Part 3 out of 8
together. However, they were higher than the force of the wind
accounted for. One must conclude from that, that there was very bad
weather in the west, perhaps at a rather short distance, and that it
would not be long in reaching these parts.
Negoro watched that vast extent of sea, which was greatly troubled,
around the "Pilgrim." Then his eyes, always cold and dry, turned toward
The aspect of the sky was disturbing. The vapors moved with very
different velocities. The clouds of the upper zone traveled more
rapidly than those of the low strata of the atmosphere. The case then
must be foreseen, in which those heavy masses would fall, and might
change into a tempest, perhaps a hurricane, what was yet only a very
stiff breeze--that is to say, a displacement of the air at the rate of
forty-three miles an hour.
Whether Negoro was not a man to be frightened, or whether he understood
nothing of the threats of the weather, he did not appear to be
affected. However, an evil smile glided over his lips. One would say,
at the end of his observations, that this state of things was rather
calculated to please him than to displease him. One moment he mounted
on the bowsprit and crawled as far as the ropes, so as to extend his
range of vision, as if he were seeking some indication on the horizon.
Then he descended again, and tranquilly, without having pronounced a
single word, without having made a gesture, he regained the crew's
Meanwhile, in the midst of all these fearful conjunctions, there
remained one happy circumstance which each one on board ought to
remember; it was that this wind, violent as it was or might become, was
favorable, and that the "Pilgrim" seemed to be rapidly making the
American coast. If, indeed, the weather did not turn to tempest, this
navigation would continue to be accomplished without great danger, and
the veritable perils would only spring up when the question would be to
land on some badly ascertained point of the coast.
That was indeed what Dick Sand was already asking himself. When he
should once make the land, how should he act, if he did not encounter
some pilot, some one who knew the coast? In case the bad weather should
oblige him to seek a port of refuge, what should he do, because that
coast was to him absolutely unknown? Indeed, he had not yet to trouble
himself with that contingency. However, when the hour should come, he
would be obliged to adopt some plan. Well, Dick Sand adopted one.
During the thirteen days which elapsed, from the 24th of February to
the 9th of March, the state of the atmosphere did not change in any
perceptible manner. The sky was always loaded with heavy fogs. For a
few hours the wind went down, then it began to blow again with the same
force. Two or three times the barometer rose again, but its
oscillation, comprising a dozen lines, was too sudden to announce a
change of weather and a return of more manageable winds. Besides the
barometrical column fell again almost immediately, and nothing could
inspire any hope of the end of that bad weather within a short period.
Terrible storms burst forth also, which very seriously disturbed Dick
Sand. Two or three times the lightning struck the waves only a few
cable-lengths from the ship. Then the rain fell in torrents, and made
those whirlpools of half condensed vapors, which surrounded the
"Pilgrim" with a thick mist.
For entire hours the man at the lookout saw nothing, and the ship
sailed at random.
Even though the ship, although resting firmly on the waves, was
horribly shaken, Mrs. Weldon, fortunately, supported this rolling and
pitching without being incommoded. But her little boy was very much
tried, and she was obliged to give him all her care.
As to Cousin Benedict, he was no more sick than the American
cockroaches which he made his society, and he passed his time in
studying, as if he were quietly settled in his study in San Francisco.
Very fortunately, also, Tom and his companions found themselves little
sensitive to sea-sickness, and they could continue to come to the young
novice's aid--well accustomed, himself, to all those excessive
movements of a ship which flies before the weather.
The "Pilgrim" ran rapidly under this reduced sail, and already Dick
Sand foresaw that he would be obliged to reduce it again. But he wished
to hold out as long as it would be possible to do so without danger.
According to his reckoning, the coast ought to be no longer distant. So
they watched with care. All the time the novice could hardly trust his
companions' eyes to discover the first indications of land. In fact, no
matter what good sight he may have, he who is not accustomed to
interrogating the sea horizons is not skilful in distinguishing the
first contours of a coast, above all in the middle of fogs. So Dick
Sand must watch himself, and he often climbed as far as the spars to
see better. But no sign yet of the American coast.
This astonished him, and Mrs. Weldon, by some words which escaped him,
understood that astonishment.
It was the 9th of March. The novice kept at the prow, sometimes
observing the sea and the sky, sometimes looking at the "Pilgrim's"
masting, which began to strain under the force of the wind.
"You see nothing yet, Dick?" she asked him, at a moment when he had
just left the long lookout.
"Nothing, Mrs. Weldon, nothing," replied the novice; and meanwhile, the
horizon seems to clear a little under this violent wind, which is going
to blow still harder."
"And, according to you, Dick, the American coast ought not to be
"It cannot be, Mrs. Weldon, and if anything astonishes me, it is not
having made it yet."
"Meanwhile," continued Mrs. Weldon, "the ship has always followed the
"Always, since the wind settled in the northwest," replied Dick Sand;
"that is to say, since the day when we lost our unfortunate captain and
his crew. That was the 10th of February. We are now on the 9th of
March. There have been then, twenty-seven since that."
"But at that period what distance were we from the coast?" asked Mrs.
"About four thousand five hundred miles, Mrs. Weldon. If there are
things about which I have more than a doubt, I can at least guarantee
this figure within about twenty miles."
"And what has been the ship's speed?"
"On an average, a hundred and eighty miles a day since the wind
freshened," replied the novice. "So, I am surprised at not being in
sight of land. And, what is still more extraordinary, is that we do not
meet even a single one of those vessels which generally frequent these
"Could you not be deceived, Dick," returned Mrs. Weldon, "in estimating
the 'Pilgrim's' speed?"
"No, Mrs. Weldon. On that point I could not be mistaken. The log has
been thrown every half hour, and I have taken its indications very
accurately. Wait, I am going to have it thrown anew, and you will see
that we are sailing at this moment at the rate of ten miles an hour,
which would give us more than two hundred miles a day."
Dick Sand called Tom, and gave him the order to throw the log, an
operation to which the old black was now quite accustomed.
The log, firmly fastened to the end of the line, was brought and sent
Twenty-five fathoms were hardly unrolled, when the rope suddenly
slackened between Tom's hands.
"Ah! Mr. Dick!" cried he.
"The rope has broken!"
"Broken!" cried Dick Sand. "And the log is lost!"
Old Tom showed the end of the rope which remained in his hand.
It was only too true. It was not the fastening which had failed. The
rope had broken in the middle. And, nevertheless, that rope was of the
first quality. It must have been, then, that the strands of the rope at
the point of rupture were singularly worn! They were, in fact, and Dick
Sand could tell that when he had the end of the rope in his hands! But
had they become so by use? was what the novice, become suspicious,
However that was, the log was now lost, and Dick Sand had no longer any
means of telling exactly the speed of his ship. In the way of
instruments, he only possessed one compass, and he did not know that
its indications were false.
Mrs. Weldon saw him so saddened by this accident, that she did not wish
to insist, and, with a very heavy heart, she retired into her cabin.
But if the "Pilgrim's" speed and consequently the way sailed over could
no longer be estimated, it was easy to tell that the ship's headway was
In fact, the next day, March 10th, the barometer fell to twenty-eight
and two-tenths inches. It was the announcement of one of those blasts
of wind which travel as much as sixty miles an hour.
It became urgent to change once more the state of the sails, so as not
to risk the security of the vessel.
Dick Sand resolved to bring down his top-gallant mast and his
fore-staff, and to furl his low sails, so as to sail under his
foretop-mast stay-sail and the low reef of his top-sail.
He called Tom and his companions to help him in that difficult
operation, which, unfortunately, could not be executed with rapidity.
And meanwhile time pressed, for the tempest already declared itself
Dick Sands, Austin, Acteon, and Bat climbed into the masting, while Tom
remained at the wheel, and Hercules on the deck, so as to slacken the
ropes, as soon as he was commanded.
