arms, and I lost not an instant
in thrusting a pistol in my bosom, and seizing a musket.
We all three stood in a line just in front of the companion,
the entrances to which I had closed. I glanced at my uncle,
and read nothing in his features but the most stern and
merciless expression. His lips were tightly compressed;
his nostrils distended; his eyes sparkling. It seemed as
though his old battle-spirit animated him once more. Smutta
stood immovable on his right hand (I was on his left), and
the proportions of the black were more gigantic than ever,
with suppressed excitement; his mighty hand clutched the
musket as though he would flatten in its barrel I his thick
projecting lips were wide open, revealing the broad white
teeth, clenched and slowly grinding over each other; and
THE DOOMED SHIP.
his great black eyes seemed to emit a lurid glow as they
were mutely fixed on the face of his beloved captain. I
thought even at that moment of the words of my uncle, when
suffering during his mysterious illness,-" Yes, Smutta, I
know you-and I shall know you when we meet aloft We
have lived together, and we shall die together !" Was the
hour now come for them to die together? I only knew one
thing, and that was, Smutta would die rather than a hair of
his foster-brother's head should be injured.
What was our prospect in the deadly, unnatural conflict
now inevitable? We were three men-three determined and
powerful men, well armed, opposed to fourteen desperate
mutineers. We might at most kill or disable half-a-dozen at
the first discharge; but if this did not daunt and repel the
survivors, they would be upon us in an instant, and then the
odds would be fearful. There would be no time to reload
our arms, and mighty as was Smutta's strength, one mortal
blow could despatch him, in which event, what hope
remained for my uncle and myself? My blood turned icy
in my veins as I thought of the certain fate of Oriana after
such a catastrophe. Instinctively I grasped my musket as
the mutineers moved aft from the forecastle, where they had
armed themselves, and apparently made up their minds for
the mode of assault. The captain now said to us, in a low
quick voice,-" When I give the word 'Fire!' be sure of
We then awaited the dread moment of attack without
moving a muscle. For my own part, although ready to die a
thousand deaths to save Oriana, I confess that I trembled
violently, and a clammy perspiration bedewed my forehead.
My uncle and Smutta had been often in mortal combat in
THE DOOMED SHIP.
their younger days, and had each slain many of their fellow-
beings; but I had never in my life fought in battle,-and
what was a fair open battle against one's country's foes, com-
pared to a deadly hand-to-hand struggle with one's own
countrymen, one's own crew, one's own shipmates ? I knew
every one of the men who were about to seek my life, and I
theirs-I had spoken to them daily. for months, and they
had hitherto obeyed my orders more promptly and obediently
than a child obeys its father. More than this, there was
even the strong bond of crime between us, for not an hour
before they and we had mutually committed what the law
would deem a deliberate act of murder-albeit a deed just
in itself. Oh 'twas too horribly like fratricide, and no
marvel that I felt as I did. But their blood be upon their
The mutineers saw how we were prepared for them, yet
this did not check nor alter their desperate resolve. But
when they came in a body, brandishing their weapons, as far
as the mainmast, they clustered together, and a scuffle and
altercation gave us hope they were divided among themselves,
and that all were not quite the villains they appeared. Nor
were we deceived, for, after a fierce contention, Blackbird
Jim suddenly sprang from their midst, and hurling his
handspike with a crash against the bulwarks, he thundered,-
"No I'm- if I'll join in any bloody mutiny! Now I
know what you mean to do, I tell you to your face you are
a crew of blood-hounds Who'll follow me, to stand and
die by our captain ? "
Two men-and two only-responded to this appeal; and
before the mutineers could intercept them, the three faithful
fellows all reached the quarter-deck, and were ranged by
THE DOOMED SHIP.
our side, after sharing out our remaining arms among
"Hurra !" shouted Blackbird Jim, flourishing a cutlass at
his late associates. "Hurra I" repeated his two messmates.
Hurra echoed I myself-for I couldn't help it in the joy
of my poor throbbing heart, and oh how I thanked God for
thus sending us unlooked-for, unhoped-for help in our darkest
hour of need. But my uncle merely gave the three men a
grim look of thanks, and, stamping his foot on deck, said,-
"Silence all Stand to your arms !"
Then he advanced a step, and in a loud determined voice
addressed these warning words to the mutineers:-
"The first man among ye who sets foot on the quarter-
deck, dies that moment! Throw down your weapons,
and yield, or by the living God ye shall be shot like
"Ay, ay," hoarsely muttered Blackbird Jim, who stood by
my side, "they'll get their bread buttered on both sides
now, as Charley Baxter said, when Spanking Tom and Bob
Cummins kissed the gunner's daughter* three days hand-
The mutineers answered the captain with a roar such as the
tiger vents when about to spring on its prey, and, spreading
out in line, they were upon us as soon as we could raise
muskets to our shoulders-led on by a ferocious fellow nick-
named Corporal Jack (from his having formerly served in the
army), but whose real name was George Martin. He had
been the most conspicuous ringleader throughout, and I was
Kissing the gunner's daughter," means to be lashed fast to the
gratings at the gangway to "catch the rabbit,"-i.e., to be flogged
with a cat.
