Uncle John's first shipwreck, or, The loss of the brig 'Nellie'

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Uncle John's first shipwreck, or, The loss of the brig 'Nellie'
Added title page title:
The loss of the brig 'Nellie.'
Bruce, Charles
William P. Nimmo & Co ( Publisher )
Morrison and Gibb ( Printer )
Place of Publication:
William P. Nimmo & Co.
Morrison and Gibb
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Physical Description:
iv, 124, <4> p. : ill. ; 17 cm.


Subjects / Keywords:
Shipwrecks -- Juvenile literature ( lcsh )
Adventure and adventurers -- Juvenile literature ( lcsh )
Juvenile literature -- Australia ( lcsh )
Juvenile literature -- 1880 ( rbgenr )
Publishers' catalogues -- 1880 ( rbgenr )
Bldn -- 1880
Juvenile literature ( rbgenr )
Publishers' catalogues ( rbgenr )
non-fiction ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage:
Scotland -- Edinburgh
Target Audience:
juvenile ( marctarget )


General Note:
Includes publisher's catalog.
Preservation and Access for American and British Children's Literature, 1870-1889 (NEH PA-50860-00).
Statement of Responsibility:
by Charles Bruce.

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University of Florida
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Baldwin Library of Historical Children's Literature in the Department of Special Collections and Area Studies, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida
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This item is presumed to be in the public domain. The University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries respect the intellectual property rights of others and do not claim any copyright interest in this item. Users of this work have responsibility for determining copyright status prior to reusing, publishing or reproducing this item for purposes other than what is allowed by fair use or other copyright exemptions. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions may require permission of the copyright holder. The Smathers Libraries would like to learn more about this item and invite individuals or organizations to contact The Department of Special and Area Studies Collections ( with any additional information they can provide.
Resource Identifier:
024340367 ( ALEPH )
23898114 ( OCLC )
AHN9845 ( NOTIS )

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UNCLE JOHN'S FIRST SHIP\VRECK; OR, B v CHARLES BRUCE, Author ef 'Lame Felix; 'Noble Mottoes,' 'How Frank be~a11 to ClimC, Tlte Book of Noble Englishwomen,' etc. WI LL I AM P. N I MM O & CO., EDINBURGH. I 880,








UNCLE JOHN'S FIRST SHIPWRECK. CHAPTER I. THE BRIG 'NELLIE' AND HER CREW, a HOSE of my young readers who study geo graphy will know that Tasmania was once called Van Diemen's Land, and was dis covered in the year 1644 by a Dutch navigator named Tasman, who supposed it to be part of the mainland of Australia,-then called New Holland, and that it was not for more than one hundred years after, two Englishmen, Bass and Flinders, by sailing right round it found it to be an island, nearly as large as Ireland, separated from the mainland by a broad channel, one hundred and twenty miles across at its narrowest part. They will also know that Hobart Town is the capital of the colony, and was founded A


2 UNCLE JOHN'S FIRST SHIPWRECK by a body of convicts in the year 1804, and that twelve years after free emigrants began to settle there. Hobart Town i s now a thriving place, with a large population and a very considerable tr a de ; but fifty years ago it was in its infancy, presenting quite a diff ere nt appearance to what it does in the days of its prosperity; while of all Au s tralia only portions of New South W ales were colonized. It w a s wh e n Hobart Town was in its infancy that the bri g Nellie, wi t h crew and passengers, number i ng twenty-two souls in all, s a iled from the harbour of Hobart Town b ou nd for the Cape of Good Hope. Among the crew was my uncle, John Grey, then a l a d of sixteen ye ars. A year before he had run away from his home in England, with the avowed determin ation of seeing s omething more of the world thau wa s to be seen in the old country. During this voyage he suffered his first shipwreck, the particulars of which I am n ow about to tell, thinking you will find them full of interest and variety, for there were circumstances attending it which made a lasting im:Pft'ession upon Uncle John's mind; for altho u gh he suffered shipwr ec k more than once or twice after w a rds, this first o ne stood out in stronger relief in his memory than an y of the others.


THE BRIG 'NELLIE' AN.D HER CREW. 3 On a beautiful March day, with a favourable wind, the Nellie sailed from port. Beneath the eyes of the captain and his mates, the crew were busy trimming the sails, coiling down ropes, and carrying the pas sengers' lug gage down below to be stowed safely away; the passengers were gathered at the side of the vessel nearest the shore, taking a farewell look of the land where each had sojourn ed for some time. Among the number were two ladies, the elder having { a little girl, not quite two years old, in her arms. This was Mrs. Weston, who was going to join her husband at the Cape; the younger lady, whose name was French, was sailing und er her protection to meet her parents at the same distant place. They both had pleasing faces; while the younger was even very pretty looking, with sparkling eyes, and dimpled cheeks, and lips where a continual smile seemed to hover. The four male passengers were rough looking colonial men, whom it is not necessary to describe, as they have little or nothing to do with my story ; they were dressed in rough clothes, and each stood smoking a short pipe. On shore, gangs of convicts, chained two by two, were seen hard at work making roads, and, doubtless, as they saw the Nellie sailing away, wished they them


4 UNCLE JOHN'S FIRST SHIPWRECK selves were on board taking a last farewell of the land of their capt i vity. ' It seems s trange,' said John Grey to an intelligent. looking sail o r working at his side, ' that a fine country like t his we are leaving should be colonized almost solely by the worst people Old England can send out' 'Yes; I h a ve often wondered why the Government don't try an d make it a home for the poor and deserving. With a slice of land and a little money to set them go ing, men who are wanting bread in England wo u ld soon be thriving here. I suppose, however, wh e n the country is better known, more free people w ill flock to it, and one day it will be a flourishing pl a ce.' Just at th a t moment Mrs. Weston, with her little girl still in h e r arms, left the side of the vessel ; but while makin g her way across the deck, with the intention of g oing below to her cabin, the ship gave a sudden lu rc h, send ing her flying in an opposite direction. S h e would doubtless have received a very ugly fall, and the child as well, had not John Grey, seeing her d ange r, dropped the rope he was coiling, rushed forwa r d, and held her up in his strong arms until she reg a ined her footing.


THE BRIG 'NELLIE' AND HER CREW. 5 'You have not got your sea le gs yet, ma 'a m,' said John with a smile. 'No, I am afraid not,' replied Mrs. Weston; 'thank you very much for saving me from a nasty fall.' ' Oh, it is nothing, ma'am ; the little girl is not hurt, I hope ? ' 'I think not,' said the mother, looking anxiously at her littl e one ; but seeing no indications of alarm in the child's face, she said to it, ' Florrie, darling, thank the brave lad for saving you.' The little one crowed and clutched at John's hair. ' May I kiss it in s tead, ma'am? I have a little sister at home in England just about her size.' 'Yes, by all means,' replied Mrs. Weston, holding Florrie out to him. John kissed her on her soft little cheek, and then turned away to resume his coiling, thinking in his heart he would keep a watchful eye on both moth er and child whenever they appeared on deck, and as far as possible pre vent th em from falling into danger. All on board were strangers to J ohn with but one exception; this was the black cook, named Snowy, who in spite of having knocked about the world for fifty years, both as slave and sailor, had yet a kind he a rt beating in his bosom, and having


6 UNCLE JOHN'S FIRST SHIPWRECK met the friendl e ss lad on shore in a somewhat forlorn condition, had been very kind to him, and finally induced him to enter as one of the crew of the Nellie. The old black, from the door of his caboose, had witnessed the scene between the lad and the little girl, and ch u ckling to himself he murmured : 'Me know him good boy, got good heart; oh, trust dis blackie for dat same ; he berry good boy to kiss de chil e , me no forget,' and with a few more chuckles h e turned again to his occupation of preparing the men's dinner. Sailors do not remain long 111 the same ship to gether without a friendly feeling arising for each other among th e m, and J olm had not been on board many da y s before he found a congenial messmate or two, and was on friendly terms with many; indeed, his frank, open countenance and honest smile soon won him friends. But there were two or th r ee of the crew, as there are in most ships, wh o were disagreeable and quarrel some, fond of g rumbling at most things and most people; these men and John were not on the friendliest terms. Being only a lad, they held him m some contempt, and ordered him about as they thought proper, and never hesitated to cuff his I j


THE BRIG 'NELLIE' AND HER CREW 7 ears or bestow upon him a kick, did they feel so inclined. He tried as far as possible to avoid them, but as this could not always be done, he bore their ill-treatment as best he could. In spite, however, of making such rapid strides in the goodwill of some of his shipmates, John ret ained the first place in his heart for his old friend Snowy, and in his leisure moments, espe cially in the evenings, he would visit him in his caboose and have many a plea s ant chat, when his black friend would spin him long yarns, and at the same time puff away at a short pipe with a remarkably keen relish. The captain and his mates, although rather too fond of u sing hard words and rough language, were on the whole as good-natured as most of their class ; true, they were apt to fly into a passion at every little trivial thing that went wrong, and then rate the hands soundly, but this the men expected; while perhaps the captain and his officers, on their part, thought it was just as well the crew should know that an explosion was imminent, did they scamp or n eglec t their necessary duties, and occa sionally freshen their memories by the application of a rope's encl to their backs.


8 UNCLE /OHN'S FIRST SHIPWRECK On the wh o le, John came to the conclusion that he wa s far better off on board the 1Vellie than he would be kno c king about on shore. There fell to John's share a pleasure that amply compensated him for any hard word or harder kick he might receive from the evil disposed among the crew. Ever smce the day he saved Mrs. We s t on from falling, she had a kind word and smile fo r him, while with Florrie he became quite a favourite ; she crowed and laughed at his approach, and would permit him to carry her about the deck, whi le others she would not even allow to touch her. Her pretty little face and loving little ways always reminded him of his far-away sister; ./ he would h av e loved her and have become her slave even h ad not this been the case, for John had a tender if a somewhat wild heart. I think . this mother and child between them helped to keep him straight i n those days; for when a lad cuts himself adrift from the s afe ancnorage of home, and associate s with those older and rougher than himself, he is apt to get off the right track unless softer influenc es come into play; and the clasp of little childish fingers are often of more use in this way than the grasp of a strong m[!.J;l.'s ,i \1K$d.


THE BRIG 'NELLIE' AND HER CREW. 9 The child became quite a little beam of sun light to the crew; they watched her little golden head go bobbing along the deck as she trotted by her mother's side holding by one of her fingers, or contrived to toddle along alone, : md many a hand was eagerly stretched out to save her when in danger of falling. The negro had also contrived to make friends with the little maiden. Accompanied by her mother, she would make her way to the caboose, and peeping in at the door, would announce her presence by a loud crow, to the huge delight of Snowy, whose large mouth would expand into a grin of formidable dimensions, while he never failed to exclaim' Ho I ho ! Missie Florrie know ole black man;' and then to the mother, ' Dat ar' a most 'markable chile.' Meanwhile the brig sailed on, proving herself to be a good sea-boat, cutting her way through the water with such speed as to bring a smile of gratified pride to the weather-beaten face of the captain, as he calcu lated how many days it would take her to run to the Cape. There is an old proverb which says, Do not cry ' I-Ialloo' till you are out of the wood. I am afraid this did not occur to the captain's mind, o.:: any other of a like meaning.


CHAPTER II. THE STORM. D HE weather continued fair for several days, and as the vessel sped on her course, the passengers were frequently on deck, en joying the breeze and the ever-varying scenery of the coast, with its high promontories and steep rocks. Now and again g limps es of the country were obtained through some ravine which led from the coast inland, and many were the expressions of admiration su ch views e li cited; but in no single instan ce was an inhabi ta nt seen, either native or colonial; the land in its beauty and fertility seemed to be quietly waiting for man to make it his home. But this state of peace and tranquillity was not fated to be of long dur ation. It was the captain's intent i on, if the wind held favourable when entering Bass' Straits, to steer to the westw a rd of King ' s 10


THE STORM. JI Island, so as to make what is called the southern passage. Careful navigation is required in making the passage of the Straits, as they abound with small islets, shoals, and coral reefs, which, did any ship strike upon either or any, would speedily ensure her destruction; it is also subject to violent westerly winds. The Nellie had made but little way in her passage of the Straits when the wind began to freshen; ominous clouds gathered in the sky, and the waves began to rise. Soon it blew a violent gale, and although the sails were speedily reduced, the ship bounded furiously through the water; the sea, dashing violently against the bows, and at tim es leaping upon the d eck, threatened to sweep everything from it. John Grey had never experienced so fierce a gale before; what with the howling of the wind, the creak ing of the masts and cordage, the flapping of the sails, the noise of ' the sea, and the hoarse voices of the captain and his mates as they shouted their orders, he gave the vessel up for lost. 'When his thoughts turned from what he considered the critical condition of the ship, it was only that they might revert with painful solicitude to the probable fate in store for li'lorrie and her mother.


