Front Cover
 Half Title
 Title Page
 Table of Contents
 The fight at old Wilton's
 Round the "horn"
 A waif from the ocean
 Las tres Marias
 A hurricane and its consequenc...
 The lonely island
 El dorado
 The Spanish "danseuse"
 The abduction and rescue
 Back Cover

Title: Ralph Somerville, or, A midshipman's adventures in the Pacific Ocean
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00028336/00001
 Material Information
Title: Ralph Somerville, or, A midshipman's adventures in the Pacific Ocean
Alternate Title: Midshipman's adventures in the Pacific Ocean
Physical Description: 316, 16 p., 6 leaves of plates : ill. (some col.) ; 19 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Eden, Charles H ( Charles Henry ), 1839-1900
Marcus Ward & Co
Royal Ulster Works
Publisher: Marcus Ward & Co.
Royal Ulster Works
Place of Publication: London
Publication Date: 1876
Copyright Date: 1876
Subject: Young men -- Conduct of life -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Conduct of life -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Seafaring life -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Frigates -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Rescues -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Natural history -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Shipwrecks -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Hurricanes -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Juvenile fiction -- Pacific Ocean   ( lcsh )
Publishers' catalogues -- 1876   ( rbgenr )
Bldn -- 1876
Genre: novel   ( marcgt )
Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Publishers' catalogues   ( rbgenr )
Spatial Coverage: England -- London
Northern Ireland -- Belfast
Statement of Responsibility: by Charles H. Eden.
General Note: Added title page and frontispiece printed in colors.
General Note: Title page and text in a single ruled border.
General Note: Publisher's catalogue follows text.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00028336
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: notis - ALZ6311
oclc - 08517771
alephbibnum - 002391421

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover 1
        Front Cover 2
    Half Title
        Half Title 1
        Half Title 2
        Page 1
    Title Page
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
    Table of Contents
        Page 5
        Page 6
    The fight at old Wilton's
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
        Page 33
    Round the "horn"
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
        Page 37
        Page 38
        Page 39
        Page 40
        Page 41
        Page 42
        Page 43
        Page 44
        Page 45
        Page 46
        Page 47
        Page 48
        Page 49
        Page 50
        Page 51
        Page 52
        Page 53
        Page 54
        Page 54a
        Page 55
        Page 56
        Page 57
        Page 58
        Page 59
        Page 60
        Page 61
        Page 62
        Page 63
        Page 64
        Page 65
        Page 66
        Page 67
    A waif from the ocean
        Page 68
        Page 69
        Page 70
        Page 71
        Page 72
        Page 73
        Page 74
        Page 75
        Page 76
        Page 77
        Page 78
        Page 79
        Page 80
        Page 81
        Page 82
        Page 83
        Page 84
        Page 85
        Page 86
        Page 87
        Page 88
        Page 89
        Page 90
    Las tres Marias
        Page 91
        Page 92
        Page 93
        Page 94
        Page 95
        Page 96
        Page 97
        Page 98
        Page 99
        Page 100
        Page 101
        Page 102
        Page 103
        Page 104
        Page 104a
        Page 105
        Page 106
        Page 107
        Page 108
        Page 109
        Page 110
        Page 111
        Page 112
        Page 113
        Page 114
        Page 115
        Page 116
        Page 117
        Page 118
        Page 119
    A hurricane and its consequences
        Page 120
        Page 121
        Page 122
        Page 123
        Page 124
        Page 125
        Page 126
        Page 127
        Page 128
        Page 129
        Page 130
        Page 131
        Page 132
        Page 133
        Page 134
        Page 135
        Page 136
        Page 137
        Page 138
        Page 139
        Page 140
        Page 141
        Page 142
        Page 143
        Page 144
        Page 145
        Page 146
        Page 147
        Page 148
        Page 149
        Page 150
        Page 151
        Page 152
        Page 153
        Page 154
        Page 155
    The lonely island
        Page 156
        Page 157
        Page 158
        Page 159
        Page 160
        Page 161
        Page 162
        Page 163
        Page 164
        Page 165
        Page 166
        Page 167
        Page 168
        Page 168a
        Page 169
        Page 170
        Page 171
        Page 172
        Page 173
        Page 174
        Page 175
        Page 176
        Page 177
        Page 178
        Page 179
        Page 180
        Page 181
        Page 182
        Page 183
        Page 184
        Page 185
        Page 186
        Page 187
        Page 188
        Page 189
        Page 190
        Page 191
        Page 192
        Page 193
        Page 194
        Page 195
        Page 196
        Page 197
        Page 198
    El dorado
        Page 199
        Page 200
        Page 201
        Page 202
        Page 203
        Page 204
        Page 205
        Page 206
        Page 207
        Page 208
        Page 209
        Page 210
        Page 211
        Page 212
        Page 213
        Page 214
        Page 215
        Page 216
        Page 217
        Page 218
        Page 219
        Page 220
        Page 221
        Page 222
        Page 223
        Page 224
        Page 225
        Page 226
        Page 227
        Page 228
        Page 229
    The Spanish "danseuse"
        Page 230
        Page 231
        Page 232
        Page 233
        Page 234
        Page 235
        Page 236
        Page 237
        Page 238
        Page 239
        Page 240
        Page 241
        Page 242
        Page 243
        Page 244
        Page 245
        Page 246
        Page 247
        Page 248
        Page 249
        Page 250
        Page 251
        Page 252
        Page 253
        Page 254
        Page 255
        Page 256
        Page 257
        Page 258
        Page 259
        Page 260
        Page 261
        Page 262
        Page 263
        Page 264
        Page 265
        Page 266
    The abduction and rescue
        Page 267
        Page 268
        Page 269
        Page 270
        Page 271
        Page 272
        Page 273
        Page 274
        Page 275
        Page 276
        Page 277
        Page 278
        Page 279
        Page 280
        Page 281
        Page 282
        Page 283
        Page 284
        Page 285
        Page 286
        Page 287
        Page 288
        Page 289
        Page 290
        Page 291
        Page 292
        Page 293
        Page 294
        Page 295
        Page 296
        Page 296a
        Page 297
        Page 298
        Page 299
        Page 300
        Page 301
        Page 302
        Page 303
        Page 304
        Page 305
        Page 306
        Page 307
        Page 308
        Page 309
        Page 310
        Page 311
        Page 312
        Page 313
        Page 314
        Page 315
        Page 316
    Back Cover
        Back Cover 1
        Back Cover 2
Full Text


The Baldwin Library
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_I~L-~-_-XLII ---~-----LY



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Charles B. Eden.




I I - I ---

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fNiibsbipman's ibbentures in the

actific @tan




& CO., 67, CHANDOS














. 68

. 120

. 199

. 267

~IJunatratio ne.






S Frontispiece.

. 104

* 296

I~----I~-~-----I I


>/ \\ u vM __
& ____7



S- ---



THE present


had run through half its

course, and

of the


one third
had been

numbered with

fathers -or,



in other
was early

morning on the 1st of


1850-when our

(thtcV OThefl.

The first gleam of dawn crept feebly

through the dimity curtains that shrouded the
dormitories of Wilton's school at Sunbury on the



The occupants of the little narrow

beds in the four rooms that sufficed to contain


k-/.~V %-,/A L J

" uki L

8 Ralph Somerville.

the thirty boys forming the school, were all still
and motionless, buried in the deep sleep that
youth, health, and exercise only can bring.
As the light increased, it fell upon the head of
a little fellow whose bed was between the two
windows, and he turned uneasily in his sleep,
muttering a few words, and by a motion of his
arm slightly disturbing the bed-clothes, which
had hitherto covered the lower part of his face.
It was 'a fair young face, surrounded by a
waving mass of rich blonde hair, with small
and delicate features, over which seemed now
to reign an expression of pain and uneasiness.
But in a few moments the first rays of the
rising sun shot through the poplar trees fring-
ing the front garden, and with a bound little
Harry Staunton sprang up, and, running bare-
footed across the uncarpeted room, bent over
the bed furthest from his own, and shook its
slumbering inmate by the shoulder.
"Ralph, Ralph!" he cried, "get up quickly.
It is past sunrise already. You know you told
me to wake you," he added, pleadingly, as the
drowsy lad sat up in bed, rubbing his eyes, and


at Old


seeming hardly to understand why he was thus
suddenly summoned.

" What is the row,

Harry ?

Anybody been

mouth ?


that you look



so down in


Be quick and wake the other fellows, and then
creep upstairs and fetch down my shoes and

your own.

Don't look so like a great school-


he added,

kindly, as he noticed the

ful expression

of the little



an-hour will put this matter to rights;

don't think Sam Bateson
interfere with you again.

and I

will be in a hurry




had jumped

out of bed

whilst speaking, and was already half-dressed
by the time his sentence was finished. The
younger boy called all the sleepers in his own
and the adjoining rooms, and in a few minutes

the whole were trooping

quietly down stairs,

carrying their shoes in their hands; and, lest the
reader should wonder what matter of so deep a
moment could have occurred to induce a whole

school to leave the

the "rising"


0ir beds before the ringing of
I may at once state that this








unusual stir was owing to an intense desire on

the part

of all Wilton's boys to witness the fight

that was to come off that morning between our

hero, Ralph

Somerville, and

Sam Bateson, the

bully of the school.


Bateson was a lad of nearly fourteen

years of age,

thick-set, muscular, and active.

He had been an inmate of Wilton's establish-

ment for more than four years, during


time he had worked himself up from almost the

lowest to the first

class in

the school; not that

this was due to any great application or bril-

genius on his




enough where his own interests were concerned,
he was incorrigibly lazy-but because his great
strength and vindictive temper made the other




of him.