THE DOOMED SHIP.
determined that he, at any rate, should not live to boast of
the results of his villany.
We met them with a simultaneous discharge. I know not
how many fell, and I have only a dim, confused recollection
of the horrible butchery which ensued on the quarter-deck.
I hardly know what I did myself at the time, but was after-
wards assured that I fought "like a lion." For a minute or
two there was nought but the clash of steel-for the arms of
the mutineers were fearful weapons at close quarters-and I
beheld my uncle fall bathed in blood. A fellow stooped
over him with uplifted axe, and it was in the act of
descending, when Smutta gave a yell that rung loud above
all the din, and struck the murderer with the butt-end of a
musket, smashing his head to atoms. Then I saw the red
blood spout in torrents out of the gashed side and limbs of
the black himself, and I gave and received blows with the
rapidity of thought. Another moment, and of all the late
raging foes, only one was yet on his feet, fighting with
Blackbird Jim. I then saw Smutta, collecting the last
remains of his fast-ebbing strength, seize this mutineer round
the body, and hurl him sheer over the bulwarks into the
sea. This done, the devoted black gave one bubbling cry,
and fell flat on his face by the side of his insensible captain.
Two or three of the mutineers, yet alive, and shrieking in
agony, were mercilessly despatched by the three men who
had so nobly fought on our side, and without whose aid all
had been lost.
SOON as my recollection returned, I-Oh! how I yet
remember it!-I tore open the companion-way and
bounded into the cabin. Oriana met me, and, as I live!
she flung herself with a cry into my extended arms-"Saved !
saved !" was all I could ejaculate, and after straining her to
my bursting heart, I again sprang on deck. Blackbird Jim
and his two messmates, who were all slightly wounded, had
already thrown overboard the bodies of the mutineers; and
side by side, on the deck, so slippery with blood, lay my
poor uncle and his steward. The former was flat on his
back, his teeth clenched, his eyes closed, his features dis-
torted, and his iron-grey hair drenched in blood. I did not
immediately perceive where he was wounded, but felt over
his heart, and to my unutterable joy it yet beat, though very
faintly. I next hurriedly turned Smutta face upward from
the pool of gore in which he lay, and he also was yet alive,
but insensible, like his foster-brother.
With much difficulty, the men and myself carried the
captain and steward into the cabin (having previously ascer-
tained that the ship was in no immediate danger of sinking),
and then we laid them on mattresses and blankets spread on
the table, and cut away their blood-clotted garments to
discover their wounds. And now it was that Oriana began
to show herself in her true colours. She just once murmured,
" Oh, poor dear, kind Captain Larpent !-Oh, poor Smutta !"
and then she raised their heads with pillows, one after the
THE DOOMED SHIP.
other, and sprang to a locker for brandy and other restora-
tives. Meanwhile I tore open my uncle's shirt, and found
that his worst wound was in the upper part of his right side-
a gaping, frightful wound it was, with jagged edges, and so
deep that it cut through into the cavity of the breast. A
very little blood now oozed from it; and when Oriana had
glanced at it a moment, she flew to her own state-room, and
returned with her arms full of her own fine soft linen, which
she tore up in strips, and with a dexterity and nerve few
surgeons could surpass, she temporarily bandaged it. Then
she gently poured brandy down my uncle's throat, and chafed
his cold temples with her hands. In a very brief space the
captain groaned, his lips unclosed, and his eyes opened a
little.-" Oh, thank God !" ejaculated I.
Perceiving that the seamen were clumsily trying to restore
Smutta, Oriana pushed them aside, and did for him what
she had just done for the captain. Smutta had certainly
received no wound mortal in itself, but he was cut and
slashed so fearfully all over his breast, shoulders, and thighs,
that his body seemed a mere bath of blood.
Blackbird Jim gazed at Oriana in mute admiration for a
moment, and then the rough, but honest-hearted fellow
furtively dashed his sleeve across his eyes, and in his own
rude way expressed his feelings,-" Oh," growled he, I've
heerd o' angels coming down from heaven, but I never seed
one afore i"
Smutta was restored to sensibility before the captain, and
the very first thing the dying negro did was to turn round on
his side towards his foster-brother, and throw his right arm
over the neck of the latter, as though fearful of being parted
from him even in death.
THE DOOMED SHIP.
"De cappen dead," murmured he, in a faint, broken
voice. "Smutta die wid him."
"No, not dead, Smutta-not dead, my dear fellow!"
cried I. God will, I trust, restore you both."
