Overcome with fatigue, he dropped into an uneasy doze, painful fancies filling his brain. How long he had thus remained he could not tell, when, on opening his eyes, they fell on a figure standing by the half-finished grave. His disordered imagination made him fancy that it was one of those he was about to bury who, recovering, had regained his feet. Or could it be a spirit?
His eyes dilated as he gazed. The person, after looking into the grave for a few seconds, turned round and went towards where the bodies lay and then knelt down by the side of one of them. Lord Reginald, not seeing him, as he was concealed by the slope of the beach from where he lay, fancied as he gradually recovered his senses that he must have been subjected to some hallucination, and resolved to finish his task.
"Come, Nep," he said, rising, "we must finish the work, terrible as it is!" What was his surprise to find that his dog had gone? He made his way back to the grave, keeping his head turned in an opposite direction from the bodies, unwilling to look at them from the sickening feeling which came over him when he did so. Descending into the pit he had formed, he began to throw out the sand. While thus employed he heard a voice close to him say—
"Shall I help you?"
His first impulse was to spring out of the grave and express the joy he felt that one of his crew had escaped, but on looking up he saw Richard Hargrave standing near, with a piece of wood similar to the one with which he was employed. At first his feelings softened towards his enemy, for so he regarded the young seaman, but the next instant he fancied that he detected a look of scorn in his countenance. Still, he wanted to get the work done, and alone he could not accomplish it. He therefore answered, "Yes, you may fall to, for it is more than one man alone can do."
Without exchanging another word, Dick leapt down into the pit and began shovelling out the sand in a far more effectual way than Lord Reginald had done. When the grave was of sufficient size, Dick got out and immediately went towards one of the bodies, beckoning his companion to assist him in carrying it to its last resting-place. Lord Reginald hesitated, but when Dick began to drag the body by the shoulders he took it up by the feet. One by one three of the other bodies were carried to the grave. Lord Reginald was about to lift up the feet of Ben Rudall, when Dick exclaimed—
"No, no; let him alone. We will give him a grave to himself. He was an old friend of mine, though he might have led me astray, and I want to pay him all the respect I can."
Lord Reginald let the feet drop, and without speaking returned to the grave, where he began to shovel in the sand. Dick joining him, the task was soon accomplished.
"As I undertook to dig this poor fellow's grave alone, I won't ask you to help me," said Dick, turning aside without attempting to exchange any further words with his companion.
Lord Reginald, utterly exhausted, retreated to the shade of the cliff, calling in an angry tone to Neptune, who had followed Dick, to watch his proceedings.
He observed that Hargrave wore a hat roughly made from palm leaves, and was thus able to endure the heat much better than he could. It did not occur to him that he possessed a handkerchief in his pocket which, had he bound round his head, would have afforded him some protection. At length he could endure the thirst from which he was suffering no longer, and getting up, endeavoured to make his way to the spring at which he had before obtained water. He reached it at last, and sank down by the side of the pool, scarcely able to lift the water with his hand to his parched lips. He succeeded, however, and felt somewhat restored. Nep showed how thirsty he was by lapping it up eagerly.
He waited some time, half expecting that Hargrave would join him. He was too proud to call him, and inquire how he had escaped from the wreck, which he wished to know, as well as to ascertain if any one else had been saved. Even Neptune appeared surprised, and showed an inclination to start off every now and then and join Dick, who had become a great friend of his on board.
All this time Lord Reginald had eaten nothing except the remains of the cocoanut. He was sensible that he was becoming fainter and weaker. Whether or not Nep had got any food when he disappeared, he could not tell, but from the way he observed Hargrave work he felt very sure that he, at all events, was not starving.
He saw numerous birds of gay plumage flying among the trees, but he had no means of getting them. He thought that he might possibly knock some of them down. For this purpose he returned to the beach to pick up some pebbles. Having filled his pockets, he went back to the neighbourhood of the stream. Though he got frequently within reach of the birds, he could not manage to hit one of them. At last he had exhausted every one of his pebbles, and, prompted by hunger, was about to go back to obtain more, when he bethought him that by hiding behind a bush an unwary bird might come near enough to enable him to knock it down with a stick which he had picked up. He waited for some time. Though several birds came near—one a fine fat pigeon with beautiful plumage—they kept beyond his reach. At length, losing his patience, he threw his stick at a bird which had perched on a bough about twelve feet off. The bird rose, wagging its tail as if in derision, and flew off unhurt. Nep, who was by this time as famished as his master, showed his eagerness by dashing here and there after the birds, which flew near the ground.
"It's of no use, Nep," said Lord Reginald; "we must try what the sea-shore will yield." They returned together to the beach. The tide was low and shell-fish—some of large size—clung to the rocks or lay on the sand.
Supposing that the latter were dead or not fit to eat; he attempted to cut off with his knife some of those clinging to the rocks, a more difficult task than he had expected, and he blunted it considerably in the attempt. At last he got several off, and with these, as well as a few of the freshest looking which he had picked up on the beach, he returned to the cave.
He nearly cut his finger in attempting to open them, and when he had succeeded in separating the shells of a couple, he recollected that he must cook them before they would be fit to eat. First he had to collect firewood. For this purpose he was compelled to go back to where he could obtain some dry branches, broken off by previous gales. While thus engaged, he saw some smoke in the distance.
"That must be a fire kindled by that fellow Hargrave," he said to himself; "he probably has found something to eat, but I cannot go and ask him for a light, still less can I bring myself to beg for some of the food. Probably he would refuse me if I did. No, no, I will let him come to me and ask my pardon for his insolent behaviour."
By exerting himself, the young lord collected a bundle of sticks. On his way he found another cocoanut, which prize he was glad to obtain, for it would serve as bread to help him swallow the shell-fish.
With his bundle on his shoulders he returned to the cave. He unscrewed the object glass from Voules's telescope, but in vain tried to obtain a light. The sticks might have burned had a flame once been established. He had, therefore, to go back and search for dry leaves or moss, or some more inflammable substance.
He found some fungus, which from its dry nature he thought would quickly ignite. With this and his arms full of leaves, he once more made his way back to his cave. The sun was by this time sinking low, and he was afraid after all that its rays would be too oblique to enable him to obtain a spark. He anxiously held the glass in its right position, and was thankful when he saw a fine line of smoke ascending; by blowing gently and placing some dry leaves above it, he at length obtained a flame, with which he set the pile of leaves he had placed under the sticks on fire.
"I am now as well off as that fellow Hargrave," he said to himself, as he placed the shell-fish on the embers. He had never before attempted to cook anything, and had very little notion of how it was to be done.
He saw the shells getting hotter and hotter, when on raking them out he found the interior burnt to a cinder. "Rather overdone," he thought; "I must not let them stay in again so long." He succeeded rather better with the next, but had to confess that they were very tough.
Though his hunger was not satisfied, he had no inclination to eat more; having broken the shells, he bestowed the remainder on Neptune, who apparently preferred them raw to cooked. He eked out his scanty meal with cocoanut, having drunk the juice, which he found very refreshing after the salt, coarse-tasting clams. He had no longer any fear of starving, though the food he had obtained was neither wholesome nor palatable.
After finishing his meal, he threw himself on the sand within the shadow of the cave, trying to reflect what he should next do, but his mind was in a state of confusion. He could not sufficiently collect his thoughts to arrive at any determination. Neptune lay by his side, occasionally licking his hand, trying to amuse him. He felt the solitude to which he was doomed trying in the extreme. The only human being on the island beside himself, was, as far as he could tell, young Hargrave, whom he had despised and hated, and who seemed in no way disposed to forget the mutual ill-feeling which had so long existed, or to show him any marks of attention. He looked out, half expecting to see his enemy approach, but the latter had evidently taken up his abode in the further part of the island, and kept out of his way.
Another night was approaching; it was necessary to collect some more wood to keep in his fire, for should a cloudy day come on, he would have no means of relighting it. At last, seeing the necessity of exerting himself, he got up, intending to fill two of the largest clam shells he had picked up with water, which might serve to quench his thirst during the night. Directly he rose to his feet, Neptune showed his satisfaction by leaping about him, and barked with joy when he found that he was directing his steps towards the fountain. On arriving at it, both he and the dog drank their fill, then placing the shells by its side, he set to work to collect fire-wood. There was no great amount of fallen sticks, and it took him some time before he could pick up a sufficient quantity.
As formerly, he observed in the distance the smoke of a fire, which he felt sure had been kindled by Hargrave. The dog, by pulling his trousers, attempted to draw him in that direction.
"No, no; we will not go and interfere with the fellow. He'll fancy that we want his assistance, or are begging for some of the food he may have obtained. We must show him that we can do very well by ourselves," he said, addressing his dog. Fastening the sticks to his back by a piece of rope he had picked up, and taking the two clam shells in his hand, he set off to return to the cave. He had gone a short distance without thinking of Neptune, when on looking round he found that the dog had disappeared.
"Where can the animal have gone to?" he exclaimed. "Has he deserted me for the sake of that scoundrel? If he has, when he comes back I'll tie him up and teach him that he must not associate with my enemy."
On reaching the cave he sat down more oppressed even than before by gloomy thoughts. He believed that the Marie had been cast away on a remote island, near which no English ship was likely to pass, and that he might remain there for months, perhaps for years, without having an opportunity of escaping, even should he live so long; but he felt so sick and weak that he feared his existence would soon be cut short. "Perhaps," he thought, "that young Hargrave may take it into his head to murder me. What is there, to prevent him? All that he has to do is to bury me in the sand, with the rest of the poor fellows. And if questions are asked, he could say I was cast lifeless on the shore, or died afterwards from sickness, and such, judging from my sensations, is very likely to be the case."
