The deer was so small that Dick, whose shoulders were pretty broad, was able to carry home his prize. His wish was to preserve as much of it as possible. He reflected that, as there were only a certain number of deer on the island, were he and Lord Reginald to remain there any length of time, the whole might be destroyed. Had he possessed salt, he would have been able to pickle the venison, for there were plenty of tubs for the purpose. Though he knew very well that he could obtain salt, yet the flesh of the deer would have become uneatable long before he could get a sufficient quantity. He had read somewhere of a mode of preserving the flesh of animals by drying it in the sun, and he had also seen his mother smoke bacon, so he determined to try both these ways. The preserved meat might also be of the greatest use, should he determine to sail away from the island in the canoe he was about to build.
On reaching home, for such his hut was to him, he set to work to skin and cut up the deer. He then lighted a fire, and put a shoulder and leg on to roast, that he might at all events preserve this much, should his experiments fail. A portion of the remainder he cut into thin strips, which he hung up to a cross-pole, supported on two forked sticks. He had great faith, however, in his plan for smoking venison. As there was clay near at hand, he mixed a quantity with grass, and quickly built up a square tower, with an entrance below and rafters across it, and a wooden roof. As he knew that it would be necessary to have a draught to keep up the fire, he formed tunnels under the tower.
He had now his curing-house complete. He worked very hard, as he was aware that the flesh would very rapidly become uneatable. Having hung up the remainder, he placed a fire inside, piled up with green wood, which burnt slowly, producing a large amount of smoke. Not until he had done this did he—hungry as he was—fall to on the venison. Scarcely had he put a morsel in his mouth than he thought of Lord Reginald.
"I wonder whether he has been able to procure any food like this," he said to himself. "If not it will go hard with him, for although shell-fish may do very well for a short time, with nothing else to live on they would prove very unwholesome. However, I suppose he will come to his senses by-and-by. If he makes his appearance, I shall be glad to offer some to him. Fancy the proud young gentleman coming, hat in hand, and asking for a slice of venison! I wonder poor Nep doesn't show himself, as before, to get a meal. I should have thought his instinct would have induced him to come. Surely his master cannot be so cruel as to keep him back, unless he has found plenty of food for him."
Such thoughts occupied Dick's mind while he ate a hearty meal, the most abundant he had enjoyed since the shipwreck. He had just finished, and having hung up the remainder of the roast meat, was about to add more fuel to the fire in his curing-house, when by chance looking up the valley, he saw Neptune scampering rapidly along towards him.
"Oh, oh! knowing old fellow! He's found out there's something to eat in this direction," said Dick. "He shall have it, too, and willingly would I give it to his master."
As Neptune drew near, Dick was surprised to observe a piece of rope round his neck, and a part trailing on the ground two or three feet in length. In a minute Nep was up to him, licking his hand. Dick was at once struck with his woebegone, starved appearance; the very countenance of the dog seemed changed; there was even an expression of melancholy in his eye, which spoke as much as words could have done. Dick examined the rope, which was a pretty thick one, such as Neptune, strong as he might be, could not have broken. The end, he was convinced, had been gnawed through.
"Now, if that young lord hasn't had the barbarity to tie up the dog, to prevent its coming to me," he exclaimed. "He deserves to starve, and I suspect he and the dog have been doing that for some days, or Nep would not look so thin and miserable," and he returned to his larder, followed by Nep, who ravenously bolted the pieces of meat which he gave him.
The dog, though he had had a good meal, did not seem content, but evidently wished to convey some intelligence to his entertainer. He first ran off in the direction of the cave, and then seeing that Dick did not follow, came back and uttered a low bark; then away again he went, almost immediately to return, when he seized Dick by the trousers, evidently wishing him to accompany him, and then looked up at him in an imploring manner, which could not be misunderstood.
"I suppose Lord Reginald is ill, or has met with some accident, and the dog wants me to go and help him. Well, I ought to do it, there's no doubt about that," said Dick, moving a few paces in the direction the dog had taken. On this Nep uttered a bark indicative of his satisfaction, coming back and licking Dick's hand, then running on again. Dick had no longer any doubt that Nep was anxious to take him to his master, and he set off at a rapid rate, while Nep bounded away before him, uttering the same sort of bark as before, to hurry him on.
"The poor fellow may be dying," thought Dick, his kindly feelings overcoming all sense of the injuries he had received. "The sooner I get to him the better, or I may be too late to render him any help."
On this, greatly to Nep's delight, he began to run as fast as he could, leaping over the fallen trees, allowing no impediment to stop him. He stopped for a moment to pick some juicy fruit resembling limes, which grew on a tree in his path, on which Nep came back and gave another pull at his trousers, as if fearing that he was going to stop. On passing the fountain he found a large clam-shell, which had evidently been left there by some one. He expected every moment to find Lord Reginald stretched on the ground, dead or dying, but Nep still kept on until he reached the sea-shore. He then saw the dog enter the cavern. At first he felt unwilling to follow, but Nep quickly rushed out again, and once more seizing his trousers, pulled away until Dick showed that he understood him. On going in he perceived in the dim light the unfortunate young nobleman extended on the sand, in a stupor so nearly resembling death that he started back in horror, fully believing that his spirit had already fled.
Fearful, indeed, had been the effect of the fever. The expression of his handsome features was changed, his countenance had assumed the hue of death. His eyes, half closed and fixed, had lost all signs of intelligence. His lips were parched and burning. His hair, tangled and disordered, hung in masses over his fine brow.
Dick, on kneeling down, felt greatly relieved on discovering that he still breathed, though unconscious of his approach. He lifted the young nobleman's hand. The palm was dry and burning. In an instant, forgetful of the enmity which existed between himself and the unhappy sufferer, he bitterly regretted that he had not, when he came to his hut, attempted to gain his good will. He remembered that once when a child he himself had been attacked by a fever, which had brought him to the brink of the grave; he had then received the greatest kindness from the marchioness, who had brought delicious grapes from the hot-house, and ices, which had, his mother always told him, done much to preserve his life.
"If he had treated me ten times worse than he has done, I ought to endeavour to do my best to attend to his wants," said Dick.
As he thought of this, he endeavoured to raise the head of the sufferer, who uttered a sound in so mournful and low a tone that Dick could not at first understand him, but on bending over him, he caught the single word "water." Dick looked eagerly round, the shell was empty. He then bethought him of the fruit he had picked, and cutting one of them in two, he allowed a few drops of juice to trickle into Lord Reginald's mouth. This had an almost instantaneous effect. He squeezed out a larger quantity; some minutes more elapsed, when at length Lord Reginald became conscious of the relief, and eagerly swallowed the refreshing juice. Still Dick saw that his chance of recovery, while he remained in the cave, was very small, and after reflecting awhile he came to the conclusion that he ought, if possible, to remove him to his own hut. This would be no easy task, but Dick's arms were strong, and once having made up his mind, he lost no time in carrying out his intention.
Nep stood by, anxiously watching him, apparently perfectly satisfied with what he was doing. Lifting the young nobleman up as if he were a child, he carried him out of the cave, and made his way towards the fountain, every moment expecting to see his hapless burden breathe his last. The fountain, however, was reached; then, placing him on the grass, he poured some of the refreshing fluid down his throat. This seemed greatly to revive him, and he thanked Dick, sometimes addressing him as his brother, and sometimes as "Voules."
"You are a better fellow than I took you for," he murmured. "Poor old Toady! I thought you would have left me to shift for myself; but we have gone through strange scenes. Didn't you die, and didn't I bury you? but I'm glad you've come to life again, and I won't have you laughed at behind your back."
Thus he rambled on, but soon again relapsed into unconsciousness. Dick had to stop several times to rest himself, but as he was anxious to get the sufferer within the shelter of his hut, he went on again the moment he felt able to proceed. Great was his relief when at length he placed the young lord in his cot. He was aware that he must not venture to give him meat; indeed, the poor young man could not have swallowed it had he made the attempt, but he at once mixed him some of the juice of the fruit with water.
Lord Reginald had swooned from weakness, and from being carried along so far in the open air. For many hours he lay in a state of stupor. Dick sat by his side, continually moistening his lips with the juice of the fruit and water, and bathing the sufferer's hands and temples, while he anxiously watched for returning life. All night long he sat up, fanning his brow with the feathers of some of the birds he had killed, and keeping away the stinging insects which flew into the hut.
The next morning Lord Reginald opened his eyes and exclaimed in a dreamy tone, "Where am I? What has happened?"
"You are well cared for, my lord," answered Dick; "but don't talk; you'll get round the sooner if you keep quiet."
