Crusoes of the Frozen North
Produced by Julie Barkley, Andrea Ball and the Online Distributed
[Illustration: THEY FOUND TOM AT THE LAKE-SIDE, STANDING OVER
A HUGE DEAD BEAR.]
The Crusoes Of
The Frozen North
From the Well-known Story by
Dr. Gordon Stables
"I'm sure of one thing," said Aralia to her little sister Pansy, as they
sat together one lovely summer afternoon on the garden seat, and gazed
away and away far over the North Sea. "I'm quite sure of one thing.
Nobody ever could have so good an uncle as our uncle. Now, could anybody,
"Oh no!" answered Pansy, shaking her pretty head. Pansy was hardly eight
years old, and always agreed with her older sister, who was nearly
"How I wish he were home again from his old ship," sighed Aralia, "and
Tom with him!"
"Well, Ara, we can sit here hours and hours every day and watch the sea,
"Yes, and we shall easily know the ship. As she goes by, shell set all
her flags a-flying, and, if Father isn't at home, Mother will send up our
great red flag on the garden pole. Oh dear! I could nearly cry for joy to
think of it!"
"And me too!" said Pansy.
"And me too!" Veevee seemed to say, as he gave a short bark, and, jumping
down from the seat, ran round the garden, looking like a fluffy white
The sea was very blue, only patched with green wherever a cloud-shadow
fell on it. Down beneath the cliff on which the cottage stood, the waves
broke lazily in long white lines of foam. On the sea itself were vessels
of almost every kind, from the little fishing craft with brown sails to
great ships sailing away to distant lands.
Aralia knew what class of vessel each was by its rig; her best of uncles
had taught her. And well could she use the spy-glass too, which she now
held to her right eye. It had been hard at first to keep the left closed,
but she could manage it now quite easily without asking Pansy to clap a
hand over it.
Soon she began to talk in little gasps:
"Oh, Pansy--I think--Oh, I'm nearly sure--yes--yes--it must be! it _is_
Uncle's ship! I can see the flags all a-flying--Hurrah! Come and look!"
Pansy sat on her sister's knee and peeped through the glass. Then both
the children started up and waved their arms in the air at the far-off
ship. They were just about to rush off to tell Mother, when their cousin
Frank came up. He was a lad of about thirteen or fourteen, but he was so
tall and manly that he looked older.
Frank came into the garden with a rush and a run when he heard the girls
call out. A fishing basket was slung over his back, from which the tails
of fish stuck out, showing what good sport he had had.
"Hillo, Ara! Hillo, Pansy! What are you dancing and 'hoo-laying' about?
Been stung by a wasp, my little Pansy Blossom?"
"Oh, Frank," cried the elder girl, "look through the glass! Uncle's
coming! Look at the ship, and all the flags."
The boy was almost as excited now as the girls themselves, and presently
they were all running in a string through the pretty garden towards the
cottage with the news, Veevee bringing up the rear and barking bravely.
* * * * *
Rat-tat-tat at the door next afternoon, and little Pansy ran to open it,
expecting to see the postman, but the knocking was only a bit of Tom's
fun. Frank had left for Hull the evening before to meet him, and here was
Tom the sailor, tall and bonny and dark. Pansy jumped into his arms like
a baby, Aralia rushed to meet him, and his mother came out, though a
little more slowly. When the bustle was all over, and Tom had answered
nearly a hundred questions, they all went in to tea.
"Yes, Aralia, Uncle is coming up from Hull with Father and Cousin Frank,
and we shall stop here three whole days before we go back to clear ship
and pay off"
"And," added Tom, "Uncle has something so strange and nice to tell you!"
"What is it, Tom?" said his two sisters, both in a breath as it were.
"I can't, won't, and sha'n't tell you, girls," cried Tom, laughing,
"because that would spoil the fun when Uncle comes."
So all, even Veevee, who would not get off Tom's knees for a minute, had
to be as patient as they could. But the time passed so quickly, listening
to all this hearty young sailor had to tell of his voyage to the far
north, that before anyone was aware it was nearly seven o'clock.
And now down jumps Veevee and runs towards the door, barking aloud as if
he were a very big dog.
"They're coming! They're coming! Veevee knows!" And coming they were
Tom had had a hearty welcome when he arrived, but when this best of
uncles at last managed to sit down on the sofa: "Shiver my timbers,
sister," he said to Mrs. Dunlop, "if it isn't worth while going all the
way to the back of the North Pole just to get such a welcome home as
Jack Staysail was a sailor every inch of him. He had roughed it so much
in the Greenland seas, and been out in so many storms, that his face was
as red as a boiled beet; but his eyes were as full of fun and merriment
as a boy's.
"We're not all here yet," he said. "I have asked my friend, Professor
Peterkin, the Swede, to come in to-night with his mastiff." When their
uncle mentioned the mastiff, Aralia and Pansy began to tremble for
Veevee, but Tom only laughed.
"Why," he said, "although Briton--that's his name--is big enough to
tackle a bear, he wouldn't injure a mouse."
It was nearly nine o'clock when the professor arrived. Briton marched in
first, and a bigger and more noble-looking fellow was never seen. Veevee
said he couldn't stand another dog in the place. So he started up,
barking loudly, and offering to fight the mastiff to the death on the
spot. But Briton stepped gingerly over the little dog, and went and lay
quietly down on the rug.
Then in bustled the professor himself, very droll, very small,
clean-shaven, merry-eyed, and with as much hair on his great head as
would have stuffed a cushion. He bowed and smiled to all, patted the
children, and at last sat down to supper.
All made a very hearty supper, though it was long past the children's
bed-time. Only Uncle didn't come home every night, you know.
When they had finished, Briton had a huge dish of scraps; Veevee sat
watching him eat, and the children were very much surprised to see
Briton shove one of the biggest and best morsels towards him. The tiny
dog picked up the titbit and wagged his tail. After he had eaten it,
he went and lay down beside Briton on the hearth-rug.
The "something nice" that Uncle had to tell was soon told now.
Captain Staysail cleared his throat before he began: "Ahem! Oh,
you're all waiting, are you, to hear what I've got to say? Well,
"Pete--Pete--Pete--Pete!" cried the droll, wee man, stopping him, and
one would have thought he was calling a dog. "I'm not going to be called
Professor, and I won't Peterkin. Just Pete, as I was on board ship, as I
am to everybody, and must be to you.
"But just look here, Staysail, you're a sailor, and you can't make a
speech. Let me speak." And speak he did without waiting for a reply.
"It's all in a nutshell, dear Mr. and Mrs. Dunlop, and I'll tell you in
two or three sentences what your worthy sailor-brother would have kept
you up all night to hear. Now listen! Briton, you lie down! Good again!
Now I, Dan Peterkin, am a man who has been used to study hard, and think
hard. You follow me so far? Good again!
"Well, there is one thing has taken me years to work out, and that is,
where in this world gold and coal are to be found. And I've done it. I
can go right to the spots. One of them lies on an island right away up in
the Frozen North. And we're going there. Your brother, Mrs. Dunlop, is
going to take me.
"Well, we may have some hardships. Paff! What do we care? We shall win
such wealth as has never been seen before. You follow still? Good again!
Well, I go to a town in the north last spring, when the seal ships are
all there, and I look for an honest face. I find Staysail. I say to him:
'You give me a passage to Greenland, my friend.' He say: 'What for I give
you passage?' I smile. I take him by one button, and pull him all the way
into a private room of the hotel. Briton follows. We all dine well--we
all come out smiling--Briton too. And now, my friends, all is arranged.
We sail away and away and away next spring for the seas of ice and the
islands of gold.
"That is all. You have followed me? Good again!" And once more the
professor sat down, and the big arm-chair seemed to swallow him up.
* * * * *
Ara and Pansy lay awake a long time that night thinking of what Pete had
said. But the next day they went about their duties as usual. They did
not go to school, as they had a governess, of whom they were both very
fond. Nearly half their day would be spent out-of-doors with her and
Veevee. In spring and summer they would gather flowers inland, but what
they liked best was to play about on the sands, to go out boating with an
old seaman they knew, or climb the rocks and get into very steep and
Poor Frank Dunlop was an orphan, and was now the adopted son of Ara's
father. As for Tom, who was a year or two older, his father had wanted
him to go into business at home in England, but nothing would satisfy the
lad but going to sea, so he had been sent to rough it with his uncle in
the stormy seas of the Frozen North. The cruise now ended was his second,
and Tom wasn't tired of the sea yet.