12 UNCLE JOHN ' S FIRST SHIPWRECK. Now he was fully to learn the truth of the saying young lads are so apt to disregard, namely, that a sailor's life is not all ease and sunshine ; quite other than this he found it during the nine days the storm continued. Drenched from head to foot by the waves, which constantly broke on board, he found no opportunity for changing his wet gar ments for dry, but was compelled to do his duty, feeling most mis e rably damp and cold. The caboose fire could not be lighted to cook the men's meals, and he, with th e rest, was compelled to satisfy his hunger as best he could by nibbling hard biscuit and eating raw pork, a most unsatisfactory way of filling an empty stomach, as those well know who have tried it. These evils, bad as they appear, are too frequent in a sailor's lot to be murmured at, and could be borne with tolerable patience, but the worst he had to contend with was want ,,... of rest and sleep. After hours spent in the performance of difficult and harass ing duties on . d e ck, he would seek his hammock be low, when, no sooner had he turned in 'all standing,' and was dropp i ng off to sleep, than the thumping of a hand-spike on the deck, and the hoarse cry of 'All hands shorten sail ! ' would necessitate his springing


THE STOR M. up and hurrying on deck to take his place with the rest. And the same thing would occur half-a-dozen times during his watch below ; for whenever a lull appeared in the violence of the storm, fresh sail was made on the ship, but as the lulls were of short dura tion, and after each one the storm seemed to gather fresh strength, it was again reduced. 'How do you think this will end, Snowy?' said John to his black friend, who, during the storm, was compelled to do duty as a seaman. 'How I tink it will end, is it?' replied the black; 'dis ere chile can't tell nohow . De ole ship be stout, she may weather it; but de wind blow here and de wind blow dere, and de ship where am it? If she strike on one leetle rock it be all up wid her, de fish will nibble nibble ole black man's body.' This did not seem a very encouraging outlook, so John rem ained silent for a little time, but presently said: ' I am sorry for Mrs. Weston and Florrie, and Miss French ; what will become of them?' 'Yes, dat ar thought makes ole black man's heart heavy.' ' If the worst come to the worst, Snowy, we must not give in without a struggle; and whatever ,Ye do,


r4 UNCLE JOHN'S FIRST SHIPWRECK we must try our hardest to save them; I can't bear the though t of little Florrie being drowned.' 'Should de ship strike, you stick by Snowy, and together w e will take care of de l adi es,' said the negro, plac i ng his hand on his shoulder. ' But should such be her fate, there is sure to be a rush for t he boats, and as there are only two, the weakest among us will stand very little " chance of escape.' ' Den we make a raft and escape on d a t.' 'A raft ! how can one live in such a sea?' 'De ship ' ab not struck yet; wait till time come for to ac t.' 'Well, Snowy, whatever we do we do together, but our principal care must be the ladies and the littl e one.' 'Trust di s ar' chile for dat.' Meanwhile, during the storm the passengers had confined th e mselves to their respecti ve cabins, too sick and te rrified even to dream of making an ap pearance on d eck; expecting every moment the ship would founder, they fully concluded that they should foun de r with her. Mrs. Weston pressed her little one to her bosom and kissed her passionately, while her t e ars wetted her face as she pictured to


THE STORM. r5 herself the horrors of her too probable fate. At times, Miss French tried to suggest to her companion a more hopeful state of things, but she ~ven would give up in despair as the storm seemed to increase, and devote herself to reading a little prayer-book she usually carried in her pocket. This state of things continued for no less than nine days. The men, worn out with their exertions and want of rest, were ready to drop at their posts with fatigue. But at the close of the ninth day of the storm a more hopeful prospect dawned; the clouds broke, and the wind began sensibly to abate. By the morning of the tenth, the storm had entirely spent itself, the wind lessened to a pleasant breeze, the waves subsided, and the sun added its cheering beams to enliven the scene. The caboose fire was again lighted, and the men once more enabled to have warm food and hot grog ; and once again the passengers made their appearance on deck, looking somewhat pale from their long confinement and anxiety, but otherwise none the worse for what they had undergone. Little Florrie soon recovered her spirits, and one of the first visits she macle was to Snowy in the caboose, who, seeing her golden head at the door, did not fail to utter his


16 UNCLE JOHN'S FIRST SHIPWRECK. u s ual exclamati ons, ' Ho ! ho ! Missie Florrie know de ole black m an ! ' and, ' Dat ar' a most 'markable chile!' Not alone for himself, but for the sake of his cabin friends also, John was glad at the return of fine weather. During the worst of the late storm he had found more than one opportunity of paying a visit to the cabin, to say something hopeful to its inmates, and s ec ure for them several of their articles of lu ggage and furniture, which the violent motion of the ship h a d ca s t loose. Now the ladies had many a kind wo rd and smile for their young cham pion, as th ey ca lled him, in reward for his thought ful attention during their period of di s tress and anxiety. Seeing ever y thing so bri gh t and cheering, the waves gently curling round the bows of the ship, feel ing the soft br eez e fanning their cheeks, seeing the activity of the sailors in repairing the damages of the storm, they forgot their past terror, and thinking all danger ov er , were very happy and even merry. But there is often greater danger when all is appa rently safe than even when destruction seems immi nent every m in ute, and the truth of this they were very speedily to real ize.


THE STORM 17 During the prevalence of the storm the ship had been beaten back upon her course, and it occurred to the captain that he did not exactly know her position or whither he was steering. He therefore deemed it prudent under the circumstances to take an observation, and ascertain the exact whereabouts of his vessel. He took his instruments on deck, and after a little time discovered she had been blown several degrees from her proper course, and had not made so much way as even before the gale began. The weather being fine and moderate, all sail was instantly set, and her head put in the right direction; and ordering a sharp look-out to be kept to avoid any chance reef in the neighbourhood, he descended to his cabin. 'This is a little more cheering,' said John to a sailor two or three years older than himself, whose name was Felton, and to whom he had addressed his remarks as the vessel was leaving harbour. Felton was a fine, intelligent-looking young man, and one who appeared to have received a far superior education to the run of sailors in that day, among whom, indeed, it was difficult to find any who had received even the rudiments of the simplest educa tion. He seemed also well conversant with books, B


r8 UNCLE JOHN'S FIRST SHIPWRECK. and having a retentive memory, the information he had gathered from them was ever ready either for use or reference. John Grey had been greatly at tracted towards him during the short time he had been on board, and sought every opportunity of cultivating his p.cquaintance and. making him his friend. Felton on his part willingly responded to the advances made, and though usually very quiet and res e rved with the other men, was ever ready to join in conversation with, or do a good turn for John . ' He be a true man,' said the old negro to his young friend on one occasion when John was speak ing of Felton; 'make friends wid him as soon as possible, dat's old Snowy's advice.' Felton also cherished a kindly feeling for old Snowy ; sometimes with John he would pay him a visit in his caboose, and listen to his stories of slave life and adventure, and if near at hand, would always endeavour to protect the negro from the various tricks the more evil-disposed portion of the crew were ready to practise upon him. All this made Snowy regard him with very friendly eyes. Felton found himself no lo ser by cultivating his humble companion's friendship; he found the negro enter


THE STORM. tained many very shrewd opinions about things in general, and that during the course of his life he had carried about with him whithersoever he went a pair of very observant eyes, and what they had noted was stored in a very retentive memory. He was also very handy with his fingers, and with a knife and piece of wood could, and did, manufacture many very clever playthings for Florrie. To John's mind things were in a very pleasant condition on board the Nellie, and for his part he did not care how long the voyage lasted : he had made several good friends, most of his other ship mates treated him kindly, the captain and his mates did not bully him more than the others, the weather was fine, and the ship making good way, running at least at the rate of six or seven knots an hour. This being the case, he could not understand why the captain should be in such a restless condition, coming constantly on deck both night and day, and why he should be continually ordering a sharp look out to be kept. But the captain knew, if John did not, that the ship had been blown so far out of her course as to be in the neighbourhood of many very dangerous reefs, on one of which, if not discerned in time, the ship might strike and the lives of all be lost.


20 UNCLE JOHN'S FIRST SHIPWRECK All seemed secure, however, when, two nights after the storm, John, relieved from his watch on deck, turned gladly into his hammock to seek a few hours' sleep. He had already dozed off into that delightful state of half unconsciousness, the prelude of sound sleep, when he was arou s ed by hearing the look-out on deck shout, ' Breakers ahead ! ' He heard the rush o f the captain up the companion ladder, and his answering cry of' Where away?' but before he clearly understood what it all meant, he was thoroughly awakened by feeling the keel of the ship grating upon some hard substance, and then receiving so violent a s ock that he was literally thrown out of his hammock.


CHAPTER I'll. THE WRECK. II HOUGH a little bewild ere d by this 1mm mary ejection from his hammock, J olm con triv ed to regain his feet, and pro, ceeded to dress himself with all despatch. A second shock, not so violent as the first, was nearly up set ting him again . He heard cries of distress and men shouting th a t the ship had struck. Those of the crew who with himself had turned into their ham mocks had ru shed on deck, some half-dressed, before him, so that he was the l ast of the hands to make his appearance. Such a scene of confusion, as in the imperfect light the deck presented when he first gained it, he had never before witnessed, and certainly never forgot. The captain was shouting orders his men were too bewiidered to execute, some of whom were rushing 21


22 UNCLE JOHN'S F.IRST SHIPWRECK. about crying all was lost, while others stood as if bereft of all life and motion. The masts swayed to and fro, and threatened every instant to give way and tumble overboard, while the noise of the surf beating against the sides of the vessel was almost deafening in its roar. That some terrible disaster had happened John needed no one to inform him; the scene enact ing before his eyes was sufficient evidence without words of explanation, but its nature and extent he could not at that moment realize. Making his way with difficulty to where he saw Felton and Snowy standing, he inquired of them what had occurred . ' The ship has struck on a rock or coral reef, replied Felton, whose face look e d pale in the dim light. 'But is there no hope of h e r floating off?' said John. ' Hark how her timbers are rending, and then ask,' said Felton. The grating of the keel on the cruel rocks could be distinctly heard above the noise and confusion that reigned around. 'Besides,' continued Felton, 'no ship can live in such a surf.'


THE WRECK. 23 'De Nellie nebber sail more,' said the negro em phatically, confirming Felton's opinion. 'What is to be done?' John next inquired. 'Wait, a few minutes will soon decide,' was the answer. By dint of great exertion on the part of the captai n and mates, something like order was at length restored among the frightened crew. To ascertain the extent of damage the ship had receiv ed was his first care; upon examination the result was even more di sas trou s than w as at first imagined. The well was sounded and three feet of water found; the pumps were im mediately rigged, and hands stationed to work th em. But when it was found that the violence of the shock, when the ship first struck, had unshipped her rudd e r and bilged in her quarters, and that each succeeding wave which broke against her carried her farther on the reef, where the angry surf threatened her total and instant destruction, the captain knew there was no hope of saving his vessel; and so he told his men, adding, that if they would still obey bis commands and execute his orders, all mi gh t be saved. His l as t words were addressed to unheeding ears the men only took in the alarming fac t that there was no hope for the ship ; the blind, unreasoning instinct


24 UNCLE JOHN ' S FIRST SHIPWRECK. of self preservat io n made them deaf to anything further. Half crazed with terror and wholly bewil dered, there was a general rush to the boats. The captain and one of his mates, while endeavouring to preserve something like order, were unceremoniously knocked down, and a huge wave making a clean breach over the vessel before they could regain their feet, washed them overboard ; with a shrill, piercing cry both were swallowed up in the darkness. Felton, who had witness e d this catastrophe, rushed to the side over which they had disappeared to heave them a rope; but both had evidently instantly sunk, for though he peered anxiously down into the angry waters, he caught no glimpse of either. The fate of the captain and his mate for a moment arrested the mov e ments of the crew; but only for a moment, for Joe Blight, one of the most ill-natured and discontented of the crew, and the man who had systematically ill treated John, at that particular instant cried out: ' Everybody for himself, lads; quick with the boats; the old ship's timbers won't hold long together, and if we stay here we shall be food for fishes in no time.' There were but two boats, and these none of the


THE WRECK. 25 largest; did any accident happen to either so as to render it useless, it would be almost impossible all on board could be saved. It therefore needed that great care should be shown in lowering them into the water, and the excited condition of the men rendered this doubtful. There were too many hands eng a ged in the work, they impeded each other, consequently the task proceeded more slowly than it otherwise would have done. This Joe Blight-who did not want for sense-at length perceived; he now took the lead, the authority of the second mate being disregarded, and while he desired some to continue their work of l owering the boats, he ordered others to go below and bring up what provisions and water they could Jay hands ori. An eight gallon keg of water was obtained, together with a smaller one of wine, a quantity of biscuit, a barrel of beef and another of pork ; these articles, with a spare sail and sextant, were hastily placed in the boats. The men then began to crowd in, when Blight shouted: 'Steady, mates, you can't all get in at once; let us lower them first and then jump in.' At that, John, who had been assisting with Felton and Snowy, cried, 'Give first place to the ladies.'


26 UNCLE JOHN'S FIRST SHIPWRECK. 'Ladies ! ay, ay,' replied Blight ; 'let's get the boats in the water, then lower them down.' Blight with three men entered one boat, and the second mate with two more of the crew the other, so as to steady them during their descent. But no sooner had the boats touched the water, than the men, passengers and crew, began to floe~ in, and with the exception of Felton and Snowy, who re mained on board waiting for John and the ladies to make their appearance, and one poor fellow who in his haste missed the boat he was trying to enter and fell into the water, and being unable to swim was quickly drowned, all had gained the boats. ' Now, then,' shouted Blight, 'make ha s te there, we can't hold on much longer; the bo a ts will be dashed to pieces against the sides of the ship.' 'Hold on,' cried Felton, in an agony of appreher. sion; 'don't go without the ladies.' 'Yes, massa Blight, hold on ! ' echoed Snowy. 'Make haste-th e re's not a moment to lose,' was the answer ba ck . Felton sprang t o wards the companion ladder to assist J olm with his precious charges ; the black turned his head for a moment to ascertain if they were coming; but when he again turned towards the


THE WRECK 2 7 boats they were nowhere to be seen! The tackle hung loosely from the davits, the boats had disap peared in the darkness. In vain the negro shouted; no answering cry came back. He rubbed his eyes to make sure they had not played him false. No; they had vanished as completely as though they had never been. Meantime John h ad hurried to the cabin. He h ad a lre ady paid its inmates several visits during the con fusion on deck, telling them to be of good cheer; now, feeling no time was to be lost, he bur s t open the door with very little ceremony. He found Mrs. Weston with Florrie asleep in her arms , and Miss French kneeling as in the ac t of prayer. 'Qui ck, Miss French,' he cried, 'hurry on deck 01 we shall be too late; give me the child, Mrs. Weston!' 'No, I will carry it.' She was afraid to trust it out of her arms. John hastily snatched up a couple of shawls and a bag, which he thought contained biscuits, but which afterwards proved to be sh ells that Florrie played with, and followed th em from the cabin. Ju s t as th ey mounted the ladder they were seized by Felton, who, at the risk of capsizing them, hurried them across


28 UNCLE JOHN'S FIRST SHIPWRECK. the wet and slippery deck without uttering a word of explanation. ' Now then, Snowy, b e ar a hand.' 'No good, Massa Felton, boats gone ! ' 'Gone ! ' cri e d Felton, rushing to the side followed by John, who had echoed his cry. Al a s ! it wa s too true; not a vestige of the boats was to be seen. Whether the men had purposely cast themselves loose and left the women to their fate, or whether the violent tossing of the boats had broken th e m adrift, th o se left behind were unable to say. Nothing, however, was more certain than that the boats were gon e . For a few moments after realizing their terrible situation, John and his companions gave way to de spair; and well they might, alone, with two helpless women, on the deck of a vessel they expected every instant would go to pieces, and they themselves be swallowed up in the waves of the angry sea, which even now sprang on board as if eager for their ex pected prey ; no visible means of escape. Truly they might well despair; their condition was not an envi able one. But the feeling was transitory; hope never entirely dies out of the human bosom . In the worst of cir


THE WRECK. cumstances that voice makes itself heard, and gives men the courage to do and dare when both seem usel ess. Snowy was the first to recover himself; he had met with too many desperate adventures during the course of his varied existence to be easily cast down. Felton and John soon followed his example, and a consulta tion was held as to the best course to pursue and what means to adopt to preserve life. 'Me tink, Massa Feelton, we might make a raft; me don't tink the ole ship go a pieces yet; she live till daylight anyhow, den w _ e see war we ar'.' 'That is our only h pe, and we had best set about it at once,' said Felton ; 'if the ship goes to pieces, the raft may float us to the mainland, which can't be so very far.' This being decided, the sooner they commenced the better-time was too precious to be wasted in idle discussion ; actions, not words, were needed. Th eir first care, however, was to make Mrs. Weston and Miss French as comfortable as circumstances would allow. The two unfortunate ladies had re mained quite silent since brought on d ec k ; the horror of their situation seemed to have partially stunned them. John and his friends led them to the lee of