Lord Reginald's answer showed that he was still in a state of delirium. "Thanks, Julia; thanks, mother; you have nursed me very tenderly. I'll do as you wish, only don't let that young ruffian Hargrave come near me. He has been the bane of my life. I wish that we had got him out of the Wolf before we sailed from home, or that a chance shot had taken his head off. You don't know what I went through when I was wrecked on that horrible island. He came and taunted me, and would have left me to die in a wretched cave by myself, while he was living luxuriously on birds, deer, and pigs that he killed."
Having thus rambled on for some time, Lord Reginald began to blame himself, and to confess that he had allowed Dick to be unjustly treated, and had instigated Toady Voules and others to behave ill to him.
These latter expressions greatly relieved Dick's mind, although the abuse which Lord Reginald had showered on his head would not have made him less attentive to his patient's wants. For hours together the latter rambled on; sometimes he fancied himself at home, and asked for ices and peaches and grapes from the hot-houses, turning his eyes to Dick, and ordering him to bring them immediately.
The word "grapes" reminded Dick that he had seen a juicy fruit somewhat resembling the grape of temperate climes, of which several of the birds of the island appeared to be very fond. He hurried out to search for them, leaving Nep to watch by his master's side. He was fortunate in discovering some bunches which appeared ripe, and instantly returned with them. Dick ate several himself, to ascertain their character, and was satisfied that they were wholesome and at the same time nutritious, though far less juicy than real grapes. On his return, Lord Reginald abused him, supposing him to be one of the servants, for having been so long away; then eagerly seizing the fruit with an expression of joy, he endeavoured to convey it to his mouth, but such was his weakness that, letting it drop, he asked Dick to feed him.
Dick bore all the abuse he got with the greatest patience. At length, exhausted by the violence of the fever, Lord Reginald sank again into a death-like stupor, in which he lay without moving the whole night and until the next day was far advanced. Dick, as before, continued to bathe his hands and face at intervals, and when perceiving by the painful motion of his lips that he wanted something to drink, he raised his head and placed to his lips a shell full of the juice of several fruits which he had collected. Lord Reginald eagerly drank this delicious beverage, then, opening his eyes, which Dick thought would never again have unclosed, the young lord looked up in his face, as if to thank him for the relief. Dick saw by the expression of wonder and astonishment in those eyes, so lately fixed and rayless, that he knew him, and that the delirium had passed away. Lord Reginald tried to speak, the colour for a moment mounted to his pallid cheek as he said, "Hargrave, I don't deserve this kindness at your hands." Then with a deep sigh he once more relapsed into insensibility.
SELF-REPROACH—THE CRISIS OVER—A STORM—RETURNING TO LIFE—GRATITUDE TO DICK—A RIGHT UNDERSTANDING—TURTLE-CATCHING—GAINING STRENGTH—DICK'S CARE REWARDED—AN AGREEABLE SURPRISE—SOMETHING TO READ—A REFRESHING CHANGE—HAT-MAKING—HARDLY STRONG ENOUGH—GOING ON WITH THE CANOE—A DESIGN ON THE PORKERS—PIG-DRIVING—COFFEE BERRIES AND SUGAR-CANES DISCOVERED—AN EARTHQUAKE—GRAVE APPREHENSIONS—THE BURNING MOUNTAIN.
Richard Hargrave sat by Lord Reginald's cot, watching his sufferings, with the anxiety and sorrow he would have felt for a brother and dear friend. Not a spark of animosity remained. In his heart he fully believed that the young lord would die, and was ready to accuse himself of being his murderer. Only a short time during each day did he venture to leave him, to set his traps, or shoot birds, or collect fruits, which latter were more especially required by the sufferer. On each occasion when he hurried back, he dreaded to find that his patient had expired during his absence. Neptune was always left in charge, as Dick hoped that the instinct of the dog would induce him to summon him should he be required. He was well aware that it would be dangerous to give any heavy food to the sufferer, and yet he dreaded, lest by taking too little, he might die of starvation. There was, however, he hoped, sufficient nutriment in the fruit to keep up his strength without increasing the fever. Day after day went by, and the violence of the complaint in no way appeared to abate, nor did the young lord recover his reason except at long intervals, when the words he uttered showed that he was fully aware of his own condition. His thoughts were evidently of a gloomy character, as he was constantly uttering expressions of self-reproach. No longer petulant or impatient, he appeared sunk in the deepest despondency.
This change of ideas was more alarming even than his wild fits of raving to Dick, who began to accuse himself of being the cause of much of the young lord's conduct. He considered their difference of rank; he recollected his own defiant looks and expressions, which had so often aroused his rival's anger. "Had I treated him with respect, which of course he thought his due, and avoided him as much as possible, he would soon have forgotten a person so much beneath him in rank," exclaimed Dick. "True, he abused his power on board the Marie; but how have I behaved since we were thrown together on this island?"
At last one morning, Lord Reginald appeared to drop off into a more quiet slumber than usual, and Dick was induced to go out in search of game with his crossbow in his hand. Scarcely had he left his hut than several deer, without discovering him, came bounding by. He shot a bolt, one of the animals was struck, and immediately fell dead to the ground. Thankful for his success, he quickly returned with it, and having skinned it he cut up a portion into small bits, which he put into a pot, with the intention of making some broth. Several times while thus engaged, he returned to the side of Lord Reginald, who still slept on. He had obtained from the rocks a small quantity of salt, sufficient to flavour the broth. While it was boiling he roasted another piece of meat, and hung up the remainder in his smoking-house, which had answered beyond his expectations. Though the meat dried in the sun might keep, yet it was hard and dry, and presented a far from satisfactory appearance.
He had observed signs of a change of weather. Clouds had been collecting for some time in the sky. Scarcely had he completed his culinary operations, than the rain began to pour in torrents, while the thunder rolled, and flashes of vivid lightning darted from the clouds. The fire was put out, but Dick managed to keep the broth warm. He anxiously watched Lord Reginald, expecting that the roar of the thunder would awaken him, but he slept quietly through the storm, and appeared to be breathing more easily than before. At length the thunder-clouds rolled off, the wind ceased, and the air appeared far purer than it had hitherto been. Dick, who had opened the shutter, which he had kept shut during the rain, went to the door to open that also and enjoy the fresh air. He was standing inhaling it with much satisfaction, when he heard Lord Reginald's voice exclaiming—
"What has happened? Is that you, Hargrave?" Dick hurried to the side of the cot, and was thankful to observe a marked change for the better, in Lord Reginald's countenance, which, though thin and pale, had a composed appearance. "Do not be agitated, my lord," said Dick; "you have been very ill, but I trust you may now recover, as the worst is past I would advise you not to talk, but let me give you some broth, which I have fortunately just prepared. It will assist to restore your strength quicker than the fruits on which you have so long lived." Saying this, without waiting for a reply, Dick poured some of the soup into a shell, which he presented to the invalid.
"Hargrave, I can scarcely believe my senses!" said Lord Reginald. "I don't deserve this kind treatment at your hands. Have you really been watching over me all this time?"
"Do not talk about it, my lord," said Dick. "Here, take this; it may not be first-rate soup, but I think it will do you good."
As he spoke he placed the shell to the lips of his patient, who taking it in both his hands, drank off the contents.
"First-rate stuff, whatever it is," murmured Lord Reginald. "Pray give me some more, I feel it putting new life into me. I have had a narrow escape, I suspect. If it hadn't been for you, Hargrave, I should have died; I am fully aware of that."
"I only did my duty, and I am thankful to see your lordship so much better," said Dick.
"You are a generous, noble fellow, Hargrave, that I know, for, after the way I treated you, I had no right to expect that you would trouble yourself about me."
"I should never have forgiven myself if I hadn't done my best to look after your lordship," answered Dick, turning away to make some of the cooling drink, which had hitherto proved so beneficial to his patient.
"Hargrave, my dear fellow," said Lord Reginald, in a comparatively strong tone of voice, "can you really forgive me?"
"My lord, I am sure I need your forgiveness, so pray don't ask me to forgive you, though I do so most heartily. Let bygones be bygones. It will be the happiest day of my life when I see you restored to perfect health."
"Hargrave, I wonder I could have been guilty of persecuting a man capable of such generous conduct," exclaimed Lord Reginald.
"Again I say, my lord, don't talk about it," answered Dick, observing that Lord Reginald was becoming too much agitated. "I trust in a short time that you will be well enough to say what you think fit; but I want you to understand that not a particle of ill feeling, to the best of my belief, remains in my heart."
