Welcome to PhiloLogic  
   home |  the ARTFL project |  download |  documentation |  sample databases |   
Cooper, James Fenimore, 1789-1851 [1848], Jack Tier, volume 2 (Burgess, Stringer & Co., New York) [word count] [eaf079v2].
To look up a word in a dictionary, select the word with your mouse and press 'd' on your keyboard.

Previous section

Next section

CHAPTER II. Shallow.

Did her grandsire leave her seven hundred pound?


Ay, and her father is make her a petter penny.


I know the young gentlewoman; she has good gifts.


Seven hundred pounds, and possibilities, is good gifts.


As for Spike, he had no intention of going to the southward
of the Florida Reef again until his business called
him there. The lost bag of doubloons was still gleaming
before his imagination, and no sooner did the Poughkeepsie
bear up, than he shortened sail, standing back and forth
in his narrow and crooked channel, rather losing ground
than gaining, though he took great pains not to let his artifice
be seen. When the Poughkeepsie was so far to the northward
as to render it safe, he took in everything but one or
two of his lowest sails, and followed easily in the same
direction. As the sloop-of-war carried her light and loftier
sails, she remained visible to the people of the Swash long
after the Swash had ceased to be visible to her. Profiting

-- 032 --

[figure description] Page 032.[end figure description]

by this circumstance, Spike entered the main channel again
some time before it was dark, and selected a safe anchorage
there that was well known to him; a spot where sufficient
sand had collected on the coral to make good holding
ground, and where a vessel would be nearly embayed,
though always to windward of her channel going out, by
the formation of the reef. Here he anchored, in order to
wait until morning ere he ventured further north. During
the whole of that dreadful day, Rose had remained in her
cabin, disconsolate, nearly unable, as she was absolutely
unwilling to converse. Now it was that she felt the total
insufficiency of a mind feeble as that of her aunt's to
administer consolation to misery like her own. Nevertheless,
the affectionate solicitude of Mrs. Budd, as well as that of
the faithful creature, Biddy, brought some relief, and reason
and resignation began slowly to resume their influence.
Yet was the horrible picture of Harry, dying by inches,
deserted in the midst of the waters on his solitary rock,
ever present to her thoughts, until, once or twice, her feelings
verged on madness. Prayer brought its customary relief,
however; and we do not think that we much exaggerate
the fact, when we say that Rose passed fully one-half of
that terrible afternoon on her knees.

As for Jack Tier, he was received on board the brig
much as if nothing had happened. Spike passed and
repassed him fifty times, without even an angry look, or a
word of abuse; and the deputy-steward dropped quietly into
the duties of his office, without meeting with either reproach
or hindrance. The only allusion, indeed, that was made
to his recent adventures, took place in a conversation that
was held on the subject in the galley, the interlocutors being
Jack himself, Josh, the steward, and Simon, the cook.

“Where you been scullin' to, 'bout on dat reef, Jack,
wid dem' ere women, I won'er now?” demanded Josh, after
tasting the cabin soup, in order to ascertain how near it
was to being done. “It'ink it no great fun to dodge 'bout
among dem rock in a boat, for anudder hurricane might
come when a body least expeck him.”

“Oh,” said Jack, cavalierly, “two hurricanes no more
come in one month, than two shot in the same hole. We've

-- 033 --

[figure description] Page 033.[end figure description]

been turtlin', that's all. I wish we had in your coppers,
cook, some of the critturs that we fell in with in our cruise.”

“Wish'e had, master steward, wid all my heart,” answered
the fat, glistening potentate of the galley. “But, hark'ee,
Jack; what became of our young mate, can 'e tell? Some
say he get kill at'e Dry Tortugas, and some say he war'
scullin' round in dat boat you hab, wid'e young woman,

“Ah, boys,” answered Jack, mournfully, “sure enough,
what has become of him?”

“You know, why can't you tell? What good to hab
secret among friend.”

Are ye his friends, lads? Do you really feel as if you
could give a poor soul in its agony a helpin' hand?”

“Why not?” said Josh, in a reproachful way. “Misser
Mulford'e bess mate dis brig ebber get; and I don't see why
Cap'in Spike-want to be rid of him.”

“Because he's a willian!” returned Jack between his
grated teeth. “D'ye know what that means in English,
master Josh; and can you and cook here, both of whom
have sailed with the man years in and years out, say whether
my words be true or not?”

“Dat as a body understand 'em. Accordin' to some
rule, Stephen Spike not a werry honest man; but accordin'
to 'nudder some, he as good as any body else.”

“Yes, dat just be upshot of de matter,” put in Simon,
approvingly. “De whole case lie in dat meanin'.”

“D'ye call it right to leave a human being to starve, or
to suffer for water, on a naked rock, in the midst of the

“Who do dat?”

“The willian who is captain of this brig; and all because
he thinks young eyes and bloomin' cheeks prefar young
eyes and bloomin' cheeks to his own grizzly beard and old

“Dat bad; dat werry bad,” said Josh, shaking his head,
a way of denoting dissatisfaction, in which Simon joined
him; for no crime appeared sufficiently grave in the eyes
of these two sleek and well-fed officials to justify such a
punishment. “Dat mons'ous bad, and cap'in ought to know
better dan do dat. I nebber starves a mouse, if I catches

-- 034 --

[figure description] Page 034.[end figure description]

him in de bread-locker. Now, dat a sort of reason'ble
punishment, too; but I nebber does it. If mouse eat my
bread, it do seem right to tell mouse dat he hab enough,
and dat he must not eat any more for a week, or a mont',
but it too cruel for me, and I nebber does it; no, I t'rows
de little debil overboard, and lets him drown like a gentle'em.”

“Y-e-s,” drawled out Simon, in a philanthropical tone of
voice, “dat'e best way. What good it do to torment a
fellow critter? If Misser Mulford run, why put him down
run, and let him go, I say, on'y mulk his wages; but what
good it do anybody to starve him? Now dis is my opinion,
gentle'em, and dat is, dat starwation be wuss dan choleric.
Choleric kill, I knows, and so does starwation kill; but of
de two, gib me de choleric fuss; if I gets well of dat, den
try starwation if you can.”

“I'm glad to hear you talk in this manner, my hearties,”
put in Jack; “and I hope I may find you accommodatin'
in a plan I've got to help the maty out of this difficulty. As
a friend of Stephen Spike's I would do it; for it must be a
terrible thing to die with such a murder on one's soul.
Here's the boat that we pick'd up at the light-house, yonder,
in tow of the brig at this minute; and there's everything
in her comfortable for a good long run, as I know from
having sailed in her; and what I mean is this: as we left
Mr. Mulford, I took the bearings and distance of the rock
he was on, d'ye understand, and think I could find my way
back to it. You see the brig is travelin' slowly north ag'in,
and afore long we shall be in the neighbourhood of that
very rock. We, cook and stewards, will be called on to
keep an anchor-watch, if the brig fetches up, as I heard the
captain tell the Spanish gentleman he thought she would;
and then we can take the boat that's in the water and go
and have a hunt for the maty.”

The two blacks looked at Tier earnestly; then they
turned their heads to look at each other. The idea struck
each as bold and novel, but each saw serious difficulties in
it. At length Josh, as became his superior station, took
on himself the office of expressing the objections that occurred
to his mind.