The pangs of hunger aroused him. As there was sufficient daylight remaining, he went down to the rocks and cut off a few more shell-fish. The task was so hard a one that he did not collect more than he required. He had slightly improved in the art of cooking them, but he much wished that he had some pepper and salt to make them more palatable. They were nearly cooked, when he saw Neptune scampering along the beach towards him, with something in his mouth. The dog approaching laid it down at his feet, and Lord Reginald discovered that it was a beautiful pigeon.
"Is that what you left me for?" he exclaimed, highly delighted, patting the dog. "This will be far better than those dreadful clams which I could hardly swallow, and which when swallowed made me feel as if I had eaten lead."
Neptune wagged his tail, as much as to say, "I am very glad, master, I have brought you something you like." The puzzle was now how to cook the bird. At first he thought of putting it in a clam shell to bake. He had actually placed it on the fire, feathers and all, when he remembered that it must be plucked. This he did in a somewhat awkward fashion. Then he recollected seeing pictures of camp fires, with animals spitted on sticks roasting before them. He selected such from the heap near him as would serve his purpose. Peeling one with his knife, he ran it through the bird, then placed it on two forked sticks, which he stuck in the ground. This done he raked the ashes of the fire beneath the bird close round it, and began turning his spit with his hand. It was hot work, and exercised all his patience. At last he saw that the bird was becoming browner and browner. He was satisfied that he was cooking it in the right fashion. Neptune lay down with his paws out, watching the process. Lord Reginald was too hungry to wait, and taking it off the spit he put it into a clam shell to serve as a dish, and began eagerly eating it. Though, from being just killed, and underdone, it was somewhat tough, it afforded him a far more satisfactory meal than any he had tasted since he had reached the island. He would have been wise had he reserved a portion for next morning's breakfast, but without consideration, after he had satisfied his hunger, he threw the remainder to Neptune, who gobbled it up in a few seconds.
Being now perfectly dark, having made up his fire he retired to his cave, where, with a piece of wood which he had brought up from the shore for his pillow, he lay down to sleep with Neptune by his side. He knew that his faithful dog would keep watch, and that he need have no fear of being attacked by any wild beasts which might exist in the island. It was some time before he could go to sleep, but at length, overcome by fatigue and mental anxiety, he dropped into an unquiet slumber.
It appeared to him that he was dreaming or thinking the whole night through. Great was his surprise to find it broad daylight when he awoke. Instead of the hurricane which had lately blown, there was a perfect calm, though the smooth undulations broke in a line of foam along the beach where it was not protected by rocks. His fire had gone out, but he had no difficulty in lighting it by means of his burning glass. His first care was to make it up. He then set off to collect some more shellfish.
He had got down to the shores of the little bay which has been before described, and was scrambling along the reef, when his eye fell on a figure apparently clinging to a cleft of the rock on the opposite side, just above high-water mark. The figure seemed to move. Taking out his small telescope he watched it eagerly, trying also to discover some means of getting to the spot. He at once saw by the dress that the figure was that of young Lucas. Was it possible that he was still alive? He feared not. He lost no time in returning to the beach, and then made his way along the rocks until he descended to the point where he had seen his shipmate. A glance at the features told him that the midshipman was dead, and had probably been washed up by the sea into the cleft of the rock. How to remove the body was now the question. He could not let it remain there festering in the hot sun, and it seemed impossible for him to carry it over the rough rocks on his shoulders. At last he thought he might tow it to the shore. There were plenty of materials for forming a raft. He soon lashed a few pieces of wreck together, when, having launched them, he took off his clothes and towed them out. Had it not been for the uniform he could not have distinguished his young shipmate. Extricating the body, not without difficulty, from the cleft of the rock in which it had been fixed, he lowered it down to the raft. Then taking the end of the tow-rope in hand, he began to swim towards the beach. The raft was heavy, and so weak did he feel that he was afraid he should be unable to reach the shore with his melancholy freight.
He was puffing and blowing away, and making but slow progress, when he saw Neptune—who had disappeared in the same mysterious way as he had done on the previous day—coming scampering along the beach. He called the dog, who with a bound plunged in and swam towards him. He placed the tow-rope in the mouth of the animal, who, seeming to know perfectly well what to do, swam with it towards the shore, allowing his master to rest his hand on his back. He thus, in a much shorter time than would otherwise have been possible, reached the beach. He felt so fatigued that he had to rest while the hot sun dried his body, before he could again put on his clothes.
Neptune, who was now aware of the freight he had brought ashore, waited as if to see what more was required of him. Suddenly he seemed to recollect that he had another duty to perform, and running back to the spot from which he had leapt into the water, he took up a pigeon, which he brought to his master.
"You are a wonderful dog," said Lord Reginald, patting his head. "How have you managed to catch this bird?"
He would gladly have got through the painful task he had set himself, but the pangs of hunger made him determine to cook the bird first. Following the plan he had adopted on the previous evening, he soon had it plucked and spitted. As he opened the crop he was surprised to see three large nuts drop to the ground, which split as they fell; it seemed wonderful that the pigeon could have swallowed them, large as they were. The kernels, which he put into the fire and roasted, were especially nice and served instead of bread. Neptune, as before, came in for the remainder of the bird. He ate it up, but not greedily, as if he was in want of food. "The rogue has been catering for himself, I suspect I hope that he may bring me something for dinner, for though a pigeon a day is something, sufficient to keep body and soul together, I shall require more to retain my strength." As he again rose a sensation of lassitude oppressed him. He felt very much disinclined for the painful task he had undertaken. It must be done, however, and rousing himself he seized the wooden spade he had before used, and set to work to dig a grave near that of Voules. He had not long been engaged in his task, when looking up he saw Richard Hargrave approaching. This at once made him suspect that he had been watched by his rival, although he had not discovered him.
"I don't like to see you engaged in that sort of work; it is as much my duty as yours," said Dick. "So I have come to help you."
"I shan't require your aid," answered Lord Reginald, haughtily; "you can bury any of the men you may find, but I choose to bury this young officer myself."
"Very well, do as you like," said Dick, indignant at having his well-meant offer refused. "I thought as we had both suffered a common misfortune, you would have been glad of the society and assistance of a fellow-creature."
"You don't suppose that any common misfortune would bring me down to your level?" exclaimed Lord Reginald. "I don't require either your sympathy or your assistance; all I desire is that you should keep out of my way, and remember that I am still your officer."
"I remember that you were once my officer, and that as such you took every opportunity to show your ill-feelings towards me, or allowed others to do so. One of them lies there, and unless you exercise such sense as you have got, you'll soon take your place by his side. I speak plainly, but I speak the truth. Except the few shell-fish, and the couple of cocoanuts you have picked up, you have been unable to procure any food for yourself."
"You are wrong there," said Lord Reginald; "my faithful dog has catered for me, and I have no doubt he will continue to do so; but I do not choose to waste words on you. Be off, and look after your own affairs."
Dick laughed scornfully. "Do you suppose that the dog would have got those birds by himself?" he asked. "You give him credit for more cleverness than he possesses."
"I have told you I do not desire to hold any conversation with you," said Lord Reginald, not inquiring for an explanation of the last remark Dick had made, though it somewhat puzzled him.
"You must take the consequences of your obstinacy, then!" exclaimed Dick, walking away with as haughty an air as Lord Reginald himself could have assumed.
The poor young lord resumed his uncongenial occupation, which Dick's appearance had interrupted. The grave was dug, and the body of the midshipman dragged into it. He lost no time in covering it up, as it was painful to look upon those features, once so full of life and animation. "Are we two, then, the only survivors from the Marie?" exclaimed Lord Reginald. "I wish that some one else had been saved, though I now know for certain that the only ones with whom I could have associated are dead!"
Instead of setting to work to try and improve his condition, oppressed with lassitude, he lay for the remainder of the day in front of his cave, doing nothing.
Neptune remained by him for some time, then apparently getting weary of inaction, after playing about on the sand, scampered off into the interior.
"I hope that he has gone to get me another pigeon, or something else," said Lord Reginald, when he found that the dog had disappeared. "Sagacious brute, he knows my wants, and is sure to bring me something."
Hour after hour, however, passed by, and he began to get very hungry. The dog did not return, and evening was approaching. He at last got up, and set off for the spring, to obtain a draught of water, and hoping to find at all events another cocoanut in the palm grove, where he had procured the others. Having drunk as much water as he required, he searched about. Though numbers of cocoanuts grew on the trees above his head, he could not find one fallen to the ground. There were a few husks, which had been broken open and their contents abstracted. He looked about, expecting to see his dog. Neptune did not make his appearance. All he could do therefore, was to collect some more sticks to keep up his fire, after which he obtained some clams from the seashore, off which, though imperfectly cooked, he was fain to make his supper. He had just finished when he saw Neptune coming towards him, not scampering along as usual, but advancing slowly, with his tail between his legs. Lord Reginald looked out eagerly for the pigeon, but Neptune's mouth had nothing in it. "What, my good dog, have you been unsuccessful in your hunting?" he said. "It is a bad look-out for me, as I shall have nothing but these clams. However, you shall share them with me."
When, however, he offered the shell-fish to the dog, he refused to eat them, and, looking ashamed of himself, crouched down by his side.