Smutta gazed at me a moment, and then with difficulty
uttered the words-" Nebber possible, Massa Sharl! De
cappen die-Smutta die-go to hebben togeder "
He raised his arm as he spoke, and the blood gushed
anew from his mangled body at the movement, and closing
his eyes, whilst a bloody froth oozed from his lips. Oriana
wiped it away, and endeavoured to administer some brandy,
but not a drop would pass his clenched teeth. He is
dying fast," whispered she; and so indeed he was.
My uncle now begun to revive, and the first sign of
returning sensibility was evinced by his silently giving my
hand a feeble but eloquent pressure. Then his eyes slowly
glanced around, and at length fell on the body of the
steward by his side.-" Oh, poor Smutta !" ejaculated he.
Thus it was that the very first words these foster-brothers
severally uttered were expressive of their mutual affection.
He's not dead, uncle, and-and we've conquered-we've
killed 'em all."
"Thank God, boy! But your old uncle must slip his
cable this bout-and Smutta, oh, poor dear Smutta !"
The expiring black heard the voice of the captain, and
recognized the loved accents, and, to the amazement of us
all, he sprang upright on his mattress, and in a wild, gurgling
voice-" De cappen 'peak 'gen He call Smutta! Oh,
cappen Oh, broder !
As the last word issued from his lips, he attempted to
embrace his foster-brother, but fell backward in the act,
THE DOOMED SHIP.
muttering, "0 Lord, receive me!" and his spirit passed
away on the instant, but his glazed eyes retained even in
death .an expression of that profound love and reverence
which from his very infancy he had undeviatingly borne to-
wards his idolized captain.
"I'm foundered if that fellow hadn't a soul that's gone
aloft, though he was only a neegur," was the characteristic
remark of Blackbird Jim.
I was ordering the men to move the body, when my uncle
motioned imperatively for us not to do so, murmuring, "Let
him be. Let us die side by side, as we have lived."
I accordingly closed the eyes of the steward, and spread
a sheet over him, just as he had expired. 0, thought I,
what a terrible and inscrutable mystery is death! One hour
ago this negro possessed the strength of almost ten ordinary
men ;-now he is a mere mass of inert clay. A moment or
two ago, his simple, yet most noble heart throbbed with the
purest brotherly love and devotion which ever animated
human breast;-now that heart has ceased to beat for ever.
But thy soul, dear Smutta, has fled to receive its guerdon.
God knew thee, and God will judge thee.
My uncle now swallowed some brandy, held to his lips by
Oriana, and then asked for water, of which he drunk eagerly.
He revived considerably, and I was beginning to hope that
his hurts were not mortal after all, when he turned towards
me, and, with an intonation that thrilled my heart, said,
"My boy, I have loved you as a father."
"Yes, uricle-dear uncle, you have indeed been a father
"We must part, boy. God has called me, and I must go.
I cannot live many hours."
THE DOOMED SHIP.
Oh, do not say so."
"Yes, I am bleeding inwardly, and all the doctors in the
world could not save me. Listen, my boy," and he spoke
with calm yet anxious seriousness. "Are you sure that the
ship is not in a sinking state?"
"Not at present, uncle."
"Well, I cannot think it possible for her to keep long
afloat after she breaks clear of the iceberg, and that may
happen at any moment. Get the long boat cleared and
ready for launching, and all the provisions on deck, and the
spirits, arms, ammunition, and other necessaries. If the
ship founders, you will then be able to live ashore, and God,
I trust, will send you relief. Perhaps there is a Danish
settlement not far off-get an observation to find the latitude
and longitude as soon as possible, and you will then be able
to judge your position. Probably you will, sooner or later,
meet with the natives, and come what may, you will have a
chance for life, and I know you will make the best of it.
Men !" and here he turned towards the silent and attentive
survivors of the crew-"you have acted nobly, and your
dying captain thanks you. If you don't get your reward on
earth, you will in heaven !"
"We've only done our duty, captain," answered Blackbird
Jim, as spokesman.
"You have done it well, and you will so continue to do
it to the last, I am sure," quickly and anxiously continued
the captain. I shall soon be gone, but Mr. Meredith will
take my place, and you must obey him as you have me.
If you do this, there is every likelihood that you will
escape; but if you do not stand by him and obey him,
the fate of you all will soon be sealed. Swear to me,
THE DOOMED SHIP.
men, that you will do whatever he orders, and never desert
The men, one and all, called God to witness they would
obey me to their last gasp, and a faint smile of satisfaction
flitted over my uncle's working lineaments as he murmured,
-" Now I shall die easier God bless you, my lads give
me your hands!"
The men each shook their dying captain by the hand with
considerable emotion, for such rough characters as they
were, and I also shook their hands in turn. Thus we at
once felt we understood, and could rely on one another in
the appalling struggle for life, which we too well knew
"Give them grog, and to eat !" said my uncle, thoughtful
for their wants even at this awful moment, when his life was
fast ebbing away.