“Dat nebber do!” exclaimed the steward. “We be's

-- 035 --

[figure description] Page 035.[end figure description]

quite willin' to sarve'e mate, who's a good gentle'em, and
as nice a young man as ever sung out, `hard a-lee,” but we
must t'ink little bit of number one; or, for dat matter, of
number two, as Simon would be implercated as well as
myself. If Cap'in Spike once knew we've lent a hand in
sich a job, he'd never overlook it. I knows him, well;
and that is sayin' as much as need be said of any man's
character. You nebber catch me runnin' myself into his
jaws; would rather fight a shark widout any knife. No,
no—I knows him well. Den comes anudder werry unanswerable
objecsh'un, and dat is, dat'e brig owe bot'
Simon and I money. Fifty dollars, each on us, if she owe
one cent. Now, do you t'ink in cander, Jack, dat two
colour' gentle'em, like us, can t'row away our fortins like
two sons of a York merchant dat has inherited a hundred
t'ousand dollar tudder day?”

“There is no occasion for running at all, or for losing
your wages.”

“How you get'e mate off, den? Can he walk away on
de water? If so, let him go widout us. A werry good
gentle'em is Misser Mulford, but not good enough to mulk
Simon and me out of fifty dollar each.”

“You will not hear my project, Josh, and so will never
know what I would be at.”

“Well, come, tell him jest as you surposes him. Now
listen, Simon, so dat not a word be loss.”

“My plan is to take the boat, if we anchor, as anchor
I know we shall, and go and find the rock and bring Mr.
Mulford off; then we can come back to the brig, and get
on board ourselves, and let the mate sail away in the boat
by himself. On this plan nobody will run, and no wages
be mulcted.”

“But dat take time and an anchor-watch last but two
hour, surposin' even dat'ey puts all t'ree of us in de same

“Spike usually does that, you know. `Let the cook
and the stewards keep the midnight watch,' he commonly
says, `and that will give the foremost hands a better snooze.”'

“Yes, he do say dat, Josh,” put in Simon, “most ebbery
time we comes-to.”

“I know he does, and surposes he will say it to-night, if

-- 036 --

[figure description] Page 036.[end figure description]

he comes-to to-night. But a two hour watch may not be
long enough to do all you wants; and den, jest t'ink for a
moment, should 'e cap'in come on deck and hail'e forecastle,
and find us all gone, I wouldn't be in your skin,
Jack, for dis brig, in sich a kerlamity. I knows Cap'in
Spike well; t'ree time I endebber to run myself, and each
time he bring me up wid a round turn; so, now-a-days, I
nebber t'inks of sich a projeck any longer.”

“But I do not intend to leave the forecastle without
some one on it to answer a hail. No, all I want is a companion;
for I do not like to go out on the reef at midnight,
all alone. If one of you will go with me, the other can
stay and answer the captain's hail, should he really come
on deck in our watch—a thing very little likely to happen.
When once his head is on his pillow, a'ter a hard day's
work, it's not very apt to be lifted ag'in without a call, or
a squall. If you do know Stephen Spike well, Josh, I know
him better.”

“Well, Jack, dis here is a new idee, d'ye see, and a body
must take time to consider on it. If Simon and I do ship
for dis v'y'ge, 't will be for lub of Mr. Mulford, and not for
his money or your'n”.

This was all the encouragement of his project Jack Tier
could obtain, on that occasion, from either his brother
steward, or from the cook. These blacks were well enough
disposed to rescue an innocent and unoffending man from
the atrocious death to which Spike had condemned his
mate, but neither lost sight of his own security and interest.
They promised Tier not to betray him, however; and he
had the fullest confidence in their pledges. They who live
together in common, usually understand the feeling that
prevails, on any given point, in their own set; and Jack
felt pretty certain that Harry was a greater favourite in and
about the camboose than the captain. On that feeling he
relied, and he was fain to wait the course of events, ere he
came to any absolute conclusion as to his own course.

The interview in the galley took place about half an
hour before the brig anchored for the night. Tier, who
often assisted on such occasions, went aloft to help secure
the royal, one of the gaskets of which had got loose, and
from the yard he had an excellent opportunity to take a

-- 037 --

[figure description] Page 037.[end figure description]

look at the reef, the situation of the vessel, and the probable
bearings of the rock on which poor Mulford had been
devoted to a miserable death. This opportunity was much
increased by Spike's hailing him, while on the yard, and
ordering him to take a good look at the sloop-of-war, and
at the same time to ascertain if any boats were “prowlin'
about, in order to make a set upon us in the night.” On
receiving this welcome order, Jack answered with a cheerful
“Ay, ay, sir,” and standing up on the yard, he placed
an arm around the mast, and remained for a long time
making his observations. The command to look-out for
boats would have been a sufficient excuse had he continued
on the yard as long as it was light.

Jack had no difficulty in finding the Poughkeepsie, which
was already through the passage, and no longer visible
from the deck. She appeared to be standing to the northward
and westward, under easy canvas, like a craft that
was in no hurry. This fact was communicated to Spike in
the usual way. The latter seemed pleased, and he answered
in a hearty manner, just as if no difficulty had ever occurred
between him and the steward's assistant.

“Very well, Jack! bravo, Jack!—now take a good look
for boats; you'll have light enough for that this half hour,”
cried the captain. “If any are out, you'll find them pulling
down the channel, or maybe they'll try to shorten the
cut, by attempting to pull athwart the reef. Take a good
and steady look for them, my man.”

“Ay, ay, sir; I'll do all I can with naked eyes,” answered
Jack, “but I could do better, sir, if they would only
send me up a glass by these here signal-halyards. With a
glass, a fellow might speak with some sartainty.”

Spike seemed struck with the truth of this suggestion;
and he soon sent a glass aloft by the signal-halyards. Thus
provided, Jack descended as low as the cross-trees, where
he took his seat, and began a survey at his leisure. While
thus employed, the brig was secured for the night, her
decks were cleared, and the people were ordered to get
their suppers, previously to setting an anchor-watch, and
turning-in for the night. No one heeded the movements
of Tier,—for Spike had gone into his own state-room,—
with the exception of Josh and Simon. Those two worthies

-- 038 --

[figure description] Page 038.[end figure description]

were still in the galley, conversing on the subject of Jack's
recent communications; and ever and anon one of them
would stick his head out of the door and look aloft, withdrawing
it, and shaking it significantly, as soon as his observations
were ended.

As for Tier, he was seated quite at his ease; and having
slung his glass to one of the shrouds, in a way to admit of
its being turned as on a pivot, he had every opportunity
for observing accurately, and at his leisure. The first
thing Jack did, was to examine the channel very closely,
in order to make sure that no boats were in it, after which
he turned the glass with great eagerness toward the reef,
in the almost hopeless office of ascertaining something concerning
Mulford. In point of fact, the brig had anchored
quite three leagues from the solitary rock of the deserted
mate, and, favoured as he was by his elevation, Jack could
hardly expect to discern so small and low an object as that
rock at so great a distance. Nevertheless, the glass was
much better than common. It had been a present to Spike
from one who was careful in his selections of such objects,
and who had accidentally been under a serious obligation
to the captain. Knowing the importance of a good look,
as regards the boats, Spike had brought this particular instrument,
of which, in common, he was very chary, from
his own state-room, and sent it aloft, in order that Jack
might have every available opportunity of ascertaining his
facts. It was this glass, then, which was the means of the
important discoveries the little fellow, who was thus perched
on the fore-topmast cross-trees of the Swash, did actually
succeed in making.

