. . .
'Ia m ofh c
iThe Baldwin Lbrory
"Q. Floftt i&'
ADVENTURES OF MARK WILLIS.
.. .. ',-. A T I M .-E. ..
A TIMELY RESCUE
THE ADVENTURES OF
MRS. GEORGE CUPPLES.
T. NELSON AND SONS, PATERNOSTER ROW.
EDINBURGH; AND NEW YORK.
I. SETTING OUT IN LIFE, ... ... ... ... ... ... 7
n. FIRST DAYS AT SEA, ... ... ..... ... ... 2C
III. DOWN THE TROPICS, ... ... .. ... ... ... 50
IV. AFRICAN COAST-TRADE, ......... ... ... 70
V. PRIVATE TRADERS, ... ... ... ... .... ... 97
VI. WATCHING THE SLAVER, ... ... ... ... ... 118
VII. CHINA, ... .. ... ... ... .. ... ... 137
VIII. HOMEWARD BOUND, ... ... .. ... ... ... 152
iUPijr 0Q? ,
THE ADVENTURES OF MARK WILLIS.
SETTING OUT IN LIFE.
SAY, Mark," shouted a boy about thirteen years
of age to another who was sitting under the
shade of the noble lime-trees in the old Col-
lege Green,' Bristol-" I say, are you not going
with us to Clifton this afternoon ?"
Mark sighed as he answered, No, Bently, I can't go.
"Why, what's come over you, Mark replied his
friend. "You were always ready to enjoy our half-
holidays, and now you do nothing but sit here moping
and making yourself miserable. Come along; I know
your mother would like you to go,-she said to me this
morning she hoped you would, at any rate."
Oh yes, I know that; but I tell you I cannot come;"
and Mark rose up and walked away in the direction of
his home, leaving Jack Bently standing staring at
"Well," he said, as he joined some other boys who
were waiting for him, "I can't make the fellow out.
He must have taken his father's death dreadfully to heart;
or it may be because people say they are poor now, and
will have to come down in the world. Well, it's a pity,
whatever the reason is, for Mark was a good fellow."
When the boys were gone, Mark, who had only
walked to the other side of the green, came back to his
seat, and sat down once more with the same listless
look about him. He pulled a book out of his pocket
and began to read, but soon put it away again; and,
leaning his back against one of the trees, he gazed
through the entrance to the green at the masts of the
ships, the flapping sails, and small craft plying about
the river. He closed his eyes and listened to the strange
medley of sounds: the busy hum of men; the rush of
carriage wheels; the "heave-yo" of the sailors as they
warped a ship, newly arrived, to its berth; and to the
swift run of the crane as it dropped its heavy burden
with a dull thud into the hold. Above all came the
sudden swell of the organ booming through the open
door of the cathedral, and Mark opened his eyes to ex-
claim, Oh, I wish old Fritz' would stop We have
enough of it every day, I'm sure but he's practising, I
suppose, some of his great pieces."
He drew the book again from his pocket and read
A FRIEND IN NEED. 9
very steadily for some time, as long as the organ was
played; but when the last notes had died away, Mark
stopped too, and was preparing to go home in real
earnest, when a cheery voice close to him said, "Why,
how now not away with the boys, Mark "
"No, sir," said Mark, smiling, and sitting down
again beside the new-comer; "I was listening to your
music, Mr. Offenbach. I began by wishing you would
stop; but it did me so much good, that I wished you
would go on."
"That shows me there is something wrong here,"
said the organist, tapping Mark on the head with his
cane; "or perhaps here," and he gave a sudden poke
at his heart. "Come now, my boy," he continued,
"let's have the trouble out."
Father Fritz, as the boys called him, was a German
by birth; and though in reality not past the prime of
life, he was so bald, so short and stout, that he looked
quite old, and, especially when he had his spectacles on,
quite venerable. He was so extremely good-natured
that he was a great favourite with the boys employed
as choristers; and it was quite a common thing for them
to go with their troubles to him, for he was wonderfully
clever at helping them out of a difficulty. It was dis-
tinctly understood among the boys that he was far more
learned than the master, or even than the very bishop
himself; for he could speak several, if not all, the lan-
guages, living and dead.
10 HAVING THE TROUBLE OUT.
Mark turned slightly away from his kind friend and
hung down his head, for somehow a tear had dropped
into the corner of his eye, and he dared not raise his
hand to rub it off. But Mr. Offenbach had seen it quite
plainly; he saw everything, somehow, though he moved
about so slowly, and always appeared to be in a perfect
brown study. "The truth is, my dear boy," he said,
gently putting his arm round the boy's neck, "I've ob-
served you for several days. I am told you don't sing
with the others, and I know it is true, for I miss your
voice-and one of the best contraltos it is too, and of
course it is missed easily. Now, there's something
wrong. Come, Mark, I lost my father too. Yours was
very fond of you, wasn't he "
"Yes," said Mark, checking back a sob bravely;
"but it isn't that-I mean, not altogether. Well, I
will tell you, Mr. Fritz; you have helped me before
That's right, my boy," was the reply; "I may not
be able to help you, but a burden shared is easier
Then Mark told how, by his father's death, he and
his mother and two brothers, were now left in very
straitened circumstances, and how it was decided they
were to live in a small house near the harbour, where
his mother might be able to take in lodgers. What dis-
tressed Mark was, that he knew his mother was doing
this for his sake, that he might attend school and get a
WANTING TO GET ON IN THE WORLD. 11
good education. She had been advised to go into the
country instead, where her limited means would keep
her and the two little boys comfortably, and Mark
might get a situation as junior clerk in some of the
many warehouses in Bristol. But this she had distinctly
refused to do, and had therefore lost many friends.
"And now," said Mark, "after my mother has made
her arrangements, and is beginning to get settled in her
mind about it, I feel I cannot live this life any longer.
I cannot let her work for me, and I must do something
to give her back all the comforts she had before my
"That is a right spirit, my boy," said Mr. Offenbach;
"but what can a boy like you do ? You must wait
patiently, and when your education is finished, no doubt
some of your father's friends will step forward to help
you to a good situation."
But I cannot wait," said Mark, impatiently. I
must do something now. I've thought it all over a
hundred times, and it forces itself into my mind con-
stantly. It nearly drives me mad to sit quietly there,
day after day, at these weary lessons, or in the quiet,
gloomy cathedral to sit singing, while I know my
mother must work, she who never soiled a finger before,
and all for me, to keep me chained down to school, and
afterwards to a stool in an office. No; I must leave it
all. I must be-"
Mark stopped suddenly, as if he were afraid to speak
12 RENOWNED HEROES.
out the words which would fix his position in life, or as
if he had never brought his thoughts to so decided a
"You must be what said Mr. Fritz. "Ah," he
said, "I think I guess;" and he looked at the book
Mark had been reading, but which had fallen on the
grass, and as it lay open the organist saw it was a
manuscript book and not a school-book, but had at the
head of one of the pages the title, Eminent Men of
Bristol." "You want to follow in their steps," con-
tinued Mr. Fritz, laughing and rubbing his hands.
"Who have we here ?" and he began to read from the
book. Sebastian Cabot, who sailed from this harbour
in the Matthew, accompanied by other ships, on a
voyage of discovery, and in the course of the same year
touched at Newfoundland-being the first person who
ever set foot on the mainland of America. In returning
home he sailed along the coast as far as to Florida; and
by virtue of this visit North America became annexed
to the English Crown.' Very good," said Mr. Fritz;
"I believe this said Cabot was the son of a Venetian,
but born in Bristol, and to him England stands in-
debted for her magnificent possessions in the New
World. But he was a man, you see, when he set out,
and a rich one too. Well, well, let us turn to the next.
' Old Dampier, the gallant buccaneer, having sailed from
Bristol, with two armed vessels, on an expedition in
search of Spanish treasure-ships, anchored off the island
A MAN CLOTHED IN GOATS' SKINS. 13
of Juan Fernandez. Perceiving a light on shore during
the night, he sent a boat to reconnoitre, which not re-
turning, the pinnace went in search; but soon came
back from the shore with abundance of cray-fish, and a
man clothed in goats' skins, who looked more wild than
their first owners. This man was Alexander Selkirk-
the original of Robinson Crusoe-who was taken to
Bristol after having been on the island four years and
It all comes to this, I see, said Mr. Offenbach, shut-
ting the book, that you want to go to sea. You want
to leave your mother alone to fight for herself; and, per-
haps, break her heart to part with you, for you are her
eldest child, I think. You want to become a great dis-
coverer, or a buccaneer, or a man clothed in goats' skins.
But, my boy, before you can be one or the other, you
have a hard life before you. Think well of it, my boy.
A sailor's life is the hardest life in the world."
"I have thought of it, Mr. Fritz. You are very
severe upon me," said Mark, the tears standing in his
eyes. It is to help my mother I want to go. I don't
mind the hard life; it's twice as hard living this
quiet life here. I don't want to be a discoverer, or
anything but a sailor; and by-and-by a captain of a
ship, like my mother's brother, my uncle John."
Mr. Fritz sat thinking, quietly poking his cane into
the grass at his feet, and whistling under his breath the
first notes of a new symphony. Mark became impatient,
14 MARK'S MIND IS RELIEVED
and interrupted his reverie by saying, Won't you help
me, Mr. Fritz? Could you speak to my mother about it
for me? I feel that I could do something. I'm sure I
should get on and make money. I will," he ended,
standing up suddenly with determination in his attitude.
Well, I suppose somebody must do it," said Mr.
Fritz, taking off his spectacles, and pulling out his
watch. Tell your mother I will do myself the honour
of calling upon her this evening at six o'clock. It is a
disagreeable task you have given me, Mark; but I may
do it better than another, seeing I have a mother of my
own, who was placed in similar circumstances. Not
exactly: I did not go to sea, but my rock ahead was
that great old organ in there," he said, laughing. Then
he continued, "Remember I'm a punctual man, Master
Mark, as becomes the assistant organist of St. Augus-
tine's. Good-bye till six o'clock."
Mark now went straight home, feeling as if a load had
been lifted off his mind, and very much pleased to think
it was lying on the shoulders of Father Fritz" instead.
When he went into the parlour he found his mother
sitting sewing. They were still in the old house where
his father had died, but were to leave it in a few days
for the humbler one close to the river; and Mark could
not help shuddering when he looked round the comfort-
able room and thought of that other uncongenial house,
so different from what they had been accustomed to.
For some days Mark had been very silent and gloomy,
FATHER FRITZ IS COMING. 15
*i ;1 i ,'_ Y ,, i
MARK AND HIS MOTHER
but now he appeared quite different, as he came into the
room, and announced that "Father Fritz was coming
at six o'clock. "You have never seen him, mamma,"
said Mark, a little excitedly; "but you will be suresure to
''i' and, 'none ht"ahe rt"wscm
'lt sx 'clc."ouhv eerse i, ail
',lnid ,',, iteectdy bu o ilb ue
16 THE EXPECTED VISITOR ARRIVES.
like him; he's awfully clever, and knows exactly how
to advise you about anything that is troubling you."
Mrs. Willis did not ask why Mr. Offenbach was
coming; she had a presentiment that her boy was mak-
ing up his mind to take some decided step, but she
never thought it was to take him from her altogether;
still she was a little nervous about it, and kept her eyes
fixed on her work, fearing to read the truth in her son's
face. Fortunately the maid-servant came in with the
dinner; and during the time it lasted, neither mother
nor son spoke about the intended visit, but mutually
avoided the subject.
As the clock was striking six, the loud rat-tat sounded
on the knocker, and Mark hastened to meet the kind-
hearted organist. "Shall I come in with you, sir?"
said Mark, showing by his breathing how agitated he
really was, and evidently was much relieved when Mr.
Offenbach said, Not at present, Mark; not for half an
hour and five minutes." Mark could not help smiling,
as he went to his own room, at "Father Fritz's odd
habit of being accurate to a moment; and also to see
that he had on his blue spectacles, a sure sign he
had some weighty business on his mind. It seemed a
long half-hour; but punctually to the minute Mark was
sent for, and he crept into the parlour like one guilty
in spite of himself. He was surprised, however, to find
his mother more composed than he could have believed
possible, and he wondered how Mr. Fritz had managed
WHAT CAME OF THE VISIT. 17
to soothe her so effectually, but he could not ask then
how the news had been broken. For a moment his
mother's lip quivered, and she looked as if she were going
to cry again, as she had evidently been doing before
Mark entered, but she held out her hand to him and
drew him close to her as she said, Poor boy, it's a fool-
ish step this, but I know it is from a sincere desire to help
me. But will nothing induce you to give it up, my son?"