After numerous efforts, the fore-staff and the top-gallant mast were
gotten down upon the deck, not without these honest men having a
hundred times risked being precipitated into the sea, the rolling shook
the masting to such an extent. Then, the top-sail having been lessened
and the foresail furled, the schooner carried only her foretop-mast
stay-sail and the low reef of the top-sail.
Even though her sails were then extremely reduced, the "Pilgrim"
continued, none the less, to sail with excessive velocity.
The 12th the weather took a still worse appearance. On that day, at
dawn, Dick Sand saw, not without terror, the barometer fall to
twenty-seven and nine-tenths inches. It was a real tempest which was
raging, and such that the "Pilgrim" could not carry even the little
sail she had left.
Dick Sand, seeing that his top-sail was going to be torn, gave the
order to furl. But it was in vain. A more violent gust struck the ship
at that moment, and tore off the sail. Austin, who was on the yard of
the foretop-sail, was struck by the larboard sheet-rope. Wounded, but
rather slightly, he could climb down again to the deck.
Dick Sand, extremely anxious, had but one thought. It was that the
ship, urged with such fury, was going to be dashed to pieces every
moment; for, according to his calculation, the rocks of the coast could
not be distant. He then returned to the prow, but he saw nothing which
had the appearance of land, and then, came back to the wheel.
A moment after Negoro came on deck. There, suddenly, as if in spite of
himself, his arm was extended toward a point of the horizon. One would
say that he recognized some high land in the fogs!
Still, once more he smiled wickedly, and without saying anything of
what he had been able to see, he returned to his post.
* * * * *
ON THE HORIZON.
At that date the tempest took its most terrible form, that of the
hurricane. The wind had set in from the southwest. The air moved with a
velocity of ninety miles an hour. It was indeed a hurricane, in fact,
one of those terrible windstorms which wrecks all the ships of a
roadstead, and which, even on land, the most solid structures cannot
resist. Such was the one which, on the 25th of July, 1825, devastated
Guadaloupe. When heavy cannons, carrying balls of twenty-four pounds,
are raised from their carriages, one may imagine what would become of a
ship which has no other point of support than an unsteady sea? And
meanwhile, it is to its mobility alone that she may owe her salvation.
She yields to the wind, and, provided she is strongly built, she is in
a condition to brave the most violent surges. That was the case with
A few minutes after the top-sail had been torn in pieces, the
foretop-mast stay-sail was in its turn torn off. Dick Sand must then
give up the idea of setting even a storm-jib--a small sail of strong
linen, which would make the ship easier to govern.
The "Pilgrim" then ran without canvas, but the wind took effect on her
hull, her masts, her rigging, and nothing more was needed to impart to
her an excessive velocity. Sometimes even she seemed to emerge from the
waves, and it was to be believed that she hardly grazed them. Under
these circumstances, the rolling of the ship, tossed about on the
enormous billows raised by the tempest, was frightful. There was danger
of receiving some monstrous surge aft. Those mountains of water ran
faster than the schooner, threatening to strike her stern if she did
not rise pretty fast. That is extreme danger for every ship which scuds
before the tempest. But what could be done to ward off that
contingency? Greater speed could not be imparted to the "Pilgrim,"
because she would not have kept the smallest piece of canvas. She must
then be managed as much as possible by means of the helm, whose action
was often powerless.
Dick Sand no longer left the helm. He was lashed by the waist, so as
not to be carried away by some surge. Tom and Bat, fastened also, stood
near to help him. Hercules and Acteon, bound to the bitts, watched
forward. As to Mrs. Weldon, to Little Jack, to Cousin Benedict, to Nan,
they remained, by order of the novice, in the aft cabins. Mrs. Weldon
would have preferred to have remained on deck, but Dick Sand was
strongly opposed to it; it would be exposing herself uselessly.
All the scuttles had been hermetically nailed up. It was hoped that
they would resist if some formidable billow should fall on the ship.
If, by any mischance, they should yield under the weight of these
avalanches, the ship might fill and sink. Very fortunately, also, the
stowage had been well attended to, so that, notwithstanding the
terrible tossing of the vessel, her cargo was not moved about.
Dick Sand had again reduced the number of hours which he gave to sleep.
So Mrs. Weldon began to fear that he would take sick. She made him
consent to take some repose.
Now, it was while he was still lying down, during the night of the 13th
to the 14th of March, that a new incident took place.
Tom and Bat were aft, when Negoro, who rarely appeared on that part of
the deck, drew near, and even seemed to wish to enter into conversation
with them; but Tom and his son did not reply to him.
Suddenly, in a violent rolling of the ship, Negoro fell, and he would,
doubtless, have been thrown into the sea if he had not held on to the
Tom gave a cry, fearing the compass would be broken.
Dick Sand, in a moment of wakefulness, heard that cry, and rushing out
of his quarters, he ran aft.
Negoro had already risen, but he held in his hand the piece of iron
which he had just taken from under the binnacle, and he hid it before
Dick Sand could see it.
Was it, then, Negoro's interest for the magnetic needle to return to
its true direction? Yes, for these southwest winds served him now!
"What's the matter?" asked the novice.
"It's that cook of misfortune, who has just fallen on the compass!"
At those words Dick Sand, in the greatest anxiety, leaned over the
binnacle. It was in good condition; the compass, lighted by two lamps,
rested as usual on its concentric circles.
The young novice was greatly affected. The breaking of the only compass
on board would be an irreparable misfortune.
But what Dick Sand could not observe was that, since the taking away of
the piece of iron, the needle had returned to its normal position, and
indicated exactly the magnetic north as it ought to be under that
Meanwhile, if Negoro could not be made responsible for a fall which
seemed to be involuntary, Dick Sand had reason to be astonished that he
was, at that hour, aft in the ship.
"What are you doing there?" he asked him.
"What I please," replied Negoro.
"You say----" cried Dick Sand, who could not restrain his anger.
"I say," replied the head cook, "that there is no rule which forbids
"Well, I make that the rule," replied Dick Sand, "and I forbid you,
remember, to come aft."
"Indeed!" replied Negoro.
That man, so entirely under self-control, then made a menacing gesture.
The novice drew a revolver from his pocket, and pointed it at the head
"Negoro," said he, "recollect that I am never without this revolver,
and that on the first act of insubordination I shall blow out your
At that moment Negoro felt himself irresistibly bent to the deck.
It was Hercules, who had just simply laid his heavy hand on Negoro's
"Captain Sand," said the giant, "do you want me to throw this rascal
overboard? He will regale the fishes, who are not hard to please!"
"Not yet," replied Dick Sand.
Negoro rose as soon as the black's hand no longer weighed upon him.
But, in passing Hercules:
"Accursed negro," murmured he, "I'll pay you back!"
Meanwhile, the wind had just changed; at least, it seemed to have
veered round forty-five degrees. And, notwithstanding, a singular
thing, which struck the novice, nothing in the condition of the sea
indicated that change. The ship headed the same way all the time, but
the wind and the waves, instead of taking her directly aft, now struck
her by the larboard quarter--a very dangerous situation, which exposes
a ship to receive bad surges. So Dick Sand was obliged to veer round
four points to continue to scud before the tempest.
But, on the other hand, his attention was awakened more than ever. He
asked himself if there was not some connection between Negoro's fall
and the breaking of the first compass. What did the head cook intend to
do there? Had he some interest in putting the second compass out of
service also? What could that interest be? There was no explanation of
that. Must not Negoro desire, as they all desired, to land on the
American coast as soon as possible?
When Dick Sand spoke of this incident to Mrs. Weldon, the latter,
though she shared his distrust in a certain measure, could find no
plausible motive for what would be criminal premeditation on the part
of the head cook.
However, as a matter of prudence, Negoro was well watched. Thereafter
he attended to the novice's orders and he did not risk coming aft in
the ship, where his duties never called him. Besides, Dingo having been
installed there permanently, the cook took earn to keep away.