Jack actually started, when he first ascertained how distinctly
and near the glass he was using brought distant
objects. The gulls that sailed across its disk, though a
league off, appeared as if near enough to be touched by the
hand, and even their feathers gave out not only their hues,
but their forms. Thus, too, was it with the surface of the
ocean, of which the little waves that agitated the water of
the reef, might be seen tossing up and down, at more than
twice the range of the Poughkeepsie's heaviest gun. Naked
rocks, low and subdued as they were in colour, too, were
to be noted, scattered up and down in the panorama. At

-- 039 --

[figure description] Page 039.[end figure description]

length Tier fancied his glass covered a field that he recognized.
It was distant, but might be seen from his present
elevation. A second look satisfied him he was right; and
he next clearly traced the last channel in which they had
endeavoured to escape from Spike, or that in which the
boat had been taken. Following it along, by slowly moving
the glass, he actually hit the rock on which Mulford had
been deserted. It was peculiar in shape, size, and elevation
above the water, and connected with the circumstance
of the channel, which was easily enough seen by the colour
of the water, and more easily from his height than if he
had been in it, he could not be mistaken. The little fellow's
heart beat quick as he made the glass move slowly
over its surface, anxiously searching for the form of the
mate. It was not to be seen. A second, and a more careful
sweep of the glass, made it certain that the rock was

Although a little reflection might have satisfied any one
Mulford was not to be sought in that particular spot, so
long after he had been left there, Jack Tier felt grievously
disappointed when he was first made certain of the accuracy
of his observations. A minute later he began to reason
on the matter, and he felt more encouraged. The
rock on which the mate had been abandoned was smooth,
and could not hold any fresh water that might have been left
by the late showers. Jack also remembered that it had
neither sea-weed nor shell-fish. In short, the utmost malice
of Spike could not have selected, for the immolation of his
victim, a more suitable place. Now Tier had heard
Harry's explanation to Rose, touching the manner in which
he had waded and swum about the reef that very morning,
and it at once occurred to him that the young man had too
much energy and spirit to remain helpless and inactive to
perish on a naked rock, when there might be a possibility
of at least prolonging existence, if not of saving it. This
induced the steward to turn the glass slowly over the water,
and along all the ranges of visible rock that he could find
in that vicinity. For a long time the search was useless,
the distance rendering such an examination not only difficult
but painful. At length Jack, about to give up the
matter in despair, took one sweep with the glass nearer to

-- 040 --

[figure description] Page 040.[end figure description]

the brig, as much to obtain a general idea of the boat-channels
of the reef, as in any hope of finding Mulford,
when an object moving in the water came within the field
of the glass. He saw it but for an instant, as the glass
swept slowly past, but it struck him it was something that
had life, and was in motion. Carefully going over the same
ground again, after a long search, he again found what he
so anxiously sought. A good look satisfied him that he
was right. It was certainly a man wading along the shallow
water of the reef, immersed to his waist—and it must
be Mulford.

So excited was Jack Tier by this discovery that he trembled
like a leaf. A minute or two elapsed before he could
again use the glass; and when he did, a long and anxious
search was necessary before so small an object could be
once more found. Find it he did, however, and then he
got its range by the vessel, in a way to make sure of it.
Yes, it was a man, and it was Mulford.

Circumstances conspired to aid Jack in the investigation
that succeeded. The sun was near setting, but a stream
of golden light gleamed over the waters, particularly illuminating
the portion which came within the field of the
glass. It appeared then that Harry, in his efforts to escape
from the rock, and to get nearer to the edge of the main
channel, where his chances of being seen and rescued
would be ten-fold what they were on his rock, had moved
south, by following the naked reef and the shallow places,
and was actually more than a league nearer to the brig than
he would have been had he remained stationary. There
had been hours in which to make this change, and the
young man had probably improved them to the utmost.

Jack watched the form that was wading slowly along
with an interest he had never before felt in the movements
of any human being. Whether Mulford saw the brig or
not, it was difficult to say. She was quite two leagues
from him, and, now that her sails were furled, she offered
but little for the eye to rest on at that distance. At first,
Jack thought the young man was actually endeavouring to
get nearer to her, though it must have been a forlorn hope
that should again place him in the hands of Spike. It was,
however, a more probable conjecture that the young man

-- 041 --

[figure description] Page 041.[end figure description]

was endeavouring to reach the margin of the passage,
where a good deal of rock was above water, and near to
which he had already managed to reach. At one time
Jack saw that the mate was obliged to swim, and he actually
lost sight of him for a time. His form, however, reappeared,
and then it slowly emerged from the water, and
stood erect on a bare rock of some extent. Jack breathed
freer at this; for Mulford was now on the very margin of
the channel, and might be easily reached by the boat, should
he prevail on Josh, or Simon, to attempt the rescue.

At first, Jack Tier fancied that Mulford had knelt to return
thanks on his arrival at a place of comparative safety;
but a second look satisfied him that Harry was drinking
from one of the little pools of fresh water left by the late
shower. When he rose from drinking, the young man
walked about the place, occasionally stooping, signs that
he was picking up shell-fish for his supper. Suddenly,
Mulford darted forward, and passed beyond the field of the
glass. When Jack found him again, he was in the act of
turning a small turtle, using his knife on the animal immediately
after. Had Jack been in danger of starvation himself,
and found a source of food as ample and as grateful
as this, he could scarcely have been more delighted. The
light now began to wane perceptibly, still Harry's movements
could be discerned. The turtle was killed and
dressed, sufficiently at least for the mate's purposes, and
the latter was seen collecting sea-weed, and bits of plank,
boards, and sticks of wood, of which more or less, in drifting
past, had lodged upon the rocks. “Is it possible,”
thought Jack, “that he is so werry partic'lar he can't eat
his turtle raw! Will he, indeed, venture to light a fire, or
has he the means?” Mulford was so particular, however,
he did venture to light a fire, and he had the means. This
may be said to be the age of matches—not in a connubial,
though in an inflammatory sense—and the mate had a small
stock in a tight box that he habitually carried on his person.
Tier saw him at work over a little pile he had made
for a long time, the beams of day departing now so fast as
to make him fearful he should soon lose his object in the
increasing obscurity of twilight. Suddenly a light gleamed,
and the pile sent forth a clear flame. Mulford went to and

-- 042 --

[figure description] Page 042.[end figure description]

fro, collecting materials to feed his fire, and was soon busied
in cooking his turtle. All this Tier saw and understood,
the light of the flames coming in proper time to supply the
vacuum left by the departure of that of day.

In a minute Tier had no difficulty in seeing the fire that
Mulford had lighted on his low and insulated domains with
the naked eye. It gleamed brightly in that solitary place;
and the steward was much afraid it would be seen by some
one on deck, get to be reported to Spike, and lead to
Harry's destruction after all. The mate appeared to be
insensible to his danger, however, occasionally casting piles
of dry sea-weed on his fire, in a way to cause the flames
to flash up, as if kindled anew by gunpowder. It now occurred
to Tier that the young man had a double object in
lighting this fire, which would answer not only the purposes
of his cookery, but as a signal of distress to anything passing
near. The sloop-of-war, though more distant than the
brig, was in his neighbourhood; and she might possibly
yet send relief. Such was the state of things when Jack
was startled by a sudden hail from below. It was Spike's
voice, and came up to him short and quick.

“Fore-topmast cross-trees, there! What are ye about
all this time, Master Jack Tier, in them fore-topmast cross-trees,
I say?” demanded Spike.

“Keeping a look-out for boats from the sloop-of-war, as
you bade me, sir,” answered Jack, coolly.

“D'ye see any, my man? Is the water clear ahead of
us, or not?”

“It's getting to be so dark, sir, I can see no longer.
While there was day-light, no boat was to be seen.”

“Come down, man—come down; I've business for you
below. The sloop is far enough to the nor'ard, and we
shall neither see nor hear from her to-night. Come down,
I say, Jack—come down.”

