Part 4 out of 10
taking half what was left of the marmalade, and he took the other half.
The time was gone for economy; what they wanted now was strength, in case
the wild beasts, maddened by drink as well as hunger, should attack them.
Already the liquor had begun to tell, and wild hallos and yells, and even
fragments of ghastly songs, mingled with the groans of misery in the
At sunrise there was a great swell upon the water, and sharp gusts at
intervals; and on the horizon, to windward, might be observed a black
spot in the sky, no bigger than a fly. But none saw that; Hazel's eye
never left the raving wretches in the forepart of the boat; Cooper and
Welch sat in gloomy despair amidships; and the others were huddled
together forward, encouraging each other to a desperate act.
It was about eight o'clock in the morning. Helen Rolleston awoke from a
brief doze and said, "Mr. Hazel, I have had a strange dream. I dreamed
there was food, and plenty of it, on the outside of this boat."
While these strange words were yet in her mouth, three of the sailors
suddenly rose up with their knives drawn, and eyes full of murder, and
staggered aft as fast as their enfeebled bodies could.
Hazel uttered a loud cry, "Welch! Cooper! will you see us butchered?"
and, unshipping the helm, rose to his feet.
Cooper put out his arm to stop Mackintosh, but was too late. He did stop
Morgan, however, and said, "Come, none of that; no foul play!"
Irritated by this unexpected resistance, and maddened by drink, Morgan
turned on Cooper and stabbed him; he sank down with a groan; on this
Welch gave Morgan a fearful gash, dividing his jugular, and was stabbed,
in return, by Prince, but not severely; these two grappled and rolled
over one another, stabbing and cursing at the bottom of the boat;
meantime, Mackintosh was received by Hazel with a point blank thrust in
the face from the helm that staggered him, though a very powerful man,
and drove him backward against the mast; but, in delivering this thrust,
Hazel's foot slipped, and he fell with great violence on his head and
arm; Mackintosh recovered himself, and sprang upon the stern thwart with
his knife up and gleaming over Helen Rolleston. Hazel writhed round where
he lay, and struck him desperately on the knee with the helm. The poor
woman knew only how to suffer; she cowered a little, and put up two
The knife descended.
But not upon that cowering figure.
A PURPLE rippling line upon the water had for some time been coming down
upon them with great rapidity; but, bent on bloody work, they had not
observed it. The boat heeled over under the sudden gust; but the ruffian
had already lost his footing under Hazel's blow, and, the boom striking
him almost at the same moment, he went clean over the gunwale into the
sea; he struck it with his knife first.
All their lives were now gone if Cooper, who had already recovered his
feet, had not immediately cut the sheet with his knife; there was no time
to slack it; and, even as it was, the lower part of the sail was
drenched, and the boat full of water. "Ship the helm!" he roared.
The boat righted directly the sheet was cut, the wet sail flapped
furiously, and the boat, having way on her yielded to the helm and
wriggled slowly away before the whistling wind.
Mackintosh rose a few yards astern, and swam after the boat, with great
glaring eyes; the loose sail was not drawing, but the wind moved the boat
onward. However, Mackintosh gained slowly, and Hazel held up an oar like
a spear, and shouted to him that he must promise solemnly to forego all
violence, or he should never come on board alive.
Mackintosh opened his mouth to reply; but, at the same moment, his eyes
suddenly dilated in a fearful way, and he went under water, with a
gurgling cry. Yet not like one drowning, but with a jerk.
The next moment there was a great bubbling of the water, as if displaced
by some large creatures struggling below, and then the surface was
stained with blood.
And, lest there should be any doubt as to the wretched man's fate, the
huge black fin of a monstrous shark came soon after, gliding round and
round the rolling boat, awaiting the next victim.
Now, while the water was yet stained with his life-blood, who, hurrying
to kill, had met with a violent death, the unwounded sailor, Fenner,
excited by the fracas, broke forth into singing, and so completed the
horror of a wild and awful scene; for still, while he shouted, laughed,
and sang, the shark swam calmly round and round, and the boat crept on,
her white sail bespattered with blood--which was not so before--and in
her bottom lay one man dead as a stone; and two poor wretches, Prince and
Welch, their short-lived feud composed forever, sat openly sucking their
bleeding wounds, to quench for a moment their intolerable thirst.
Oh, little do we, who never pass a single day without bite or sup, know
the animal Man, in these dire extremities.
AT last Cooper ordered Fenner to hold his jaw, and come aft, and help
sail the boat.
But the man, being now stark mad, took no notice of the order. His
madness grew on him, and took a turn by no means uncommon in these cases.
He saw before him sumptuous feasts, and streams of fresh water flowing.
These he began to describe with great volubility and rapture, smacking
his lips and exulting. And so he went on tantalizing them till noon.
Meantime, Cooper asked Mr. Hazel if he could sail the boat.
"I can steer," said he, "but that is all. My right arm is benumbed."
The silvery voice of Helen Rolleston then uttered brave and welcome
words. "I will do whatever you tell me, Mr. Cooper."
"Long life to you, miss!" said the wounded seaman. He then directed her
how to reef the sail, and splice the sheet which he had been obliged to
cut; and, in a word, to sail the boat; which she did with some little
assistance from Hazel.
And so they all depended upon her, whom some of them had been for
killing. And the blood-stained boat glided before the wind.
At two P. M. Fenner jumped suddenly up, and, looking at the sea with
rapture, cried out, "Aha! my boys, here's a beautiful green meadow; and
there's a sweet brook with bulrushes. Green, green, green! Let's have a
roll among the daisies." And in a moment, ere any of his stiff and
wounded shipmates could put out a hand, he threw himself on his back upon
the water, and sunk forever, with inexpressible rapture on his
A feeble groan was the only tribute those who remained behind could
At three P. M. Mr. Hazel happened to look over the weather-side of the
boat, as she heeled to leeward under a smart breeze, and he saw a shell
or two fastened to her side, about eleven inches above keel. He looked
again, and gave a loud hurrah. "Barnacles! barnacles!" he cried. "I see
He leaned over, and, with some difficulty, detached one, and held it up.
It was not a barnacle, but a curious oblong shell-fish, open at one end.
At sight of this, the wounded forgot their wounds, and leaned over the
boat's side, detaching the shell-fish with their knives. They broke them
with the handles of their knives, and devoured the fish. They were as
thick as a man's finger and about an inch long, and as sweet as a nut. It
seems that in the long calm these shellfish had fastened on the boat.
More than a hundred of them were taken off her weather-side, and evenly
Miss Rolleston, at Hazel's earnest request, ate only six, and these very
slowly, and laid the rest by. But the sailors could not restrain
themselves; and Prince, in particular, gorged himself so fiercely that he
turned purple in the face, and began to breathe very hard.
That black speck on the horizon had grown by noon to a beetle, and by
three o'clock to something more like an elephant, and it now diffused
itself into a huge black cloud, that gradually overspread the heavens;
and at last, about half an hour before sunset, came a peculiar chill, and
then, in due course, a drop or two fell upon the parched wretches. They
sat, less like animals than like plants, all stretching toward their
Their eyes were turned up to the clouds, so were their open mouths, and
their arms and hands held up toward it.
The drops increased in number, and praise went up to Heaven in return.
Patter, patter, patter; down came a shower, a rain--a heavy, steady rain.
With cries of joy, they put out every vessel to catch it; they lowered
the sail, and, putting ballast in the center, bellied it into a great
vessel to catch it. They used all their spare canvas to catch it. They
filled the water-cask with it; they filled the keg that had held the
fatal spirit; and all the time they were sucking the wet canvas, and
their own clothes, and their very hands and garments on which the
life-giving drops kept falling.
Then they set their little sail again, and prayed for land to Him who had
sent the wind and rain.
THE breeze declined at sunset; but it rained at intervals during the
night; and by morning they were somewhat chilled.
Death had visited them again during the night. Prince was discovered dead
and cold; his wounds were mere scratches, and there seems to be no doubt
that he died by gorging himself with more food than his enfeebled system
could possibly digest.
Thus dismally began a day of comparative bodily comfort, but mental
distress, especially to Miss Rolleston and Mr. Hazel.
Now that this lady and gentleman were no longer goaded to madness by
physical suffering, their higher sensibilities resumed their natural
force, and the miserable contents of the blood-stained boat shocked them
terribly. Two corpses and two wounded men.
Mr. Hazel, however, soon came to one resolution, and that was to read the
funeral service over the dead, and then commit them to the deep. He
declared this intention, and Cooper, who, though wounded, and apparently
sinking, was still skipper of the boat, acquiesced readily.
Mr. Hazel then took the dead men's knives and their money out of their
pockets, and read the burial service over them; they were then committed
to the deep. This sad ceremony performed, he addressed a few words to the
"My friends, and brothers in affliction, we ought not to hope too much
from Divine mercy for ourselves; or we should come soon to forget Divine
justice. But we are not forbidden to hope for others. Those who are now
gone were guilty of a terrible crime; but then they were tempted more
than their flesh could bear; and they received their punishment here on
earth. We may therefore hope they will escape punishment hereafter. And
it is for us to profit by their fate, and bow to Heaven's will. Even when
they drew their knives, food in plenty was within their reach, and the
signs of wind were on the sea, and of rain in the sky. Let us be more
patient than they were, and place our trust-- What is that upon the water
to leeward? A piece of wood floating?"
Welch stood up and looked. "Can't make it out. Steer alongside it, miss,
if you please." And he crept forward.
Presently he became excited, and directed those in the stern how to steer
the boat close to the object without going over it. He begged them all to
be silent. He leaned over the boat side as they neared it. He clutched it
suddenly with both hands and flung it into the boat with a shout of
triumph, but sank exhausted by the effort.
It was a young turtle; and being asleep on the water, or inexperienced,
had allowed them to capture it.
This was indeed a godsend--twelve pounds of succulent meat. It was
instantly divided, and Mr. Hazel contrived, with some difficulty, to boil
a portion of it. He enjoyed it greatly; but Miss Rolleston showed a
curious and violent antipathy to it, scarcely credible under the
circumstances. Not so the sailors. They devoured it raw, what they could
get at all. Cooper could only get down a mouthful or two. He had received
his death-wound, and was manifestly sinking.