30 UNCLE JOHN'S FIRST SHIPWRECI{. the starboard bulwarks, where they would be in a measure protected from the waves which continually broke on board ; there they made them sit down. John covered th em with the two shawls he had brought from the c abin. Strange to say, Florrie still slept. 'You will be a little protected here,' said John to Mrs. Weston as he wrapped the shawl carefully round h er, and in such a manner as to shield the face of the child. 'We will not desert you,' said Felton to Miss French, 'but do all we can to save you. Have patience and cour ag e.' 'Yes, we save you ; de chile is l ike one good angel , she brin g good fortune,' said the black. Mrs. Wes ton and her friend could only press grate fully the hands of those who they felt had lost their best chance of qu i tting a doomed ship in caring for them, and to whom they were now alone obli ge d to look for help. No, not to them alone; they both knew there was a Prov i dence that ovem1l ed all their lives, and unless it was His will they would not be lost; but humanly speaking, their only helpers were two m e n and a young l ad. 'Now, Snowy, y o u must take the lead in thi,


THE WRECK. 31 undertaking; I gather you have helped in the course of ybur life to make more than one raft.' 'Yes, I know l eet l e abou t de raft,' and without more words the negro accepted the responsibility of head worker. There was no lack of material for the construction of a raft; the deck was strewn with loose spars, and boards rent from the larboard bulwarks by t he force of the waves, hen-coops, and a sheep-pen-in the latter a solitary prisoner was even now bleating-were not wa~ting should other materia l fail. Under the negro's superintendence, as many of these articles as were conside d necessary were collected, together with three empty casks, which Felton brought up from below . By the time this was done daylight dawned, and the unfortunate men were enabled to see with greater clearness the hopeless condition in which the ship was p l aced. She had evidently struck on the edge of an extensive coral reef which seemed to extend for miles, and upon which, far as the eye could reach, the surf broke violently. The eyes of John and his companions in misfortune were directed towards the open water, each hoping against hope that the boats had rowed a little distance from the ship till morning,


32 UNCLE JOHN'S FIRST SHIPWRECK. so as to return to rescue those left behind. But no boat could be s een; they had evidently left the ship and those on board to their fate. All hands returned with fresh vigour to the task of constructing the raft; their only help e rs were to be themselves, and it behoved them t o lose no time, as from the condition of the vessel th e y were fearful she would break amid ships or fall tot a lly to pieces. Obeying the negro's directions, F e lton, as I have said, brought th r ee empty casks on deck; to these th~ longe s t spars they could find were firmly lashed lengthwise, Snowy even giving an extra turn or two to the ropes, quietly observing, 'Many a raft go to pieces not tied tight.' Other and shorter spars were la s hed as firmly crosswise, and the further to strengthen it, more were placed at the angle . 'Why do you use the casks?' inquired John. ' De raft float better, and it be higher out of de water; de wave s no wash over,' replied Snowy. Planks were now lashed to the spars, so that the raft might be m o re comfortable, the easier to sit or lie upon; a step was placed in the centre, in which a spar could be shipped so that sail might be hoisted. Two Dr three spare s a ils were collected, the oars of one of


THE WRECK. 33 the boats which had be e n left behind ; then Snowy declared the raft was ready. 'We launch it over de starn, where de water is more quiet,' said the black, 'and den you hand me de provisions and de ladies down.' It was not a great height from the deck of the vessel to the surface of the sea. The ship had evidently broken her back on the cruel reef, and the stern part was gradually sinking lower and lower into the water. Some little exertion of strength was required to launch their frail refuge, and it was necessary to be as expeditious as possible, as every minute they expected the ship to sink under them. At length, after one or two slight mishaps, the raft floated, and Snowy, jumping down upon it, declared it swam like a duck. ' Now hand dis chile de provisions,' said the black, after securing the raft by a rope to the vessel to prevent it floating away. A very scanty supply of food and water was handed down by Felton and John; they had been unable to obtain as much as they desired, the water having risen too high. One small keg of water, a stone bottle of wine, a bag of biscuits, and a few C


34 UNCLE JOHN'S FIRST SHIPWRECK. pieces of pork and beef which had been found in the copper ready for the men's dinner, these were all that could be obtained. John and Felton now proceeded to lower Mrs. Weston and her friend. This they did with the greatest care and tenderness. While their frail refuge was in p roc ess of construction, the two forlorn women had not uttered a word; in dee~, worn out with fatigue and anxiety, and faint from hung er, they h a d both fallen asleep, from which th _ ey were awakened to be conducted to the raft. Little Florrie was now crying for food ; her mother hushed her by the promise that she should soon have some. 'Dire c tly we are on the raft you shall all have some, for you must want it sadly,' said John, as he helped t o conduct them across the deck. Snowy held out his arms to receive the child, whom Felton first lowered to him; Mrs. Weston then fol lowed, a nd directly she gained J-ier place again took her, as though unwilling to relinquish her a moment longer than necessary. Miss French came third, taking her seat next to her friend at the head of the raft, which had been made as comfortable as circum stances would permit for their reception. Felton then swung himself d ow n, and taking one of the oars in


THE WRECK 35 his hand, stood ready to push off as soon as John took his place. But before leaving the vessel he paid another visit to the ladies' cabin, to see if anything had been left behind which might prove of service to them. He took two blankets from Mrs. Wes ton's berth, and a tin mug and basin which were lying on the floor, and which he thought would come in useful. As he was leaving he saw Miss French's little prayer-book, which he picked up and put in his pocket; while doing so he spied a large tin canister, which upon examination proved to contain biscuits of a finer quality than those eaten by sailors. Having secured these prizes he ran hastily on deck, and throwing them to Felton, speedily descended to the raft; cutting the rope which securea it to the ship, he seized an oar, and together witn Felton pushed off from the vessel, which wa~ 1ww rapidly breaking up.


CHAPTER IV. FIRST DAY ON THE RAFT. B HEN the raft had been pushed clear of the wreck, John took charge of the tiller-an oar shipped for that purpose while Felton and Snowy rowed some distance to be out of the power of the surf; a consultation was then held as to the proper course to steer. All agreed in believing they could not be more than one hundred miles from land, and as the weather was favourable, a moderate breeze blowing, and the water smooth, hopes were entertained of reaching it in two or three days, especially if the wind held as it then did. Unfortunately they had no compass, and must trust to the sun by day and the stars by night to guide their frail bark aright. 'Our first object,' said Felton, 'must be to gain 36


FIRST DAY ON THE RAFT. 37 the land, after which we can coast along the shore till we reach a settlement.' ' Dat am true, Massa Feelton,' said the black; 'let us get de coast first.' ' Which is the nearest settlement from here?' inquired John. 'I scarcely know,' Felton replied; 'but jud ging the di stance the Nellie was blown from her course, it must be Moreton Bay, but of that I am not sure. We can't, however, be wrong if we first attempt to make the coast; most likely we shall there be able to obtain what we so greatly need, provisions.' 'Then what course shall we steer?' 'W.S.W.,' replied Felton. 'Now dat settled,' said the negro, 'lend a hand, Feelton, and we ship a mast and hoist de sail.' ' Yes, and then pipe all hand& for breakfast,' said John ; 'the ladies must be famished, and little Florrie is crying her pretty eyes out for food.' 'You must not mind us,' said Mrs. Weston; ' un der God we owe our lives to you, and we will eat when you eat, and not before or oftener.' , 'We have only done our duty, ma'am,' said John; 'and as to eating, we must talk about that presently.' A spare spar, which had been placed on the raft


38 UNCLE JOHN'S FIRST SHIPWRECK for that purpose, was now shipped, and a sail hoisted; it was then perceived that the raft began slowly to move through the water. After watching it for a few seconds , Felton declared it was going at the rate of two and a half knots an hour ; ' and if the weather holds good,' he continued, 'in two or three days we shall see land.' Snowy now took his place at the rudder, while John and Felton proceeded to get breakfast. There was not much variety as to food; biscuit;; and raw meat w e re their staple articles. Two of the biscuits were handed to each of the adults, while a few of the finer ones, brought from the cabin, were broken in the basin and soaked with water for Florrie, who needed something very much. The tin mug, three parts filled with water and the rest wine, was given to the ladies. They had found their biscuits very hard, and, from their throats being parched with thirst, difficult to swallow, but by dipping them in the wine and water they were made much more palatable. The three men contented themselves with a less quantity of water than they had given to their unfortunate companions, but took the same number of biscuits, and in addition a slice each of raw pork. No persuasions could induce the ladies to


FIRST DAV ON THE RAFT. 39 touch the meat, and even John felt a qualm or two before he ventured to put a piece in his mouth; the other two, however, were not so fastidious, but ate it with a keen relish. 'I don't advise you to eat much of this,' said Felton; 'it will create thirst, and we have none too much water.' All were greatly refreshed with their simple meal, it seemed to impart fresh courage and hope; Florrie no longer cried, but was crawling about the raft and trying to reach the water she could see between the planks with her hand; watchful eyes were upon her that she might not tumble overboard. Mrs. Weston and her friend performed a hasty toilet as best they could under the circumstances ; and while the black steered, Felton and John took stock of their pro visions, to ascertain how much they would have to economize to make it last. They soon came to the end of their task, and if their faces might be taken as an index of the result, it was not very encouraging. Indeed, they were worse off than they anticipated : of water, they had not more than two gallons, and of wine, somewhat l ess than a pint; forty biscuits were counted be side:. those in the tin, which they decided should


40 UNCLE JOHN'S FIRST SHIPWRECK be for the sole use of the child ; these, with one piece of pork and two small pieces of beef, were their whole stock. They went aft to communicate the result to Snowy. ' Dat is very little,' said the black. 'Y es,' said Felton; 'if we share out as much every me a l as we did at breakfast, it won't last two days.' 'No,' said John, 'we must economize; but whatever we ours e lves suffer, the l a dies must not go short, and especi all y little Florrie.' ' Bless de chile,' said the negro firmly, 'she hab all mine 'fore she wants.' 'Thi s is what I propose,' said Felton; ' we must place o u rselves on short allowance. The ladies shall have th re e biscuits a day,-one for breakfast, one for dinner, and one for supper, and each time a little wine and water; we must content ourselves with one biscuit a d a y each, and one-third the quantity of w a ter. If we are men, our first care, as John says, must b e the poor ladies-they are not accustomed to rough it as we are; and as for the child, why, I take it we are each willing to want before she should.' 'Yes, dat's right,' said the negro, nodding his head with a p proval. John said the sam~. 'What we have most to dread,' continued Felton,


FIRST DAY ON THE RAFT. 41 after his friends had expressed their approval of his plan, 'is want of water; with this hot sun beating down upon us, and the salt meat, our throats will often feel parched.' ' I have heard,' said John, ' that it is a good plan to diP, our clothes in the sea and wear them wet ; it keeps the body cool, and some of the moisture manages to filtrate through the skin.' 'Yes, so I have heard,' said Felton; 'there can be no harm in trying.' Snowy, however, urged them on no account to drink any salt water, let their thirst be never so in tolerable, for though it might give them momentary relief, thirst returned worse than ever, and its effects were often to produce madness. The consultation over, they separated,-Felton to secure the water keg from being washed off, and John to ascertain if he could do anything to make the ladies more comfortable. Snowy continued at the rudder. ' I am afraid you find the heat almost unbearable,' said John to the two ladies. '1t is excessively warm,' replied Mrs. Weston; 'but I suppose it cannot be helped, and that we must bear it.'


42 UNCLE JOHN'S FIRST SHIPWRECK. 'I think if you were to seat yourselves in the sh a dow of the sail, you would find it more pleasant; let me arrange your seats.' Taking the two blankets, John folded them so as to make a soft kind of cushion, and placed it in the shadow-if such it could be called-of the sail; his two friends-for so he regarded them-then seated th e mselves, and found some slight alleviation from th e scorching beams of the sun. The ladies thanked him for his kind attention, when he said, 'I don't know but that we might make you still more comfortable by rigging up a little awning; I will see if it cannot be done.' 'You think too much of us and too little of your self, John,' said Mrs. Weston. 'We are more used to this kind of thing, and more able to endure it ; we all three desire to do our u tte rmost to save you from unnecessary fatigue and misery.' So saying he turned to Snowy. ' That lad has .an honest face,' murmured Miss French to her fnend. 'Yes, and a kind heart,' replied Mrs. Weston. ' Our condition is as bad as it well can be,' she con tinued, 'but I think it would have been worse had we gone away in the boats; we have the three best men.'


FIRST DAY ON THE RAFT. 43 This short conversation was carried on in whispers, for the raft being small, what was said in one part could be heard all over it. The raft had made such slow progress that the wreck was still in sight, and all were surprised to see its timbers hold together so long; but while Felton and John were rigging a little screen for the use of the unfortunate ladies, Snowy suddenly exclaimed : 'Dat um last of de ole chip ! ' and turning quickly in the direction in which she lay, they saw her gradually fall to pieces and disappear from their sight. ' Would it not be as well to pull back,' said John, 'and see if there are any provisions floating about?' Snowy was consulted, and gave it as his opinion that they couldn't do better, the time lost would be amply compensated by the provisions gained. The raft was accordingly steered in the direction where the Nellie had broken up, the sail lowered, and John and Felton rowing. But when they reached the scene of the wreck, they found they might have spared themselves their labour, for they were only rewarded by finding a small tin sauce-pan and a few planks of wood; their greatest prize was a small axe, which stuck in one of the planks. These articles were hauled upon the raft and secured, and once again they


44 UNCLE JOHN'S FIRST SHIPWRECK hoisted sail and steered in the direction where they hoped to discover land. At noon a biscuit was given to each of the ladies, which was eaten as before, namely, by moistening it in the small portion of wine and water given them at the same time. Little Florrie, who had made her self ve r y happy and contented all the morning, had her po r tion pounded and soaked in water. As on the previous occasion, neither Mrs. Weston nor Miss French could be induced to touch the raw pork or beef, A slice of beef, with one-third of a biscuit each, fell to the share of the men, according to the plan they h a d agreed upon in the earlier part of the day. Mrs. Weston, who observed their actions narrowly, noticed that neither of them touched a drop of water. Mothe r -like, she reserved most of hers for her little daught e r; still, if the men w~nt without, she thought it was no more than just that she herself should ; she knew very well why they refrained from drinking. Afte r their slight repast, Snowy and his two friends sluiced each other with water; dipping the tin sauce pan in the waves, they poured the water over the head a nd shoulders. This was so refreshing that it was r e peated several times during the heat of the day. John, however , was fain to confess to himself


FIRST DAY O N THE RAFT. 45 that a good long draught of pure water would be infinitely preferable, but as that was a luxury quite unattainable, he was compelled to rest satisfied with its substitute. As the day wore on, his thirst in creased, growing more and more intolerable; he felt he would have given all he possessed, little enough, to be allowed to quench it. Often and often he turned longing eyes towards the little keg that con tained their all; but when his eyes turned towards the poor women and Florrie, he tried his best to stifle his longings, and kept his looks averted from the tempting sight. He now took his tum at the tiller while Felton and Snowy took a spell at the oars ; the breeze was not strong, and they wanted to make as much way as possible. The exertion of rowing, with the rays of the sun beating down upon them, was toilsome work ; but not a murmur escaped the two brave men, though they found themselves frequently compelled to re linquish their task, while they wiped the moisture from their faces . When the day drew to a close another meal was eaten as before ; this time, however, J olm and his comrades wetted their lips with a little water, which l\frs. Weston perceiving, made no scruples, after


46 UNCLE JOHN'S FIRST SHIPWRECK Florrie had satisfied her thirst, in drinking her own allotted porti o n. Arrangements were then made for the night. It was resolved that watch and watch should be ke p t throughout the darkness. John was to take the first, Felton the second, and Snowy the third. All were to be called should a change in the weather occur. When it began to grow dark, Florrie, who had amused hers elf by crawling about the raft during the day, crept to her mother ' s knee and said she wanted to go 'by b y .' Mrs. Weston wrapped her in her shawl, and bade her go to sleep in her arms; but before doing so the little creature said she must say her prayers. As the three men heard her lisp her little evenin g prayer, they each bowed their head, and in th ei r hearts felt as if no danger could over take them while so precious a little soul was in their midst. When her child had settled for the night, Mrs. Wes ton, ad dressi ng John and his friends, asked whether they would not join with her and Miss French in offering up a petition to Almighty God to preserve them throughout the coming night. It was then John remembered the prayer-bo o k he had picked up fr om the floor of the cabin, which till


FIRST DAY ON THE RAFT. 47 now he had quite forgotten. He presented it to Mrs. Weston, and asked her to conduct the little service; accepting the tiny volume, she opened at that part containing prayers to be used while at sea, and during a storm. As her sweet low voice repeated the beautiful words, they all knelt, even Snowy at the tiller, and earnestly echoed them in their hearts. John then commenced his first watch, while the rest settled themselves to obtain a little sleep. Thus the first day on the raft closed.