Frank went back to school, and appeared no more at the cottage until
Christmas came round. Then not only Uncle, but Pete and Briton came to
spend a whole fortnight with the Dunlop family, and to make their final
plans for the spring. And I should say that no fortnight seemed to pass
so quickly to the children as did the two weeks when their visitors
stayed with them.
At last, one day in early spring, there left Hull on a trial trip one of
the handsomest little steamers, and, for her size, one of the strongest
that ever put to sea from that port. She was Captain Staysail's new ship,
the _Valhalla_. Everything on board, both on deck and between decks, and
in the saloon, was as clean and beautiful as if she had been a royal
yacht. The decks were as white as ivory, the polished wood shone in the
sun, and the brass-work looked like gold. The saloon itself, with its
curtains, its mirrors, tables pillars, and piano, was really fit for a
fairy princess to live in. Everything had been prepared under the eye of
Professor Peterkin himself, so everything was perfect in its way.
Pansy, who was on board, and had been peeping in some of the rooms, said
to Aralia at last: "Oh, Aralia, what a dear little doll's house of a
cabin; I should like to live in it always!"
Neither of the children was sea-sick when the _Valhalla_ went out under
steam, and they had such fun with the sailors and the two dogs that they
were quite sorry when the ship once more steamed into port.
And didn't everybody sleep soundly that night in the hotel! I should say
The merry month of May had hardly begun when the brave _Valhalla_ steamed
away on her perilous cruise to the far and icy north.
Frank, with his two little cousins, had begged leave to go to Hull in
order to see the very, very last of the beautiful ship and that best of
uncles, Captain Staysail. Leave had been given by their parents, because
"Wherever Frank is," said Mr. Dunlop, "the children are sure to be safe."
There had been a good deal of stir and bustle on the very last evening,
and many visitors had been to the _Valhalla_, for somehow word had gone
out that Professor Peterkin, the great Swedish traveller, was off to find
the North Pole!
And all believed that he would find it. Some of the sailors even went so
far as to say that he would bring it back with him rigged up as a mast of
But by the time eight bells had rung out all was quiet. The hands had
turned in, and only Tom and two men were left on watch.
"Go forward," said Tom, "and have a cup of coffee and a smoke, and I'll
see to the safety of the ship here at the gangway."
The men took the young officer at his word, and it was not very long ere
their smoke was finished, and they, too, were fast asleep. Had any other
eyes than Tom's been watching the shore, about half an hour afterwards,
they must have noticed that something very strange was taking place.
Dark figures could be seen drawing near with stealthy footsteps to the
farther end of the gangway. Then they stopped as if in fear and dread.
But Tom whistled a long, low whistle, and three figures, muffled in
oil-skins, stole along the gangway and stepped silently on deck.
Then Tom sprang a small bull's-eye lantern, and let its light shine right
in front of him, so that no one meeting him could have told who or what
was stealing up behind. In the same quiet way he led the little party
down a ladder to the deck below, and then beneath hammocks filled with
sleeping sailors, and along a passage, until he came to a door, which he
carefully unlocked, and soon afterwards locked again.
* * * * *
By midnight next night the _Valhalla_ was far out at sea, bearing to the
north, for Captain Staysail did not mean to touch at any of the English
or Scotch ports on this voyage.
The weather at first was very beautiful, and so it remained, with a calm
sea and hardly a breath of wind, until nearly sunset of the second day.
Then clouds began to bank up, dark and threatening, and the glass--so
Webb, the first mate, reported to the captain--was going tumbling down.
"We are going to have a blow, sir," he said, "and it's coming up sharp
behind us. I reckon, sir, we'll have a ten-knotter afore the middle watch
"Well, then, have the fires banked, Mr. Webb, as soon as the wind is
strong enough to get way on her. I wouldn't set too much sail, and if it
does come a gale, I'd ease her right away. You know what she can do,
"Ay, ay, sir!"
"Well, I think that's all."
But the mate didn't move.
"Anything else, Mr. Webb?"
"There is something else, sir," said the mate rather sheepishly.
"Well, out with it. Why, you look as if you'd seen a ghost!"
"Well, sir, there is a ghost, or demon, or something aboard of this very
ship, and some of the crew are in a state next door to mutiny about it."
"What on earth do you mean, Mr. Webb?"
The tall, handsome, fair-haired Webb leaned over the table and spoke to
Staysail almost in a whisper.
"It's the little professor they all blame, sir; and there are four of
them who swear the ship is haunted--that he keeps evil spirits under lock
and key for'ard--"
"But--but--Mr. Webb--Evil spirits under lock and key! Do you mean bad
rum? And who is he?"
"Hush, sir! don't talk so loud. He's walking the deck now. It's the
professor I mean, sir. As to the evil spirits, I've heard them
myself--mutter, mutter, squeak, squeak, squeak! Ugh! it is awful,
And the mate shuddered as he spoke.
Now, Staysail was always a good laugher, but at this tale he fairly
yelled with laughter until everything jingled in the cabin, and the tears
ran down his cheeks.
The mate never moved a muscle.
"That awful fore-cabin, sir!" he said. "It's in there, and Broomberg, the
Finlander, declares that if you don't land him and his mates at Bergen
they'll seize the ship and sail for Aberdeen."
"But why on earth don't you open the fore-cabin?"
"Oh, that's where it is, sir! The key is lost, or else the professor has
A squall at that moment struck the ship and heeled her over. It blew with
tremendous force for a time, and at last settled down to a steady gale.
But in less than an hour the captain's orders were carried out, and the
good ship _Valhalla_ was speeding before the wind at a good rate with
very little sail on her.
The storm increased towards midnight, and at that dark hour the
_Valhalla_ had to lie to under almost bare poles. So busy had all hands
been kept that there was very little time to think of ghosts or evil
spirits, and now that the crew had a chance of turning in, it is needless
to say that sleep was the first thing to be considered.
But fresh trouble came with the new day. The wind had gone down, and the
sea as well, and the _Valhalla_ was now bowling along on a pretty even
keel, for the breeze was well astern.
Webb, the mate, and Tom both slept in bunks in the same cabin. Just as
the steward was laying breakfast, Webb popped his head out from his cabin
"Good-morning, sah!" said Jake Brown, who, strange as it may seem, was a
tall and important-looking black man, with hair as white as snow.
"Have you seen Master Tom? He hasn't been here all night. I slept too
sound to take much notice."
"Sakes alive, no!" cried burly Jake. "I run and search de ship plenty
quick." And away he went.
Webb was dressed and leaving his cabin when Jake returned. But neither
high nor low, fore nor aft, could Tom be found, nor had he been seen
since the main-topsail had carried away just before midnight.
The captain was now roused and the terrible news reported.
"Poor Tom! poor Tom! Washed overboard without a doubt!" he said.
Tom had been a great favourite on board, and the news caused a general
gloom all over the ship.
But Broomberg and his mates received the news in another way.
"It is von unlucky ship," cried the former, "and did not those below hear
the shrieking of the ghosts when the waves and wind were highest? Come we
to the captain at once, men. I will not sail in a haunted ship. No, no."
Some minutes before eight bells rang out in the morning air, the captain
on the quarter-deck, with Mr. Webb and the professor, were engaged in
angry talk with Broomberg and his fellows.
"Return to your duty, men," the captain said. "I will make enquiries
into the matter. As for you, Broomberg, hand over that knife you are
fingering, and consider yourself under arrest."
"I will not," shouted the fellow. "See!"
He made a wild rush aft, holding the glittering blade high in air, and
seized the professor by the neck.
But help from an unexpected quarter was at hand, and next moment
Broomberg was sprawling on his back with Briton's great paws on his
Mutiny and ghosts and storm were at once forgotten. The men cheered
wildly, Broomberg's knife was snatched from his hand, and he himself
bound hand and foot, while everybody crowded round to shake hands with
the little professor, or to pat the noble dog who had saved his life.
But suddenly joy was changed to terror, for shriek after shriek could be
heard forward, and in a few seconds' time the cook rushed helter-skelter
up on deck, almost pale with fright, followed by the men of the watch
"The ghosts!" somebody shouted.
The captain stood as if stupefied, the little professor's eyes were as
big as watch-glasses, and the mate had to catch hold of a back-stay to
prevent himself from falling.
The whole crew now took to the rigging, and the only marvel is that some
of them did not slip overboard and make food for the sharks.