Leaving to some of his
the task of searching

Greek lexicon or Latin grammar, he


pounce down


one of them like

some great bird of prey, and compel the victim
to impart to him all the knowledge so labori-


gained, and by

this means,


threats of

severely thrashing

any boy





~ __




Jfi//o II's.

happened to stand higher
the class was dismissed, he




managed to retain

a far better position in the eyes of the masters




his application or his attainments
His father was a wealthy West

India merchant, and through his influence with

the Admiralty

Sam had been nominated

cadetship in the Royal Navy, and was only stay-

at Wilton's

until the time arrived

for his


before the


at Ports-


If his


had been arrogant

and overbearing before,

it became tenfold more

so now that he had


his appointment,

and by his perpetual persecution and bullying
he rendered himself an object of terror to all his
weaker school-fellows, who devoutly longed for
the time when Sam Bateson would buckle on
the sword about which he was everlastingly

brau'yin ag

and carry

ever-ready foot

his swarthy visage

and fist to


some more con-

genial atmosphere than the quiet playground at
Wilton's. In feature he was dark, very dark,


that whispers of a remote African

origin were mysteriously circulated with





to a


12 Ral h Somerville.

breath amongst the victims of his oppression,
by whom he was always spoken of as Black
Sam." Only twice had this nickname been
pronounced in its owner's hearing, and on each
occasion his rage was ungovernable. The first
time he had knocked down the unlucky speaker
with a wicket he happened to have in his hand,
for which offence he was nearly expelled; the
circumstances attending the second case will
appear further on.
And now I must turn to Ralph Somerville,
the hero of these pages, whose adventures, I
hope, will afford some amusement to my
readers. Ralph was the son of an old captain
in the navy, who had borne an honourable part
in the great war drama that convulsed Europe
at the commencement of the present century.
Though too young to have been present at the
glorious victory of Trafalgar, he had joined the
navy when the memory of that action was still
fresh in the minds of all our sailors-a period
when gallant deeds were found in the columns
of every journal, and when some real meaning
could be attached to the proud saying that

The Fight at Old Wilton's. 13

"Britannia ruled the waves." Captain Somer-
ville distinguished himself in several single-ship
actions, was a lieutenant in the Bellerophon
when she took the Emperor Napoleon to die in
exile at St. Helena in 1815-sad fate for one
who had swayed the destinies of Europe-had
gained the rank of commander, and was already
known throughout the service as a rising and
promising young officer, when a grape-shot
from a pirate stronghold on one of the "keys"
in the Caribbean Sea cut short his active career,
and at the early age of twenty-five he found
himself a post-captain, but without hope of
ever again serving afloat, for his wound was of
a most serious description, and every now and
again, breaking forth afresh, it caused the suf-
ferer long and protracted agony. Before leav-
ing England on his last eventful cruise, Marma-
duke Somerville had won the heart of sweet
Florence Grantly, the youngest daughter of
a great north-country earl; and not the least
bitter of his reflections, as he lay writhing with
pain in the dark, cockroach-haunted cabin of
the Indiaman that carried him home, was the

-- I --

14 Ralfk Somerville.

thought that she would now be lost to him for
ever. How could he ever hope that the fair girl
whose affections he had gained when in the full
spring of manly beauty, and with a prosperous
career before him, would consent to share his
fate, now that that active form was hopelessly
crippled, and the gate shut to further advance-
ment in his profession ? Marmaduke Somer-
ville needlessly tortured himself. He of all
men should have better known that stout
Northumbrian race, who for eight long cen-
turies had held true to their motto, Fidele et
forte. He had not reached England ten days
-there was no railway communication, tele-
graph, or penny post then-when Lady Flor-
ence had taken her place quietly at her stricken
lover's pillow, and in the presence of the old
earl, her father, the marriage vows were spoken,
whilst the bridegroom was yet hovering betwixt
life and death. Tender nursing carried the
young husband safely through the dangers of a
painful surgical operation, and he soon so far
recovered as to be able to creep slowly along
the green lanes of the pleasant Devonshire

The Figk at Old Wilt/on's. 15

village, where they had taken up their abode
within sight of the sea-that sea so dear to the
invalid, on whose bosom he had been nursed,
whose bounding surface he could never hope to
ride again.
So matters went on for some years, Marma-
duke gaining a little strength in the genial
summer, only to relapse into weakness when
the sullen winter came. Foreign baths were
recommended; but, alas! Captain Somerville
and his wife were not rich enough to indulge
in the luxury of continental travel, then far
more tedious and expensive than it is now.
Suddenly, in the spring of 1834, a letter came
from Sir Ralph Somerville, Marmaduke's eldest
brother, announcing the death of his only son
by the accidental discharge of a gun. Marma-
duke thus became the heir to the baronetcy,
and a corresponding alteration took place in his
pecuniary position. At Sir Ralph's request he
visited the German baths, accompanied by his
devoted wife, and soon a change for the better
became manifest in his condition. His wound
healed completely, his strength returned by


Ralph Somerville.

degrees; in six months he was able to walk
with but little assistance, and in less than a
year Marmaduke Somerville flung his crutches
into the fire, and stood upright before the
world once more, sound in wind and limb.
As the reader will naturally suppose, Captain


first idea

was to seek active

employment in his still cherished profession.
But England was now at peace; the old war
that had so fiercely blazed had completely
burnt itself out, and Europe was in profound
repose, recruiting a system that had long been
bleeding at every pore. Still the captain
evinced restlessness, and was always half-
threatening to apply for a ship. An event,
however, which occurred at the close of the
year 1836, turned all his thoughts into another

channel, and never since has tl
mariner even hinted that it wa
expedient that he should again be
to the high seas. The incident tl
so radical a change was neither i
than the birth of our hero.
Young Ralph's earliest years

is wayward
is meet and
.take himself
hat produced
nore nor less

were spent


Fzlkl t





in the south of

France and in

the Pyrenees,

owing to which

circumstance he

acquired a perfect acquaintance with

both the

French and

Spanish la

to England, much of

lnguages. On returning
his time was passed at

Rushmere Park

in Cheshire,

the seat

of his

uncle and godfather,

Sir Ralph.

Here the boy

was allowed to run riot, and do pretty much as

he pleased,
little pony,

riding wildly over the country on a

or getting

sitting shots at rabbits

and squirrels on the sly from the keepers-a

mode of passing away his


far more agree-

able to our hero than the quarter-deck discipline

kept up at his


establishment at Ryde,

in the Isle of Wight, where Captain Somerville

had taken up his abode for good.

At Rushmere

he also learned a variety of other accomplish-
ments, which certainly seemed then likely to
do him little good, but which, in the long run,
proved eminently useful. He frequented the


a good deal, and was initiated

by the

stud groom into all

the mysteries connected

with horses-their ailments, the remedies best


for their removal,

and many other



18 Ralpk Somerville.

secrets only known to professional trainers.
Under the direction of one Ben, a sort of
hanger-on and doer of odd jobs about the
establishment, he became a proficient in the art
of laying night-lines, snaring rabbits, and wiring
hares-gifts which would hardly have advanced
him in his uncle's esteem, had the worthy old
gentleman known of them, and would assuredly
have earned for his instructor, Ben, a dip in
the horse-pond, followed by an instant expulsion
from the estate. From the keepers he learned
how to carry a gun without danger to himself,
and, what is equally important, how to carry
one without danger to his companions-an
essential too often lost sight of when a boy is
first allowed to handle a firearm.
Such was his life during the six months in
each year when he resided at Rushmere; during
the remaining months he was with his parents
at Ryde, where he was obliged to go through a
certain amount of study daily, for a tutor came
to the house every morning, and our hero was
not released from work until four o'clock in the
afternoon. But when his books were packed

The Figzh at Old Wil/on's. 19

away for the day, how the boy did enjoy his
ramble on the beach with his father, who closely
scanned with his telescope every man-of-war
anchored at Spithead, and every merchant
vessel that passed in or out through the Needles.
Often, too, Captain Somerville would take him
on board some stately line-of-battle ship, and
the spotless purity of the decks, the neatly
coiled-down ropes, and the trim, though
eminently warlike appearance of every object
that met the eye, exercised a magical fascination
over the lad. When to this it is added that
the captain was never tired of telling his son
stories of his own career; of gales of wind; of
men overboard; of sharks, whales, and other
monsters of the deep; of bright, sunny lands,
where the sky is ever cloudless, and the beauty
of the landscape enhanced by gorgeous birds of
every hue and form darting like jewelled meteors
from tree to tree; or of flat, sandy "keys"
amongst the thousand islands of the Spanish
main, where, of old, the buccaneer jerked his
meat and concealed his spoil, and amidst the
intricacies of which the slaver still lies securely,

20 Ralhk Somerville.

and the pirate finds a haven-on the subject
of pirates the captain could speak feelingly,
when the boy heard these stories of excitement
and adventure, and all associated with the
beautiful element that lay spread like a mirror
before the narrator and his entranced auditor,
small wonder, I think, that he also longed to
be a sailor, to see all these wonderful things
with his own eyes, to dive into the unknown,
and to share in some of those exploits, the bare
recital of which already made his heart beat
Nor was Captain Somerville less pleased to
think that his son should take up a career he
had so unfortunately been compelled to abandon.
In truth, ever since the boy's birth he had hoped
that his thoughts would take a seaward bend.
But he was far too conscientious a man to think
of biassing the lad in any way, however remote,
or fettering him in the free choice of a pro-
fession; indeed, of the latter, except as a means
of keeping him out of harm's way, Ralph had
no need, for the title and the estate must both
ultimately revert to him. When, therefore, the

The Fight at Old Wilton's. 21

boy begged permission to enter the navy, his
father's joy knew no bounds; and, as he had
already attained his twelfth year, it was decided
that he should be sent to school until a nomi-
nation as naval cadet came within the gift of
one of Captain Somerville's many old friends.
In these days of competitive examinations I
fear my hero would have taken a very low
place, and possibly would have been regarded
as little better than a dunce. Of conic sections
or natural philosophy I regret to say he was
profoundly ignorant; nor, in my humble
estimation, was he any the worse therefrom.
When his father first went to sea, he knew
only how to read and write, cypher as far as
the rule of three, and say his catechism; and,
in Captain Somerville's opinion, a naval cadet
wanted nothing more in the way of book-
learning. However, our hero was-thanks to
Lady Florence-a little further advanced than
that. I am not about to enter into a long list
of the young gentleman's accomplishments, but
I may state that his father always, by practice
and by precept, urged upon his remembrance two

22 Ralpk Somerville.

rules, by a due observance of which, he was
wont to say, a man may pass through life
honoured and respected-"Never do a dirty
action of which you are ashamed to speak;" and
"Never tell a lie." These two rules are somewhat
shorter than the "Whole Duty of Man," but
on careful consideration will be found to
embody, at all events, the germs of most of the
cardinal virtues.
Ralph went to a school near Godalming for a
year, but when scarlet fever broke out amongst
the boys he was removed to Mr. Wilton's at
Sunbury, where he had been established about
three months when our story opens. In
appearance he was slender, with a bright,
winning face, crowned with curly chestnut hair;
and his frame possessed far greater strength and
endurance than a casual observer would imagine.
In disposition he was frank and open, perhaps
almost to a fault, for he never hesitated to say
what came uppermost in his mind; and this
candour led him into many scrapes. He was
generally beloved by his school-fellows, more
particularly by the little boys, whom he never
__________ ___ _______ __ _ _

The Fight at Old WVilton's. 23

needlessly tormented himself, nor would he
permit any act of wanton oppression to be
committed in his presence without remonstrance,
or even interference.
Such is a brief sketch of our hero at the age
of thirteen; and the reader must not imagine for
one moment that it is my intention to present
him as a model lad without a fault, a modern
Harry Sandford, who could do no wrong. He
was just as great a pickle as other boys of the
same age, brimming over with high spirits, and
as mischievous as any monkey-mischievous,
but not malicious; between the two there is a
great distinction. But I must not bestow any
further space on the merits or demerits of
Ralph Somerville; his character will become
apparent to the reader who will be at the
trouble of following me through these pages;
so now let us turn to the fight about to
commence between our hero and Sam Bateson,
and briefly relate the cause that led to Wilton's
boys leaving their warm beds so early on that
bright May morning.
On the previous evening, the class to which


Ralpk Somrerville.