CHAPTER V. NO WATER! OON all on the raft, save John, were buried in d ee p sleep, for ge tting for a time the dangers of their position, their anxieties and privations. ' 0 s l ee p ! it is a bl essed thin g , Beloved from pol e to pole ! ' While their frail refuge moved slowly through the water, J olm stood silently at his post. He gazed up at the glorious sta r s, which in the southern hemisphere appear so large and brilliant. Never had they affected him so much as now; he thought of Him who made them, and trusted that in His mercy He would bring them safely out o f their trouble. Then his thoughts reverted to his fa r away home,-that home he had left so secretly, a nd where kind parents a nd s i sters 48


.NO WATER! 49 were perhaps even now thinking of him and mourn ing his absence; he wondered whether he should ever again see it, and be able, as many a time he had resolved to do, to ask pardon of those he had so deeply grieved by his thoughtless conduct. Gradu ally the silence, only broken by the gentle ripple of the water round the raft,-the soft breeze, and the loneliness of the scene produced so soothing an effect upon his senses that he found himself nodding. The fatigues and anxieties of the day had been many and trying in their character; he was young, and his frame unable to resist their wearying influence. During the day the excitement of work and his novel position had borne him up; now, however, their effects began to tell, and he lon,ged for sleep even more than water. But it would never do to be found sleeping at his post, so when he found a feeling of drowsiness stealing oTer him, he gave himself a good shake to thoroughly arouse himself. This he succeeded in doing, but only for a time; again the drowsiness began to overpower him, his eyes closed, and he nearly fell forward. As he brought himself up with a shock, he thought he heard voices at that portion of the raft where the ladies were sleeping. He listened, being now thoroughly awake, and made out the voice D


50 UNCLE JOHN'S FIRST SHIPWRECK. of little Florrie asking for water. He could not catch Mrs. We s ton's murmured reply, but heard her sooth ing the li t tle one to sleep again. In his own mind, he determined to reserve his own portion of the precious fluid for the use of the golden-haired little creature. I hav e said John had a tender heart, and it touched i t sorely that Florrie should suffer. He knew very well that her tender frame would never be able to endure the privations which he and his compani o ns must suffer before they reached land, with out yield i ng to them. These thoughts occupied him during the remainder of his watch; when, as nearly as he could judge, it was over, he roused Felton to take his place, while he himself thankfully lay down, and in a few minutes was sdund asleep. About midnight the breeze freshened, causing a ripple on the sea, but not sufficient to render it necessary to call the rest. The raft went through the water at a slightly increased speed. The casks to which the framework of the raft was lashed raised it so high out of the water, that there was no fear of the wave s washing over it unless a storm arose. No incident varied the monotony of Felton's watch, a n d when it was over he stirred the negro


.NO WATER! 51 with his foot. Snowy had been snoring loudly the whole of the night, but no sooner did his comrade touch him than he awoke. 'Dat you, Feelton ?' he whispered, rubbing his eyes. ' Yes ; it is time for you to take your turn at the helm.' Soon Felton was once more asleep. Thus the night wore away. When morning dawned the sleepers awoke, and every eye but the child's turned its gaze to the sea and scanned the distant horizon. Nothing, however, appeared in sight,-no sail and no land, nothing but one wide waste of waters, which the rising sun illumined. Each turned away in bitter disappoint ment ; they had hoped land of some description would have greeted them by its appearance, and the reaction was hard to bear. The two women felt the disappointment most. Theirs was a hard lot,-cut off from those comforts of life to which they were accustomed, away from friends, tossed about on a frail raft at the mercy of the winds and waves, and weak from fatigue and insufficient food. They felt inclined to give up m despair, and for a moment buried their faces in their hands and wept. 'You mu s t not be down-hearted, ma'am,' said


52 UNCLE JOHN'S FIRST SHIPWRECK. John, who h a d been silently watching them; 'it is too soon to e xpect to see land, we must be some distance from i t yet ; but if the weather holds good, we trust to ma k e it ere long.' 'It is foolis h to cry,' replied Miss French, brushing away her tears and looking up; 'but I did so hope we should see land. I had even dreamed we were there while sleeping.' 'Yes,' said Mrs. Weston ; 'we must not prove cowards, but bear what it is our lot to bear bravely, as true women . ' 'Dat is de r ight spirit, mum,' said the negro, who had heard the conversation; 'de Lord will deliver us in good ti m e.' Before their scanty breakfast was served out, Mrs. Weston, as on t he previous evening, read the prayers j indeed Snowy and his mates had requested her to do so. There was something quieting in the beautiful words ; and a s they reverently knelt, listening and joining in the o ffered petitions, they one and all felt they were bene a th the eye of One who never slumbers nor sleeps. When pray e rs were over breakfast was served out, the biscu i ts first. Felton handed round the several portion s , then taking the tin mug, went to


NO WATER! 53 draw the water. Here a startling discovery awaited him. When he lifted the keg, he thought it con siderably lighter than yesterday, and felt certain that most of its precious contents was gone. But how ? was the question. His confidence in his friends was too great to allow of the suspicion that one or both had paid a surreptitious visit to it during the night; neither could he believe the ladies would do it. Examining it closely, he found one side of it wet. There lie saw it must have oozed out; the keg was leaky I Doubtless the action of the sun during the previous day had shrunken the wood and made it so, and all night long the precious water had been growing gradually less and less. He shook the keg ; there could not be more than half a pint remaining. The cry of dismay which escaped his lips, as the truth of his conclusions flashed upon his mind, drew John to his side. He had been crumbling Florrie's biscuit, and still held the basin in his hand. His dismay was even greater than Felton's. He had noticed with considerable apprehension that the child appeared less lively this morning than on the previous day; there were dark circles round her eyes, and her cheeks looked thin ; as yet she had not moved from her mother's Iap,-a most unusual thing, as on ship


54 UNCLE JOHN'S FIRST SHIPWRECK. board there was no keeping her in one place for a mome.nt. 'What shall we do ? ' was John's first exclamation. 'Trust in Providence,' said Felton aft e r a pause. 'Yes, but the child! she must have water, or she'll die,' replied John. 'Well, wet her biscuit this once, and let her be s a tis fi ed ; before long we hope to reach land ; it is the only chance.' John did as Felton suggested, and as the last drop trick l ed into the basin he almost groaned, he felt so unm a nned by the cruel accident that deprived them of that which alone could keep life and strength in any of the party. The sad news had to qe communi• cated to the women, who were patiently waiting to moi s ten their dry biscuit, before attempting to eat it. ' Y ou must tell them, John, I have not the heart to do it,' said Felton as he made his way to Snowy, who , when he learned the disaster that had befallen them, lifted up his hands with horror. 'A great misfortune has befallen us,' said John to Mrs . Weston as he handed her Florrie's breakfast; ' all our water is gone.' ' Gone ! ' echoed Mrs. Wes ton, scarcely believing wha t she heard.


NO WATER! S5 ' Yes ; the sun must have shrunken the wood so that the water oozed out; this is the last I have here.' 'Oh, my darling, what shall I do?' cried the mother, clasping her little one to her bosom. John looked on with tears in his eyes, unable to say a word. 'Orrie want water,' murmured the little creature. ' Here is some for Florrie,' said John, putting the basin to her lips. The child drank all it contained, leaving only the biscuit untouched. ' More ! ' she cried. ' Florrie eat the biscuit now, water all gone,' said John soothingly. 'Me can't,' she replied. But when a little piece had been placed in her mouth, it did not need much inducement to make her swallow the rest. The two women were obliged to rest content with the little wine that remained, but it did not satisfy their thirst as water would have done. The men ate their hard biscuit and beef as best they could ; they had nothing with which to wash it down, and each _ piece they attempted to swallow stuck in their throats, and it required some little effort to induce it to pass. The negro's eyes looked sorrowfully upon her


56 UNCLE JOHN'S FIRST SHIPWRECK whom he called ' dat little angel;' and when John took his turn at the helm, while Felton examined the lashing whi c h hela their frail raft together, he opened his clasp-knife and tried to amuse her by cutting out droll figure s from a piece of wood. This interested the child for a little time, then she began to cry for water again ; and he took her in his great muscular arms, and crooned some of his negro songs to her, songs he had learnt while a slave on a plantation in South Amer i ca,-till she dropped off to sleep, and her mother laid her in her lap. The dear little cheeks looked so p a le and thin, they were quite pitiful to see. At noon she awoke, and her first cry was for water; her little lips looked so dry and parched, -they told even more than her wailing cry how much she needed it. This darling child had made a warm nest for herself in the affect\ons of each present, and one and all would have willingly given his or her heart's blood to pr oc ure what she so sorely needed, but it could not b e done. John tilted the empty cask and managed to drain out about three drops; these he held to her lips ; they only seemed to make her worse. 'More I' she wailed, and the cry made John pull his hair in his agony at thinking how helpless they all were.


NO WATER! 57 Indeed, they all suffered more or less from the same cause,-intolerable thirst; but being older, they were enabled the better to endure and conceal their sufferings, yet each saw the others fruitlessly attempt ing to moisten their dry lips with their tongue. How earnestly they prayed for rain, and how constantly they looked up to the blue sky above, if, haply, they might discern a rain-cloud ! If they found it difficult to swallow their early morning biscuit, they found it much more so now when the noon one was served out. Mrs. Weston tried to moisten a piece with her lips to give to her child, but was obliged to give up the attempt in despair. The scanty portion of food each received remained uneaten; the parched throat could not be made to swallow. All this time the raft was slowly moving through the water, now urged more swiftly forward by two of them using the oars; but this was only occasionally, the heat of the sun and their weakened condition rendering a long spell at rowing impossible. How anxiously they scanned the horizon for signs of land ; and every time their intent gaze saw nothing but sea and sky, sky and sea. Truly their condition was like that the poet has so well described :


58 UNCLE JOHN'S FIRST SHIPWRECK. 'Water, water everywhere, Nor any drop to drink.' In the afternoon, Snowy tore up his coarse shirt into narrow str i ps, which he joined together, making a long rope; at one end he tied a piece of salt beef for a bait, and throwing it into the water, let it trail a little way behind the raft, in hopes some fish might be tempted to seize it. But though he patiently waited, and his experiment was anxiously watched by the others, no fish was tempted to swallow it; they were not s o easily beguiled, and Snowy was obliged to pull his line in again. Once more night came down upon these lonely voyagers on the great deep. How fervently the evening p r ayer, this time read by Miss French, was echoed by them all, in tones not loud but deep ! The stars came out and , looked down upon them, but there was no pity in their light.


CHAPTER VI. DEATH OF LITTLE FLORRIE. a HE night passed away without any incident occurring worthy of notice. Snowy, Felton, and John each took their separate turn at the helm. Anxiety and weariness made it difficult at times for ther_n to refrain from falling asleep at their post. The two women lay quite still, for a few hours forgetting their miseries in the blessedness of sleep. Florrie never moved throughout the night, and once, when John bent silently over her, he saw by the light of the stars a smile upon her face; he thought she must be dreaming of something pleasant, and with a murmured blessing he turned away, that he might not disturb her. Morning again dawned, the sun lighting up the waves of the sea and shining down upon the frail raft and :its desolate crew. As soon as there was li9


60 UNCLE JOHN'S FIRST SHIPWRECK sufficient light, the men turned their gaze once more over the sea, to ascertain if land or sail was in sight, but their search was unrewarded ; as on the previous morning, they saw nothing but the heaving waters. Hope almost died ou_t of their hearts; they .looked into each other's eyes, and saw there only the light of des pa ir. Miss F ench, who had been eagerly watching them, seeing their gesture of dismay, uttered a wailing cry and bowed her head to her knees. Mrs. Weston, who had been bending over her litt l e daughter, hearing the cry, raised her head to ascertain the cause; no words of explanation were n e eded, she comprehended the state of affairs at a glance. 'No land ! ' she whispered to John. Her voice sounded strangely unreal. John sorrowfully shook his head ; he could not bring himself to reply in words. 'We are doomed to a horrible death,' wailed Miss French, swaying herself to and fro. 'Hush! dear,' said Mrs. Weston. 'We must not entirely despair. We can hold out a little longer; perhaps before the day closes land may appear, or, better still, a passing ship receive us on board. Let us still hope.'


DEATH OF LITTLE FLORRIE. 61 'You see, ma'am,' said Felton, 'we are very low in the water, and cannot see far; we may be even nearer land than we think,-at any moment it may rise to our sight _ ; and then, as you say, a passing ship may bear down upon us ; so do not lose heart.' 'How is de leetle chile dis mornin', ma'am?' inquired Snowy, when Felton had finished. 'I scarcely know,' replied Mrs. Weston; 'she does not appear to suffer much just now, but her dear little cheeks are very thin.' They were thin indeed, and so pale, and her little lips looked dry and cracked. The three men gazed sorrowfully upon her as her mother softly kissed her forehead. At that moment the eyes of the darling child opened, and she smiled up at the faces bending over her. Her smile was even more pitiful to see than her face in repose. She tried to speak, but her swollen tongue and parched mouth and throat refused their office ; only an unintelligible murmur was heard. She seemed restless, and would not lie still in her mother's lap, but crawled for a little while round about her on the raft till she came in contact with the axe, to which she put her lips, sucking it as though she felt the coldness refreshing to her hot little mouth.