"Look, look!--oh, look, sir!" shouted the mate with a cry like one in
a nightmare; and the next moment he fainted and fell on the top of
Broomberg the mutineer.
Two little girls, one little boy, and one little dog, all as black as
chimney-sweeps, the girls with their arms in the air, now came wildly
Tom himself, come back to life, was standing on the capstan waving his
cap in the air, and cheering and laughing like a mad thing.
Aralia and Pansy reached the quarter-deck before anyone could say
"knife", and, black as they were, sprang right into Captain Staysail's
arms, hugging him and kissing him.
"What!--what!--what!--" He tried to get out a sentence, but failed.
"Oh, I was so frightened, Unky dear, but I is so happy now!" cried Pansy.
"Bless my soul and body," cried Staysail at last, "how did all this
Then he went forward a few paces, the little ones clinging to him all the
time, and Veevee racing round the deck like a live muff.
"Tom, you young rascal, jump down here at once. This is all your work.
Now, give a full account of it, sir."
"Oh, I do hope, Uncle, you'll forgive me, but Frank and little Pansy and
Aralia did want to come with us so much, that--that--!"
"That you took them as stowaways, eh?"
"I'm afraid that's it, sir."
The captain pretended to be awfully angry, and said he would put about
and land the lot at Aberdeen.
"In the meantime, go below, children, and get yourselves washed; the
steward will see to you. Steward!"
"Ay, ay, sir, I'se heah, sah."
"Let Miss Aralia and Pansy have that spare cabin near mine. I'll talk to
you afterwards, Tom."
Tom hung his head in sorrow--so it seemed,--but it really was to hide a
He got near enough to his sisters to say: "Keep up your pecker, Pansy,
for there won't be any Aberdeen about it."
In the spare cabin stood a big box that nobody had noticed before. Tom
had smuggled it on board, and it contained his sisters' best things, and
a full rig-out for them for the Arctic regions.
Sly old Tom!
He now stole into their cabin and gave them their clothes, and when
Staysail came down to dinner at twelve, with his spy-glass under his arm,
no wonder he cried: "Hillo! Hillo!"
For here were the three children, all mirth and smiles, seated beside
Pete, and Tom, with head bowed down, waiting to take his seat.
"Hillo! Hillo! But what will your father and mother think, my dears?"
"Oh," cried Tom, "we made that all right! Father gave his consent, and
he'll easily manage Mother."
"Steward!" shouted the captain, and Jake came running. "Put the other
half-leaf in the table to-night, and lay covers for three more, for these
young ragamuffins must mess with us in future."
There was no more word about ghosts now, and the kind professor forgave
the Finlander. He was set free and sent to duty, and now for weeks and
weeks there wasn't a much happier vessel afloat than the brave ship
_Valhalla_ bound for the Frozen North.
The two dogs became great friends, but, strangely enough, both disliked
Broomberg, and kept out of his way whenever they could. Once, indeed,
when the man bent down to stroke Veevee, Briton stood guard over his
little friend and growled.
"Hands off!" the mastiff seemed to say, "hands off till we know more
* * * * *
Of course Uncle was chief favourite with the children, but all the three
of them came to like the little professor very much indeed. He was with
them nearly all day long. Tom was usually very busy; so, too, was Uncle
Staysail; and though it must not be thought that Pete was an idle man,
for he had much to study, still he always found time to romp and play
with Aralia, Pansy, and the two dogs.
Though the weather grew colder for a time, it was all one long, long
summer's day. For in the Arctic regions the sun never sets for at least
three months, but just goes round and round, blazing high in the south at
mid-day, and lower in the north at midnight. Indeed, in these seas, if
you were not to look at the clock, you could not really tell whether it
was night or day.
Every evening now the little party gathered round the large stove, on
which a copper urn of coffee was always gently simmering. Then the
professor told his strangest stories, with perhaps Pansy on his knee, and
Aralia lying on the hearth-rug with the dogs. Most of his yarns were
about the Frozen North, its dangers and perils, its joys and pleasures.
"And shall we see all these strange sights?" Pansy used to ask.
"Yes, dear, and many more than these, because I mean to give you a treat
if you are good and don't get your fingers frozen."
One day great lumps of white snow-clad ice came floating by, and that
same evening the crow's-nest was hoisted high, high up at the very top of
the main-mast. The crow's-nest was like a big barrel with a lid at the
bottom, Pansy said, and Tom, or the mate, used to climb and crawl through
the bottom, and stand, spy-glass in hand, and look all about them.
"Oh," cried Pansy one day, "shouldn't I like to get up just once!
Wouldn't you, Ara?"
"But we could never climb up," sighed her sister.
The clever professor heard them, and lo and behold! the very next day he
had a kind of easy-chair ready for them to go up in. He himself sat down
in it with the children, and up they were hoisted, up and up. It was so
fearsome that the girls shut their eyes and clung to Pete, but when they
did open them what a sight they saw!
They were not far off the main pack, and as far as the eye could see was
one vast field of snow-covered ice. Their eyes were dazzled in looking at
They were not in the crow's-nest, but close beside it, and Pete made them
look through the spy-glass. This was wonderful, for away yonder to the
north, and near to the edge of the pack, where the sea looked as black
as ink, they could see four great ships, with their crews on the ice,
shooting seals and dragging skins. But in two hours' time the _Valhalla_
herself got north as far as these ships, and was stopped.
Neither of the girls felt cold, for they wore great mits and hoods, and
were altogether as snug as mice.
Then a boat was lowered, and when they looked down they could see Tom
himself get in with shooting-clothes on and a great rifle in his hand. He
waved his cap to them, and Pansy cried: "Hoo-lay!" The boat pulled away
and soon touched the ice; Tom sprang nimbly on shore, and before long he
could be seen only as a little black dot on that dazzling plain of snow.
Then he was observed to stop and kneel down while some huge monster,
yellowish-white in colour, came rushing towards him.
Aralia must have the glass now.
"Oh, the bear! the bear!" she cried in grief. "It is going to kill Tom.
Oh! oh! oh! my brother Tom!"
"Let me see! let me see!" screamed Pansy.
"Look now!" said Aralia with a smile. "Isn't Tom brave?"
Tom was indeed. For Pansy could now see the monster lying dead, and Tom
leaning on his gun, and once more waving his cap. Then men came up and
skinned the bear, and dragged the head and hide and paws to the ship.
Tom was a splendid shot, and this was his first bear. When he came
aboard, his sisters met him with pleasure, although with tears in their
eyes, for he had run a great risk.
A day or two after this, when still farther north, the children had had
their first run upon the ice. It was all so strange, and the ice was so
white, that they felt very giddy for a time. But the professor held
Pansy, and Tom walked by Aralia.
The whole ice-pack seemed one vast plain, like a bleak moorland in
winter, only with little hillocks of ice here and there called hummocks,
for the flat pieces of ice were all frozen hard together, and Ara
wondered where "Greenland's icy mountains" had all got to.
There were no bears about to-day, and no seals, only the sea-birds that
went wheeling and screaming about them in thousands. When they got back
to the ship it was dinner-time, and both were snow-blind. The black
steward carried them down and seated them at table, but it was quite half
an hour before they could see.
Although the ship was now kept well away from the ice-pack, they could
often see vessels far in through frozen ice, but busy, busy at their
terrible work. Sometimes Tom and the mate would have a boat lowered, and
would set off bear-hunting. One day Tom brought home a young seal. It was
such a beauty, with soft eyes and long, warm, fluffy hair. It was so
small that even Pansy could carry it a little way in her arms.
"Oh, do let us have it for a pet!" cried Aralia, and her uncle consented.
So they called the seal "Flossy", and warmed frozen milk for it--great
stores of which had been taken on board,--and fed it with a spoon, and
soon the wee thing knew Pansy, and used to crawl and waddle after her.
The dogs didn't know what to make of Flossy at first, and Briton used to
roll it all round the deck with his big nose; but Flossy rather liked
this. But one day, when Briton tried to lift it up by the tail, it struck
him a slap with its flipper that could be heard from stem to stern.
"Take that," Flossy seemed to say, "and leave my tail alone!"
The vessel was now kept farther to the east, and every day they passed
between great patches of ice, big pieces of which kept striking the ship
with such a noise that when anyone wanted to be heard he had to shout
The professor was very busy now, taking soundings almost every day, and
doing all kinds of clever work that even Tom, smart as he was, couldn't
understand. But in the evenings he still played with the children, or
amused them by showing them, through magnifying-glasses, some of the
wonderful things he had brought up from the bottom of the ocean.