Another night passed away. When the young lord tried to get up in the morning, his limbs ached, and he found himself much weaker than before. He became somewhat alarmed. "If this goes on I don't know how it will end," he said to himself. "It is evident that the clams do not agree with me; however, as I have nothing else, I must eat some for breakfast."
In spite of the pain he was suffering, he crawled down to the beach, and collected as many as he thought he and his dog would require. Bringing them back, and making up his fire, he tried to cook them with more care than before. But they tasted like so many pieces of salted leather, and he could with difficulty swallow them. Neptune ate a few; they were evidently not much to his taste. He soon showed signs of a wish to get away from his master. Twice he started off, but Lord Reginald called him back.
"Come, old dog, we will go and hunt together, and I hope that we shall be more successful than before," he said, at length getting up, and taking a stick to support himself. Sick as he was, he thought a bath would refresh him. He accordingly went down to the bay, and taking off his clothes waded in. The cool water had the effect he expected. He thought he might venture to swim out to a little distance. The dog followed him, keeping close to his side. He had not got far when Neptune uttered a bark, very different in tone to that which he usually emitted. It appeared to be indicative of alarm, and Lord Reginald, looking ahead, saw a black fin rising above the water. He immediately turned, and swam with all his might back to the beach, expecting every instant to feel his leg seized by a shark, for he knew too well that the black fin belonged to one of the monsters of the deep. Nep continued close to him, though he might have got ahead, but the moment he touched the beach he scampered up it, and then turned round and barked furiously, leaping and splashing about in the shallow water. Lord Reginald also, as soon as his feet touched the sand, waded out as fast as his strength would allow, and did not stop until he reached dry ground. Scarcely had he landed, than a pair of huge jaws appeared above the surface, making directly for the dog. But Neptune was too active to be caught, though he had a narrow escape. Lord Reginald, exhausted by the exertions he had made, sank on the sand. Some minutes passed before he could manage to put on his clothes. It was a warning to him not to bathe in future in the bay.
As soon as he had somewhat recovered, again taking his stick in hand he set off, as he had before intended, for the fountain. He felt much refreshed, after taking a draught of pure water and washing his face and head in it, and was sufficiently strong, he thought, to make an exploring expedition through the island, to ascertain its size, and whether he could obtain more food than the sea-shore afforded. Finding an accessible hill he toiled up it. From the summit, he obtained a view over the larger portion of the island. It was generally volcanic and barren. The hill on which he stood formed the side of a volcano, but whether active or not, he could not determine. It was destitute of vegetation, and was covered with black lava, which, from being hard and smooth, he supposed had long been exposed to the atmosphere. There were, however, level spots, in which grew a number of tropical trees, and he could see far off, a broad valley, through which a stream meandered. He looked round for signs of inhabitants, but could discover no huts or buildings of any sort, or traces of cultivation. In the far distance, round a point which ran out to the southward, beyond the spot where the Marie had been wrecked, he saw a wreath of smoke ascending through the pure air. This, he had no doubt, rose from Richard Hargrave's fire. Descending the hill, he made his way along a valley, which was of far greater extent than the one he had just discovered near his cave. He was struck with the number of birds—some of beautiful plumage, and others resembling barn door fowls, which were running about among the trees, picking up seeds and fruits fallen from the lofty boughs. He caught sight of some small deer, but the moment they saw him, they scampered off as fleet as the wind. Further off he came upon a small herd of queer-looking pigs. They took to flight, and although Neptune made chase, they quickly distanced him. Presently he heard a chattering above his head, and looking up he saw a number of very small monkeys, grinning out at him from among the boughs. Impulsively he threw his stick at one of the nearest, but the monkey saw it coming, and quickly getting out of the way, clambered with its companions to the higher boughs, where a bullet alone could have reached it.
"There's game enough here to support a ship's company," he thought; "but they only appear to tantalise me, and I may be doomed to starve in the midst of abundance." Among the birds were numerous white cockatoos which flew over his head, but as he approached took good care to keep out of his way, while green pigeons, similar to those Neptune had brought him, were in great numbers, and evidently less timid. Some flew close to him, or remained perched on the boughs, but though he threw his stick at several, he failed to bring one down.
"I wonder that this island, like others in the neighbourhood, is not inhabited." The thought then occurred to him that the volcano had either driven the natives away, or prevented them from occupying it, although the fertility of the valley through which he was walking showed that it was capable of supporting a tolerably numerous population.
He went on and on, interested in the objects he saw, and almost forgetting his fatigue, being able occasionally to quench his thirst at the stream along the banks of which he made his way. He cast a longing eye at several fruits hanging from the boughs of trees of the palm species, but they were all beyond his reach, and no way occurred to him of getting at them. The chief inconvenience he suffered was from the want of a hat, as the sun beat down with intense force on his head, but although he had seen Richard Hargrave wearing one, it did not occur to him that he might manufacture a similar protection. He at length remembered his white handkerchief, which he tied round his head, placing several layers of leaves beneath it, to add to its thickness. This somewhat relieved him, but did not shelter his eyes and face. At last he reached a hill of slight elevation, to the top of which he climbed. It overlooked a small picturesque bay. On the nearest point was a large mass of wreck, apparently the bows of the ship, which, when she parted, had been driven there by the current and the fury of the hurricane.
On one side, though at no great distance from the shore, was a neat hut, at which a person was working, whom he felt sure was Richard Hargrave. Neptune, on seeing him, bounded off without asking his master's leave, and Lord Reginald, to his intense disgust, saw the dog rush up and lick the hand of his rival, who patted him, then going into the hut, quickly came out with some pieces of meat, which he gave to the dog.
The sight exasperated the young lord, so that, not considering the folly of what he was about, hurrying down the hill, he made his way towards Dick.
The latter, who had mounted a ladder to continue his work, turning his head, saw him coming, and descended to meet him.
"You scoundrel!" exclaimed the young lord, his features distorted with anger. "You are trying to entice my dog from me by giving him food, which you might at all events have had the grace to offer to me, your officer."
"I have no wish to entice your dog from you!" answered Dick; "and I would advise you to calm your anger, and listen to reason. I sent you two pigeons I trapped, by your dog, first giving him a hearty meal, that he might not eat them on the way, and from your own lips I know that you received them, though you had not the grace to thank me, and declared that you could do very well without my assistance; so I left you to look after yourself, though I hadn't the heart to refuse to feed your dog, when I knew you would have nothing to give him."
"That's false!" exclaimed Lord Reginald. "I know full well that your object was to deprive me of my dog, for the faithful animal—though his instinct induces him to take the food—managed to break away from you, and to return to me, and had you really wished to assist me you might have sent some more of those pigeons, or any other provisions you have obtained."
"It's of no use arguing with an angry man," retorted Dick. "You accuse me of uttering falsehoods. Again I assure you that I have spoken but the simple truth, and say that, as you have obstinately refused my assistance, you must take the consequences."
"Impertinent scoundrel!" cried Lord Reginald. "You dare to speak to me thus! I desire you not again to feed my dog, or to let him remain if he comes to you. He and I must forage for ourselves, and there's game enough in the island, so I shall be able to catch as much as I require for myself and him."
"As you please," said Dick, turning aside, and whistling as he went on with his work, which the arrival of Lord Reginald had interrupted.
The young lord, calling Neptune, who seemed very unwilling to leave, walked off, foaming with anger, and muttering, "I must put a stop to this, or it is impossible to say what he will next do!" As he reached the top of the hill, he could not refrain from turning round, to watch the proceedings of his rival.
Dick had built a good-sized hut under the shade of a grove of trees, and had dug up the ground in an open space near it, to form a garden, which he had begun to rail in. "The fellow seems determined to make himself at home, as if he expected to live here for years to come. A low-born fellow has mechanical talents such as I don't possess; they certainly give him an advantage over me, under the circumstances in which we are placed, but I must see what I can do for myself. My cave has only hitherto afforded me shelter, but should the wind blow strong and directly into it, I should not find it a comfortable abode. I must try and build a hut for myself. I don't see why I shouldn't, though it might not be so well finished as his. But there's wreck enough on the shore for the purpose, though I shall be puzzled how to get it up. Then about providing myself with food, I'll make a bow and arrows; I shall then be able to shoot some birds, or perhaps a deer, and occasionally a pig. Anything would be better than being beholden to that fellow. It is important that I should show how independent I am of him."
Such thoughts occupied the young lord's mind as he continued his walk along the valley, Neptune every now and then giving chase to a deer or a hog, but the animals scampered off, soon leaving him far behind, and on each occasion he came slinking back to his master, greatly disconcerted at his want of success.
"I see, poor fellow, you are not more likely to catch one of those creatures than I am," he said. "We must try what we can do in some other way. We need not starve in the midst of abundance, that's very certain." He looked about carefully on every side for a young sapling or a tree of some flexible character of which he might form a bow, but he was too ignorant of their nature to know which to select.
"I must try them first, perhaps I shall hit upon one which will answer my purpose."
At last he came to a small straight stem. "This will do, at all events," he thought, and he set to work with his knife to cut it down. As the knife was blunt, he made but slow progress. Even when it was down, he would have to pare off the lower part, so as to make it of the same size as the upper. At length by cutting round and round, he made a notch of sufficient depth to enable him to break off the stem. Shouldering his prize, he walked on to the cave, which he thought would be cooler than any other spot.