Jack obeyed, and securing the glass, he began to descend
the rigging. He was soon as low as the top, when he
paused a moment to take another look. The fire was still
visible, shining like a torch on the surface of the water,
casting its beams abroad like “a good deed in a naughty
world.” Jack was sorry to see it, though he once more
took its bearing from the brig, in order that he might know

-- 043 --

[figure description] Page 043.[end figure description]

where to find the spot, in the event of a search for it. When
on the stretcher of the fore-rigging, Jack stopped and again
looked for his beacon. It had disappeared, having sunk
below the circular formation of the earth. By ascending
two or three ratlins, it came into view, and by going down
as low as the stretcher again, it disappeared. Trusting
that no one, at that hour, would have occasion to go aloft,
Jack now descended to the deck, and went aft with the

Spike and the Señor Montefalderon were under the
coach-house, no one else appearing on any part of the quarter-deck.
The people were eating their suppers, and Josh
and Simon were busy in the galley. As for the females,
they chose to remain in their own cabin, where Spike was
well pleased to leave them.

“Come this way, Jack,” said the captain, in his best-humoured
tone of voice, “I've a word to say to you. Put
the glass in at my state-room window, and come hither.”

Tier did as ordered.

“So you can make out no boats to the nor'ard, ha, Jack!
nothing to be seen thereaway?”

“Nothing in the way of a boat, sir.”

“Ay, ay, I dare say there's plenty of water, and some
rock. The Florida Reef has no scarcity of either, to them
that knows where to look for one, and to steer clear of the
other. Hark'e, Jack; so you got the schooner under way
from the Dry Tortugas, and undertook to beat her up to
Key West, when she fancied herself a turtle, and over she
went with you—is that it, my man?”

“The schooner turned turtle with us, sure enough, sir;
and we all came near drowning on her bottom.”

“No sharks in that latitude and longitude, eh Jack?”

“Plenty on 'em, sir; and I thought they would have got
us all, at one time. More than twenty set of fins were in
sight at once, for several hours.”

“You could hardly have supplied the gentlemen with a
leg, or an arm, each. But where was the boat all this time—
you had the light-house boat in tow, I suppose?”

“She had been in tow, sir; but Madam Budd talked so
much dictionary to the painter, that it got adrift.”

“Yet I found you all in it.”

-- 044 --

[figure description] Page 044.[end figure description]

“Very true, sir. Mr. Mulford swam quite a mile to
reach the rocks, and found the boat aground on one on 'em.
As soon as he got the boat, he made sail, and came and
took us off. We had reason to thank God he could do

Spike looked dark and thoughtful. He muttered the
words “swam,” and “rocks,” but was too cautious to allow
any expressions to escape him, that might betray to the
Mexican officer that which was uppermost in his mind.
He was silent, however, for quite a minute, and Jack saw
that he had awakened a dangerous source of distrust in the
captain's breast.

“Well, Jack,” resumed Spike, after the pause, “can
you tell us anything of the doubloons? I nat'rally expected
to find them in the boat, but there were none to be seen.
You scarcely pumped the schooner out, without overhauling
her lockers, and falling in with them doubloons.”

“We found them, sure enough, and had them ashore
with us, in the tent, down to the moment when we sailed.”

“When you took them off to the schooner, eh? My life
for it, the gold was not forgotten.”

“It was not, sure enough, sir; but we took it off with
us to the schooner, and it went down in her when she
finally sunk.”

Another pause, during which Señor Montefalderon and
Captain Spike looked significantly at each other.

“Do you think, Jack, you could find the spot where the
schooner went down?”

“I could come pretty near it, sir, though not on the very
spot itself. Water leaves no mark over the grave of a
sunken ship.”

“If you can take us within a reasonable distance, we
might find it by sweeping for it. Them doubloons are
worth some trouble; and their recovery would be better
than a long v'y'ge to us, any day.”

“They would, indeed, Don Esteban,” observed the Mexican;
“and my poor country is not in a condition to bear
heavy losses. If Señor Jack Tier can find the wreck, and
we regain the money, ten of those doubloons shall be his
reward, though I take them from my own share, much diminished
as it will be.”

-- 045 --

[figure description] Page 045.[end figure description]

“You hear, Jack—here is a chance to make your fortune!
You say you sailed with me in old times—and old
times were good times with this brig, though times has
changed; but if you sailed with me, in old times, you must
remember that whatever the Swash touched she turned to

“I hope you do n't doubt, Captain Spike, my having
sailed in the brig, not only in old times, but in her best

Jack seemed hurt as he put this question, and Spike appeared
in doubt. The latter gazed at the little, rotund,
queer-looking figure before him, as if endeavouring to recognise
him; and when he had done, he passed his hand
over his brow, like one who endeavoured to recall past objects
by excluding those that are present.

“You will then show us the spot where my unfortunate
schooner did sink, Señor Jack Tier?” put in the Mexican.

“With all my heart, señor, if it is to be found. I think
I could take you within a cable's length of the place, though
hunger, and thirst, and sharks, and the fear of drowning,
will keep a fellow from having a very bright look-out for
such a matter.”

“In what water do you suppose the craft to lie, Jack?”
demanded the captain.

“You know as much of that as I do myself, sir. She
went down about a cable's length from the reef, toward
which she was a settin' at the time; and had she kept afloat
an hour longer, she might have grounded on the rocks.”

“She 's better where she is, if we can only find her by
sweeping. On the rocks we could do nothing with her but
break her up, and ten to one the doubloons would be lost.
By the way, Jack, do you happen to know where that
scoundrel of a mate of mine stowed the money?”

“When we left the island, I carried it down to the boat
myself—and a good lift I had of it. As sure as you are
there, señor, I was obliged to take it on a shoulder. When
it came out of the boat, Mr. Mulford carried it below; and
I heard him tell Miss Rose, a'terwards that he had thrown
it into a bread-locker.”

“Where we shall find it, Don Wan, notwithstanding all
this veering and hauling. The old brig has luck when,

-- 046 --

[figure description] Page 046.[end figure description]

doubloons are in question, and ever has had since I've
commanded her. Jack, we shall have to call on the cook
and stewards for an anchor-watch to-night. The people
are a good deal fagged with boxing about this reef so much,
and I shall want 'em all as fresh to-morrow as they can be
got. You idlers had better take the middle watches, which
will give the fore-castle chaps longer naps.”

“Ay, ay, sir; we'll manage that for 'em. Josh and Simon
can go on at twelve, and I will take the watch at two,
which will give the men all the rest they want, as I can
hold out for four hours full. I'm as good for an anchor-watch
as any man in the brig, Captain Spike.”

“That you are, Jack, and better than some on 'em.
Take you all round, and round it is, you 're a rum 'un, my
lad—the queerest little jigger that ever lay out on a royal-yard.”

Jack might have been a little offended at Spike's compliments,
but he was certainly not sorry to find him so good-natured,
after all that had passed. He now left the captain,
and his Mexican companion, seemingly in close conference
together, while he went below himself, and dropped as
naturally into the routine of his duty, as if he had never
left the brig. In the cabin he found the females, of course.
Rose scarce raising her face from the shawl which lay on
the bed of her own berth. Jack busied himself in a locker
near this berth, until an opportunity occurred to touch
Rose, unseen by her aunt or Biddy. The poor heart-stricken
girl raised her face, from which all the colour
had departed, and looked almost vacantly at Jack, as if to
ask an explanation. Hope is truly, by a most benevolent
provision of Providence, one of the very last blessings to
abandon us. It is probable that we are thus gifted, in order
to encourage us to rely on the great atonement to the last
moment, since, without this natural endowment to cling to
hope, despair might well be the fate of millions, who, there
is reason to think, reap the benefit of that act of divine
mercy. It would hardly do to say that anything like hope
was blended with the look Rose now cast on Jack, but it
was anxious and inquiring.