During all that week the tempest did not abate. The barometer fell
again. From the 14th to the 26th of March it was impossible to profit
by a single calm to set a few sails. The "Pilgrim" scudded to the
northeast with a speed which could not be less than two hundred miles
in twenty-four hours, and still the land did not appear!--that land,
America, which is thrown like an immense barrier between the Atlantic
and the Pacific, over an extent of more than a hundred and twenty
Dick Sand asked himself if he was not a fool, if he was still in his
right mind, if, for so many days, unknown to him, he was not sailing in
a false direction. No, he could not find fault with himself on that
point. The sun, even though he could not perceive it in the fogs,
always rose before him to set behind him. But, then, that land, had it
disappeared? That America, on which his vessel would go to pieces,
perhaps, where was it, if it was not there? Be it the Southern
Continent or the Northern Continent--for anything way possible in that
chaos--the "Pilgrim" could not miss either one or the other. What had
happened since the beginning of this frightful tempest? What was still
going on, as that coast, whether it should prove salvation or
destruction, did not appear? Must Dick Sand suppose, then, that he was
deceived by his compass, whose indications he could no longer control,
because the second compass was lacking to make that control? Truly, he
had that fear which the absence of all land might justify.
So, when he was at the helm, Dick Sand did not cease to devour the
chart with his eyes. But he interrogated it in vain; it could not give
him the solution of an enigma which, in the situation in which Negoro
had placed him, was incomprehensible for him, as it would have been for
any one else.
On this day, however, the 26th of March, towards eight o'clock in the
morning, an incident of the greatest importance took place.
Hercules, on watch forward, gave this cry:
Dick Sand sprang to the forecastle. Hercules could not have eyes like a
seaman. Was he not mistaken?
"Land?" cried Dick Sand.
"There," replied Hercules, showing an almost imperceptible point on the
horizon in the northeast.
They hardly heard each other speak in the midst of the roaring of the
sea and the sky.
"You have seen the land?" said the novice.
"Yes," replied Hercules.
And his hand was still stretched out to larboard forward.
The novice looked. He saw nothing.
At that moment, Mrs. Weldon, who had heard the cry given by Hercules,
came up on deck, notwithstanding her promise not to come there.
"Madam!" cried Dick Sand.
Mrs. Weldon, unable to make herself heard, tried, for herself, to
perceive that land signaled by the black, and she seemed to have
concentrated all her life in her eyes.
It must be believed that Hercules's hand indicated badly the point of
the horizon which he wished to show: neither Mrs. Weldon nor the novice
could see anything.
But, suddenly, Dick Sand in turn stretched out his hand.
"Yes! yes! land!" said he.
A kind of summit had just appeared in an opening in the fog. His
sailor's eyes could not deceive him.
"At last!" cried he; "at last!"
He clang feverishly to the netting. Mrs. Weldon, sustained by Hercules,
continued to watch that land almost despaired of.
The coast, formed by that high summit, rose at a distance of ten miles
The opening being completely made in a breaking of the clouds, they saw
it again more distinctly. Doubtless it was some promontory of the
American continent. The "Pilgrim," without sails, was not in a
condition to head toward it, but it could not fail to make the land
That could be only a question of a few hours. Now, it was eight o'clock
in the morning. Then, very certainly, before noon the "Pilgrim" would
be near the land.
At a sign from Dick Sand, Hercules led Mrs. Weldon aft again, for she
could not bear up against the violence of the pitching.
The novice remained forward for another instant, then he returned to
the helm, near old Tom.
At last, then, he saw that coast, so slowly made, so ardently desired!
but it was now with a feeling of terror.
In fact, in the "Pilgrim's" present condition, that is to say, scudding
before the tempest, land to leeward, was shipwreck with all its
Two hours passed away. The promontory was then seen off from the ship.
At that moment they saw Negoro come on deck. This time he regarded the
coast with extreme attention, shook his head like a man who would know
what to believe, and went down again, after pronouncing a name that
nobody could hear.
Dick Sand himself sought to perceive the coast, which ought to round
off behind the promontory.
Two hours rolled by. The promontory was standing on the larboard stern,
but the coast was not yet to be traced.
Meanwhile the sky cleared at the horizon, and a high coast, like the
American land, bordered by the immense chain of the Andes, should be
visible for more than twenty miles.
Dick Sand took his telescope and moved it slowly over the whole eastern
Nothing! He could see nothing!
At two o'clock in the afternoon every trace of land had disappeared
behind the "Pilgrim." Forward, the telescope could not seize any
outline whatsoever of a coast, high or low.
Then a cry escaped Dick Sand. Immediately leaving the deck, he rushed
into the cabin, where Mrs. Weldon was with little Jack, Nan, and Cousin
"An island! That was only an island!" said he.
"An island, Dick! but what?" asked Mrs. Weldon.
"The chart will tell us," replied the novice.
And running to his berth, he brought the ship's chart.
"There, Mrs. Weldon, there!" said he. "That land which we have seen, it
can only be this point, lost in the middle of the Pacific! It can only
be the Isle of Paques; there is no other in these parts."
"And we have already left it behind?" asked Mrs. Weldon.
"Yes, well to the windward of us."
Mrs. Weldon looked attentively at the Isle of Paques, which only formed
an imperceptible point on the chart.
"And at what distance is it from the American coast?"
"About two thousand miles."
"But then the 'Pilgrim' has not sailed, if we are still so far from the
"Mrs. Weldon," replied Dick Sand, who passed his hand over his forehead
for a moment, as if to concentrate his ideas, "I do not know--I cannot
explain this incredible delay! No! I cannot--unless the indications of
the compass have been false? But that island can only be the Isle of
Paques, because we have been obliged to scud before the wind to the
northeast, and we must thank Heaven, which has permitted me to mark our
position! Yes, it is still two thousand miles from the coast! I know,
at last, where the tempest has blown us, and, if it abates, we shall be
able to land on the American continent with some chance of safety. Now,
at least, our ship is no longer lost on the immensity of the Pacific!"
This confidence, shown by the young novice, was shared by all those who
heard him speak. Mrs. Weldon, herself, gave way to it. It seemed,
indeed, that these poor people were at the end of their troubles, and
that the "Pilgrim," being to the windward of her port, had only to wait
for the open sea to enter it! The Isle of Paques--by its true name
Vai-Hon--discovered by David in 1686, visited by Cook and Laperouse, is
situated 27 deg. south latitude and 112 deg. east longitude. If the schooner
had been thus led more than fifteen degrees to the north, that was
evidently due to that tempest from the southwest, before which it had
been obliged to scud.
Then the "Pilgrim" was still two thousand miles from the coast.
However, under the impetus of that wind which blew like thunder, it
must, in less than ten days, reach some point of the coast of South
But could they not hope, as the novice had said, that the weather would
become more manageable, and that it would be possible to set some sail,
when they should make the land?
It was still Dick Sand's hope. He said to himself that this hurricane,
which had lasted so many days, would end perhaps by "killing itself."
And now that, thanks to the appearance of the Isle of Paques, he knew
exactly his position, he had reason to believe that, once master of his
vessel again, he would know how to lead her to a safe place.
Yes! to have had knowledge of that isolated point in the middle of the
sea, as by a providential favor, that had restored confidence to Dick
Sand; if he was going all the time at the caprice of a hurricane, which
he could not subdue, at least, he was no longer going quite blindfold.
Besides, the "Pilgrim," well-built and rigged, had suffered little
during those rude attacks of the tempest. Her damages reduced
themselves to the loss of the top-sail and the foretop-mast
stay-sail--a loss which it would be easy to repair. Not a drop of water
had penetrated through the well-stanched seams of the hull and the
deck. The pumps were perfectly free. In this respect there was nothing
There was, then, this interminable hurricane, whose fury nothing seemed
able to moderate. If, in a certain measure, Dick Sand could put his
ship in a condition to struggle against the violent storm, he could not
order that wind to moderate, those waves to be still, that sky to
become serene again. On board, if he was "master after God," outside
the ship, God alone commanded the winds and the waves.