Oriana instantly anticipated me, by acting as steward, and
my poor uncle followed her movements with a look of
indescribable admiration and affection. He now said he
felt no pain whatever, and knew, from what he had seen of
men dying of wounds similar to his own, that he should
retain his senses to the last moment.
"Boy," whispered he to me, as I supported his head on
my breast, "that girl is a miracle of goodness and bravery !
God will never fail you while she is with you.
The men swallowed their food and grog almost as soon
as it was given to them, and, with an alacrity that argued
well for their future conduct, declared themselves ready and
willing to set to work. My uncle then, with as much
precision and wonderful presence of mind and forethought,
as though he were perfectly well, gave them orders what to
THE DOOMED SHIP.
do on deck, and they at once quitted the cabin to perform
their duties. The instant they were gone, he turned his
head towards Oriana, who now stood by his side, and gazed
eagerly at her in silence. At length he stretched forth his
hand, and she pressed it between both her own.-" My dear
young lady," said he, "you know this calamity has not
befallen the ship through any fault of mine. I have ever
"Oh, dear Captain Larpent!" tearfully interrupted she,
"I know all dat-do not talk about it."
Well, I won't then ; but listen to me, both of you. You
remember that night when I was seized with an illness-or
you knew not what. It was a dream-an awful warning
dream sent by God. I saw in it all that has come to pass,
I saw my ship driven on an unknown coast, my crew
mutineers,-all was foreshown me that up to this moment
has been realized. It was that which so unmanned me, for
I felt it to be indeed a revelation from heaven."
I listened with awe and amazement to this dying declara-
tion, and asked my uncle whether he was induced to order
the firearms to be loaded through his belief in the vision.
He replied affirmatively, and truly remarked, that to this
special providential warning we were indebted for our victory
over the mutineers, for the mutiny was so sudden that, had
not the arms been previously prepared, we -hould. in all
human irohbabliiy, not have had time to get them out and
load them ere the attack commenced.
The captain now spoke to Oriana with evident and
increasing agitation. "You will now," he said, "have to
undergo hardships and- dangers which might appal even a
brave man, but God will be your supporter and helper.
THE DOOMED SHIP.
Here is my nephew, trust in him fearlessly. He will do all
for you that brother could do for sister, and he- "
Oh, yes! he is my broder, I know dat very well!"
eagerly cried Oriana, and she gave me her hand with a look
of affection and perfect reliance. My uncle, with the quick
apprehension which is frequently evinced by dying men,
caught our glances of mutual intelligence, and a smile of
grateful confidence played around his white and quivering
"It is well," cried he, may God Almighty bless and save
you both !" He then sank back heavily, and closed his
eyes with a deep, prolonged groan.
"Uncle, oh, dear uncle!" ejaculated I, thinking at the
moment that his spirit had fled. He opened his eyes again
with a strong shuddering effort, and motioned for brandy.
Oriana promptly held a glass to his lips, and its contents
instantaneously revived him.
"I am going fast, boy !" was the first expression he uttered.
"Let me see his face once more !"
I understood him, and drew aside the sheet from the head
of his steward. My uncle gazed yearningly at the rigid
features of his foster-brother, and muttered, "I'll soon meet
you again, Smutta-meet you to part no more God grant,
for His Son's sake, it may be in heaven !"
Hardly had he thus spoken, when a violent convulsion
seized him, and although he desperately strove to tell me
something, he expired in my arms without being able to
articulate a single word.
T HE dissolution of my uncle was so very sudden that I
was quite stupified by the blow, and could hardly
believe he was really dead. A cry and an exclamation from
Oriana attested the fact, but I hardly heeded her at the
moment. Long did I press his senseless clay to my breast,
and bitterly did I sob and moan. The heroic Danish girl
-who was henceforward to watch over me as my guardian
angel-gently, but firmly, disengaged me from the corpse,
and led me to a seat, where I sank down, and yielded to an
agony of grief. I thought not of my own peril, no, nor even
Oriana's; all I could realise was, that my noble-hearted
uncle, who had been a father to me through life, and whom
I loved and reverenced as such, was gone for ever. Never
more would his words of counsel and encouragement sound
in my ears, never more should I gaze on his commanding
form with affectionate pride, never more should I hear his
words of piety and submission to the will of God. My
excessive grief might be unmanly, selfish, and wrong under
the peculiar circumstances, but I could not help it. Oriana
let me unrestrainedly indulge it for some time, but after she
had herself closed my uncle's eyes, and spread the sheet
over him, she came to my side, and there stood silent and
motionless. At length her hand was laid on my arm, and
her sweet voice whispered, My broder !" I answered not.
"My broder Captain Larpent has gone to heaven, he has
done his duty, he has repented of his sins, he has believed
in his Saviour, and is happy now 1"
THE DOOMED SHIP.
"I shall never see him more I" cried I, with a passionate
burst of grief.