"O mother, please don't ask me 1" said Mark, sobbing
"I can't live here now. I must get away from it all
I've long wanted to be a sailor. I would have been,
even if papa had lived. I could never have gone into
one of these hateful offices."
It was therefore all settled that Mark should go one
voyage-Mr. Offenbach and his mother hoping that on
his return he would have had enough of it,- and would
then settle down to his lessons once more. Mrs. Willis
herself called upon the owners of her brother's ship, and
was received very kindly by the head of the firm, who pro-
mised to keep Mark's name in remembrance for the first
ship of theirs that sailed. While they were waiting, Mrs.
Willis removed to her new house, which was close to the
river and harbour; and if Mark had been anxious to try
the life of a sailor before, he was eager now. His bed-
room window had a view of the river at the lower por-
tion, called the "Welsh Back," toward the docks.
There was always some vessel going out or coming in,
with the usual exciting stir about the harbour and river's
18 THE NEW HOME BY THE RIVER.
bank. And he often managed to get on board some of
the vessels. One afternoon a ship anchored almost
opposite his very window, and he could lie in bed and
see the men working aloft in the early summer mornings.
The captain of the ship, the Blue-Bell, hearing that Mrs.
THE BLUE-BELL" AT HER MOORINGS.
Willis had two rooms to let, came on shore and took
them for himself and his wife, who arrived the next day.
Captain Walker was soon made acquainted with Mark's
intentions, and the two became great friends, Mark
spending every spare moment on board the Blue-Bell.
There was every prospect that in the end he would sail
PLEASING NEWS FOR MARK. 19
in this ship, as no message had been sent from his uncle's
firm; but one great objection to it was, it was a guano
ship, bound for the Peruvian coast; and, by what he had
heard some of the men saying, it was by no means a
pleasant business. He greatly preferred the idea of going
to the East Indies, or to China, where his uncle sailed
to, though his mother did not like to contemplate such a
long voyage as that. One morning, however, when
Mark's patience was nearly exhausted, his mother re-
ceived a letter from Price and Co.," asking her to call
with her son the next forenoon at their office. Accord-
ingly, they set out together, Mark trying, but in vain, to
hide his extreme pleasure before his mother. Mr. Price
seemed to be pleased with Mark's appearance, and stated
that he had been trying to get him a berth on board an
Indiaman, but had not been successful. The only ship
they had leaving port for some time was the Stratton, a
large brig, goingto the Canary Islands-" And," he added,
as if by the way, "also bound for the Gaboon River."
And where, may I ask, is the Gaboon River said
"It's down the west coast, ma'am," said Mr. Price
hurriedly, no doubt wishing to hide what precise coast he
referred to. "We get palm-oil, ivory, and sometimes
gold-dust thereabouts." Here the attention of Mr.
Price was claimed by other visitors, on business of pro-
bably a more important nature. Mark and his mother
therefore left as soon as the arrangement had been
20 BOUND APPRENTICE
completed by their jointly signing an indenture as
apprentice to the firm; this being done in the outer
office, and duly witnessed, so as to bind either side to
fulfil their engagement, under legal penalties.
That same evening, while Mrs. Willis sat busily
at work upon Mark's clothes, he got his Atlas at her
request, and looked up the exact whereabouts of the
Gaboon River. "Here it is, mamma," said Mark
delightedly. "See, I sail all down the Atlantic Ocean,
past France, and Spain, and Madeira, to the Canaries;
then after, past the Cape de Verds, and down the west
coast of Africa to the Gaboon."
"The west coast of Africa, did you say, Mark ?"
said Mrs. Willis, in evident distress. "Why, that is a
most unhealthy place; it is the very region of ague
and fever. O my boy, I wish you had not persevered
in this notion of yours."
Nonsense, mamma," said Mark cheerily. It is a
famous place to make money in. I mean to take some
small looking-glasses, and some fine glass beads; I'm
told I can exchange them with the natives for an
elephant's tusk, or a cocoa-nut full of gold dust, or
something more valuable still. The steward of the
Blue-Bell has been telling me all about it. He says
they will even give pieces of gold for old bits of iron,
and used-up hatchets, and red cotton handkerchiefs,
but that the most valuable thing of all is an old brass
LAUGHING ALL FEARS AWAY. 21
"If cotton handkerchiefs are so valuable as all that,
Mark," said Mrs. Willis, smiling, "I think I must buy
you some additional ones; they must be worth their
weight in gold. But for all that, my boy, I tremble
when I think of the danger you run from the climate."
"Here, Mark, take mine," said little Harry, tugging
his small handkerchief out of his pocket. "Old iron,
did you say ? I know where to find an old horse-shoe;
I'll run and fetch it."
"I'm sure we might give Mark the brass kettle
that's in the kitchen; we could use the copper one,"
said Charles. "Shall we go and ask Polly to give
it to us ?"
"No, no," said Mark; "it's rather large. I mean to
get some other things that will take up little room."
They were interrupted by a visit from Captain
Walker, who came to hear how the matter had been
settled with Price and Co., and where Mark was to sail
to. He laughed at Mrs. Willis's fears about the fever,
and said it was a famous ship the Stratton, and a sure
captain; and as for the voyage, it was so short that she
would be having the boy back before she knew, which
certainly was an advantage. When next he met Mark
alone, however, he shook his head, and warned him
against ever sleeping a night on shore, and gave him
many valuable hints about the way he ought to set to
work to ingratiate himself with the captain and crew
of the Stratton. "It's a hard life, my boy," he said;
22 ALWAYS BE READY !
"but you can make it easier by always being ready : a
willing and cheery 'Ay, ay' goes a great way; it's only
the lazy and idle who are treated harshly, as a general
Mark was very busy during these days, storing his
goods for barter at the bottom of his seachest. He did
not trouble himself much about his outfit, but left that
to his mother and his kind-hearted friend the organist,
who proved a most valuable counsellor, and seemed to
know exactly what a boy going to sea ought to have,
and where it was to be bought to the saving of a good
deal of money. Mark and his two little brothers were
never tired of arranging and rearranging his store of
small looking-glasses, strings of glass beads, and numer-
ous odds and ends designed for barter. Much to the
amusement of both Mr. Offenbach and Mrs. Willis,
Harry had insisted upon sending the old horse-shoe as
his share in the speculation; and Charles, not being
able to coax his mamma to part with the brass kettle,
had packed up an old rusty pistol, which, as it took up
very little room, found a place beside the horse-shoe.
The time glided all too quickly past for poor Mrs.
Willis, but the day came at last, when, everything
being ready, Mark was to go on board the barque.
There is no necessity to dwell on the sad parting:
suffice it to say that Mrs. Willis tried to be as composed
as possible for the boy's sake, knowing that he was
going out into the world to make his way that he might
GOING ABOARD." 23
help her. He was rowed away at last in one of the
boats belonging to the Blie-Bell, which Captain Walker
had kindly placed at his service; and seeing that it
would be a comfort to the mother, he had jumped in
beside him at the last moment to see him safely
"aboard." Mr. Offenbach was with him also, which
helped to break the parting for Mark; and as for
Charles and little Harry, they were so anxious that he
should see them waving their handkerchiefs, after they
could not distinguish the figures in the boat, that they
quite forgot they were not to see their brother for many,
"Well, I hope he'll be able to get something with
my pistol," said Charles. He might get a great lump
of gold; then we would go back to the old house, and
keep a carriage; at any rate, I mean to buy a pony."
"And I mean to buy a pony too," said Harry; "but
then we haven't got a stable to put them in. Oh, I
know: I'll buy a hobby-horse, like the one the Bentlys
have; we can keep it anywhere, you know. I do hope
Mark will get a lot of money for my horse-shoe."
Having this prospect to look forward to, they could
scarcely understand why their mother cried so much,
and fretted to have Mark back again already.
Mark was soon safely on board the Stratton, and as
the captain was still on shore, Mr. Sprent, the second
mate, received them. It turned out he was an old
friend of Captain Walker's, and he readily promised to
24 BIDDING GOOD-BYE.
look after Mark. "We are not hard on the boys in
this ship," he said, laughing in an undertone; "if they
do their work well, the captain has some little pet
notion about training them; but if they shirk work,
there's no quarter allowed."
"Well, I don't think you will have much trouble
with my young friend here," said Captain Walker,
shaking the second mate by the hand before he pre-
pared to descend the accommodation-ladder to his boat.
"Good-bye, my lad," he cried; "and a good voyage
to you !"
Mark watched them till they were out of sight,
keeping his eyes fixed on that part of the boat where
"good old Father Fritz" was sitting fluttering his
handkerchief out every now and then as a last farewell
A very short time afterwards, the captain having
come on board, and the tide serving, they were tugged
down the river, and the steamer casting off, they lay at
anchor in the King's Roads, close to a large frigate just
newly arrived. It was a lovely moonlight night, and
the frigate looked so grand and large in the uncertain
light, that Mark felt sorry for a little to think he
belonged to such a small vessel in comparison. He had
been so busy all day, that he had scarcely time to think
of home, and of his mother; but now that darkness
had set in, and he was told he must "turn in," his heart
began to feel heavy enough. His hammock was slung
FIRST NIGHT AT SEA. 25
down in the half-deck, in a little clear space amongst
the cargo, where, after tumbling out several times in
his attempt to get in, he at last succeeded, and covering
himself as carefully as he could, fell asleep thinking of
his mother and brothers, and of the long time that must
elapse before he should see them again.
FIRST DAYS AT SEA.
C7"i'- ARK was roused from a deep sleep by the
t sound of heavy thumps, and a wild cry,
'.A calling, "All hands to heave up anchor!"
. He at first doubted whether he was included
Sin the term "hands," or not; but fearing it
Must be o, he hurried to get out and dress
himself in haste in order to get on deck. The moon
had set, and it was scarcely yet daybreak; but the tide
suited, while the wind also was favourable; by help of
which the Stratton, as soon as she had got under weigh,
moved steadily away from land down the Bristol
The shipping in the roads dwindled; even the noble
frigate ceased to be distinguishable from them. The
surges rose longer and crisper, with wrinkling foam;
the breeze freshened, till the barque, as her sails were
successively hoisted, bent over from it; every now and
then slowly rising erect again and balancing herself, then
GOING DOWN CHANNEL. 27
slanting as before, while she took long sliding plunges
through the water. The spray flew, the gulls hovered,
and here and there the red sail of a fishing-boat dipped
up and down; on one side, from the Welsh coast, the
sparkle of a lighthouse began to fade before the sunrise,
which on the other side dawned splendidly over the
hills of Somersetshire. Mark knew that he saw those
hills for the last time for many a day, perhaps for the
very last time. The waters of the channel broadened
in front, and became a flood of light, heaving and
weltering awfully, like the future before him. He
heard the rough pilot, with his purple face and tre-
mendous voice, raging at every one on board, not even
sparing the mates; nor would he probably have spared
the captain himself, had the latter remained on deck.
It was from this ill-tempered official that Mark received
his first orders as one of the ship's company.
Here, ye young useless Piawauwau," growled the
pilot to the boy; "are you a passenger aboard V"
No, sir," replied Mark, as respectfully as he thought
due; I am an apprentice."
"Thought so-one o' the hard bargains, too! Just
you lay aloft then, and loose that maintawps'l; and be
quick about it."
Mark hesitated for a moment; but the second mate,
Mr. Sprent, in a friendly whisper, advised him to go,
and showed him the way. Mark was a good climber,
with a courageous spirit and a steady head, and he had
28 OBEYING THE FIRST ORDER.
often gone up the rope-ladders of vessels in dock, though
never before when in motion so dizzily. He ran up now,
mounted through the lubber's-hole in the round-top,
and continued the ascent by the more difficult rigging of
the top-mast. Here he almost faltered; but he felt that
his safety lay in hurrying on and not looking down, so
he was not long in getting high enough. He knew the
sail that was meant, but he did not know how to begin
unfastening it, when he found lie had another friend to
guide him from the mast in front.
"Don't you see the end of the gasket, man?" called
out a boy who was busily engaged there.
Mark loosed the sail successfully, and shouted back
in reply, "Thank you !"