Ralph, Sam Bateson, and little Harry Staunton
belonged had been studying Xenophon's Ana-
basis, and, following his usual plan, Sam had
whiled away the time by boring holes in the
table, and filling them with powdered slate
pencil. By the ingenious insertion of a steel-
pen barrel into one of these holes, he had formed
a tube by which the powdered slate could be
propelled in any upward direction with great
force and accuracy, when the engineer thought
fit to apply his lips to another hole com-
municating with the mine. Sam Bateson was
delighted with the triumph of his own genius,
but thought the springing of his mine would be
much improved if he could so arrange matters
that it would cause pain or annoyance to the
boy sitting next him. The victim happened to
be Harry Staunton, who was busily engaged
looking out long words in his lexicon.
"Here, young Staunton,"cried Sam, suddenly;
"you've got good eyes; just look down this hole
and see if you can make out anything at the
bottom. Look sharp."
The unsuspicious lad bent his face down-



The Fight at Old W7ilon's. 25

wards, and immediately, by a powerful puff, Sam
sent a column of fine smoke-like slate into his
face and eyes. The poor little fellow gave a
slight scream, for the pain was intense ; but Sam
whispered, savagely, "I'll thrash you within an
inch of your life if you whine;" and Harry
could only choke down his sobs as best he
might, and try to rub the dust out of his eyes
with his knuckles. Sam was in ecstasies at the
success of his stratagem, and no doubt would
have loaded his machine again, but it was late,
and he thought it was high time to get some
one to coach him up in his lesson.
"Have you learnt your Xenophon ?" he
asked, turning to poor Harry.
"Very nearly, Bateson," was the reply.
"Then go out and wash your dirty little
mug at the pump, and come back and work
me up.
The boy, still inwardly sobbing, complied,
and just outside the door met Ralph, who had
been absent at the explosion of the mine.
Why, Harry, what is the matter with you?"
asked the latter, kindly laying his hand on the

26 Ralfh Somerville.

little fellow's shoulder; "your eyes are all
black and swollen."
"That bullying nigger, Sam Bateson, blew
all his nasty pencil dust in my face," replied
Harry; but scarcely were the words out of his
mouth, when he received a cuff on the ear that
sent him reeling, and the voice of his tormentor,
hoarse with passion, sounded in the semi-
"Take that, you young scoundrel, for daring
to call me a nigger !"
Sam Bateson had followed Staunton to the
door, with the intention of warning him, on
peril of a thrashing, to keep silence regarding
the author of his mishap, in case the lad should
meet old Wilton on his journey to the pump,
and, unperceived in the darkness, had overheard
the above conversation.
Harry Staunton was a great favourite with
Ralph Somerville, who had often interfered
when Sam had carried his bullying propensities
too far, so that rather a bad feeling existed
between the two elder boys, though they had
never yet come to an open rupture. Now,


at Old

however, Ralph's indignation knew no bounds,
and the generous blood flushed crimson in his
face as he strode close up to Sam, and, shaking
his fist within an inch of his nose, said-
"So you are a nigger, Sam Bateson, and a
bully and a sneak too; and if you intend to
thrash every fellow that says so, you had better
begin with me."
Whatever were Sam's faults-and he had
many-cowardice was not one of them, and his
only reply was a blow, which Ralph warded
off; then the combatants closed, and, locked in
each other's grasp, swayed up and down against
the door, which suddenly opened, and they both
fell into the schoolroom, when, of course, the
struggle ceased. The arbitrement of single
combat being out of the question that night, it
was agreed that the meeting should take place
at sunrise on the following morning; and now
my readers know as much regarding the quarrel
as I do myself.
Within ten minutes of the time when little
Harry Staunton awoke, the whole of the boys
were mustered in the playground, and two of




28 Ralp/ Somerville.

the seniors were marking on the ground a ring
about thirty feet in diameter, within whose
magic circle none but the combatants and their
seconds were to set foot whilst the contest
lasted. Though fighting was not openly
encouraged by old Wilton, it was an under-
stood thing that settlements of this nature
would never be interfered with by the masters
as long as the bystanders ensured fair play to
both parties; indeed I am greatly mistaken if
old Wilton himself was not peeping out from
behind his bedroom curtain, and watching the
proceedings with much inward satisfaction. It
is the fashion now-a-days to ignore fighting
with fists, and to call it low and vulgar; but to
my mind it is a far better way of settling the
quarrels that will arise amongst boys than any
other that is likely to be invented. Nothing
silences an abusive tongue so speedily as the
knowledge that the offender will have to prove
his words by the strength of his arm; and by
a good stand-up battle, old sores that might
have rankled for months are disposed of in
half-an-hour. Anyhow, the boys were always

The Fight at Old Wilton's. 29

allowed to fight at old Wilton's; and nowhere
could be found a number of lads living together
in greater concord and good-fellowship. Ralph
and Sam, having stripped to the waists, and
each bound a neckerchief round his loins,
stepped into the ring and shook hands, according
to the established custom of the "fancy" from
time immemorial. The seconds stood behind
their men, ready to give them a knee between the
rounds, and a dozen ready hands held wet hand-
kerchiefs to cleanse and refresh the combatants.
Blount Major, the oldest boy in the school, and
the only possessor of a watch, assumed the com-
bined offices of umpire and time-keeper, and
at a signal from him the fight commenced. At
first the boys fought warily, and with little
effect on either side; but at the end of the
third round Sam got his fist well home, and a
crimson streak on Ralph's cheek gave the honour
of first blood to his antagonist. Elated at this,
Bateson hit out loosely, but was soon brought
to his senses by a well-planted blow in the chest,
which fairly took his feet from under him, and
he measured his length on the ground. With

30 Ralph Somerville.

varying success the battle went on for more
than half-an-hour, advantage now favouring
one combatant, now the other. Both boys were
equally matched; Sam was stouter and thicker
set, but this was counterbalanced by Ralph's
superior activity; indeed, the most knowing
bystander would have been puzzled to tell
with which of the lads the superiority rested.
At last, after a longer round than usual, Sam,
who had-received several body blows, and was
rather pumped, determined to bring matters to
a close, and made an attempt to get Ralph's
head "into Chancery;" in doing which, he not
only failed, but laid himself open to his quick-
sighted adversary, who, by a well-directed blow
between the eyes, brought him to the ground
once more, and with such violence that the
bystanders made sure the fight was ended. At
this juncture some of the little boys could not
restrain their glee, and, carried away by excite-
ment, flung their caps in the air, shouting at
the top of their voices, Hurrah! Black Sam's
floored i" "The bully nigger has caught toko!"
and sundry other epithets not gratifying to
--------- ---- --- 6

The Figzh at Old Wiltoz's. 31

Bateson, who, lying in his second's arms, could
hear every syllable they uttered. His swarthy
face turned white with rage, and, putting his
hand quickly into his trousers pocket, he with-
drew it, and lay quite motionless, breathing
deeply, and trying by every means to recruit
his strength. When Blount Major called,
"Time !" Sam rose to his feet, and the bystanders
were almost frightened at the look of ferocity
which his visage bore. Ralph, rendered rather
incautious by his late success, and confident of
victory, fought carelessly, and in his turn gave
an opening to his antagonist. With a dull
sound Sam's fist fell on his forehead, and, reeling
several paces backward, Ralph came heavily to
the earth, and there lay insensible.
How about the nigger now ?" cried Sam,
scowling round on the astonished faces of the
boys; but, to the amazement of the whole
school, little Harry Staunton bounded forward,
and, seizing the victor by his right wrist, clung
there with all his strength, while he screamed
"Blount, Inglis, Granville-you big fellows

32 Ralph Somerville.

-help, help! He has got something hidden
in his hand. I saw him take it out of his
pocket, the coward. Help, help !" he continued,
as Sam smote him savagely in the mouth with
his left hand to force him to relinquish his
The whole scene passed so rapidly that the
bystanders were paralysed for a few seconds;
but, quickly comprehending the drift of Harry's
accusations, Blount Major and some of the elder
lads seized Sam, forced open his clenched fist,
and found therein six of the large ounce copper
pennies then in circulation. No wonder Ralph
had been knocked senseless by the blow; the
additional force given by the metal would have
felled a donkey.
"What do you mean by this, Bateson ?" said
Blount, firmly holding the culprit by the collar.
"Why did they call me nigger?" was the
only reply that could be extorted from him.
"You must come with me to old Wilton
now, and answer to him for your cowardly
trick," continued Blount, leading his prisoner
off; "and if Ralph Somerville dies, you will be


The Fight at Old Wilton's. 33

hanged, my fine fellow, which will be a benefit
to the world at large."
It is evident that Ralph Somerville did not
die, or I could never have presented him as my
hero; but many days elapsed before he was
fully recovered. The majority of the boys never
saw Sam Bateson again. He was confined in old
Wilton's study until Ralph was declared out of
danger, and then sent off under the charge of
the second master to his father's house. As
the reader may probably imagine, his abrupt
departure caused but little grief or anxiety to
his late school-fellows.