Poor Nep followed him, wondering what was going to happen. On measuring the sapling he found that he might have cut it much higher up and saved himself a great deal of trouble. The bow, were he to use it of its present length, would be much too long. He had therefore to remedy this by cutting off two feet at the bottom end. He then peeled it and began shaping the stick by paring off the thicker end. He had shaped it very much to his satisfaction, before it occurred to him to try and bend the bow. What was his annoyance to find, on making the attempt, that bend it would not. It would have formed a very good lance, had he retained the full length, but it was useless for a bow. Again and again he tried to bend it. Using all his force, he felt it yield in his hand, and presently it snapped across. He threw it to the ground with an exclamation of disgust, and for a few minutes felt utterly dispirited.
"I ought to have tried it first to ascertain whether it was of the nature of the yew. Surely savages in this region use bows. There must be wood suited for the purpose, so that if I can find it, I ought to be able to make as good a bow as they can."
While occupied he had not felt hungry, but as he began to move about, he was reminded by his sensations that he must find something to eat. He felt a dislike to making another meal off the shell-fish, but he knew that unless he should be successful in catching some bird or animal he would be compelled to do so. Neptune also showed that he was conscious of the necessity of providing for the inner man. The moment he saw his master get up, he bounded forward, leaping and frisking about to encourage him to proceed.
Poor Lord Reginald, as he walked on after the dog, felt downcast and faint. By going to Richard Hargrave and apologising for his conduct, he might have obtained all he required, but he would rather starve than do that.
As he reached the valley he saw a large number of white cockatoos and green pigeons flying about, and preparing to roost for the night.
"If I can manage to steal on some of those fellows at night, I might catch a few; that, perhaps, is the way Hargrave gets them."
But that was a long time to wait with the possibility of not succeeding, and so Neptune thought, for he went ranging far and wide, evidently looking for food.
Going to the fountain, Lord Reginald took a draught of cold water, hoping that it might stay his hunger. Though it somewhat refreshed him, he soon became more eager than ever for food, and sat down on the bank to consider how he could possibly obtain it. In vain he had thrown sticks and stones at birds. Perhaps he might form some traps, as he knew that such means were used for catching birds, but how to construct them was the puzzle. He turned the matter over and over again in his mind, and discovered that he had no inventive genius. "I shall have to go back to the shellfish, after all," he said, with a sigh; "but I must get a stick for a bow. I will try two or three, out of which one surely will answer the purpose."
Weak as he was, he again got up, and searching about for the sort of wood he wanted, he fixed on a couple of saplings and the branch of a tree. He intended to make the string by untwisting some of the rope from the wreck, while there were plenty of reeds by the side of the stream which he thought would serve as arrows, though how to form heads he had not yet decided. He hoped that by working away by the light of his fire, he might get a bow finished before the morning.
He intended to test the sticks before bestowing labour on any of them, but in the mean time it was absolutely necessary to get some food, for he felt so weak that he could scarcely drag himself back to his cave. Nep was certainly of the same opinion in regard to the necessity of finding provisions, as he continued hunting round and round in all directions, occasionally stopping and barking eagerly at a monkey, which looked down at him from a high branch, or at an opossum, to one of which he gave chase, but the creature got up a tree before he could reach it, and from its hollow kept looking at the strange animal which had invaded its native domains. At last Lord Reginald saw Nep run to the top of a mound, which he observed in an open space in the wood. It appeared to be composed of sticks, dead leaves, stones, rotten wood, earth, and rubbish of all sorts. The mound was between five and six feet high, and fully twelve feet across. He thought it must be the grave of some of the aborigines who had once inhabited the island, but the dog was evidently of opinion that it contained something worth looking after, as he began scratching away with might and main, in so eager a manner, that Lord Reginald was induced to go up and ascertain what he was about.
Nep had already dug a deep hole, and on looking into it, his master saw, to his surprise and satisfaction, a number of eggs as large as those of a swan, of a red brick colour. Stooping down, he eagerly picked up one of them, which he broke and found that it was perfectly sweet. Here was a storehouse, which would supply him with an abundance of excellent food.
Having collected as many eggs as he could carry in his handkerchief, calling Nep, who seemed in no way disposed to leave the treasure, he set off for his cave. Making up his fire, he put three of his eggs under the ashes to cook, the only way he could think of to dress them, while he ate a portion of the one he had broken, which, though raw, was palatable, and contributed to allay the pangs of hunger. The remainder he gave to Nep, who eagerly gobbled it up, showing how hungry he had become.
That the eggs were laid by birds, he had no doubt, though of what species they were he was unable to determine. He resolved, however, to return next morning, and to wait near the spot, supposing that they must be large birds, and that he should be able to kill one, which would afford him ample food for a day or two. "I shall then be as well off as that fellow Hargrave," he thought to himself, "and I at all events shall be independent of him."
Having finished his supper, he commenced making a bow. One only of the sticks appeared suitable for the purpose. On bending it, back it sprang with considerable force. While still working away by the light of his waning fire, sleep so completely overpowered him, that he let fall his knife, and the stick of his bow by his side, while his head bent down over his breast. When he awoke, his fire was almost out, and as he could see to work no more, he crept back into his cave, where he lay down to sleep, with Nep, as usual, by his side.
A TRYING TIME—THE FATAL CRASH—BEN RUDALL'S LAST EFFORT—AMONG THE BREAKERS—THROWN ON SHORE—THE FIRST SHELTER—THE CARPENTER'S CHEST— SETTING TRAPS—A VERY SATISFACTORY MEAL—VISIT OF NEP—A PRESENT FOR LORD REGINALD—DICK BUILDING HIS HUT—MEETING OF THE RIVAL CRUSOES— SUPPLIES STOPPED—COLLECTING STORES—BOAT-BUILDING—USEFUL EMPLOYMENT OF TIME—CONSTRUCTING A COT—THE MEGAPODES—A CROSSBOW.
We must now go back to the night of the shipwreck. Dick, with Ben Rudall and several other men, had been stationed forward, and remained at their posts when land was first seen under the lee.
"There'll be a watery grave for most of us," said Ben when the cry arose of "Land, land!" often so cheering to seamen, but on the present occasion of such dreadful import.
"We must have a struggle for our lives, at all events," said Dick. "Better than going down in mid-ocean, without a plank to cling to."
"You don't know what a surf like that breaking on a lee-shore under your lee can do!" observed an old salt, who stood holding on to the bulwarks with one hand, while he searched for a quid of tobacco with the other.
"They would grind up a stout ship like this in a few minutes if she strikes. It can't be helped; I'll take one chaw, though it may be my last, and I only wish that I could get a glass or two of grog. It would make one feel more comfortable like."
"We can do without grog, surely," said Dick. "It strikes me that we ought to try and keep our senses wide awake, so that we can judge of what's best to be done. I for one shall struggle to the last, and hope to reach the beach in spite of the surf, either on a spar or a piece of wreck."
"We arn't wrecked yet; maybe we shall be able to run into some cove or other where we can bring up."
"Not unless we had a pilot on board who knows the coast. From what I hear, none of the officers have ever been in these seas before, and we have little chance of dropping anchor in a safe harbour."
The gale came down with increased fury. "Hold on, lads, for your lives!" cried Ben, who had cast one anxious look to leeward. "Keep clear of the falling masts, for before a minute is over we shall be on shore!"
Scarcely had he spoken than there came a fearful crash. The masts went by the board. The sea, with thundering roars, broke over the doomed ship. Crash succeeded crash. The shrieks of those carried away could be heard every moment. Dick kept to his resolution of clinging tightly to a stanchion. Presently came the final crash, when the Marie parted amidships, and those forward found themselves separated from their companions. The sea twisted the bow round and floated it away, but it still held together. "We shall be carried off from the land!" cried Ben Rudall. "We had better try to get hold of some spars and float ashore."
"I thought you advised us to cling to the ship as long as she held together," observed Dick.
"But she's not holding together," answered Ben. "To my mind, she'll either go down in deep water, or go to pieces when we are too far off to reach the shore."
Still Dick had made up his mind to stick to the ship.
"Well, mates, who's for the shore?" cried Ben.
"Only those who are tired of life!" said the old seaman; "the wise ones will stick to the wreck. The chances are that will be cast on the beach, where we shall have a better chance of landing."
Ben, however, still adhered to the belief that they would have a better prospect of saving their lives by clinging to some of the floating mass than by holding on to the forecastle, over which the sea was continually washing.
Several, while doubting what to do, were swept from their hold, and had no choice given them. Ben, with three others, got hold of some pieces of timber.
"If you escape and I get drowned, give my love to poor Susan and the children. Say that my last thoughts were about them," cried Ben, as he threw himself after his companions.
Dick and the old seaman alone remained. The mass of wreck was tossed wildly about for some minutes, being swept by a current parallel to the shore, until at length, lifted by a sea, it drove on a reef, when the next sea rolling up, carried its two occupants overboard, together with several fragments of the bulwarks which it had torn off.
Striking out for his life, Dick succeeded in getting hold of a piece of timber. As he did so he heard a cry, and glancing in the direction from whence it came, he dimly saw his late companion through the gloom, lift up his arms and sink amidst the foaming waters. Dick held fast to the timber. Although not a bad swimmer, he knew that he should have but little chance of keeping afloat in that boiling cauldron. The seas washed him on nearer and nearer the shore, when just as he felt his strength failing him, he found that the timber had grounded; so letting it go he scrambled up before the next wave overtook him, and reached the dry sand, on which he threw himself, well-nigh exhausted by his exertions. Soon recovering, he looked out, in the hopes that some of his shipmates might be thrown up on the same beach, but though he for long watched anxiously, running up and down along the whole circuit of the bay, he saw no one, and came to the melancholy conclusion that all on board excepting himself had been lost.