"Thank you for nothing," roared the boy rudely;
"hail the deck, can't yer? Let 'em know all's clear-to
hoist away." Mark followed his directions, but nar-
rowly escaped being hoisted up himself with the sail,
which would probably have jerked him off and sent him
sheer down. He had a firm hold, however, and got
safe down again to the deck-a more trying thing than
the ascent had been, yet a satisfaction to have managed
in that sudden way. As for the rough pilot, who shortly
afterwards left the barque, outside Lundy Island, he had
done Mark good by thus pushing him, as it were, straight
off into the business of his profession. The brunt of the
difficulty had been got over, and he did not now fear to
do what a mate might order, or what a sailor might desire
SETTING THINGS TO RIGHTS. 29
by way of help; besides which, the boy who had lately
befriended him, though by no means of an amiable dis-
position, stood committed, so to speak, as a neighbourly
Setting things to rights and stowing them away, and
making certain arrangements among the cargo, was now
--- --- ~ ~- ~ W -f; -- .-
for a number of days the main business of all. The
necessary working of the ship had, of course, to be at-
tended to; but as the weather continued steady, this did
not much interfere with the other duties just mentioned.
The Stratton was a large barque, of about 520 tons
burden, with a crew, including the captain and mates, of
twenty all told. We have said before that Mark had his
30 SILENCE THERE, ALL HANDS ROUND !"
hammock slung in the half-deck, which was shared with
the carpenter and cooper, while the men occupied the
forecastle. On the first day going out, Mark was asked
by one of the apprentices who had his berth with the
men, to help him carry the bread-barge along with their
allowance of biscuits, which he very readily did. There
he saw one or two of the men, only just recovering from
the dissipation they had been indulging in on shore,
lying stretched in their beds, while one or two more sat
round on their chests. One very tall man, called Long
Jack," to distinguish him from Jack Jones and Jack
Maurice, no sooner saw the bread-barge than he called
out, Come, silence there, all hands round;" then turn-
ing to Mark and his companion, he bade them set it in
the middle, and in the most solemn manner imaginable
asked a blessing on it.
Mark thought they must be a very serious set of men,
especially as all had responded most heartily to Long
Jack's Amen. "There, it's best to get them things
attended to at oncet; that's to serve ye the whole voyage,
my lads," said long Jack; and seeing Jem, the oldest
apprentice, laughing, he called out quite angrily, "What
are ye grinning at there ? do ye take us for heathenses ?
Come, I vote he be made to say one himself."
Ay, ay !" shouted every one; and Jem was seized by
two of the men and crushed down on to the deck on his
knees, and made to say after Long Jack what he had
repeated before. This ceremony being performed to
SELECTING THE WATCHES. 31
every one's satisfaction, they set to to tidy up the place,
pitching out the old pieces of rope and sails that had
been stowed away there while the barque lay in the
When the selecting of the watches had taken place,
Mark had been chosen by Mr. Sprent, the second mate,
and he was very glad to find Jack Maurice was to be in
his watch also. He had taken a fancy to him from the
first, and Jack seemed inclined to treat him kindly, for
once or twice he had given him a hint when he saw the
boy was at a loss how to proceed. Fortunately for Mark,
the weather was most favourable; and though he suffered
from sea-sickness, it was only a very slight attack, and by
the time they were at the mouth of the Bristol Channel
he felt perfectly well, and was able to mount the rigging
to take his farewell peep of England, as they stood out
from the Land's End, with the Lizard Point bearing on
the north-east. As the ship took her departure from
this point, Mr. Sprent called our hero to help him mark
off the ship's course on the chart. He took such an
evident interest in the operation, that the second mate
offered to teach him navigation. Do you intend to
stick by the sea as a profession?" he had said kindly
and with a smile; and when Mark replied in the affirma-
tive, he said, Well, my boy, I promised Captain Walker
to look after you; but for that matter, this is the ship to
come to if you really want to learn. The captain takes
a sort of pride in training his apprentices, and boasts
32 LEARNING NAVIGATION.
that every one passes the examinations with credit. But
he'll keep you hard at it, I give you warning."
"I'm not afraid, sir," said Mark; I am very anxious
to get on as quickly as possible; and I am much obliged
to you for offering to help me."
Very often, through the night, during their watch, Mr.
Sprent would call Mark to show him how they took an
observation, or explained how the ship's course was found
by the log; and sometimes the captain would do the
same, seeming to take a pleasure in answering any ques-
tions Jem, the other apprentice, or Mark might ask.
Captain Trehern was a man in the prime of life, stout
and robust, with the repute of being able and intrepid,
and, as the men said, a salt of the first water. He was
rather morose and distant in his manners, but had high,
honourable feelings, which led him to take an interest in
the boys placed under his charge; and to such an extent
did he carry this notion, that his officers spoke of it as a
peculiar crotchet or hobby, which, though they shrugged-
their shoulders at it, must be put up with. The chief
mate, Mr. Yoyser, was a very intelligent man, master of
his profession, but very stern and passionate, and exceed-
ingly jealous of his authority. He was short, thick-set,
and strongly built, with a weather-beaten face, a strong,
muscular arm, and a fist that could have dealt a blow
equal to a marlin-spike. Mr. Sprent, on the other hand,
was tall, though well and firmly made, and had served a
regular apprenticeship to the sea, and was an active sea-
BEFORE THE TRADE-WIND. 33
man. Mr. Dodds, the third mate, called by the men
"the Dickey," was a young man just newly out of his
four years' apprenticeship; a hulking, clumsy young
fellow, with a large face, and his feet generally in light
pumps, that gave them a swelled look. As for the men,
they were all pretty much alike, with the exception of
Jack Maurice, who was middle-aged, and more refined in
his manners. He was very much respected by both the
officers and men, and though he was quiet and almost dis-
tant to his shipmates, they liked him, whispering among
themselves that there was some secret trouble stowed
snugly away under Jack Maurice's guernsey, that made
him dullish at times. Yet occasionally he was cheery
enough, and when these humours were on him he would
sometimes join in spinning a yarn for the public benefit.
The Stratton ran swiftly on her course for many days
in succession before the trade-wind from the north-east,
which stood more or less south-westward to the tropical
latitudes. This sent her rolling and dipping along, for
the most part with very little change of sails; some-
times with studding-sails extended on one side by booms,
which made her look like a disabled bird, as she slid
from one deep blue billow to another, now and then
wetting the lower corners of the canvas. The flying-
fish came fluttering out of the wave-sides, and occasion-
ally fell on board, as the dolphins or the bonitoes chased
them; the porpoises gambolled in a shoal across the
ship's bows, and disappeared when one was struck at,
31 WORK ON SHIP-BOARD.
though without effect, by the three-pronged "grains;"
now and then a whale was seen spouting; or the great
"black-finners," with horns on their backs, were seen
heaving up and sinking again. The floating sea-weed
soon covered the water, till the barque appeared to move
through a sea of moss; and the heat, and the tossing,
and the fiery glow of the brine at night, showed that
they were crossing the bend of the great Gulf Stream.
Sharks were seen, and the weather became more fickle,
with occasional squalls, or thunder-clouds that passed as
yet with a flash or two and a muttering rumble.
They spoke a ship bound homeward for England, and
gave their own name, with the report All's well;" after
which the only break to the dulness as yet was the talk-
ing about the first sight they would have of land, and
speculations among the few who had never crossed the
Equator, how Neptune would treat them when he came
on board. All this while the work of the ship had
chiefly consisted of beating off rust from anchors and
chain-eables, scraping the bottoms of boats, scouring
brass-work, greasing masts, painting and mending, or
making spun-yarn out of old hawsers. Very dull work,
and very hard too, under the hot sun; but so important
did the chief mate think it, that he kept all hands at it
the whole day, not allowing the usual turn of watches."
The captain, of course, gave his authority for it all, and
Mr. Yoyser quite prided himself on his own ingenuity
in finding out fresh work of the kind. But a gale grew
-"- -"-: -'- . lll '.-'_" .l .' ..
THE "STRATTON" RUNNING SWIFT Y ON Hr'R CQURs.'
"36 A ROUGHISH NIGHT.
up in the midst of it, interrupting all this, much to the
relief of the grumbling seamen, and certainly not less to
the delight of Mark Willis. Was it for this rust-beating
and pitch-scraping, thought he, that he had given up
being a chorister in St. Augustine's, and hearing Mr.
Offenbach's glorious music, and learning the classics, and
living happily at home with his mother and little
brothers, even above the despised stationer's shop? And
he watched the horizon as it banked up with clouds that
night before going below to his hammock, feeling scarcely
afraid of the coming storm, though not a little excited.
Through his sleep he seemed to feel it growing and
growing; till in the middle of a dream, that carried him
peacefully back to the little parlour at Bristol, the ceiling
suddenly seemed to have opened, and a great voice roared
down, "All hands reef topsails! Bear a hand!"
"Ay, ay!" shouted the carpenter. "Come, tumble
out, youngster," he cried; but Mark was already out and
half dressed. "Take time, my lad, and put on your
jacket," he continued; "we'll have a roughish night of
it, or I'm mistaken."
Mark made his way on deck as well as the violent
motion of the ship would allow, but it was with the
greatest difficulty he could keep his feet.
"Brace round the yards!" he heard the chief mate
shouting through the trumpet; and Mark hurried for-
ward, when the ship gave a sudden roll, and he fell flat
on his face, and a heavy sea being shipped the next
A LULL IN THE STORM. 37
moment, he was nearly washed overboard; but, fortu-
nately, Long Jack seized hold of him, and pushed him
forward to a place of safety.
"Here, you young nuffing-at-all," was shouted in
his ear, and Mark was pulled into the galley by black
Sambo the cook. "Did you t'ink you had your sea-legs
on all right ? Ah, but you wrong; neber were in a gale
before. Here, drink dat;" and Sambo poured out some
brandy from a small flask and held it to Mark's lips.
The ship was now scudding before the wind, and the
waves seemed to Mark to be running mountains high.
The weather was so rough that the cook couldn't get
breakfast, and with great difficulty managed to boil
some coffee about noon. Everything about decks, such
as boats, water-casks, and galley, had been lashed doubly
fast; for the power of the wind in such a gale was
tremendous. It was impossible to draw a breath when
looking to windward; and, to get along decks, Mark
found it was necessary to draw himself along by the
bulwark or life-lines; indeed, he was often obliged to
make himself fast, as the others did, to ropes stretched
from the stern to the bows, so that they might be pulled
along by those "aft" or "forward." There was a lull
for about an hour, and Mark had been thinking it
must be all over; but Jack Maurice told him it was
only gathering strength, and that they would have a
tough night of it.
"You don't think there is great danger, do youI"
38 NOT OUT OF DANGER.
said Mark, his lip quivering in spite of him when he
thought of his mother.
"There's always danger, my lad," said Maurice.
"But hark! there's the order for another reef; the
captain sees we are to have more of it."
"Pass the word to take in another reef, Mr. Yoyser.
Close-reef them this time," said the captain, who was
trying to keep a footing on the quarter-deck.
The larboard or first-mate's watch had just gone be.
low, but the one watch was considered sufficient for the
present. Mark was bravely attempting to get into the
mizzen-rigging to go aloft; but the captain, fearing he
would tumble overboard, ordered him down, and called
to him to help the mates and himself as they pulled with
all their might at the rope which drew the windward
end of the topsail-yard towards the storm, in order that
the men might be able to pull up the sail in reefing it.
The sail, however, was too much distended by the blast
to let this be done, and every moment was precious.
Luff! luff!" shouted Captain Trehern to the man
at the wheel, hollowing his hand to his mouth to carry
the sound. "Bring the ship to the wind, Maurice !"
The wheel did its part only too quickly in that heavy
sea; for the ship flew up toward the gale, and was on
the point of broaching-to-another name for destruc-
tion in the circumstances. Seeing the helmsman vainly
straining to reverse the wheel again, the captain ran
staggering up to his assistance.
"CALL THE WATCH, BOY 39
"Call the watch, boy !" roared the captain into
Mark's ear in passing. "For your life-quick !"