4-*=m W./5-
i-77-- 70



Two years have rolled

away since the


described in the last
chapter occurred. The



Columbine lay at single




her dainty little form
sitting with swan-like

beauty upon the water, and her lofty spars

tapering gracefully upward to the



great number of shore boats surrounded her,

-some crowded with the men's wives,


thus far to bid a last adieu to their husbands;
others filled with Jews, bumboat women, duns,
and that miscellaneous portion of a seaport
town that always swarm about a man-of-war



about to
folio wino

0 --- *- -'N--LJ -L.J L k i l> V4iD%/ LVT.J JL JQ JJ.
for the far Pacific. Her complement of men
was filled up, the guns and stores were all in
their places, and the powder-lighter was even
now making the best of its way into harbour,
after having lodged its perilous load in the
magazine of the outward-bound vessel. Cap-
tain Renshaw was at the admiral's office
awaiting his last instructions; by sunset he
would be on board; and from that hour all
communication with the shore would be cut off
until the gallant little craft had fulfilled her
mission, and again anchored at Spithead, after
four years spent in encountering the various
perils of the ocean. How many of those whose
hearts now beat so high would ever return ?
Mr. Arrowsmith, the first lieutenant, was
pacing up and down the quarter-deck, attending
to the thousand-and-one little things that re-
quire attention when a vessel is on the eve of
sailing, and devoutly wishing that the morrow
was come, when blue water would be under the
ship's bottom, and the land many a mile under

Round the Horn." 35

go "foreign." At daylight on the
r morning the Columhinp. wn., ton il


36 Ralpk Somerville.

her lee. At each turn of his short walk he
found some new order to give, and his conver-
sation would have appeared in the highest
degree mysterious to a landsman.
"Pass the word forward for the armourer.
Boy, tell Mr. Nettle, the boatswain, that I want
him. Here, armourer; see that a Scotchman is
fitted to each of the guns before sunset. Mr.
Nettle, where are the hawse plugs ? Forgotten
to draw them, sir! It would be a long time
before you forgot to draw your allowance of
grog! How the devil do you think I can
spare a boat now to make up for your neglect ?
Signal for a boat from the admiral's office ?
Very well, send the first cutter, and you go in
her, Mr. Nettle, and draw the hawse plugs.
No, wait a minute, I can't spare you. Quarter-
master, tell Mr. Bateson I want him. Your
boat manned, Mr. Somerville ? Very well; go
to the admiral's office, and answer signal. You
will take Mr. Bateson with you, and bring back
the hawse plugs that from culpable negligence
have been forgotten. Don't land anywhere but
at the dockyard, and don't let a man out of

Round the "Horn." 37

your boat. Come, be smart." And the hard-
worked officer turned down the after-hatchway
ladder to see to something else that had been
omitted, forgotten, or neglected between decks.
From the above disjointed conversation, the
reader will perceive that our hero and Sam
Bateson were once more thrown together. Both
were now midshipmen, Sam having served three
years in the Channel squadron, and Ralph a
somewhat shorter time in the West Indies.
When the lads first saw each other, there had
been necessarily a slight embarrassment, for
they had never met since the incident recorded
in the last chapter; but Ralph's disposition was
singularly devoid of malice, and he advanced
towards his old antagonist with outstretched
hand and a frank smile, expressing his pleasure
at the turn of fortune's wheel that had made
them again companions.
"Let bygones be bygones, old fellow," said
Ralph, heartily, "and rest assured that I shall
never breathe a word regarding that un-
fortunate affair."
Thus outwardly peace, if not friendship, was

38 Ralph Somerville.

established between the boys, for Ralph really
meant what he said, and was very glad to have
a messmate whom he had known in other days,
and with whom he could talk over their scrapes
and adventures at old Wilton's. With Sam,
however, the outward friendship was but a
hollow mask, assumed to conceal the bitter
enmity that still rankled in his heart against
the lad he had so deeply injured. His disposi-
tion was a bad one, and his more generous
feeling had been early strangled by the in-
judicious manner in which his father had
brought him up, yielding to his slightest
caprice, thwarting him in nothing. Even our
hero's frank greeting was wormwood to him,
for he felt that he was outdone in generosity
by his old enemy, and he inwardly resolved
that he would leave no stone unturned to
embroil Ralph with his superior officers, and
thus perhaps force him to exchange into another
ship. He was senior to our hero by several
months, but thus early in their careers this
made but little difference, for one midshipman
is rarely placed in a position that would enable
_____ -j

Round the "Horn." 39

him to order about another. Neither could
Sam attempt to offer any annoyance to Ralph
in the midshipman's berth, for most disputes
were settled there as they had been at old
Wilton's-viz., by the strongest arm; and Sam
had too vivid a recollection of his antagonist's
strength and skill to risk the doubtful issue of
another fight. Nothing therefore remained for
him but to continue seemingly on good terms
with our hero, and to let no opportunity slip of
doing him an ill turn.
At sunset the captain came on board, the
ship was cleared of all strangers, the drum beat
to quarters, the guns were secured for sea, and
by ten o'clock the Columbine's crew were
buried in repose, the only sound breaking
the silence of the night being the measured
step of the officer of the watch pacing the
quarter-deck, and the "All's well" of the
sentries, as the bell struck the half-hours.
But at four o'clock on the following morning
the shrill pipe of the boatswain and his mates
echoed through every timber of the ship,
followed by the hoarse sound, Call all hands!"



" Hands lash up hammocks!"

In a few seconds

the busy hive was in activity, and soon the
crew swarmed up the hatchways, each with his
neat hammock on his shoulder, which he handed

to men told off

for the


who stowed

them in the netting.

" Carpenters

rig capstan,"

was the next


given sharply


Mr. Arrowsmith; and

five minutes saw the bars shipped, and securely
swiftered in.

"All ready, sir,"

reported the first lieutenant

to the captain.
"Then heave round," was the reply.
The men fell in to the bars, the fife struck
up a lively air, and round went the huge drum,

the clanking of the
the chain through

pauls and

the grinding of

the hawse-pipe forming

rough sort of accompaniment to the heavy tread
of a hundred feet sounding as one.

And now the cable is shortened



and the anchor only


"Avast heaving," roars


the first

on to the

lieutenant ;

"out bars.

Hands make sail."





Round t/he "Horn." 41

The blue jackets crowd aloft; at the word
"Let fall," the heavy canvas is dropped from the
gaskets; "Sheet home," is the next order, and
the graceful folds are tightly stretched from
yardarm to yardarm; the topsails are hoisted;
the yards braced abox for casting; again the
fife sounds-this time the tune is "The girl I
left behind me." Heave and break her out,
men," sings out Mr. Arrowsmith. With strain-
ing shoulders the seamen bring their whole
weight to bear on the bars ; there is a moment's
pause, as though the heavy anchor resented
being thus rudely torn from the mud of old
England, but with a sally the men force round
the capstan. "Heaving in sight, sir," hails the
second lieutenant from the forecastle, while a
small eddy under the bows announces that the
corvette has gathered stem-way; and in ten
minutes' time she is running under all plain
sail through the squadron at Spithead, and,
standing out to the eastward of the Isle of
Wight, is fairly embarked on her long voyage
to the Pacific.
The wind was favourable, and the Columbine

42 Ralph Somerville.

sped gallantly southward. The time of all her
inmates was fully taken up with gun, musket,
and cutlass drill, for Captain Renshaw was a
rigid disciplinarian, and wished to have his
men thoroughly broken into their work by the
time they reached Valparaiso, where the ad-
miral would probably be found, and would
inspect the ship.
Neither were our hero and his seven brother
midshipmen suffered to remain idle. They
were divided into four watches, the senior
youngster doing duty on the forecastle, the
junior on the quarter-deck, under the eye of
the officer of the watch. Every forenoon they
had to muster in the captain's cabin, with their
Nautical Almanacs, Inman's Tables, &c., and
study navigation under the supervision of old
Grunter, the master-the Columbine was too
small to carry a naval instructor-and a weary
life, I ween, they led that north-country old
sailor, giving him more trouble than five times
the five pounds stopped from the pay of each,
as tuition money, would have been worth. I
am afraid they played the worthy officer sad

Round I/e "Horn." 43

tricks. He set them problems from old college
examination papers, and, as these all had the
answers printed on the reverse side, nothing
was easier than to jot down an imposing page
full of figures, terminated by an approximation
to the real result. Unless old Grunter worked
them all out himself, detection was next to
impossible, and, as the master solved his
problems by Norie, and not by Jeans, the
young rogues were perfectly safe. At seven
bells (half-past eleven a.m.) they all repaired
on deck with their sextants, and went through
the process of taking a meridian altitude-
nautically termed, "shooting the sun." This
was almost as great a farce as the imaginary
study below had been. Old Grunter was too
much occupied with his own observation-on
the accuracy of which the safety of the ship
depended-to look closely after his unruly
pupils, who whiled away the time by pinching
each other, skylarking, and abstracting the tube
from their instructor's instrument, if he were
unwise enough to lay it on the hammock net-
ting for a moment, until eight bells struck
__ ______________________

44 Raltk Somerville.

(noon), when all trooped down to the mid-
shipmen's berth, and, flinging their sextants
away, crowded round the table in the gloomy,
lamp-lighted little den, and worried the steward
to death if dinner was not served immediately
on their arrival. If the steward was away at
the galley, or turned a deaf ear to their remon-
strances and threats, there was always the
caterer (the captain's clerk, a mild, inoffensive
man of about twenty-five) to fall back upon,
and endless were the imprecations heaped upon
the head of that long-suffering scribe.
"I say, Margin, do you know that it's struck
eight bells ? It's my afternoon watch, and if I
have to relieve the deck without any dinner, I
shall die, and then your ugly carcass will dangle
at the fore-yardarm for starving me."
By Jove," shouted another, "I should like
to see the skipper's pet quill-driver grinning
through a hempen noose."
"So you shall, if he cuts us short of our
dough too often," broke in a third. "I'll give
my boat's crew a glass of grog apiece, and
they'd string up the Grand Turk for that, much

Round the "Horn." 45

less such a picked-up-along-shore-looking sweep
as Margin."
"Hang it all, let's cob him, and the steward
after him. Come on, my lads;" but the ap-
pearance of a huge block-tin tureen full of pea-
soup generally saved the wretched caterer's
bacon, and the meal was proceeded with in
After dinner, the day's work, or the ship's
reckoning for the preceding twenty-four hours,
had to be calculated by each youngster, and
sent in to the captain. The reader, unacquainted
with the manners and customs of midshipmen,
might reasonably suppose that this would really
entail half-an-hour's work on each of the lads.
Not so. For a weekly glass of grog, old
Grunter's marine servant would bring his
master's work out of the gunroom, whilst the
worthy officer was engaged in the captain's
cabin pricking the ship off, and marking her
position on the chart, and one of the youngsters
took it in turn to copy it, after which every
one "fudged" his own, with the difference of
a few seconds in the latitude and longitude.