* * * * *
Meanwhile, that confidence with which Dick Sand's heart filled
instinctively, was going to be partly justified.
The next day, March 27th, the column of mercury rose in the
barometrical tube. The oscillation was neither sudden nor
considerable--a few lines only--but the progression seemed likely to
continue. The tempest was evidently going to enter its decreasing
period, and, if the sea did remain excessively rough, they could tell
that the wind was going down, veering slightly to the west.
Dick Sand could not yet think of using any sail. The smallest sail
would be carried away. However, he hoped that twenty-four hours would
not elapse before it would be possible for him to rig a storm-jib.
During the night, in fact, the wind went down quite noticeably, if they
compared it to what it had been till then, and the ship was less tossed
by those violent rollings which had threatened to break her in pieces.
The passengers began to appear on deck again. They no longer ran the
risk of being carried away by some surge from the sea.
Mrs. Weldon was the first to leave the hatchway where Dick Sand, from
prudent motives, had obliged them to shut themselves up during the
whole duration of that long tempest. She came to talk with the novice,
whom a truly superhuman will had rendered capable of resisting so much
fatigue. Thin, pale under his sunburnt complexion, he might well be
weakened by the loss of that sleep so necessary at his age. No, his
valiant nature resisted everything. Perhaps he would pay dearly some
day for that period of trial. But that was not the moment to allow
himself to be cast down. Dick Sand had said all that to himself. Mrs.
Weldon found him as energetic as he had ever been.
And then he had confidence, that brave Sand, and if confidence does not
command itself, at least it commands.
"Dick, my dear child, my captain," said Mrs. Weldon, holding out her
hand to the young novice.
"Ah! Mrs. Weldon," exclaimed Dick Sand, smiling, "you disobey your
captain. You return on deck, you leave your cabin in spite of
"Yes, I disobey you," replied Mrs. Weldon; "but I have, as it were, a
presentiment that the tempest is going down or is going to become calm."
"It is becoming calm, in fact, Mrs. Weldon," replied the novice. "You
are not mistaken. The barometer has not fallen since yesterday. The
wind has moderated, and I have reason to believe that our hardest
trials are over."
"Heaven hears you, Dick. All! you have suffered much, my poor child!
You have done there----"
"Only my duty, Mrs. Weldon."
"But at last will you be able to take some rest?"
"Rest!" replied the novice; "I have no need of rest, Mrs. Weldon. I am
well, thank God, and it is necessary for me to keep up to the end. You
have called me captain, and I shall remain captain till the moment when
all the 'Pilgrim's' passengers shall be in safety."
"Dick," returned Mrs. Weldon, "my husband and I, we shall never forget
what you have just done."
"God has done all," replied Dick Sand; "all!"
"My child, I repeat it, that by your moral and physical energy, you
have shown yourself a man--a man fit to command, and before long, as
soon as your studies are finished--my husband will not contradict
me--you will command for the house of James W. Weldon!"
"I--I----" exclaimed Dick Sand, whose eyes filled with tears.
"Dick," replied Mrs. Weldon, "you are already our child by adoption,
and now, you are our son, the deliverer of your mother, and of your
little brother Jack. My dear Dick, I embrace you for my husband and for
The courageous woman did not wish to give way while clasping the young
novice in her arms, but her heart overflowed. As to Dick Sand's
feelings, what pen could do them justice? He asked himself if he could
not do more than give his life for his benefactors, and he accepted in
advance all the trials which might come upon him in the future.
After this conversation Dick Sand felt stronger. If the wind should
become so moderate that he should be able to hoist some canvas, he did
not doubt being able to steer his ship to a port where all those which
it carried would at last be in safety.
On the 29th, the wind having moderated a little, Dick Sand thought of
setting the foresail and the top-sail, consequently to increase the
speed of the "Pilgrim" while directing her course.
"Come, Tom; come, my friends!" cried he, when he went on deck at
daybreak; "come, I need your arms!"
"We are ready, Captain Sand," replied old Tom.
"Ready for everything," added Hercules. "There was nothing to do during
that tempest, and I begin to grow rusty."
"You should have blown with your big mouth," said little Jack; "I bet
you would have been as strong as the wind!"
"That is an idea, Jack," replied Dick Sand, laughing. "When there is a
calm we shall make Hercules blow on the sails."
"At your service, Mister Dick!" replied the brave black, inflating his
cheeks like a gigantic Boreas.
"Now, my friends," continued the novice, we are to begin by binding a
spare sail to the yard, because our top-sail was carried away in the
hurricane. It will be difficult, perhaps, but it must be done."
"It shall be done!" replied Acteon.
"Can I help you?" asked little Jack, always ready to work.
"Yes, my Jack," replied the novice. "You will take your place at the
wheel, with our friend Bat, and you will help him to steer."
If little Jack was proud of being assistant helmsman on the "Pilgrim,"
it is superfluous to say so.
"Now to work," continued Dick Sand, "and we must expose ourselves as
little as possible."
The blacks, guided by the novice, went to work at once. To fasten a
top-sail to its yard presented some difficulties for Tom and his
companions. First the rolled up sail must be hoisted, then fastened to
However, Dick Sand commanded so well, and was so well obeyed, that
after an hour's work the sail was fastened to its yard, the yard
hoisted, and the top-sail properly set with two reefs.
As to the foresail and the second jib, which had been furled before the
tempest, those sails were set without a great deal of trouble, in spite
of the force of the wind.
At last, on that day, at ten o'clock in the morning, the "Pilgrim" was
sailing under her foresail, her top-sail, and her jib.
Dick Sand had not judged it prudent to set more sail. The canvas which
he carried ought to assure him, as long as the wind did not moderate, a
speed of at least two hundred miles in twenty-four hours, and he did
not need any greater to reach the American coast before ten days.
The novice was indeed satisfied when, returning to the wheel, he again
took his post, after thanking Master Jack, assistant helmsman of the
"Pilgrim." He was no longer at the mercy of the waves. He was making
headway. His joy will be understood by all those who are somewhat
familiar with the things of the sea.
The next day the clouds still ran with the same velocity, but they left
large openings between them, through which the rays of the sun made
their way to the surface of the waters. The "Pilgrim" was at times
overspread with them. A good thing is that vivifying light! Sometimes
it was extinguished behind a large mass of vapors which came up in the
east, then it reappeared, to disappear again, but the weather was
becoming fine again.
The scuttles had been opened to ventilate the interior of the ship. A
salubrious air penetrated the hold, the rear hatchway, the crew's
quarters. They put the wet sails to dry, stretching them out in the
sun. The deck was also cleaned. Dick Sand did not wish his ship to
arrive in port without having made a bit of toilet. Without overworking
the crew, a few hours spent each day at that work would bring it to a
Though the novice could no longer throw the log, he was so accustomed
to estimating the headway of a ship that he could take a close account
of her speed. He had then no doubt of reaching land before seven days,
and he gave that opinion to Mrs. Weldon, after showing her, on the
chart, the probable position of the ship.
"Well, at what point of the coast shall we arrive, my dear Dick?" she
"Here, Mrs. Weldon," replied the novice, indicating that long coast
line which extends from Peru to Chili. "I do not know how to be more
exact. Here is the Isle of Paques, that we have left behind in the
west, and, by the direction of the wind, which has been constant, I
conclude that we shall reach land in the east. Ports are quite numerous
on that coast, but to name the one we shall have in view when we make
the land is impossible at this moment."
"Well, Dick, whichever it may be, that port will be welcome."
"Yes, Mrs. Weldon, and you will certainly find there the means to
return promptly to San Francisco. The Pacific Navigation Company has a
very well organized service on this coast. Its steamers touch at the
principal points of the coast; nothing will be easier than to take
passage for California."
"Then you do not count on bringing the 'Pilgrim' to San Francisco?"
asked Mrs. Weldon.