"I must say what I have got to say, or I may never have an opportunity," replied Lord Reginald; "for what I can tell I may not have another interval of reason. I wish to assure you that I die at peace with you, and pray for forgiveness from all I have ever ill treated. When I am gone, cut off a lock of my hair, and if you ever reach home give it to my mother, and tell her that one of my greatest regrets was not being able to see her and my brothers and sisters again, and confessing to my father that I had attempted to misrepresent you to him. Again, I ask, can you forgive me?" and Lord Reginald stretched out his emaciated hands towards Dick, who gave his in return, as he answered—
"Yes, yes, indeed I do, most heartily." As Lord Reginald grasped his hand, he pressed it to his lips, and burst into tears.
Dick felt a choking sensation, such as he had never before experienced, and turned away from a delicacy of feeling, lest Lord Reginald should be ashamed of the agitation he was exhibiting. He felt also very anxious to calm the mind of his patient, who in his weak state was ill able to undergo any excitement.
For a long time after this the poor young lord was unable to rise from his cot, but every day Dick observed a change for the better, it being a good sign that he evidently enjoyed the food provided for him.
Dick had now to leave him for a much longer time than before to the care of Neptune, who never quitted his master's side during his absence.
One night, after his day's work was over, Dick had wandered down to the sea-shore, with a thick stick in his hand, which he usually carried to defend himself, should he encounter any savage beasts, as he thought that such might possibly exist, though he had not hitherto seen them.
As he approached the beach, he caught sight on the white sand of some dark objects, which were crawling up slowly from the sea. Though he had never before seen any, he at once guessed that they were turtles. He remained concealed, so as to allow them, without being frightened, to reach the upper part of the beach, where they began scratching away and depositing their eggs.
"We shall have food enough now, without diminishing the stock of wild animals on shore," thought Dick. "Those are just the things to do Lord Reginald good. If we have to make a voyage, we can lay in a good store of them."
He wisely waited until a number of turtles had deposited their eggs in the sand, then rushing from his place of concealment, he turned over half a dozen on their backs, thus effectually preventing them from making their escape. Then, seizing one by the hind legs, he dragged it up towards his hut, when he killed it. Lord Reginald was still awake. He ran in and told him the good news.
"I wish that I could get up and help you, Hargrave," was the answer.
"Do not think of it, my lord," said Dick. "I can manage them by myself," and away he again started, and dragged up in succession the remainder of his captives. These, however, he did not kill. He determined, if possible, to keep them alive until the flesh of the first was consumed. They might exist on their backs, he knew, for a considerable time, but he rightly feared that the heat would kill them, unless he could bring up a sufficient quantity of water to pour over them. This would be a severe task, and it appeared to him that the best thing he could do would be to build a pen, and enclose these and any others he might catch on subsequent nights. He accordingly at once, as the moon was bright, set about carrying out his intention. By actively plying his axe, he cut down a number of thick stakes, which he drove into the sand just above high-water mark, so that by digging a channel he might let the sea in at every high tide. As he had abundance of rope, he lashed some cross bars along the sides, so as to keep the stakes firm. He saw there was no necessity for putting the perpendicular stakes close together, as the turtles were upwards of two feet across, and could not manage to get through a less space. In a couple of hours he had finished his task, and dragging back the turtles he allowed them to crawl about in their natural position. He waited until the next morning to roof in his pen, which was necessary, he saw, for the sake of keeping the turtles cool.
"You have worked hard, my dear Hargrave," said Lord Reginald, when he returned. "I should not have thought of attempting the task until to-morrow morning. It would have taken me the whole day, or probably longer. As soon as I am well, you must teach me how to use your tools, and let me help you, for I have no desire to eat the bread of idleness."
"I have been accustomed to carpentering since I was a boy, so that what your lordship would find difficult would prove easy to me," answered Dick; "but I should be very thankful if your lordship will think fit to work at the canoe which I thought of building before you were taken ill. I haven't seen a single vessel pass since we have been here, and perhaps none will come near us for many months to come. We might find it necessary to quit the island to rejoin our ship or to get on board some other vessel. In the mean time we may use our boat to go out fishing, and thus obtain a change of diet."
"A boat! Do you really mean to say that you could build a boat?" asked Lord Reginald in a tone of surprise.
"I intend to try and do so, for though I have never actually built one, I have assisted in repairing several, and know how they are put together," answered Dick, and he then explained the character of the craft he proposed to build. "My idea is, that when your lordship can take a part in the work, we may build one large enough to carry us to Batavia, or to one of the other places of which the English have of late taken possession."
"I really don't know that you ought to count much on my help, though I'll do my best," said Lord Reginald; "but the idea is a capital one, and I long to get well to be able to help you. But you must be pretty tired by this time, and you ought to lie down and get some sleep. I feel ashamed of keeping you so long out of your cot."
"Thank you, my lord. If I thought it worth while I would soon make another for myself; but my bed is as comfortable as I want, and I beg you will not think I miss the cot," was the answer.
Dick awoke early, and found Lord Reginald sleeping soundly and calmly. As he watched him he began to hope that he might recover, and he knelt down and prayed that he might be made the instrument of restoring him to health.
His patient gave no sign of waking. Dick, having first made up his fire ready for cooking breakfast, went down to the shore, to see how the turtles had behaved in their pen. He found to his satisfaction that although they had turned up the sand, they had not escaped. He at once cut a number of boughs to place over the top and the upper part of the eastern side, so as to shade them from the heat of the sun, which rose before he had completed his task. He then returned, and looking into his hut, found that his companion was still sleeping.
He now set to work to cut up the turtle, and to cook some of it for breakfast. He felt very doubtful as to how this should be done, but thought he should be safe in putting some on to stew, and in carving some cutlets, which he placed before the fire to cook, as he had done the venison. He also kneaded some cakes as thin and delicate-looking as he could make them. This done, he entered the hut, when he found Lord Reginald sitting up in his cot.
"I should much wish, Hargrave, to get up and wash my hands and face, but I feel so weak that I am afraid I could not accomplish it alone. May I venture to ask you to assist me?" he said, in a hesitating tone.
"My lord, I should be delighted to help you; but I am sure you had better not make the attempt. I'll get some water. I have a piece of cloth which will serve as a towel, and as I have a comb which I found in the carpenter's chest, I will, if you will let me, comb out your hair, and try and make you comfortable."
"Thank you, thank you," answered Lord Reginald; "but I feel ashamed of giving you trouble."
Dick smiled, and, going out, returned with a large clam-shell, which made an excellent basin, filled with water. Lord Reginald in vain made the attempt to wash his face. Dick, placing the shell before him, performed the office, and having washed his hands and combed his hair, with as much care as his mother might have done, the young lord repeated his thanks, and assured Dick he felt quite another being.
"I hope you will feel still better," said Dick, producing several clam-shells, one containing several nicely cooked cakes, another some turtle cutlets, a third some stewed turtle, while a fourth was full of the several fruits he had gathered. "I have cooked a variety of dishes; but after your illness your lordship may fancy one more than another. Just tell me what you like best, and I will try and prepare it for you."
"Thank you, Hargrave; I feel as if I could eat a whole turtle, or a deer for that matter," answered Lord Reginald, laughing in a way which greatly cheered Dick's spirits. However, on making the attempt, Lord Reginald found that a very small quantity satisfied him, and Dick did not press him to eat more.
Every day after this he made rapid progress, though Dick would not allow him for some time to get up or do anything for himself. In the mean time, Dick dug out of the sand a number of turtles' eggs, which he hung up in bags in a cool place in the shade, hoping thus to preserve them. He also caught several more turtles, which he turned into his pen. He was never idle, sometimes working in his garden, in which he had planted a number of seeds, some evidently of melons and pumpkins, from which he hoped in a short time to obtain fruit. Of the nature of others he was not acquainted, but he had little doubt that they would prove useful in some way or other. Outside the hut he had built a storehouse, in which he placed all the articles which had been cast on shore.
He had one morning taken his crossbow and gone out before sunrise in the hopes of killing a deer or some birds, that he might afford a variety of diet to Lord Reginald, knowing that such would contribute greatly to restore his strength. The deer, however, were too wild, and he was led further from home than he intended. At last, in despair of killing one, he looked out for some of the feathered tribe, and succeeded in knocking over a couple of white cockatoos and a green pigeon, with which he hurried back to the hut. On his return, he was greatly surprised to see Lord Reginald not only dressed, but employing himself in preparing breakfast.
"I am sorry, my lord, that I was not back earlier," exclaimed Dick, "that I might have helped you to dress."
"I regret that you should have had so long to undertake a task which I ought to have performed myself, had I been able. Do not speak about it, my kind Hargrave," answered Lord Reginald, smiling. "I feel myself bound to take an equal share in all the work we have got to do. You have hitherto toiled for me, and it is now my business to work for you. Just tell me what you want done, and I will do it to the best of my power."