Mark rushed below, and roused the other men with
difficulty, for they had been wearied, and had just
fallen asleep. The immediate danger was over when
they got on deck, the Stratton having been got sideways
to the wind again; but the scene was truly a terrifying
one to more experienced eyes than Mark's, and the
other topsail had still to be set right from where it
hung driven into the rigging of its mast. This once
done by their united efforts, the barque weathered it
well; and advantage was taken of another short lull in
the gale to get a low-staysail set along between her fore
and main masts, which helped to steady her from rolling,
She was then, to use the nautical phrase, "brought by
the wind on the starboard-tack," with her head to the
northward. Mark saw no more until he felt he was
nearly up to the arm-pits in water, in which Jem was
floundering, having been washed to leeward, and almost
overboard. Mark caught hold of him by the hair, and
then gave him a hand, which he grasped. Fortunately,
all the lee-ports had been triced up, and she quickly
freed herself from the immense weight of water, which
otherwise must have caused her to founder. At mid-
night the gale was at its height; after that, the sea
became more regular, and consequently less dangerous;
the mainstay-sail being set, the barque lay throughout
the night in safety. For some days it continued to
40 LAND SIGHTED.
blow, without much variation as to the violence or
course of the wind, during which time, as it was im-
possible to cook in the galley, they had to live on raw
pork and biscuits. After this the wind moderated, and
the sea went down. All necessary sail was set, and
once more they stood on their course. A very few
days after, land was sighted from the mast-head, which
proved to be the lofty Peak of Teneriffe, which showed
itself high above the clouds, more than a hundred miles
distant. Early the next morning they anchored at Santa
Cruz, the capital of the island of Teneriffe, when, to the
captain's great indignation and dismay, he was informed
by the health-officer they must ride out a quarantine of
eight days. After breakfast Mr. Sprent went in one of
the boats to the mole with some orders from the cap-
tain; and, to Mark's great delight, he was allowed to
accompany him, though they were not permitted to
land. Jack Maurice was also one of the boat's crew,
and while they waited in the boat he held an animated
conversation in Spanish with some of the men who
stared at them from the shore. They were the most
wretched-looking objects that Mark had ever seen.
Some were dressed in coarse shirts and trousers, while
others of them had no shirts at all; and many of the
boys had a covering of some kind, made of goat-
"I wish we could go on shore and see the island,"
said Mark to Jack Maurice. "Do you think it is
LONGING TO GO ASHORE. 41
___ -. --
like %y -h l I..:- dklVw..,i to
do tit . ze _'_il _
Well, I doii't, tlink so,
my boy," replied Maurice.
"I hear we're to go to another of these islands, either
Grand Canary or Gomero, and there won't be a minute
of spare time."
"How I should like to climb to the top of that
mountain," said Mark. I wonder if any person has
ever managed to reach the very pinnacle ?"
"Oh yes," said Maurice, laughing. Why, for that
42 A SEA-LAWYER.
matter, I've been up myself; and a tough business it
was, I can tell you."
"You, Maurice!" said Mark, in some surprise.
"Oh, I wish you would tell me about it."
Not now, my boy," said Maurice kindly; "for here
comes the order to out oars and pull aboard; but when
we have a spell of leisure time, mayhap I'll give you
the whole yarn of that expedition ashore."
Mark often thought that if Maurice's history were
known it would be worth hearing ; he was such a
superior man to any of the others, and knew so much
about different countries, and their manners and cus-
toms, that Mark was often surprised. He generally
took care, however, not to show his knowledge before
his shipmates, always saying in a whisper, with a quiet
laugh, "It's not a comfortable thing, my lad, to be set
down as a sea-lawyer; in the fo'ks'l they'd call it book-
talk, if they heard it, so we'll keep it quiet between
ourselves." Yet he always seemed glad to have a quiet
hour with Mark, and would answer any amount of
questions the boy chose to ask. The very first oppor-
tunity Mark claimed Maurice's promise, and mounting
the rigging, they got into the round-top, their favourite
place of retreat. Maurice stood for some time with his
eyes fixed on the land, and his arms crossed, and with
a strange abstracted look in his face, that always made
Mark wish and long to hear more about his history.
But it was impossible to draw anything from him of a
MAURICE'S "YARN." 43
personal character; for Mark had heard some of the
men saying he did not like to be questioned, and had
even turned away from his questioner with an angry
oath-the only time he had ever been heard to make
use of a wrong word.
"Ay, my boy," he said, with a sigh, "the last time I
was in this harbour it was under very different circum-
stances. Hark ye, if I tell ye some of my past life, not
a word of it below. Yes; when I lay here last, I was
boatswain of a large foreign craft; but that's neither
here nor there. Here I am nothing but an A. B.
aboard this barque Stratton; and what's more, I'm
likely to keep that to the end of the chapter, as the
saying is. Well, when I was a youngster like you I
was crazy about seeing the world. I used to read
dozens of books of travel and adventure; from that I
determined to see the places myself, so there wasn't a
port I touched at, no matter where, but I managed to
get ashore and see everything there was to be seen.
When I was aboard the Spaniard that I mentioned, we
touched at this port, and by the captain's orders I set
out with a gentleman passenger we had aboard to climb
that mountain. I remember reading somewhere that
Teneriffe means the White Mountain, the peak being
mostly always covered with snow. It was about four
o'clock one afternoon we set out on horseback to visit
the Peak. We had a muleteer with us, and a guide.
After ascending about six miles, we arrived towards
44 ASCENDING TENERIFFE.
sunset at the most distant habitation from the sea, which
was in a hollow; and here we found an aqueduct of
open troughs or spouts, that conveyed the water down
from the head of the hollow. Here our servants
watered the horses, and filled some small barrels with
water to serve us on our expedition. While this was
being done my companion and I walked into the hollow,
which was very pleasant, being full of trees that gave
out a strong sweet smell. Near the houses were some
fields of maize or Indian corn; and we were told that
on several parts on this side of the island they had two
crops of it in the year.-But we might be more com-
fortable, Mark, my boy," he interrupted himself to
say, "if we took a seat on the foretopsail-yard there,"
pointing above; and when they were comfortably
seated, and Maurice had lighted his pipe, he pro-
"Mounting again, we travelled for some time on a
steep road, and got into the woods and the clouds just
as it grew dark; but fortunately, owing to the road being
bounded with laurel and brushwood, we could not lose
our way. We went on for about a mile further, till we
came to the upper edge of the wood above the clouds,
where we alighted, made a fire, and had our supper, and
went to sleep under the bushes. A little after ten, the
moon shining brightly, we mounted again, and travelled
for two hours over a very bad road; but this brought us
to a part covered with shingle, which we rode over for
A CAVERN AND A WELL. 45
about an hour at a pretty good pace. The air now began
to be sharp and cold, and the wind blew strong from the
south-west. By the advice of our guide we alighted
here, intending to rest till about four in the morning,
as there was a cave where we might sleep. The mouth of
it was built up to about a man's height, to prevent the
wind and cold from getting in, and we lighted a great
fire with some dry shrubs we found scattered about, and
fell asleep. But we soon wakened again, for our skin
itched so dreadfully that we fancied it must be caused
by a plague of fleas; but our guide explained it was
owing to the cold thin air, want of rest, and sleeping in
our clothes. We crept very close to the fire-so close
that one side was nearly scorched, while the other was
benumbed with cold, so that we, spent a most miserable
"In the morning we set out again; but the road being
so steep, we were compelled to leave the horses in the
charge of one of the servants, and go the rest of the way
on foot. We walked hard to keep ourselves warm, and
after much fatigue, owing to the steepness of the road
and the loose and sandy soil, we reached the top of a
rising hill. Here we found a great many huge loose
stones, some of them about ten feet every way; and
though the road was not so steep, we were compelled to
leap from one to another of these stones. Among them
we found a cavern, and in it a well. Some poor people,
who earn a living by gathering brimstone, put down a
46 UP ON THE "PEAK."
ladder, and we went down by it into the cavern. We
found it was spacious within, almost ten yards wide and
twenty in height, and covered with water except just
where the feet of the ladder stood. The water, two
fathoms deep, was there frozen to the inner edges of the
cave; and when we tried to drink of it we couldn't, it
was so dreadfully cold. Another quarter or half a mile
brought us to the bottom of the real Peak, or sugar-loaf,
which is very steep. Though it is only about half a
mile in height, it was so difficult to climb-owing to
the intense cold and the loose, crumbling side-we were
forced to stop, I believe, forty times to rest ourselves, as
our hearts panted and beat fearfully. When we set out
in the morning, the sun was just coming out of the clouds,
which were spread out under us at a great distance down-
ward. We saw from the Peak the tops of several of the
other islands, and they seemed to be strangely near us.
When we were rested we began to look about us. We
found the Peak is hollow, like a bell, and the bottom of
this caldron is about forty yards wide; and in many places
we saw smoke and steam coming out in puffs. The heat
of the ground was very great, and we even felt it through
the soles of our shoes. The brimstone here seemed to
be of all colours-azure, blue, green, violet, yellow, and
scarlet. All the top of the island shows evident marks
of some terrible convulsion that has happened in Tene-
rif'e; for the sugar-loaf is nothing else than earth mixed
with ashes and stones, thrown out of the bowels of the
ON THE FORETOPSAIL-YARD.
48 A NARROW ESCAPE.
earth, and the great square stones I spoke of before,
when the Peak was a volcano.
"We had got up all safe enough, and now, after see-
ing everything of any consequence, and admiring the
extraordinary and uncommon appearance of the clouds
below us at a great distance, we began to think of going
down again, when-"
"Oh, do tell me how the clouds looked !" said Mark,
"Well, they seemed like the ocean, only the surface
of them was not so blue or smooth; but they had the
appearance of very white wool; and where this cloudy
ocean, as we may call it, touched the shore, it seemed to
foam like billows breaking on it.-We then turned to
go down, but Mr. Tibbit, our passenger, made us stop
till he had rolled over a large piece of rock for some
scientific purpose of his own. He was a short man-or
rather, his legs were far too short for his body, which was
built on a large enough scale-and in giving the final
push he lost his balance, and away went the stone, with
him rolling after it, down the steep side! Fortunately
he had not rolled down the steepest side, else he would
never have been seen more-for we had already pitched
some stones over from that quarter, and they rolled quite
out of sight-but it was quite steep enough, I can tell
you; and there I had to dig my way down, making
steps in the side of the hill as well as I could, with the
help of the guide, till we reached the unfortunate gentle-
"STARBOARD WATCH, AHOY 49
man. Another stone had rolled over of itself after he
slipped, and had pinned him firmly by the skirts of his
coat; and the danger was, if he moved, the stone would
push him still further down. There he sat, yelling and
crying out that he was slipping, and offering large sums
of money to us if we saved him. We got him hauled up
at last by the help of the guide's stick and our belts; but
I got my left hand severely cut, as you may see by the
mark it has left, caused by another rock rolling down,
and crushing it before I was aware it was upon me. So,
you see, I bear the stamp of Teneriffe on me still."
Starboard watch, ahoy now sounded from below,
and both of them had to hurry down. Mark was still
more puzzled about Jack Maurice, and unable to make
out how, once being a boatswain, he had not risen higher,
instead of being reduced to sail as a common seaman; for
as he went on he spoke in a way that showed he had
been something better in former days, and had received
a very fair education.
32 -- 4
DOWN THE TROPICS.
OR a few days there was enough of occupation to
keep them from wearying in preparing a part of
the hold to take on board the wine destined as
"a portion of her cargo for home, as it was known
it improved by being taken to a hot climate.
Besides this, Mr. Yoyser set every spare hand
to repair the rigging, so that Mark had scarcely a mo-
ment's leisure. But a day before the quarantine expired,
Maurice called to him to lend a hand at the sail he was
mending, and Mark gladly seated himself to the task.
"I am glad our quarantine is nearly at an end now,"
said Mark. "I'm very anxious to get to Africa; for
somehow I think it will be a much more interesting
place than here. I've read a good deal about the strange
trees in Africa, for one thing; and then the natives are
so savage; but here it's all so tame."
"There's a lot of interesting things to be seen here
STRANGE TREES. 51
though, for all that," said Maurice. I'll be bound you
would like to see the caves they turn into houses in some
parts of these islands; and as for trees, there isn't a
stranger one to be seen anywhere than the raining-tree
of the Canaries."
"The raining-tree! why, what is it like?" said Mark.
"It is a kind of laurel, and has very wide-spreading
branches. Every morning a mist comes up from the sea
and rests on the thick leaves, and then oozes out by drops
during the day. The trees spring from the rocks at the
end of some of the long narrow valleys, and this helps
to attract the mist all the better. It is an evergreen,
and grows to a great size. The water that drops from
it supplies every family in the neighbourhood, and there
are regular people appointed to give out the supplies."
"It must be the most curious tree that ever grew,"
said Mark; "don't you think so, Maurice, or do you
know of any others ?"
"Well, I have seen one more curious still," replied
Maurice; that was the cow-tree; and I have been told
of one like the raining-tree here, called the pitcher-plant,
but I've never seen it myself. I've heard this tree has
a sort of small bag, shaped like a pitcher, at the foot of
the stalk of each leaf, with a neatly-fitted lid, and having
a kind of hinge that passes over the handle of the pitcher
and joins it to the leaf. The pitcher-plant is often
covered with birds, all sipping the water out of the
lids they open to catch the rain; but no sooner has the
52 KEEPING ONE'S EYES OPEN.
cloud passed away than the goblet closes itself firmly, so
that the plant always keeps some for its own nourish-
"And the cow-tree," said Mark, "what is it like?"