Numerous articles, besides masses of wreck, were, however, cast on shore, and those which appeared the most valuable he made every exertion to secure. Among them was a large chest, which he hoped by its weight to have belonged to the carpenter. Though unable to haul it up beyond where the water had floated it, having found a rope he made it fast to the handle, and carried the other end to the trunk of a tree. In vain he looked out during the time, in the hope of seeing any of his shipmates coming on shore; he feared all had been drowned or washed away. At length he made out amid the foam two bodies floating at no great distance from the shore. They both appeared lashed to pieces of timber. They might still be alive.
He dashed into the water, just as the sea sent one of the pieces of wreck close to him, when seizing it he dragged it up, and instantly casting off the lashings, carried the man up to the dry beach. He then dashed forward again, and succeeded in getting hold of the spar to which the second man was lashed. It cost him much labour, and he was very nearly carried out himself, but by exerting all his strength he succeeded at length in getting the spar also up to the beach.
Cutting the man loose, he carried the body up and placed it beside that of his companion. He then set to work to try and restore the men to life, rubbing their hands and chests, but all his efforts were in vain. As far as he could tell, they were the only people who had reached the beach. He thought of poor Ben. He still had some hopes that he might have been washed on shore, but although he called his name several times, no answer was returned.
Finding that all his efforts were vain, he then got up, wishing to procure some shelter for himself during the inclement night. Observing the mizzen rigging with a piece of sail entangled among it, he cut the canvas loose, and contrived with a couple of bales and some pieces of board, to rig up a rough hut.
The storm abated and the moon shone out for a short time, enabling him to complete his work. Scarcely was it finished than down came the rain, and he was glad to crawl in and obtain rest. He slept on until morning. Immediately on getting up he went down to the beach on the chance of finding any of his companions, but no one was visible, either alive or dead. There were, however, a number of articles and masses of wreck floating or cast on shore, while the bows of the ship still hung together at the end of the reef. Hunger reminded him that he must look out for food. The trees and shrubs he saw growing inland gave him hopes of finding provision for his wants.
His first care was to form a covering for his head, as he had already found the heat of the sun excessive, and he had lost his hat during his swim ashore. He had often seen the seamen on board form straw hats. He at once looked out for such leaves as would serve the purpose of straw, and soon finding some, he sat down under a tree and diligently set to work. The fibre of the leaf served as thread, the thick stem as a needle. Certainly the hat was not over well shaped, but it answered the purpose of protecting his head and neck from the burning rays of the sun.
His next idea was to obtain such food as the sea would afford. Without difficulty he collected as many shell-fish as he required from the reef, and was returning with them when he saw a cask, which from its appearance he hoped contained biscuits. He at once rolled it up to his hut, then set about collecting wood for a fire.
He easily found a supply of dry sticks which, with some pieces of wreck, were amply sufficient for his wants. As he was collecting the sticks he was delighted to see the number of birds as well as animals inhabiting the island.
"If I can catch you fellows, I shall have no want of food," he observed. "I must set my wits to work, and make some traps."
A couple of large clam shells which he had found on the beach, served to carry water. He had in his pocket a flint and steel, with which he soon managed to produce a blaze. While the shell-fish were cooking, he opened the cask, which he found contained flour. Though the outside was wet, by digging down to a little depth, he found the interior perfectly dry. A clam shell served him as a kneading-dish, and he quickly made some dough cakes, which he baked in the embers. He was thus able to enjoy a very satisfactory breakfast, although he had cold water alone as a beverage. There were a number of other casks and cases, and he hoped to find among them some more flour, and perhaps some tea or coffee, and salt beef or pork.
The first thing to be done was to secure all the articles which came on the beach, before another tide should float them off. He at once set about this. It was somewhat hard work, for many of the cases were heavy, and he could with difficulty drag them over the soft sand. Having drawn up all he could see floating on the shores of the bay, he bethought him that by going further to the south, he might find others in the bay off which the ship struck.
He accordingly set out, and climbing over the intervening rocks, what was his surprise on looking down to see a person at work, whom he recognised as Lord Reginald. He at once guessed how he was employed.
"It isn't fair to let him do that work all alone, though I'd rather have kept clear of him, and very likely he'll not take in good part whatever offer I make," he said to himself.
He approached, and was received as he expected. The interview has already been described. Dick felt a sincere grief when he found Ben Rudall's body among the drowned; it was not likely that any others had escaped. The headland which extended away to the westward, would prevent any persons landing on that side, and he felt sure that Lord Reginald and he were the only people who had escaped from the wreck.
The treatment he received made him resolve not to trouble Lord Reginald in future with his company. "He'll come to his senses by-and-by, and find out that he and I are pretty much on an equality, or rather that I have the advantage of him, as I shall be able to get on much better than he does," thought Dick.
From the first, he saw the necessity of providing for his daily wants. He must look out for food, and erect some shelter for himself. The hut in which he had spent the first night was hot and close, and though it might serve him until he could get a better habitation erected, he was anxious to build a more substantial place to live in. He was desirous, also, without delay, to examine the large chest. It would have been a difficult task to get it beyond the reach of the sea, even should Lord Reginald have condescended to help him. He considered, therefore, how he could best do it alone. There were several broken spars about. These he collected, and managed, by digging away the sand, to place them so as to serve as rollers beneath the chest. He then picked up several blocks, with which he formed a tackle, and secured it to the stump of a tree. By hauling away with all his might, he found that he could move the chest, and by shifting the rollers by degrees he hauled it up beyond high-water mark. The next difficulty to be overcome was to get it open. He had no tools to work with, and without tools it would baffle the strength of fifty men. Looking about, however, he discovered a large flat stone which might, he hoped, serve as a wedge; after a further search he picked up another heavy round stone, and armed with these he began to work away at the lock. It resisted for some time, but by hammering away with might and main the lock yielded, and the interior, full of carpenter's tools and numerous other articles, was revealed to his sight. He had now the means of building a comfortable house. He had been taught to handle tools by a carpenter in his younger days, and he had also—which was of great importance—often formed traps for the purpose of catching birds and animals, so that he might thus supply himself with food. He saw a number of green pigeons, which appeared very tame, and lots of cockatoos, though they looked too wise to be trapped.
Selecting such of the tools as he thought he should require, he collected a quantity of wood, and took them up to the shade of the nearest tree, where he could work in tolerable comfort. In a short time he had formed three traps, similar to those made by boys in England to catch sparrows, but of much larger dimensions.
Having picked up a quantity of seed fallen from the trees, for bait, he set them in different places apart, where from a distance he could command a sight of them. He watched eagerly, and soon had the satisfaction of seeing one go down, and directly afterwards the other two. He ran up to secure his prizes. Each had caught a pigeon, and wringing their necks he reset the traps, and returned to his tree. Some dry fungus served him for tinder. Having his flint and steel, he struck a spark and soon had a fire blazing. He plucked one of the pigeons and set it on to roast, considering that it would be sufficient for one meal, and intending to keep the other two. He then made some dough cakes, which he cooked as before, on a large stone surrounded by ashes. He had begun his meal when he saw Nep ranging in the distance. He called the dog to him, and observing his hungry look, gave him the remainder of the pigeon and some dough cake. The dog, having eaten what was bestowed upon him, looked still anxious.
"I see what it is; you are thinking of your master, old fellow. Now you take back that bird. He is probably very hungry, and you may tell him I sent it, if you like. I don't suppose he will refuse to eat it, even if he knows where it comes from. Now mind, Nep, don't you stop on the way and bolt it down, or I shall be obliged to give you a thrashing when you come back."
Nep seemed fully to understand what he was to do. Taking the bird up with as much care as if it were alive, he set off in the direction of the cave.
"He'll do it," said Dick, well satisfied with himself. "I couldn't bear to have him starve, while I am enjoying an ample meal. The chances are that he hasn't got the sense to obtain anything for himself. Nep might be able to catch some animals for him, but he won't succeed in getting hold of a bird."
Dick felt much more satisfied with himself after this. He now began to consider how he could make himself comfortable. While setting his traps he had observed several trees which bore fruit, and he therefore felt convinced he should be able to obtain as much food as he required, besides any fish he might catch. On searching the carpenter's chest, he found a number of hooks of all sizes, together with some fine line, so that he might go out fishing as soon as he had time. Several of the bales consisted of cotton or linen cloth, and another prize was a box belonging to one of the officers, which contained clothes, shoes, some nautical instruments, a spyglass, and several books, which, although they were in French, were better than none at all, as he might by their means teach himself that language.
Having collected all the wood which had drifted ashore from the wreck, he dragged it up by means of his tackle, and he had soon enough to build a small hut. He lost no time in making a commencement. The tropical rains, he thought, might soon begin, and it was important to get under shelter before then. He settled to build his hut in such a way that he might increase its size as he could procure more materials. At present his plan was to build the frame of drift wood, and then to cover it over with planks, for which he might cut down trees and saw them up into boards.
For some time, however, his progress was slow, as he was compelled to look out for provisions. For this purpose he had to form several more traps, as sometimes whole days passed without those he had at first set catching a bird. Neptune paid him another visit, and he sent a second pigeon by the dog to Lord Reginald. Remembering that several articles had been thrown up on the beach of the smaller bay on which Lord Reginald had been cast, he thought that he would ascertain if there were any things worth having among them. He set off, therefore, armed with a stick for this purpose. He was going along the beach, eagerly looking out for whatever he could draw on shore, when he saw Lord Reginald engaged in burying the midshipman.