"Yes, you will see him again in heaven-dat you will! if
you only do your duty, and serve your heavenly Master as
he did. Come, my broder you must not weep any more
now. Remember dat your good, wise uncle himself said dat
you must do many things to save our lives, and his spirit
will be angry with you if you do not. We must all leave the
ship, he said so, and you are the captain now, and must
order the men what to do, or what will become of us?
Broder! dear broder! it indeed is wrong to weep now.
Won't you try to save your life-mine ?"
The music of her words fell like honey-dew on my soul,
the wisdom of her gentle reproof aroused my stunned
faculties, the love of her recalled me to myself. I arose to
my feet, embraced her fervently, and felt once more a man,
ready and able to battle for life.
On deck, I found that the men had already cleared the
long-boat, and fixed tackles for hoisting her out, and had
also gathered together a variety of things, which they judged
might be needful ashore. They had worked well, poor
fellows, and cold as it was, with a dense frost-smoke rising
from the water, they were stripped to their shirts, and trying
to heave up the long-boat, one end at a time. I bore a
hand with them, but our united strength was insufficient to
move her an inch. As I knew that the very first thing to be
done in our precarious position was to get out this boat
(which was unusually large and heavy) to be ready for any
emergency, I cast about for the means to effect it. By
doubling the purchases, and carrying the fall through snatch-
blocks, and then attaching a luff-tackle to it (the fall), we
THE DOOMED SHIP.
succeeded, finally, in multiplying our motive power so much
that we got the boat clear over the bulwarks, but we dared
not lower her into the water at present, lest she should be
stove in by some of the floes of ice which yet occasionally
brushed the ship's sides. This done, we next investigated
the actual state of the barque. We found that she had
made about three feet of water, and that the leak slowly, but
surely, gained. On examining the bows, which were yet fast
embedded in that fatal berg, we perceived that they were so
completely stove in, that the moment she swung clear of the
berg, she would inevitably fill, and go down in a very short
time. This alarming discovery stimulated us to the most
eager exertion. It was now night, and so obscure that we
knew not what dangers threatened from bergs floating around
us, but we could from time to time hear them grinding and
cracking, with appalling distinctiveness. We also knew, that
although the sea was smooth, there was a current, or tide, or
both, carrying the iceberg and ship before it at the rate of
four knots. Self-preservation now became the sole inspiration
-the one pervading idea-and it is marvellous how men's
faculties concentrate themselves to effect it, when there is
anything like a glimpse of hope. Having seen that the oars,
etc., of the long-boat were deposited in her, and her rudder
shipped, our next care was to get the provisions on deck.
This, alas was no very heavy task, but there was a tolerable
stock of spirits, wine, ale, sugar, coffee, spices, and other
luxuries in poor Smutta's department. While the men were
removing these, I hurried to Oriana's state-room to warn
her, but she had already made her little preparations for
departure. We soon conveyed her effects on deck, after
which she called our attention to a bulky package, closely
THE DOOMED SHIP.
wrapped in reindeer skins. Dat must go too It is good
rein flesh." On enquiry, she explained that it was a quantity
of dried reindeer flesh, which she had in charge as a present
from her uncle in Nordland to their friends at Copenhagen.
We were all very thankful for this unlooked-for addition to
our means of existence.
Three hours or more were spent in preparing for the event
which we knew must sooner or later happen; and finding
that the tackles were quite strong enough to lower the long-
boat, even when laden, we filled her with provisions, spirits,
bedding, clothing, arms, etc. In the stern sheets I made a
sort of little tent with the blankets stretched over some
broken studding-sail booms, to protect Oriana from the
inclemency of the weather, for no one knew how long we
might drift about in the boat ere we could land. Two
things more were added at her prudent suggestion, viz., fuel,
and water. The necessity of the first was sufficiently
apparent, but the latter I thought highly superfluous, as we
were about to live am6ng nought but snow and ice. But
Oriana persisted that we ought to take water, for her
residence in Nordland had taught her that it is impossible
to suck or melt the snow in one's mouth in very cold regions
without experiencing a terrible burning sensation in the
throat and stomach, owing to the intense degree of cold in
the snow. The only way, as she said, to procure water from
the snow and ice, would be by melting it with fire, and we
could not do this in the boat. Convinced that she was
right, we got a keg of water in the long-boat, and then
lowering the light stern boat from the davits, we put a cask
of water in her, and as much fuel as she could carry. I
secured the ship's papers and log-book, with various
THE DOOMED SHIP.