46 Ralp Somerville.

Well might Captain Renshaw wonder that
never by any chance were these youthful navi-
gators more than one mile wide of the mark,
and congratulate old Grunter on the progress
his pupils were making. Had he known the
process by which this exceeding accuracy was
attained, his wonder would rapidly have changed
into wrath, and the culprits have experienced
an abrupt transition from the stuffy atmosphere
and semi-darkness of the midshipmen's berth,
to that better ventilated, through less favourite
retreat-the mast-head.
After the day's work was sent in, the lads
that were off duty had little to do, and passed
most of their time in sleep, stretched out on the
berth lockers, with a desk or sextant case for a
pillow, or curled up on the lids of their chests.
The latter is not, to my mind, a very comfort-
able couch at any time. Not only is a mid-
shipman's chest remarkably hard, but if the
particular one selected for a "caulking place"
happens to stand on the weather side, the
happy sleeper is very liable to be abruptly
aroused from his dreams by finding himself

~ __

Round th e Horn." 47

sprawling on the deck, with his head jammed
into a shot-rack. On the lee side he is a trifle
more secure; but even there a heavy lurch may
deposit him between the back of the chest and
the bulkhead. Notwithstanding these trifling
disadvantages, chests are highly esteemed
throughout the service for sleeping purposes;
but then it is difficult to know under what com-
bination of place and circumstance Her Majesty's
junior naval officers will not sleep.
At five o'clock the drum beat to quarters, the
guns were re-secured, and the men inspected,
after which some exercise aloft generally took
place, and then the men went to their pipes and
the midshipmen to their tea and biscuits. This
light repast over, the seniors called for their grog
bottles, and conversation (limited), boisterous
chaff (abundant), and songs, flavoured by a few
practical jokes, filled up the time until half-past
nine, when the ship's corporal came to put the
lights out. Reading or study of any kind was
practically out of the question, however studi-
ously inclined a lad might be. Sometimes one
of the lieutenants or some of the senior officers

48 Ralph Somerville.

would take an interest in the middies belonging
to their watch, and would permit them to use
their cabins and books; but even this was seldom
taken advantage of after the novelty of the
thing had worn off. The literature that in those
days found most favour in the midshipmen's
mess was of the trashiest description, and even
this but rarely and imperfectly read. Telling
yarns and talking ship passed away the time far
more pleasantly, if less profitably, than reading.
How insufferably wearisome to a stranger would
have sounded the staple conversation of these
young officers!-how long the flying Phaeton
took to stay in a double-reefed topsail breeze,
and how she spun off fifteen knots on a bow-
line; how the Vindictive stood into Tahiti
with studding sails on both sides, made a run-
ning moor between two French frigates, and
threatened to blow them both out of the water;
how the liberty men belonging to the Belle-
rophon never met their rivals, the Rodneys, on
shore at Malta without a long and bloody fray
occurring, arising from entirely different views of
the merits of their respective ships espoused by

Round the "Horn." 49

these restless sons of Neptune-all very interest-
ing to hear once or twice, but becoming slightly
monotonous when told, with variations, three or
four times a-week. Yet the lads were not to
blame, for what else had they to talk or think
about ? Months passed away at sea without a
letter or a newspaper reaching them; the never-
varying routine of the ship offered no fresh topic
for conversation; and this same conversation
bore upon what each speaker had nearest at
heart, and awakened in the most passionless
breast a spirit of emulation, an affection for the
pretty little craft that was even then bounding
so merrily under their feet, and a deep love for
the noble service to which they belonged that
no drift of time could ever break or even
slacken. But I have said enough on this sub-
ject, and my readers can now perhaps form some
idea of the daily routine on board a man-of-war
twenty years ago.
Nothing occurred on board the Columbine
worthy of notice during her voyage to Val-
paraiso. She encountered the usual bad weather
off Cape Horn, and was thrashing against a

50 Rald z Somierville.

westerly gale for three weeks before she rounded
Diego Ramirez, and was enabled to stand north
into the blue skies and gentle breezes of the
placid Pacific. As had been expected, the flag-
ship was found at Valparaiso; and when the
admiral inspected the corvette, he expressed
himself much gratified at the cleanliness and
order prevailing on board, and the proficiency
of the men. Both watches were allowed ashore
for eight-and-forty hours each after the ship had
been thoroughly refitted, and the midshipmen
managed to get a run every now and then-
those, at least, who had written up their logs,
paid their mess bills, and found themselves still
the happy possessors of a few coins. A sailor's
first impulse on landing is "to get outside a
horse," if one can be had for love or money.
From whence he derives this instinct it seems
difficult to say, but at Valparaiso both officer
and bluejacket were enabled to indulge their
humour to the top of their bent, for Chili
abounds with horses, and a few minutes after
landing both seamen and marines would be seen
galloping wildly through the streets, to the no


Round the Horn." 51

slight danger of the inhabitants' limbs and their
own necks. Ralph enjoyed a good stretching
gallop over the miles of level plain amazingly;
but one day he met with an adventure which
plainly showed that he would have done better
had he listened to the advice of the English
residents, and not ventured too far away from
the town unarmed and unaccompanied.
Wherever Englishmen settle, their love 4of
racing is developed, and Valparaiso, with its
large foreign community, offered no exception to
the rule. Every man or boy worthy of the
name of Briton was the possessor of one or more
racehorses, and the animals were put in training
for the annual meeting shortly after the Colum-
bine arrived. Now, although horses are plentiful
enough, jockeys are just the reverse; therefore
the young gentlemen of Her Majesty's vessels
then in harbour are always in great request at
that time of year as light weights, more par-
ticularly if they know anything at all about
riding. As we have seen, our hero was an
exceptionally good horseman, thanks to his
early training; and an English merchant, a

52 Raldk Somerville.

relation of Captain Renshaw, and the owner of
the favourite, Toruno, had discovered this, and
asked him to pilot his horse on the day of the
races. Ralph willingly acceded, but, on seeing
the animal, pronounced him too high in con-
dition, and showed so much real knowledge of
the subject that Mr. Smart asked him if he
would undertake the preparation of the horse
himself. This would involve exercising him
every morning before breakfast, and Ralph was
afraid that his duty would interfere with this;
but it is to be supposed that Mr. Smart spoke
to Captain Renshaw, for the latter, who was
living with his relative, took our hero with him
as a sort of aide-de-camp, and gave him to
understand that his services would never be
required before nine in the morning. Ralph
was now in his glory, and spent every spare
minute of his time with the noble animal, who
soon learned to know him, and hailed his
approach with a neigh of satisfaction. Before
sunrise the lad was in the stable, saddled Toruno
with his own hands, and then took him out for
a good spin of several miles over smooth

Round the "Horn." 53

stretches of country, unbroken by fence or
On one occasion he had gone further than
usual, and in a direction that he had never taken
before. As he was proceeding leisurely home-
ward, the sound of hoofs was borne towards
him by the breeze. Toruno pricked his shapely
little ears, and, turning round in the saddle,
Ralph saw three gauchos approaching him at
full gallop. The thought that he was totally
unarmed, except a heavy hunting crop, now
flashed across his mind, as well as the many
instances he had heard of the lawlessness and
ferocity of these men. However, perhaps after
all no harm was intended, and it would be very
undignified to retreat without a cause; so Ralph
clutched his hunting crop firmly, got a tight
grip of the saddle with his knees, shortened up
the reins, and rode quietly on as though sus-
pecting nothing.
With whirlwind speed the strangers closed,
and, glancing over his shoulder, Ralph saw the
foremost within three lengths, bearing down
straight upon him, and evidently bent on dis-



mounting him

by the gaucho plan-that is,

a peculiar upheaval of the leg, which
fail to unseat an unsuspecting rider.



All doubt as to the real character of the
horsemen was now at rest. They were some of

the bandits with which Chili abounds,

and our

hero would be lucky indeed

if he


out of

this adventure with a whole skin.


the pursuer was


one length,

Ralph wheeled Toruno suddenly aside,

and, as

the baffled
heavy whip




handle, swung with the



full force

of the

the ear,

man's arm, struck

the robber

and rolled him senseless on the

he struck
the noble


one unshipped,"

the spurs


a few yards'


he muttered,

into Toruno's


who had left


by the





two other

their companion

to his


"I am all safe now," thought Ralph;
horses are not a patch upon Toruno,;"

" their
and he

leant back in his saddle to survey his pursuers.


__ ~_I-LI---CI--




----- I-i__



Round the "Horn." 55

"Merciful heaven!" he exclaimed, turning
pale; "the scoundrels have got lassos !"
It was too true. Hanging at the saddle bow
of each was the long greenhide rope with its
treacherous noose, from whose deadly embrace
escape was hopeless. Both of the robbers
were preparing their weapons, and on Toruno
increasing the distance between them before
this could be accomplished depended the lad's
Right nobly did the gallant brute respond to
his rider's call, but still the fugitive was within
cast, and the leading robber was already swing-
ing his weapon round his head. Bending
forward until his face was hidden in the mane,
Ralph drove the spurs home into his favourite's
flank, and cowered into the smallest compass to
avoid the fatal loop. Maddened with pain,
Toruno bounded wildly forward at the very
moment that the lasso quitted the gaucho's
hand, when the bight of the noose struck the
nape of our hero's neck, and glided harmlessly
off over his back. His steed's onward plunge
had saved his life; that foot of ground gained

56 Raltl Somerville.

had caused the rope to fall a few inches short;
a few more yards and Ralph could pull up and
breathe his panting steed, for the assailants saw
that further pursuit was hopeless, and, wheeling
off, galloped back to the assistance of their
wounded comrade, still lying motionless on the
This gave our young friend a lesson to keep
within a moderate distance of the town for the
future; and I am sure that my readers will be
glad to hear that not only was Toruno none the
worse for his unusual exertion, but that, under
the skilful guidance of Ralph, he appeared at the
starting-post in splendid condition, and pulled
off the President's Cup in a common canter.
But Her Majesty's ships and vessels of war
are not supposed to remain long at one place,
and the Columbine soon received orders to sail
for Vancouver's Island, first visiting Juan
Fernandez, and then calling in at San Blas and
San Francisco. The day before the corvette
left, Ralph was sent ashore in his boat to the
Consul's office to bring off a distressed British
subject who had been ordered a passage to the

Round the "Horn." 57

latter place. On entering the house, our hero
found the object of his search sitting quietly
on a small bundle, which constituted all his
personal effects, with a long Kentucky rifle
resting between his knees. Ralph was struck
with astonishment at the singular appearance
presented by this wanderer. He was a man of
about forty years of age, rather over than under
the middle height, but so thin that a breath of
wind seemed capable of laying him prostrate.
His face was drawn with hardship and priva-
tion, but beneath the racoon skin cap that
formed a covering for his head peered forth a
pair of light grey eyes that toned down the
rugged expression of the features, and, like a
gleam of sunshine, illumined the weatherbeaten
countenance. On seeing the young officer, the
man stood respectfully up, with his rifle as a
"Is your name Thomas Sherlock ?"
SIt is," was the reply.
"Well, you know you are ordered a passage
in the Columbine, and I am sent to bring you
off. Are your traps ready ?"



"This is all I possess," said the man
pointing to the little bundle at his feet
light as it is, I fear I can scarcely carry
so weak now from fever."

; "and
it, I an



we'll manage all





by the stranger's tone and evident want

of strength; "one of the boat's crew can take it
down, and your rifle too, if you like."

"Thank you, I


should prefer carrying


It is an old friend, and I never let it

out of my hands

if I can help


besides, it

serves me as a support.

"As you


replied the youth; and,


directions about the bundle to the cox-

swain, he left the house, followed by Sherlock.