The coldness with which his overtures were received made him determine to leave Lord Reginald to his own devices.
"He'll soon find out how well he can get on alone," he said to himself, and turning on his heel he went back to his hut. "If the foolish fellow chooses to starve, there's no reason why the poor dog should. If he comes, I'll do my best to feed him, at all events."
Dick had now plenty of work before him. His spirits rose as he laboured away, and he made good progress with his hut. It was almost fit for occupation. As long as he could procure nourishing food without difficulty, he devoted himself without interruption to the work. Neptune paid his visits as before, and Dick fed him well, but would give him no food to carry to his master.
"No, no," he said; "he boasts that he can feed himself, let him do so. If he starve, that's not my look-out, but you, poor brute, deserve being cared for." At length, to Dick's surprise, Lord Reginald made his appearance. At first Dick hoped he had come with overtures of peace, but the young lord's haughty bearing and outrageous remarks convinced him that there was little hope of their living on amicable terms together.
"Let him go and live by himself as best he can," said Dick. "I should have liked to have had a companion, but I would rather be without one than be compelled to associate with so ill-tempered a fellow as he is." And he went on boring holes and hammering on the planks of his house. Next day Nep made his appearance, begging for food, which Dick gave him, but though he had several pigeons, he would not send one by him.
Nep stayed on, hoping to get it, but Dick was determined that the young lord should be made to feel his own helplessness. "If he want food for himself, he must come and ask for it," he said; "he chose to despise my former presents, and I intend to teach him which is the best man of the two."
Dick soon got his hut roofed in, so that should rain come on, he would be under shelter. He had still to make furniture for it, and to build a storehouse and other conveniences.
Before commencing these operations, he bethought him of the best means of securing a supply of provisions, so that he need not be interrupted in his work.
During two or three excursions he had made through the valley, he had seen the number of birds and animals inhabiting it. The pigs, he thought, he could catch in pitfalls, though it might be a task of some difficulty without an iron spade to dig them in hard ground, but he was not to be daunted, and he determined to form some instrument with which to accomplish his purpose.
Then he thought, "I ought to have a canoe to go out fishing, while the fine weather lasts." As he wandered about, he looked out for a tree to suit his purpose. He found one of sufficient girth and length, with a perfectly straight trunk, though whether the nature of the wood was suitable for a canoe, he could not ascertain, except by cutting it down. He had often felled trees at home, but without an axe he could do nothing. He went back to the carpenter's chest, in the hopes of finding one. Searching among the tools, at the bottom he discovered three spare heads. He had, however, to fix a handle to one of them. The first thing to be done was to find a piece of wood suited for the purpose. After hunting for some time, he discovered a piece of oak, washed ashore from the wreck. On measuring it, he ascertained that it was large enough to form three handles. Before, however, he could use a saw to his satisfaction, he considered that it would be necessary to form a stool, which he did from a piece of plank, with four stout legs fixed in the ground, close to his hut. He could now shape the handles without difficulty. Having sawn out one, he set to work with chisel and plane, and quickly formed a long handle which pleased him well. Fixing it securely in the axe-head, he poised it, and found that it was all he could desire.
Throwing off his jacket and waistcoat, rolling up his shirt sleeves, and fastening a handkerchief round his waist, he set to work, and began chopping away at the trunk of the tree, on the lee side, so that, the last stroke being given on the weather side, it might fall without fear of crushing him. He laboured away without cessation until he had cut through nearly half the tree, when his arms began to ache. He stopped, retiring to a little distance to contemplate his work. "Another two hours will do it, and I should like to get it down before dark," he exclaimed.
The wood was tolerably soft. This gave him hopes that he should be able to shape it without difficulty. His first idea had been to form only a fishing punt, which would enable him to go off a short distance from the land, or to visit the various bays in the island, where fish might abound. But as he considered the size of the tree, he thought it might be as well to construct one large enough to cross to any of the islands to the northward, which he knew to exist in that direction. For some thirty feet the trunk was almost of the same circumference. By adding weather boards, and decking over a portion of the stern and head, he might form a boat of a size sufficient to venture on a long voyage.
After resting himself, he again set to work, until he had cut into the heart of the tree. Having penetrated deeply into the tree on the lee side, he now stood on the weather side, and prepared to give the finishing strokes. After every stroke, he watched to see in which direction the tree was bending, that he might spring out of the way, in an opposite one to which it tended. At length, the wood began to crack, and the tall tree hung over on the side he expected. He plied his axe with redoubled vigour, when, tottering for a moment, down it came with a crash, making the earth around tremble, and throwing up a cloud of dust and leaves. He uttered a shout of satisfaction as he saw the first part of his work accomplished. In his eagerness, he would have begun shaping it out immediately, but darkness had come on, and prevented him from working. He had been so engaged, that he had forgotten all about his food. Hurrying to his traps, he found a couple of pigeons, which he hastily plucked, and, having made up his fire, put on to roast. While they were cooking, he kneaded some small dough cakes.
"I wish that foolish fellow had more sense; I would gladly have given him some of these," he thought. "The chances are he hasn't been able to kill anything. Hunger, however, will perhaps bring him to his senses, and I shall have him here begging. I can't have the heart to refuse him, though he ought to be made to feel his own helplessness." Having finished his supper, Dick hung up the other bird, and put away his cakes for breakfast, that he might set to work as soon as it was daylight.
He had not hitherto formed a bed-place for himself, being content to sleep on the ground, with some canvas and cloth from one of the bales, which he had first well dried in the sun, for a covering. Being very tired, he lay down, but fancied that he felt creatures crawling over him, so he resolved to make a cot before the next night, that he might sleep more comfortably. He had noticed some palm needles and a quantity of twine in the carpenter's chest, which would be of great service. He awoke before daylight, but afraid of losing time, he remained awake, thinking over his plans, until he saw the first gleams of dawn breaking in the eastern sky. He then at once rose and went down to the beach to take a bath, splashing about all the time he was in the water, and looking out seawards, in case of sharks or other dangerous creatures being near. Thoroughly refreshed, he returned on shore. Having dressed, he went back to his hut to commence his work for the day. He was so eager to get his boat finished that he would at once have begun on that, but there were other things of more immediate importance. The first was to see that his traps were properly set, as he knew that he was more likely to catch birds in the morning when they came down to feed, than at other times in the day. It took him, however, some time to collect the nuts and other fallen fruits on which the birds fed. As he was thus employed, he counted several different species, mostly of beautiful plumage, while a number of monkeys played on the boughs above his head, chattering furiously, as if to ask him where he came from.
"If the birds fly away, I shall be able to catch some of you fellows, at all events," he said, looking up at them. "I have heard say that some people do eat monkeys, though I would rather have any other meat. I'd sooner have one of those deer or hogs I see scampering away there; though, as I have not much chance of finding a gun and powder, I must make a crossbow and arrows. I used to shoot pretty well with one; if I can get the right sort of wood I have no doubt I could make one that would carry fifty yards or so, and I dare say that I should be able to kill some of those fellows, by lying in ambush, or creeping up to them. I'm sure, at all events, that I can knock over as many monkeys as I require." Having set his traps, he ate the remainder of his pigeon and some of the dough cakes, which he washed down with a draught of pure water.
He then began on his cot. He might have made a hammock with far less difficulty, but it would require more space to hang than his hut afforded, and would not be altogether so comfortable as a cot.
With two long poles and two short ones for the head and foot, he formed a framework, to which he secured canvas. Then fastening on the knittles, he secured a couple of blocks to the rafters of the hut, and thus formed a satisfactory sleeping-place.
With some of the cloth he made a pillow and mattress, which he stuffed with dried leaves, while another piece of cloth served as a coverlid of sufficient thickness for that climate. "I shall want a table and stool, and I must see if I can find any plates and dishes, mugs, or a saucepan." He very soon had fallen into the habit of talking to himself.
The day was wearing on. He had seen nothing of Lord Reginald nor of Neptune. He was surprised that the dog had not paid him a visit, but concluded that he had found sufficient food for himself and his master, or that he would certainly have done so. Dick accordingly began to plan his canoe. He had found pencils and paper in the well-stored carpenter's chest. He drew the proposed shape of the stem and stern. His chief doubt was about the length. He finally settled to make the canoe thirty feet long. The tree was upwards of four feet in diameter. He proposed to make the gunwale two feet above this by raising it all round, and he thus hoped to get a craft of sufficient beam to carry cargo and go through a considerable amount of sea. He had the whole plan more clearly defined in his own mind than he could have designed it on paper. His first business was to chop off the bark and to saw the two ends even; then to level one side of the tree, cutting off rather more than one-third. On the level thus formed, he drew a line from one end to the other, carefully measuring it so that both sides might be equal. He next marked off from his drawing the shape of the bow and stern. By the time these operations were completed it was again night. He determined that nothing except what was absolutely necessary should stop him until he could finish it. He intended to fix on a keel and stern, so that the boat might carry sail. While on board the Wolf, he had often heard the warrant officers discuss the best form of boat. The carpenter described the canoes in those seas with outriggers, which would prevent them upsetting. Dick had comprehended the object of these; indeed, the carpenter had shown him some prints in Captain Cook's voyages, which enabled him still better to understand the use of such contrivances. Though Dick was highly proud of his proposed craft, he was fully sensible of the importance of procuring food.