62 UNCLE JOHN'S FIRST SHIPWRECK. How sad it is to see those we love suffer, and yet be unable to relieve them ! The men who stood there gazing at little ' Florrie felt keenly their helplessness, their inability to relieve for one single moment their little favourite's misery. In their powerlessness they turned for help to the one great source of all strength and tenderness, and if ever men prayed fervently for succour, it was the negro and his two friends. But God sometimes answers prayer in a manner so diff e rent to what we expected, that we are unable to comprehend His ways. The little prayer-book came again into requisition. And perhaps never did the sun shine upon so earnest a little company. Their powers of speech were so weakened that it was only in whispers their petitions wer e spoken; but how earnestly the words were uttered, and h_ow .., the eyes of each wandered to little Florrie as they repeated after Mrs. Wes ton the words : . , Look down 1 we beseech The~, and hear us, ca!ling out of the depths of misery, ahd out of the jaws of this death, which is ready . now to swallow us up: save, Lord, or else we perish.' Such words have a terrible meaning when spoken by people in such dire stra i ts as our unfortunate adventurers. When prayers were over, Felton mechanically


DEATH OF LITTLE FLORRIE. 63 served out the biscuits, but they remained uneaten. Water was the great want; and swollen tongue, cracked lips, and parched throat told how dire was the necessity. After a time poor little Florrie crawled back to her mother; the cold iron of the axe, though cool to her hot lips, gave no relief to her intolerable thirst. She could not articulate a word now, only moaned like a dumb child; and hearing the moan of the little sufferer, the men clenched their hands in their impotent help lessness. Mrs. Weston gathered her daughter to her bosom, and rocked her to and fro, but she could not hush her to sleep or still the heart-rending moans. The little blue eyes, growing so dim now, were fixed wistfully upon hers, as if saying, 'Mother, why don't you help me?' And reading their meaning thus, the poor mother answered in a hoarse whisper, 'My darling, I can't,' and passionately kissed the thin wee face. 'This is hard to bear,' groaned John, hiding his face against old Snowy. ' De Lord knows it be,' whispered the black, hiding his own eyes. 'Death,' murmured Felton, 'would be more merciful than such suffering.'


64 UNCLE JOHN'S FIRST SHIPWRECK. ' No ! no ! ' cried John hoarsely; , ' we can't let her die.' 'My poor lad,' replied Felton, 'I would give my life to s a ve the little one; but to see her suffer and be unable to relieve her is too much to bear.' The old negro groaned with sympathy. ' Oh! if a shower of rain would but fall,' said John. 'There is no sign of rain,' replied Felton, looking up in the sky. ' Wha t is it you are looking at so earnest} y ?' in quired John of Snowy, whose gaze was fixed intently on one particular spot on the horizon. Felton cast his eyes in the same direction, saying, after a few minutes' pause, ' It looks like surf.' ' Yes, dat am surf,' echoed the negro. ' Surf!' cried John ; ' then there must be land ! ' 'More like}y a coral reef,' said Felton. 'We had better not say a word to the ladies, or we shall raise hopes doomed never to be realized _ ; let us make sure of , what it is first.' ' I tink, Feelton, we steer in dat ar' direction; if coral reef, dere also san'bank, and if san'bank, we fin' bird' s egg,' said the negro. In thi s Felton concurred; the sail was accordingly shifted so as the better to catch the breeze then blow


DEATH OF LITTLE FLORRIE. 65 ing, and the bl ac k steered the raft to where his sharp eyes h a d caught a glimpse of foamy sur John climbed the spar with some little difficulty, which answered the purpose of a mast, to get a better view. He distinctly made out a long unbroken line of white surf, but could see no land. He communicated this intelligence to his companions, and Felton r emarked, 'It is as I thou ght, a coral reef.' The hope which for a moment had buoyed up their hearts died ou ' agam. They neverthel ess thought it prudent to steer to wards the reef, as the negro said in all probability sandbanks would there be found; and if not so fortunate as to discover water upon them, there was some chance of finding a few eggs of the booby bird, and even these would be considered Godsends. Neither Mrs. Weston nor Miss French were made acquainted with the fact that they were steering to wards a coral reef, where they expected to obtain something to alleviate the pangs of the terrible thirst consuming them. The fear of the probable disappoint ment that awaited them withheld them from inform ing the two unfortunate ladies, they thought it would be so cruel to raise hopes never to be re al i ze d; their comp assio n for the unfortunate sufferers was toe great Ji:


66 UNCLE JOHN'S FIRST SHIPWRECK. to permit of this. How earnestly they wished their frail refu g e would move quicker through the water ! antl to aid it onward, Felton and Snowy took a spell at the o a rs, while John held the tiller; but their weakness was so great that their utmost efforts barely sufficed t o increase the speed. All da y they stood towards the reef, with darling Florrie growing worse and worse. Her dear face was .., so sad a s ight, that the men turned away their-eyes from seeing it; a nd . all day her mother bent over her with an a g onized heart. Her face was as sad to look upon as t he child's. Once Miss French attempted to take i t from her arms to relieve her, but the mother w o uld not part from her treasure ; she clung to it so despairingly that her friend was obliged to r e linquish her efforts, and could only sit by her side and watch the faint flame of life that wavered to and fro in ' th e little body. Sometimes Florrie opened her eyes, a nd looked up into her 111other's face with a look of r ecognition; she would even attempt a smile, but it usu a lly ended with the eyes again closing, and the labou r ed heaving of the little bosom. 'Give me water, or my child will die ! ' cried Mrs. Weston o n ce in her agony of sorrow; and when they heard it, the men covered their faces with th e ir thin


DEA TH OF LITTLE FLORRIE. 67 hands, and would have wept; but although their hearts were full of tears, their eyes refused tc, shed them. The agony of that moment was past all expression; those who lived through it never forgot it to their dying day, and could never recall it without a shudder. That little golden-haired darling dying; the mother's sorrow; their own impotent helplessness ,-ho w it all recurred to them again and again in after years ! In waking day, in dreams of the night; in sil ence, in the bustle of active life ; in happiness and in misery, that picture of the mother and ht:r child never faded from their memories. It was night, and too dark to distin g uish the cha racter of the reef when they neared it. They were compelled to lower the sail and use the oars to pre vent the raft from drifting into the power of the surf, which would soon have hurled it to destruction. 'We must keep off and on till daybreak,' said Felton, 'or we shall suffer a second shipwreck.' How anxious they were for the darkness to pass away, that they might discov e r if l an d was ne a r; but with the dawn of morning their hopes of gaining 1::tnd vanished. They found themselves among a range of reefs, consisting of sunken ro cks and low


68 U1VCLE JOHN'S FIRST SHIPWRECK. sandbanks, extending in all directions except from the eastward. 'The water is smooth inside,' remarked Felton) 'and if w e can find an opening in the reef, we may be able to land on one of the sandbanks.' 'We must coast along until we discover one,' said John. The sail was again hoisted by Snowy, who stood by ready to lower it should danger present itself. 'I see a break yonder,' cried John, pointing some distance ahead. ' Dat be wide enough, me tink, for de raft,' said Snowy, examining it critically. 'At all events we will try it,' said Felton ; 'you take the tiller, John, while I con the raft.' John d i d as he was desired, and Felton, making his way to the head of the raft, narrowly examined the chann e l into which it was steered. It was with great difficulty, and several very narrow escapes from destruction, that the passage was at length made. 'Thank God,' said Felton reverently, 'we have been saved almost . by a miracle ; now steer the raft to the largest of the sandbanks, I see a few stunted bushes on it; I pray we may find water, but I doubt it.'


.DEA TH OF LITTLE FLORRIE. 69 In a little while the raft grounded on a sandbank not more than a mile in circumference ; and the three men, weak and scarcely able to crawl, landed. Their first care was to secure the raft, to prevent it drifting away; then, while Snowy and Felton went away in search of water, John assisted the ladies to the sand. It was only by earne s t entreaty that he could persuade them to leave their refuge; indeed, Mrs. Weston was so absorb e d in her child that she paid no heed to what was said, so that John was obliged to address himself to Miss French, and secure her aid in inducing the poor mother to land. The lad wanted to carry the little girl, but she would not part with her; and while he supported as best he could Miss French 's tottering footsteps, Mrs. Weston found strength to step on shore unaided. There she sat herself down, careless of what was going on around, only anxious about her darling. The negro and F e lton soon returned. They were unsuccessful in their search for water, but had found a few booby eggs, and even knocked down a couple of the birds. Thou g h consumed with thirst, the first thought of these brave men was for little Florrie. They broke an egg in the basin, and bleeding one of the birds, beat the two together ; it then made a


70 UNCLE JOHN'S FJRST SHIPWRECK. liquid, not like water, certainly, but it would surely alleviate the dreadful thirst, and snatch the child back from the g ates of death. The poor little face was quite thin, the cheeks shrunken, and the dear lips dry and black. How tenderly, while the mother raised her head, did the burly negro endeavour to force a little of the liquid into the child's mouth, and how anxiously the others . watched his efforts. How long he persisted in his attempts none of them ever kew, but it seemed for hours, so great was their agony of suspense. At last he desisted, and gravely shaking his head, said in a whisper' Me berry much feared she nebber drink more.' 'No! no!' cried Mrs. Weston, 'my darling is not dead; feel, her dear little bosom is warm, and her heart throbs.' John gently placed his hand on the dear little creature's bosom : he felt but a faint, feeble flutter. She was evidently dying fast. At that moment Florrie opened her eyes, and looking up at the anxious faces bending over her, tried to speak; but although her l i ps moved slightly, no sound came from them; th e n a faint smile passed over her face, quickly followed by an awful shadow; the little eyes


DEATH OF LITTLE FLORRIE. 71 darkened into the d ar kness of death. A f eeble gasp, and darling Florrie was dead. The mother saw all was over, and in mute anguish bowed her head ; and while her friend endeavoured to comfort her, the three men turned with one consent away, unable to witness the grief they could not alleviate. After a time John returned to the bereaved mother, to try and induce her to partake of some of the egg. He gave the basin into Miss French's hand, telling her that herself and Mrs. Weston must try to swallow its contents, however unpalatable it might taste, or they would perish. He then returned to his comrades, whom he found preparing to kindle a fire. Snowy w a s using the axe to cut up one of the loose planks from the raft, while Felton with steel and flint, which he had carried in his pocket all along, was setting fire to some tinder prepared from a remnant of the negro's shirt. After a few vain efforts the fire began to blaze; the saucepan then came into requi sitio n. The eggs were broken and the blood of the rem a ining birds mixed with them; the birds themselves, plucked and cut up, were placed on the fire, a few pieces only being put in the saucepan with some biscuit. After a little delay the whole was for eating. The ~ nts of the two ladies were first supplied. They had


72 UNCLE JOHN'S FIRST SHIPWRECK. drunk the previous mixture. one felt considerably better. The meal over, each True, their food had tasted rather fishy and somewhat rank, but it had succeeded a little in alleviating their thirst, which, to say the least, was something gained. By this time the sun was high up in the sky, and its heat began to feel unpleasant, and Snowy suggested that with the aid of the oars and sail a little tent mi g ht be erected to screen the ladies. This task they immediately set about performing, for they had determ i ned to remain on the sandbank till the follow ing morning, by which time they would have collected more eggs, and perhaps secured a few additional boobies, which with care might last them till they succeeded in gaining the mainland. The tent was soon erected, being very simple in construction,-in fact, consisting of nothing more than the oars and the mast placed upright in the sand, and the sail thrown over them ; but it answered the pur pose of a shelt;r, and that was everything. The men then turned to another task which they knew it was necessary to accomplish, yet they set about it with very heavy and aching hearts,-it was to dig a grave for their dead little favourite. The spot selected was near a few stunted bushes. Here, with their


DEATH OF LITTLE FLORRIE. 73 hands, they hollowed out a tolerably deep hole, then, at the expense of a little additional labour, succeeded in shaping it into something like the res emb lance of a grave. Before their task was completed, day had nearly closed. In the meantime, Mrs. Weston and her friend had been preparing the little body for its last earthly habitation. They first of all wrapped it carefully in one of the shawls my rea ders will rem embe r they had with them on the r aft, leaving the face only exposed; a bl anke t was then cut up, and this also was folded round it. Miss French th e n beckoned to the men to come and take a last farewell of Florrie. They gathered round the door of the rough tent, and gazed _ sorrowfully upon the dear litt le face, so quiet now, so still and calm, so peaceful in its wonderful repose. These men were weak from suffering and privation, yet they would gladly have gone throu g h again and yet again the last few days' experience, could they have restored once more to life their little favourite; but this could not be. As each thou gh t this was the last time they should ever see her, they cried, and were not ashamed of their tears. 'I thank you,' said Mrs. Weston in a sca.rcely ar~iculate voice, 'for the love you bore my dead


74 UNCLE JOHN'S FIRST SHIPWRECK child, and for the kind tenderness with which you always treated her; I thought you would like to have one farewell glance at her darling face before I hid it away for ever .' 'Thank you, ma'am,' said Felton, speaking for his comrades; 'we loved your little girl, and would have died for her. May we give her a parting kiss?' Mr s. Weston signed her assent, and kneeling, each reverently touched the little white brow with his lips . It wa s a solemn and touching spectacle the burial of littl e Florrie. The mother would permit none but hersel f to lay the little body, oh ! so precious, in its lonely grave. And the words of the buri a l service, as th ey were read by John, sounded very impressive and affe cting. When all was over, the d ar k night came down upon them, and the stars for the first time r es ted their li g ht upon littl e Florrie's grave. All night long, by th e l ig ht of the fire, John worked away a t a rude tablet, to be placed a t the head of the grave. With the axe he shaped a board into the form of a cross, and th en burnt into it the name of the c h ild, her age, the date of her death and its cause : and at the bottom these words : 'She is not dead, but s!eepcth.'


DEA TH OF LITTLE FLORRIE. 75 When on the following d ay the r aft left the sand bank, it seemed so sad to leave the little grave behind, it looked so lonely there, surrounded by the waters of the sea, so far away from human life. The poor moth e r kept her face towards it as long as the rude tablet at its head could be seen. The hearts of that little company were very sad as gradually the sand bank disappeared from view, sinking as it were into the great ocean itself.