"Pray don't talk in that way, my lord," said Dick. "I wish that you knew how much pleasure I feel in serving you."
"I am sure of that; but once for all, Hargrave, I want you to understand that while we remain on this island I am 'Reginald' or 'Oswald,' and you are 'Hargrave,' the better man of the two. Don't 'My lord' me any more. I am not worthy of it. That sort of style may do very well in Old England, or on board a man-of-war, though my messmates there treated me as an equal, and took good care to make me feel that I was one, too. Will you accept my services, and let me work under your orders?"
"I cannot refuse you anything," answered Dick; "but until you are as strong and hearty as I am, you must let me work for you, and not knock yourself up by attempting tasks for which you have not the strength."
"Well, well, my dear Hargrave, we understand each other, and while we are talking the turtle and cakes are getting cold."
Dick at last, getting Lord Reginald to sit down on one of the three-legged stools he had made, placed the breakfast on the table.
"There is one thing you are not provided with, Hargrave, that is tea and sugar," observed Lord Reginald; "but perhaps we may find some substitute. Coffee grows in these latitudes, and very likely we may find sugar-cane in some part of the island."
"I saw some pods full of seeds, looking in shape very much like coffee berries, only they were white," said Dick.
"That was because they were unroasted," answered Lord Reginald. "I should not be surprised if those seeds were really coffee berries, and if so we shall soon have something to drink instead of this nectar, of which I confess I am beginning to get very tired, delicious as it tasted while I was suffering from fever."
Dick sighed as he thought, "Perhaps the young lord will get tired of other things, as also of my society, when he regains his strength."
His companion looked at him, but made no remark. "What about the boat you propose building?" asked Lord Reginald, when breakfast was over. "Could not we begin on that? And if you will show me how I can best help you, we will lose no time."
"I am very sure your lordship—I beg your pardon—you are not strong enough to do any heavy work," answered Dick, "especially in the sun. I must first make you a hat such as I wear, which will help to guard your head, and we will then, in the cool of the evening, begin work. We must first strip off the bark from the outside, then cut away the angles at the bows and stern. By-the-by, I have just remembered finding some books in an officer's chest, and though I cannot read them, as they are in French, they may amuse you while I am at work."
"That is fortunate," exclaimed Lord Reginald. "Pray get the books, and let me have a look at them. I shall be very glad to read while you are at work, if you still insist on my not helping you."
Dick hurried out to his store-room, and soon returned with several volumes. Two were on navigation, another on astronomy, and a fourth on natural history; but Lord Reginald found that the others were not such as were likely to prove edifying either to himself or Dick. He first took up one, and glancing over its pages, said, "Throw that into the fire." A second and a third were treated in the same way. He looked at the last more carefully, but finished by saying, "Let that go, too. I am very sure that it will be better not to read at all than to fill our minds with the evil thoughts such works as these are likely to create. I should at one time have been amused, and considered that there was no harm in perusing such tales. After being so mercifully preserved, I look at matters in a very different light. I am sure that allowing our minds to dwell on any such subjects as those books contained, is offensive to a pure and holy God. What would I not give for some really well-written books, and more than anything for a Bible, which, after all, as I have often heard my mother say, is the Book of books."
"I have heard my mother say the same," observed Dick. "I am very thankful that you have put the temptation out of our way."
"What else did you find in the chest?" asked Lord Reginald.
"Some nautical instruments, which, although they are French, I dare say you know how to use," said Dick. "And,—how stupid I was not to think of it before!—some shirts and waistcoats and other articles of dress. I must get you to put them on at once, while I wash out your own linen: they will add much to your comfort, and though they may be damp, the sun will soon dry them." Dick immediately hung out the French officers' clothing, and then brought a clam-shell, larger than an ordinary foot-tub, full of water, that Lord Reginald might enjoy a bath, which he had hitherto been afraid of taking.
"I feel quite like a new man!" exclaimed the young lord, after he had dressed himself. "If you will not let me work to-day, I hope by to-morrow to show that I can do something. It won't be for the want of will if I don't succeed."
Dick, who had before this gone out, had returned with a supply of palm leaves, and sat down to make a hat, while Lord Reginald opened one of the books, and with considerable fluency translated a portion of its contents. Dick listened attentively while he plaited away at the hat, stopping every now and then to ask for an explanation.
"I am glad to see you take interest in the subject," said Lord Reginald, "and if we continue it, I shall not only improve myself, but be able to give you a good notion of navigation. The instruments, which are the same as we use, will help us, and in a short time you will become as good a navigator as I am, as this book is evidently a capital one."
Dick looked up and smiled. "You see, you can instruct me in some things, as well as I can teach you how to handle a saw or a plane."
"All right!" said Lord Reginald, laughing; "so much the better; we are quits, as I said."
Dick was longer than he otherwise might have been in making the hat. When it was finished, his companion declared that it was capital, and that it would thoroughly defend his head from the rays of the sun. Dick had made the top very thick, while the sides were strong and light, with openings all round, which allowed of ample ventilation. He then insisted on Lord Reginald lying down while he went out to attend to his turtle-pens and garden, and to prepare a large saw to use on the boat.
In the evening Lord Reginald declared that he felt quite able to commence work.
"I don't want to hinder you," said Dick; "but I am afraid that you will find your strength not equal to the task."
Lord Reginald, however, insisted on trying, and Dick, notching the wood, fixed the saw ready for work, he taking one end and Lord Reginald the other, but before the latter had pulled it backwards and forwards a dozen times he had to confess that he could not go on, and sat down completely exhausted. Dick instantly ran and got some broth he had prepared for supper. Though the young lord revived after he had swallowed some of it, Dick insisted that he should not again make the attempt, and persuaded him to sit down in the shade, while he, with his axe, began stripping off the bark.
Dick pursued the plan followed by boys when cutting out a model boat. He first carefully planed the upper surface, using a level, until he was satisfied that it was perfectly even. He then began pencilling out the form of the upper works, so that both sides might be exactly even, avoiding the risk of making the boat lop-sided.
"You seem to me, Hargrave, to bestow a great deal of pains on the work you are about," observed Lord Reginald. "You will have to scoop out the whole centre part; what can be the use of polishing it down in that fashion?"
"If I don't do that I may run the chance of not having the sides even," answered Dick. "Now, all we have got to do, when we have formed the upper part, will be to turn it over, so that the log may lay quite flat, and, with the aid of some forms which I propose making, shape out the two sides. Though by using the forms we shall take longer than if we did without them, it will be better than trusting only to the eye."
Before dark Dick had made some progress, but as he could not expect much help from Lord Reginald for some days, he determined in the mean time to prepare the wood which he would require for the gunwale, and also the forms. For the latter purpose he used some flat boards, which, as the canoe was four feet wide, required only to be a little more than two feet broad. This latter work he was able to carry on indoors during the evening, while Lord Reginald assisted him in drawing out the plan. They agreed that it was important to give the boat a flat floor, though she might be made more seaworthy by having a deep keel, which could be easily bolted on.
Before they lay down to rest that night, they had in their minds' eye completed the craft. Dick saw Lord Reginald busily drawing on a blank page in one of the books.
"There, Hargrave; that's what our craft will be like," he said, when he had finished, handing him the paper. "You see, I give her three lugs, with a flying main-topsail, so that we can carry plenty of sail, if required, or get her quickly under snug canvas. By raising the gunwale two feet all round, and decking over the fore and after ends, we shall have plenty of room to stow away our provisions, and be able to go through a pretty heavy sea. She'll be a fine craft, depend upon that, and I shall feel quite proud when we run alongside the old Wolf and hail her, to ask 'What ship is that?' as if we didn't know her."
"I am afraid it will be many a long day before we get the boat to look like that," observed Dick. "Digging her out will be a tedious business, I suspect, and it will take a considerable time, after the lower part of the hull is finished, to raise the gunwale and put on the deck. Then, remember, we have to fit her with outriggers, which we must make as strong as possible, or they may chance to be carried away."
"Oh, you don't know how hard I shall work when I once begin," answered Lord Reginald. "I can fancy myself already chopping and sawing and chiselling away under your directions, for I shall leave all the more delicate work to you, though, as I improve, I may be able to help you in that also."
Notwithstanding Lord Reginald's eagerness to begin, Dick saw the next day that he was far too weak to do any work out of doors. He could sit only in the shade, with a book in his hand, or watching him as he laboured at the bench.
"Why, Hargrave, you ought to have been rated as one of the carpenter's crew, for you work as well as the best of them could do. However, I hope, when we return on board the frigate, that you may have a far higher rating than that. You will have learned navigation by that time."