He revived, however, from time to time, and spoke cheerfully, whenever he
spoke at all. Welch informed him of every incident that took place,
however minute. Then he would nod, or utter a syllable or two.
On being told that they were passing through sea-weed, he expressed a
wish to see some of it, and when he had examined it, he said to Hazel,
"Keep up your heart, sir; you are not a hundred miles from land." He
added gently, after a pause, "But I am bound for another port."
About five in the afternoon, Welch came aft, with the tears in his eyes,
to say that Sam was just going to slip his cable, and had something to
say to them.
They went to him directly, and Hazel took his hand and exhorted him to
forgive all his enemies. "Hain't a got none," was the reply.
Hazel then, after a few words of religious exhortation and comfort, asked
him if he could do anything for him.
"Ay," said Cooper, solemnly. "Got pen and ink aboard, any of ye?"
"I have a pencil," said Helen, earnestly; then, tearfully, "Oh, dear! it
is to make his will." She opened her prayer-book, which had two blank
leaves under each cover.
The dying man saw them, and rose into that remarkable energy which
sometimes precedes the departure of the soul.
"Write!" said he in his deep, full tones.
"I, Samuel Cooper, able seaman, am going to slip my cable, and sail into
the presence of my Maker."
He waited till this was written.
"And so I speak the truth.
"The ship _Proserpine_ was destroyed willful.
"The men had more allowance than they signed for.
"The mate was always plying the captain with liquor.
"Two days before ever the ship leaked, the mate got the long-boat ready.
"When the _Proserpine_ sank, we was on her port quarter, aboard the
cutter, was me and my messmate Tom Welch.
"We saw two auger-holes in her stern, about two inches diameter.
"Them two holes was made from within, for the splinters showed outside.
"She was a good ship, and met with no stress of weather to speak of, on
"Joe Wylie scuttled her and destroyed her people.
"D--n his eyes!"
Mr. Hazel was shocked at this finale; but he knew what sailors are, and
how little meaning there is in their set phrases. However, as a
clergyman, he could not allow these to be Cooper's last words; so he said
earnestly, "Yes, but, my poor fellow, you said you forgave all your
enemies. We all need forgiveness, you know."
"That is true, sir."
"And you forgive this Wylie, do you not?"
"Oh, Lord, yes," said Cooper, faintly. "I forgive the lubber; d--n him!"
Having said these words with some difficulty, he became lethargic, and so
remained for two hours. Indeed, he spoke but once more, and that was to
Welch; though they were all about him then. "Messmate," said he, in a
voice that was now faint and broken, "you and I must sail together on
this new voyage. I'm going out of port first; but" (in a whisper of
inconceivable tenderness and simple cunning) "I'll lie to outside the
harbor till you come out, my boy." Then he paused a moment. Then he added
softly, "For I love you, Tom."
These sweet words were the last of that rugged, silent sailor, who never
threw a word away, and whose rough breast inclosed a friendship as of the
ancient world, tender, true and everlasting: that sweetened his life and
ennobled his death. As he deserved mourners, so he had true ones.
His last words went home to the afflicted hearts that heard them, and the
lady and gentleman, whose lives he had saved at cost of his own, wept
aloud over their departed friend. But his messmate's eye was dry. When
all was over, he just turned to the mourners and said gravely, "Thank ye,
sir; thank ye kindly, ma'am." And then he covered the body decently with
the spare canvas, and lay quietly, down with his own head pillowed upon
those loved remains.
Toward afternoon, seals were observed sporting on the waters; but no
attempt was made to capture them. Indeed, Miss Rolleston had quite enough
to do to sail the boat with Mr. Hazel's assistance.
The night passed, and the morning brought nothing new; except that they
fell in with sea-weed in such quantities the boat could hardly get
Mr. Hazel examined this sea-weed carefully and brought several kinds upon
deck. Among the varieties was one like thin green strips of spinach, very
tender and succulent. His botanical researches included sea-weed, and he
recognized this as one of the edible rock-weeds.
There was very little of it comparatively, but he took great pains, and,
in two hours' time, had gathered as much as might fill a good-sized
He washed it in fresh water, and then asked Miss Rolleston for a
pocket-handkerchief. This he tied so as to make a bag, and contrived to
boil it with the few chips of fuel that remained on board.
After he had boiled it ten minutes, there was no more fuel, except a bowl
or two, and the boat-hook, one pair of oars, and the midship and stern
He tasted it, and found it glutinous and delicious; he gave Miss
Rolleston some, and then fed Welch with the rest. He, poor fellow,
enjoyed this sea spinach greatly; he could no longer swallow meat.
While Hazel was feeding him, a flight of ducks passed over their heads,
high in the air.
Welch pointed up at them.
"Ah!" said Helen, "if we had but their wings!"
Presently a bird was seen coming in the same direction, but flying very
low; it wabbled along toward them very slowly, and at last, to their
great surprise, came flapping and tried to settle on the gunwale of the
boat. Welch, with that instinct of slaughter which belongs to men, struck
the boat-hook into the bird's back, and it was soon dispatched. It proved
to be one of that very flock of ducks that had passed over their heads,
and a crab was found fastened to its leg. It is supposed that the bird,
to break its long flight, had rested on some reef, and perhaps been too
busy fishing; and caught this Tartar.
Hazel pounced upon it. "Heaven has sent this for you, because you cannot
eat turtle." But the next moment he blushed and recovered his reason.
"See," said he, referring to her own words, "this poor bird had wings,
yet death overtook her."
He sacrificed a bowl for fuel, and boiled the duck and the crab in one
pot, and Miss Rolleston ate demurely but plentifully of both. Of the
crab's shell he made a little drinking-vessel for Miss Rolleston.
Cooper remained without funeral rites all this time; the reason was that
Welch lay with his head pillowed upon his dead friend, and Hazel had not
the heart to disturb him.
But it was the survivors' duty to commit him to the deep, and so Hazel
sat down by Welch, and asked him kindly whether he would not wish the
services of the Church to be read over his departed friend.
"In course, sir," said Welch. But the next moment he took Hazel's
meaning, and said hurriedly, "No, no; I can't let Sam be buried in the
sea. Ye see, sir, Sam and I, we are used to one another, and I can't
abide to part with him, alive or dead."
"Ah!" said Hazel, "the best friends must part when death takes one."
"Ay, ay, when t'other lives. But, Lord bless you, sir! I shan't be long
astarn of my messmate here; can't you see that?"
"Heaven forbid!" said Hazel, surprised and alarmed. "Why, you are not
wounded mortally, as Cooper was. Have a good heart, man, and we three
will all see old England yet."
"Well, sir," said Welch, coolly, "I'll tell ye. Me and my shipmate,
Prince, was a cutting at one another with our knives a smart time (and I
do properly wonder, when I think of that day's work, for I liked the man
well enough, but rum atop of starvation plays hell with seafaring men),
well, sir, as I was a saying, he let more blood out of me than I could
afford to lose under the circumstances. And, ye see, I can't make fresh
blood, because my throat is so swelled by the drought I can't swallow
much meat, so I'm safe to lose the number of my mess; and, another thing,
my heart isn't altogether set toward living. Sam, here, he give me an
order; what, didn't ye hear him? 'I'll lie to outside the bar,' says he,
'till you come out.' He expects me to come out in his wake. Don't ye,
Sam--that was?" and he laid his hand gently on the remains. "Now, sir, I
shall ax the lady and you a favor. I want to lie alongside Sam. But if
you bury him in the sea, and me ashore, why, d--n my eyes if I shan't be
a thousand years or so before I can find my own messmate. Etarnity is a
'nation big place, I'm told, a hundred times as big as both oceans. No,
sir; you'll make land, by Sam's reckoning, tomorrow or next day, wind and
tide permitting. I'll take care of Sam's hull till then, and we'll lie
together till the angel blows that there trumpet; and then we'll go aloft
together, and, as soon as ever we have made our scrape to our betters,
we'll both speak a good word for you and the lady, a very pretty lady she
is, and a good-hearted, and the best plucked one I ever did see in any
distressed craft; now don't ye cry, miss, don't ye cry, your trouble is
pretty near over; _he_ said you was not a hundred miles from land. I
don't know how he knew that, he was always a better seaman than I be; but
say it he did, and that is enough, for he was a man as never told a lie,
nor wasted a word."
Welch could utter no more just then; for the glands of his throat were
swollen, and he spoke with considerable difficulty.
What could Hazel reply? The judgment is sometimes ashamed to contradict
the heart with cold reasons.
He only said, with a sigh, that he saw no signs of land, and believed
they had gone on a wrong course, and were in the heart of the Pacific.
Welch made no answer, but a look of good-natured contempt. The idea of
this parson contradicting Sam Cooper!
The sun broke, and revealed the illimitable ocean; themselves a tiny
speck on it.
Mr. Hazel whispered Miss Rolleston that Cooper _must_ be buried to-day.
At ten P.M. they passed through more sea-weed; but this time they had to
eat the sea spinach raw, and there was very little of it.
At noon the sea was green in places.
Welch told them this was a sign they were nearing land.
At four P.M. a bird, about the size and color of a woodpecker, settled on
the boat's mast.
Their glittering eyes fastened on it; and Welch said, "Come, there's a
supper for you as _you_ can eat it."
"No, poor thing!" said Helen Rolleston.
"You are right," said Hazel, with a certain effort of self-restraint.
"Let our sufferings make us gentle, not savage. That poor bird is lost
like us upon this ocean. It is a land-bird."
"How do you know?"
"Water-birds have webbed feet--to swim with." The bird, having rested,
flew to the northwest.
Helen, by one of those inspired impulses her sex have, altered the boat's
course directly, and followed the bird.
Half an hour before sunset, Helen Rolleston, whose vision was very keen,
said she saw something at the verge of the horizon, like a hair standing
Hazel looked, but could not see anything.
In ten minutes more, Helen Rolleston pointed it out again; and then Hazel
did see a vertical line, more like a ship's mast than anything else one
could expect to see there.
Their eyes were now strained to make it out, and, as the boat advanced,
it became more and more palpable, though it was hard to say exactly what
Five minutes before the sun set, the air being clearer than ever, it
stood out clean against the-sky. A tree--a lofty, solitary tree; with a
tall stem, like a column, and branches only at the top.
A palm-tree--in the middle of the Pacific.