"It grows in South America, in one of the most un-
fruitful parts of it. It clings to the steep side of a rock,
and has dry, corky-like leaves, and its large woody roots
can hardly find sufficient depth of soil to grow in. For
several months no rain falls upon it, but the pores are
so constructed as to suck in the heavy dews that fall
every night in hot countries. But though the leaves
look dry and the branches seem to be dead, when the
trunk is pierced out comes a sweet kind of milk. You
get the most of it just at sunrise, and the natives there
crowd from all quarters to fill their bowls for their
"Well, it's all very curious," said Mark: "I have
heard of a butter-tree, and I believe it grows in Africa,
but I never heard of a cow-tree before. There must be
every kind of thing, in plants and trees, that one needs."
"Ay, my boy," said Maurice, "this is a wonderful
world; and people lose a good deal of pleasure, I can
tell you, by going about it with their eyes shut. I've
been with many a shipmate ashore at some strange port,
ancdthey would laugh at me for wanting to go into the
country to see what sort of trees, and birds, and animals
were to be found. They liked much better to get drunk
at some drinking-shed; for there's always rum to bo
AN UNWELCOME ENCOUNTER 53
had, somehow, at the smallest port that is, if there's
"Well, Maurice, I only hope we shall be allowed to
get ashore together at the Gaboon, that's all," said
Mark laughing. "I promise you I'll keep my eyes
very wide open indeed." This being a good opportunity,
Mark confided to his companion the notion he had of
trading in a small way on his own account; which
seemed to amuse the worthy seaman not a little, but he
heartily entered into the idea, and promised to lend a
The casks of wine were not long of being secured in
the hold, along with some hogsheads of barilla, and the
Stratton proceeded again without delay on her course.
The only circumstance of any consequence that happened
between their leaving the port of Santa Cruz and the
Gaboon River was an encounter with a water-spout.
The weather had been very sultry and hot, and clouds
began to gather heavily, and a sudden squall came on.
The sea appeared to be raised in a great heap, and
whirled and bubbled, the upper part being lost in the
mass of spray and foam, which was driven rapidly round.
The column moved slowly forward, sometimes quite
straight, sometimes being curved, and again taking a
twisted form. On it came with a rushing noise, like
the roar of a cataract, making the barque quiver from
stem to stern. Fortunately, the second mate had ob-
served it in time, and had ordered the foremost
54 PETER'S YARN.
carronade to be got ready, when it was discharged at it
with such good effect that it gradually became more
transparent, and vanished into the clouds. Every one
heaved a sigh of relief as it thus disappeared, for, but
for Mr. Sprent's promptitude, the vessel might have
been dismasted, and left a total wreck. That evening,
in the second dog-watch, or between the hours of six
and eight, many stories were related about these strange
phenomena of Nature. After several yarns had been
spun by the older hands, Peter, the cabin-boy, who was
listening very earnestly, suddenly said, "Oh, but I
could tell you about a stranger spout than any o' yourn,"
and he turned up his small nose with a strong expres-
sion of contempt.
"Ay, boy, could ye ?" said Long Jack; then out
with it; but mind ye, if ye don't make your words
good, I'll try the weight o' this rope-end across ye-it'll
help to take some o' your impudence and fool-hardiness
out o' ye, mayhap."
Come, now, don't frighten the youngster," said Jack
Jones, instituting himself as umpire. Let's have the
yarn, boy, and we'll see you get fair play."
Peter, who was by no means easily put down, as
Mark knew to his cost, gave a hitch to his belt, and
began his story in the most approved seaman's style.
"It was in the Indian Ocean that the ship I sailed my
first voyage in lay becalmed. She was a big lump of a
brig, and sailed as if she was water-logged. Well, there
THE WATER-SPOUT. 55
we were, in as dead a calm as ever ye see'd, when all of
a sudden the waters got black as ink, and the sea rose
in mountains over the ship's side, and away we went
almost flying through the water. Every one of us was
shinning up the rigging like mad to stow the sails, and
I had just got out on a yard to pass round the weather
gasket, when down comes a great black cloud, and up
gasket, when down comes a oreat black cloud, and up
56 FLYING THROUGH THE AIR.
goes the sea to meet it close to our bows, and the two
together lifts our lump of a brig up, and away it goes
with us flying through the air. We hadn't time to give
ourselves up for lost when down it dropped us with
such a crash that the mainmast jumped right out of its
socket, and if it hadn't been for the ropes and tackle,
would have shot itself right up into the clouds, like the
arrow from a bow. But that wasn't the strangest part
of it, for on taking our bearings, what does the captain
find but we had been carried as much as a good three
days' sail, and instead o' being near to the Chagos
Islands, we had been blown back to the Cape of Good
Hope, a distance of-"
"Hold hard, ye young rascal I" cried Long Jack.
"None o' your crammers. We're not to be took in wi'
"I tell ye it's true. Was I not there myself ? And
what's more, if ye ax any man ye meet at the Cape,
he'll say the same. For there was a laugh against the
captain, d'ye see ? For when the water-spout caught up
the brig, it took the captain, who was walking about
the quarter-deck, and whirled him up like a feather;
and there's no saying but what he may have been took
up into the blue sky altogether, and set astride a star
or some'at, had he not caught hold of the truck, and
then slid down the skysail-mast to the rigging. He told
us about it next day, and we grinned at it. But, d'ye
see, he wore a wig; and, sure enough, his head was as
CATCHING A BOOBY. 57
bare as my hand, and his wig was nowhere to be found.
The next morning, when I was aloft, I see'd something
fluttering out from the truck; and I climbed up to see
what it could be-for it looked like some strange bird
-when what was this but the captain's best wig a-
hanging like a red pennant; and, moreover-"
Hold hard !" shouted some of the men, though they
could not keep from laughing either. "Give him a
taste of the rope's-end, Jack, to teach him to spin sich
yarns to his betters."
But Peter had already made off and had escaped to
a place of safety, grinning from ear to ear.
A day or two after this, Mark was up the rigging,
when he observed a strange bird seated on the fore-top-
gallant yard. The weather was rough at the time, and
the sail was close furled, the vessel leaning over a good
deal; but in spite of this he made his way cautiously
out along the foot-rope to have a better view of it, when
to his surprise it sat quite still, and allowed him to
come close up to it. He then stretched out his hand,
but to his further surprise it allowed him to catch hold
of it, merely uttering a rough hoarse cry. Mark was
not long in carrying his prize down below, when the
captain, who happened to be on deck, observed him.
"Oh, so you've managed to catch a booby, have
you ?" he said, taking it out of Mark's hands.
"Is it a booby, sir said Mark. "I have read
about them; but I thought it was a dark bird, only
58 GIVING THE BOOBY ITS LIBERTY.
having gray and brownish colours about it, and black
feet and bill. Now this one has a brown back, white
breast, and pink bill."
"Yes; but this is a booby, my boy. The one you
have read about is a noddy: indeed, I believe they all
belong to the same family; though, more properly
speaking, the booby belongs to the Gannet or Solan
Goose family. But what are you going to do with this
"Well, I don't know, sir," said Mark. "I should
like to keep it very much; but, I suppose, I could not
"You might get the steward to show you how to
stuff it," said the captain.
But Mark did not like the idea of taking the bird's
life after allowing itself to be caught in such a quiet
manner. "I think if I cannot keep it alive, sir," he
said, "I will give it its liberty."
"Well, then, look at this," said the captain, who had
been watching something in the water.
And Mark stepped forward, and looking to where
the captain pointed,, saw a fish floating on the top of a
wave, evidently in a death struggle.
He has received some deadly wound from an adver-
sary below," said the captain. Now fling the booby
up in the air."
Mark did as the captain told him; and the next
moment the bird had swooped down on the dying fish,
RESTING ON THE YARD. 59
MARK CATCHING A BOOBY.
and appeared to swallow it up bodily, though it seemed
to be larger than itself. A few moments after, some-
thing dark came fluttering down, as if from the clouds
themselves, but the ship was passing too rapidly on her
course for Mark to make out distinctly what it was.
60 AT ANCHOR IN THE GABOON.
Ah," said the captain, see how everything falls a
prey to one another! There has been a frigate-bird
overhead, and he has swooped down to force the booby
to disgorge the fish he has swallowed, for the 'frigate'
is the great enemy of the stupid Sulafusca, or booby.
On the islands and rocky shores where the booby
settles, they catch fish all day long for the benefit of
those voracious birds which are waiting to attack and
rob them; for the frigate-birds can neither swim nor
dive, and the only fish they can take for themselves is
the flying-fish. But they are the swiftest birds that
range the ocean."
Mark was quite sorry when the captain turned to go
to the cabin, for he spoke so kindly that it was
impossible not to feel interested in the conversation.
But he had to be content; for though he would have
liked to have asked some questions about the other sea-
birds, he knew it was a great condescension and a
stretch of good-nature and courtesy for the commander
of the good barque Stratton to take any notice whatever
of a mere ship's apprentice.
The wind being favourable, they reached the mouth
of the Gaboon River late in the evening, and anchored
five miles from land. It was impossible for Mark to
sleep that night; and it felt so stifling below, that he
flung himself down at one of the open ports to wait
impatiently for morning. Hitherto his life at sea had
been monotonous enough, and the work by no means
WATCHING FOR DAYBREAK. 61
agreeable, but that was now a thing of the past, when
he realized that he was close to land. With all his old
ideas of the delight of first beholding a strange great
country like Africa, he kept peering into the gloom
towards the shore, in the vain endeavour to make out
the form of the woods, the slopes, the mountains, with
the opening of the wide river, and the uncouth huts and
fantastic structures he expected to see. At any rate,
he enjoyed what is the most thrilling pleasure of this
kind ever experienced by the novice at sea-the blended
hum of the multitudinous noises of the forest, occasion-
ally breaking out into separate notes, with now and
then the still more exciting sounds produced by human
inhabitants, whilst the very smell of the earth and
leaves came wafted by the fitful land-breeze to the
deck. Always uppermost in his mind, however, came
his fancy about bartering with the natives, by means of
his small stock of articles prepared for the purpose, in
order to obtain possession of gold dust, ivory, and such
valuables, which the African coast produced. He had
his mother's benefit in view; a consideration rising in
his mind, through warm affection, above even the boyish
delight in adventure and in seeing the world for its own
When day broke next morning, he was considerably
disappointed at the general appearance of the land. It
was low, on the whole, though overspread with wild
wood; here and there topped by feathery palms, and
62 LYING OUTSIDE THE BAR.
parted by lines of plumy cocoa-nut trees along the shore.
A streak of white sand ran beneath them, on either
side of the wide opening of the river, which sent its
dingy flood to mingle gradually with the green of the
sea, which expanded away in all the exquisite blueness
of the tropical ocean. On one side of the entrance to
the Gaboon was the inner anchorage, with the trade
settlement and native village beyond, backed by a slight
eminence, on which the factory stood, with a flag
waving over it, and some appearance of rude fortifica-
tion. Two or three merchant vessels, with their decks
roofed over, lay before it; and, to Mark's great delight,
farther out was a man-of-war steam cruiser, showing
British flags. Still farther out, a great canoe full of
people, both native and European, appeared to be on
its way to the cruiser; in the middle of it was raised
something like an immense umbrella, and an awning
besides; while at the same time an English ensign was
displayed from a flagstaff above. As it approached the
cruiser, a salute was fired from the latter, showing that
some important personage must be at hand. It was,
indeed, no other than the chief African potentate of
the river-His Majesty King Glass himself. Here
was something already answering to our hero's expecta-
tions, and it was not long before he was favoured by
an opportunity of seeing things more closely at the
The Stratton still lay outside the bar, over which
PREPARING TO CROSS THE BAR. 63
there was not always sufficient water to take vessels
safely at that season, till the tides reached a greater
height. Such being the case, the jolly-boat was ordered
to be lowered away, as the captain was going to send his
"list" of articles for sale to a resident merchant for
inspection; and also to make arrangements to pay the
king's dash," or harbour dues. Mr. Sprent was to go,
with five of the best hands on board, as the boat might
be difficult to manage in crossing the bar.
64 IN THE JOLLY-BOAT.
Mark ventured to say in a whisper to the second
mate, "May I go too, sir "
And looking down at the boy's anxious face, he
replied, "Well, perhaps you may. But it's a rough
passage, and not free from danger."