The steward bent his head to the locker, bringing his
face quite near to that of Rose, and whispered—“There
is hope, Miss Rose—but do not betray me.”

-- 047 --

[figure description] Page 047.[end figure description]

These were blessed words for our heroine to hear, and
they produced an immediate and great revolution in her
feelings. Commanding herself, however, she looked her
questions, instead of trusting even to a whisper. Jack did
not say any more, just then; but, shortly after, he called
Rose, whose eyes were now never off him, into the main
cabin, which was empty. It was so much pleasanter to
sleep in an airy state-room on deck, that Señor Montefalderon,
indeed, had given up the use of this cabin, in a
great measure, seldom appearing in it, except at meals,
having taken possession of the deserted apartment of Mulford.
Josh was in the galley, where he spent most of his
time, and Rose and Jack had no one to disturb their conference.

“He is safe, Miss Rose—God be praised!” whispered
Jack. “Safe for the present, at least; with food, and
water, and fire to keep him warm at night.”

It was impossible for Rose not to understand to whom
there was allusion, though her head became dizzy under
the painful confusion that prevailed in it. She pressed her
temples with both hands, and asked a thousand questions
with her eyes. Jack considerately handed her a glass of
water before he proceeded. As soon as he found her a
little more composed, he related the facts connected with
his discovery of Mulford, precisely as they had occurred.

“He is now on a large rock—a little island, indeed—
where he is safe from the ocean unless it comes on to blow
a hurricane,” concluded Jack, “has fresh water and fresh
turtle in the bargain. A man might live a month on one
such turtle as I saw Mr. Mulford cutting up this evening.”

“Is there no way of rescuing him from the situation
you have mentioned, Jack? In a year or two I shall be
my own mistress, and have money to do as I please with;
put me only in the way of taking Mr. Mulford from that
rock, and I will share all I am worth on earth with you,
dear Jack.”

“Ay, so it is with the whole sex,” muttered Tier; “let
them only once give up their affections to a man, and he
becomes dearer to them than pearls and rubies! But you
know me, Miss Rose, and know why and how well I would
sarve you. My story and my feelin's are as much your

-- 048 --

[figure description] Page 048.[end figure description]

secret, as your story and your feelin's is mine. We shall
pull together, if we do n't pull so very strong. Now, hearken
to me, Miss Rose, and I will let you into the secret of my
plan to help Mr. Mulford make a launch.”

Jack then communicated to his companion his whole
project for the night. Spike had, of his own accord, given
to him and his two associates, Simon and Josh, the care
of the brig between midnight and morning. If he could
prevail on either of these men to accompany him, it was
his intention to take the light-house boat, which was riding
by its painter astern of the brig, and proceed as fast as
they could to the spot whither Mulford had found his way.
By his calculations, if the wind stood as it then was, little
more than an hour would be necessary to reach the rock,
and about as much more to return. Should the breeze
lull, of which there was no great danger, since the easterly
trades were again blowing, Jack thought he and Josh might
go over the distance with the oars in about double the time.
Should both Josh and Simon refuse to accompany him, he
thought he should attempt the rescue of the mate alone,
did the wind stand, trusting to Mulford's assistance, should
he need it, in getting back to the brig.

“You surely would not come back here with Harry,
did you once get him safe from off that rock!” exclaimed

“Why, you know how it is with me, Miss Rose,” answered
Jack. “My business is here, on board the Swash,
and I must attend to it. Nothing shall tempt me to give
up the brig so long as she floats, and sartain folk float in
her, unless it might be some such matter as that which
happened on the bit of an island at the Dry Tortugas. Ah!
he's a willian! But if I do come back, it will be only to
get into my own proper berth ag'in, and not to bring Mr.
Mulford into the lion's jaws. He will only have to put me
back on board the Molly here, when he can make the best
of his own way to Key West. Half an hour would place
him out of harm's way; especially as I happen to know
the course Spike means to steer in the morning.”

“I will go with you, Jack,” said Rose, mildly, but with
great firmness.

“You, Miss Rose! But why should I show surprise!

-- 049 --

[figure description] Page 049.[end figure description]

It's like all the sex, when they have given away their
affections. Yes, woman will be woman, put her on a naked
rock, or put her in silks and satins in her parlour at home.
How different is it with men! They dote for a little while,
and turn to a new face. It must be said, men's willians!”

“Not Mulford, Jack—no, not Harry Mulford! A truer
or a nobler heart never beat in a human breast; and you
and I will drown together, rather than he should not be
taken from that rock.”

“It shall be as you say,” answered Jack, a little thoughtfully.
“Perhaps it would be best that you should quit the
brig altogether. Spike is getting desperate, and you will
be safer with the young mate than with so great an old
willian. Yes, you shall go with me, Miss Rose; and if
Josh and Simon both refuse, we will go alone.”

“With you, Jack, but not with Mr. Mulford. I cannot
desert my aunt, nor can I quit the Swash alone in company
with her mate. As for Spike, I despise him too much to
fear him. He must soon go into port somewhere, and at
the first place where he touches we shall quit him. He
dare not detain us—nay, he cannot—and I do not fear him.
We will save Harry, but I shall remain with my aunt.”

“We'll see, Miss Rose, we'll see,” said Tier, smiling.
“Perhaps a handsome young man, like Mr. Mulford, will
have better luck in persuading you than an old fellow like
me. If he should fail, 't will be his own fault.”

So thought Jack Tier, judging of women as he had found
them, but so did not think Rose Budd. The conversation
ended here, however, each keeping in view its purport,
and the serious business that was before them.

The duty of the vessel went on as usual. The night
promised to be clouded, but not very dark, as there was a
moon. When Spike ordered the anchor-watches, he had
great care to spare his crew as much as possible, for the
next day was likely to be one of great toil to them. He
intended to get the schooner up again, if possible; and
though he might not actually pump her out so as to cause
her to float, enough water was to be removed to enable
him to get at the doubloons. The situation of the bread-locker
was known, and as soon as the cabin was sufficiently
freed from water to enable one to move about in it, Spike

-- 050 --

[figure description] Page 050.[end figure description]

did not doubt his being able to get at the gold. With his
resources and ingenuity, the matter in his own mind was
reduced to one of toil and time. Eight-and-forty hours,
and some hard labour, he doubted not would effect all he
cared for.

In setting the anchor-watches for the night, therefore,
Stephen Spike bethought him as much of the morrow as
of the present moment. Don Juan offered to remain on
deck until midnight, and as he was as capable of giving an
alarm as any one else, the offer was accepted. Josh and
Simon were to succeed the Mexican, and to hold the lookout
for two hours, when Jack was to relieve them, and to
continue on deck until light returned, when he was to give
the captain a call. This arrangement made, Tier turned
in at once, desiring the cook to call him half an hour
before the proper period of his watch commenced. That
half hour Jack intended to employ in exercising his eloquence
in endeavouring to persuade either Josh or Simon
to be of his party. By eight o'clock the vessel lay in a
profound quiet, Señor Montefalderon pacing the quarter-deck
alone, while the deep breathing of Spike was to be
heard issuing through the open window of his state-room;
a window which it may be well to say to the uninitiated,
opened in-board, or toward the deck, and not outboard, or
toward the sea.