The pier was nearly a quarter of a mile


and, turning
panion kept
intervals on

round, Ralph saw that his com-

up with difficulty,

his rifle,







The lad hesitated.

to himself,

"Poor fellow," he thought

" he'll hardly manage to get down;

I wonder whether a glass of grog would bouse
him up; at any rate, there is no harm in asking



_I~ ~I_~

Round the Horn." 59

him ;" and, waiting until the stranger rejoined
him, Ralph led him into a little wine-shop and
ordered two glasses of aquadiente. Sherlock
swallowed the fiery spirit with evident satisfac-
tion and with many expressions of gratitude,
and, aided by the stimulant, soon reached the
boat in safety, and in due course was comfort-
ably billeted on board the Columbine, under the
hands of whose worthy doctor, aided doubtless
by the fresh sea breeze, he quickly threw off
the fever that was devouring him, and in a
short time was enabled to make his appearance
on deck. Ralph took an unusual interest in
the stranger-though whether this arose from
his having seen him sooner than any of his
messmates, or from some secret sympathy
between them, I am unable to explain. During
the long night watches Sherlock would come up
from below, and, seated on the afterpart of the
booms, would answer the thousand-and-one
questions with which Ralph plied him. Many
scenes of wild adventure and of hairbreadth
escapess were brought before the mental vision
of the lad by the simple yet vivid description

60 Ralkh Somerville.

of his companion. Thomas Sherlock was a
Canadian, but from the time that he could raise
a rifle to his shoulder he had been a wanderer.
The sudden canting of a heavy log had deprived
him of his father, and, dreading a desolate
home and a cruel stepmother, the boy had made
his wa~y to the settlement on the Red River,
and set up for himself as a trapper and dealer
in peltry. Many were his adventures with
Indians and with wild animals, both by water
and by land, during the time he was earning a
precarious subsistence by that perilous occupa-
tion. When he had attained the age of man-
hood, he became attached to the Hudson's Bay
Company, and in their employ had faced the
solitude, the privation, and the rigorous winters
of the north-west territory. California next
found him acting in the capacity of a vaquero,
or mounted herdsman. Restless ever, he had
passed on into Mexico, and from thence into
the Central American States, and over the
greater portion of Bolivia, Peru, and Chili;
indeed he had engaged in so many various
occupations that it was difficult to fix upon him

Round the Horn." 61

any proper designation, though perhaps his
Columbine soubriquet of "the trapper" more
clearly conveyed the style and character of the
man than any other. High-spirited and impul-
sive, Ralph listened with thrilling interest to the
stories of grizzly bears, Blackfoot Indians, bull-
fights, encounters with Rocky Mountain desper-
adoes, &c., &c.; and the long night watches,
hitherto viewed with such unutterable disgust,
now became pleasant, and even longed for, so
entirely was our hero's mind engrossed by the
glimpse of a wild, free life thus laid open to him.
But we have been somewhat forgetful of Sam
Bateson, who, as an early acquaintance in this
little narrative, claims a portion of our atten-
tion. As I endeavoured to show a few pages
further back, midshipmen of about the same
standing in the service can interfere but little
with each other as far as duty is concerned;
thus Ralph and Sam pulled very amicably to-
gether to all appearance, but in reality the
hatred of the elder lad had much augmented
towards our unsuspicious hero, not only from
the fact of the latter carrying off the first place

62 Ralpf Somerville.

with Toruno-a struggle in which Sam was also
engaged--but because the favourite's winning
had caused Bateson to lose a good deal of
money on the race. The evident partiality
with which the first lieutenant and the other
officers regarded Ralph was also a great annoy-
ance to Sam, more particularly as this young
gentleman had been in a succession of scrapes
ever since the ship anchored at Valparaiso,
owing to a habit of outstaying his leave, letting
men out of his boat, and sundry other practices
highly objectionable in the eyes of a command-
ing officer; thus not only did Sam see his
enemy gaining the good-will of his superiors,
but he had also the mortification of knowing
that he himself was doing directly the reverse,
and was fast losing the character for smartness
and attention that he had earned during the
voyage from England. Thus matters stood
between the two lads, when an incident occurred
that stirred Sam's vengeful spirit to its darkest
depth, and turned his hitherto slumbering
animosity into an intense desire for the destruc-
tion of his hated rival.


Round the "Horn." 63

Eight bells (noon) had struck, the cheery
pipe of the boatswain and his mates had pro-
claimed the dinner hour, and the Columbine's
crew were all on the lower deck, hurrying
through their meal of pea-soup and pork in
order to gain a longer smoke, a luxury only
permitted at certain fixed times. The corvette
was standing westward, close-hauled to the
wind, and with all plain sail set except the
royals and flying-jib, for the breeze was too
strong to admit of the lighter canvas. Ralph
was sitting down abaft the foremast yarning
with the trapper, and was listening eagerly to
the account of a fray between the Cree and
Blackfoot Indians, when the voice of the officer
of the watch rang forth sharply and incisively-
"Man overboard-hands shorten sail-life-
boat's crew away !"
Somerville rushed aft to the taffrail, and just
caught sight of Sam Bateson's head as the latter
went astern at the rate of eight knots an hour.
The sentry had let go the life-buoy a little too
soon, and the apparatus was at least twenty
yards from the struggling youth, whom Ralph



knew to be a very inferior swimmer.

a moment's


hesitation, the latter threw off


jacket and plunged head-foremost overboard to

the assistance of his

old school-fellow.

few vigorous strokes he reached Sam, and,
fident in his own powers, said-

By a


"All right,

old fellow.

Put your hands on

my hips and we'll soon fetch the life-buoy."
I have before stated that want of courage
was not Sam's failing, and never did he exhibit
more self-possession than on this trying occasion.


the shock of

his sudden

0 I

mersion, he was as cool as if still on the quarter-





Ralph's instruc-

both lads were in a few minutes clinging

to the life-buoy in comparative safety.

I say

comparative safety only,


the seas in

that part of the world abound with the


shark, and

one of

these might

be prowling

about and cut our story short before the cutter

could pick up the young men.





orders of the commanding officer ha(

cuted on board the Columbine.


elerity the
I been exe-
)ugh to the







Round the "Horn." 65

eye of a landsman the scene would have
appeared one of dire disorder, yet in reality it
was the very reverse. Every man knew the
work that was expected of him on such an
occasion, and silently but swiftly each member
of the crew performed his allotted portion.
The lifeboat's crew jumped into the cutter
hanging at the lee davits, under the command
of the senior mate; the signalman sprang aloft
and kept the swimmers in sight, that the boat,
when lowered, might know exactly in what
direction to pull; the topgallant yardmen
crowded up the rigging and gathered the flap-
ping canvas to the yards; with a steady run
the seamen and marines who manned the main
clewgarnets and buntlines hauled up the main-
sail; the preventer mainbrace was let go, the
yards swung square, and with her maaintopsail
to the mast the Columbine, skilfully checked in
her onward career, lay motionless on the water,
an example of what can be accomplished by
good seamanship and high discipline. In
scarcely a longer time than it has taken you,
reader, to skim this paragraph, the cutter was in



the water, and pulling with all the strength

ten pairs of

willing arms in

the direction


cated by the signalman.
"In bows," says Selwyn, the senior mate, as

he catches


of the life-buoy.

" Half-a-

dozen more strokes, men.

Way enough;" and

the ten

oars are tossed aloft together,



blades glistening in the sun, as the boat

runs up alongside of the life-buoy, and both the
apparatus and its dripping freight are lifted care-
fully inboard.

The ship

is regained, the cutter hoisted up

and secured, the sails are filled and re-set, the

men go down to finish

their interrupted smoke

and to talk over the incident for a, few minutes,

the two lads swallow a glass of hot grog


and change their clothes, and the whole thing

is forgotten,

though none the less

has Ralph


Sam Bateson's life.

As perhaps the reader will be curious regard-
ing the cause of this young gentleman's mishap,

I may mention

that he

had gone into the lee

forechains to smoke on the sly, and that,

carelessly balancing


himself on the swinoingc
0 0





Round the Horn." 67

boom, a heavier lurch than usual had brought
his stolen pleasures to an abrupt conclusion by
pitching him head-foremost into the sea.
It may also naturally be thought that Sam
would feel some little gratitude towards Ralph
for his gallant rescue, but, instead of this, the
consciousness that he owed his life to his enemy
deepened his hatred, and but little was now
required to turn that hatred into a blind, un-
reasoning desire for his old school-fellow's de-
struction. In what an unforeseen manner that
little was supplied will be shown in the following



--~c ~-~c----s / u~ ~Lh ~V ~
ijlt~L_-r C
r ~~~,~--tc~"l'""~a~e~ic~:;/l~.~



THREE days after leav-


Valparaiso, the


of "Land on the star-

board bow !"

was heard

From the mast-head of
4 the Columbine, and by


sunset the vessel

anchored in







sheltered harbour afforded by the little island

of Juan

to a certain

Every Englishman must


the home of Alexander Selkirk,
years' sojourn on this lonely spot

Defoe the materials

gave Da

for his immortal






For Ralph


I suppose, for most lads, the

book possessed an


-- -----



A Waif from the Ocean. 69

absorbing interest, and he gazed on the shore
with longing eyes, eager for the morrow, when
he and his companions would be allowed to
scamper at will over the wild and classic
Juan Fernandez is an island of about fifteen
miles long by six broad, containing an area of
nearly sixty-five square miles, and is situated
in the South Pacific Ocean, at a distance of
four hundred miles from the coast of Chili. In
most places the sides are abrupt, even precipi-
tous, and towards the north there stands a
mountain of three thousand feet in altitude,
called El Yunque, or the anvil, from its
resemblance to that instrument. The surface
of the island is irregular, broken up into ravines
and valleys, and with a gradual falling of the
ground towards the south. Most of these glens
are well sheltered, and the rich black soil pro-
duces turnips, apples, strawberries, melons, figs,
sandalwood, &c., whilst herds of goats, originally
placed there by the buccaneers, leap from crag
to crag with surprising agility, and fish of every
description abound in the numerous inlets with

70 Ralpk Somerville.

which the coast-line is indented. In bygone
days the island afforded such a safe retreat for
the freebooters--mostly English-who hovered
around the South American coast, intercepting
the ingot-laden galleons and retiring to the
fastnesses of Juan Fernandez with their rich
spoil, and the facilities for repairing and victual-
ling their ships were so great, that the Spaniards,
hoping to deprive their formidable enemies of
supplies, landed a number of fierce hounds on
the island for the purpose of destroying the
goats; but, though partially successful, the
hope of extermination was a failure, owing to
the sure-footed little animals retiring to inacces-
sible heights, where no dog could follow them.
In 1750 the Spaniards made an attempt to
colonise Juan Fernandez, and also established a
garrison on its shores; but immediately after
its foundation the settlement was destroyed by
an earthquake, during which the sea over-
whelmed the houses and carried off with it a
large number of people, among whom were the
governor and his family. Since then it has
been put to various uses-at one time as a