Next morning when he went to his traps, he found that no birds had been taken. He concluded that, seeing so many of their companions caught, the rest had become wary, but he saw many others of different species, which he hoped either to trap or shoot. To do this he must manufacture his proposed crossbow. Without loss of time, taking an axe and saw with him, he set out in search of the necessary wood, for none of that from the wreck was likely to answer the purpose. He went on through the broad valley, until he arrived at the smaller one, in which was the spring whence Lord Reginald procured his supply of water. He looked out, but could see nothing of either the young lord or his dog. As he passed through the wood, he observed several birds; they had large feet and long curved claws, and were about the size of a small barn-door fowl. Their plumage was mostly of a dark olive colour, with tints of brown on the other parts. They were busily employed in eating fallen fruits, and picking up worms and insects, running about here and there at a great rate. Curious to observe them, he hid himself behind a tree, when he saw some, evidently hens, hopping to the top of a large mound, where having scraped away the earth to a considerable depth, they each deposited an egg, covering it up again with the greatest care.
"Oh, oh!" thought Dick, "if your eggs are fit to eat, I shall have a good store of provision," and going to the mound he soon shovelled away the earth, beneath which he found a good number of eggs. These he deposited carefully in a handkerchief, wrapping them up with leaves, to prevent them breaking.
The birds were a species of megapode, which are found chiefly in Australia and Borneo and the intermediate islands. They are allied to the gallinaceous birds but differ from them in never sitting upon their eggs, which, thus buried in vegetable rubbish, are left to be hatched by heat and fermentation. It is said that a number of birds unite in forming these mounds, and lay their eggs together, but take no further care of their offspring. As soon as the little birds are hatched, they run away from the mound, and at once begin picking up food suitable to them, trusting to their speed to escape from their foes. Dick, of course, knew nothing of this, but was well satisfied at finding so large a supply of fresh-laid eggs. He was also not aware that it was the very mound from which Lord Reginald had obtained the only food, besides shell-fish, he had been able to procure since his arrival in the island. Dick would certainly not otherwise have carried them off. Reaching the sea-shore, he turned back, for fear of encountering Lord Reginald, as he had no wish to have another interview with one who received his advances so ill.
"I suppose that he will manage to kill or trap some of those birds for himself," he thought, "or, if he is hard up, that he'll come back and ask my assistance. Meantime I must see what I can do for myself." After hunting about and trying a number of trees, he selected four branches of wood, on which he meant to try experiments to ascertain which was most suited for a crossbow. The stock and string he would have no difficulty in forming. He had the whole plan clearly in his head, and now he had got the eggs, which would last him for two or three days, he was in no hurry to finish it. He found a piece of deal, which could be easily worked, and he immediately commenced cutting it into shape, using his saw, plane, and chisel. The first piece of wood he tried for the bow broke. He had to take another, which bent easily enough, but had not sufficient spring. With the third he was more successful, and was fully satisfied that it would answer his purpose. He formed a string by twisting several lengths of twine tightly together, and he found that he could send a bolt of wood between thirty and forty yards. By the light of his fire he worked away until late in the night, when he was compelled from sleepiness to turn into his cot, with which he was well pleased. It formed a comfortable couch, and neither crabs, nor beetles, nor centipedes, nor other creeping things came near him. Still, he could not go to sleep. His thoughts constantly reverted to the poor young lord, who was resting in his cavern with dry sand, or a bed of leaves, at best, for his couch.
"Though he treats me with disdain, I ought not in consequence to allow him to perish. He is proud and obstinate, but, of course, he hasn't liked the way I have spoken to him. I hope to-morrow morning he'll think better of it, and will come to me for assistance, or will send Neptune. It is hard that the poor dog should starve because his master and I have fallen out."
Notwithstanding these thoughts which passed through Dick's mind, he did not feel inclined just then to set out in search of Lord Reginald. After thinking over what he would say to him if they met, satisfied with his good intentions, he fell asleep.
SEEKING FOOD—DISAPPOINTED—SHAPING A BOW—REDUCED TO EXTREMITY—POOR NEP IN DISGRACE—FEVER—HOW DICK FARED—THE CROSSBOW BOLT—A CURING-HOUSE—NEPTUNE'S APPEAL FOR HELP—DICK TURNS NURSE—ALL BUT LOST—A CHANGE OF QUARTERS—LORD REGINALD'S DELIRIUM—FINDING JUICY FRUIT—THE RECOGNITION.
Lord Reginald awoke with aching head and confused brain. For some time he lay unable to collect his scattered thoughts. At length he remembered how he had been engaged on the previous evening. He saw the bow he was trying to form, by his side, and Neptune lying down at his feet, keeping watch. As soon as the dog observed that his master was awake, he got up and licked his hands and face, trying to arouse him.
"I see you want food; so do I," said Lord Reginald, sitting up. "When I have finished the bow we shall have plenty. In the mean time, we must get a supply of those eggs we found the other day." He tried, as he spoke, to rise. With some exertion he got on his feet, but felt scarcely able to walk. Taking his stick, however, he managed to totter out of the cave. The fresh air of the early morning somewhat revived him, and, followed by Neptune, he made his way towards the curious mound in which he had found the eggs. He felt very giddy, and could scarcely drag his legs along. The necessity of obtaining food, however, compelled him to proceed. Nep kept by his side, looking up into his face, and wondering why he didn't move faster. He had great difficulty in climbing to the top of the mound, and nearly sank down in the attempt. At length he succeeded, when Nep ran forward and began scratching away as he had done before. Lord Reginald, sinking to the ground, watched him. "It appears to me as if some one has visited the place since I was last here," he thought.
Nep continued scratching away, but no eggs appeared. As Nep at length enlarged the hole, three eggs were disclosed to sight. Lord Reginald broke one of them, and cast it from him with disgust, for it contained a nearly formed bird. Nep, not being so particular as his master, supposing it was intended for him, without ceremony at once gobbled it up. The second and the third egg were in the same condition. Nep took them also as his share, and afterwards went on scratching away, apparently hoping to find more. Lord Reginald was too weak to help him.
"That fellow Hargrave has been here, and carried off all the sound eggs, leaving only these few for the sake of tantalising me," he exclaimed in a bitter tone.
After Neptune had scratched over the whole top of the mound, Lord Reginald, finding that he had no chance of obtaining any eggs from it, made his way with tottering steps towards the fountain, at which he and Neptune, as usual, quenched their thirst. It seemed to him, that he could never drink enough to allay the burning fever which raged within him. Neptune ranged about, and showed a great inclination to set off in the direction of Richard Hargrave's hut, but Lord Reginald called him back, jealous of the regard he paid to his rival.
"If you play me that trick, master Nep, I shall tie you up. Remember, I will have no paying court to that fellow," he cried out.
The dog came back with his tail between his legs, looking as if he would answer, "It will be your loss, master, but I obey you."
Greatly refreshed by the water, Lord Reginald found that he had sufficient strength to get to the beach. He managed, not without difficulty, to cut off from the rocks a further supply of clams, with which he returned to his cave. He made up his fire, and dressed some of them. Nep watched him, showing that the eggs had not sufficiently satisfied his hunger. It was with difficulty, however, when cooked, that, hungry as he was, Lord Reginald could eat any of the shell-fish. Even had he been in full health and strength, such food was not sufficient, without vegetables, either to satisfy his hunger or keep him in health.
"There, Nep," he said, throwing the remainder to his dog, "they'll suit you better than they do me."
Nep ate them up, and then came and lay down by his master's side.
"I must try and get this bow finished, old dog. We will then try and procure some venison, or one of those hogs, if I cannot manage to shoot a bird," he said.
He took up the stick he had been forming into a bow, and worked away as he had done on the previous night, but he had blunted his knife in cutting off the clams from the rocks, and had no means of sharpening it effectually. He tried to do so on a flat piece of rock, and then on the sole of his shoe, but after an attempt he found that it was very little sharper than before. He discovered, indeed, that he was ignorant of the way to sharpen a knife, as he was of most other arts.
At length, however, the bow was finished in a rough fashion, with a notch at each end to hold the string, which had now to be formed. He had first to untwist a piece of rope, then to divide it into small strands, and to twist them up again by means of a winch, which he manufactured like those he had seen on board. The string was much thicker than he wished to make it, but he could not otherwise give it sufficient strength. At last that was finished, and fitted to the bow. He had still the arrows to make. He remembered the reeds he had seen growing by the side of the stream, and rising with difficulty, he dragged himself along, supported by his stick, until he reached the spot. He selected a few of the requisite size and length, but with his blunt knife it took him a long time even to cut one, and his strength was almost exhausted before he had collected half a dozen. With these he returned to the cave.
The wings of the pigeons which Nep had left supplied him with feathers, which he bound on to one end. His difficulty was to form points. At first he thought that he could grind down some stones into the required shape, but after labouring away for some time, he had to give up the attempt. He then tried some hard pieces of wood, which he cut into shape and then hardened in the fire. Though not so heavy as he wished, he hoped that they might answer his purpose, and enable him to shoot straight for some distance. He had been all day without food except such shell-fish as he had taken in the morning, and he felt little able to draw his bow with any effect. As soon as he had finished his first arrow he got up, and placing it in the string, shot it along the shore. The arrow took a wavering flight, and flew some fifty yards or so, burying itself in the sand. Nep got up to it, barking with delight, while Lord Reginald crawled after it. On pulling it out, he found to his excessive vexation that the head had come off, and some time was expended in digging it out. Observing that he had not formed a sufficiently deep notch to bind it on tightly, he remedied the error, and was tolerably well satisfied with the result. Having finished the other five arrows, he set out, hoping to return with an ample supply of food. If he could but kill one deer, or a pig, or two or three birds, he would have sufficient to feed both himself and Neptune. The sun was still hot, but in his eagerness he thought little about it, and dragged himself along, hoping soon to see something at which to aim.