For four solitary hours did the Mexican pace the deck
of the stranger, resting himself for a few minutes at a time
only, when wearied with walking. Does the reader fancy
that a man so situated had not plenty of occupation for his
thoughts? Don Juan Montefalderon was a soldier and a
gallant cavalier; and love of country had alone induced
him to engage in his present duties. Not that patriotism
which looks to political preferment through a popularity
purchased by the valgar acclamation which attends success
in arms, even when undeserved, or that patriotism which
induces men of fallen characters to endeavour to retrieve
former offences by the shortest and most reckless mode, or
that patriotism which shouts “our country right or wrong,”
regardless alike of God and his eternal laws, that are never
to be forgotten with impunity; but the patriotism which
would defend his home and fire-side, his altars and the

-- 051 --

[figure description] Page 051.[end figure description]

graves of his fathers, from the ruthless steps of the invader.
We shall not pretend to say how far this gentleman entered
into the merits of the quarrel between the two republics,
which no arts of European jealousy can ever conceal from
the judgment of truth, for, with him, matters had gone
beyond the point when men feel the necessity of reasoning,
and when, perhaps, if such a condition of the mind is ever
to be defended, he found his perfect justification in feeling.
He had travelled, and knew life by observation, and not
through traditions and books. He had never believed,
therefore, that his countrymen could march to Washington,
or even to the Sabine; but he had hoped for better things
than had since occurred. The warlike qualities of the
Americans of the North, as he was accustomed to call
those who term themselves, par excellence, Americans, a
name they are fated to retain, and to raise high on the scale
of national power and national pre-eminence, unless they
fall by their own hands, had taken him by surprise, as
they have taken all but those who knew the country well,
and who understood its people. Little had he imagined
that the small, widely-spread body of regulars, that figured
in the blue books, almanacs and army-registers of America,
as some six or seven thousand men, scattered along frontiers
of a thousand leagues in extent, could, at the beck of the
government, swell into legions of invaders, men able to
carry war to the capitals of his own states, thousands of
miles from their doors, and formidable alike for their energy,
their bravery, their readiness in the use of arms, and their
numbers. He saw what is perhaps justly called the boasting
of the American character, vindicated by their exploits;
and marches, conquests and victories that, if sober truth
were alone to cover the pages of history, would far outdo
in real labour and danger the boasted passage of the Alps
under Napoleon, and the exploits that succeeded it.

Don Juan Montefalderon was a grave and thoughtful
man, of pure Iberian blood. He might have had about
him a little of the exaltation of the Spanish character; the
overflowings of a generous chivalry at the bottom; and,
under its influence, he may have set too high an estimate
on Mexico and her sons, but he was not one to shut his
eyes to the truth. He saw plainly that the northern

-- 052 --

[figure description] Page 052.[end figure description]

neighbours of his country were a race formidable and enterprising,
and that of all the calumnies that had been heaped upon
them by rivalries and European superciliousness, that of
their not being military by temperament was, perhaps, the
most absurd of all. On the contrary, he had himself, though
anticipating evil, been astounded by the suddenness and
magnitude of their conquests, which in a few short months
after the breaking out of hostilities, had overrun regions
larger in extent than many ancient empires. All this had
been done, too, not by disorderly and barbarous hordes,
seeking in other lands the abundance that was wanting
at home; but with system and regularity, by men who
had turned the ploughshare into the sword for the occasion,
quitting abundance to encounter fatigue, famine,
and danger. In a word, the Señor Montefalderon saw
all the evils that environed his own land, and foresaw
others, of a still graver character that menaced the future.
On matters such as these did he brood in his walk, and
bitter did he find the minutes of that sad and lonely watch.
Although a Mexican, he could feel; although an avowed
foe of this good republic of ours, he had his principles, his
affections, and his sense of right. Whatever may be the
merits of the quarrel, and we are not disposed to deny that
our provocation has been great, a sense of right should
teach every man that what may be patriotic in an American,
would not be exactly the same thing in a Mexican, and
that we ought to respect in others sentiments that are so
much vaunted among ourselves. Midnight at length arrived,
and, calling the cook and steward, the unhappy gentleman
was relieved, and went to his berth to dream, in sorrow,
over the same pictures of national misfortunes, on which,
while waking, he had brooded in such deep melancholy.

The watch of Josh and Simon was tranquil, meeting
with no interruption until it was time to summon Jack.
One thing these men had done, however, that was of some
moment to Tier, under a pledge given by Josh, and which
had been taken in return for a dollar in hand. They had
managed to haul the light-house boat alongside, from its
position astern, and this so noiselessly as not to give the
alarm to any one. There it lay, when Jack appeared,
ready at the main-rigging, to receive him at any moment
he might choose to enter it.

-- 053 --

[figure description] Page 053.[end figure description]

A few minutes after Jack appeared on deck, Rose and
Biddy came stealthily out of the cabin, the latter carrying
a basket filled with bread and broken meat, and not wanting
in sundry little delicacies, such as woman's hands prepare,
and, in this instance, woman's tenderness had provided.
The whole party met at the galley, a place so far removed
from the state-rooms aft as to be out of ear-shot. Here
Jack renewed his endeavours to persuade either Josh or
Simon to go in the boat, but without success. The negroes
had talked the matter over in their watch, and had come
to the conclusion the enterprise was too hazardous.

“I tell you, Jack, you does n't know Cap'in Spike as well
as I does,” Josh said, in continuance of the discourse. “No,
you does n't know him at all as well as I does. If he finds
out that anybody has quit dis brig dis werry night, woful
will come! It no good to try to run; I run t'ree time, an'
Simon here run twice. What good it all do? We got
cotched, and here we is, just as fast as ever. I knows
Cap'in Spike, and does n't want to fall in athwart his hawse
any more.”

“Y-e-s, dat my judgment too,” put in the cook. “We
wishes you well, Jack, and we wishes Miss Rose well, and
Mr. Mulford well, but we can't, no how, run ath'art hawse,
as Josh says. Dat is my judgment, too.”

“Well, if your minds are made up to this, my darkies,
I s'pose there'll be no changing them,” said Jack. “At
all ewents you'll lend us a hand, by answering any hail
that may come from aft, in my watch, and in keepin' our
secret. There's another thing you can do for us, which
may be of service. Should Captain Spike miss the boat,
and lay any trap to catch us, you can just light this here
bit of lantern and hang it over the brig's bows, where he'll
not be likely to see it, that we may know matters are going
wrong, and give the craft a wide berth.”

“Sartain,” said Josh, who entered heartily into the affair,
so far as good wishes for its success were concerned, at
the very moment when he had a most salutary care of his
own back. “Sartain; we do all dat, and no t'ank asked.
It no great matter to answer a hail, or to light a lantern
and sling him over de bows; and if Captain Spike want to
know who did it, let him find out.”

-- 054 --

[figure description] Page 054.[end figure description]

Here both negroes laughed heartily, manifesting so little
care to suppress their mirth, that Rose trembled lest their
noise should awaken Spike. Accustomed sounds, however,
seldom produce this effect on the ears of the sleeper, and
the heavy breathing from the state-room, succeeded the
merriment of the blacks, as soon as the latter ceased.
Jack now announced his readiness to depart. Some little
care and management were necessary to get into the boat
noiselessly, more especially with Biddy. It was done however,
with the assistance of the blacks, who cast off the
painter, when Jack gave the boat a shove to clear the brig,
and suffered it to drift astern for a considerable distance
before he ventured to cast loose the sail.

“I know Spike well,” said Jack, in answer to a remonstrance
from the impatient Rose concerning his delay: “A
single flap of that canvas would wake him up, with the
brig anchored, while he would sleep through a salute of
heavy guns if it came in regular course. Quick ears has
old Stephen, and it's best to humour them. In a minute
more we'll set our canvas and be off.”