"I'm afraid that will not be of much use to a man before the mast," observed Dick.
"But, my dear Hargrave, I hope you won't always remain before the mast," answered Lord Reginald.
"I don't see any chance of my ever being anywhere else; and pray do not raise my expectations, as I should never have thought myself of being promoted, except some day, perhaps, after I have more experience, I may become a warrant officer," said Dick.
"Well, well, perhaps I ought not to have spoken of my own hopes and wishes," replied Lord Reginald. "I let out a thought which has been in my head for some days, and I would on no account try to raise hopes which may never be realised."
Eager as Dick was to work at the boat, he was compelled to make excursions in search of game, and he seldom returned without two or three birds or a small deer. Besides opossums, he had occasionally caught sight of a tiger-cat, which, however, was not of a size to make him fear that it would venture to attack him, savage as it appeared while climbing a tree or leaping from bough to bough. Though he had no wish to interfere with the tiger-cat, he had a great fancy for catching some of the pigs which scampered about beneath the trees, picking up fruits and nuts, and digging for roots. His bolts, though capable of penetrating the more delicate skin of the deer, glanced off the thick hide of the pigs. He bethought him, therefore, after watching their runs, that he would make a pitfall in which some might be caught without difficulty. Finding the ground tolerably soft, he set to work immediately with a wooden spade, and dug a hole four feet square and the same in depth, which he covered over carefully with bushes and earth. His success was greater than he expected, for the very next day, on visiting the pit, he found two fat porkers grunting away at the bottom, and tumbling over each other, in vain endeavouring to extricate themselves from their prison. Running back to the hut for a rope, he managed to get it with a slip-knot over the hinder leg of one of the pigs, which he quickly hauled out. He took the precaution of having a thick pointed stick in readiness, should the pig attempt to charge him. At first the animal lay on the ground, astonished at the unusual treatment it was receiving. Dick then getting his stick ready in one hand and the rope in the other, gave a pull away from the hut. The pig instantly jumped up and dashed off at full speed, in the direction Dick wanted it to go. He followed, laughing, every now and then giving a pull at the rope, which he kept as tight as he could, at the same time holding his stick ready for his defence. With loud squeaks and angry grunts, on it rushed towards Lord Reginald, who was quietly reading, seated on the ground in the shade, while Dick shouted and laughed in addition. The noise aroused the young lord, who started up with looks of astonishment in his countenance. He was just in time to leap out of the way, when the pig charged full at the spot where he had been sitting, Dick being only just able to check the brute's progress, but he managed to bring it up by making the rope fast round small tree which came in his way. No sooner was the pig thus brought to a stand, than, looking round, it espied its captor, who, however, springing back, avoided the onslaught. The pig, after making several strenuous efforts to escape, grunting and squeaking terrifically all the time, exhausted by its exertions, lay down, with its keen eyes watching for an opportunity of revenging itself.
"I say, Hargrave, I might try my hand at building a pig-sty," said Lord Reginald. "I doubt that I am capable of any higher style of architecture, but I think I can accomplish that."
"At first it occurred to me that we might build one," answered Dick; "but I now think that it would occupy too much of our time, as it must be a very different style of structure to our turtle-pen. This fellow would soon knock down any building, unless very strongly put up. I should be sorry to see your lordship engaged in such work."
"'Your lordship,' you should say, 'is not capable of so stupendous an undertaking,'" remarked Lord Reginald, laughing. "But I say, Hargrave, you are forgetting our compact. Call me 'Reginald' or 'Oswald,' which you please."
"I beg pardon," said Dick; "but if this fellow cannot be taught to behave himself, the sooner we turn him into bacon the better, and we can keep his companion in the pit until we want him to undergo the same process."
As the boat was now really begun, their work could be carried on without interruption. Dick, the next day, took another excursion in search of the coffee berries he had seen, as well as of any other vegetable productions of the island. After searching for some time at the further end of the island, he discovered the pods he had before seen, which were now completely ripe. Examining them carefully, he was convinced that they were coffee berries. He accordingly collected as many as he could put in the sack he had brought, thankful that they would afford a useful and agreeable beverage to his companion. A short time afterwards, he came upon a wilderness of canes, which he had before mistaken for bamboo, and on tasting them, he was convinced that they were sugarcanes, probably the remains of a plantation, long ago deserted. He cut a bundle, hoping that he and Lord Reginald might design some plan for extracting the juice and turning it into sugar. He was about to set off with his burden—a pretty heavy one—when to his astonishment, and no small dismay, he felt the ground shake beneath his feet. This unusual circumstance was followed almost immediately afterwards by a deep hollow sound, and on looking up, he saw, in the direction of the cave dense masses of smoke issuing forth, followed by lurid flames, while several streams of lava began to flow down the hill. As the lava, however, took a course towards the sea, in an opposite direction to where he was standing, he watched for some moments the eruption, instead, as some people might have done, throwing down his load and running away from the neighbourhood. Satisfied, at length, that it was not increasing, he turned his steps homewards. He found Lord Reginald, who had felt the earthquake, and had been watching the volcano in activity, very anxious about him.
"I am thankful to see you back, Hargrave," he said. "Though no harm has happened, one thing is certain, that it will be wise in us to try and get our boat finished as soon as possible, so that, should the hill have another blow up, we may make our escape."
"I hope that matters will not come to such a pitch as to drive us off the island," answered Dick; "but if you are well enough to-morrow, we will begin work in earnest."
"I am well enough to begin it at once," was the answer. "What have you got there?"
Dick showed the contents of his sack.
"Coffee berries, to a certainty," said Lord Reginald, tasting one of them. "All we have now to do is to roast and grind them. I am capable of doing that, at all events, and now let me taste one of those canes? Sugar, no doubt of it. Why, if that burning mountain doesn't drive us away, we may live on here in luxury for months to come."
"I shall be glad enough to remain, and never was so happy in my life," answered Dick, who spoke from his heart. "I am very glad to hear it, Hargrave. I may say the same for myself, and I really think that I shall be sorry when the life we are now leading comes to an end."
PROGRESS IN BOAT-BUILDING—HOT POKERS—SYSTEM IN WORKING—FIXING ON THE KEEL—DICK AND HIS PIGS—FINISHING THE BOAT—THE ONLY REGRET—PREPARING FOR THE TRIAL TRIP—THE LAUNCH—ONCE MORE AFLOAT—ASPECT OF THE ISLAND— THE VOLCANO—CLEANING DECKS—A STRANGE SAIL—RUNNING FOR THE BAY—"WHAT'S TO BE DONE?"—THE BOAT RECALLED—A STORM—A FEARFUL NIGHT.
The two Crusoes, now no longer rivals, worked vigorously away at their boat. Every day Lord Reginald gained strength, and was able the more effectually to help Dick, who, however, never spared himself. With the young lord's assistance, he sawed off the large pieces at the end intended for the bows, which he afterwards shaped with his axe and plane. From the stern, much less had to be taken off. Here the axe did nearly all the work. Having then planed all round the sides and bows, the log presented the appearance on the upper part of a well-formed canoe. The workmen had now to turn her over, and to commence shaping the lower part. Having stripped off the bark, which he could not before get at, Dick, again using his level, planed it evenly, and then carefully marked out the part to which the keel was to be fixed. With his adze he shaped both sides, using the forms he had previously prepared. In some parts there was very little wood to take off, though he had to cut away considerable at the bows and stern. Lord Reginald found that as yet there was comparatively little for him to do, as, from want of experience, he could not for some time use either the adze or the axe.
At length, the whole of the outside of the canoe was shaped, and Dick and his companion surveyed it with no little satisfaction.
"We must now turn her on her keel again, and begin digging her out," observed Dick. "It will cost us no little trouble, I suspect. We may begin with the axe, but it won't do to use that as we get on, for fear of making a hole through the side or bottom. We must then employ the gouge, and I have sharpened up all the large ones I found in the carpenter's chest."
"I have heard of a mode of digging out canoes by means of hot stones or hot irons. We have irons enough for the purpose, and by lighting a fire near at hand, might keep them constantly hot," said Lord Reginald.
"I should be afraid of burning through the wood, or causing it to split, unless we use the irons only in the centre. We might try that, and see how it answers," replied Dick.
Several stanchions and other bars of iron, which had been extracted from the wreck, were accordingly fitted with handles, and they soon had half a dozen "hot pokers," as Lord Reginald called them, heating in a fire close to the canoe. Dick, however, was of opinion that they made far more progress with the adze, but as Lord Reginald could not use it in an efficient way, Dick proposed that his companion should work away at one end with the hot pokers, while he plied his adze at the other. He chose the stern, and using the adze vigorously, chopped away the wood under his feet, sending out large chips at every stroke, while Lord Reginald ran backwards and forwards with his hot pokers; but though he made a great deal of smoke, he found that he burnt away only a small quantity of wood with each instrument. Though there was no doubt that he would succeed in the end, he had to confess that Dick's method was the most rapid.