AND but for the land-bird which rested on their mast, and for their own
mercy in sparing it, they would have passed to the eastward, and never
seen that giant palm-tree in mid-ocean.
"Oh, let us put out all our sails, and fly to it!" cried Helen.
Welch smiled and said, "No, miss, ye mustn't. Lord love ye; what! run on
to a land ye don't know, happy go lucky, in the dark, like that? Lay her
head for the tree, and welcome, but you must lower the mainsel and
treble-reef the foresel; and so creep on a couple of knots an hour, and,
by daybreak, you'll find the island close under your lee. Then you can
look out for a safe landing-place."
"The island, Mr. Welch!" said Helen.
"There is no island, or I should have seen it."
"Oh, the island was hull down. Why, you don't think as palm-trees grow in
the water? You do as I say, or you'll get wrecked on some thundering reef
Upon this Mr. Hazel and Miss Rolleston set to work, and, with
considerable difficulty lowered the mainsail, and treblereefed the
"That is right," said Welch. "To-morrow you'll land in safety, and bury
my messmate and me."
"Oh, no!" cried Helen Rolleston. "We must bury him, but we mean to cure
you." They obeyed Welch's instructions, and so crept on all night; and,
so well had this able seaman calculated distance and rate of sailing,
that, when the sun rose, sure enough there was an island under their lee,
distant about a league, though it looked much less. But the palm-tree was
more than twice that distance. Owing to wind and current they had made
lee-way all night, and that tree stood on the most westerly point of the
Hazel and Miss Rolleston stood up and hurrahed for joy; then fell on
their knees in silent gratitude. Welch only smiled.
The breeze had freshened, and, though there were no great waves at sea,
yet breakers, formidable to such a craft as theirs, were seen foaming
over long disjointed reefs ahead, that grinned black and dangerous here
They then consulted Welch, and he told them they must tack directly, and
make a circuit of the island; he had to show them how to tack; and, the
sea rising, they got thoroughly wetted, and Miss Rolleston rather
frightened; for here was a peril they had wonderfully escaped hitherto.
However, before eleven o'clock, they had stood out to sea, and coasted
the whole south side of the island. They then put the boat before the
wind, and soon ran past the east coast, which was very narrow--in fact, a
sort of bluff-head--and got on the north side of the island. Here the
water was comparatively smooth, and the air warm and balmy. They ranged
along the coast at about a mile's distance, looking out for a good
Here was no longer an unbroken line of cliffs, but an undulating shore,
with bulging rocks, and lines of reef. After a mile or two of that the
coast ran out seaward, and they passed close to a most extraordinary
phenomenon of vegetation. Great tangled woods crowned the shore and the
landward slopes, and their grand foliage seemed to flow over into the
sea; for here was a broad rocky flat intersected with a thousand little
channels of the sea; and the thousand little islets so formed were
crowded, covered and hidden with luxuriant vegetation. Huge succulent
leaves of the richest hue hung over the water, and some of the most
adventurous of them showed, by the crystals that sparkled on their green
surface, that the waves had actually been kissing them at high tide. This
ceased, and they passed right under a cliff, wooded nearly to the point.
This cliff was broad and irregular, and in one of its cavities a cascade
of pure fresh water came sparkling, leaping and tumbling down to the foot
of the rock. There it had formed a great basin of water, cool, deep,
transparent, which trickled over on to a tongue of pink sand and went in
two crystal gutters to the sea.
Great and keen was the rapture this sight caused our poor parched
voyagers; and eager their desire to land at once, if possible, and plunge
their burning lips, and swelling throats, and fevered hands into that
heavenly liquid; but the next moment they were diverted from that purpose
by the scene that burst on them.
This wooded cliff, with its wonderful cascade, was the very gate of
paradise. They passed it, and in one moment were in a bay--a sudden bay,
wonderfully deep for its extent, and sheltered on three sides. Broad
sands with rainbow tints, all sparkling, and dotted with birds, some
white as snow, some gorgeous. A peaceful sea of exquisite blue kissing
these lovely sands with myriad dimples; and, from the land side, soft
emerald slopes, embroidered with silver threads of water, came to the
very edge of the sands. So that, from all those glorious hues, that
flecked the prismatic and sparkling sands, the eye of the voyagers passed
at once to the vivid, yet sweet and soothing green of Nature; and over
this paradise the breeze they could no longer feel wafted spicy but
delicate odors from unseen trees.
Even Welch raised himself in the boat, and sniffed the heavenly air, and
smiled at the heavenly spot. "Here's a blessed haven!" said he. "Down
sail, and row her ashore."
THEY rowed more than a mile, so deep was the glorious bay; and then their
oars struck the ground. But Hazel with the boat-hook propelled the boat
gently over the pellucid water, that now seemed too shallow to float a
canoe; and at last looked like the mere varnish of that picture, the
prismatic sands below; yet still the little craft glided over it, till it
gently grazed the soft sand and was stationary. So placidly ended that
Mr. Hazel and Miss Rolleston were on shore in a moment, and it was all
they could do not to fall upon the land and kiss it.
Never had the sea disgorged upon that fairy isle such ghastly specters.
They looked, not like people about to die, but that had died, and been
buried, and just come out of their graves to land on that blissful shore.
We should have started back with horror; but the birds of that virgin
isle merely stepped out of their way, and did not fly.
They had landed in paradise.
Even Welch yielded to that universal longing men have to embrace the land
after perils at sea, and was putting his leg slowly over the gunwale,
when Hazel came back to his assistance. He got ashore, but was contented
to sit down with his eyes on the dimpled sea and the boat, waiting
quietly till the tide should float his friend to his feet again.
The sea-birds walked quietly about him, and minded him not.
Miss Rolleston ascended a green slope very slowly, for her limbs were
cramped, and was lost to view.
Hazel now went up the beach, and took a more minute survey of the
The west side of the bay was varied. Half of it presented the soft
character that marked the bay in general; but a portion of it was rocky,
though streaked with vegetation, and this part was intersected by narrow
clefts, into which, in some rare tempests and high tides combined,
tongues of the sea had entered, licking the sides of the gullies smooth;
and these occasional visits were marked by the sand and broken shells and
other _debris_ the tempestuous and encroaching sea had left behind.
The true high-water mark was several feet lower than these _debris,_ and
was clearly marked. On the land above the cliffs he found a tangled
jungle of tropical shrubs, into which he did not penetrate, but skirted
it, and, walking eastward, came out upon a delicious down or grassy
slope, that faced the center of the bay. It was a gentleman's lawn of a
thousand acres, with an extremely gentle slope from the center of the
island down to the sea.
A river flowing from some distant source ran eastward through this down,
but at its verge, and almost encircled it. Hazel traversed the lawn until
this river, taking a sudden turn toward the sea, intercepted him at a
spot which he immediately fixed on as Helen Rolleston's future residence.
Four short, thick, umbrageous trees stood close to the stream on this
side, and on the eastern side was a grove of gigantic palm-trees, at
whose very ankles the river ran. Indeed, it had undermined one of these
palm-trees, and that giant at this moment lay all across the stream,
leaving a gap through which Hazel's eye could pierce to a great depth
among those grand columns; for they stood wide apart, and there was not a
vestige of brushwood, jungle, or even grass below their enormous crowns.
He christened the place St. Helen's on the spot.
He now dipped his baler into the stream and found it pure and tolerably
He followed the bend of the stream; it evaded the slope and took him by
its own milder descent to the sands. Over these it flowed smooth as glass
into the sea.
Hazel ran to Welch to tell him all he had discovered, and to give him his
first water from the island.
He found a roan-colored pigeon, with a purplish neck, perched on the sick
man's foot. The bird shone like a rainbow, and cocked a saucy eye at
Hazel, and flew up into the air a few yards, but it soon appeared that
fear had little to do with this movement; for, after an airy circle or
two, he fanned Hazel's cheek with his fast-flapping wings, and lighted on
the very edge of the baler, and was for sipping.
"Oh, look here, Welch!" cried Hazel, an ecstasy of delight.
"Ay, sir," said he. "Poor things, they hain't a found us out yet."
The talking puzzled the bird, if it did not alarm him, and he flew up to
the nearest tree, and, perching there, inspected these new and noisy
bipeds at his leisure
Hazel now laid his hand on Welch's shoulder and reminded him gently they
had a sad duty to perform, which could not be postponed.
"Right you are, sir," said Welch, "and very kind of you to let me have my
way with him. Poor Sam!"
"I have found a place," said Hazel, in a low voice. "We can take the boat
close to it. But where is Miss Rolleston?"
"Oh, she is not far off; she was here just now, and brought me this here
little cocoanut, and patted me on the back, she did, then off again on a
cruise. Bless her little heart!"
Hazel and Welch then got into the boat, and pushed off without much
difficulty, and punted across the bay to one of those clefts we have
indicated. It was now nearly high water, and they moored the boat close
under the cleft Hazel had selected.
Then they both got out and went up to the extremity of the cleft, and
there, with the ax and with pieces of wood, they scraped out a
resting-place for Cooper. This was light work; for it was all stones,
shells, fragments of coral and dried sea-weed lying loosely together. But
now came a hard task in which Welch could not assist. Hazel unshipped a
thwart and laid the body on it. Then by a great effort staggered with the
burden up to the grave and deposited it. He was exhausted by the
exertion, and had to sit down panting for some time. As soon as he was
recovered, he told Welch to stand at the head of the grave, and he stood
at the foot, bareheaded, and then, from memory, he repeated the service
of our Church, hardly missing or displacing a word.
This was no tame recital; the scene, the circumstances, the very absence
of the book, made it tender and solemn. And then Welch repeated those
beautiful words after Hazel, and Hazel let him. And how did he repeat
them? In such a hearty, loving tone as became one who was about to
follow, and all this but a short leave-taking. So uttered, for the living
as well as the dead, those immortal words had a strange significance and
And presently a tender, silvery voice came down to mingle with the deep
and solemn tones of the male mourners. It was Helen Rolleston. She had
watched most of their movements unseen herself, and now, standing at the
edge of the ravine, and looking down on them, uttered a soft but
thrilling amen to every prayer. When it was over, and the men prepared to
fill in the grave, she spoke to Welch in an undertone, and begged leave
to pay her tribute first; and, with this, she detached her apron and held
it out to them. Hazel easily climbed up to her, and found her apron was
full of sweet-smelling bark and aromatic leaves, whose fragrance filled
"I want you to strew these over his poor remains," she said. "Oh, not
common earth! He saved our lives. And his last words were, 'I love you,
Tom.' Oh, dear, oh, dear, oh, dear!" And with that she gave him the
apron, and turned her head away to hide her tears.