Oh, I don't mind that a bit, sir," said Mark hastily,
but with due respect, making Mr. Sprent laugh out-
right at his eagerness. And accordingly, when the
boat was ready, Mark was the first to step into her.
They now approached the bar, or that under-water
bank of sand and mud across the entrance of the river,
which is always found towards the mouths of the great
African streams, and of which there are sometimes two
or even three in succession. Although the Stratton,
with her cargo, could not safely get across this, there
was at present in such still water no sign of the ob-
struction, except here and there a wandering streak, or
a winding patch of the brown river-water, almost
distinct from the green and blue of the sea. Another
mark of its presence, in a more alarming way, was
suddenly visible in the shape of two or three back-fins
of ground-sharks, which rose black and wet over the
surface where the boat crossed, seeming to follow it with
an interest that made the boy shiver. The slight danger
was soon passed, however, after which these odious
objects vanished; and it was not long before the boat
fairly entered the river and steered to the landing-place.
They had not reached this, indeed, before an additional
illustration of the dangers to be found in an African
river became visible to Mark. On the hot mud under
the opposite bank-near a low thicket of the tangled
mangroves, whose roots were left bare by the tide-
there lay what Mark took for three or four drifted logs,
or fallen stems of trees, with the bark half off. One of
the men, as he pulled his oar, gave a meaning sign to
"What do you think these are, lad he whispered,
looking over his shoulder.
Mark followed his glance, and saw a slight motion of
one of the supposed logs. It seemed to roll itself up a
little more, stretching itself full in the sun, till he made
out the shape of a hideous foot, and saw, with a start,
a pair of huge jaws yawning drowsily, as it were, in
"A crocodile!" he exclaimed, in the same under-
tone. "Yes; it must be."
"Alligators," muttered the seaman, scowling, as if he
had some unpleasant recollection in connection with
them. "Sink the brutes !-I wish I had but a slap
at 'em !"
On shore, a sort of procession was in movement in
the direction of the harbour, which proved to be "Will
Glass," the king's nephew, on his way to pay a visit to
the steam cruiser. He was followed by six or seven of
his numerous wives, and was arrayed in a full-dress
English uniform, said to have cost upwards of 60.
66 PREPARING TO TRADE.
During this time, Mr. Sprent was busily engaged with
one of the resident merchants, making arrangements for
the exchange of the Stratton's cargo of "assorted
notions for the produce of the country; which in this
case was to be palm oil, gold dust, and ivory.
The list having been put up conspicuously in the
merchant's store, so that the traders, purchasers, and
idlers might see what was for sale, and all the other
arrangements being made, he returned to the boat,
where the men and Mark soon joined him. It was late
in the afternoon when the boat left the landing-place,
on its way back to the ship. The sky had darkened,
and a squall of some kind was evidently about to come
off the land,-if, indeed, something more violent was
not to be feared. This quickened the movements of
the boat's crew; and they pushed briskly off, bending
to the oars with a will. On reaching the mouth of the
river, however, they found the water beginning to
bubble like a boiling caldron, through which they could
make but slow way. Before them there was now real
danger on the bar, increased by the state of the weather.
When they had first entered, the time of high-water
was not far past, but it was now the extreme ebb, or
low-water, so that the bar became terribly distinct. It
formed one broad band of roaring surf, shaped like a
half-moon, round the mouth of the river, without a
break that could be discovered to escape through.
Happily for them, there was an advantage for the
moment from the very approach of the squall, if rightly
taken in time, but which would insure their destruction
if they delayed.
l' ,. -' ..".' -
CROSSING THE BAR.
"Step the mast there!" cried Mr. Sprent, as the first
puffs of heavy air began to blow from over the woods.
"/Up with the sail-quick, for your lives, men!"
It was done; and the ropes that drew down the lower
corners of the canvas were hauled to their place, Mark
being stationed by the mate at the more important of
the two, while Mr. Sprent himself watched for the right
68 "PULL ALL !"
moment to steer between the angry surges as they ran
together into foam.
"Now, boy," said he hoarsely, "our lives depend on
you letting go when I give the word; but I will trust
Mark answered by a glance of grateful determination,
and away the boat went, oars and sail jointly shooting
the boat far in and up on the rising breaker. They
outran it, and were tossed on, heaving sideways up to
"Pull all-bend and break 'em!" shouted the mate.
"Now in oars-hold on with the sheet, my boy." There
was a moment when they seemed flung helplessly away,
and all that Mark could do was to cling to his seat, with
the precious rope clutched in his hands. He thought of
the sand-bank below, and of the horrible ground-sharks
that came to mind with it. One skilful turn of the
rudder by Mr. Sprent, and they were safe so far; but
the squall was upon them next moment, with a whistle
and a howl, sending the spray along into their eyes.
"Let go the sheet!" cried the mate, and it flew loose
at the word. "Down sail-out oars!" The free waves
of the open water were beneath them, and on went the
boat, the rowers pulling stoutly for the ship, which they
soon reached in safety.
By that time a regular tornado was upon them; one
startling flash of lightning after another, with terrific
peals of thunder between, told what would have been
IN SAFETY ONCE MORE. 69
the boat's fate if it had been delayed a little longer.
The wind roared through the rigging, the rain fell by
bucketfuls in one continuous stream, and the vessel
groaned at her anchor, rolling from side to side. Still
the cable held well, and she rode it out unhurt. By
midnight the worst was past, and the weather turned by
degrees to its former course.
V ~ -.-.-- r -
\_ ",k -L- r.5 -
EXT day, with the help of the flood-stream from
inland, the tide enabled them to be piloted
up to the proper moorings inside, when the
Stratton was then housed over in the custo-
mary way with awnings and deals; after
which she proceeded with the regular trade of the place.
The necessary kroomen were on board, who were to
attend to the boat service; and the captain had departed
for his residence on shore, leaving the vessel in the
charge of the mates, who, with the crew, were to de-
spatch and receive the cargo. For a time every one
was so much occupied, that Mark had no opportunity
of attending to his own speculations, and had half given
up the idea of it altogether, when one day Peter, the
cabin-boy, tapped him on the shoulder, and beckoning
to him in a mysterious way, disappeared up the rigging,
where our hero was not long in following him. When
he had reached the round-top, he found Peter standing
A NEW TRADER. 71
with a small basket in his hand, evidently having some
very precious articles there, judging by the careful way
in which he was holding it. Mark had been somewhat
surprised at Peter's summons, for they had never been
very good friends all the voyage; Peter delighting to
tease and worry Mark on any and every occasion. To
such a height had he carried his mischievous tricks, that
only two days before they had reached the Gaboon,
Mark had determined to free himself in a most effective
manner from his tormentor; and, accordingly, he had
turned upon Peter, and after a severe fight, the men
being there to see that everything was fair and above
board," Mark was declared the victor. They both bore
the marks of the conflict on their faces, and Peter had
only been able to have the bandage taken off his eye
that very morning. Mark was therefore more than
surprised to hear that Peter wanted to ask his advice in
a friendly way, and to discover that this boy also, like
himself, had notions of trading with the natives; nay,
what was more to the point, he seemed to know how
to set about it.
"I say, shipmate," he said, as Mark's head appeared
above the edge of the round-top, "if you like I'll put
you up to a thing or two at this here coast. But what
am I saying? It isn't likely such a greenhorn as you
be's, has thought of bringing aught to barter with the
"There you are mistaken," said Mark; "I'm not
72 A RARE SHOW.
quite so green as you think, for I've got a lot of things.
I brought them on purpose."
"Well, now, who'd have a-thought he'd have known
it!" said Peter, surveying him out of his right eye and
screwing up his left, in imitation of Jack Jones.
But what have you brought me up here for 7" said
Mark. "Was it to look at that basket of yours? have
you got your private cargo stowed in there 1"
"You're about right there," said Peter, beginning to
unfasten the lid; "and what's more, I mean to give
you a private peep ;" then drawing himself up, he began
to call out as he had heard some showmen do in Bristol:
"Gather round, tumble round, gather round; the show
is about to commence. Here you will see as rare a
show of African fetiches as ever your eyes see'd. They
are destined to become the property of his African
majesty, King Piawauwau and his threescore of wives;
likewise there's here a valible assortment of leg-rings,
wrist-rings, and nose-rings,-all for these same queens
and princesses, and lovely dears they will look with
"Come, Peter, stop your nonsense," said Mark, be-
ginning to lose patience, and sitting down on the floor,
preparatory to going off altogether; "if you mean to
show me the things, do it at once,-the watch will be
Well, then, shut your eyes and open your mouth-
no, I mean wisy wersa, as the captain said this morning."
PETER'S TREASURES. 73
PETER SHOWING HIS TREASURES.
Mark opened the lid of the basket, and to his sur-
prise the principal objects that were packed away were
prise the principal objects that were packed away were
74 THE CONTENTS OF THE BASKET.
two small dolls, very nicely dressed. Why, whatever
can have possessed you to bring out dolls to Africa?"
said Mark, laughing heartily.
I knowed he was green," said Peter, taking out the
dolls very cautiously, and showing the further contents
of his basket. You wait a few days, and see if my
dolls won't bring in more than all your cargo put to-
gether. Now, what do you think of these, then, by
way of a change "
"I should suppose they will be as valuable as the
dolls," said Mark. "I do declare, they are some old
window-curtain rings !"
Right again, my boy," said the incorrigible Peter;
"I bought the whole boiling o' them at a broker's shop
for half-a-crown; and here's the small uns that hooked
into the big uns."
"But what will you do with them ?" said Mark.
"Sell them to the king, in course; doesn't his wives
wear dozens of sich on their legs and arms The little
uns, they're for the noses; or if they don't like them
for that, why then I takes this wire,-I twist offa piece
so, I ties it on so, and says I, Ladies fair-I begs your
parding-ladies black, here's ear-rings for you in a
This seemed to be the whole contents of the basket,
with the exception of a small bag of cowrie-shells, a few
red glass beads, and two old pocket-knives.
"What made you think of the rings ?" said Mark
PETER'S SUPERIOR KNOWLEDGE. 75
beginning to think Peter was not to be despised; were
you ever here before "
"No; and don't mean to come again, if I knows it,"
replied Peter; "but I'll tell you how I happens to get
them: our ship lay for some weeks alongsidee of a brig
that had just come in from Africa, and one o' the boys
and I got very thick, and he told me a lot about the
place, and what a deal he could have made if he had
only taken out some things; so, when I comes to hear
we were bound for this port, I goes on shore and
smuggles them things aboard, and stows them away
snug. I'll tell you what it is, shipmate, you may thank
your stars you are aboard this ship, for in many a one
the men would search your chest, and walk off with
everything valible they took a fancy to; but they
knows better aboard the Stratton than to touch the
"Was it your friend that told you about the dolls ?"
said Mark, laughing.
"Yes, it was; it was his own idea, certainly, and see
if it doesn't turn out a good one. He was about the
longest headed chap I ever see'd; 'cos why, he was a
Yankee born, and they know what they are about, let
me tell you."
But how are you going to manage to barter your
things?" inquired Mark.
That's the rub," said Peter. Now, in course, I
have been turning the matter over, as you may be sure.
76 HOW THE CAPTAIN TRADES.
I have been keeping my ears pretty wide open, for I
hears a good deal of the talk going on in the cabin.
This is the skipper's second trip to this quarter, and he
knows the ways of the place. He lost a good deal of
his cargo last time, by trusting it to some o' them native
"How was that?" said Mark; "did they steal
Well, some folks would call it stealing. You see,
these men get the cargo, and take it away up into the
country to sell, promising to bring back goods in ex-
change. Well, they often take such a time about it, a-
purpose to tire out the captains, that the ships are forced
to leave before they come back, if they ever do come
".And what is the captain going to do now?" said
Mark. "The merchants here seem to be pretty well
"Yes, another day or two will finish the market
here," said Peter; "and so the captain is thinking of
sending the native gold-taker and a boat's crew up one
of the rivers, to a place where he fancies trade can be
carried on with the natives themselves, after which
there's a talk that we are to sail for some other part of
But what has all this to do with us and our chance
of bartering the things we have ?" said Mark.
"Just this," replied Peter: "Jack Maurice was in
GREAT DELIBERATIONS. 77
last night speaking to the mates; for Jack knows this
coast, and can speak a little Spanish, or some other
foreign lingo. He's going in the boat, and so is Mr.