"Still," he observed, "every little helps, and I'll go on burning away at my end, while you continue chopping at yours."
This plan was agreed to, and they were both well satisfied with the progress made during a single day. It took them, however, not one day, but several, before the canoe was cleanly dug out. The last part of the process was much slower than the first, from the necessity there was to be careful lest they should dig their gouges through the sides. As these became thinner and thinner, Dick would frequently stop and run his brad-awl through to ascertain their thickness more exactly, taking care to stop the hole afterwards.
As may be supposed, they constantly kept an eye on the volcano, which occasionally threw up flames and smoke, but gave no indications of preparing for a more serious eruption. Still, the two Crusoes agreed that it would be wise in them to get their craft ready for sea, in case of being compelled to put off from the island.
It was a day of rejoicing when they had at length completed the hull, and as they looked all round her they felt satisfied that she was of equal thickness at the sides, except the bow and stern, which were of course thicker. They had now again to turn her over to fix the keel, which was already prepared.
While Dick had been engaged in finishing off the inside with his gouge, Lord Reginald had searched all the timber thrown on shore, for bolts and nuts. About a dozen were found, with which the keel was fixed on, and bolted inside in a way which gave it great strength, so that it could not be torn off, even should a rock be struck. Having sheered up the canoe, she now stood on an even keel, and Dick and his companion walked to a little distance to admire their handiwork, and both agreed that she was as perfect as could be.
"Yes, and we owe her perfection to your judgment, Hargrave. For by myself, I should never have thought of building such a craft," said Lord Reginald. "She will be more perfect, however, when we get the bulwarks and deck on her, the thwarts fitted, and the masts stepped and the sails set, and we stand away from the island."
"I am in no hurry to go," said Dick. "If I had not felt it was my duty to work and get her done, in case an outbreak of the volcano should place your life in danger, I don't think I should have worked so hard."
"But yours is of equal value," said Lord Reginald.
"Pray don't say that; except my father and mother and my blind sister— who have probably long since thought me dead—I have no one to care for me, and you have numerous relations and friends; besides which, I hope you will some day have the opportunity of serving our king and country, and becoming one of England's admirals."
"Come, come, Hargrave, you are breaking through our agreement, and professing to be of less value than I am. Your friends care for you, as much as mine do for me, and more so probably, if the truth was known, and as to my becoming an admiral, you have as great a chance as I have."
"I am sorry to have to differ from you," said Dick, laughing in spite of himself. "However, we will get the craft ready and make a trial trip in her, and then it may be wiser to stay here until we are driven off the island, or some friendly ship comes in sight. Some day or other an English vessel must pass this way, or the Wolf herself may come to look for us."
"Very little chance of that, or she would have come long ago," answered Lord Reginald. "However, I agree with you that it will be better to live on here as long as we have plenty of provisions, and trust to be taken off by friends, than have to cruise about in an unknown sea without a chart, with the chance of being picked up by Frenchmen, or of running into an enemy's port."
Lord Reginald had now almost completely recovered his strength, and was able to help Dick in a variety of ways. They were both up at daylight every morning, their first visits being to their turtle-pen, and pig-sty as they called the pit where the porker was confined. The first pig caught, Dick had been compelled to kill, from its savage disposition, while the one in the pit had become perfectly tame and grunted with pleasure, whenever he approached with food. Had it not been for his wish to finish the boat, he would at once have built a sty for it, but he waited until the craft was completed.
Neptune would lie in the shade, an attentive observer of all their operations, and at times would come and look up in his master's face, as if asking whether he could not be of some assistance. Lord Reginald at last taught him to carry about the tools, and when Dick wanted one, he had only to point to it, and the dog would bring it up to him immediately. It took some time to put on the bulwarks, as ribs had to be fitted to give them sufficient strength. Perseverance conquered all difficulties, and at last the hull was raised two feet all round, somewhat higher at the bows, over which a deck was fitted nearly six feet in length. Over the after part, a deck four feet long was formed, with water-ways six inches wide down the sides. The three masts were quickly made. There were plenty of spars for the purpose, as well as for the yards; three oars, and a pair of paddles, which might be useful to pull the boat round when going about. In the evening they worked away, making the three lugsails, the topsail, and a small fore-staysail. On the top of the gunwale, four spars were fixed to serve as outriggers, supporting at either end two long flat boards, which they hoped would effectually prevent their boat from capsizing. An English flag had been washed ashore, which, although somewhat torn, after its dimensions had been reduced, would serve very well for the purpose required.
Dick had a surprise for Lord Reginald. He had been anxious about the possibility of their boat leaking, through cracks which might open as the wood dried. Among the stores he had collected was a cask of pitch, which he now rolled out. He had to exert his ingenuity in forming a tar brush for putting it on. This he manufactured out of cocoanut fibre. An iron kettle, which had been too large for ordinary use, served for heating it. They found that they had more than sufficient to pay over the whole outside, as well as the inner part of the bows and stern and the parts where the bolts fixing on the keel came through. The decks, which were covered over with canvas, were also thickly pitched so as to prevent any leaks. The craft was now completed. Having set all their sails to see how she looked, the flag was hoisted with three cheers, and they were now ready for whatever might occur. The same rollers which had served to bring the log to the neighbourhood of the hut, now enabled them by dint of hard labour and the due application of handspikes, to move their craft down to the beach just above high water. It was close to the spot where Dick had drawn the carpenter's chest on shore, and the same tackle he had then rigged would serve to haul her up again after they had made their experimental trip. This they resolved to do the next morning. Dick proposed that they should lay down moorings, where she could remain afloat. The bay was sheltered except from a southerly wind, and should it come on to blow from that quarter they must either run round to the other side of the island or haul her up again.
It was nearly dark by the time they had got their craft down to the beach, and with hearts grateful to Heaven that they had thus far been able to carry out their design, they returned to their hut. As may be supposed, they spent their evening in discussing their arrangements. They had still no small amount of work to accomplish, provisions to prepare for their voyage, and the means of carrying water, which was not the least of the difficulties they had to overcome.
Neither, however, was anxious to leave the island. Dick was perfectly happy in the life he was leading, and dreaded, should he ever go on board a man-of-war again, notwithstanding the hints thrown out by Lord Reginald, that he should be separated from one for whom he had acquired so deep an affection, and should be exposed to the same rough treatment he had before had to endure. Lord Reginald was unwilling, in so frail a bark, to run the risk of navigating those dangerous seas without a chart for his guidance, and was fully impressed with the belief that ere long some British man-of-war would be sent to search for them, or that they might get on board some English merchantman. Notwithstanding this, he was prepared, should it become necessary, to undertake the voyage, and either to steer to the south of Java, or to run through one of the numerous passages between the islands to the east of that island, and so to reach Batavia. His belief was that the Marie had been wrecked on an island to the south of Floris or Sumbawa, at no great distance probably from Timor.
So interested had they been in discussing these subjects, that it was later than usual before they turned in. Dick, who from having been the chief architect, was far more anxious than his companion to try their new craft, was the first to awake. Quickly dressing, he ran down to the beach to have a look at the craft, and see that she was all right.
In a short time the tide would be high, and as the beach was steep, she might, resting on the rollers, be quickly launched, having the tackle ready to check her if necessary.
The wind was along shore, so that they might at once make sail, and either stand out to sea or run round the coast, and get a better view of it than they had hitherto done. The weather, too, was as fine as it had been for some time past. As far as Dick could judge, there was every prospect of its continuing favourable. He hurried back to light a fire, and prepare breakfast.
Neptune, who had followed him, when he saw the cooking operations had made some progress, gave several loud barks, which awoke Lord Reginald.
"You should have called me, Hargrave!" he said. "I should have liked to have assisted in making preparations for our trip."
"As we may be kept out some hours, I was anxious that you should have as long a sleep as possible," answered Dick.
"Thank you; but I am as strong as ever now, and feel ready for any amount of fatigue," said the young lord. "By-the-by, as you talk of the possibility of our being out several hours, it will be prudent to take some provender on board. Even if we are so much employed as not to care for eating, Nep, at all events, will have nothing to do, and will be glad of some food."
"I thought of that," answered Dick, "and I have filled half a dozen cocoanut shells with water, and proposed taking some smoked venison and pork, with some flour cakes and a basketful of fruit. If you think we may require more provisions, we may tumble one of the turtles into the bottom of the boat; it will serve as ballast, and not be the worse for the trip."