mememtoes of my poor uncle, and such things as were
valuable and useful, but of small bulk, not forgetting
compasses, quadrant, etc. Finally, after we had rummaged
the lockers both of the cabin and of the steward's pantry,
and convinced ourselves that not a scrap of food was left in
the ship, we felt that we had done all that was possible in
the way of preparation, and the rest was in the hands of
I was just about to order the men to get a meal, when we
felt a heavy shock through the ship, as though the iceberg,
which had hitherto towed her along, had struck against
another berg, or rock; and directly afterwards it split open
with a crack like the report of a cannon, and the bows of
the barque being released, her head at once went down five
or six feet, and we could hear the water rushing into the
forecastle, and thence into the hold. The crisis had arrived
-there was not a moment to lose. I lifted Oriana into the
long-boat, and we lowered it safely on the water. Briefly
ordering the men to see all clear for pushing off, I ran below
to take a last farewell-look of the inanimate clay of my
beloved uncle and his foster-brother. I drew aside the
sheet from their faces, as they reposed side by side, and by
the dim light of the lamp overhead, I gazed with unutterable
emotion on them one after the other. Their trials were ended;
their souls were anchored in a port where no tempests could
ever more disturb them. My eye caught a large union-jack,
which had been dragged out of a locker in our search, and
left on the cabin floor. This I lifted, and threw it decently
over them both, and then I felt that my last duty in the ship
was performed. On regaining the deck, the men called
upon me to embark instantly, for the barque was sinking
THE DOOMED SHIP. 81
much faster than we had anticipated, and her water-ways
were already within a couple of feet of the sea's level. I
ordered them into the boat, and I,-as became the officer,
-was the last to quit the deck, hat in hand. We pushed off
to a safe distance, and in five minutes we saw the ill-fated
"Lady Emily give one downward lurch head-foremost, and
then she disappeared for ever, a fitting coffin for the remains
of her late gallant commander.
"T"- HERE goes the poor old barkey!" cried Mr.
Blackbird Jim, as he composedly put on his pea
jacket, and freshened his quid, and hitched up his tarry
breeks, and tightened his waist belt, "and here are we the
boys as never says die while there's a shot in the locker.
Pass the word, captain, and we'll do it, whatever it is, sink
I started at being addressed as "captain," and bitterly
thought of my departed uncle. But it was no time to
indulge in emotion and reverie.-" The first thing you do,
my lads," replied I, "shall be to eat a good supper, for you
have well earned and will need it."
By the light of a lanthorn, the fragments of cooked
provisions found in the larder of the poor steward were
overhauled. I had no difficulty in persuading Oriana to
eat. She made a very tolerable meal, and spoke cheerfully,
with the evident intention of inspiriting me. I could not
myself swallow a morsel-it would have choked me. But
what animals sailors are The three men actually appeared
to have already forgotten the recent horrible events, and
their own present jeopardy, for they ate and drank, and
laughed and joked, precisely as though they were safely
seated around the kit of a forecastle mess. I felt inclined
to sternly check them, but on reflection I forbore, for it was
infinitely better that they should be callous of the past, and
reckless of the future, than to yield to moody despair. I
THE DOOMED SHIP.
knew that so long as a sailor could laugh and joke, there
was no fear of him shrinking from any amount of hardship
and danger. The meal ended, I induced Oriana to retire
to the shelter of the little tent I had provided, and when I
had given her additional blankets for her couch, and
satisfied myself that she really was, as she laughingly
asserted, "warm as a dormouse in its nest," I felt a load off
my heart, and could give my undivided attention to my
The sea was now very calm, although a stiff breeze blew,
and this induced me to suppose that we could not be far
from the shore, and that in all probability we had drifted up
an inlet, and were in a bight towards its extremity. The
weather was so thick that we could not see two boat-lengths
ahead, and as we knew the ice was floating in every
direction, it would have been exceedingly dangerous and
foolish to have rowed in the dark. I thereto resolved to
lie-to till daybreak and ordered the men to stow themselves
away in the forepart of the boat, whilst I kept watch by
myself. They were unwilling at first, but I told them I felt
unable to sleep at present, and that they would need to
husband their strength for the next day. They accordingly
coiled themselves up beneath the blankets and spare
clothes, and were, like true seamen, in the magical Land
of Nod" almost immediately, and slept as soundly and
snored as loudly "as a Dutchman between two feather
For many dreary hours did I keep my truly melancholy
watch. Nothing occurred to disturb me, and the only inter-
ruption to my sad reflections was when I occasionally bent
my ear to listen to the gentle breathing of Oriana, as she
THE DOOMED SHIP.
slumbered with that fearless and perfect confidence in God's
ever watchful providence, which a holy faith can alone
impart. At length I felt myself growing drowsy, and
awaking one of the men, I bade him keep watch, and in
case danger threatened from ice, to arouse me instantly. I
then laid down, and the man covered me well up with
blankets. Hardly had I uttered a brief prayer, and closed
my eyes, ere I fell sound asleep. Blessings on that wonder
-blessings on that mysterious agent, that giver and
confirmer of health and strength-a thousand blessings on
that thing which men call Sleep !