"Yes, after having put you on shore, Mrs. Weldon. If we can procure an
officer and a crew, we are going to discharge our cargo at Valparaiso,
as Captain Hull would have done. Then we shall return to our own port.
But that would delay you too much, and, though very sorry to be
separated from you----"
"Well, Dick," replied Mrs. Weldon, "we shall see later what must be
done. Tell me, you seem to fear the dangers which the land presents."
"In fact, they are to be feared," replied the novice, "but I am always
hoping to meet some ship in these parts, and I am even very much
surprised at not seeing any. If only one should pass, we would enter
into communication with her; she would give us our exact situation,
which would greatly facilitate our arrival in sight of land."
"Are there not pilots who do service along this coast?" asked Mrs.
"There ought to be," replied Dick Sand, "but much nearer land. We must
then continue to approach it."
"And if we do not meet a pilot?" asked Mrs. Weldon, who kept on
questioning him in order to know how the young novice would prepare for
"In that case, Mrs. Weldon, either the weather will be clear, the wind
moderate, and I shall endeavor to sail up the coast sufficiently near
to find a refuge, or the wind will be stronger, and then----"
"Then what will you do, Dick?"
"Then, in the present condition of the 'Pilgrim,'" replied Dick Sand,
"once near the land, it will be very difficult to set off again."
"What will you do?" repeated Mrs. Weldon.
"I shall be forced to run my ship aground," replied the novice, whose
brow darkened for a moment. "Ah! it is a hard extremity. God grant that
we may not be reduced to that. But, I repeat it, Mrs. Weldon, the
appearance of the sky is reassuring, and it is impossible for a vessel
or a pilot-boat not to meet us. Then, good hope. We are headed for the
land, we shall see it before long."
Yes, to run a ship aground is a last extremity, to which the most
energetic sailor does not resort without fear! Thus, Dick Sand did not
wish to foresee it, while he had some chances of escaping it.
For several days there were, in the state of the atmosphere,
alternatives which, anew, made the novice very uneasy. The wind kept in
the condition of a stiff breeze all the time, and certain oscillations
of the barometrical column indicated that it tended to freshen. Dick
Sand then asked himself, not without apprehension, if he would be again
forced to scud without sails. He had so much interest in keeping at
least his top-sail, that he resolved to do so so long as it was not
likely to be carried away. But, to secure the solidity of the masts, he
had the shrouds and backstays hauled taut. Above all, all unnecessary
risk must be avoided, as the situation would become one of the gravest,
if the "Pilgrim" should be disabled by losing her masts.
Once or twice, also, the barometer rising gave reason to fear that the
wind might change point for point; that is to say, that it might pass
to the east. It would then be necessary to sail close to the wind!
A new anxiety for Dick Sand. What should he do with a contrary wind?
Tack about? But if he was obliged to come to that, what new delays and
what risks of being thrown into the offing.
Happily those fears were not realized. The wind, after shifting for
several days, blowing sometimes from the north, sometimes from the
south, settled definitely in the west. But it was always a strong
breeze, almost a gale, which strained the masting.
It was the 5th of April. So, then, more than two months had already
elapsed since the "Pilgrim" had left New Zealand. For twenty days a
contrary wind and long calms had retarded her course. Then she was in a
favorable condition to reach land rapidly. Her speed must even have
been very considerable during the tempest. Dick Sand estimated its
average at not less than two hundred miles a day! How, then, had he not
yet made the coast? Did it flee before the "Pilgrim?" It was absolutely
And, nevertheless, no land was signaled, though one of the blacks kept
watch constantly in the crossbars.
Dick Sand often ascended there himself. There, with a telescope to his
eyes, he sought to discover some appearance of mountains. The Andes
chain is very high. It was there in the zone of the clouds that he must
seek some peak, emerging from the vapors of the horizon.
Several times Tom and his companions were deceived by false indications
of land. They were only vapors of an odd form, which rose in the
background. It happened sometimes that these honest men were obstinate
in their belief; but, after a certain time, they were forced to
acknowledge that they had been dupes of an optical illusion. The
pretended land, moved away, changed form and finished by disappearing
On the 6th of April there was no longer any doubt possible.
It was eight o'clock in the morning. Dick Sand had just ascended into
the bars. At that moment the fogs were condensed under the first rays
of the sun, and the horizon was pretty clearly defined.
From Dick Sand's lips escaped at last the so long expected cry:
"Land! land before us!"
At that cry every one ran on deck, little Jack, curious as folks are at
that age, Mrs. Weldon, whose trials were going to cease with the
landing, Tom and his companions, who were at last going to set foot
again on the American continent, Cousin Benedict himself, who had great
hope of picking up quite a rich collection of new insects for himself.
Negoro, alone, did not appear.
Each then saw what Dick Sand had seen, some very distinctly, others
with the eyes of faith. But on the part of the novice, so accustomed to
observe sea horizons, there was no error possible, and an hour after,
it must be allowed he was not deceived.
At a distance of about four miles to the east stretched a rather low
coast, or at least what appeared such. It must be commanded behind by
the high chain of the Andes, but the last zone of clouds did not allow
the summits to be perceived.
The "Pilgrim" sailed directly and rapidly to this coast, which grew
larger to the eye.
Two hours after it was only three miles away.
This part of the coast ended in the northeast by a pretty high cape,
which covered a sort of roadstead protected from land winds. On the
contrary, in the southeast, it lengthened out like a thin peninsula.
A few trees crowned a succession of low cliffs, which were then clearly
defined under the sky. But it was evident, the geographical character
of the country being given, that the high mountain chain of the Andes
formed their background.
Moreover, no habitation in sight, no port, no river mouth, which might
serve as a harbor for a vessel.
At that moment the "Pilgrim" was running right on the land. With the
reduced sail which she carried, the winds driving her to the coast,
Dick Sand would not be able to set off from it.
In front lay a long band of reefs, on which the sea was foaming all
white. They saw the waves unfurl half way up the cliffs. There must be
a monstrous surf there.
Dick Sand, after remaining on the forecastle to observe the coast,
returned aft, and, without saying a word, he took the helm.
The wind was freshening all the time. The schooner was soon only a mile
from the shore.
Dick Sand then perceived a sort of little cove, into which he resolved
to steer; but, before reaching it, he must cross a line of reefs, among
which it would be difficult to follow a channel. The surf indicated
that the water was shallow everywhere.
At that moment Dingo, who was going backwards and forwards on the deck,
dashed forward, and, looking at the land, gave some lamentable barks.
One would say that the dog recognized the coast, and that its instinct
recalled some sad remembrance.
Negoro must have heard it, for an irresistible sentiment led him out of
his cabin; and although he had reason to fear the dog, he came almost
immediately to lean on the netting.
Very fortunately for him Dingo, whose sad barks were all the time being
addressed to that land, did not perceive him.
Negoro looked at that furious surf, and that did not appear to frighten
him. Mrs. Weldon, who was looking at him, thought she saw his face
redden a little, and that for an instant his features were contracted.
Then, did Negoro know this point of the continent where the winds were
driving the "Pilgrim?"
At that moment Dick Sand left the wheel, which he gave back to old Tom.
For a last time he came to look at the cove, which gradually opened.
"Mrs. Weldon," said he, in a firm voice, "I have no longer any hope of
finding a harbor! Before half an hour, in spite of all my efforts, the
'Pilgrim' will be on the reefs! We must run aground! I shall not bring
the ship into port! I am forced to lose her to save you! But, between
your safety and hers, I do not hesitate!"
"You have done all that depended on you, Dick?" asked Mrs. Weldon.
"All," replied the young novice.
And at once he made his preparations for stranding the ship.
First of all, Mrs. Weldon, Jack, Cousin Benedict and Nan, must put on
life-preservers. Dick Sand, Tom and the blacks, good swimmers, also
took measures to gain the coast, in case they should be precipitated
into the sea.
Hercules would take charge of Mrs. Weldon. The novice took little Jack
under his care.