Sprent. Now, I was a-thinking, if you get Maurice to
speak a word for us, we might be took too. I know
you are a sort of a chum of Jack's; but if you got me
took with you, I'd help you to get along, for I know
they'll cheat you, they are so cunning, and you are so
Mark passed over the last remarks; but willingly
promised to do his best to get them both included in the
boat's crew. That same afternoon the captain came on
deck, and after he had gone ashore again, Peter man-
aged to give Mark, who was standing beside the chief
mate, a nudge, and a knowing wink and a shrug. By
this Mark understood there was some important piece
of information to be communicated. When the mate
had gone away, Mark proceeded up into the round-top,
where he was not disappointed in finding Peter. It
seemed that the captain had intimated that no more
cargo was to be sent ashore; but as he was very anxious
to push on, a boat was to be got in readiness to start
early next morning.
You see, the captain he says we have just arrived
in the nick of time, seeing that it was a day or two
after the beginning of 'the little dry season,' as them
darkies call it. It only lasts six weeks, and down comes
the rain for months after."
78 A BOAT EXPEDITION.
"Well, then, we had better make good use of our
time now," said Mark, laughing. "I'll go and look for
After a little persuasion Maurice was prevailed upon
to get them both taken, and Mark made up a parcel of
his goods, including the horse-shoe and pocket-pistol.
He also had a small pocket-compass, and an old pinch-
beck watch, the sight of which nearly drove Peter crazy
with delight. These things were carefully hidden about
their bodies, by the ingenious Peter, who explained that
only one thing was to be shown at once.
To the boys' intense satisfaction, they were permitted
to go; and though the boat was to leave at a very early
hour, they were ready long before the hour of start-
"What have you done with your dolls?" said Mark.
"Have you got them with you?"
"In course; it's not very likely I'd have left them
behind," said Peter. "I've got them stowed away in
the bag of grub; I'm steward, you know."
In passing up the river, Mark was much interested in
watching the surrounding scenery, or rather the strange
trees and various plants. It appeared to him to be a
country of mangroves, and nothing else but mangroves;
for the region of mud and slime is the peculiar kingdom
of this singular tree. It seemed to take possession of
the ground by its thousand roots that shoot out from its
trunk, and by the long fibrous hair that hung down from
ROWING UP THE RIVER. 79
the branches; and also by its numberless fruits, which,
before falling, send forth large roots, drop into the
water by thousands, and are supported in an upright
position by the weight of their roots, till they are at
length carried by the tide to take possession of some
new bank of mud. The mangroves rose at some parts
of the river like an impenetrable bank of grayish ver-
dure. Had it not been for the occasional sight of a
beautiful kingfisher, a parrot, or a touraco, the sight of
these gloomy mangroves would have proved very
monotonous: but even their harsh notes were so scarce,
that the repose of these solitudes was seldom dis-
Passing between the little islands of the Gaboon, it
was some relief to come upon a canoe belonging to one
of the mission-stations, and to exchange a hearty salute
with them; and but for this circumstance, nothing hap-
pened to enliven the scene till they got further into the
interior. It was a pleasure to find that here the
aspect of nature changed considerably, and that the
vegetation became more varied. Mark was interested
in seeing the enimbas, a large kind of palm, which, Jack
Maurice told him, though it did not produce much oil,
was very useful as ready-made planks in the construction
of their houses, and for shingles, which are easily pre-
pared for the purpose of roofing.
"I should like very much to go on shore," said Mark
to Jack. "I'd like to see how they build their houses."
80 THE SIGHTS UP THE RIVER.
THE MISSION-STATION CANOE.
"They don't build them at all," said Jack Maurice,
"Not build them!" replied Mark; "why, then, what
do they dol"
A SWEET HOUSE. 81
"They sew them. Every bit of a hut here away is
sewn together bit by bit; a hammer and nail is not
brought into use at all."
"Have you seen one done?" asked Mark, greatly
"Oh yes; and since you are anxious to know, I'll
build one right away," said Jack. "First," he con-
tinued, you strip your planks. They are the branches,
or rather the ribs, of the enimbas leaves, about eighteen
feet in length, and very thick and narrow. They are
quite level on the sides, and perfectly straight. The
leaves are used in the place of tiles, and are ranged
side by side, and fastened together by wooden pegs.
The thread which they use is, of course, a fibre taken
from another of the palm family, and is called ojono.
It is easily bent, and is very strong. I think I have
reason to remember that ojono. You see, boy, it is a
species of what they call rotang-thorn. I was walking
about the woods one day, helping that same old gentle-
man I told you about before, that went up Teneriffe,
and all of a sudden something gripped me by the leg.
I hollered out, and back came the old gentleman in no
end of a hurry, to find out what was up, when there he
found I was hard and fast caught by two hooks, like a
great fish. That old gentleman told me lots of things,
and when he had cut me free, explained to me that
this was a rotang, and showed me it was armed with
a kind of bent hook, fastened in pairs on each side of
82 CATCHING A TARTAR.
the stalk, like the flukes of an anchor; and I can tell
you they don't let you free so easily, if once they lay
Mr. Sprent now ordered that the boat should be
steered in the direction of a small cove, where they
might rest and refresh themselves during the extreme
heat of the day. Seizing this opportunity, Mark and
Peter went strolling a little way into the interior, in
the hope that they might be able to catch a parrot, or
perhaps a young monkey; but, as it turned out, poor
Peter caught a Tartar instead. He was poking his nose
into the bushes, and peering cautiously into the trees,
when all of a sudden his eyes lighted upon something
like a bag made of leaves hanging at the end of a
branch. In a moment Peter had pulled it off, and was
proceeding to examine it more closely, when in a moment
out flew a perfect shower of ants, most singular in their
appearance, being large, light-coloured, and long-bodied.
They swarmed round the head and face of the hapless
Peter, inflicting a sharp and severe mark, and forcing
both the boys to run back to their companions in as
great a state of terror as if a dozen of savages were
At this time they were also interested in watching a
very remarkable red ant, close to the place where they
were resting. Mr. Sprent discovered these creatures
marching in close column through the grass, and it was
evident they were observing a peculiar order of advance.
A FORMIDABLE ARMY. 83
The division proceeded in two compact rows, being
somehow entwined one with the other, so that the
whole troop might have been raised at the end of a
stick in masses. They had constructed also two long
equal walls two or three inches in height, and equally
distant the one from the other. Between these two
walls a perfect stream of ants flowed on, carrying pro-
visions or larvae, which perhaps they had taken from
some hostile republic. In the midst of those who were
labouring so hard, were a number of large-headed ones,
apparently directing the march. They carried no bur-
dens, but they possessed a formidable pair of piercers,
and were evidently the soldiers of the colony, and
watched over its safety. They also acted as scouts on
the flank of the double wall, collected the fugitives,
urged on those who lagged behind, and repelled the
attack of every enemy. Mark learned afterwards that
great respect is paid to these travelling ants, and that
they are very seldom molested by the natives; in-
deed, they are somewhat superstitious about them, and
when they encounter them they will pluck a leaf from
the nearest tree and place it gently on the ground,
thinking that this act will secure them against mis-
After some little delay, caused by their guide mistak-
ing the way, they arrived at their destination. They
first came upon a single hut, which proved to be the
outpost of a village half hidden by the surrounding
84 A WARLIKE TRIBE.
trees, and which had thus been placed in a position of
defence. To Mr. Sprent's surprise, he discovered he
had come upon a warlike tribe, and not the people he
had been in search of at all. A small hill, or rising
ground, was speedily covered with a host of warriors,
large and small;-even children rushed to join the com-
pany, brandishing weapons suited to their height, whilst
in the centre stood the chief, carrying javelins and war-
knives enough to stock a citadel! Mr. Sprent now left
the boat in the keeping of the men, and taking Jack
Maurice and the two lads, with the native interpreter,
made signs that a canoe should be sent out to enable
them to land.
In a few minutes they had landed, and were in the
presence of the chief. He was a man about forty, large,
muscular, and hard-featured, with a projecting forehead,
long lank arms, and his breast tattooed in a most dis-
agreeable fashion. His only garment was the shaggy
skin of some animal wrapped round his waist. He re-
ceived them in a very stern and severe manner; but the
eloquence of the interpreter, and the hope of obtaining
presents, softened him in the end. Though the visit of
the party was not expected, and though they had not
come into actual contact with white people before, they
appeared only half surprised, perhaps because they had
heard something of the white men. Mr. Sprent hastened
to distribute some tobacco-leaves amongst the company,
which put them all into good humour; and when a long-
FRIENDLY NEGOTIATIONS. 85
handled knife was added as the chief's "dash," they
showed their formidable rows of filed teeth while smiling
kindly upon them. The chief now invited Mr. Sprent
and his little land-party to enter the village quite close
at hand, which had more the appearance of a kind of
fortress, having at each end of the wide street or double
line of huts a rude guard-house.
....-- -r .' .
While Mr. Sprent was occupied with the chief, Peter
and Mark, in looking about them, discovered a Mussul-
man trader who had just arrived with a caravan from
the interior. It was at once decided that Mark should
begin to trade forthwith; and for this purpose he got
some of his beads, and going to the place where the
trader had taken up his temporary abode along with a
young slave, presented the bunch of bright glass
86 PETER'S DISCOMFITURE.
Peter, who was hovering round the door to see that
his friend was not imposed upon, was horrified to find
that the Mussulman had quietly taken possession of the
beads, and was making signs to our hero to be off about
his business! "Why, that's cool, and no mistake,"
said Peter; "come, none of that,-if you don't give
them beads up, you rascal, I'll make you remember it-
To all these words, and many more besides, the trader
turned a deaf ear, and the boys were forced to leave the
beads in his hands, knowing that Mr. Sprent would not
on any account stir up a quarrel for the sake of a few
paltry beads, and might also forbid them to carry on
their private speculations any further.
I'll tell you what it is," said Peter, flourishing his
hand above his head in a very determined manner:
"we'll have nothing to do with them traders; we'll set
to work among the natives themselves,-and my advice
is, let's try the females."
It was arranged that they should return to their boat
for the night, or rather that a small tent should be
erected on the shore close to where the boat lay, and
that they should "camp out" there. The chief was
very anxious that Mr. Sprent and his small party should
remain in the village; but having a strong prejudice
against the natives, and fearing that they might attack
his boat during the night, the mate declined the invita-
tion. Seeing, however, that not only the chief but
TRADING ON ONE'S OWN ACCOUNT. 87
__, ;lli .
, __.~-- --_ .
THE MUSSULMAN TRADER.
many of the warriors were by no means pleased at this
arrangement, Mr. Sprent asked our hero to remain with
Peter and the interpreter, to show that he was not
83 A NIGHT ON SHORE.
afraid of them, but that his sole wish for retiring to his
boat was that he might be in readiness to land the
goods he had brought early next morning.
Both Mark and Peter were highly delighted, and
with Mr. Sprent's permission were allowed to take
their bags containing the things they wanted to barter
with the natives. Fortunately, the interpreter had
taken a fancy to both the lads, and also to Mark's
small pocket-compass, which, at Peter's suggestion, was
placed in Jack Maurice's hands, and the said Como
was informed that if he helped them to dispose of the
other things they had, the compass was to be given to
him for his "dash," or commission.
Under his escort the two boys made the tour of the
village, and saw that this particular tribe of the Gaboon
district were particularly skilful in the working of iron.
They made great war-knives, and many short ones for
various uses, along with adzes, and excellent hatchets of
remarkable shape. One of these hatchets or knives
represented the profile of a bird's head, set on a very
arched neck which served for the handle; a groove
divided the beak into two parts, while a hole was
pierced to represent the eye. The blades were of good
workmanship, and much better than those supplied to
the natives by foreign merchants. They were also
chased with ornamental devices, sometimes even inlaid
with copper in a very tasteful manner. Their stock of
tools surprised Mark by its simplicity. It consisted
NATIVE TOOLS. 89
chiefly of two small portable anvils, one of them being
fixed to the ground, whilst the other is used as a
hammer. They heat the iron by a wood fire, which is
kept alight by a double pair of bellows very ingeniously
made. It is a piece of wood several inches in height,
in which two parallel cavities are cut in the form of a
cylinder, each of which is fitted at its extremity with a
tube to convey the blast. Each of, these cavities is
covered with a very flexible skin, to which a wooden
handle is fastened; and the covering, as it is alternately
raised and lowered, draws in and gives out the air.