It was all very strange and beautiful, and the children were enchanted.
But their greatest treat was when he brought some little glass tanks
containing forms of animal life they had never seen before, and were
never tired of watching. Only Professor Pete didn't--because he said he
couldn't--bring them out every night.
On and on sailed the beautiful _Valhalla_. East and west, but always
north, went she.
Peterkin was on a voyage of discovery, and one of his chief objects
seemed to be to keep clear of the ice, which had grown very heavy indeed.
It was a delightful holiday for the children as yet, but for the
professor a time of harder work than many know anything about at all. It
was really wonderful how this busy little man found time to play with the
children, with Flossy and with the dogs, or even to play his fiddle. But
this, he would have told you, was his way of taking exercise; and he told
Pansy that if it were not for her he didn't think he should ever be able
to find the island of gold he was in search of.
Do not think, though, it was all and always plain sailing. There were
dangers of many kinds. Sometimes storms would suddenly rise and blow for
a day or two at a stretch. At such times the sun was hidden, and the
cold became intense. The waves that broke on board were turned into ice,
covering the decks and bows, and giving to the ship a wondrous
One evening, after a gale like this had blown over, the stowaways, who
had not dared to show face all day, were told to come up on deck.
What a sight! Why, the _Valhalla_ was like a ghost-ship. The decks were
white, and the bulwarks too. Every rope and stay seemed made of frosted
silver, while great icicles hung everywhere around.
It was very dark this evening, so that the children at first could hardly
see anything. But Pete soon had them all hoisted up on to the bridge.
And now he turned on the electric and coloured lights--crimson, blue, and
orange. Then, what a sight was there! It was one that caused Pansy and
Aralia quite to forget the beauty of a pantomime they had seen the winter
They stood spell-bound, and would not have been a bit surprised if all
the deck had suddenly been crowded with fairies, with silver wands,
garlands of flowers, and wings of pearly gauze. But the only fairies were
the sailors, and every one of these looked like a very old man, because
heads and beards were white with frost and snow, and little icicles hung
round their hats.
The children dreamt of it all again that night; but lo! when they went on
deck next morning, before breakfast, to have a romp and a run with the
dogs and Flossy, everything was changed.
And what a change!
The sun was now shining brightly, with not a cloud in the blue sky.
Icebergs lay far astern; all around was a calm blue sea, with one great
whale half-asleep on its surface, wild birds more beautiful than any they
had ever seen before sailing around, and, more wonderful than anything
else, the _Valhalla_ was safe at anchor in front of a pretty island,
patched with the greens, reds, and browns of lovely flowers.
"Behold!" cried Peterkin, as he lifted Pansy up. "Behold, my child, the
land of gold and coals!"
Pansy's reply was to the point.
"Very pretty, very pretty," she said; "but, 'Fessor Pete, I wants to see
the gold--not the nasty coals."
This very forenoon Peterkin started off in the biggest boat to "spy out
the land", as he called it Tom and the three little stowaways were
allowed to come too. To them it was going to be a kind of picnic, and the
steward sent with them a huge basket, filled with enough good things to
last the whole crew for a week. As there was no wind, the men had to row
all the way.
"Oh," cried Pansy, "I hope dear Flossy won't swim away!"
Yes, they had taken Flossy with them as well as the dogs.
The water was deep and dark quite close to the beautiful shore, and the
girls could not help marvelling at the monsters of jelly-fish they saw
far down in its depths. Their bodies were as great as sunshades, and of
the same shape, and the legs they jerked out from under were spangled
with stars of blue and red. Once a huge shark swam up to the boat, leered
at them with his sly and evil eyes, then, turning on his back, showed a
mouth that could have swallowed them all. Poor Pansy drew nearer to the
professor with a cry of horror.
They found a little bay at last, and landed for a meal.
"I don't think there is anything that can hurt you here," said Peterkin,
"and, if you like, you can run about and gather flowers while I cruise
round the coast for an hour. There, I will leave you all the rugs, the
bear-skin, and the basket too."
They were delighted.
So off they set, Veevee and Briton bounding and barking in front, and
Flossy waddling behind. Tom had his rifle and plenty of cartridges, but
there was really nothing to shoot but the lovely gulls, and the boy was
not so cruel as to touch one of these.
So they wandered on and on and upwards, until they came to a level spot
all one lovely carpet of small wild flowers. Poppies of many colours grew
here, mosses, yellow stone-crop, and grasses of every hue, but they
agreed not to pick any until they should be returning. Still higher they
went up the mountain-side, when suddenly little Pansy exclaimed: "Look,
Tom! look, Ara! the sea is all flied away!"
Tom stared behind him and stood aghast.
A huge wall of fog or white mist had quite covered the ocean and even the
shore, shutting them out from view, and was now slowly advancing towards
them. But that was not the worst, for a low, moaning wind came on before
it, and flakes of snow began to fall.
It was easy for Tom to say: "Let us get back at once to the beach, the
boat must be there already." They had come miles from the bay. Before
they could walk half the distance back, the snow-fog had swallowed them,
and it was no wonder that they lost their way, and became cold and faint
Both Aralia and Pansy began to cry now, and at last sank down among the
dry snow, unable to move another yard.
Tom was a boy of great courage. He thought for a little, and then he
said: "Frank, if you can carry Pansy I'm sure I can manage Ara; and we
will try to find shelter somewhere till the storm is blown over."
So on again in this way they struggled, till, more dead than alive, they
found, by good luck, the welcome shelter of a cave. The cave was by no
means large, but they were surprised to find it so warm. The first thing,
however, that Tom did was to walk all round the inside, rifle in hand.
Tom had not been two years at sea for nothing. Meanwhile, where was
Flossy, and where was Briton?
Tom whistled again and again, till he said he had nearly whistled the
whites of his eyes out, but never a dog replied.
Something else had begun to whistle also, and that was the wind, and
although Tom made several attempts to leave the cave, to have a look at
the weather as he called it, he found it impossible to stand. Hours and
hours passed away like this, and the tempest seemed only to increase in
They were all very hungry now, and so Tom shared out some biscuits he had
brought with him, and after they had swallowed a little snow they all sat
down to talk.
"I fear," said Tom, "we'll have to stay here all night. It will be good
fun, won't it, girls?"
He knew it was anything but fun himself, but he spoke in that way to keep
up the children's courage.
When Aralia said, "Yes," so did Pansy, but both looked very quiet.
Soon after this, to their great joy, in bounded Briton himself, and close
behind him waddled Floss. It was clear to all that he had been helping
Flossy along, for Flossy was still little more than a puppy; but, poor
wee beauty, how glad she was to see them all again!
She crawled up to Pansy, and lay down on her back to be scratched, which
was always Flossy's way of showing she was pleased.
Well, after they had all talked till they were tired, Tom said: "Now,
girls, just you lie down to sleep. Frank, here is my ticker." He gave his
cousin his watch as he spoke. "You have to do sentry for three hours.
Then wake me up and I'll let you lie down. See, I'll put my rifle and
belt, with fifty cartridges in it, beside you. Mind, that is only for
show, because you're too little a boy to touch guns. Anybody want a
little more snow? No? Very well."
So the girls curled up with Veevee and Floss, and Tom lay near. But
Briton seemed to say: "No, I won't sleep; I'll lie and watch with Frank."
Frank was not sorry to have the dog beside him for it was terrible to
feel all alone in such a dismal place.
Well, the night wore slowly on--one, two, three, four hours--and Frank
was just looking at the rifle, and pretending to aim at something in the
falling snow, when, all at once, Briton uttered a low warning growl and
sprang to his feet.
Next moment a great shambling bear was right in the mouth of the cave. He
gave a roar that seemed to shake the whole island.
Whether the boy took aim or not, I never could tell, but he certainly
fired the rifle, and down dropped Bruin dead, and lay in the snow with
his great tongue hanging out, a marvellous sight to see.
The noise in the cave was fearful, but as soon as the girls had stopped
screaming, Frank told what had happened.
"I tell you what it is, girls," he said more than once, "there wasn't the
least bit of bravery about it. I just held out the gun, and off it went."
"Oh, but you were brave!" said Aralia; "and if you hadn't killed the
awful monster, we should all be dead now.
"No, no," cried Tom, "it was only Flossy that the bear wanted! He just
wanted a bit of seal for supper."