Cousin Benedict, very tranquil, however, reappeared on the deck with
his entomologist box strapped to his shoulder. The novice commended him
to Bat and Austin. As to Negoro, his singular calmness said plainly
enough that he had no need of anybody's aid.
Dick Sand, by a supreme precaution, had also brought on the forecastle
ten barrels of the cargo containing whale's oil.
That oil, properly poured the moment the "Pilgrim" would be in the
surf, ought to calm the sea for an instant, in lubricating, so to say,
the molecules of water, and that operation would perhaps facilitate the
ship's passage between the reefs. Dick Sand did not wish to neglect
anything which might secure the common safety.
All these precautions taken, the novice returned to take his place at
The "Pilgrim" was only two cables' lengths from the coast, that is,
almost touching the reefs, her starboard side already bathed in the
white foam of the surf. Each moment the novice thought that the
vessel's keel was going to strike some rocky bottom.
Suddenly, Dick Sand knew, by a change in the color of the water, that a
channel lengthened out among the reefs. He must enter it bravely
without hesitating, so as to make the coast as near as possible to the
The novice did not hesitate. A movement of the helm thrust the ship
into the narrow and sinuous channel. In this place the sea was still
more furious, and the waves dashed on the deck.
The blacks were posted forward, near the barrels, waiting for the
"Pour the oil--pour!" exclaimed Dick Sand.
Under this oil, which was poured on it in quantities, the sea grew
calm, as by enchantment, only to become more terrible again a moment
The "Pilgrim" glided rapidly over those lubricated waters and headed
straight for the shore.
Suddenly a shock took place. The ship, lifted by a formidable wave, had
just stranded, and her masting had fallen without wounding anybody.
The "Pilgrim's" hull, damaged by the collision, was invaded by the
water with extreme violence. But the shore was only half a cable's
length off, and a chain of small blackish rocks enabled it to be
reached quite easily.
So, ten minutes after, all those carried by the "Pilgrim" had landed at
the foot of the cliff.
THE BEST TO DO.
So then, after a voyage long delayed by calms, then favored by winds
from the northwest and from the southwest--a voyage which had not
lasted less than seventy-four days--the "Pilgrim" had just run aground!
However, Mrs. Weldon. and her companions thanked Providence, because
they were in safety. In fact, it was on a continent, and not on one of
the fatal isles of Polynesia, that the tempest had thrown them. Their
return to their country, from any point of South America on which they
should land, ought not, it seemed, to present serious difficulties.
As to the "Pilgrim," she was lost. She was only a carcass without
value, of which the surf was going to disperse the _debris_ in a few
hours. It would be impossible to save anything. But if Dick Sand had
not that joy of bringing back a vessel intact to his ship-owner, at
least, thanks to him, those who sailed in her were safe and sound on
some hospitable coast, and among them, the wife and child of James W.
As to the question of knowing on what part of the American coast the
schooner had been wrecked, they might dispute it for a long time. Was
it, as Dick Sand must suppose, on the shore of Peru? Perhaps, for he
knew, even by the bearings of the Isle of Paques, that the "Pilgrim"
had been thrown to the northeast under the action of the winds; and
also, without doubt, under the influence of the currents of the
equatorial zone. From the forty-third degree of latitude, it had,
indeed, been possible to drift to the fifteenth.
It was then important to determine, as soon as possible, the precise
point of the coast where the schooner had just been lost. Granted that
this coast was that of Peru, ports, towns and villages were not
lacking, and consequently it would be easy to gain some inhabited
place. As to this part of the coast, it seemed deserted.
It was a narrow beach, strewed with black rocks, shut off by a cliff of
medium height, very irregularly cut up by large funnels due to the
rupture of the rock. Here and there a few gentle declivities gave
access to its crest.
In the north, at a quarter of a mile from the stranding place, was the
mouth of a little river, which could not have been perceived from the
offing. On its banks hung numerous _rhizomas_, sorts of mangroves,
essentially distinct from their congeners of India.
The crest of the cliff--that was soon discovered--was overhung by a
thick forest, whose verdant masses undulated before the eyes, and
extended as far as the mountains in the background. There, if Cousin
Benedict had been a botanist, how many trees, new to him, would not
have failed to provoke his admiration.
There were high baobabs--to which, however, an extraordinary longevity
has been falsely attributed--the bark of which resembles Egyptian
syenite, Bourbon palms, white pines, tamarind-trees, pepper-plants of a
peculiar species, and a hundred other plants that an American is not
accustomed to see in the northern region of the New Continent.
But, a circumstance rather curious, among those forest productions one
would not meet a single specimen of that numerous family of palm-trees
which counts more than a thousand species, spread in profusion over
almost the whole surface of the globe.
Above the sea-shore a great number of very noisy birds were flying,
which belonged for the greater part to different varieties of swallows,
of black plumage, with a steel-blue shade, but of a light chestnut
color on the upper part of the head. Here and there also rose some
partridges, with necks entirely white, and of a gray color.
Mrs. Weldon and Dick Sand observed that these different birds did not
appear to be at all wild. They approached without fearing anything.
Then, had they not yet learned to fear the presence of man, and was
this coast so deserted that the detonation of a firearm had never been
At the edge of the rocks were walking some pelicans of the species of
"pelican minor," occupied in filling with little fish the sack which
they carry between the branches of their lower jaw. Some gulls, coming
from the offing, commenced to fly about around the "Pilgrim."
Those birds were the only living creatures that seemed to frequent this
part of the coast, without counting, indeed, numbers of interesting
insects that Cousin Benedict would well know how to discover. But,
however little Jack would have it, one could not ask them the name of
the country; in order to learn it, it would be necessary to address
some native. There were none there, or at least, there was not one to
be seen. No habitation, hut, or cabin, neither in the north, beyond the
little river, nor in the south, nor finally on the upper part of the
cliff, in the midst of the trees of the thick forest. No smoke ascended
into the air, no indication, mark, or imprint indicated that this
portion of the continent was visited by human beings. Dick Sand
continued to be very much surprised.
"Where are we? Where can we be?" he asked himself. "What! nobody to
Nobody, in truth, and surely, if any native had approached, Dingo would
have scented him, and announced him by a bark. The dog went backward
and forward on the strand, his nose to the ground, his tail down,
growling secretly--certainly very singular behavior--but neither
betraying the approach of man nor of any animal whatsoever.
"Dick, look at Dingo!" said Mrs. Weldon.
"Yes, that is very strange," replied the novice. "It seems as if he
were trying to recover a scent."
"Very strange, indeed," murmured Mrs. Weldon; then, continuing, "what
is Negoro doing?" she asked.
"He is doing what Dingo is doing," replied Dick Sand. "He goes, he
comes! After all, he is free here. I have no longer the right to
control him. His service ended with the stranding of the Pilgrim.'"
In fact, Negoro surveyed the strand, turned back, and looked at the
shore and the cliff like a man trying to recall recollections and to
fix them. Did he, then, know this country? He would probably have
refused to reply to that question if it had been asked. The best thing
was still to have nothing to do with that very unsociable personage.
Dick Sand soon saw him walk from the side of the little river, and when
Negoro had disappeared on the other side of the cliff, he ceased to
think of him.
Dingo had indeed barked when the cook had arrived on the steep bank,
but became silent almost immediately.
It was necessary, now, to consider the most pressing wants. Now, the
most pressing was to find a refuge, a shelter of some kind, where they
could install themselves for the time, and partake of some nourishment.
Then they would take counsel, and they would decide what it would be
convenient to do.
As to food, they had not to trouble themselves. Without speaking of the
resources which the country must offer, the ship's store-room had
emptied itself for the benefit of the survivors of the shipwreck. The
surf had thrown here and there among the rocks, then uncovered by the
ebb-tide, a great quantity of objects. Tom and his companions had
already picked up some barrels of biscuit, boxes of alimentary
preserves, cases of dried meat. The water not having yet damaged them,
food for the little troop was secured for more time, doubtless, than
they would require to reach a town or a village. In that respect there
was nothing to fear. These different waifs, already put in a safe
place, could no longer be taken back by a rising sea.