All was done as Jack desired, and the boat got away
from the brig unheard and undetected. It was blowing a
good breeze, and Jack Tier had no sooner got the sail on
the boat, than away it started at a speed that would have
soon distanced Spike in his yawl, and with his best oarsmen.
The main point was to keep the course, though the direction
of the wind was a great assistant. By keeping the
wind abeam, Jack thought he should be going toward the
rock of Mulford. In one hour, or even in less time, he
expected to reach it, and he was guided by time, in his
calculations, as much as by any other criterion. Previously
to quitting the brig, he had gone up a few ratlins of the
fore-rigging to take the bearings of the fire on Mulford's
rock, but the light was no longer visible. As no star was
to be seen, the course was a little vague, but Jack was
navigator enough to understand that by keeping on the
weather side of the channel he was in the right road, and
that his great danger of missing his object was in overrunning

So much of the reef was above water, that it was not
difficult to steer a boat along its margin. The darkness,

-- 055 --

[figure description] Page 055.[end figure description]

to be sure, rendered it a little uncertain how near they
were running to the rocks, but, on the whole, Jack assured
Rose he had no great difficulty in getting along.

“These trades are almost as good as compasses,” he
said, “and the rocks are better, if we can keep close aboard
them without going on to them. I do not know the exact
distance of the spot we seek from the brig, but I judged it
to be about two leagues, as I looked at it from aloft. Now,
this boat will travel them two leagues in an hour, with
this breeze and in smooth water.”

“I wish you had seen the fire again before we left the
brig,” said Rose, too anxious for the result not to feel
uneasiness on some account or other.

“The mate is asleep, and the fire has burned down;
that's the explanation. Besides, fuel is not too plenty on
a place like that Mr. Mulford inhabits just now. As we
get near the spot, I shall look out for embers, which may
sarve as a light-house, or beacon, to guide us into port.”

“Mr. Mulford will be charmed to see us, now that we
take him wather!” exclaimed Biddy. “Wather is a blessed
thing, and it's hard will be the heart that does not fale
gratitude for a planty of swate wather.”

“The maty has plenty of food and water where he is,”
said Jack. “I'll answer for both them sarcumstances. I
saw him turn a turtle as plain as if I had been at his elbow,
and I saw him drinking at a hole in the rock, as heartily
as a boy ever pulled at a gimblet-hole in a molasses hogs-head.”

“But the distance was so great, Jack, I should hardly
think you could have distinguished objects so small.”

“I went by the motions altogether. I saw the man, and
I saw the movements, and I knowed what the last meant.
It's true I couldn't swear to the turtle, though I saw something
on the rock that I knowed, by the way in which it
was handled, must be a turtle. Then I saw the mate kneel,
and put his head low, and then I knowed he was drinking.”

“Perhaps he prayed,” said Rose, solemnly.

“Not he. Sailors isn't so apt to pray, Miss Rose; not
as apt as they ought to be. Women for prayers, and men
for work. Mr. Mulford is no worse than many others, but
I doubt if he be much given to that.”

-- 056 --

[figure description] Page 056.[end figure description]

To this Rose made no answer, but Biddy took the matter
up, and, as the boat went briskly ahead, she pursued the

“Then more is the shame for him,” said the Irish woman,
“and Miss Rose, and missus, and even I prayin' for him,
all as if he was our own brudder. It's seldom I ask anything
for a heretic, but I could not forget a fine young man
like Mr. Mulford, and Miss Rose so partial to him, and he
in so bad a way. He ought to be ashamed to make his
brags that he is too proud to pray.”

“Harry has made no such wicked boast,” put in Rose,
mildly; “nor do we know that he has not prayed for us,
as well as for himself. It may all be a mistake of Jack's,
you know.”

“Yes,” added Jack, coolly, “it may be a mistake, a'ter
all, for I was lookin' at the maty six miles off, and through
a spy-glass. No one can be sure of anything at such a
distance. So overlook the matter, my good Biddy, and
carry Mr. Mulford the nice things you've mustered in that
basket, all the same as if he was pope.”

“This is a subject we had better drop,” Rose quietly

“Anything to oblige you, Miss Rose, though religion is
a matter it would do me no harm to talk about once and
awhile. It's many a long year since I've had time and
opportunity to bring my thoughts to dwell on holy things.
Ever since I left my mother's side, I've been a wanderer
in my mind, as much as in my body.”

“Poor Jack! I understand and feel for your sufferings;
but a better time will come, when you may return to the
habits of your youth, and to the observances of your church.”

“I do n't know that, Miss Rose; I do n't know that,”
answered Tier, placing the elbow of his short arm on the
seemingly shorter leg, and bending his head so low as to
lean his face on the palm of the hand, an attitude in which
he appeared to be suffering keenly through his recollections.
“Childhood and innocence never come back to us
in this world. What the grave may do, we shall all learn
in time.”

“Innocence can return to all with repentance, Jack;
and the heart that prompts you to do acts as generous as

-- 057 --

[figure description] Page 057.[end figure description]

this you are now engaged in, must contain some good seed

“If Jack will go to a praste and just confess, when he
can find a father, it will do his sowl good,” said Biddy,
who was touched by the mental suffering of the strange
little being at her side.

But the necessity of managing the boat soon compelled
its coxswain to raise his head, and to attend to his duty.
The wind sometimes came in puffs, and at such moments
Jack saw that the large sail of the light-house boat required
watching, a circumstance that induced him to shake off his
melancholy, and give his mind more exclusively to the business
before him. As for Rose, she sympathised deeply
with Jack Tier, for she knew his history, his origin, the
story of his youth, and the well-grounded causes of his
contrition and regrets. From her, Jack had concealed nothing,
the gentle commiseration of one like Rose being a
balm to wounds that had bled for long and bitter years.
The great poet of our language, and the greatest that ever
lived, perhaps, short of the inspired writers of the Old Testament,
and old Homer and Dante, has well reminded us
that the “little beetle,” in yielding its breath, can “feel a
pang as great as when a giant dies.” Thus is it, too, in
morals. Abasement, and misery, and poverty, and sin,
may, and all do, contribute to lower the tone of our moral
existence; but the principle that has been planted by nature,
can be eradicated by nature only. It exists as long
as we exist; and if dormant for a time, under the pressure
of circumstances, it merely lies, in the moral system, like
the acorn, or the chestnut, in the ground, waiting its time
and season to sprout, and bud, and blossom. Should that
time never arrive, it is not because the seed is not there,
but because it is neglected. Thus was it with the singular
being of whose feelings we have just spoken. The germ
of goodness had been implanted early in him, and was
nursed with tenderness and care, until, self-willed, and governed
by passion; he had thrown off the connections of
youth and childhood, to connect himself with Spike—a
connection that had left him what he was. Before closing
our legend, we shall have occasion to explain it.

“We have run our hour; Miss Rose,” resumed Jack,

-- 058 --

[figure description] Page 058.[end figure description]

breaking a continued silence, during which the boat had
passed through a long line of water; “we have run our
hour, and ought to be near the rock we are in search of.
But the morning is so dark that I fear we shall have difficulty
in finding it. It will never do to run past it, and we
must haul closer into the reef, and shorten sail, that we
may be sartain to make no such mistake.”

Rose begged her companion to omit no precaution, as
it would be dreadful to fail in their search, after incurring
so much risk in their own persons.