"Wowff!" barked Briton.
"Wiff!" barked Veevee, as much as to say: "No bear shall touch Flossy
while we are alive."
But nobody thought of sleeping any more, and as they were all very
hungry, Tom served out more snow.
The tempest howled for many hours more. Then at last it grew almost calm,
and the sun shone out on the pure white snow.
"I know what to do now," said Tom. "Let us find our way to the beach. The
boat may be there, you know."
But long before they reached the shore they beheld a wondrous sight, for
as far as the eye could reach there was no water to be seen, only huge
icebergs covered with dazzling snow, all gently moving up and down with
the swelling waves beneath. The noise made by these great bergs as they
ground their sides together was deafening.
But there were no signs of the boat, and no ship was to be seen. The
_Valhalla_ had either been crushed to atoms or been driven out to sea.
Tom clung to the last hope, and even told his sisters that she was sure
to return for them soon. He would not get downhearted.
"This is a queer business, Frank," he said with a light laugh, which had
no sound of fun in it however; "but we must do the best we can till they
come back. Eh, Frank?"
"Yes, of course."
But Pansy was clinging to Aralia, quietly crying.
"Well, Frank, we must live in the cave for a little, and so we had better
get everything in, and be as jolly as we can."
When they had got everything up to the cave, which took a long time,
everybody had a good breakfast. There was really enough food to last a
week, and it was lucky there were several boxes of sardines, for Floss
would take nothing else.
"It's going to be a big, big picnic," said Frank, and the girls began to
laugh. "We're going to have lots of fun."
Frank and Tom could climb like monkeys, and in about an hour's time they
had put all the food high up in a hole in the rock out of the reach of
bears or foxes.
By twelve o'clock, when the sun was as high as it could get, the snow had
disappeared, and once more there was a soft, warm breeze blowing, and
Two days flew by and nothing happened, only at night they could hear
foxes barking in the distance. They never attack people singly, as bears
do, but they are dangerous in packs, as Tom one day found out to his
The food was getting low, and Tom thought it was time to do something.
They had found strange fruits like strawberries growing, and also some
sort of roots that tasted like nuts; but unless they could get some fish
poor Flossy would die.
So Tom started off all alone on a voyage of discovery. Frank stayed in
the cave with the girls, and they promised to be very good.
The morning was very calm, and so still that Tom could hear Pansy calling
to him "not to be long" when he was quite a mile up the mountain-side.
Why he took this course he could never tell, but, when he crossed the
top, marvellous indeed was the view that lay before his eyes.
Uncle Staysail used to tell him that the natives of the north say there
is an open sea somewhere near the Pole, with many islands in it, and
trees, and flowers, and birds.
And now, behold! such a sea lay right down in the round valley yonder at
his feet. It was not really a sea, but a lovely round lake, and right in
the middle was a large green island.
Tom rubbed his eyes and gazed and gazed, and then rubbed his eyes and
"Was it all a dream?" he wondered.
No, there was no dream about it. It took Tom some hours to explore this
lake. He walked round it and found that at the far side a ridge of rocks,
very narrow, led right out to the island. He crossed this natural bridge
and found himself in a perfect paradise. Flowers and fruit everywhere,
and beautiful wild birds the like of which he had never seen before.
There were rabbits, too, and very tame they were, for they followed him
about, and seemed to wonder what he was and where on earth he came from.
Tom knocked one on the head, though he was not cruel, and with this slung
over his shoulder, and his pockets full of nuts, he started to walk back.
But I suppose that walking round in a circle had confused him. Anyhow he
walked miles out of his way, and lost himself. He sat down on a big stone
at last, and wondered what he should do. He was tired and hungry, so he
ate a handful of nuts. And then he began to nod.
"I'll just have five minutes of a nap," he said, "and then get on again."
So down he lay. But his five minutes lasted for an hour, and still the
lad lay fast asleep.
A large gray fox stole up and smelt the rabbit.
"That'll just suit me," said he to himself. "I'll go and call my brothers
and sisters, and we'll kill this two-legged creature and steal his
"Yap-yap-yap!" barked the fox, and soon he had a whole pack round him.
But just as they were getting near to Tom, he awoke and sat up. Bang went
his rifle at once, as he saw his danger. One fox fell dead, but the
others came on with a rush, and there was soon a lively fight. Tom laid
about him with the butt end of his rifle, and, being a strong young
fellow, dead and dying foxes were soon lying all round him.
The rest of the pack drew back a little way, only to come on again,
yelping and yelling more than ever. Poor Tom's wrists were dripping with
blood, for he had been bitten in many places. He thought it was all over
now, yet he meant to fight to the last.
But help was at hand, for the next moment Briton bounded into the centre
of the spiteful pack, and the savage beasts fled in every direction.
What a happy meeting that was! The mastiff led Tom back over the hills,
and in an hour's time he was safe and sound at the cave.
Pansy wept with delight, and Aralia bound up Tom's wrists. He made very
light of the bites, however.
There were many pieces of old black wood in the cave, so Frank collected
them and lit a fire; and when it was quite clear, the rabbit was roasted,
and everybody made a splendid dinner.
Then Tom told them all he had seen; and, after a night's rest, they all
started off the next morning for the lake and the island, taking the
skins and rugs with them. They reached the long ridge of rocks and
crossed over. Then, indeed, were the girls surprised and delighted. What
a lot they would have to tell Father and Mother when they got home again!
Tom sighed. He feared in his own mind that they would never, never see
their home any more.
When Flossie saw the lake she made a spring towards it and dived below
the surface. They could see her darting about beneath, and soon up she
came, looking as pleased as Punch, with a fine, great fish in her mouth.
She laid it gently at Pansy's feet, and dived in again.
"I'll be happy here," she seemed to say, as she brought another fish,
"and we need never be hungry any more."
After Tom had well explored the island, he told Frank they must build a
fort. He had found the very spot for it, too, on a little hill. This was
about a hundred feet high, and the top was hollow, like a cup, with only
one opening into it. In fact, the top of the hill was part of the crater
of an extinct volcano, and was shaped like the letter G, the doorway
being only a gap in the rocks, through which no bear could squeeze.
Inside, the walls were twenty feet high all round, all bare rock; but the
floor was covered with grass, and moss, and wild flowers.
Aralia and Pansy were wild with delight, and Pansy said she would now be
able to sleep without ugly dreams.
Veevee would be her bed-fellow, and Floss would curl up with Sissie, and
big Briton could sleep at the entrance.
So it was all arranged.
But as there could be no telling how long they might have to remain here,
and as rain would be sure to fall, even if snow did not, Tom and Frank
began to build a hut inside Fort Fairyland, as they called their strange
Now each boy had--like all Greenland sailors--not only a large,
many-bladed knife, with a saw in it, but a huge broad dagger in a
leathern belt round his waist. So they did not want for tools.
They found the best wood for what they wanted growing close by the lake,
in the shape of straight and strong willows. There were plenty of leaves,
and grasses, and heath also.
It would be rather a long job, but they set to work with a will, and in
three days' time they had dragged everything they wanted up to Fort
Fairyland. The building of the hut was fine fun. At first it was only
meant to be a kind of shelter on poles, but, as they had so much time
upon their hands, they agreed to build real walls, and leave space for a
door and a window. In little more than a week they had the framework all
up, and the roof all made. It was thatched first with broad leaves, and
then with grass. And, mind you a short ladder had to be made first to
permit them to do the thatching. When this was finished, all the sides
were filled in with willow branches, except door and window. Never a hole
was left in it, for Aralia and Pansy collected heaps and heaps of dried
moss, and the boys worked this in to fill up the gaps.
And when all was finished, and wicker seats made, it did look a cosy
little hut indeed.
But all the cooking was done out-of-doors. There were no sauce-pans to
clean, nor knives nor forks. The plates were broad leaves, and for knives
and forks the castaways used pointed sticks.
It really wasn't bad fun at all being Crusoes in such a place as this.
But--dear me! there is always a "but" about everything--how was it all to
And where was the _Valhalla_?
Except for these two questions, which would keep on running through Tom's
and Frank's minds, they could have been quite contented--well, for a time
at all events.
In their rambles through this little Arctic fairy land, Tom noticed that
the squirrels were now busy every day running away to their holes with
nuts and leaves. Of course they might have young ones to feed, he
thought; but surely it was something more than this which made them act
Creeping all alone one morning through the bushes, as quietly as a mouse,
Tom came upon a sight which taught him a useful lesson. For high up in
the trunk of an old tree was a big round hole with a squirrel's tail
hanging out. Presently up ran another squirrel, carrying a great mouthful
of leaves and clay.