A Waif from the Ocean. 71

penal settlement for political offenders, but an
earthquake again levelled every edifice with
the ground; and, later still, it was rented by
the Chilian Government to an enterprising
American, who, in his turn, failed; and alto-
gether it seems as if the island were perfectly
satisfied with the halo thrown around it by the
genius of Defoe, and indignantly spurned from
its bosom any population more prosaic than
buccaneers and shipwrecked mariners.
Such is a brief description of this celebrated
little dot in the ocean; and as perhaps it may
be wondered what earthly reason could induce
the Columbine to visit it, I may mention that
it is rather a favourite resort for the English
men-of-war on the Pacific station, who can
recruit the health of their crews by permitting
them to ramble at large over an island where
grog-shops are unknown, where the climate is
mild and temperate, and where the occupation
of fishing with both seine and line affords a
pleasing excitement after the confinement of a
long spell at sea. But another motive had
caused the admiral to order the corvette to

72 Ral/k Somerville7

Juan Fernandez, a motive more cogent than the
health of her crew, which was excellent, or the
diversion of fishing, which was not indispensable.
A Chilian vessel had come into Valparaiso arnd
reported having passed a waterlogged and
abandoned wreck to the westward of the island.
Of what country she was the skipper was unable
to say, for the water was flush with her upper
deck, and everything movable had long since
been washed away. Having ascertained that
there was no living thing on board her, the
skipper had returned to his own craft, and pur-
sued his voyage to Valparaiso. Now a wreck
floating about on the high seas is as great an
inconvenience as a tree growing in the centre
of a high road; and the main object of the
Columbine was to discover this deserted vessel,
and, by a well-directed broadside, to send her
to the bottom, where she would be out of the
way of doing mischief to any passing ship. A
bright look-out had been kept on board the
corvette during the whole passage, but nothing
had as yet been seen of this ocean waif.
The next morning the Columbine displayed

A .aif from the Ocean. 73

a scene of great animation. Cumberland Bay
has ten fathoms of water close in to the shore,
and the vessel was anchored within hail of the
beach. The pinnace was hoisted out, and the
seine, a drag-net of a hundred fathoms in length,
carefully paid down on to planks placed across
the stern-sheets. The boats, crowded with men,
shoved off; several times the seine was shot, on
each occasion coming to the beach full of fish of
every hue and description, and numberless fires
blazing along the shore bore record that a por-
tion of the spoil had been transferred to another
element. Many of the officers had wandered
off into the interior of the island with their
guns, and frequent reports, multiplied by the
echoes of the rocky ravines, announced the
destruction they were dealing amongst the wild
Ralph had been told off to accompany the
fishing party, and, assisted by a brother midship-
man, was watching with keen interest a fine
mullet baking on a private fire they had kindled
for themselves. The men, tired of dragging
the net, were smoking their pipes, playing at

74 Ralfh Somerville.

duck-stone or leap-frog, and enjoying them-
selves like any schoolboys. Suddenly a couple
of seals were seen close in to the shore, and the
seine was once more quickly shot outside the
unsuspicious animals, who had probably been
attracted by the smell of the fish. The hauling
lines were manned by a strong party, and soon
the decreasing circumference of the cork floats
showed that the prey were fairly within the toils.
At length the staff at the extremity of the net
nearest to Ralph took the ground, and a fore-
topman rushed into the water to cant it,
according to the approved fashion in seining.
To reach the pole he was compelled to swim a
few yards, and his companions on shore were
eagerly singing out, "Look alive, Bill!" when,
with a shriek of agony, the sailor sprang half
his length out of water, his arms extended over
his head, and sank beneath the waves, now
tinged with blood.
Merciful Heaven, a shark !" cried Ralph, as
the men dropped the lines and rushed, some
towards the boats, which were hastily shoved
off to the rescue, others fearlessly into the water

A Iaif from tIe Ocean. 75

in the direction of the place where their ship-
mate had disappeared. The second gig reached
the spot first, and, regardless of the danger they
ran-when does a bluejacket ever think of
himself if a brave action is to be performed ?-
three men dived beneath the blood-stained sur-
face, and immediately re-appeared with the
wounded man in their arms. He was conveyed
with all speed to the ship, whilst the remainder
of the party silently dragged the net on shore
before returning to the ship, for all thought of
further sport was over for the day, and gloom
was apparent on every face.
"There's something heavy in the seine," re-
marked an old quartermaster. Haul steadily,
lads; I shouldn't wonder if the shark was
in it!"
Excited by the thought of revenging their
wounded shipmate, the men walked the net
steadily in, the frequent jerking showing that
some large fish was entangled in its folds.
With a sally it was run up on to the sandy
beach, and there, lying perfectly motionless, his
fiendish eyes watching his captors askance, was

76 Ralpk Somerville.

found the author of the mischief-not a shark,
after all, but a monster saw-fish, measuring
twelve feet in length, exclusive of the deadly
weapon projecting from his snout. With great
difficulty the enormous brute was disentangled
from the seine, after two musket bullets had been
fired into his head. Another accident, however,
nearly occurred, for as the men, with bare legs,
were crowding round what they supposed to
be a dead fish, and looking at the fragments of
blue serge that still adhered between the teeth
of the saw, the monster slightly raised his head,
and, pivoted on his belly, lashed from side to
side with incredible swiftness and fury, the
fearful weapon with which he was armed describ-
ing a perfect semi-circle. Woe betide the luck-
less man who had been within the reach of that
deadly sweep !"
Poor Sawyer, the foretopman, had expired
shortly after reaching the ship. The saw had
The above is no exaggeration. The author was present
at the capture of a saw-fish of the same dimensions as the one
here recorded, at San Bias, on the coast of Mexico, and the
above is a faithful description of the way in which this ill-
mannered brute conducted himself.

A IVaif from Ite Ocean. 77

ploughed up the fleshy part of the thigh, sever-
ing an important artery, and the abdomen was
lacerated so fearfully that recovery was hope-
At daylight on the following morning, Ralph
was sent ashore with his boat's crew to prepare
a grave, and selected a spot beneath a graceful
palm-tree, standing on a slight eminence over-
looking the scene of the catastrophe. At noon
the mortal remains of the ill-fated sailor were
laid in their last resting-place, and a cross, with
the simple inscription-
H. M. S. Columbine,
Dec., 1852,

marks the mariner's island grave.
Directly the funeral party had returned to
the corvette, preparations were made for her
immediate departure, and the utmost alacrity
was shown by the men, over whom a gloom had
been cast by their shipmate's death. By sunset
Juan Fernandez was several miles on the lee
quarter, and the Columbine again steered west-


78 Ralph Somerville.

ward, keeping a bright look-out for the deserted
At ten o'clock next day land was reported
from the mast-head, and by noon the corvette
was close to the little island called Fernandez
de Afuera (or seaward), and most of the officers
were watching with admiration the high surf
hurling itself against the precipitous shores, and
falling backwards in showers of diamond spray,
through which the sun shone with indescribable
beauty. Ralph, whose watch it was, had
brought up one of Dolland's powerful five-foot
telescopes, and, leaning over the hammock
netting, was surveying the scene, very much to
his own satisfaction.
"By Jove !" he said, turning round to Sher-
lock, who was standing in the waist close by,
"I think I can make out something moving.
Take a look. There, close to that thick mass
of foliage. Can you see it ?"
The trapper looked long and steadily in the
direction indicated, and then replied-
"Yes, I do see something, but I can't tell
what it is; most likely only a goat."


A Wa if from th e Ocean. 79

But Ralph had again applied his eye to the
glass, and, jumping down, exclaimed quite
"There is something there, and a human
being, too, for I can see it waving a flag."
"Mr. Somerville," cried the officer of the
watch, attracted by the loud tone in which the
lad had spoken, "how often am I to tell you
that you are not put into my watch to pass
away the time sprawling over the nettings.
Walk the deck, sir, and attend to your duty."
"But, sir," said Ralph, touching his cap, and
flushing crimson under the reprimand, "there
is somebody on the island, waving to attract
attention, I think."
"What do you say, Mr. Somerville ?" asked
Captain Renshaw, who had just come on deck,
and caught the lad's last words; somebody on
the island ? Impossible. Why, there is no
landing-place, except in a dead calm. Show me
where you mean ?"
Ralph handed his glass to the captain, who,
after looking through it for several minutes,
said-" Tell Mr. Grunter I want him."

80 Ra5lp Somerville.

Somerville dived into the gunroom, where
the old master was sipping his seven-beller, and
delivered the message, much to that officer's
disgust, who rolled up the hatchway, vowing
that the service was going to the devil, since a
man could not swallow his grog in peace.
"Master," said the captain, "I should like to
close the land a little more. Can we do it ?"
"I'll go down and look at the chart, sir," re-
plied Grunter; "there is plenty of water right
alongside the island, I think."
When the master returned on deck, the
Columbine was kept away three points, and in
half-an-hour was within a mile of the north end
of Fernandez de Afuera, whose shores were
eagerly scanned by every officer in the ship, for
a rumour had reached the lower deck of some-
thing unusual being visible on the island, and
even the idlers, as the civilian portion of a
man-of-war's complement are rather inappro-
priately termed, turned up to see what was
the matter.
"Dear me," said Stone, the assistant-surgeon
--who, being very short-sighted and dull of com-

4A Vaif 'from the Ocean. 81

prehension, could make out nothing of what
was going on-" what are they all looking at ?"
Watching an earthquake, of course," replied
one of the group of midshipmen to whom he
addressed his question; "don't you see the
island rocking ? Old Grunter is afraid it is
going to disappear, and then he would have to
alter his charts; so he has asked the skipper to
send the sheet-anchor ashore on a grating and
moor it."
"How very odd," replied the unsuspicious
medico. "I wonder whether the doctor knows
it. Have you seen him ?"
"Yes, the skipper sent him forward to stand
sentry over the wind, and you're to relieve him
in an hour," answered one of the mischievous
"That be hung for a yarn," echoed another;
"I saw him in the boatswain's store-room shoe-
ing a goose.
"Yes," replied a third, "but the nails
wouldn't hold, so the skipper ordered him into
the forechains to chew biscuit for the sick--a
bread-bag full every four hours-and he's to

82 Ralfh Somerville.

draw another set of teeth out of store when
we get to Frisco (San Francisco). You had
better not let the captain see you loafing about
here, or he'll set you at the same work."
"I wish he would," cried another of his tor-
mentors, if it was likely to choke you off the
dough on Sundays."
"No fear of it's doing that. It would only
make him thirsty, and then he'd polish off all
our grog.
"Silence, young gentlemen," exclaimed the
stern voice of the first lieutenant; you're
turning the ship into a bear-garden. What do
you make out, Mr. Somerville ?"
"There is somebody there, sir; I see one
figure distinctly. It seems to be waving a flag
or shawl. See, sir-close to that dark rift in
the rock."
It was now evident that one or more human
beings were on the island, and, ordering the
officer of the watch to heave the ship to and
fire a gun as a signal to the castaways that they
were seen, Captain Renshaw went below to con-
sult with the first lieutenant and the master as

A Waif from thke Ocean. 83

to the best means of effecting their rescue. Any
attempt at landing would be out of the ques-
tion unless the breeze died away, and, as this
would not occur until sunset, it was resolved
to stand off and on to leeward of the island
until that time. As though obedient to the
wishes of the Columbine's ship's company, the
wind whispered itself away earlier than usual,
and by five o'clock a landing was pronounced
practicable. The captain's gig was a whaler,
and, though small, was safer in a surf than the
pinnace or any of the larger boats; she was,
therefore, lowered and placed under the com-
mand of the second lieutenant, who, at the
urgent entreaty of the lad, took Ralph with
him. Provided with a hand-lead and line as a
means of establishing a communication should
the swell render the attempt at landing abor-
tive, the whaler shoved off, and in a quarter of
an hour was close under the rocks, against
whose wave-worn sides the sea rose and fell in
calm blue masses that wrinkled into frowns as
they chafed against the obstacle, and finally
seethed into a mass of foam, beautiful to behold,



but sadly hostile

to the gig's

crew setting foot

We can never attempt it in this swell," said

Mr. Granville,

the second lieutenant;

boat would be knocked into lucifer matches in

five minutes.