The Mariner whose eye is bright,
Whose beard with age is hoar,"
-that strange old man, the wanderer of a bygone age, who
goeth about pouring lofty and imperishable lessons into the
ears that are open-saith,
Oh sleep it is a gentle thing
Beloved from pole to pole "
And that it is. "A gentle thing!" Ay, and much more.
It is a mighty thing for it boweth and subjecteth alike in
its own proper time the delving peasant and the thinking
philosopher; the storm-tossed sailor-boy and the velvet-
cradled prince; the beggar who wearily lays aside his
wallet, and the sovereign who has gladly resigned his crown.
Sleep is the portal alike to joy and to sorrow. It can
elevate star-plucking ambition to a dizzier eminence than,
when walking, it ever aspired to reach; and it can hurl
splendour from its proud pedestal to roll grovelling in the
dust. It is the rewarder of the good, and the tormentor of
the evil. It can crush the oppressor, and uplift the
oppressed. It can knock off the fetters of the condemned,
THE DOOMED SHIP.
and lead him forth from his dark dungeon to revel among
the green meadows where he disported in innocent
childhood. It restoreth in one little hour the exile unto
the land of his fathers, and he kneeleth down and in
rapture kisseth the soil that gave him birth. It drieth the
tears of the mourner, and stilleth the wailing of the orphan.
It giveth relief unto the pain-wrung sufferer, and taketh
away the sting of the world. It restoreth wealth to the
bankrupt, and health to the invalid:-the one is again
happy in counting his coffered thousands, and the other is
again bounding with elastic limbs across the breeze-swept
lea. It is resistless when its hour hath come, for it seizeth
the sallow-wrinkled miser, stooping in his dismal closet by
the flickering lamp, with his coins uncounted in his skinny
palm, and the rosy, smiling child basking in the sunny
meadow, with his chaplet of flowers in his chubby little
hand, and there and then doth it alike bind them in its
fetters. It can open futurity to our gaze, or revivify the
past. It can invoke to us the friends of our youth-the
departed-the sainted: it waves but its magic pinions, and
lo! they are present! We see, we touch, we converse with
them once more. Sleep knoweth no distinction between
prattling infancy and garrulous senility; between the golden
spring of youth and the busy summer of manhood. It
spreads its volumed wings over the earth, and over the face
of the deep; it penetrates the hovel and the palace; the
great city teeming with life, and the forest with but one
solitary dweller. Its power is unlimited-its dominion is
supreme; it giveth strength and life under the semblance of
death. IT IS GIVEN TO MAN OF GOD.
I was awakened from my prolonged slumber by the
THE DOOMED SHIP.
blanket being drawn from my head, and on opening my
eyes, I beheld the smiling face of Oriana bending over me.
"It is just daybreak," said she, "and we can see the
shore." I cast aside the coverings, and leaped to my feet.
There was land, sure enough, about a mile distant, but un-
fortunately the sea was frozen for at least a quarter of a mile
and how we were to land our cargo without immense labour
I knew not. I carefully swept the shore with a telescope,
and at length saw what I conceived to be an opening
through the ice, leading to a bluff headland. Ordering the
men to give way, I steered towards it, and to our great
satisfaction we found the ice so thin that we easily broke
through it, till we were enabled to force the boats close up
to a projecting rock. I then landed to look out for a
suitable spot to fix our temporary abode. The shore was
everywhere covered with snow a foot or more in deoth, and
was very rocky. A sheltered hollow, or ravine, close to
where we landed, seemed to be the best side I could at
present select, and as there was no time to be lost, we
swallowed a hasty meal, and then set to work unloading the
long-boat. Having got everything out of her, we fixed her
two masts upright, to form the centre poles of two tents,
and lashed to them the oars and some light ricker spars
which we had brought with this object in view. These
frameworks were quickly covered with sails, and then spread
tarpaulings over them, and pegged the lower portions in the
ground. The exteriors of the tents being thus rudely but
efficiently constructed, we brought everything under their
shelter except the fuel with which the small boat was loaded.
Then we worked away to fit up the interiors. One tent was
exclusively for the men, and the other for Oriana and
THE DOOMED SHIP.
myself. Whilst they arranged their own to their liking, we
did the same with ours, and, strange as it may appear, we
caught ourselves laughing heartily more than once at our
contrivances to render the tent comfortable. We had a
superabundance of blankets, etc., and by fixing ropes across
the tent, it was divided into two portions, blankets being
hung as a partition between them. The smaller of these
divisions was to be Oriana's sleeping-room, and I had the
satisfaction to behold how expertly the cheerful girl set
about rendering it a most cosy berth. The larger division
(which was to be common to us by day, and my sleeping-
room by night), was lumbered with the arms, provisions,
and all the spirits, etc., for I dared not trust any of the
latter in the men's tent, well knowing that the temptation
would be irresistible.