The new-comer made a slight noise, when out came No. 1 and took the
bundle from No. 2, which then darted off for more.
"Ho! ho!" said Tom to himself, "they seem to be storing up food for
winter. Heigho! I thought it would always be summer in this fairyland.
But thank you, Master Squirrel, I shall go and do the same." So off went
Tom to tell Frank and the girls what he had seen the squirrels doing.
"As there is no sign of the ship coming back for us, children," he said
somewhat seriously, "and we may have to spend the winter here, I think,
you know, we ought to be making ready for it."
"So do I," said Pansy, looking very wise. "We want food, and we want wood
and all, doesn't we, Tom?"
"It won't be very, very cold in this island," said her brother, "because
we have the warm-water lake all round us. But perhaps the squirrels know
So now began a very busy season indeed, for everybody went nut-gathering.
Tom opened up a squirrel's store, and a pretty noise the little creature
made about it. But he did not rob it; he only wanted to learn a lesson.
He noticed that the nuts it had collected were a little green on one
side, so these must be the best. Then he looked at the leaves and clay
that were packed over them, and thought he would get some just the same.
This going a-nutting in fairyland was real fine fun, and to have heard
their merry voices, talking and laughing and singing, with every now and
then Briton's great bass "Wowff!" and Veevee's shrill "Wiff!" no one
would have taken them for castaways and Crusoes.
Nutting made everyone so hungry too!
Rabbits were very plentiful on the island. The boys caught them by means
of snares made of a kind of tough creeper. And bonny Flossy caught as
many fish as would have kept a large family alive.
Tom seldom used his rifle, though he always carried it. The cartridges
were too precious to waste.
Another thing which these Crusoes had to be very careful to do was never
to let the fire go out. It was easily kept in by placing a kind of mossy
peat among the hot ashes and covering it quite over.
* * * * *
So they collected an immense quantity of nuts, and these were placed in
holes found in the rocks, and covered right up with the same sort of
cement as the squirrels used. The roots that served them instead of bread
every day, and which were cooked by placing them for a short time in the
hot ashes, they also collected and stored. So when the harvest was all
over, Tom told Frank and his sisters that they needn't be afraid to spend
their Christmas in this beautiful island.
"Oh, but, Tom," said Pansy, "we'll all be home long, long before
Christmas, won't we?"
Poor child! She was beginning to long for her mother's cosy cottage on
the cliff, and for the fires that in the long winter evenings always
burned so brightly in the parlour grate.
"Now, about light for the long Arctic winter night, which will soon be
This was the question that Tom put to Frank just after sunset one
beautiful evening as the snow on the tops of the highest mountains was
changed to a rose tint in the sun's parting rays.
"It is a very serious question, you know," he added.
"Very serious," said Pansy, who heard him, shaking her wise, wee head.
Sitting by the camp fire there, with its lights and shadows chasing each
other over her face and through her sunny hair, Pansy looked a very
beautiful child indeed.
For some time they had all been sitting round the fire, watching the
curling smoke and the dancing flames, everyone intent on his or her own
thoughts. Aralia had been wondering what they were all doing at home, and
if her father and mother were anxious about her and Pansy. It was such a
long, long time--hundreds of years it seemed--since they had sailed away;
so many strange things had happened since that day. Pansy was a little
maiden who took the world very easily, and enjoyed each day and hour as
it passed. Her thoughts were hardly worth a penny. Frank was not unlike
Pansy, and took things as they came, and if they were not nice, just let
them slide. The mastiff was asleep, so was Veevee, and both seemed to be
dreaming, and talking in their dreams. But Flossy's eyes were very wide
open now. She was really wondering if she could catch another fish
to-night. Flossy had lately taken to waddling away towards evening for a
swim in the warm lake, and never came back without something in her
So nobody was surprised when they missed her from the fire, only, as she
stayed rather longer to-night than usual, and as the long twilight would
soon end, Tom took up his rifle and went off all by himself to look for
"Oh, dear!" cried Pansy, as the sound of a shot startled everyone in the
fort. "Tom's gone and killed something!"
"Let's run and see," said Frank. Veevee and Briton had already rushed
They found Tom at the lake-side, standing over a huge dead bear, with
Flossy near him.
"That bear," said Tom, laughing, "was keeping poor Floss in the lake; but
he won't do so again. Isn't he a fine one?"
"Yes," cried Frank; "he is indeed."
"And now, children," said Tom, when he was once more seated in front of
the camp fire, "the question of lights is settled for good. Frank and I
are going to make candles out of that bear's tallow."
"Yes, Pansy, we are. Oh, we shouldn't be half Crusoes if we couldn't make
So the boys arranged to start work the very next morning at sunrise.
"But first let us have a look through this beautiful isle of the sea,
while the girls are asleep. There may be more bears. Briton, you must
stay and watch. Veevee, you may come."
Though Veevee searched every bush and grove, no bear was found. The one
Tom had so cleverly killed must have crossed to the island alone by the
bridge of rocks.
So, after breakfast, the boys built their fire. With big blocks of lava
they made a sort of stove, and on top of this was placed a large cup-like
stone, which they had chanced to find. Into this they put the tallow to
melt. In the meantime Tom pulled a quantity of thick rushes, and set
Frank and the girls to peel them, while the dogs looked on as if
wondering what it was all about.
"It's something to eat, I suppose," said Briton, looking very wise.
"A sort of soup of some kind from the smell of it, I should think," was
The long threads of white pith were about as thick as a penholder, and
these were to form the wicks. When dried they were tied two and two by
Then between two uprights Tom placed a long willow rod, with three dozen
strong thorns stuck in it about two inches apart, to serve as hooks.
By this time the tallow was melted and all was ready.
"Now, ladies and gentlemen," said Tom, "you shall see how candles were
built in the Royal Navy when Uncle was a boy." He rolled up his sleeves,
and, picking up a double wick, dipped it in the pan, and then hung it on
the first peg for the tallow to set. He did the same with all the rest,
and by the time he had the thirty-sixth wick hung up, No. 1 was ready to
be taken down and dipped again. So on he went all along the row, till he
had dipped them a dozen times at least, when, lo! and behold! they were
thick and beautiful candles, each one strong enough to give the light of
half a dozen ordinary ship's candles.
He worked for two days, and made about a hundred in all, so there was no
fear of their having to sit in the dark.
Next night, while the moon was shining low over the snow-clad hills, the
whole camp was alarmed by the fierce barking of Briton. The mastiff was
"wowffing", Veevee was "wiffing", and Flossy was moaning and wagging her
tail in the air. Though it was long past midnight, Briton wanted to be
off out and kill something or somebody he had heard, and Veevee would
also go on the war-path for fear Briton might get hurt.
Almost immediately after came the most tremendous yelling the Crusoes had
ever heard, and it was clear that a whole pack of foxes had invaded the
island, and if Briton and Veevee had been allowed to go out, they would
both have been torn to pieces. The awful din lasted for hours, with a
sound now and then of fighting.
Then it stopped, and all was still.
Everybody went quietly off to sleep again, but next day, when they went
to the lake-side, behold not a trace of the bear was to be seen. The
beasts had eaten all the flesh, and carried away the bones and skin.
"Now, what if these wild dogs return some night," said Tom to Frank, "and
attack the camp. Although no bear could squeeze in here, these half-bred
wolves might, and tear us all in pieces.
"Don't frighten a fellow, Tom," said Frank. "But I say, old man, we must
puzzle our heads once again and make a gate."
"Well, that's good!" cried Tom, laughing; "why, there is only one head
between the two of us, and that belongs to me, Master Frank; and don't
you forget it."
"Well, well, you may have it, only for goodness' sake make good use of
The cup-like top of the hill in which our Crusoes were living had but one
entrance, as I have before told you, and the path leading to it was very
steep, and made up of large stones and lumps of lava.
"It would be a good thing," Tom said, "to get a lot of these inside. They
would come in very handy to throw at an enemy, eh?"
"That they would," said Frank.
Well, it took them three whole days to make and fix up a gate, which they
could raise or lower before the entrance by means of ropes made out of
long trailing weeds, or creepers.
Then, after they had carried about a hundred big stones inside, they
began to feel happier and safer.
One morning, a month or two after this, the Crusoes awoke to find that
the sun rose that day for the last time, and, until spring should return,
they would see his golden beams no more.