Why the deuce don't the people

show themselves, and
them the lead-line ?"


SI am pretty active, sir,

we could heave

said Ralph, eagerly;

"and if you could back the boat within a few

feet of that ledge, I could spring

then climb up the cliff.

on to it and

I am sure I could, sir;

at the worst it would only be a ducking, and I

can swim

like a fish.

Remember, sir, it was

that first saw them, and surely I ought to be
the first to their rescue."

"All devilish



my lad,"

turned the officer;

" but suppose you break your

neck, what will Captain Renshaw say then ?"

" He would say, sir, that I

was only doing

my duty.


Mr. Granville, let me try."

Well, I suppose it is the only chance, for I
won't risk the boat, and I could not jump much

myself," said

the lieutenant, after a moment's





_ _1_1__

A WVaif from tiM e Ocean. 85

consideration, and regretfully eyeing his paunch,
which was of the largest. "Take off your
jacket, and make the lead-line fast under your
arms. Now then, are you ready ? Back of all,
men. Steady, steady. Stand by to give a
stroke ahead. Now's your time; jump. Give
way, men. Hurrah!-well done, my lad! Now
then, shin up that cliff like a rigger, and sing
out what you see when you get to the top."
As the boat rose on the top of the swell,
Ralph had accomplished the perilous leap suc-
cessfully, and, having gained the summit, first
made fast the lead-line to a, tree, and then
looked around him. The little plateau on
which he stood was thickly covered with brush-
wood, and into this the lad penetrated by what
seemed a beaten track. Hardly, however, had
he advanced ten paces, when a deep growl
brought him to a sudden halt, and from the
thicket before him bounded a huge Cuban
bloodhound, so lean and emaciated that every
rib stood out in bold relief, whilst the dark
muzzle flecked with foam and the fiery blood-
shot eyes glaring at the intruder gave the

86 Ralfh Somerville.

animal the aspect of a very fiend, as it crouched
low upon the ground preparatory to making its
spring. Like lightning the thought shot through
Ralph's mind that the ferocious brute must be
the descendant of dogs landed a hundred years
before by the buccaneers, and he stood irreso-
lute how to act, when a sweet voice from the
underwood called the bloodhound back, and the
slender form of a little maiden issued from
behind the bush that had hitherto concealed
her, and, throwing herself at Ralph's feet, raised
her thin, wan young face pleadingly to his, and,
with clasped hands and an utterance broken by
sobs, implored mercy and assistance in the
purest Castilian-that grand, sonorous old lan-
guage, whose familiar tones carried Ralph back
to his own childish days, passed amongst the
natives of the sunny Peninsula.
"Are you alone ?" asked the young man in
"Alone ? Oh yes, quite alone; there is
nobody on the whole island except me. But I
must not forget poor Zambro," she added, stoop-
ing to pat the dog, who, with a low, deep growl,
0 0 0UdV ~~~





was protesting against the intercourse
tress was holding with a stranger.

"You must come off


his mis-

with me at once," said

" there is a boat waiting at the foot of

the rocks.

Did you not see it

coming ?


was it you waving this morning ?"
"Oh yes, it was me; and Heaven be praised

that my signal was seen.

I saw the boat leave

the ship, and came down here to meet it;


when it got close, I became frightened, and hid


I don't know why I was so foolish;




swims and


thoughts cross my mind.

I think it must be

because I have nothing to eat except fruits.


said Ralph,



upon my arm, and let us leave this


place, for dusk is already falling."
Conducted by the young man, the girl soon
reached the edge of the cliff, beneath which lay
the boat.

"Gig there!"

hailed Ralph;

" back in as far

as you can. I have got a poor starving girl
here, and will lower her down to you by the





88 Ralp5h Somerville.

Making a bowline knot in the line, he seated
the young Spaniard in it, and, using a tree as
a belaying-pin, gently lowered her down the
little cliff, the thin cord being more than suf-
ficiently strong to support her slender weight.
The girl was not the least frightened when she
found herself suspended; in fact, it was only
weakness that prevented her descending by the
path that Ralph had first climbed up, for
scrambling amongst the beetling precipices with
which the island was covered, in search of food,
had familiarised her with heights, and worn
away all sense of giddiness. With extended
arms Granville stood in the stern-sheets to
receive his unexpected visitor, and, by means of
a boathook, she was hauled out from the little
ledge on which she had rested for a moment;
and when the boat was reached and the bow-
line was cast off, the good-natured lieutenant
wrapped her in his cloak and made her lie down
comfortably on the bottom boards of the gig.
Ralph had by no means a pleasant time
of it while helping his young friend in her de-
scent, for Zambro waxed furious at seeing his





mistress disappear, and showed such manifest
intentions of flying at the young man's throat,

that he was exceedingly glad to swing

the cliff, and


his assailant

a wide


"Why, how

is this ?"

asked Mr.


"are there no more people on the island ?"
"None, sir," replied Ralph, after again ques-
tioning the girl.
"And she has got nothing to bring off--no
traps of any sort ?"
In answer the poor girl shook her head sadly,
and half withdrew from her bosom a sealskin
package, which was secured round her neck by

a silk ribbon.

"I have nothing

left in the


but this," she


"all else went

down in the boat."

"Then there is nothing to


us, said


" give way, men.

" Oh, Zambro, Zambro i" cried the girl, as the

men bent to their oars;

and, obedient to


call, the tawny




off the cliff into the sea, and

was hauled on

board the boat, which in half-an-hour reached the





90 Ralhk Somerville.

Columbine; the castaways were handed care-
fully inboard, the boat hoisted up, the sails
filled, and when Ralph came on deck the next
morning Fernandez de Afuera was out of sight,
sunk beneath the western horizon.
Most of my readers have probably surmised
that the above little island has supplied me
with what I sadly needed-a heroine.




"You can speak Span-

ish, can you not,

Somerville ?"



Captain Renshaw, as he

appeared on




holding by the hand
the little castaway, who
was closely followed by

her hound

but the

The girl looked pale and
frightened expression had

disappeared from her poor thin face, and, quit-




saw Ralph,

advanced towards him with outstretched hands,
and murmured some expressions of gratitude in
her own language.

our hero answering

his commander's






92 Ralph Somerville.

query in the affirmative, the latter said-
"Come down to my cabin after quarters, and
try if you can discover how this poor child came
to be left alone on a desert island. Arrow-
smith, you must be present too, and let the
doctor know I shall want him. And look here,
Arrowsmith," continued the skipper, the poor
little thing must have some new gear, for her
own is in a sad condition."
"I am afraid, sir, the Columbine is rather
short of the material requisite for a lady's ward-
robe; but the purser must see what there is in
the sloproom, and with drill and serge I dare
say the ship's tailor can knock up something
that will do until we reach Mazatlan."
"Oh, if you please, sir," broke in Ralph, who
had been standing by unseen, "I have got a
new silk poncho and a scarf that I bought at
Valparaiso; I am sure they would cut up into
a pretty dress; pray let me give them to the
young lady."
The captain smiled at the boy's eager tone;
but all the disciplinarian arose in the first lieu-
tenant at the idea of a midshipman breaking

" Las

Tres Marias."

into their conversation, and he said sternly-
" Over to the lee side, Mr. Somerville, and tell
the mate of the upper deck to give out some
bees'-wax and turpentine for the combines of
the hatchways."
Gently, Arrowsmith, gently," said the cap-
tain, as Ralph retired, abashed at the rebuke;
"he is a good lad, and always does his work
He is the best youngster we have," replied
the lieutenant; but they all want a taut hand
over them, or they would turn the ship upside
down. It was only a week ago that the young
scamps cobbed Mr. Margin with a stocking full
of wet sand, because a quid of tobacco was
found in their plum dough."
"Rather hard upon poor Margin," replied the
captain, laughing; "but I must go below now.
Come down with the doctor and Somerville as
soon as the retreat is beaten, and see what the
purser can ferret out in the way of clothing."
Half-an-hour afterwards the officers above
named met in the captain's cabin, and Ralph
elicited from the girl the simple story of her




94 Ral h Somerville.

life-a recital too often interrupted by bitter
sobs, that wrung the hearts of the kindly sailors
listening to her.
Her name was Inez de Valverde, and ever
since infancy she had resided at the Convent of
Nostra Seniora del Carmen, near Copiapo, in
Chili. The sisters were very kind to her, and had
taught her to embroider, make her own clothes,
and recite numberless prayers. Of her family
she could only learn that they were living in a
far distant land, and that some day she would
be sent for to join them. A year ago she was
taken into the lady superior's little room, and
there found an elderly gentleman, who em-
braced her tenderly, weeping over her, and
bestowing on her every endearing expression.
This gentleman was her father, who had been
one of the leading proprietors of a large copper
mine near Copiapo, and had now come in per-
son to sell his share in the property, and retire
with his daughter to Spain. He had a planta-
tion in one of the West Indian islands, but in
which Inez could not remember. The realisation
of his Chilian property occupied nearly a year,

"Las Tres Marias." 95

during which time he leased one of the best
houses in the environs of the town, and his little
daughter, now nearly fourteen years of age,
kept house for him. All the legal formula
relative to the transfer of the mine being at
length concluded, Don Pacheco de Valverde
chartered a small schooner to convey him to
Panama, calling on the way at Juan Fernandez,
which the old Spaniard seemed to think might
be turned to some advantageous purpose. Dur-
ing the whole of this time the affection
displayed by Don Pacheco towards his daughter
was of the warmest character; the old man
never seemed so happy as when the little girl
was seated on his knee, watching the blue
smoke curl upwards from his puro (cigar), and
telling him anecdotes of the good sisters at the
At length all preparations were concluded,
and the Don embarked with his daughter, who
was accompanied by her faithful dog Zambro
and two female attendants. All went well
until Juan Fernandez was reached, but here the
rascally Chilians became mutinous, and by

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