Hazel blessed her for the thought, which, indeed, none but a lady would
have had; and Welch and he, with the tears in their eyes, strewed the
spicy leaves first; and soon a ridge of shingle neatly bound with
sea-weed marked the sailor's grave.
Hazel's next care, and that a pressing one, was to provide shelter for
the delicate girl and the sick man, whom circumstances had placed under
his care. He told Miss Rolleston Welch and he were going to cross the bay
again, and would she be good enough to meet them at the bend of the river
where she would find four trees? She nodded her head and took that road
accordingly. Hazel rowed eastward across the bay, and, it being now high
water, he got the boat into the river itself near the edge of the shore,
and, as this river had worn a channel, he contrived with the boat-hook to
propel the boat up the stream, to an angle in the bank within forty yards
of the four trees. He could get no farther, the stream being now not only
shallow, but blocked here and there with great and rough fragments of
stone. Hazel pushed the boat into the angle out of the current, and
moored her fast. He and Welch then got ashore, and Miss Rolleston was
standing at the four trees. He went to her and said enthusiastically,
"This is to be your house. Is it not a beautiful site?"
"Yes, it is a beautiful site, but--forgive me--I really don't see the
house," was her reply.
"But you see the framework."
Helen looked all about, and then said, ruefully, "I suppose I am blind,
sir, or else you are dreaming, for I see nothing at all."
"Why, here's a roof ready made, and the frame of a wall. We have only to
wattle a screen between these four uprights."
"Only to wattle a screen! But I don't know what wattling a screen is. Who
"Why, you get some of the canes that grow a little farther up the river,
and a certain long wiry grass I have marked down, and then you fix and
weave till you make a screen from tree to tree; this could be patched
with wet clay; I know where there is plenty of that. Meantime see what is
done to our hands. The crown of this great palm-tree lies at the southern
aperture of your house, and blocks it entirely up. That will keep off the
only cold wind, the south wind, from you to-night. Then look at these
long, spiky leaves interlaced over your head. (These trees are screw
pines.) There is a roof ready made. You must have another roof underneath
that, but it will do for a day or two."
"But you will wattle the screen directly," said Helen. "Begin at once,
please. I am anxious to see a screen wattled."
"Well," said Welch, who had joined them, "landsmen are queer folk, the
best of 'em. Why, miss, it would take him a week to screen you with
rushes and reeds, and them sort of weeds; and I'd do it in half an hour,
if I was the Tom Welch I used to be. Why, there's spare canvas enough in
the boat to go between these four trees breast high, and then there's the
foresel besides; the mainsel is all you and me shall want, sir."
"Oh, excuse me," said Miss Rolleston, "I will not be sheltered at the
expense of my friends."
"Welch, you are a trump," said Hazel, and ran off for the spare canvas.
He brought it and the carpenter's basket of tools. They went to work, and
Miss Rolleston insisted on taking part in it. Finding her so disposed,
Hazel said that they had better divide their labors, since the time was
short. Accordingly he took the ax and chopped off a great many scales of
the palm-tree, and lighted a great fire between the trees, while the
other two worked on the canvas.
"This is to dry the soil as well as cook our provisions," said he; "and
now I must go and find food. Is there anything you fancy?" He turned his
head from the fire he was lighting and addressed this question both to
Welch and Miss Rolleston.
Miss Rolleston stared at this question, then smiled, and, in the true
spirit of a lady, said, "I think I should like a good large cocoanut, if
you can find one." She felt sure there was no other eatable thing in the
"I wants a cabbage," said Welch, in a loud voice.
"Oh, Mr. Welch, we are not at home," said Miss Rolleston, blushing at the
"No, miss, in Capericorn. Whereby we shan't have to pay nothing for this
here cabbage. I'll tell ye, miss: when a sailor comes ashore he always
goes in for green vegetables, for why, he has eaten so much junk and
biscuit, nature sings out for greens. Me and my shipmates was paid off at
Portsmouth last year, and six of us agreed to dine together and each
order his dish. Blest if six boiled legs of mutton did not come up
smoking hot: three was with cabbage, and three with turmots. Mine was
with turmots. But them I don't ask, so nigh the Line. Don't ye go to
think, because I'm sick, and the lady and you is so kind to me, and to
him that is a waiting outside them there shoals for me, as I'm
onreasonable; turmots I wish you both, and plenty of 'em, when some
whaler gets driven out of her course and picks you up, and carries you
into northern latitudes where turmots grow; but cabbage is my right,
cabbage is my due, being paid off in a manner; for the ship is foundered
and I'm ashore. Cabbage I ask for, as a seaman that has done his duty,
and a man that won't live to eat many more of 'em; and" (losing his
temper), "if you are the man I take you for, you'll run and fetch me a
cabbage fresh from the tree" (recovering his temper). "I know I didn't
ought to ax a parson to shin up a tree for me; but, Lord bless you, there
ain't no sarcy little boys a-looking on, and here's a poor fellow mostly
dying for it."
Miss Rolleston looked at Mr. Hazel with alarm in every feature; and
whispered, "Cabbage from the tree. Is he wandering?"
Hazel smiled. "No," said he. "He has picked up a fable of these seas,
that there is a tree which grows cabbages."
Welch heard him and said, with due warmth, "Of course there is a tree on
all these islands that grows cabbages; that was known a hundred years
before you was born, and shipmates of mine have eaten them."
"Excuse me, what those old admirals and buccaneers, that set the legend
afloat, were so absurd as to call a cabbage, and your shipmates may have
eaten for one, is nothing on earth but the last year's growth of the
"Palm-tree be ----!" said Welch; and thereupon ensued a hot argument,
which Helen's good sense cut short.
"Mr. Hazel," said she, "can you by any possibility get our poor friend
the _thing_ he wants?"
"Oh, _that_ is quite within the bounds of possibility," said Hazel dryly.
"Well, then, suppose you begin by getting him the _thing._ Then I will
boil the thing; and he will eat the thing; and after all that it will be
time to argue about the _name_ we shall give to the _thing."_
The good sense of this struck Mr. Hazel forcibly. He started off at once,
armed with the ax, and a net bag Welch had made since he became unfit for
heavy labor. He called back to them as he went, to put the pots on.
Welch and Miss Rolleston complied; and then the sailor showed the lady
how to sew sailor--wise, driving the large needle with the palm of the
hand, guarded by a piece of leather. They had nailed two breadths of
canvas to the trees on the north and west sides and run the breadths
rapidly together; and the water was boiling and bubbling in the balers,
when Miss Rolleston uttered a scream, for Hazel came running over the
prostrate palm-tree as if it was a proper bridge, and lighted in the
midst of them.
"Lot one," said he cheerfully, and produced from his net some limes, two
cocoanuts, and a land-turtle; from this last esculent Miss Rolleston
withdrew with undisguised horror, and it was in vain he assured her it
was a great delicacy.
"No matter. It is a reptile. Oh, please send it away."
"The Queen of the Island reprieves you," said he, and put down the
terrapin, which went off very leisurely for a reprieved reptile.
Then Hazel produced a fine bream, which he had found struggling in a
rock-pool, the tide having turned, and three sea crayfish, bigger than
any lobster. He chopped their heads off outside, and threw their tails
into the pots; he stuck a piece of pointed wood through the bream, and
gave it to Welch to toast; but Welch waved it aside.
"I see no cabbage," said he, grimly.
"Oh, I forgot. But that is soon found," said Hazel. "Here, give me the
fish, and you take the saw, and examine the head of the palm-tree, which
lies at Miss Rolleston's door. Saw away the succulent part of last year's
growth, and bring it here."
Welch got up slowly.
"I'll go with you, Mr. Welch," said Miss Rolleston.
She will not be alone with me for a moment, if she can help it, thought
Hazel, and sat moody by the fire. But he shook off his sadness, and
forced on a cheerful look the moment they came back. They brought with
them a vegetable very like the heart of a cabbage, only longer and
"There," said Welch, "what d'ye call that?"
"The last year's growth of the palm," said Hazel calmly.
This vegetable was cut in two and put into the pots.
"There, take the toasting-fork again," said Hazel to Welch, and drew out
from his net three huge scallop shells. "Soup-plates," said he, and
washed them in the running stream, then put them before the fire to dry.
While the fish and vegetable were cooking, he went and cut off some of
the leafy, piunuated branches of the palm-tree, and fastened them
horizontally above the strips of canvas. Each palm branch traversed a
whole side of the bower. This closed the northern and western sides.
On the southern side, the prostrate palm-tree, on striking the ground,
had so crushed its boughs and leaves together as to make a thick wall of
Then he took to making forks; and primitive ones they were. He selected a
bough the size of a thick walking-stick; sawed it off the tree; sawed a
piece six inches long off it, peeled that, split it in four, and, with
his knife, gave each piece three points, by merely tapering off and
serrating one end; and so he made a fork a minute. Then he brought all
the rugs and things from the boat, and the ground being now thoroughly
dried by the fire, placed them for seats; gave each person a large leaf
for a plate, besides a scallop-shell; and served out supper. It was eaten
with rare appetite; the palm-tree vegetable in particular was delicious,
tasting between a cabbage and a cocoanut.
When they had supped, Hazel removed the plates and went to the boat. He
returned, dragging the foremast and foresail, which were small, and
called Welch out. They agreed to rig the mainsail tarpaulin-wise and
sleep in the boat. Accordingly they made themselves very busy screening
the east side of Miss Rolleston's new abode with the foresail, and
fastened a loop and drove a nail into the tree, and looped the sail to
it, then suddenly bade her good-night in cheerful tones, and were gone in
a moment, leaving her to her repose, as they imagined. Hazel, in
particular, having used all his ingenuity to secure her personal comfort,
was now too bent on showing her the most delicate respect and forbearance
to think of anything else. But, justly counting on the delicacy, he had
forgotten the timidity of her sex, and her first night in the island was
a terribly trying one.
Thrice she opened her mouth to call Welch and Hazel back, but could not.