CHAPTER VII. THE ISLAND AND THE BOAT. EFORE the raft left the sandbank, Snowy and Felton found a few more eggs, and knocked down an additional booby or two; the latter were cook e d, but the former taken with them raw, to be us e d as a substitute for water, of w hi c h precious fluid, as we have seen, their tem porary refuge did not yield one drop. Our three heroes were somewhat strengthened and refr e shed by the more generous diet of which they had partaken, and two of them, to increase the speed of t h e raft, took a spell at the oars, and worked with a will , albeit with saddened hearts. Though their eyes loo k ed hopefully forward, their thoughts as constantly turned backwards to the little grave they were leaving beh i nd. Land was confidently expected to be seen ere 7G


THE ISLAND AND THE BOAT. 77 night, when they hoped that the sharpest of their sufferings would be relieve d, and they were constantly on the look-out for signs which would infallibly prove their conjectures right. These hopes John com' municated to Miss French, who sat with her arm round her friend, whispering what words of con solation she could find to say to the grief -str ick e n mother. 'I shall not be sorry,' said Miss French in reply; 'the sooner we gain land the better; I am ver y weary of this life.' 'So are we all,' thou g ht John. But the day passed, and ni ght came, and still land was not in sight, and the w ea ry band of voyagers were compelled to buoy up their courage with the hope that surely morning would brin g the longed-for sight. And, surely enough, when the sun rose, a ll hands were aroused by the welcome shout from Felton of' Land, ho!' Looking in the dir ect ion to which he eagerly pointed, there di stinctly rose the high mount ai ns of New South Wales. To p ai nt the joy which showed itself on each face would be a vain ta s k. My reader s must try and picture to themselves how great it was . Between them and the m ain l a nd were a number of


78 UNCLE JOHN'S FIRST SHIPWRECK. small islands, and it was quickly decided to make for the nearest of these. 'We may find water there,' said Felton, as he urged them to adopt this plan. Yet, in their exhausted state, it took some time to reach it ; and to add to their difficulties, when within two or three miles it fell a dead calm, and they were compell e d to row the rest of the way. On landing, the island proved to be barren and sandy, slightly covered with furze and grass, but without anything in the shape of food or water to relieve their hunger and thirst. This made them regret they had not continued their course to the mainland, instead of wasting valuable time in making for so barren a spot; but as it still continued calm, they resolved to stay the re for the remainder of the day. Securing the raft i n the little sandy bay where it had grounded, Snowy s ta rted off to make a more thorough survey of the island, with the hope that he might yet be suc cessful i n finding something to eat. Felton and John turned, after having first landed the ladies, to digging a well in the sand, above high-water mark, in the hope of finding fresh water. 'I have read,' said Felton, 'of shipwrecked sailors being successful in making such experiments, and we may as well have a trial as sit still and do nothing.'


THE ISLAND AND THE BO AT 79 John readily consented to the proposition, and both set to work with a will, using for the purpose now their hands, and now a piece of board hewed into the shape of a shovel by the aid of the axe. For some time they worked away in silence, with no good result; but just as they were about to give up in despair, to their great joy they saw water begin ning to percolate through, and when sufficient had accumulated at the botton of the hole, John dipped in his hand and tasted it. To his inexpressible dis appointment, he found it to be so brackish as to be totally unfit for drinking. 'We must dig another,' said Felton, after imitating John's example by conveying some of the water to his lips ; ' farther from the shore it may be more pure.' Just as they were beginning to their second well, they saw the negro returning, apparently with some thing in his hands . He had eYidently joyful news to communicate, and was hurrying along as fast as his weakened condition would permit. The two men relint'J_uished their fruitless labour and hurried to meet him. They were not near enough to hear what he was saying, although they saw he was shouting to them. This made them quicken their footsteps. A nearer


80 UNCLE JOHN'S FIRST SHIPWRECK. approach showed the faithful fellow was laden with rock oysters, while their ears were assailed with the delightful cry of' Water!' As he came up to them he pantingly cried, 'Here be somethin' to eat; but get de keg, -d ere is water.' No sec o nd word was needed. Felton got the empty keg and the tin mug, and returned with the negro to get a supply of the precious fluid, of which all stood in such sore need; while John picked up the oysters Snowy had thrown down in his excitement, and went to the ladies to tell them the glad tidings. ' Thank God,' cried Mrs. Weston ; ' I don't think I could have held out much longer.' ' Let me open one of the oysters,' said John, taking out his cl a sp-knife. 'I don ' t think I can swallow one till I have had some wat e r, my throat is too parched.' ' Here it comes, dear,' cried Miss French, clapping her hand s in her gladness. These b rave men had not stopped to relieve their own thirst, their first thought was for the two unfor tunate women ; so, filling the keg, .they had hastened their return, laden with the precious freight. Never was a dr a ught of water re c eived so thankfully, or so keenly en j oyed, as that drunk by John and hi s fr ie nd s ,


THE ISLAND AND THE BOAT. 8x the intense sigh of pleasure that each gave when their thirst had been satisfied being in itself a con clusive proof . The negro in his survey of the island had noticed a rock that jutted out into the sea, and making his way to it, he had there found plenty of rock oysters; and while gathering a load of these, his attention was attracted by a bird standing on a loftier height of the rock, climbing up to which he discovered in a cavity an abundance of pure, fresh water. At the welcome sight he could scarcely refrain from dancing for joy, but the thought of his com panions in misfortune soon quieted him ; so taking a quantity of the oysters with him, he returned to tell of his good fortune; with what result we have seen. 'Now,' said Felton, when each had drunken his and her fill of water, 'we will have stewed oysters for dinner. John, get some dry grass and build the fire while I open the oysters; Snowy will cook them knows how better than I do.' ' Yes,' said the negro, with a grin, ' dis chile cook one dinner fit for king.' And when it was ready and partaken of, they all declared the old negro had made good his word, and had given them a dinner fit for a F


82 UNCLE JOHN'S FIRST SHIPWRECK king. The keen relish which hunger gives perhaps gave fo rc e to their verdict. Satis fie d as they had not been for days past, hunger and th ir st both relieved, when their meal was ended they sat lazily on the sand, not caring to move. It had b ee n agreed before dinner to remain on the island for the night, to recruit their strength some• what before making the attempt to gain the main land; a nd having plenty of time in which to renew their supplies of oysters and water, they felt they might indulge themselves in a little rest; and this they proceeded to do in such various ways as inclination prompted. Felton went to sleep, the negro stretched himself at full length upon the sand, while John sat talking to the l adies , who were mending their dresses, which in the course of their adventures had become . sadly dilapidated. All at once Snowy gave a shout and st a rted to his feet, frightening his companions, who thought he must have been stung by a snake. 'Why, what is it, Snowy?' inquired Felton, whom he had awoke. 'Me forget,' cried the black, stamping his great foot on the sand, ' dis chile see boat by de roc].c where am oysters.'


THE ISLAND AND THE BOAT. 83 'A boat ! ' cried Felton, now thoroughly awake. 'Whose?' 'Dat am what I not know; but dere no one in, and it be half full o' san'.' 'We must go and examine it,' said Felton, rising to his feet; 'if it proves to be sound, it will be more serviceable to us than the raft.' Without more words Felton and John set off, guided by Snowy. When they arrived at the spot where the boat was lying, they found it was a snug little bay on the lee side of what they called Oyster Rock. Upon examination they found the boat must have been lying there for some little time, which caused them to give up their first theory in account ing for its appearance, namely, that it was one of the two boats which had so cruelly deserted them on the night of the wreck. Each gave it as his opinion that it had never belonged to the Nellie, but must have either drifted there from some other wreck, or been purposely left by its crew, who themselves were received on board a passing vessel. The sand was cleared out, but nothing was discovered beneath, save only a worn ancle-shoe and a broken oar. Felton carefully examined its timbers, and find ing them sound, declared it was capable of con•


84 UNCLE JOHN'S FIRST SHIPWRECK veying them to the mainland. He, with the aid of his two friends, launched it, and seeing that, with the except i on of a trifling leakage, it was water-tight, . pronounced it a prize. 'It will do, Snowy,' he said ; 'what little water it makes can easily be kept under by baling. The tiller is a little damaged, but that we can easily remed y ; and with the mast from the raft we shall be able to make sail, and our speed will be far more r a pid t han it has hitherto been.' In all this his friends agreeing, it was resolved to row round to where the raft was lying, and remove into the boat all their valuables; John, therefore, ran back for the oars, and when he returned they all three embar k ed in their prize. Mrs . Wes ton and her friend were exceedingly sur. prised to see their protectors rowing to the landing. place in a boat, and could scar ~ ely credit their eyes, and for a moment thought they were playing them false; but when the men shouted to them they no longer remained incredulous, but hastened down to the beach to meet them on landing. They were soon i n possession of the particulars of the good fortun e that had befallen them, and most heartily congratulated Snowy and his comrades.


THE ISLAND AND THE BOAT. 85 The articles were soon transferred from the raft to the boat, the tiller repaired in the best way possible with their limited resources, and the spare spar erected and the sail hoisted. The boat was then drawn up on the beach for the night, and after a supper of stewed oysters washed down with water, the little company gathered together for prayers, and then lay down to sleep. On the following morning they were early astir, and after partaking of a similar meal to their two previous ones, they bade farewell to the raft and embarked on board the boat. They first of all rowed round to Oyster Rock and got a fresh supply of oysters and water, after which they hoi s ted their little sail and stood boldly for the mainland. 'What island is that?' said Miss French to John. ' I don't know, Miss,' was John's reply. ' I think we may safely call it Providence Island,' remarked Mrs. Weston, 'for thither God provi dentially led us, and there we found water, food, and this boat.' ' Me tink dat berry good name, mum,' said the n eg ro, grinning approval. ' Yes,' continued Mrs. Wes ton ; ' God has been merciful, in spite of His having taken my'She


86 UNCLE JOHN'S FIRST SHIPWRECR. could proceed no farther; her thoughts were back again to her little Florrie, lying there in her dark grave in the midst of the heaving waters. The men l o oked at each other; they well knew of what she was thinking ; their thoughts, too, wandered frequently ba c k to the memorable spot where they had seen the l ast of their little favourite, and where they had laid her , to rest. Yes; 'Florrie's Island,' as they called it, became as it were a landmark in their memories, which no after event was ever likely to remove.


CHAPTER VIII. ADVENTURES ON LAND. a HE n ear approach to land considerably raised the spirits of our voy agers ; th e y had no longer any fear of dying eithei by thirst or hunger, or even suff e ring so cruelly as during the early part of their adventurous voyage; their good fortune, too, in finding the boat in which they were now sailing added to the general feeling of joy which began to pervade each bosom. It w t s found to make even less water than Felton had supposed it would, therefore very little baling was requir ed. Strong hopes were entertained of reaching land before night. The two ladies found the boat far more comfortable than th e raft. Sno wy held the tiller, steering the boat according to Felton ' s directions, who with John stood at the bows,


88 UNCLE JOHN'S FIRST SHIPWRECK. keeping a sharp look-out for sunken rocks, that they migh t not suffer a second shipwreck. 'Who first discovered this country?' inquired John of his compar,tion. ' It seems doubtful who was the first European disco v erer,' replied Felton. 'The Dutch claim the honour, and certainly the first really authentic accounts we have show that the northern and western sides w e re visited by them as early as the year 1616, if not in 1605; they made extensive explorations of the coast in the following century, and then called the country New Holland. Dutch navi gators appear to have had a passion for calling any newly discovered country after their own beloved land.' ' When did the first En g lishman land?' 'Somewhere about 1688; it was the celebrated buccaneer, Dampier . ' 'But if I remember rightly,' said John, 'Cook visited it, did he not?' 'Yes, but not till ne a rly one hundred years after Dampier ; then he surveyed the greater part of the eastern coast.' 'When, then, was the first settlement made?' ' When we lost our American Colonies, it was


AD VENTURES ON LAND . 89 fixed upon for a penal settlement, and the first batch of convicts landed in 17 88, under the command of Captain Philip, who proclaimed the colony New , South Wales.' ' I suppose, considering how few the coast settle ments are, but little of the interior has been explored?' ' Next to nothing. It has, howev e r, commenced ; a passage across the Blue Mountains was made about a dozen years since. But we have little to do with the interior; we must be thankful if we can reach the coast and effect a safe landing.' ' There is no fear but what we shall accomplish that now,' said John. 'Well, I hope so ; yet the coast i s almost one con tinuous line of high rocks, and unless we can find some little inlet or bay we may find it difficult to land.' 'Oh, I trust not,' rejoined John earnestly; ' after so much suffering, to be in sight of land and th e n not able to gain it will indeed be a disappointment.' ' We must hope for the best, John; the same Pro vidence which has watched over us hitherto will not now desert us. But should we be able to land, even then our difficulties will not be over ; we shall still be far from the nearest settlement, which we can only hope to gain by coasting along.'


90 UNCLE JOHN ' S FIRST SHIPWRECK. ' At any rate we shall be able to procure some more solid food than rock oysters.' ' Even in this you must not be too sanguine, for there is no country in which animal life is so scarce as in th i s. Birds we might be able to procure in abundan c e, had we guns wherewith to shoot them; but as t h ey are not quite so stupid as boobies, we stand but a poor chance of being able to knock any on the h e ad.' 'Why, Felton,' said John a little crossly, 'you are quite a J o b's comforter.' 'No, not that; but it is as well to know what are the diffic u lties before us, that we may be prepared to meet them with a stout heart, and by the help of God overcom e them.' It was not till past noon that the boat approached the shor e, upon which all eyes were eagerly fixed. A line of h ig h rocks met their view, against which the surf beat so violently that great care was necessary to prevent the boat from being drawn within its power, where it would soon have been dashed to pieces. After running along the coast for some distance, a little sandy cove was discovered between two high rocks; into this the boat was steered, and in a little while all hands landed. They felt as they stepped on


AD VENTURES ON LAND. 91 shore that now their worst perils were over; so much preferable did their situation appear to be, even on a comparatively barren coast, to the anxieties and sufferings felt and endured when tossed about upon the ocean. As soon as the boat was secured, all hands set to tvork. Snowy took the hatchet and proceeded to cut a quantity of fuel for a fire, which the ladies insisted upon carrying down to the spot which had been fixed upon for their camping place. They declared they had been idle long enough, and that it was time for them to take their share of the general toil. John went off in search of water, but was cautioned not to wander too far for fear of losing himself, and above all, to be on his guard against the natives. Felton took another direction to hunt for food. John penetrated some distance into the dense bush without observing any signs of water. He was careful, however, to take particular notice of the objects which he passed, so that they might serve as guides on his way back . Once he thought he saw the form of a man or animal gliding behind the trunks of the trees; he stopped to examine more closely, but seeing nothing move, he concluded he must have been mistaken. When he had gone, as far as he could

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92 UNCLE JOHN'S FIRST SHIPWRECK. judge, about a mile from the encampment, to his great joy he discovered a rivulet of clear water. From the course which it seemed to take, he judged it must flow much nearer to where they had landed than the spot where he then stood. He went down on his hands and knees and took a long, refreshing draught. As he ~as about to return to his companions, he was startled by hearing a kind of savage howl; he lis tened,-it was repeated again. He knew from Felton that the country contained no very dangerous animal, and therefore concluded it must be the howl of a wild dog. A little way ahead he saw an opening, from which direction the howl apparently came; making his way to it, he saw a sight that filled him with pleasure. It was a dingo, or native dog, which had succeeded in running down an emu (the ostrich of Australia), and was now feeding upon one of its l egs. To rush forward with a loud shout and drive the dog away was the work of a minute; he then threw the bird over his shoulder and hastened back with his booty to his friends, where his appearance was hailed with de li ght. Felton had not yet returned, but the active black had kindled a fire, and succeeded in erecting a kind of bower with branches of tree s, and a sail thrown