He would not have disdained even a monkey, if he could kill nothing else. He first made his way to the spring, where he had to quench his burning thirst. He then crawled on until he reached a tree, behind which he stood, hoping that some animal might come by at which he might take a steady aim. He waited and waited, however, in vain. He saw several deer in the distance, but they bounded along far out of range of his bow. At last he saw two hogs come grunting up, turning up the ground with their snouts in search of roots. They approached slowly. Trembling with eagerness, hoping that he might be able to kill one of them, he kept the arrow in the string, ready to shoot. The hogs came on moving from one side to the other, till they had got to within about thirty yards of it, when, fearing that they might suddenly turn off away from the tree, and sure that he could send his arrow to that distance, steadying himself as well as he could, he bent his bow. The arrow flew from the string, but though it struck the hog with a force which made the creature squeak, it glanced off from its thick hide, and both the animals, looking round, scampered away at a rate which made it hopeless to attempt overtaking them. Lord Reginald, however, getting ready another arrow, shot it, but it missed both hogs, who escaped, whisking their tails. He followed to pick up the arrows. Neither of them was broken. He next tried his skill at a cockatoo, but the arrow glanced against a bough, and the bird flew away with a scream of derision,—so poor Lord Reginald thought it. He was equally unsuccessful when aiming at some green pigeons. He had lost five of the arrows, and was almost in despair, when he caught sight of a monkey. He fixed the last arrow to the string and took as he thought a steady aim, but the monkey gave a nimble skip, and went chattering away to a distance, as if fully aware of the evil intended him, while the bow, as it sprang back again, gave a crack, and to Lord Reginald's dismay he found that it was broken. He dashed it down to the ground.
"Unfortunate being that I am!" he exclaimed. "Surrounded by plenty, I am doomed to starve." The agitation of his feelings almost overcame him. "I must depend in future for subsistence on the shell-fish, the very taste of which I abhor."
With difficulty he staggered towards the cave; that would at all events afford him shelter at night. On the way he stopped to drink at the spring, and fill a large clam-shell which he had previously carried there with water. He could scarcely, however, carry it along without spilling the contents. He at last reached his cave. On looking around he discovered that Neptune was not with him. "The dog has gone off to that fellow Hargrave, for food. I'll take care that he doesn't go again. He ought to be satisfied with what I can get," he exclaimed.
Putting down his shell he crawled towards the rocks, and cut off a few clam-shells, sufficient for his supper. He guessed that Nep would not require any. He then made up his fire with the few sticks he had remaining. He was about to throw his bow, which had caused him so much labour, on the top of it, when it occurred to him that by binding it tightly round with string, he might make it stronger than before.
He wisely determined to do this. He had just finished eating his supper when Nep appeared.
"You ungrateful dog!" exclaimed Lord Reginald. "You have been tempted off by my enemy. I'll take care that you don't go again," and fastening a piece of rope to the animal's collar, he secured it to a portion of the wreck, which had been thrown up not far from the mouth of the cave.
Poor Nep looked very much surprised at the way he was treated, but accustomed to obey, he lay down with his face between his paws, while Lord Reginald retired into the cave and threw himself on the ground. While actively engaged, he had for a time thrown off the painful sensation caused by fever, but the terrible disease had now a firm grip on him. His head and limbs ached, his throat burned. Though he drank and drank again from the water which he had brought in the clam-shell, no quantity seemed to assuage his thirst. He was unable to sleep for a moment, tossing about, now rolling on one side, now on the other, and often crying out in the intensity of his sufferings that death might relieve him.
Thus the night passed by. Day came, but brought no cessation of the fever, which rather increased than diminished. All day long he lay racked by pain on the cold sand. A mournful howl reached his ears, and he saw Neptune straggling to release himself from the rope which held him. He attempted to rise and set his dog free, but his strength was gone, and he sank back again, unable to crawl from the spot.
He thought of home, of his mother and sisters, and of his father, always kind and indulgent to him, whom he would never see again. The recollection of his numberless sinful acts came with fearful force into his mind. "No hope, no hope!" he muttered, as he clenched his hands. "What would I now give for a few weeks, or even days, to redeem the past? That lad Hargrave, whom I tore from his home and ill treated, whose life I took a pleasure in making miserable; he would not forgive me, even if I asked him; and should he discover me he would exult over my sufferings."
Such were the thoughts which passed through his brain. Often he groaned with pain, and when at length he had exhausted every drop of water, the fever seemed to increase, and he felt himself growing weaker and weaker. He almost wished that he had shared the fate of Voules and the rest of his companions, and had been drowned before he reached the shore. He had had a few days of grace granted him, but he had made no use of them. Instead of trying to be reconciled to his enemy, he had treated him with haughtiness and contempt. In vain he endeavoured to pray,— confusion of mind, brought on by fever, prevented him from collecting his thoughts, and all sorts of fearful phantoms passed before him. Again he was on the deck of the Marie, surrounded by the dead and dying, when he saw as clearly as if they had been present, the distorted features of the privateersmen struck down by the cutlasses of his crew, and the reports of pistols and clash of steel sounded in his ears. Then once more the tempest was raging, and the sounds of the seas dashing over the ship, the wind howling amid the rigging, the sails flapping wildly from the yards, the creaking timbers, the cries of the crew, were again heard. He attempted to shout to issue his orders, but his voice failed him; not a word could he utter. Sometimes he fancied that he could hear his own voice, at others that it was Nep's loud howls which broke the silence. Another night passed away, and a second morning came. Only a person who had played no tricks with his constitution could have endured what the young lord passed through.
He was fully aware at times that he was dying, that unless assistance came he could not survive many hours. He stretched out his hand towards the clam-shell which had contained his stock of water, but it was empty. His tongue felt like a hot burning coal in his mouth. He closed his eyes from very weakness. How long he had thus remained he could not tell, when he was aware that Neptune was licking his hands and face. He had just sense enough left to know that it was his dog, though by what means the animal had got free he could not divine. He heard the faithful creature moan and whine round him and lie down by his side. The little strength he had was rapidly decreasing, and he soon lost all consciousness.
In a very different position was Richard Hargrave. With wholesome food and abundance of employment, he retained his health and strength, and his mind had no time to dwell on his forlorn condition. At break of day he rose from his comfortable bed, and kneeling down, said his prayers as he had been wont to do at his mother's knees when a child. He then got up, and considered to what he had best first turn his hand.
Not far off from the hut was the log which he was anxious to shape into a canoe, and on his bench in the verandah lay his crossbow, nearly finished, only requiring a few touches to make it perfect, the most important being the arrangement of the lock, that he might let the bolt fly immediately he touched the spring. This done he set to work to form some bolts. The shafts were easily manufactured, but the bolt heads required more time. Hunting in the carpenter's chest he discovered a ladle and a quantity of lead. He then searched about for some clay for forming moulds. He remembered the white appearance of the bank of the stream at a certain spot, and hastening to it, he found, greatly to his satisfaction, that it was composed of exactly the clay suited for his purpose. He soon returned with a sufficient supply to form a mould, hoping to be able to make it of a proper shape with a stem to fit into the shaft. By boring a hole into the stem he was able to secure it with wire firmly to the wood. To give the bolt a sharp point he fixed a large nail ground fine, in the centre of the lead, thus obtaining sufficient weight and sharpness for his object. Although this bolt might be blunted should it strike a bone, yet it was well calculated to pierce the thin skin of a deer, which, from the size of the island, should it only be wounded, he would be certain to find again by tracing the blood stains on the grass.
Having formed half a dozen bolts in the way which has been described, he set off on his first hunting expedition. He had not gone far, when a herd of small deer—the only species which existed in the island—came in sight. He had observed on former occasions that when he got to the windward of them they invariably scampered off to a distance, and although no hunter, suspecting the cause, he determined to try and get near them by creeping up from an opposite direction. Hiding himself as much as possible behind the trees and bushes, he made his way towards the herd, making a long circuit until he got well to leeward. Then stooping down he crawled gradually forward, stopping every now and then when he saw their heads turned towards him, but they still continued cropping the grass and the leaves of the bushes and lower branches of the trees. At last he got to within thirty yards of one of the herd, which had separated from its companions. He stood almost breathless, eager to shoot, and yet afraid of missing. He let fly his bolt, which entered the breast of the animal. It staggered for a moment, then turning round, set off with the rest of the herd along the valley. He was provoked at not having killed it at once, for he knew that if often hunted the creatures would grow wild, and he would have great difficulty in getting up to them. He, however, eager to secure the deer, set off running, keeping it in sight. At first the wounded deer went almost as fast as its companions, until it gradually slackened its speed, leaving a long red trail, which grew thicker and thicker, to mark its course. It was soon left behind by the rest of the herd; still it struggled on, until at length Dick saw it stagger, then turn round and finally sink to the ground. He hurried forward, and with a seaman's sheath-knife, which he had found among the things in the carpenter's chest, he quickly put an end to its sufferings.