Yet, when their footsteps were out of hearing, she would have given the
world to have them between her and the perils with which she felt herself
Tigers; snakes; scorpions; savages! what would become of her during the
She sat and cowered before the hot embers. She listened to what seemed
the angry roar of the sea. What with the stillness of the night and her
sharpened senses she heard it all round the island: she seemed environed
with peril, and yet surrounded by desolation. No one at hand to save her
in time from a wild beast. No one anywhere near except a sick sailor and
one she would almost rather die than call singly to her aid, for he had
once told her he loved her.
"Oh, papa! Oh, Arthur!" she cried, "are you praying for your poor Helen?"
Then she wept and prayed; and half nerved herself to bear the worst.
Finally, her vague fears completely overmastered her. Then she had
recourse to a stratagem that belongs to her sex--she hid herself from the
danger, and the danger from her; she covered herself face and all, and so
lay trembling, and longing for the day.
At the first streak of dawn she fled from her place of torture, and after
plunging her face and hands in the river, which did her a world of good,
she went off and entered the jungle, and searched it closely, so far as
she could penetrate it. Soon she heard "Miss Rolleston" called in anxious
tones. But she tossed her little head and revenged herself for her night
of agony by not replying.
However, Nature took her in hand; imperious hunger drew her back to her
late place of torture; and there she found a fire, and Hazel cooking
cray-fish. She ate the crayfish heartily, and drank cocoanut milk out of
half a cocoanut, which the ingenious Hazel had already sawn, polished and
mounted for her.
After that, Hazel's whole day was occupied in stripping a tree that stood
on the high western promontory of the bay, and building up the materials
of a bonfire a few yards from it, that, if any whaler should stray that
way, they might not be at a loss for means to attract her attention.
Welch was very ill all day, and Miss Rolleston nursed him. He got about
toward evening, and Miss Rolleston asked him, rather timidly, if he could
put her up a bell-rope.
"Why, yes, miss," said Welch, "that is easy enough; but I don't see no
bell." Oh, she did not want a bell--she only wanted a bell-rope.
Hazel came up during this conversation, and she then gave her reason.
"Because, then, if Mr. Welch is ill in the night, and wants me, I could
come to him. Or--" finding herself getting near the real reason she
"Or what?" inquired Hazel, eagerly.
She replied to Welch. "When tigers and things come to me, I can let you
know, Mr. Welch, if you have any curiosity about the result of their
"Tigers!" said Hazel, in answer to this side slap; "there are no tigers
here; no large animals of prey exist in the Pacific."
"What makes you think that?"
"It is notorious. Naturalists are agreed."
"But I am not. I heard noises all night. And little I expected that
anything of me would be left this morning, except, perhaps, my back hair.
Mr. Welch, you are clever at rigging things--that is what you call
it--and so please rig me a bell-rope, then I shall not be eaten alive
without creating some _little_ disturbance."
"I'll do it, miss," said Welch, "this very night."
Hazel said nothing, but pondered. Accordingly, that very evening a piece
of stout twine, with a stone at the end of it, hung down from the roof of
Helen's house; and this twine clove the air until it reached a ring upon
the mainmast of the cutter; thence it descended, and was to be made fast
to something or somebody. The young lady inquired no further. The very
sight of this bell-rope was a great comfort to her; it reunited her to
civilized life. That night she lay down, and quaked considerably less.
Yet she woke several times; and an hour before daylight she heard
distinctly a noise that made her flesh creep. It was like the snoring of
some great animals. This horrible sound was faint and distant; but she
heard it between the roll of the waves, and that showed it was not the
sea roaring; she hid herself in her rugs, and cowered till daybreak. A
score of times she was minded to pull her bell-rope; but always a womanly
feeling, strong as her love of life, withheld her. "Time to pull that
bell-rope when the danger was present or imminent," she thought to
herself. "The thing will come smelling about before it attacks me, and
then I will pull the bell;" and so she passed an hour of agony.
Next morning, at daybreak, Hazel met her just issuing from her hut, and
pointing to his net told her he was going to forage; and would she be
good enough to make the fire and have boiling water ready? he was sorry
to trouble her; but poor Welch was worse this morning. Miss Rolleston cut
short his excuses. "Pray do not take me for a child; of course I will
light the fire, and boil the water. Only I have no lucifer matches."
"Here are two," said he. "I carry the box wrapped in oil-skin. For if
anything happen to _them,_ Heaven help us."
He crossed the prostrate palm-tree, and dived into the wood. It was a
large beautiful wood, and, except at the western edge, the trees were all
of the palm-tree genus, but contained several species, including the
cocoanut tree. The turf ran under these trees for about forty yards and
then died gradually away under the same thick shade which destroyed all
other vegetation in this wood, and made it so easy to see and travel.
He gathered a few cocoanuts that had burst out of their ripe pods and
fallen to the ground; and ran on till he reached a belt of trees and
shrubs, that bounded the palm forest. Here his progress was no longer
easy. But he found trees covered with a small fruit resembling quinces in
every particular of look, taste and smell, and that made him persevere,
since it was most important to learn the useful products of the island.
Presently he burst through some brushwood into a swampy bottom surrounded
by low trees, and instantly a dozen large birds of the osprey kind rose
flapping into the air like windmills rising. He was quite startled by the
whirring and flapping, and not a little amazed at the appearance of the
place. Here was a very charnel-house; so thick lay the shells, skeletons
and loose bones of fish. Here too he found three terrapin killed but not
eaten, and also some fish, more or less pecked. "Aha! my worthy
executioners, much obliged," said he. "You have saved me that job." And
into the bag went the terrapin, and two plump fish, but slightly
mutilated. Before he had gone many yards, back came the sailing wings,
and the birds settled again before his eyes. The rest of the low wood was
but thin, and he soon emerged upon the open country; but it was most
unpromising; and fitter for geese than men. A vast sedgy swamp with water
in the middle, thin fringes of great fern-trees, and here and there a
disconsolate tree like a weeping-willow, and at the end of this lake and
swamp, which all together formed a triangle, was a barren hill without a
blade of vegetation on it, and a sort of jagged summit Hazel did not at
all like the look of. Volcanic!
Somewhat dismayed at finding so large a slice of the island worthless, he
returned through the wood, guiding himself due west by his
pocket-compass, and so got down to the shore, where he found scallops and
cray-fish in incredible abundance. Literally, he had only to go into the
water and gather them. But "enough" is as good as "a feast." He ran to
the pots with his miscellaneous bag, and was not received according to
his deserts. Miss Rolleston told him, a little severely, the water had
been boiling a long time. Then he produced his provender, by way of
"Tortoises again!" said she, and shuddered visibly.
But the quinces and cocoanuts were graciously received. Welch, however,
cried out for cabbage.
"What am I to do?" said Hazel. "For every such cabbage a king must die."
"A monarch of the grove."
"Oh, a King Log. Why, then down with them all, of course; sooner than
dear Mr. Welch shall go without his cabbage."
He cast a look of admiration on her, which she avoided, and very soon his
ax was heard ringing in the wood hard by. Then came a loud crash. Then
another. Hazel came running with the cabbage and a cocoa-pod. "There,"
said he, "and there are a hundred more about. While you cook that for
Welch I will store them." Accordingly he returned to the wood with his
net, and soon came back with five pods in it, each as big as a large
He chucked these one at a time across the river, and then went for more.
It took him all the afternoon to get all the pods across the river. He
was obliged to sit down and rest.
But a suggestion of Helen's soon set him to work again.
"You were kind enough to say you would store these for me. Could you not
store them so as to wall out those terrible beasts with them?"
"What terrible beasts?"
"That roar so all night, and don't eat us, only because they have not
found out we are here yet. But they will."
"I deny their existence," said Hazel. "But I'll wall them out all the
same," said he.
"Pray do," said Helen. "Wall them out first, and disprove them afterward;
I shall be better able to believe they don't exist when they are well
Hazel went to work, and with her assistance laid cocoa-pods two wide and
three deep, outside the northern and western sides of her leafy bower,
and he promised to complete the walls by the same means in two days more.
They all then supped together, and, to oblige him, she ate a little of
the terrapin, and, when they parted for the night, she thanked him, and
said, with a deep blush, "You have been a good friend to me--of late."
He colored high, and his eyes sparkled with delight; and she noticed, and
almost wished she had kept her gratitude to herself.
That night, what with her bell-rope and her little bit of a wall, she was
somewhat less timorous, and went to sleep early.
But even in sleep she was watchful, and she was awakened by a slight
sound in the neighborhood of the boat.
She lay watching, but did not stir.
Presently she heard a footstep.
With a stifled cry she bounded up, and her first impulse was to rush out
of the tent. But she conquered this, and, gliding to the south side of
her bower, she peered through the palm-leaves, and the first thing she
saw was the figure of a man standing between her and the boat.
She drew her breath hard. The outline of the man was somewhat indistinct.
But it was not a savage. The man was clothed; and his stature betrayed
He stood still for some time. "He is listening to see if I am awake,"
said Helen to herself.
The figure moved toward her bower.
Then all in a moment she became another woman. She did not rely on her
bell-rope; she felt it was fast to nothing that could help her. She
looked round for no weapon; she trusted to herself. She drew herself
hastily up, and folded her arms; her bosom panted, but her cheek never
paled. Her modesty was alarmed; her blood was up, and life or death were
nothing to her.
The footsteps came nearer; they stopped at her door; they went north;
they came back south. They kept her in this high-wrought attitude for
half an hour. Then they retired softly; and, when they were gone, she
gave way and fell on her knees and began to cry hysterically. Then she
got calmer, and then she wondered and puzzled herself; but she slept no
more that night.
In the morning she found that the fire was lighted on a sort of shelf
close to the boat. Mr. Hazel had cut the shelf and lighted the fire there
for Welch's sake, who had complained of cold in the night.
While Hazel was gone for the crayfish, Welch asked Helen to go for her
prayer-book. She brought it directly, and turned the leaves to find the
prayers for the sick. But she was soon undeceived as to his intention.
"Sam had it wrote down how the _Proserpine_ was foundered, and I should
like to lie alongside my messmate on that there paper, as well as in
t'other place" (meaning the grave). "Begin as Sam did, that this is my
"Oh, I hope not. Oh, Mr. Welch, pray do not leave me!"