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AD VENTURES ON LAND. 93 over the top, as a shelter for the ladies. He now took the emu and began to skin it, after which he cut it into slices, and soon had a plentiful supply broiling on the fire. While all this was being done, John had taken the keg and filled it with water at the rivulet. When Felton returned, he brought with him a quantity of wild lettuce, but no animal food. In the course of his wanderings he had come upon signs of natives, which upon inspection proved to be of recent date, so it behoved them to be careful, as they were not certain how they should be treated were they to fall into their hands. The green food proved a most welcome addition to their evening's meal, while the flesh of the emu was a delicacy only to be thoroughly relished by those who for days have been in a state of semi-starvation. This meal our adventurers ate at the spot where they landed, as they intend e d to remain there for the night, and to commence their voyage along the coast on the following day. When supper was ended, prayers were read (as they were every night and morning during all their wanderings), and then ' pre parations were made for the night. It was deter mined that a watch should be kept till morning, to

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94 UNCLE JOHN'S FIRST SHIPWRECK. guard against a possible surprise by the natives, and also that the fire might not go out. Up till the present time our adventurers had been very fortunate in having favourable weather; had it been rainy or tempestuous, their sit u ation wo u ld have been far more uncomfortable than it had hitherto been, and the danger greater. The weather was still . fair when on the following morning they embarked in their boat and commenced their voyage to Moreton Bay. For several days they continued their course with no incident worthy of record occurring, till, having exhausted all their provisions and wa ter, they again found it necessary to land and lay in a fresh stock. When this step was determined upon, they were in a fine bay, and near an opening which had the appear ance of the mouth of a river. Lowering their sai l , they rowed upw a rds for some distance, when they fou n d it suddenly expand into a kind of lake, and was in fact merely an inner bay. Here they landed and soon discovered water, but with regard to food were not quite so fortunate as on the previous occasion ; only a quantity of sorrel was found, till one of them, wandering at low water along the shores of the inner bay, procured a number of small oysters, which with

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AD VENTURES ON LAND. ~ 95 the sorrel were boiled together, and made a very acceptable meal. On the following morning, to their great consterna. tion they saw that the wind had changed during the night, and was blowing quite a storm. It was im possible to continue their voyage, so they decided to remain where they were for the present, and make themselves as comfortable as cir cumstances would allow. A tent was erected in a sheltered spot with the boat's sail and the blanket, for it was found necessary to have some protection from the weather, more especially as it began to rain, and soon so violently that all were glad to huddle under cover. But when it ceased, the three men, leaving the ladies beh ind them, went away in search of food. Snowy gathered oysters, while Felton and John, the first armed with the axe, the other with a club, entered the bush, hoping that something eatable would reward their search. ' I am afraid I shall not be so fortunate this time,' said John, 'as to find a half-eaten emu.' 'No,' replied Felton; 'such things don't u s ually happen a second time ; but I hope we may find somethin g.' They had proceeded some distance without dis

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96 U N CLE JOHN'S FIRST SHIPWRECK. coverin g anything that would serve as food, save only a l arge number of gaily f e athered birds, which it was impossible to catch, when John touched Felton on the arm and pointed to something on his r ig ht ro ll ing over and over in the grass. 'Wh a t do you call that ? ' was his inquiry. 'I c a n ' t rightly say,' replied Felton; 'something alive, s ur ely . ' 'No d oubt about th a t , ' said John. 'Wh y, it must be a-but no-yes , 1t 1s, though! Come a long!' shouted Felton, darting forward with u p l i fted axe. ' Wh a t is it?' cried John, following. 'A large snake killing some animal !' 'Be c areful, Felton, or you'll run into danger.' 'All r ight; if I can but give it a blow with my axe it i s our s .' The s nake, however, had s e en their approach, and uncoili ng it s elf from the anim a l it had enfolded in its embr a c e , reared its h ea d threateningly. It would not do t o come to close qu a rt e rs, so taking a steady aim, F e lton hurled his axe at it, and so truly that he knock e d it on the head; and before it could recover from the effects of the blow, John rushed in, and with a f e w a d ditional blows from his club put an end to its

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AD VENTURES ON LAND. 97 existence. After making sure that it was dead, they examined the prey of the snake, and to their great joy found it to be a small kangaroo. It was quite flattened from the pressure of the reptile. 'This, at any rate, will make a meal for us,' said Felton, turning it over. ' I thought kan garoos were larger than this,' s aid John. 'There are several species,' replied Felton; 'one as large as a man, and the smallest about the size of a hare. This appears to be one of the intermediate variety.' 'This snake is far l a rger than any I anticipated seeing,' remarked John, giving it a poke with his club; 'and yet how beautifully it is marked! Do you know what kind it is?' 'No; but I fancy it must be the diamond snake. I know no other kind so large. The natives eat it.' ' Well, let them,' said John, with a look of disgust ; ' I must be very hungry before I tackle a slice.' The kangaroo so fortunately rescued from the snake was the only success which attended their expedition. When skinned and boiled it was found delicious eating. John rem arked that the snake must have squeezed it tender. G

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98 UNCLE JOHN'S FIRST SHIPWRECK. 'I have heard,' said Felton, 'that the tail of the large kan ga roo makes delicious soup.' 'Yes, you am right,' replied Snowy with a grin; 'de soup am one good.' 'I can endorse Snowy's testimony,' said Miss French, 'for I have partaken of some and found it delightful There is only one danger attending it,' she added with a smile ; 'if you are not careful, the chances are you will get your lips so glued together :i.s to be unable to separate them.' ' I will risk that, if ever I get the chance of tasting it,' said J ohn; 'but I suppose that is an experience I am not likely to pass through just yet.' But in t his John was mistaken, for it was an ex perience he realized much sooner than either he or his companions anticipated. And this is how it came to pass. On the day succeeding that in which Felton and John had snatched its prey from the snake, the weather s till proved too unfavourable to continue their voyage along the coast ; and it held thus for six days, during which time they remained encamped at this spot. Every day two of the men hunted for provisions with varying success, one a l ways remaining near the l a dies in case -they should receive a visit

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AD VENTURES ON LAN.D . 99 from the natives. One morning during their enforced sojourn, Snowy and John, armed with axe and club, started on the usual errand. The black had hopes of killing an opossum, having r emarke d a hollow tree, in which these animals make their home, some little distance from the camp. "They set forth in good spirits, for although their dangers and privations had been many and severe, their hith erto miraculous preservation led them to believe that they should ultim ately succeed in reach ing a haven of safety. Even Mrs . Weston, in spite of the recent loss of little Florrie, of whom she con tinually thought, at times brightened and was cheer• fol. Neither of the little company looked as they did when leaving Hobart Town; th eir perils and suffering had told upon them severely; their faces were pale and thin ; their strength sadly reduced; while their . clothes were so torn that even a beggar would have reject ed them with scorn. Still th eir continued pre servation at times made them cheerful. To r epea t myself, the two set forth in good spirits, confident that if anything eatable crossed their path, they would not readily let it escape. They journeyed for some time without anything disturbing the mono tony of their wdk, and finally reached the tree Snowy

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10 , , UNCLE JOHN'S FIRST SHIPWRECK. ha d marked the previous day as one likely to be th e retreat of the opossum. Here they both halted, th e negro examining it with a critical eye, debating in hi s own mind how he was to climb it. While thus ex a mining and considering, they were startled by he a ring something pass swiftly through the brush wo o d. Hastily turning in the same direction to ascertain the nature of the creature, they saw an immense kan ga roo trying to escape from a pack of dingoes. The creature was taking prodigious leaps, clearing the low brushwood at the rate of fifteen to twenty feet at a bound. Just as it appeared in sight, aft e r two or three leaps, it planted itself against the trunk of a tree and prepared to give battle to its pursuers. They had evidently been some time en ga ge d in the chase, for their tongues lolled from the i r jaws, and they exhibited unmist akeab le signs of we a nness. Seated on his haunches, the hunted animal presented a formidable front to his antagonists , the long sharp claws of his fore feet looked very dan g erous. Seeing the i r intend ed victim turn to bay, some of the dingoes squatted down in front, too tired with their long run to rush in to the attack; others, more fresh, which bad join e d in the pursuit on the way, hesitated not

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AD VENTURES ON LAND. 101 a moment, but darting at the k a ngaroo, endeavoured to seize him by the throat and bring him to the ground. Some of these received their death-wound, being ripped up with an ease and celerity perfectly marvellous. Again and again did the wild dogs rush to the assault, only each time to be r ep ulsed, whik at every attack others were added to those a lready writhing on the ground mort a lly wounded. The noble animal, however, was growing weary with the fray, and it soon became evid en t to the silent spec tato rs that his end could not be far dist a nt. At first, surprise and interest h a d kept the negro and John inactive; but now, seeing th e ir opportunity of effectually availing themselves of the chances of chase and war to increase the supply of their l arder, they commenced to act. The n egro threw down his axe, and snatching John's club, crept silently for ward, and, before the animal could fully realize the presence of his new foe, gave him a tremendous blow on the nose. Down dropped the kangaroo as if shot, and before he could recover himself, a second blow on the head quieted him for ever. When Snowy attacked the kangaroo, John picked up the axe, and rushing in among the din goes, commenced dealing blows right and left, and so liberally that they

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102 UNCLE JOHN'S F.IRST SH.IPWRECK. w ~ re compelled to slink off, doubtless very unwillingly, l eavi ng these new opponents masters of the field. No doubt it was very aggravating to the dingoes to be thus deprived of what they might ju stly consider th e ir lawful prey. To have chased and hunted it for m a ny weary miles; to have l eft several of their com panions dead upon the field of battle ; and at the very moment they were anticipating an end of the conflict, to have the prize snatched, as it were, from their very jaws, to say the least must have been very disappoint in g : so inde e d they appeared to think, for they gave vent to their feelings in quite a chorus of melancholy howls. But their despoilers wasted no unnecessary thoughts upon what they mi g ht think or feel ; on the contrary, they testified th ei r joy at the piece of good fortune which had befallen them by sundry exclamations of deli g ht. . . 'Ho, ho !' laughed Snowy; 'tail soup now! dis chiie de man to make 'um.' ' What a fine fellow he is,' said John, feeling the animal's sides; 'how fat! Feel here, Snowy. And wh a t a tail! my!' he continued, shaking the appen da ge in question. The negro signified his approval of the parts to which his attention was especially directed by so

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AD VENTURES ON LAND. 103 formidable a laugh, that the dingoes, which had not retreated far, actually started to their feet, as if anti cipating another onslaught. 'What a thump you gave him on the head, Snow; why, you've knocked his brains out.' ' When Snow hit one blow dat enough,' said the black gravely, as he examined the proofs of his prowess. 'Now, then, up with him, Snow, and let us march back.' ' One leetle minute,' replied the negro; and taking his clasp-knife, he first cut the animal's throat, and then opened it from h ea d to tail. After throwing the offal to the yet ling e ring dingoes, with John's assis tance he hoisted the body across his brawny shoulders, and the two set off to return with their spoil to their companions. To describe how heartily the negro went to work to make kangaroo soup for dinner is next to impossible. He threw his whole heart and all his energies into the task, as though his very life depended upon the success of his experiment. Miss French offered her services as assistant cook on the occasion, but this Snowy refused, saying: 'Dis chile knows; let dis chile alone for dat.'

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104 UNCLE JOHN'S FIRST SHIPWRECK. And when at length it was served up, he received quite an ovation of praise for the success of his cookery. John declared he had never tasted a dish so much to his taste as kangaroo-tail soup, and only wished it was his fortunate lot to have some of it every day. When dinner was over, Felton suggested the ad visability of cutting up the remainder of the meat and drying it over the fire for consumption on their voyage. There was every prospect, he said, of fine weather r e turning, and it would not do to waste time on a barr e n s~ot, when they might be getting nearer to their destination. As no one contradicted this, and inde e d were of the same opinion, all hands set to work at once, the ladies doing their share of the t ask with th e rest. Before night closed, the kangaroo, with the excep tion of the skin, was cut into slices, dried over the fire, and safely packed away in the boat ready for the voyage.

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CHAPTER IX. ATTACKED BY NATIVES. ITH the return of day, preparations were made to resume their hazardous voyage. The wind had now veered round to a favourable point; the sea had gone down, the waves gently breaking upon the shore ; while the sun shone brightly and warmly. The tent was struck and the sail again secured to the mast; all articles that had been used on shore were conveyed to the boat. John was in the act of packing them carefully away, when, chancing to look across to the opposite side of the little bay, he was surprised to see two natives advancing towards their place of encampment . lie shouted to attract the attention of his companions. This was the first time natives had been seen by them, although during their. wanderings they had 105

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106 UNCLE JOHN'S FIRST SHIPWRECK. frequently come across traces of their presence on that part of the coast. The two now approaching made many friendly signs. They were not by any mean s pleasant looking fellows; in colour they were a kind of sooty brown, with long coarse black hair, flat noses, and wide nostrils, while their lips were thick and protruding like those of a true negro. With t he exception of a thin strip of cloth of native manufacture round their loins, they were entirely destitute of clothing. Their appearance was not welcome, for they were known to be treacherous, and frequently perpetrated acts of great cruelty upon the whites in the remoter settlements. At the moment of their approach, John and his companions were somewhat scattered. Mrs. Weston and h e r friend had just previously disappeared in the bush se arching for wild lettuce; Felton was some distan c e from the boat, picking sorrel to take with them on their voyage ; the negro was looking about their place of encampment to see that nothing was left behind; John, as I have said, was in the boat. No s ooner was Snowy aware of the presence of the visitor s, than he hastened to meet them, imitating their friendly gestures. They looked at the negro for some min utes , apparently surprised to see one of his

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ATTACKED BY NATIVES. ro;, colour who did not belong to them; but when Felton and John came up, they conferred with each other for a minute or two, then one turned and fled into the bush. ' I am afraid he has gone for his companions,' said Felton; 'we had better be prepared. They seem friendly, but we must not trust them too far.' 'No,' said John; 'but where are the ladies?' 'Dey in de bush ! ' replied the negro, pointing to the spot where they had entered. ' Off, and find them, John I' said Felton. 'Bring them down to the boat as quickly as possible ; we mustn't linger here a moment longer than is absolutely necessary.' While J olm hurried away to accomplish his mis sion, Felton and Snowy armed themselves as best they could-one with the axe, and the other with the bludgeon that had done such execution the day before on the kangaroo. The native who remained viewed all these preparations with a little uneasiness, and once or twice seemed to meditate flight. His fears, h owever, vanished when he saw his comrade return i ng, accompanied by a large band of his fellow countrymen, women, children, and dogs ; others fo ll owed, until they had increased tn a considerable