Neither was sweet water lacking. First of all Dick Sand had taken care
to send Hercules to the little river for a few pints. But it was a cask
which the vigorous negro brought back on his shoulder, after having
filled it with water fresh and pure, which the ebb of the tide left
As to a fire, if it were necessary to light one, dead wood was not
lacking in the neighborhood, and the roots of the old mangroves ought
to furnish all the fuel of which they would have need. Old Tom, an
ardent smoker, was provided with a certain quantity of German tinder,
well preserved in a box hermetically closed, and when they wanted it,
he would only have to strike the tinder-box with the flint of the
It remained, then, to discover the hole in which the little troop would
lie down, in case they must take one night's rest before setting out.
And, indeed, it was little Jack who found the bedroom in question,
While trotting about at the foot of the cliff, he discovered, behind a
turn of the rock, one of those grottoes well polished, well hollowed
out, which the sea herself digs, when the waves, enlarged by the
tempest, beat the coast.
The young child was delighted. He called his mother with cries of joy,
and triumphantly showed her his discovery.
"Good, my Jack!" replied Mrs. Weldon. "If we were Robinson Crusoes,
destined to live a long time on this shore, we should not forget to
give your name to that grotto!"
The grotto was only from ten to twelve feet long, and as many wide;
but, in little Jack's eyes, it was an enormous cavern. At all events,
it must suffice to contain the shipwrecked ones; and, as Mrs. Weldon
and Nan noted with satisfaction, it was very dry. The moon being then
in her first quarter, they need not fear that those neap-tides would
reach the foot of the cliff, and the grotto in consequence. Then,
nothing more was needed for a few hours' rest.
Ten minutes after everybody was stretched out on a carpet of sea-weed.
Negoro himself thought he must rejoin the little troop and take his
part of the repast, which was going to be made in common. Doubtless he
had not judged it proper to venture alone under the thick forest,
through which the winding river made its way.
It was one o'clock in the afternoon. The preserved meat, the biscuit,
the sweet water, with the addition of a few drops of rum, of which Bat
had saved a quarter cask, made the requisites for this repast. But if
Negoro took part in it, he did not at all mingle in the conversation,
in which were discussed the measures demanded by the situation of the
shipwrecked. All the time, without appearing to do so, he listened to
it, and doubtless profited by what he heard.
During this time Dingo, who had not been forgotten, watched outside the
grotto. They could be at ease. No living being would show himself on
the strand without the faithful animal giving the alarm.
Mrs. Weldon, holding her little Jack, half lying and almost asleep on
her lap, began to speak.
"Dick, my friend," said she, "in the name of all, I thank you for the
devotion that you have shown us till now; but we do not consider you
free yet. You will be our guide on land, as you were our captain at
sea. We place every confidence in you. Speak, then! What must we do?"
Mrs. Weldon, old Nan, Tom and his companions, all had their eyes fixed
on the young novice. Negoro himself looked at him with a singular
persistence. Evidently, what Dick Sand was going to reply interested
him very particularly.
Dick Sand reflected for a few moments. Then:
"Mrs. Weldon," said he, "the important thing is to know, first, where
we are. I believe that our ship can only have made the land on that
portion of the American sea-coast which forms the Peruvian shore. The
winds and currents must have carried her as far as that latitude. But
are we here in some southern province of Peru, that is to say on the
least inhabited part which borders upon the pampas? Maybe so. I would
even willingly believe it, seeing this beach so desolate, and, it must
be, but little frequented. In that case, we might be very far from the
nearest town, which would be unfortunate."
"Well, what is to be done?" repeated Mrs. Weldon.
"My advice," replied Dick Sand, "would be not to leave this shelter
till we know our situation. To-morrow, after a night's rest, two of us
could go to discover it. They would endeavor, without going too far, to
meet some natives, to inform themselves from them, and return to the
grotto. It is not possible that, in a radius of ten or twelve miles, we
"To separate!" said Mrs. Weldon.
"That seems necessary to me," replied the novice. "If no information
can be picked up, if, as is not impossible, the country is absolutely
desolate, well, we shall consider some other way of extricating
"And which of us shall go to explore?" asked Mrs. Weldon, after a
"That is yet to be decided," replied Dick Sand. "At all events, I think
that you, Mrs. Weldon, Jack, Mr. Benedict, and Nan, ought not to quit
this grotto. Bat, Hercules, Acteon, and Austin should remain near you,
while Tom and I should go forward. Negoro, doubtless, will prefer to
remain here?" added Dick Sand, looking at the head-cook.
"Probably," replied Negoro, who was not a man to commit himself any
more than that.
"We should take Dingo with us," continued the novice. "He would be
useful to us during our exploration."
Dingo, hearing his name pronounced, reappeared at the entrance of the
grotto, and seemed to approve of Dick Sand's projects by a little bark.
Since the novice had made this proposition, Mrs. Weldon remained
pensive. Her repugnance to the idea of a separation, even short, was
very serious. Might it not happen that the shipwreck of the "Pilgrim"
would soon be known to the Indian tribes who frequented the sea-shore,
either to the north or to the south, and in case some plunderers of the
wrecks thrown on the shore should present themselves, was it not better
for all to be united to repulse them?
That objection, made to the novice's proposition, truly merited a
It fell, however, before Dick Sand's arguments, who observed that the
Indians ought not to be confounded with the savages of Africa or
Polynesia, and any aggression on their part was probably not to be
feared. But to entangle themselves in this country without even knowing
to what province of South America it belonged, nor at what distance the
nearest town of that province was situated, was to expose themselves to
many fatigues. Doubtless separation might have its inconveniences, but
far less than marching blindly into the midst of a forest which
appeared to stretch as far as the base of the mountains.
"Besides," repeated Dick Sand, persistently, "I cannot admit that this
separation will be of long duration, and I even affirm that it will not
be so. After two days, at the most, if Tom and I have come across
neither habitation nor inhabitant, we shall return to the grotto. But
that is too improbable, and we shall not have advanced twenty miles
into the interior of the country before we shall evidently be satisfied
about its geographical situation. I may be mistaken in my calculation,
after all, because the means of fixing it astronomically have failed
me, and it is not impossible for us to be in a higher or lower
"Yes--you are certainly right, my child," replied Mrs. Weldon, in great
"And you, Mr. Benedict," asked Dick Sand, "what do you think of this
"I?" replied Cousin Benedict.
"Yes; what is your advice?"
"I have no advice," replied Cousin Benedict. "I find everything
proposed, good, and I shall do everything that you wish. Do you wish to
remain here one day or two? that suits me, and I shall employ my time
in studying this shore from a purely entomological point of view."
"Do, then, according to your wish," said Mrs. Weldon to Dick Sand. "We
shall remain here, and you shall depart with old Tom."
"That is agreed upon," said Cousin Benedict, in the most tranquil
manner in the world. "As for me, I am going to pay a visit to the
insects of the country."
"Do not go far away, Mr. Benedict," said the novice. "We urge you
strongly not to do it."
"Do not be uneasy, my boy."
"And above all, do not bring back too many musquitoes," added old Tom.
A few moments after, the entomologist, his precious tin box strapped to
his shoulders, left the grotto.
Almost at the same time Negoro abandoned it also. It appeared quite
natural to that man to, be always occupied with himself. But, while
Cousin Benedict clambered up the slopes of the cliff to go to explore
the border of the forest, he, turning round toward the river, went away
with slow steps and disappeared, a second time ascending the steep bank.
Jack slept all the time. Mrs. Weldon, leaving him on Nan's knees, then
descended toward the strand. Dick Sand and his companions followed her.
The question was, to see if the state of the sea then would permit them
to go as far as the "Pilgrim's" hull, where there were still many
objects which might be useful to the little troop.