"Well, well then, never mind that; but just put down as I heard Sam; and
his dying words, that the parson took down, were the truth."
"I have written that."
"And that the two holes was on her port-side, and seven foot from her
stain-post; and _I_ say them very augers that is in our cutter made them
holes. Set down that."
"It is down."
"Then I'll put my mark under it; and you are my witness."
Helen, anxious to please him in everything, showed him where to put his
He did so; and she signed her name as his witness.
"And now, Mr. Welch," said she, "do not you fret about the loss of the
ship; you should rather think how good Providence has been to us in
saving us three out of so many that sailed in that poor ship. That Wylie
was a wicked man; but he is drowned, or starved, no doubt, and there is
an end of him. You are alive, and we are all three to see Old England
again. But to live, you must eat; and so now do pray make a good
breakfast to-day. Tell me what you can fancy. A cabbage?"
"What, you own it is a cabbage?"
"Of course I do," said Helen, coaxing. "You must excuse Mr. Hazel; these
learned men are so crotchety in some things, and go by books; but you and
I go by our senses, and to us a cabbage is a cabbage, grow where it will.
Will you have one?"
"No, miss, not this morning. What I wants this morning very bad, indeed,
it is--I wants a drink made of the sweet-smelling leaves, like as you
strewed over my messmate--the Lord in heaven bless you for it."
"Oh, Mr. Welch, that is a curious fancy; but you shall not ask me twice
for anything; the jungle is full of them, and I'll fetch you some in five
minutes. So you must boil the water."
She scudded away to the jungle, and soon returned with some aromatic
leaves. While they were infusing, Hazel came up, and, on being informed
of Welch's fancy, made no opposition; but, on the contrary, said that
such men had sometimes very happy inspirations. He tasted it, however,
and said the smell was the best part of it, in his opinion. He then put
it aside to cool for the sick man's use.
They ate their usual breakfast, and then Welch sipped his spiced tea, as
he called it. Morning and afternoon he drank copious draughts of it, and
seemed to get suddenly better, and told them not to hang about him any
longer; but go to their work: he was all right now.
To humor him they went off in different directions; Hazel with his ax to
level cocoanut trees, and Helen to search for fruits in the jungle.
She came back in about an hour, very proud of some pods she had found
with nutmegs inside them. She ran to Welch. He was not in the boat. She
saw his waistcoat, however, folded and lying on the thwart; so she knew
he could not be far off and concluded he was in her bower. But he was not
there; and she called to Mr. Hazel. He came to the side of the river
laden with cocoanuts.
"Is he with you?" said Helen.
"Who? Welch? No."
"Well, then, he is not here. Oh, dear! something is the matter."
Hazel came across directly. And they both began to run anxiously to every
part whence they could command a view to any distance.
They could not see him anywhere, and met with blank faces at the bower.
Then Helen made a discovery.
This very day, while hanging about the place, Hazel had torn up from the
edge of the river an old trunk, whose roots had been loosened by the
water washing away the earth that held them, and this stump he had set up
in her bower for a table, after sawing the roots down into legs. Well, on
the smooth part of this table lay a little pile of money, a ring with a
large pearl in it, and two gold ear-rings Helen had often noticed in
She pointed at these and turned pale. Then, suddenly waving her hand to
Hazel to follow her, she darted out of the bower, and, in a moment, she
was at the boat.
There she found, beside his waistcoat, his knife, and a little pile of
money, placed carefully on the thwart; and, underneath it, his jacket
rolled up, and his shoes and sailor's cap, all put neatly and in order.
Hazel found her looking at them. He began to have vague misgivings. "What
does this mean?" he said faintly.
"'What does it mean!'" cried Helen, in agony. "Don't you see? A legacy!
The poor thing has divided his little all. Oh, my heart! What has become
of him?" Then, with one of those inspirations her sex have, she cried,
"Ah! Cooper's grave!"
Hazel, though not so quick as she was, caught her meaning at a word, and
flew down the slope to the seashore. The tide was out. A long irregular
track of footsteps indented the sand. He stopped a moment and looked at
them. They pointed toward that cleft where the grave was. He followed
them all across the sand. They entered the cleft, and did not return.
Full of heavy foreboding he rushed into the cleft.
Yes; his arms hanging on each side of the grave, and his cheek laid
gently on it, there lay Tom Welch, with a loving smile on his dead face.
Only a man; yet faithful as a dog.
Hazel went back slowly, and crying. Of all men living, he could best
appreciate fidelity and mourn its fate.
But, as he drew near Helen, he dried his eyes; for it was his duty to
She had at first endeavored to follow him; but after a few steps her
knees smote together, and she was fain to sit down on the grassy slope
that overlooked the sea.
The sun was setting huge and red over that vast and peaceful sea.
She put her hands to her head, and, sick at heart, looked heavily at that
glorious and peaceful sight. Hazel came up to her. She looked at his
face, and that look was enough for her. She rocked herself gently to and
"Yes," said he, in a broken voice. "He was there--quite dead."
He sat gently down by her side, and looked at that setting sun and
illimitable ocean, and his heart felt deadly sad. "He is gone--and we are
alone--on this island."
The man said this in one sense only. But the woman heard it in more than
She glanced timidly round at him, and, without rising, edged a little
away from him, and wept in silence.
AFTER a long silence, Hazel asked her in a low voice if she could be
there in half an hour. She said yes, in the same tone, but without
turning her head. On reaching the graves, she found that Hazel had spared
her a sad sight; nothing remained but to perform the service. When it was
over she went slowly away in deep distress on more accounts than one. In
due course Hazel came to her bower, but she was not there. Then he
lighted the fire, and prepared everything for supper; and he was so busy,
and her foot so light, he did not hear her come. But by and by, lifting
his head, he saw her looking wistfully at him, as if she would read his
soul in his minutest actions. He started and brightened all over with
pleasure at the sudden sight of her, and said eagerly, "Your supper is
"Thank you, sir," said she, sadly and coldly (she had noted that
expression of joy), "I have no appetite; do not wait for me." And soon
after strolled away again.
Hazel was dumfounded. There was no mistaking her manner; it was chilly
and reserved all of a sudden. It wounded him; but he behaved like a man.
"What! I keep her out of her own house, do I?" said he to himself. He
started up, took a fish out of the pot, wrapped it in a leaf, and stalked
off to his boat. Then he ate a little of the fish, threw the rest away,
and went down upon the sands, and paced them in a sad and bitter mood.
But the night calmed him, and some hours of tranquil thought brought him
fortitude, patience and a clear understanding. He went to his boat,
elevated by generous and delicate resolutions. Now worthy resolves are
tranquilizing, and he slept profoundly.
Not so she, whose sudden but very natural change of demeanor had hurt
him. When she returned and found he was gone for the night, she began to
be alarmed at having offended him.
For this and other reasons she passed the night in sore perplexity, and
did not sleep till morning; and so she overslept her usual time. However,
when she was up, she determined to find her own breakfast; she felt it
would not do to be too dependent, and on a person of uncertain humor;
such for the moment she chose to pretend to herself was Hazel.
Accordingly she went down to the sea to look for crayfish. She found
abundance. There they lay in the water; you had but to stoop and pick
But alas! they were black, lively, viperish; she went with no great
relish for the task to take one up; it wriggled maliciously; she dropped
it, and at that very moment, by a curious coincidence, remembered she was
sick and tired of crayfish; she would breakfast on fruits. She crossed
the sand, took off her shoes, and paddled through the river, and; having
put on her shoes again, was about to walk up through some rank grass to
the big wood, when she heard a voice behind her, and it was Mr. Hazel.
She bit her lip (it was broad daylight now), and prepared quietly to
discourage this excessive assiduity. He came up to her panting a little,
and, taking off his hat, said, with marked respect, "I beg your pardon,
Miss Rolleston, but I know you hate reptiles; now there are a few snakes
in that long grass; not poisonous ones."
"Snakes!" cried Helen; "let me get home; there--I'll go without my
"Oh, I hope not," said Hazel, ruefully; "why, I have been rather
fortunate this morning, and it is all ready."
"That is a different thing," said Helen, graciously; "you must not have
your trouble for nothing, I suppose."
Directly after breakfast, Hazel took his ax and some rope from the boat,
and went off in a great hurry to the jungle. In half an hour or so he
returned, dragging a large conical shrub, armed with spikes for leaves,
incredibly dense and prickly.
"There," said he, "there's a vegetable porcupine for you. This is your
best defense against that roaring bugbear."
"That little tree!" said Helen; "the tiger would soon jump over that."
"Ay, but not over this and sixty more; a wall of stilettos. Don't touch
He worked very hard all day, and brought twelve of these prickly trees to
the bower by sunset. He was very dissatisfied with his day's work; seemed
"This comes of beginning at the wrong end," he said; "I went to work like
a fool. I should have begun by making a cart."
"But you can't do that," said Helen, soothingly; "no gentleman can make a
"Oh, surely anybody can make a cart, by a little thinking," said he.
"I wish," said Helen, listlessly, "you would think of something for me to
do; I begin to be ashamed of not helping."
"Hum! you can plait?"
"Yes, as far as seven strands."
"Then you need never be unemployed. We want ropes, and shall want large
mats for the rainy weather."
He went to the place where he had warned her of the snakes, and cut a
great bundle of long silky grass, surprisingly tough, yet neither harsh
nor juicy; he brought it her and said he should be very glad of a hundred
yards of light cord, three ply and five ply.
She was charmed with the grass, and the very next morning she came to
breakfast with it nicely prepared, and a good deal of cord made and
hanging round her neck. She found some preparations for carpenter's work
"Is that great log for the cart?" said she.
"Yes! it is a section of a sago-tree."
"What, our sago?"
"The basis. See, in the center it is all soft pith." He got from the boat
one of the augers that had scuttled the _Proserpine,_ and soon turned the
pith out. "They pound that pith in water, and run it through linen; then
set the water in the sun to evaporate. The sediment is the sago of
commerce, and sad insipid stuff it is."
"Oh, please don't call anything names one has eaten in England," said
After a hasty meal, she and Mr. Hazel worked for a wager. Her taper
fingers went like the wind, and though she watched him, and asked
questions, she never stopped plaiting. Mr. Hazel was no carpenter, he was
merely Brains spurred by Necessity. He went to work and sawed off four
short disks of the sago-log.