But there was a bright and beautiful twilight every mid-day for two weeks
longer. Then they knew that the long, dreary Arctic night had come in
earnest. For about a month the Crusoes had been eating very heartily
every day and were getting quite fat. It was the same with the animals.
Flossy had long ago lost her puppy coat, and was now a bonny
whitish-yellow seal, not very large, and with a black saddle on her back.
But Flossy got drowsy too, and if the boys had not stirred her up every
day, and sent her off to catch fish, I believe she would have slept
nearly all the time.
Even the boys felt sleepy, though they could not tell why. Said Tom one
day to Frank as they sat playing draughts on a rough board, with nuts for
men: "Frank, old man, by this time all the bears will have gone into
winter quarters. They won't come out much until the sun returns."
"Fancy," cried Aralia, clapping her hands, "Fancy all of us sleeping all
night long--three months, didn't you say, Tom? Wouldn't it be nice? And
if Uncle Staysail should come in to wake us in the morning! 'Get up,' he
would say, 'are you going to sleep all day?'"
They all laughed at the idea, but it was not carried out. Besides the
candles, which they only burned at supper and after, they had torches
made of wood which they could burn at any time. Moreover, there was the
light of the camp fire, which they kept always burning, for they had laid
in a vast store of peat and wood.
* * * * *
Tom was time-keeper. He had a little log-book in which he had been
careful to note down day and date every morning, and, like a good lad, he
never forgot to wind his watch. He made a really first-class Crusoe.
But they were all good. And what a grand guard Briton was! If ever he
heard the slightest sound of bird or rabbit down amongst the trees or
bushes beneath them, he gave a low growl. One night he sprang to his feet
and barked very loudly and angrily.
The Crusoes were awake at once.
And no wonder, for terrible noises, like distant thunder, were heard just
beneath their feet. They were startled still more when explosion after
explosion took place, both in the air and in the earth, while the ground
was shaken under them.
It was a curious, giddy movement, and made them all feel rather sick.
Then the thunder-storm burst in earnest, with rain and hail in torrents,
and the whole island seemed to be on fire with the lightning.
Tom had to take Pansy in his arms to soothe her, for she shook and
trembled like a little bird. But in two hours it was all over, and the
stars were shining as bright and large and near as before.
* * * * *
Sometimes the moon shone with a stronger light than it ever does in this
country. It seemed so close to them, too, that Pansy used to say it was
only just resting on the snowy hill-top.
On moonlit days the children were always abroad in the forest or by the
lake-side watching Flossy catching fish. She dived and swam far more
quickly than an eel.
It is terribly dreary to want the sun, but after a month one gets used to
it. Besides, one knows that bright and beautiful days are on ahead. Older
people might have felt very weary, but none of our Crusoes lost heart.
I have not told you yet of the Aurora Borealis, which was best seen on
dark, starry nights. It was not in the north only, but all around them,
great bright fringes of coloured lights--chiefly green, crimson, or pink.
How they danced and flickered, to be sure! Such dazzling beauty no pen
could describe, and I will not attempt it.
Well, Christmas-day came at last, and how glad they all were to be still
spared alive and in comfort!
Tom meant to make the most of it. But, of course, there was no turkey or
goose to roast. Instead, they had a splendid great rabbit stuffed with
nuts, and roasted roots to eat with it.
They had no crackers either, but Tom and Frank got an immense pile of dry
wood, and heaped it in the middle of the rocky bridge that led to the
mainland, and early in the day or night--whichever you like to call
it--they set it alight.
Now, probably this pile saved some of their lives. It had been placed
there about five days before Christmas, and a huge bear, who had the
nightmare I suppose, came yawning out of his cave and down the
He had shambled along to about the centre of the bridge, then lain down
among the wood and gone off to sleep.
He slept so soundly that he did not hear the boys crossing over to set
the bonfire ablaze.
But when the smoke and crackling flames got towards him he started up and
began to trot off, coughing and roaring till all the hills sent back the
So awful was the echo that the boys were for a time almost
terror-stricken. They thought that about a score of bears had left their
snow-caves and were swarming down the hill.
Tom fired his rifle, but missed. Veevee wanted to follow up.
"Only just let me get at him," cried the little rascal, "and I'll tear
him limb from limb!"
Anyhow that was a fine fire, and it lit up the lake and the woods all
about, while the numerous sparks that rose and fell in the air were like
After the fire began to fade and to die they all returned to their
Christmas dinner in the hut.
No fewer than four candles were lighted to-night, one in each corner of
the room. Oh, Tom meant to do everything in first-class form, I can tell
And I feel pretty certain that even at home in Merrie England no one that
evening ate more heartily or made a better dinner than our Crusoes, all
alone though they were in the far-off Frozen North.
After supper they all came round the fire, and the dogs went off to
sleep, perchance to dream; but the children kept very wide awake indeed.
And Tom told lots of droll, funny stories, and everybody sang songs.
After this, all the talk was about home and the delightful time they were
sure to have in one year's time, when Christmas came round again once
Then came sleep, and when Tom looked at his watch--next morning let me
call it--it was very nearly twelve o'clock!
* * * * *
Although it now wanted but a fortnight, according to Tom's reckoning, of
the first sunrise, it was still as dark as ever, and but for the moon and
stars and glorious Aurora, life about this time would have been very tame
and dreary indeed.
Yet, owing to the clearness of the air and the purity of everything
around them, the children never once lost heart. In fact they were as
merry as sky-larks, and often made the island resound with song and mirth
And the dogs, as well as Flossy, were merrier still. They barked and
laughed as only dogs can, and chased each other round and round in great
circles, often disappearing for ten minutes at a time, and springing out
and rolling Flossy over and over when she least expected them.
Flossy was gay enough, although she couldn't run, and often leapt fully
six feet high, turning over and over in the air before she came down
And when she did manage to entice the dogs into the water, it was her
turn to show them her skill; and indeed her feats in the water were
marvellous. Anyhow, she used quite to astonish the dogs. They were all
very well in the woods, but couldn't match Flossy in the water, and there
was no use trying it.
The long mid-day twilights came first, uncertain and gray to begin with,
but getting brighter and more lovely as time went on. It was as if Nature
were trying her hand in painting the sky to give the great king of day a
But one day the snow on the mountain peaks changed to a bright red, while
above floated just one streak of crimson cloud; higher up, the stars
shone in a strange, green light, and all the horizon was of the richest
"Oh, surely," cried Pansy, "the sun will rise to-day!"
But the red faded from the mountain-top, the little cloud turned brown,
then gray, then black, and it was night once more.
"No, little sister," said Tom kindly; "but the sun will rise to-morrow."
All went to bed early that night, and were up very early in the morning.
In fact, breakfast was finished before the stars had begun to pale in the
west. Then came twilight itself, and, long though it was, its intense
beauty was the best reward for the waiting, watching little Crusoes.
Every heart was beating quickly, and Pansy was standing on brave Tom's
shoulder, just to be "nearer the sky", she said.
All were silent.
The sun came at last, and with such a silvery sheen, too, that the
children were dazzled.
This was best, for they could not thus see the tears that slowly trickled
down each other's faces.
"Look! look! look!" was all Pansy could say.
"Oh, isn't it splendid!" said Tom, as soon as he could speak.
"Uncle is sure to come now," said Aralia firmly.
"I'll go and fish," Flossy seemed to say as she sprang three times her
length in the air, and turned head over heels like the clown in a circus.
"Come on, Veevee," cried the mastiff, "come for a run in the sunshine."
And off they set.
But the day soon ended, for the sun quickly disappeared. Yet the Crusoes
had seen it, and that was joy enough for once.
And now the days began to lengthen out, but at the same time earthquakes
and thunder-storms became more and more frequent. The lake felt hot
again, and the water tossed about so much at times, that even Flossy was
afraid to venture in to catch the fish she could not live without.
There was a most terrible earthquake-storm about two weeks after the
Even Tom himself was frightened this time, for the thunderings and
lightnings and explosions were awful, and lasted for three long days.
It was pitch dark all the time, and the rain came down in sheets.
To make matters worse, smoke of a strange red colour was seen on the
hills. It looked as if it came from rents in the mountain-sides, and
there was a smell like burning sulphur in the air.
But this season of terror ended at last; the stars shone out, there was a
fine display of northern lights, and, soon after, the sun rose. A stiff
breeze sprang up, and all the clouds and vapours were blown away, the
last thing seen being a rainbow in the east.