It was about ten o'clock that night (Saturday, September
29th), ere our arrangements were completed, pro tern. I
ought to mention that a small brass stove had been brought
from the ship's cabin, and this we set up, and with some
difficulty fixed so that the smoke cleared away pretty well
through a slit in the tent side. I then served out a good
supper to the men, and gave them a bottle of rum, for they
had behaved so well and worked so hard, that they really
deserved encouragement. Oriana and myself, of course,
supped together, and I now ate with a very fair appetite, for
she searched about the tent till she found some of the
culinary utensils we had taken the precaution to bring from
the ship, and then cutting a few slices from one of her
dried rein-breasts, and adding condiments, she speedily
produced such a savoury stew, or whatever it might be
called, that I began to deem her as wise in the art of
THE DOOMED SHIP.
cookery as in everything else. We talked long and seriously
that night about our prospects, and although we could not
yet form any very tangible idea of the future which awaited
us, we, at any rate, both agreed in most fervently thanking
God for so mercifully preserving us hitherto. Just as
Oriana was bidding me good-night, she started, and
exclaimed-" What is dat ? Hark !" I jumped up, for I
heard, too, a wild kind of cry. I rushed out of the tent
into the open air, and the mystery was at once solved.
The tent of my worthy crew was only about half-a-dozen
paces from our own, and they were all joining in a most
vociferous chorus, in honour of Saturday night, I suppose.
And what does the reader think they were singing on this
first night of landing on an unknown shore? Why they
were yelling, "Britons never, never, never shall be slaves "
This is the literal fact. I re-entered our tent, smiling- in
spite of myself. Once more, I say, what animals sailors
are! These three men were utterly reckless of what the
morrow might bring forth, and notwithstanding the terrible
prospect before them, they were just as jovial and happy
over their bottle of rum as though they were in the tap-
room of the "Jolly Sailors," at Hull. In fact, seamen
never can be taught to consider that any responsibility or
care rests with themselves. They will obey orders with
alacrity, but never trouble themselves to think for a moment
whether the orders are right or wrong. "That's the
captain's business," says Jack; and he indeed thinks
everything, whatever it is, the "captain's business." I was
perfectly aware that happen what might to us, I must think
and act for them the same as though they were children,
and children sailors really are in many respects.
THE next day was Sunday, and I was determined that
it should be kept as a day of rest and thanksgiving.
I read the prayers, lessons, and psalms for the day from
my uncle's Church of England Prayer-Book, and the crew
listened with attention, although I did not think they
evinced the least feeling on the occasion-but a sailor often
feels more than he shows. No kind of work was performed
all day, but towards nightfall one of the men came to tell
me that he had seen the footmarks of some large beast
which had been prowling in our vicinity. I examined them,
and at once understood that we had a bear for our neigh-
bour-not a very agreeable discovery, for the white Polar
bear is a most daring and ferocious animal, and I felt by
no means sure that the one in question would not pay a
visit of exploration to the tents in the course of the night.
I therefore cautioned the men to lay the axes and cutlasses
ready at hand when they went to rest, in case the stranger
should disturb their innocent slumbers; and for my own
part, I loaded three of the guns with ball.
Not long after midnight, I was awakened by a smothered
sort of cry from Oriana, but as it was not repeated, I fancied
she had only cried out in a dream. A moment or two
afterwards, however, I distinctly heard her call, "Broder!"
and she pushed aside the suspended blanket, and stood
before me with a lighted lamp in her hand. I had laid
down in my clothes, and now sprung up to ask what was the
THE DOOMED SHIP.
matter, for she was very pale, although her aspect was
resolute enough.-" Bring your guns, and you shall see!"
was her mysterious reply.
I obeyed, marvelling very much what was to be done.
When she raised her lamp, as we entered her apartment (if
I may so call it), I saw nothing remarkable, except that her
little Danish pet dog, Nem, was cowering at our feet, with
every expression of intense terror-the poor creature being
huddled up like a ball, and his teeth fairly chattering.
"What is the matter ?" asked I.
"Hush! Look here! What do you call dat?"
I looked where she pointed, and sure enough, I beheld,
to my amazement and alarm, an enormous shaggy paw
thrust under the canvas at the bottom of the tent, and
moving slowly to and fro, as though in search of something
nice. She hastily whispered to me that she had been
awakened by this very paw, roughly groping beneath her bed
and the ground. I involuntarily raised my gun to my
shoulder, but she cried-" Do not fire yet! Wait, and you
will see his head."
She was right. In a moment or two the animal grew
impatient, and emitting a low growl, attempted to shove his
head through the opening made by his paws. I clapped the
gun barrel to his muzzle, and drew the trigger. The report
was deafening, and we could see nothing for smoke, but a
tremendous roar from the wounded beast apprised us, at any
rate, that he was not killed. Grasping my two loaded guns,
I rushed out of the tent into the open air, and was met by
the crew, who had turned out in great alarm, arrred with
hatchets. It was fortunately a very brilliant night, and we
could see objects with great distinctness. Not many yards