"Now what are those, pray?" asked Helen.
"The wheels--primeval wheels. And here are the linchpins, made of hard
wood; I wattled them at odd times."
He then produced two young lime-trees he had rooted up that morning and
sawed them into poles in a minute. Then he bored two holes in each pole,
about four inches from either extremity, and fitted his linchpins; then
he drew out his linchpins, passed each pole first through one disk, and
then through another, and fastened his linchpins. Then he ran to the
boat, and came back with the stern and midship thwarts. He drilled with
his center-bit three rows of holes in these, two inches from the edge.
And now Helen's work came in; her grass rope bound the thwarts tight to
the horizontal poles, leaving the disks room to play easily between the
thwarts and the linchpins; but there was an open space thirteen inches
broad between the thwarts; this space Hazel herring-boned over with some
of Helen's rope drawn as tight as possible. The cart was now made. Time
occupied in its production, three hours and forty minutes.
The coachmaker was very hot, and Helen asked him timidly whether he had
not better rest and eat. "No time for that," said he. "The day is not
half long enough for what I have to do." He drank copiously from the
stream; put the carpenter's basket into the cart, got the tow-rope from
the boat and fastened it to the cart in this shape: A, putting himself in
the center. So now the coachmaker was the horse, and off they went,
rattling and creaking, to the jungle.
Helen turned her stool and watched this pageant enter the jungle. She
plaited on, but not so merrily. Hazel's companionship and bustling way
somehow kept her spirits up.
But, whenever she was left alone, she gazed on the blank ocean, and her
heart died within her. At last she strolled pensively toward the jungle,
plaiting busily as she went, and hanging the rope round her neck as fast
as she made it.
At the edge of the jungle she found Hazel in a difficulty. He had cut
down a wagon load of prickly trees, and wanted to get all this mass of
_noli me tangere_ on to that wretched little cart, but had not rope
enough to keep it together. She gave him plenty of new line, and partly
by fastening a small rope to the big rope and so making the big rope a
receptacle, partly by artful tying, they dragged home an incredible load.
To be sure some of it draggled half along the ground, and came after like
a peacock's tail.
He made six trips, and then the sun was low; so he began to build. He
raised a rampart of these prickly trees, a rampart three feet wide and
eight feet high; but it only went round two sides and a half of the
bower. So then he said he had failed again; and lay down worn out by
Helen Rolleston, though dejected herself, could not help pitying him for
his exhaustion in her service, and for his bleeding hands. She undertook
the cooking, and urged him kindly to eat of every dish; and, when he rose
to go, she thanked him with as much feeling as modesty for the great
pains he had taken to lessen those fears of hers which she saw he did not
These kind words more than repaid him. He went to his little den in a
glow of spirits; and the next morning went off in a violent hurry, and,
for once, seemed glad to get away from her.
"Poor Mr. Hazel," said she softly, and watched him out of sight. Then she
got her plait, and went to the high point where he had barked a tree, and
looked far and wide for a sail. The air was wonderfully clear; the whole
ocean seemed in sight; but all was blank.
A great awe fell upon her, and sickness of heart; and then first she
began to fear she was out of the known world, and might die on that
island; or never be found by the present generation. And this sickening
fear lurked in her from that hour, and led to consequences that will be
She did not return for a long while, and, when she did, she found Hazel
had completed her fortifications. He invited her to explore the western
part of the island, but she declined.
"Thank you," said she; "not to-day; there is something to be done at
home. I have been comparing my abode with yours, and the contrast makes
me uncomfortable, if it doesn't you. Oblige me by building yourself a
"What, in an afternoon?"
"Why not? you made a cart in a forenoon. How can I tell your limits? you
are quite out of my poor little depth. Well, at all events, you must roof
the boat, or something. Come, be good for once, and think a little of
yourself. There, I'll sit by and--what shall I do while you are working
to oblige me?"
"Make a fishing-net of cocoanut fiber, four feet deep. Here's plenty of
material all prepared."
"Why, Mr. Hazel, you must work in your sleep."
"No; but of course I am not idle when I am alone; and luckily I have made
a spade out of hard wood at odd hours, or all the afternoon would go in
"A spade! You are going to dig a hole in the ground and call it a house.
That will not do for me."
"You will see," said Hazel.
The boat lay in a little triangular creek; the surrounding earth was
alluvial clay; a sort of black cheesy mould, stiff, but kindly to work
with the spade. Hazel cut and chiseled it out at a grand rate, and,
throwing it to the sides, raised by degrees two mud banks, one on each
side the boat; and at last he dug so deep that he was enabled to draw the
boat another yard inland.
As Helen sat by netting and forcing a smile now and then, though sad at
heart, he was on his mettle, and the mud walls he raised in four hours
were really wonderful. He squared their inner sides with the spade. When
he had done, the boat lay in a hollow, the walls of which, half natural,
half artificial, were five feet above her gunwale, and, of course, eight
feet above her bottom, in which Hazel used to lie at night. He then made
another little wall at the boat's stern, and laid palm-branches over all,
and a few huge banana-leaves from the jungle; got a dozen large stones
out of the river, tied four yards'-lengths of Helen's grass-rope from
stone to stone, and so, passing the ropes over the roof, confined it,
otherwise a sudden gust of wind might lift it.
"There," said he; "am I not as well off as you?--I, a great tough man.
Abominable waste of time, I call it."
"Hum!" said Helen, doubtfully. "All this is very clever; but I doubt
whether it will keep out much rain."
"More than yours will," said Hazel, "and that is a very serious thing. I
am afraid you little know how serious. But, to-morrow, if you please, I
will examine our resources, and lay our whole situation before you, and
ask your advice. As to your bugbear, let him roar his heart out, his
reign is over. Will you not come and see your wooden walls?"
He then took Helen and showed her the tremendous nature of her
fortification, and assured her that no beast of prey could face it, nor
even smell at it, with impunity. And as to the door, here the defense was
double and treble; but attached to four grass cords; two passed into the
abode round each of the screw pine-trees at the east side, and were kept
in their places by pegs driven into the trees.
"When you are up," said Hazel, "you pull these four cords steadily, and
your four guards will draw back right and left, with all their bayonets,
and you can come out."
Helen was very much pleased with this arrangement, and did not disguise
her gratitude. She slept in peace and comfort that night. Hazel, too,
profited by the mud walls and leafy roof she had compelled him to rear;
for this night was colder, as it happened, than any preceding night since
they came ashore. In the morning, Hazel saw a green turtle on the shore,
which was unusual at that time of year. He ran and turned her, with some
difficulty; then brought down his cart, cut off her head with a blow,
and, in due course, dragged her up the slope. She weighed two hundred
pounds. He showed Miss Rolleston the enormous shell, gave her a lecture
on turtles, and especially on the four species known to South Sea
navigators--the trunk turtle, the loggerhead, the green turtle, and the
hawks-bill, from which last, and not from any tortoise, he assured her
came the tortoise-shell of commerce.
"And now," said he, "will you not give up or suspend your reptile theory,
and eat a little green turtle, the king of them all?"
"I think I must, after all that," said she; and rather relished it.
That morning he kept his word, and laid their case before her.
He said: "We are here on an island that has probably been seen and
disregarded by a few whalers, but is not known to navigators nor down on
any chart. There is a wide range of vegetation, proving a delightful
climate on the whole, and one particularly suited to you, whose lungs are
delicate. But then, comparing the beds of the rivers with the banks, a
tremendous fall of rain is indicated. The rainy months (in these
latitudes) are at hand, and if these rains catch us in our present
condition, it will be a calamity. You have walls, but no roof to keep it
out. I tremble when I think of it. This is my main anxiety. My next is
about our sustenance during the rains; we have no stores under cover; no
fuel; no provisions but a few cocoanuts. We use two lucifer matches a
day; and what is to become of us at that rate? In theory, fire can be got
by rubbing two pieces of wood together; Selkirk is said to have so
obtained it from pimento wood on Juan Fernandez; but, in fact, I believe
the art is confined to savages. I never met a civilized man who could do
it, and I have questioned scores of voyagers. As for my weapons, they
consist of a boat-hook and an ax; no gun, no harpoon, no bow, no lance.
My tools are a blunt saw, a blunter ax, a wooden spade, two great augers,
that I believe had a hand in bringing us here, but have not been any use
to us since, a center-bit, two planes, a hammer, a pair of pincers, two
brad-awls, three gimlets, two scrapers, a plumb-lead and line, a large
pair of scissors, and you have a small pair, two gauges, a screw-driver,
five clasp-knives, a few screws and nails of various sizes, two small
barrels, two bags, two tin bowls, two wooden bowls, and the shell of this
turtle, and that is a very good soup-tureen, only we have no meat to make
"Well, sir," said Miss Rolleston, resignedly, "we can but kneel down and
"That would be cutting the gordian knot, indeed," said Hazel. "What, die
to shirk a few difficulties? No. I propose an amendment to that. After
the words 'kneel down,' insert the words, 'and get up again, trusting in
that merciful Providence which has saved us so far, but expects us to
exert ourselves too.'"
"It is good and pious advice," said Helen, "and let us follow it this
"Now," said Hazel, "I have three propositions to lay before you. 1st.
That I hereby give up walking and take to running; time is so precious.
2d. That we both work by night as well as day. 3d. That we each tell the
other our principal wants, so that there may be four eyes on the lookout,
as we go, instead of two."
"I consent," said Helen; "pray what are your wants?"
"Iron, oil, salt, tar, a bellows, a pickax, planks, thread, nets, light
matting for roofs, bricks, chimney-pots, jars, glass, animal food, some
variety of vegetable food, and so on. I'll write down the entire list for
"You will be puzzled to do that without ink or paper."
"Not in the least. I shall engrave it in _alto-rilievo,_ make the words
with pebbles on the turf just above high-water mark. Now tell me _your_
"Well, I want--impossibilities."
"What is the use?"
It is the method we have agreed upon."
"Oh, very well, then. I want--a sponge."
"Good. What next?"
"I have broken my comb."
"I'm glad you think so. I want--Oh, Mr. Hazel, what _is_ the use?--well,
I should like a mattress to lie on."
"Hair or wool?"
"I don't care which. And it is a shame to ask you for either."