The joy of the Crusoes now knew no bounds. The dogs dashed about, Veevee
barked "Wiff!" Briton barked "Wowff!" and Flossy frisked her tail and
went off to fish.
The children now set out for a stroll, and saw many curious sights. Close
to the lake, in several places, the earth seemed to have been ripped
open, and, looking down as they stood hand in hand on the edge, they
seemed to be gazing right into the world's dark depths.
Next day Tom took a long walk alone. He went to the top of one of the
highest hills, having left his sisters in charge of Frank and Briton, but
taking Veevee and his rifle with him.
Pansy watched him go up and up the mountain, until he was lost to sight.
"Oh," she cried, as she clapped her hands, "I know where Tom has gone! He
has just gone away to bring Uncle and 'Fessor Pete back again."
Well, anyhow, Tom had a look at the sea. It spread out as far as the eye
could reach, and was covered everywhere with great snow-clad bergs of
ice, except just close to the island, where it was clear, but black as
It was nothing more than he expected, but somehow he wished it had been
He marched down the other side of the hill for quite a mile, keeping a
good look-out, however, lest some huge ice-bear should catch him
By and by he missed his little four-footed friend, and traced him by his
footprints into a cave.
He called aloud, but received no answer. The cave seemed to be a vast
one, and he had to feel his way in the dark with his rifle, for fear of
falling down some hole.
As he could hear nothing, he thought poor Veevee must be dead, and slowly
and sadly turned back.
His foot kicked against something hard when he was near to the entrance,
and, stooping down, he picked up what seemed to be a piece of white
stone, and put it into the pocket of his jacket.
When he got back home at last, poor Pansy cried very much indeed at the
loss of her pet. But when, next morning, she found him curled up at her
feet, she thought it must have been all a dream.
How the dog got back was never known, but it is possible he had been
wandering all night in that cavern, deep down in the earth, and come out
at the lake side of the range of hills.
* * * * *
It was quite a month before Tom crossed the hills again. By this time
spring had already come back to Fairy Island. The buds were all out on
the trees, and the green leaves on a thousand bushes. Wild flowers were
everywhere. The birds, too, had returned, and the sea-gulls had taken up
their abode on a great patch of level ground just on the other side of
the lake. When anyone went near to their nests, which were in thousands,
and so close together that it was difficult to thread one's way through
them, the noise and screaming they made was deafening.
Now I don't think that Tom and Frank were cruel, but they had to live,
and those great green-speckled eggs made a splendid addition to the
larder, so that, what with sunshine and better food, the girls soon got
back all the colour they had lost during the long, long night of winter.
But where was the _Valhalla_ and her crew all this time? Would they
never, never come?
The Crusoes lived in hope.
Now in spring-time the foxes and bears of the north, that have slept or
starved for months, become bold and dangerous through hunger. Bears are
always to be feared, but more so at this time of the year than any other.
One day the prisoners of Fairy Island had been gayer than usual, but at
last, tired and happy, they had lain down to rest. It might have been
about midnight when they were awakened by a warning growl from Briton.
Then, with Veevee, he sprang up and rushed to the gate barking furiously.
Tom sprang to his feet, and snatched up his rifle. He was not left long
in doubt as to who the enemy was. The wild wolf-foxes were in force, and
the yelping and howling outside was terrible to listen to.
He fired his rifle several times right into the centre of the pack,
killing many and wounding more. This only made matters worse. The fierce
and hungry beasts dashed themselves at the gate and tried to tear it in
Stones were hurled at them, but all in vain. Poor Briton was as anxious
to get out as they were to get in, and had to be kept back by force.
"Go, quick, Frank," shouted Tom, "and stir up the fire; heap more peats
and wood on, and bring lighted torches as soon as you can. I will guard
the gate till you come."
So there Tom stood opposed to the whole awful crowd, with their glaring
eyes, red tongues, and white-flashing teeth, with only a slight gateway
between him and death. When he thrust his rifle between the willow bars
to take a shot, the beasts bit and tore at it, as if they would have
dragged it from his grasp.
Aralia was busy helping Frank, and presently both came running up with
lighted fir-torches, which Tom at once flung over the gate, together with
pieces of burning peat and wood. These did splendid work, and after a
time the terrible pack drew off.
There was no more sleep that night, however, and towards morning the
attack began again. The foxes had dragged off their dead and wounded and
devoured them. In the gray light of morning they rushed to the gate once
more, and the battle raged again in all its fury.
Poor little Pansy was trembling and shaking with fear as she looked up
and saw that high up on the walls of the fort those savage, wild animals
had taken their stand.
It was a terrible morning, and hope seemed at last to fade, for even
brave Tom had grown faint and weary, and could fight but little longer.
"Come along, Professor! Come along, Mate! The children are there
somewhere, over in that strange island. Ha! here is a bridge of rocks!
Thank goodness for that! And look! here, too, are tracks!"
It was Uncle Staysail who spoke, and behind him was 'Fessor Pete himself,
and at least a dozen well-armed sailors.
"Listen!" cried the captain. "What is that?"
"Wolves, I think," said the professor. "And hark! surely that was a
rifle-shot. Pray Heaven we may be in time, Staysail!"
"Hurry up, men! Hurry up!" cried the captain; and the men dashed onwards.
* * * * *
Tom had revived a little, and he and Frank were fighting harder than ever
to hold the gate, as bold
"Horatius kept the bridge
In the brave days of old".
But it was already giving way, and the beasts without seemed to know it.
Briton was on his legs ready, and all seemed to be lost, when suddenly a
rattling volley of rifle fire was heard from beneath, with shouts of men.
Volley followed volley, and in less time than it takes me to tell it, the
wild wolf-foxes were seeking safety in flight.
* * * * *
"Tell us all your story again," said Tom to his uncle, as the children
sat round the stove that same evening in the cosy cabin of the
They were all washed and clean by this time, and the girls were
"Ah! well, you see," said Uncle as he relit his pipe, "the professor here
made a dart for the vessel when the storm came on. He wanted a stronger
"He caught us just in time, for though the gale was a furious one we
could steam up to it, and were doing so, when suddenly there was a loud
explosion; one of the boilers had burst, and the engines were smashed and
"We were now at the mercy of the sea, the waves, and the icebergs too,
and before another day we were blown far away to sea.
"Even then we had hope. But in a week's time we were frozen into the main
pack, and there we have had to winter, and it is hardly a week since we
got clear by cutting a canal with our great ice-saws. Oh! it has been a
dreary time for us, but must have been more so to you, poor darlings! and
well and bravely you have borne it all!
"I am sure," he added, "that even Pansy has grown, and her mother will
hardly know her again when we all get home."
"We are going now, aren't we, 'Fessor Pete?" said Pansy, who was sitting
on his knee.
"Yes, my dear, yes. It is no use staying here when we have no steam, so
the ship is now making for England's sunny shores. And we'll get there in
the rosy month of June. Won't it be nice?"
Pansy was jumping with joy.
Aralia clapped her hands and cried: "Just too jolly for anything!"
By and by Aralia sat down to the piano, and Pete brought out his fiddle,
and a very happy evening indeed was spent in the _Valhalla_.
The men were keeping it up forward too, around the galley fire, singing
songs and spinning yarns, for the ship was "homeward bound".
* * * * *
"Oh, by the by," said Tom one day to the professor, "I forgot to tell you
that in the cave where poor Veevee got lost I picked up this curious
The professor put his spectacles on his nose and gazed at it for a
"Why, my dear Tom, this is solid gold, in the centre of a coating of
quartz! You're in luck, lad; and it is just as I said; that is the Island
of Gold. We shall return another year, and you will be one of the richest
men in the kingdom."
* * * * *
My story is finished, or almost.
'Fessor Pete and Tom, with Uncle Staysail, to say nothing of the mastiff
Briton, are out there in the Frozen North this very summer, and I do hope
they will have luck.
But Aralia and Pansy, with sometimes Frank and always Veevee, may be seen
any day playing on the sands not far from their mother's home, and Flossy
Flossy is wondrously tame, and spends an hour or two almost every day in
the sea, or on the beach, to the great delight of all who see her. But
Aralia has a whistle, and no matter how far away in the water this
strange pet may be, whenever the call is sounded she comes ploughing back
to the beach, and after she has shaken her bonny coat in the sunshine,
goes waddling home with her little friend Veevee and the Crusoes of the
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