"Why, we shall have sufficient provisions to last until we reach Batavia," said Lord Reginald, laughing. "However, it's as well to be prepared. By-the-by, you were speaking of ballast, the craft will require more than the turtle, and our provisions, even for a short trip."
"I thought of that, too," said Dick, "and I have made a number of canvas bags, which we can fill with sand and take on board the boat after she is afloat."
As soon as they had finished a hearty breakfast, carrying down their stores, they put them on board, and at once set to work to launch the boat. It was an anxious time, as it is to every ship-builder when he sees a vessel on a new construction, about to float on the element which is to be her future home. The tackle was hooked on, and the end secured on board. Several pieces of rock, of a size which they could lift on board, had been got ready, afterwards to be bound together, so as to form moorings of a sufficient weight to hold the boat. These had been left down on the beach close to the water, so that it would not take long to lift them in. Lord Reginald went on board to ease off the tackle, while Dick, with a handspike, gave the necessary impetus to the craft. She glided down the beach, gaining speed as she advanced, until with a splash her bows entered the water. Dick gave a few more heaves to encourage her, and in another minute she was almost afloat. He shoved at her stern with all his might. Then leaping on board he got out an oar and urged her on until she was in deep water. He had fastened a rope to a stone, which on being thrown overboard kept her head seaward, when she was hauled back again sufficiently near the beach to enable them to lift their ballast-bags and mooring-stones on board. The former having been properly stowed, the latter, according to their arrangement, were bound tightly together, and the tackle being cast off, they paddled her into the bay, far enough from the shore to enable her to ride in safety. The moorings were then let drop, and the tackle so arranged that the boat could be hauled towards the beach without the necessity of their first going on board.
With justifiable pride they surveyed their handiwork. "Now let's get under way!" cried Lord Reginald. "She floats well on the water, and is higher out of it than I expected."
As the wind was light, all the canvas was hoisted. The sails filled, and being sheeted home, the little craft stood away from the land.
"She behaves beautifully! You ought to have been a ship-builder, and you would soon have become famous. Indeed, I am sure that you would succeed in whatever you undertook," exclaimed Lord Reginald.
"You flatter me too much," answered Dick. "I picked up a knowledge of carpentering when I was a boy, and necessity is said to be the mother of invention, so, soon after we were wrecked, I began to consider how a craft could be built. I have had her planned out in my head for many a day. In what direction shall we sail?"
"We will beat up to the westward, as the island extends furthest in that direction," answered Lord Reginald. "We will then run round it, and by making a long tack out to sea, we shall weather the eastern point and stand back again into this bay. Should the wind not drop, we shall do it in four or five hours, though of course it is impossible to say how long we shall be detained. However, we will trust to having a good breeze, and at all events getting back before night. If we are kept out, the worst that can happen will be to lose our sleep. We must keep a vigilant watch, and on no account lose sight of the island."
To this Dick, of course, agreed; indeed, he would not have dreamed, now that he was once afloat, of disputing any suggestion of one whom he looked upon as his commanding officer.
"There is one thing you have forgotten, Hargrave."
"What is it, my lord?" asked Dick.
"You forget our compact, Hargrave. It must last until I dissolve it, and that will not be while you and I are together," answered Lord Reginald. "However, as I was going to observe, we have forgotten to give this craft a name. She deserves a pretty one. Have you thought about the matter?"
"No," replied Dick.
"Well, then, I confess that I have; but I want you to name her," said Lord Reginald.
"If I may be pardoned for proposing such a name, I should say call her the Lady Julia," answered Dick, after a few moments' consideration.
"Lady Julia, I have no doubt, would be flattered," said Lord Reginald, with perfect gravity, "and I should be very happy to call our craft after her; but I think, as you are the architect, and not only the architect but chief constructor, that she should be called after your sister. In my opinion the Janet is a very pretty name."
"I would rather that you settled the point," answered Dick, "and if you think fit to call her the Janet, I shall be perfectly pleased."
"The Janet she shall be, then," answered Lord Reginald; and from thenceforth their craft was called the Janet by the two Crusoes.
After standing on for some distance, Lord Reginald proposed that they should go about. This required no little skill and activity. It was necessary to haul down a foresail and mainsail. This they did, Dick leaping from one to the other, and shifting the yards over, ready to hoist again, the staysail bringing her round, but as, from her length, she was a long time about it, Dick found it necessary to get out one of the paddles, a few strokes with which were of great service.
Lord Reginald managed the mizzen, while Dick rehoisted the foresail and mainsail. The rudder, it should have been said, was fitted with long yoke-lines, which, being led well forward, made the operation of steering more easy than it would otherwise have been.
"I suspect that in a heavy sea we shall find that the Janet doesn't come about as well as we should wish," observed Lord Reginald.
"We shall improve by practice," said Dick, "and you forget that in a heavy sea we shall not be carrying our mainsail, and may be even without the foresail, so that we shall only have the fore-staysail and mizzen to manage, and we may expect to be favoured with calm weather. She goes to windward, at all events."
Still, Lord Reginald, like many other naval officers, was not much accustomed to sailing boats, and was less satisfied with the sea qualities of their craft than he could have wished.
Dick's trips on board the Nancy had taught him how a lugger should be managed, but she had, he confessed, a more numerous crew than that of the Janet. However, he hoped by activity to make up for that deficiency.
As the Janet glided rapidly over the smooth surface of the ocean, he naturally felt proud of her. On hearing the eastern end they came in view of the side of the volcano sloping up almost from the water. Here and there, just above the beach, a few scathed trees were seen, but the rest of it was covered with lava which had rolled down from the summit, filling up all the hollows, and extending some distance, layer above layer, into the water.
It was satisfactory to see that this was the direction which the lava had hitherto taken, but they also perceived that it might at any time rush down the opposite side of the hill, and destroy the animals and rich vegetation existing in the two remaining fertile valleys. Dick was employed in looking out ahead for any reefs or other dangers which might exist off the island, when Lord Reginald exclaimed—
"Look there, Hargrave! Look there! You see the volcano is in an angry mood."
As he spoke, a low dull sound was heard coming from the shore, and from the top of the volcano rose a dense black mass, which extended itself like an umbrella. Directly afterwards down came a shower of ashes, covering every part of the boat, while the coast itself was completely shut out from view, except where a lurid glare could be seen on the summit of the hill, and from the streams of lava descending the sides. Masses of rock and other dense substances were also thrown up, and their splashes could be heard as they fell into the water, though they themselves were invisible.
Lord Reginald steered to the northward, in order that they might as soon as possible get away from the dangerous neighbourhood, but it was some time before they were free of the ashes and once more had the bright sun shining down upon them.
They looked anxiously towards the island, and were thankful to observe that a large portion to the eastward was bright and fair, showing that it had not suffered materially from the eruption. It might, however, only be the commencement of a still more serious outbreak, and they were thankful that they had their vessel ready, in case it should become necessary to escape for their lives. As they opened up the eastern side of the hill, they saw the trees which had hitherto escaped, burning furiously, surrounded by the hot lava. They had too much reason to fear that the conflagration might extend still further, and destroy the whole of the remaining vegetation, though it was possible that the stream would stop its progress, and that the part of the island on which they had been living might be spared. Dick now set to work to get rid of the ashes which covered the boat. It was no easy task. He had only a piece of board to serve as a shovel, and a handful of oakum. He cleared the decks and water-ways and thwarts, but he found it impossible to get them out of the bottom of the boat.
"Never mind," said Lord Reginald, "it will serve instead of a coat of paint."
"She will look very like a coal barge," answered Dick, who was vain of the hitherto clean appearance of their craft.
The wind continued very light, and it was some time before they reached the eastern end of the island, which they calculated was at the utmost ten miles long and five or six broad. They looked out narrowly for any small harbour into which they might run, should the wind come from the southward, and blow into their bay.
With the risk of another eruption of the volcano, it was important to be able to start at a moment's notice. Should the wind blow into the bay, it might be impossible to launch the Janet. At the very eastern end they came off an opening with a reef running out to a considerable distance on the southern side. It had the appearance of just the sort of harbour they required, but as Dick had not visited it, he could not tell whether there would be space sufficient for the Janet to swing clear of the rocks. They had been examining it narrowly, and Lord Reginald proposed that they should row in the boat, to ascertain its capabilities, when Dick turning round for an instant to the south-east, exclaimed—
"A sail, a sail!"
Lord Reginald sprang to his feet, and looking in the same direction, observed, "She's a large ship, too, and standing this way. What if she should prove to be the Wolf?"