"I want a looking-glass."
"Great Heaven! What for?"
"Oh, never mind; I want one. And some more towels, and some soap, and a
few hair-pins; and some elastic bands; and some pen, ink and paper, to
write my feelings down in this island for nobody ever to see."
When she began Hazel looked bright, but the list was like a wasp, its
sting lay in its tail. However, he put a good face on it. "I'll try and
get you all those things; only give me time. Do you know I am writing a
dictionary on a novel method."
"That means on the sand."
"No; the work is suspended for the present. But two of the definitions in
it are--DIFFICULTIES--things to be subdued; IMPOSSIBILITIES--things to be
"Well, subdue mine. Trample on--a sponge for me."
"That is just what I was going to do," said he; opened a clasp-knife and
jumped coolly into the river.
Helen screamed faintly, but after all the water was only up to his knees.
He soon cut a large sponge off a piece of slimy rock, and held it up to
her. "There," said he, "why, there are a score of them at your very door
and you never saw them."
"Oh, excuse me, I did see them and shuddered; I thought they were
reptiles; dormant and biding their time."
When he was out of the river again, she thought a little, and asked him
whether old iron would be of any use to him.
"Oh, certainly," said he; "what, do you know of any?"
"I think I saw some one day. I'll go and look for it."
She took the way of the shore; and he got his cart and spade, and went
posthaste to his clay-pit.
He made a quantity of bricks, and brought them home, and put them to dry
in the sun. He also cut great pieces of the turtle, and wrapped them in
fresh banana-leaves, and inclosed them in clay. He then tried to make a
large narrow-necked vessel, and failed utterly; so he made the clay into
a great rude platter like a shallow milk-pan. Then he peeled the sago-log
off which he had cut his wheels, and rubbed it with turtle fat, and,
using it as a form, produced two clay cylinders. These he set in the sun,
with bricks round them to keep them from falling. Leaving all these to
dry and set before he baked them, he went off to the marsh for
fern-leaves. The soil being so damp, the trees were covered with a
brownish-red substance, scarce distinguishable from wool. This he had
counted on. But he also found in the same neighborhood a long
cypress-haired moss that seemed to him very promising. He made several
trips, and raised quite a stack of fern-leaves. By this time the sun had
operated on his thinner pottery; so he laid down six of his large thick
tiles, and lighted a fire on them with dry banana-leaves, and cocoanut,
etc., and such light combustibles, until he had heated and hardened the
clay; then he put the ashes on one side, and swept the clay clean; then
he put the fire on again, and made it hotter and hotter, till the clay
began to redden.
While he was thus occupied, Miss Rolleston came from the jungle radiant,
carrying vegetable treasures in her apron. First she produced some golden
apples with reddish leaves.
"There," said she; "and they smell delicious."
Hazel eyed them keenly.
"You have not eaten any of them?"
"What! by myself?" said Helen.
"Thank Heaven!" said Hazel, turning pale. "These are the manchanilla, the
poison apple of the Pacific."
"Poison!" said Helen, alarmed in her turn.
"Well, I don't _know_ that they are poison; but travelers give them a
very bad name. The birds never peck them; and I have read that even the
leaves, falling into still water have killed the fish. You will not eat
anything here till you have shown it me, will you?" said he, imploringly.
"No, no," said Helen; and sat down with her hand to her heart a minute.
"And I was so pleased when I found them," she said; "they reminded me of
home. I wonder whether these are poison, too?" and she opened her apron
wide, and showed him some long yellow pods, with red specks, something
like a very large banana.
"Ah, that is a very different affair," said Hazel, delighted; "these are
plantains, and the greatest find we have made yet. The fruit is meat, the
wood is thread, and the leaf is shelter and clothes. The fruit is good
raw, and better baked, as you shall see, and I believe this is the first
time the dinner and the dish were both baked together."
He cleared the now heated hearth, put the meat and fruit on it, then
placed his great platter over it, and heaped fire round the platter, and
light combustibles over it. While this was going on, Helen took him to
her bower, and showed him three rusty iron hoops, and a piece of rotten
wood with a rusty nail, and the marks where others had been. "There,"
said she; "that is all I could find."
"Why, it is a treasure," cried he; "you will see. I have found something,
He then showed her the vegetable wool and vegetable hair he had
collected, and told her where they grew. She owned they were wonderful
imitations, and would do as well as the real things; and, ere they had
done comparing notes, the platter and the dinner under it were both
baked. Hazel removed the platter or milk-pan, and served the dinner in
If Hazel was inventive, Helen was skillful and quick at any kind of
woman's work; and the following is the result of the three weeks' work
under his direction. She had made as follows:
1. Thick mattress, stuffed with the vegetable hair and wool described
above. The mattress was only two feet six inches wide; for Helen found
that she never turned in bed now. She slept as she had never slept
before. This mattress was made with plantain-leaves sewed together with
the thread furnished by the tree itself, and doubled at the edges.
2. A long shallow net four feet deep--cocoa-fiber.
3. A great quantity of stout grass rope, and light but close matting for
the roof, and some cocoanut matting for the ground and to go under the
mattress. But Hazel, instructed by her, had learned to plait--rather
clumsily--and he had a hand in the matting.
Hazel in the meantime heightened his own mud banks in the center, and set
up brick fireplaces with hearth and chimney; one on each side; and now
did all the cooking; for he found the smoke from wood made Miss Rolleston
cough. He also made a number of pigeon-holes in his mud walls and lined
them with clay. One of these he dried with fire, and made a pottery door
to it, and there kept the lucifer-box. He made a vast number of bricks,
but did nothing with them. After several failures he made two large pots,
and two great pans, that would all four bear fire under them, and in the
pans he boiled sea-water till it all evaporated and left him a sediment
of salt. This was a great addition to their food, and he managed also to
put by a little. But it was a slow process.
He made a huge pair of bellows, with a little assistance from Miss
Rolleston; the spout was a sago-stick, with the pith driven out, and the
substitute for leather was the skin of a huge eel he found stranded at
the east point.
Having got his bellows and fixed them to a post he drove into the ground,
he took for his anvil a huge flint stone, and a smaller one for hammer;
heated his old iron to a white heat, and hammered it with a world of
trouble into straight lengths; and at last with a portion of it produced
a long saw without teeth, but one side sharper than the other. This, by
repeated experiments of heating and immersing in water, he at last
annealed; and when he wanted to saw he blew his embers to a white heat
(he kept the fire alive now night and day); heated his original saw
red-hot, and soon sawed through the oleaginous woods of that island. If
he wanted to cut down a tree in the jungle, he put the bellows and a pot
of embers on his cart with other fuel, and came and lighted the fire
under the tree and soon had it down. He made his pickax in half an hour,
but with his eyes rather than his hands. He found a young tree growing on
the rock, or at least on soil so shallow that the root was half above
ground and at right angles to the stem. He got this free up, shortened
the stem, shaped the root, shod the point with some of his late old iron;
and with this primitive tool, and a thick stake baked at the point, he
opened the ground to receive twelve stout uprights, and he drove them
with a tremendous mallet made upon what might be called the compendious
or Hazelian method; it was a section of a hard tree with a thick shoot
growing out of it, which shoot, being shortened, served for the handle.
By these arts he at last saw a goal to his labors. Animal food, oil,
pitch, ink, paper, were still wanting; but fish were abundant, and
plantains and cocoanuts stored. Above all, Helen's hut was now
weather-tight. Stout horizontal bars were let into the trees, and, being
bound to the uprights, they mutually supported each other; smaller
horizontal bars at intervals kept the prickly ramparts from being driven
in by a sudden gust. The canvas walls were removed and the nails stored
in a pigeon-hole, and a stout network substituted, to which huge plantain
leaves were cunningly fastened with plantain thread. The roof was double:
first, that extraordinary mass of spiked leaves which the four trees
threw out, then several feet under that the huge piece of matting the
pair had made. This was strengthened by double strips of canvas at the
edges and in the center, and by single strips in other parts. A great
many cords and strings made of that wonderful grass were sewn to the
canvas-strengthened edges, and so it was fastened to the trees and
fastened to the horizontal bars.
When this work drew close to its completion, Hazel could not disguise his
But he very soon had the mortification of seeing that she for whom it was
all done did not share his complacency. A change took place in her; she
often let her work fall, and brooded. She spoke sometimes sharply to Mr.
Hazel, and sometimes with strained civility. She wandered away from him
and from his labors for her comfort, and passed hours at Telegraph Point,
eying the illimitable ocean. She was a riddle. All sweetness at times,
but at others irritable, moody, and scarce mistress of herself. Hazel was
sorry and perplexed, and often expressed a fear she was ill. The answer
was always in the negative. He did not press her, but worked on for her,
hoping the mood would pass. And so it would, no doubt, if the cause had
Matters were still in this uncomfortable and mysterious state when Hazel
put his finishing stroke to her abode.
He was in high spirits that evening, for he had made a discovery; he had
at last found time for a walk, and followed the river to its source, a
very remarkable lake in a hilly basin. Near this was a pond, the water of
which he had tasted and found it highly bituminous; and, making further
researches, he had found at the bottom of a rocky ravine a very wonderful
thing--a dark resinous fluid bubbling up in quite a fountain, which,
however, fell down again as it rose, and hardly any overflowed. It was
like thin pitch.
Of course in another hour he was back there with a great pot, and half
filled it. It was not like water, it did not bubble so high when some had
been taken; so he just took what he could get. Pursuing his researches a
little further he found a range of rocks with snowy summits apparently;
but the snow was the guano of centuries. He got to the western extremity
of the island, saw another deep bay or rather branch of the sea, and on
the other side of it a tongue of high land running out to sea. On that
promontory stood a gigantic palmtree. He recognized that with a certain
thrill, but was in a great hurry to get home with his pot of pitch; for
it was in truth a very remarkable discovery, though not without a
parallel. He could not wait till morning, so with embers and cocoanut he
made a fire in the bower, and melted his pitch, which had become nearly
solid, and proceeded to smear the inside of the matting in places, to
make it thoroughly watertight.
Helen treated the discovery at first with mortifying indifference. But he
hoped she would appreciate Nature's bounty more when she saw the
practical use of this extraordinary production. He endeavored to lead her
to that view. She shook her head sorrowfully. He persisted. She met him