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108 UNCLE JOHN'S FIRST SHIPWRECK. number. Should their intentions be hostile, they would prove a formidable enemy. Most of the men were armed with spears, and a wooden impl e ment called a waddy was carried by many of the younger men. Felton and the black deemed it both necessary and politic to try and pre serve friendly relations with these invaders; but as neither under s tood the other's language, the conver ~ation had to be carried on by signs, which it is possible were often misinterpreted. Those of the natives who carried the waddy began to amuse thems e lves by beating them against the trees, to a kind of song or dance, while others brandished their spears, and all began to exhibit symptoms of a nature indicative of anything but peaceful intentions. The women were all sent away, much to Felt o n's alarm, who took it to be a sure sign of the commencement of hostilities. He looked anxiously for the appearance of John and the two ladies, so th a t they might instantly embark and escape the impending danger; but as yet he saw no signs of their approach. He and Snowy, keeping close together, presently found themsel v es surrounded by enemies, who began to examine F el ton's person, looking at his legs and

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ATTACKED BY NATIVES. 109 arms, apparently to ascertain whether he was the same colour all over; and having satisfied their curiosity in this, they immediately proceeded to more threatening demonstrations. One man endeavoured to seize his axe; but receiving a not very gentle rap on the fingers, and an injunction to keep his hands to himself, began to flourish his spear, and made as though he would thrust him through with it. Another of the savages made a snatch at a gay-coloured hand kerchief Snowy wore round his waist. ' Dat mine, you thief ! ' cried the indignant negro; and by a dexterous movement he tripped his assail ant up, and he fell headlong in the midst of his comrades, who greeted his downfall with yells of rage. Just at this moment, when affairs were approaching a climax, and the lives of Felton and the black seemed in jeopardy, a shout was raised by the natives, who rushed off to surround John and the two ladies, who had that minute emerged from the bush and were quietly stealing down to the boat. Beyond measure terrified, the two women could only cling to John for protection, as the natives, seizing them by the arm, endeavoured to drag them away. Their youthful companion was not backward with his blows, but the assailants were too many for a single

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ATTACKED BY NATIVES. 111 savages were attempting to lay hands upon it; the consequence being, that instead of seizing the boat, a number of them, much to their surprise, plunged head foremost into the water. Seeing all safe, Felton and the black, keeping their assailants at bay, waded into the water, and when a sufficient distance from the shore, abandoned their e_nemies and swam for the boat, which they speedily gained, and being helped in by the terrified women, at once seized the oars and began to pull away with considerable vigour from so dangerous a neighbour hood. They had made but few strokes, when Mrs. Weston startled them by exclaiming, ' Where is John ?' ' Isn't he here ? ' cried Felton, looking round. In their hurry and excitement they had forgotten him. 'We must not leave him to perish,' said Miss French. 'Never!' exclaimed Felton. 'Our best plan will be to row slowly on. The savages will make for yonder point, and endeavour to cut us off before we can round it,; let them once disappear in the wood, we will make a dash for the shore and carry John off before they have time to return. The impetus with which he had shoved off the

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uo UNCLE JOHN'S FIRST SHIPWRECK. arm to conquer. A spea r thrust into his l eg and a blow on the h ead from a waddy almost paralysed his mov e ments; he f e lt he could not maintain the un equ al combat much longer, and was nearly sinking from exhaustion, when Felton and Snowy, who had hurr ied after the enemy, now thru st themselves in the centre of the throng, and dealing blows right and l eft , speedily cleared a passage to the side of th ei r unfor tunat e companions. 'Make for the boat, John,' shouted F elton ; 'put th e l a dies in, we'll try and keep these fellows at bay.' It was with extreme difficulty that they contrived to move towards the beach. Their enemies pressed them on all sides, and it was only the formidable club of the negro and Felton's axe that finally enabled th e m to gain the boat. Fortunately the boat had remained undisturbed by the n a tives. In their desire to make the l ittle company prison e rs, they had overlooked it. Now, however, se eing th eir expected prey escaping, they made a ru sh for it, and endeavoured to seize and haul it farther up the beach. John was too quick for them; th e l adies had hurri edly stepped in and taken th ei r seats, when , giving it a violent push, he sent it some distance from the shore, ju s t at the mom en t the

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u2 UNCLE JOHN'S FIRST SHIPWRECK. boat had caused John to overbalance himself and tc fall prone into the water. Recovering from his sudd e n immersion, he found him se lf struggling with some dozen of the enemy, who like himself had received an involuntary bath. When he regained his feet, he found the boat some little distance from the shore, , with many of the natives up to their waist in the water hurling their spears at it, shouting and gesticu lating like madm e n. How was he to rejoin his friends unseen by the enemy? was his first thought. He never for a moment dreamed they would leave him to perish ; his great wish, however, was so to escape as not to bring them again into danger. Up to the present time, the natives on shore were so intently watching their companions in the water, that his presence among them had been undiscovered. Seeing this, John silently and secretly made his way i~to the bush, with the determin a tion to conceal him self until night, until the savages had made off. This he successfully accomplished without being observed, and hiding himself as best he could, listened for some time to the shouts and yells of the enemy. He could hear them rushing along the beach, and occasionally plunging into the water, as though

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ATTACKED BY NATIVES. u3 they had not yet lost all hopes of capturing their intended victims. At one time, some of them so closely approached his place of concealment that he apprehended being discovered every moment. But lying still and scarcely daring to breathe, the danger passed away as the natives rushed on, following the boat in its course. Gradually all sounds ceased ; the air, which a little before had been rent by loud and savage yells, was no longer disturbed by dis cordant sounds; only the sighing of the wind through the trees, and the gentle splash of the water on the beach, broke the silence. When fully assured that no enemy was at hand, he peeped out from his concealment to ascertain the exact position of the boat; to his surprise he saw it making for the shore. He at once divined the intention of his friends, and breaking from his cover, rushed down to the beach as fast as his wounded limb would permit, and succeeded in gaining it at the very moment the boat touched the shore. He was speedily hauled on board, and once more our adventurers steered for the open sea. Their motions, however, had been seen by the sharp-eyed natives, who came rushing back, shouting with redoubled vigour, but only again to have their H

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n4 UNCLE JOHN ' S FIRST SHIPWRECK. hopes blighted ; and b efore they could return upon their footsteps, the dreaded point was rounded, and t he boat with its crew for ever beyond their reach. ' Thank God, you are safe,' was Mrs. \Veston's e xclamation as John entered the boat. ' You are not wounded, are you ? ' inquired Miss F rench, as she heard his stifled cry of pain. ' Only a flesh wound in the leg,' was Joh n's answer . 'Let me bind it up,' said Mrs. Weston. This was s peedily done.

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CHAPTER X. SA~'E AT LAST ! II OR two days our adventurers continued their voyage along the coast, without any incident worthy of record occurring. During that time the weather continued favourable, and the boat made good way, to the great delight of its occupants, who ardently longed to be once more among their own countrymen. On the third day after leaving the bay where they had been attacked by the natives, and which they named Native Bay, their water running short, they attempted to land to procure more; but as they neared the shore they saw crowds of natives watching their approach, and th erefore deemed it advisable to stand off again. Upon which many of the savages made them friendly signs, and held out their han ds filled with fruit, and by various ways 115

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u6 UNCLE JOHN'S FIRST SHIPWRECK. entreated them to land. But their previous ex perience had made them cautious, and instead of responding to these friendly overtures, they stood farther from shore. When night came down they steered for land again, and seeing no signs of any native& being near, Felton and Snowy landed in search of water, taking with them the keg. John was still too much of a cripple to be of any service on shore, he was therefore left in charge of the boat and the ladies. 'Be on the look out, John,' said Felton as he took his leave ; 'we may be nearer the enemy than we guess.' 'Yes, dem nasty brown tings not far off,' said the black, who cherished a supreme contempt for the Australian savage. After the two men had disappeared, John and the ladies talked together in whispers about many things,-the possibility of their ultimate escape, the stars looking down upon them, absent friends, and finally, of little Florrie in her lonely grave. This l ast topic soon made them silent. At the mention of her child, Mrs. Wes ton could not refrain from tears, and her companions felt they had touched upon a sacred topic.

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SAFE AT LAST! 117 All at once the silence was broken by loud cries and the crashing of branches, and it became evi dent to those in the boat that their companions had been attacked. John rose to his feet and peered anxiously in the direction from whence the cries proceeded, but for a time could discern nothing of the strife. The cries still continued, and were evidently drawing nearer; presently Felton and the black burst into view, with a whole troop of yelling and screeching natives at their heels. 'This way!' shouted John as his friends hove in sight. In a very short space of time the hunted men regained the boat, and although panting for breath, immediately seized the oars and commenced pulling from l and. Not one moment too soon, for as the boat began to stir, some of the foremost of their pursuers, who had followed them into the water , laid hands upon the gunwale to detain it. A few judiciously distributed raps over the knuckles from John soon made them relinquish their hold, and the boat glided safely away. 'How did you manage to fall in with them?' inquir ed John, when, having pulled themselves out of danger, Felton and the black rested on their oars to recover breath.

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118 fllVCLE JOHN'S FIRST SHIPWRECK. 'Why,' commenced Felton, 'we had discovered water, an d filled the keg, and were returning, when we walk ed slap into their camp. Snowy tripped over one of t h e fellows and fell, p it ching the keg right into the s tomach of another. How that fellow did y e ll, to b e sure; you would have thought the keg had nearl y killed him. Of course the whole camp was arou s ed. We regained our feet and took to our heels a s quickly as we could. Two or three of the more active came up to us, then we had to fight; and having nothing but our fists, we had to depend upon them, with what result you know, for here we ar e without a scratch.' ' I hope ,' said Mrs . Wes ton, ' this is the last time you will incur danger from such a source.' 'I trust so too, ma'am; but we may as well die as want wat er , when it is within reach. By the bye, Snowy, did you bring off the keg?' 'Yes; not do to leave dat behin'.' John and his companions were now nearing the close . of their dangerous voyage. The privations and perils each had gone through had told upon them with considerable effect. They looked worn, wasted, and haggard ; their cheeks were sunken, and their clothes torn ; their strength, too, had con

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SAFE AT LAST/ 119 siderably diminished. But the two unfortun a te l a. dies looked far worse than their friends, and were considerably weaker. Imagine, then, their joy, at daylight one morn in g , when three remarkable mountains, c a lled the Gl a sshouses, and known to be near Moreton Bay, were discovered. Their delight was almost too great for words. Mrs. We s ton and her friend could only bow their heads, and with clasped hands murmur g r a teful prayers to the Providence who had brought them thus far safely . 'At last! at last!' cried John excitedly, wa v ing the remn a nt of his c a p; 'at l a st we are s a fe!' Felton and the black were no less excited; they shook hands, and together raised a shout which they fully intended being long and loud, but were a s tonished to find how little noise they made. 'Rather than shout,' said Mrs. Weston, 'return thanks to God.' 'Ma'am,' said John, 'is not our g ladness the utter ance of grateful h e arts?' Two or three hours after, an opening was discerned into which the boat was steered; this proved to be the entrance of the bay, rowing up which they finally landed at Cape Look-out, then ca ll e d Amity Point.

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120 UNCLE JOHN'S FIRST SHIPWRECK. The approach of the boat had been watched by two or three persons on shore, and when it touched the land, they found a corporal and two private soldiers ready to assist them. Cape Look-out was at that time merely an outpost to the settlement thirty miles up the Brisbane river, at which were stationed a corporal and four privates. The forlorn and emaciated appearance of our weary voyagers created a great sensation among these five men, who showed them many marks of sym pathy and compassion. They had them safely conveyed to the settlement, where their regiment was stationed, from the captain of which and his family they received , every attention their helpless condition required. A week's rest, good and plentiful food, above all, freedodi from overpowering anxiety, in a great measure gave them back their strength. A Govern ment schooner was at this time sailing for Sydney, in which berths were taken for them ; and loaded with many tangible expressions of good-will, in the shape of clothes and money, and with hearty fare wells uttered on each side, our little company again trusted themselves to the ocean. In a few days they reached Sydney in safety . Here, as at Moreton

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SAFE AT LAST! 121 Bay, they experienced nothing but kindness and sympathy. It was at Sydney the three sailors parted from Mrs. Weston and her friend. They had engaged themselves to the captain of a vessel about to sail for Old England. After their many dangers, the hearts of two at least turned with longing desire to their early home ; and Snowy would not sever him self from their companionship, but determined to follow and share their fortunes. They went up in a body to the house where Mrs. Weston was staying to say good bye. The ladies were sorry to part from their 'brave protectors,' as they called them; and it is my impression, th e men were no less sorry , to part from those who had patiently endured in their company so many hardships. But in this world there are nothing but meetings and partings, and the brave heart strengthens itself to meet them. ' I am sorry to part from you, John, very sorry,' said Mrs Weston, with a tremor in her voice; 'Fl orrie loved you, and when I think of my darling I shall think of you too.' And she warmly pressed his hand. 'Thank you, Mrs. Weston, for your kind word s ,'

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122 UNCLE JOHN'S FIRST SHIPWRECK replied John; ' I, too, shall never forget the time we have pa s sed together. As for Florrie, she will remain in m y memory till death.' When Mi e s French thanked him for all his kind protecting c a re, Saying she should never be able to repay it, he asked her to allow him to keep the little prayer-book as a memento. 'I will never part from it,' he said, as he shook her hand for the last time. Snowy and Felton came in for their share of praise and good wishes, and they finally parted with the hope that one day they should meet again. Thus I have given you the story ofmy Uncle John's first shipwreck. He often told it to myself and his other neph e ws and nieces; and again and again, when he would turn to other stories of his ad venturous c a reer, we would plead for a repetition of the wreck of the brig Nellie and the story of little Florrie. The two boats which had so treacherously left my uncle and his companions on the deck of the doomed ves s el were never again heard of, and it was conjectured that all on board had perished.

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THE RAFT. THE RAFT. A LL shrouded by the blackening fog, Sea-borne without a sail; The prayers upon our quivering lips Bursting in one loud wail ; Two living days, two deathless nights, we swept before the gale ! The giant billows scared us not, Despair had palsied fear : Time was annulled ; hope was so far, Eternity so near. The earth slipped from u s silently, As an old forgotten year. No room was there for one sweet thought In all that boundless space ; In memory's eyes, so fixed, so stern, Our souls could find no grace ; The sins of a ll our live s rose up, And mocked us to the face. Grim forms, tom frantic from their hold, The cruel waters waft ; Till one dread cry along the sea Rolls echoing fore and aft :' God ! who shall be the last to stand Alone upon the raft?' It came : the sickening horror grew, Like shapes that thrill our sleep, 123

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124 UNCLE JOHN'S FIRS7 SHIPWRECK. As dropped each corse, these eyes beheld The ravening fishes leap : Of seventy souls, one only left To hrave the angry deep ! V.'ith streaming hair, the dead, stone-eyed, Peered where the raft was riven ; And through the chinks white faces glared, Defying fate and Heaven, Till seemed the planks whereto I clung By the snaked Furies driven. I nothing recked of shows or signs, Of mist that came and parted; Nor rush of winds, nor chase of waves, Nor birds my presence started ; No voice brought more through my lost world Bread to the hungry hearted. Cast prone on the redeeming deck, Sunk low in shivering sleep, By the meek tears down dropping warm, I felt the angels weep, And saw at last, with eyes of soul, God moving on the deep !

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