These bellows,, so simple and easy in their structure,
Mark was informed by Mr. Sprent afterwards, are
known over the whole of the African continent; and
as for the strange bird-shaped knife, he was horrified
to find it was used on sacrificial occasions. A single
blow on the temple inflicts a mortal wound, and the
bent part serves afterwards for the work of decapita-
The most dangerous arm of this interesting but pecu-
liar tribe, however, is the cross-bow, with which they
shoot small poisoned arrows of bamboo. This weapon
requires great strength on the part of the archer to set
it; but as it is discharged with a very slight pressure,
it can be fired from the shoulder like a gun, and shoots
with great precision. The bow, with its poisoned
arrow, which is very deadly, is more used in the hunt-
ing-ground than on the battle-field; for the necessity of
90 NATIVE DANCING.
being seated in order to load the weapon makes it
awkward in a struggle.
After the two boys had been through the village and
had seen everything of consequence, they returned to
the chief's dwelling. Tom-toms were speedily brought
out, as well as other rude musical instruments, and the
whole village began to dance. It was all Mark could
do to keep 'Peter in order, for he laughed immoderately
whenever he looked at any of the women ornamented
with the ito, who had taken care to spread these appen-
dages out to the utmost, so as to acquire the proper
fluttering motion. Two long rows of dancers, men and
women, each conducted by a leader, wound about be-
fore the orchestra, followed and retreated from one
another by turns, waxed more and more animated every
moment, and were finishing with the most extraordinary
gambols, when suddenly they were interrupted by hear-
ing a great shout, and away ran every one to see what
was the matter. Off ran Mark and Peter with the rest,
when, after a time, they came upon two white men
with guns. They were directing three negroes who
were busily engaged in skinning a great serpent, two of
them hauling at a rope fastened to the creature's neck,
while a third was busily engaged cutting the dreadful
creature open, which he did by sliding down its body
as if it had been a pole.
The two serpent-hunters turned out to be Mr. Sprent
and Jack Maurice; and so rejoiced were the natives at
A FORMIDABLE ENEMY. 91
the death of such a formidable enemy, that the chief
insisted they should turn back and be entertained by the
whole tribe, the chief giving his wife up as a hostage
for the safety of the boat and merchandise. There was
certainly in nature nothing more formidable than this
full-grown "puff adder." Mr. Sprent good-naturedly
explained how he and Jack Maurice had come upon it
with its body buried in the tawny soil.
Was it quite covered up, sir ? said Mark.
92 KILLING THE PUFF ADDER.
No, my boy," replied Mr. Sprent; it had just left
its flat, cruel-looking head lying on the ground, and free
from sand. It lay very steady, confident in its deadly
power, with a most malignant glare in its eyes; but
with all its terrible venom, we had a more deadly one
"Did you shoot it, sir 2"
"Shoot it !-not at all. Who would waste good
powder and shot on such a villain "
"Then how did you kill it-with a lasso? I know
Jack can use it," said Mark.
Well, my boy, I'll not puzzle you any more. What
will you say if I tell you we killed it with a little
tobacco juice "
With tobacco juice, sir I that is indeed very strange.
How did you manage it "
"Well, we rubbed some of the tobacco oil on a stick.
Fortunately, Jack had a pipe as old as the hills, which
turned out a good deal of oil, and while he made the
villain bite the stick, I squirted a lot of juice in its face,
and in a very short time he was dead."
"Is this serpent very poisonous, sir 2" said Mark.
It is so-very; and they are more dreaded by the
natives than almost any other of the numerous poison- *
ous snakes of Africa. This mainly comes from its indo-
lent nature. Other snakes, more active, will move
rapidly away upon the approach of man; but the puff
adder will frequently lie still, either too lazy to move,
PETER'S GREAT FETICH. 93
or dozing beneath the warm sun. Its broad, ace-of-
clubs-shaped head, its thick body and suddenly tapered
tail, and its checkered back, are all evidences of its
"Why do they call it a puff adder ?" inquired Mark.
"Because it has a practice of puffing out, or swelling
the body, when irritated," replied Mr. Sprent-" But
what is this ?" he said, drawing Mark's attention to a
group of natives, who were evidently in a state of ex-
citement about something extraordinary. They had
been walking up together from the place where the ser-
pent had been killed to the village during the above
conversation, and Mark had not observed that Peter
was not with them.
Drawing near, they discovered that it was none other
than that incorrigible young individual who was the
cause of all the howling, screaming, and yelling. He
had taken this opportunity of exhibiting one of his dolls,
and as it opened and shut its eyes, the natives were
wild in their expressions of admiration at it. Peter
kept calling out, "Moondah, moondah! fetich, great
fetich !" every time he did so giving a pull to the wire,
which either jerked the eyes open or shut. In a very
short time the chief of the village heard of it, and came
out to see this wonder-fetich for himself. By the help
of the interpreter, Peter was giving the chief to under-
stand that "for a consideration it might become his.
They were in the act of negotiation when Mr. Sprent
94 CHEATING THE NATIVES.
and Mark came up; and as Peter did not see them, they
kept out of sight to see how the matter would end.
The chief offered some knives, and then some pearls;
but Peter shook his head, and pointed to a massive
bracelet made of gold upon one of the arms of his wife.
I must say he is not modest," said Mr. Sprent;
"why, that bracelet might be a fortune to him." The
chief hesitated; but seeing this, the wily Peter drew
out the other doll, which was made of wood and jointed,
and bending its legs and arms into all sorts of shapes,
offered it into the bargain. This proved irresistible,
and they were carried away in state to the fetich hut,
and placed amongst the other grotesque figures there;
Peter having got the bracelet in return I
"Oh, Mr. Sprent," said Mark, "Peter ought not to
be allowed to cheat the savages; he must have made
them believe these dolls were gods."
Well, I don't think they will worship them," said
Mr. Sprent, laughing, not being so scrupulous as our
hero. "They are fond of any figure resembling a
European, and though they do not exactly worship
them, so far as I know, they are very fond of having
them. If Peter had not brought these dolls, it would
have made no difference, for everything there is fetich."
"But do they worship nothing, then ?" asked Mark.
"I can scarcely say they do," said Mr. Sprent.
"They have a certain fear regarding the wandering
spirits of the dead; and they believe in the existence of
RELIGION OF THE NATIVES. 95
genii, as possessing great power in inflicting evil. They
have an implicit belief in the virtue of a multitude of
talismans; and of fetiches, which they suppose possess
the power of preserving them from sickness, or from
the accidents of war. The little ornament of tiger's
claws, which the women wear round their necks, is
called moondah; the finely-cut plate on their fishing
tackle is called the same; and so is the little particle of
burnt ashes of a leopard's brain, which the warrior hides
under his cotton drawers, and grasps at the moment of
battle to give him courage. This is regarded as a very
powerful fetich, but there is one more powerful still."
As Mr. Sprent stopped, and looked smilingly at
Mark, apparently wishing to be asked what this extra-
ordinary thing was, Mark was not long in gratifying
him. "They are certainly a very queer race," he said.
" Will Peter's dolls be more powerful than the leopard's
No, not half so powerful, my boy," said Mr. Sprent;
"what do you say to the ashes from the burnt flesh or
bones of a white man "
"Oh, how dreadful !" said Mark, shuddering. "I
wonder they don't burn us up at once, then, as that
might supply a whole tribe."
"They won't do any such thing, my boy," said Mr.
Sprent; "they are beginning, even away up in the in-
terior, to dread the name of a white man, and are too
anxious to trade with him for the things they value so
96 WHAT THEY PRIZE MOST.
highly. It is a pity our ship could not have got up this
river; for we should have driven a brisk trade here,
and got home all the sooner."
"Is it likely we shall stay much longer here, sir "
said Mark eagerly.
"Do you mean the boat, or the Stratton ? I expect,
so far as we are concerned, to be away very soon; for
we have not brought the kind of things they value very
highly. They are great hunters, and it is guns they
prize most; but I dare say we shall get our cargo dis-
posed of, for they have just had a grand elephant hunt,
before we arrived, and the chief tells the interpreter he
has some large tusks."
So, then, we go home after that, sir, at any rate ?"
"No, my boy; we sail directly for Old Calabar. It
will be a relief, at all events, to get out into blue water
once more, if only for a short time."
"I^*A k*i %v
BE next day, the merchandise was brought up
to the village, when a brisk trade commenced;
Mr. Sprent conducting it on the "round"
system,-namely, putting out one of every ar-
ticle, from a needle to a gun. As it had only
been a matter of speculation on the part of the captain,
who had been told a native trading-place existed already,
they had only small, light articles with them, such as
beads, small looking-glasses, tobacco and pipes, worsted
caps, flints, knives, and a few guns.
"When Mr. Sprent had disposed of everything, Jack
Maurice kindly took in hand to assist Mark with his
bag of articles, each of which produced much merriment
amongst the crew of the Stratton's boat, when it was
"By all that's comical, boy, what possessed you to
bring a horse-shoe said one of the men.
"And he was right, and showed his sense," said
98 MARK'S HORSE-SHOE.
Maurice; "aren't the darkies fond of charms and such
like; and don't we nail up a horse-shoe to the foremast
ourselves afore we go a voyage? It's worth all their
fetiches put together!"
"That's true," said another; "but then, how are you
to get them darkies to know that? They have never
seen a British ship, very likely; our boat has been the
largest thing of the kind that has come their way. It
strikes me they don't use their canoes very much, least-
ways they don't seem to be good at handling them!"
"No; because they have come from the interior,"
said Jack; "but I'll tell you what we'll do: Como
shall tell them we use a horse-shoe to frighten away
evil spirits from our ships, or to insure good luck
during the voyage. I was forgetting, Master Como
bound himself to help you lads in the matter; has the
rascal not kept his word?"
"Oh, we were interrupted by you and the mate kill-
ing that brute of a serpent," said Peter; "but for that
matter, he hasn't troubled his head about us further
than by taking us through the village; for he fell in
with a sweet young creature of a darkie, and he has
been a galiwanting with her ever since."
"Then he has forgot the compass," said Maurice;
" but not a word of it till after we get the goods dis-
When Como fairly understood what was required of
him, he entered into the business with great spirit,
AN AMICABLE ARRANGEMENT. 99
saying, "Ya, ya, me see; leab it to me, me get gold-
dust for dis 'ere."
Disappearing with the horse-shoe, carefully rolled in
a bright-coloured handkerchief, they waited to see the
result; and very soon after, a native, who stood next in
rank to the chief, came back with him to hold a grand
palaver about it. He offered knives and pearls, and all
sorts of native produce; but Como gave him to under-
stand that nothing but gold would do in this case, know-
ing that Mark could not stow away a great elephant's
tusk. The prime minister seemed to be near his wit's
end, when Jack Maurice turned to walk away to the
boat, carrying the coveted treasure with him, and he at
once bade the interpreter ask Jack to give him a few
minutes to consider whether he could get the gold-dust
or not. After a good deal of running backward and
forward on the part of the prime minister, an amicable
arrangement was come to, in which Mark's horse-shoe
became the property of the king, and he in return the
happy possessor of a small bag of gold-dust. As it was
late, it was decided to postpone the business till next
morning; but before that time arrived they were forced
to leave in a desperate hurry, barely escaping with their
The confusion was caused by Como having eloped
with the dark girl through the night, and by some means
or other the circumstance became known, when the
angry father and still angrier betrothed,-an immense
100 COMO IN TROUBLE.
and dreadfully formidable-looking fellow,-went off in
pursuit of the fugitives. The indignation of the whole
tribe was roused; and had it not been for the careful-
ness of Mr. Sprent, who had insisted upon a good watch
being kept night and day, they might all have been
murdered while they slept. As it was, they had dif-
ficulty in getting the boat off before the natives were
upon them with knives and tomahawks, yelling and
shrieking like demons.
If Master Como turns up again, and I come athwart
him," said Jack Maurice, "I'll give him something he
won't forget in a hurry, for the fright he has given us."
"It's my impression he is hidden in one of the huts
in the village," said Mr. Sprent, wiping the moisture
from his forehead, as they rested on their oars beyond
the reach of the natives.
"Then if so be's that that's the case, sir," said Long
Jack, grinning, "he'll never bact as interpreter again.
I'd have thought twice before I hinterfered with that
savage's sweetheart; did you see the gentleman's teeth,
-ain't they sharp-filed?"
"Ain't they!" said Peter, shuddering, and pretend-
ing to be dreadfully afraid. I hope we won't see them,
or rather feel the strength of them on our bodies."
They were startled at this moment by hearing a loud
shout and then a groan of agony, and Mr. Sprent at
once ordered the boat to be rowed with caution towards
the part of the bank from whence the noise had pro-