“Harry may be sleeping on the sea-weed of which you
spoke,” she added, “and the danger of passing him will be
much increased in such a case. What a gloomy and frightful
spot is this, in which to abandon a human being! I fear,
Jack, that we have come faster than we have supposed, and
may already have passed the rock.”

“I hope not, Miss Rose—it seemed to me a good two
leagues to the place where I saw him, and the boat is fast
that will run two leagues in an hour.”

“We do not know the time, Jack, and are obliged to
guess at that as well as at the distance. How very dark it

Dark, in one sense, it was not, though Rose's apprehensions,
doubtless, induced her to magnify every evil. The
clouds certainly lessened the light of the moon; but there
was still enough of the last to enable one to see surrounding
objects; and most especially to render distinct the
character of the solitude that reigned over the place.

The proximity of the reef, which formed a weather shore
to the boat, prevented anything like a swell on the water,
notwithstanding the steadiness and strength of the breeze,
which had now blown for near twenty-four hours. The
same wind, in open water, would have raised sea enough
to cause a ship to pitch, or roll; whereas, the light-house
boat, placed where she was, scarce rose and fell under the
undulations of the channel through which she was glancing.

“This is a good boat, and a fast boat too,” observed
Jack Tier, after he had luffed up several minutes, in order
to make sure of his proximity to the reef; “and it might
carry us all safe enough to Key West, or certainly back to

-- 059 --

[figure description] Page 059.[end figure description]

the Dry Tortugas, was we inclined to try our hands at

“I cannot quit my aunt,” said Rose, quickly, “so we
will not even think of any such thing.”

“No, 't would never do to abandon the missus,” said
Biddy, “and she on the wrack wid us, and falin' the want
of wather as much as ourselves.”

“We three have sartainly gone through much in company,”
returned Jack, “and it ought to make us friends
for life.”

“I trust it will, Jack; I hope, when we return to New
York, to see you among us, anchored, as you would call
it, for the rest of your days under my aunt's roof, or under
my own, should I ever have one.”

“No, Miss Rose, my business is with the Swash and
her captain. I shall stick by both, now I've found 'em
again, until they once more desart me. A man's duty is
his duty, and a woman's duty is her duty.”

“You same to like the brig and her captain, Jack Tier,”
observed Biddy, “and there's no use in gainsaying such a
likin'. What will come to pass, must come to pass. Captain
Spike is a mighty great sailor, anyway.”

“He's a willian!” muttered Jack.

“There!” cried Rose, almost breathless, “there is a
rock above the water, surely. Do not fly by it so swiftly,
Jack, but let us stop and examine it.”

“There is a rock, sure enough, and a large piece it is,”
answered Tier. “We will go alongside of it, and see what
it is made of. Biddy shall be boat-keeper, while you and
I, Miss Rose, explore.”

Jack had thrown the boat into the wind, and was shooting
close alongside of the reef, even while speaking. The
party found no difficulty in landing; the margin of the rock
admitting the boat to lie close alongside of it, and its surface
being even and dry. Jack had brailed the sail, and
he brought the painter ashore, and fastened it securely to
a fragment of stone, that made a very sufficient anchor. In
addition to this precaution, a lazy painter was put into
Biddy's hands, and she was directed not to let go of it
while her companions were absent. These arrangements

-- 060 --

[figure description] Page 060.[end figure description]

concluded, Rose and Jack commenced a hurried examination
of the spot.

A few minutes sufficed to give our adventurers a tolerably
accurate notion of the general features of the place on
which they had landed. It was a considerable portion of
the reef that was usually above water, and which had even
some fragments of soil, or sand, on which was a stinted
growth of bushes. Of these last, however, there were very
few, nor were there many spots of the sand. Drift-wood
and sea-weed were lodged in considerable quantities about
its margin, and, in places, piles of both had been tossed
upon the rock itself, by the billows of former gales of wind.
Nor was it long before Jack discovered a turtle that had
been up to a hillock of sand, probably to deposit its eggs.
There was enough of the sportsman in Jack, notwithstanding
the business he was on, to turn this animal; though
with what object, he might have been puzzled himself to
say. This exploit effected, Jack followed Rose as fast as
his short legs would permit, our heroine pressing forward
eagerly, though almost without hope, in order to assertain
if Mulford were there.

“I am afraid this is not the rock,” said Rose, nearly
breathless with her own haste, when Jack had overtaken
her. “I see nothing of him, and we have passed over most
of the place.”

“Very true, Miss Rose,” answered her companion, who
was in a good humour on account of his capture of the turtle;
“but there are other rocks besides this. Ha! what
was that, yonder,” pointing with a finger, “here, more toward
the brig. As I'm a sinner, there was a flashing, as
of fire.”

“If a fire, it must be that made by Harry. Let us go
to the spot at once.”

Jack led the way, and, sure enough, he soon reached a
place where the embers of what had been a considerable
body of fire, were smouldering on the rock. The wind had
probably caused some brand to kindle momentarily, which
was the object that had caught Tier's eye. No doubt any
longer remained of their having found the very place where
the mate had cooked his supper, and lighted his beacon,
though he himself was not near it. Around these embers

-- 061 --

[figure description] Page 061.[end figure description]

were all the signs of Mulford's having made the meal, of
which Jack had seen the preparations. A portion of the
turtle, much the greater part of it, indeed, lay in its shell;
and piles of wood and sea-weed, both dry, had been placed
at hand, ready for use. A ship's topgallant-yard, with most
of its rope attached, lay with a charred end near the fire,
of where the fire had been, the wood having burned until
the flames went out for want of contact with other fuel.
There were many pieces of boards of pitch-pine in the adjacent
heap, and two or three beautiful planks of the same
wood, entire. In short, from the character and quantity
of the materials of this nature that had thus been heaped
together, Jack gave it as his opinion that some vessel,
freighted with lumber, had been wrecked to windward, and
that the adjacent rocks had been receiving the tribute of
her cargo. Wrecks are of very, very frequent occurrence
on the Florida Reef; and there are always moments when
such gleanings are to be made in some part of it or other.

“I see no better way to give a call to the mate, Miss
Rose, than to throw some of this dry weed, and some of
this lumber on the fire,” said Jack, after he had rummaged
about the place sufficiently to become master of its condition.
“There is plenty of amunition, and here goes for a

Jack had no great difficulty in effecting his object. In
a few minutes he succeeded in obtaining a flame, and then
he fed it with such fragments of the brands and boards as
were best adapted to his purpose. The flames extended
gradually, and by the time Tier had dragged the topgallant-yard
over the pile, and placed several planks, on their edges,
alongside of it, the whole was ready to burst into a blaze.
The light was shed athwart the rock for a long distance,
and the whole place, which was lately so gloomy and obscure,
now became gay, under the bright radiance of a blazing

“There is a beacon-light that might almost be seen on
board!” said Jack, exulting in his success. If the mate
is anywhere in this latitude, he will soon turn up.”

“I see nothing of him,” answered Rose, in a melancholy
voice. “Surely, surely, Jack, he cannot have left the rock
just as we have come to rescue him!”

-- 062 --

[figure description] Page 062.[end figure description]

Rose and her companion had turned their faces from the
fire to look in an opposite direction in quest of him they
sought. Unseen by them, a human form advanced swiftly
toward the fire, from a point on its other side. It advanced
nearer, then hesitated, afterward rushed forward with a
tread that caused the two to turn, and at the next moment,
Rose was clasped to the heart of Mulford.

Previous section

Next section

Cooper, James Fenimore, 1789-1851 [1848], Jack Tier, volume 2 (Burgess, Stringer & Co., New York) [word count] [eaf079v2].
Powered by PhiloLogic