Dick made no answer. He almost hoped that she would not prove to be their ship. The time he had enjoyed so much would come to an end, and he must henceforth associate with those in whose society he could no longer take pleasure.
Lord Reginald, not for a moment doubting that Dick was as pleased as he was, altered the Janet's course in the direction of the stranger. They had brought a telescope, a remarkably good one for its size. He turned it towards the approaching ship.
"From the cut of her sails, I doubt whether she's the Wolf, after all," observed Lord Reginald, "even if she's English," he added. "No, that she's not. She's hoisted her colours. If my eyes don't deceive me, that's the French flag. Here, Hargrave, see what you can make out."
Dick took a steady look. "That's the French flag, no doubt about the matter," he answered; "if you look again you will be certain of the fact."
"I was nearly certain of it before," answered Lord Reginald, "and as I have no fancy to be taken on board a Frenchman, we will haul our wind, and get back to our bay. We should fetch it with one tack, and by unstepping our masts very probably the boat will not be seen, or our hut either, unless the Frenchmen narrowly examine the island."
"With all my heart," said Dick, greatly relieved, as he hoped to get into the bay before the Frenchmen had discovered the Janet.
She, it will be remembered, was low down in the water, so that the look-out aloft on board the stranger might not have seen her from the distance they were off. The wind freshened, and the little craft made good way.
"The sooner we are on shore the better. I don't like the look of the weather to the westward," observed Lord Reginald.
The sky in that direction had a lurid appearance, betokening a strong wind, produced possibly by the eruption. Dick was of the same opinion, and felt more than ever anxious to get on shore.
"We shall fetch into the bay now," observed Lord Reginald.
The little craft behaved admirably, and by careful management was put about without the aid of an oar. She now hauled up for the bay.
"We shall fetch the moorings, if the wind holds as it now does; but we must lower the mainsail if it increases much," said Lord Reginald.
Dick kept the halliards in his hands. For some time she stood up to her canvas, when a strong blast striking her, she heeled over until her lee outrigger was under water.
"Lower away!" cried Lord Reginald, and in an instant the mainsail was taken off her. "We shall probably have to take in the foresail, too," he observed.
Dick stood by, ready to lower it. Before many minutes were over it had also to be taken in, and the fore-staysail and mizzen were as much canvas as she could carry.
The ship had by this time come almost off the island; the whole hull down to the water could be seen. Lord Reginald had, however, too much to do in attending to the Janet, to look after her; he had now to pick up his moorings. Dick had manufactured a strong boat-hook, and was standing at the bows, ready to get hold of the buoy.
"There it is, sir," he exclaimed; "if you luff up now, we shall get hold of it."
Lord Reginald put down the helm, and Dick at the same moment hauling down the fore-staysail, and the lugger shooting up, he got hold of the buoy, and soon had the cable secured. The question was now, whether they should haul the boat up on the beach or leave her afloat. She was less likely to be seen hauled up, and a few branches would completely conceal her. They decided to haul her up, and by bringing the cable aft, with a warp attached to it, her bows approached sufficiently near to enable Dick to leap out and get hold of the tackle. This being secured to her bows, the stern warp was slackened off, and rollers being placed under her keel, both exerting all their strength, they hauled her up the beach. The masts were unstepped, and a few boughs, which were quickly cut, were stuck into the sand on either side of her, to hide her from view.
Lord Reginald had now time more narrowly to watch the proceedings of the ship. Having come directly off the bay she hove to. "She has lowered a boat," he exclaimed. "The Frenchmen must have seen the lugger after all, and are coming in to ascertain what has become of her. We must decide how to act. If we hide our selves, they may in wantonness destroy our hut and our boat. What do you propose we should do, Hargrave?"
"I should rather hear what you think best. I'm sure I shall be ready to agree with you," answered Dick.
"No, no; I would rather hear what you think best," said Lord Reginald.
"Then I would stay where we are, and explain that we have been shipwrecked, and would prefer remaining on the island to leaving it."
"To tell you the truth, I am afraid, Hargrave, that they'll not give us the choice; but still, I agree with you that is the best plan to try them. They may possibly allow us to remain, and not injure our property; but I own I very much fear that they will carry us off, for the sake of exchanging us for any of their countrymen who may have fallen into the hands of the English."
During this conversation they remained concealed in the bushes, watching the progress of the boat. The anticipation of being detained on board a French ship of war, and afterwards, perhaps, shut up in prison, was not a pleasant thought. That such would be their fate, neither Dick nor Lord Reginald had any doubt. They saw that the boat was a large one, and the gleam of musket barrels showed that she carried armed men.
All this time the wind had been increasing, and the weather looked worse and worse. Presently a flash issued from the side of the ship, and a loud report reached their ears.
"That's a signal for the recall of the boat," observed Lord Reginald.
The officer in command, now that he was so close in, appeared unwilling to obey it, but another gun was fired to show that the captain was in earnest in the matter, and the boat being put round, the crew, bending their backs to the oars, pulled away towards their ship.
They had no time to lose, for the threatened gale was fast approaching. A third gun was fired to hasten them; the wind, however, came from the north-west, which was in their favour, while Lord Reginald and Dick were thankful that there was little risk of the Janet's suffering. They, however, as a precautionary measure, by rigging an additional tackle, got her higher up the beach. They also secured her by stays at either side, fixed to pegs run deeply into the sand, for they well knew the effects of a hurricane in those seas.
They had good reason to be thankful that they had got on shore before it came on. Dick looked towards the volcano. The eruption had, however, subsided, and the rain, which now came down in torrents, had apparently extinguished the fire which they had so much dreaded. What had become of the ship they could not tell, as she had completely disappeared in the watery veil which intervened between her and the land. They could only hope that the boat had got alongside, and that her crew had been taken on board. Dick had built his hut so strongly that it withstood the furious blast raging round, which shook it every now and then, threatening to tear it up from the foundation, while the roof creaked and clattered as if about to be carried off. The night was a more fearful one than any they had passed since that of their shipwreck; but how different were their feelings! The two inhabitants were then at deadly enmity; now they were bound together by the nearest ties of friendship, and each was anxious to serve the other. The thunder roared, the lightning flashed, and the rain continued to come down in liquid sheets.
"We have reason to be thankful for this," said Lord Reginald, "for had not the rain come on, the whole island might possibly, by this time, have been covered with flame, and we should not have had a spot on which to rest our feet with safety."
Their chief anxiety was about their boat. Though the ocean might not reach her, she might be blown away, or the tree to which she was secured might be torn up by its roots, and crush her; if so, should another eruption of the volcano occur, their condition would be truly dreadful.
CONTINUATION OF THE GALE—A SHIPWRECK—TO THE RESCUE—DICK SAVES LORD REGINALD'S LIFE—NEARLY DROWNED—IN THE CAVE—INCREASED NUMBERS—CAUSE FOR ALARM—THE RETURN TO THE HUT—THINGS THROWN ON SHORE—PREPARATIONS FOR QUITTING THE ISLAND—INCREASED STORES NECESSARY—COMMOTION OF THE ISLAND—A HASTY EMBARKATION—VOYAGE OF THE JANET—THE PIRATE FLEET—A CHASE—ALONGSIDE THE WOLF—GOING ON BOARD—DICK MADE AN OFFICER—MR BITTS GIVES GOOD ADVICE—THE RETURN TO ENGLAND—AN UNLOOKED-FOR MEETING AT ELVERSTON HALL—HOME—BEN RUDALL'S WIFE—CONCLUSION.
The gale raged through the livelong night. The roaring of the breakers on the shore, the howling of the wind amidst the rocks and trees, kept the two Crusoes awake for many hours. They heartily hoped that the wind might not change and drive the ship they had seen in the evening on the island, to share the fate of the Marie.
Sleep at last overtook them. They were awakened at length by a tremendous crash. They both leapt out of bed, and hurried on their clothes. The hut, shaken violently by the force of the wind, seemed every moment as if about to be carried away. It was with difficulty that they could force open the door to ascertain what had occurred. It was already broad daylight. Several tall trees near them had fallen. They looked anxiously in the direction of the boat. The tree to which she was secured stood firm, and the additional ropes, which they had wisely used, had kept her in her position. The wind had shifted, and the sea was rolling into the bay, and dashing up almost close to her stern. Their next glance was at the volcano—that was still in a state of eruption, sending up smoke and flame, but if any ashes or stones were cast forth they were forced by the wind to the other side of the island. The young men earnestly prayed that they might not be sent in the direction of the hut, for while the storm raged their boat would be useless, as they could not venture off in her. Their next look was seaward in search of the ship. She was nowhere visible; indeed, the thick masses of spray thrown up high into the air shrouded all objects at a distance.