The rocks on which the schooner had been wrecked were now dry. In the
midst of the _debris_ of all kinds stood the ship's carcass, which the
high sea had partly covered again. That astonished Dick Sand, for he
knew that the tides are only very moderate on the American sea-shore of
the Pacific. But, after all, this phenomenon might be explained by the
fury of the wind which beat the coast.
On seeing their ship again, Mrs. Weldon and her companions experienced
a painful impression. It was there that they had lived for long days,
there that they had suffered. The aspect of that poor ship, half
broken, having neither mast nor sails, lying on her side like a being
deprived of life, sadly grieved their hearts. But they must visit this
hull, before the sea should come to finish demolishing it.
Dick Sand and the blacks could easily make their way into the interior,
after having hoisted themselves on deck by means of the ropes which
hung over the "Pilgrim's" side. While Tom, Hercules, Bat, and Austin
employed themselves in taking from the storeroom all that might be
useful, as much eatables as liquids, the novice made his way into the
arsenal. Thanks to God, the water had not invaded this part of the
ship, whose rear had remained out of the water after the stranding.
There Dick Sand found four guns in good condition, excellent Remingtons
from Purdy & Co.'s factory, as well as a hundred cartridges, carefully
shut up in their cartridge-boxes. There was material to arm his little
band, and put it in a state of defense, if, contrary to all
expectation, the Indians attacked him on the way.
The novice did not neglect to take a pocket-lantern; but the ship's
charts, laid in a forward quarter and damaged by the water, were beyond
There were also in the "Pilgrim's" arsenal some of those solid
cutlasses which serve to cut up whales. Dick Sand chose six, destined
to complete the arming of his companions, and he did not forget to
bring an inoffensive child's gun, which belonged to little Jack.
As to the other objects still held by the ship, they had either been
dispersed, or they could no longer be used. Besides, it was useless to
overburden themselves for the few days the journey would last. In food,
in arms, in munitions, they were more than provided for. Meanwhile,
Dick Sand, by Mrs. Weldon's advice, did not neglect to take all the
money which he found on board--about five hundred dollars.
That was a small sum, indeed! Mrs. Weldon had carried a larger amount
herself and she did not find it again.
Who, then, except Negoro, had been able to visit the ship before them
and to lay hands on Captain Hull's and Mrs. Weldon's reserve? No one
but he, surely, could be suspected. However, Dick Sand hesitated a
moment. All that he knew and all that he saw of him was that everything
was to be feared from that concentrated nature, from whom the
misfortunes of others could snatch a smile. Yes, Negoro was an evil
being, but must they conclude from that that he was a criminal? It was
painful to Dick Sand's character to go as far as that. And, meanwhile,
could suspicion rest on any other? No, those honest negroes had not
left the grotto for an instant, while Negoro had wandered over the
beach. He alone must be guilty. Dick Sand then resolved to question
Negoro, and, if necessary, have him searched when he returned. He
wished to know decidedly what to believe.
The sun was then going down to the horizon. At that date he had not yet
crossed the equator to carry heat and light into the northern
hemisphere, but he was approaching it. He fell, then, almost
perpendicularly to that circular line where the sea and the sky meet.
Twilight was short, darkness fell promptly--which confirmed the novice
in the thought that he had landed on a point of the coast situated
between the tropic of Capricorn and the equator.
Mrs. Weldon, Dick Sand, and the blacks then returned to the grotto,
where they must take some hours' rest.
"The night will still be stormy," observed Tom, pointing to the horizon
laden with heavy clouds.
"Yes," replied Dick Sand, "there is a strong breeze blowing up. But
what matter, at present? Our poor ship is lost, and the tempest can no
longer reach us?"
"God's will be done!" said Mrs. Weldon.
It was agreed that during that night, which would be very dark, each of
the blacks would watch turn about at the entrance to the grotto. They
could, besides, count upon Dingo to keep a careful watch.
They then perceived that Cousin Benedict had not returned.
Hercules called him with all the strength of his powerful lungs, and
almost immediately they saw the entomologist coming down the slopes of
the cliff, at the risk of breaking his neck.
Cousin Benedict was literally furious. He had not found a single new
insect in the forest--no, not one--which was fit to figure in his
collection. Scorpions, scolopendras, and other myriapodes, as many as
he could wish, and even more, were discovered. And we know that Cousin
Benedict did not interest himself in myriapodes.
"It was not worth the trouble," added he, "to travel five or six
thousand miles, to have braved the tempest, to be wrecked on the coast,
and not meet one of those American hexapodes, which do honor to an
entomological museum! No; the game was not worth the candle!"
As a conclusion, Cousin Benedict asked to go away. He did not wish to
remain another hour on that detested shore.
Mrs. Weldon calmed her large child. They made him hope that he would be
more fortunate the next day, and all went to lie down in the grotto, to
sleep there till sunrise, when Tom observed that Negoro had not yet
returned, though night had arrived.
"Where can he be?" asked Mrs. Weldon.
"What matter!" said Bat.
"On the contrary, it does matter," replied Mrs. Weldon. "I should
prefer having that man still near us."
"Doubtless, Mrs. Weldon," replied Dick Sand; "but if he has forsaken
our company voluntarily, I do not see how we could oblige him to rejoin
us. Who knows but he has his reasons for avoiding us forever?"
And taking Mrs. Weldon aside, Dick Sand confided to her his suspicions.
He was not astonished to find that she had them also. Only they
differed on one point.
"If Negoro reappears," said Mrs. Weldon, "he will have put the product
of his theft in a safe place. Take my advice. What we had better do,
not being able to convict him, will be to hide our suspicions from him,
and let him believe that we are his dupes."
Mrs. Weldon was right. Dick Sand took her advice.
However, Negoro was called several times.
He did not reply. Either he was still too far away to hear, or he did
not wish to return.
The blacks did not regret being rid of his presence; but, as Mrs.
Weldon had just said, perhaps he was still more to be feared afar than
near. And, moreover, how explain that Negoro would venture alone into
that unknown country? Had he then lost his way, and on this dark night
was he vainly seeking the way to the grotto?
Mrs. Weldon and Dick Sand did not know what to think. However it was,
they could not, in order to wait for Negoro, deprive themselves of a
repose so necessary to all.
At that moment the dog, which was running on the strand, barked aloud.
"What is the matter with Dingo?" asked Mrs. Weldon.
"We must, indeed, find out," replied the novice. "Perhaps it is Negoro
At once Hercules, Bat, Austin, and Dick Sand took their way to the
mouth of the river.
But, arrived at the bank, they neither saw nor heard anything. Dingo
now was silent.
Dick Sand and the blacks returned to the grotto.
The going to sleep was organized as well as possible. Each of the
blacks prepared himself to watch in turn outside. But Mrs. Weldon,
uneasy, could not sleep. It seemed to her that this land so ardently
desired did not give her what she had been led to hope for, security
for hers, and rest for herself.
* * * * *
The next day, April 7th, Austin, who was on guard at sunrise, saw Dingo
run barking to the little river. Almost immediately Mrs. Weldon, Dick
Sand and the blacks came out of the grotto.
Decidedly there was something there.
"Dingo has scented a living creature, man or beast," said the novice.
"At all events it was not Negoro," observed Tom, "for Dingo would bark
"If it is not Negoro, where can he be?" asked Mrs. Weldon, giving Dick
Sand a look which was only understood by him; "and if it is not he,
who, then, is it?"
"We are going to see, Mrs. Weldon," replied the novice. Then,
addressing Bat, Austin, and Hercules, "Arm yourselves, my friends, and
Each of the blacks took a gun and a cutlass, as Dick Sand had done. A
cartridge was slipped into the breech of the Remingtons, and, thus
armed, all four went to the bank of the river.
Mrs. Weldon, Tom, and Acteon remained at the entrance of the grotto,
where little Jack and Nan still rested by themselves.
The sun was then rising. His rays, intercepted by the high mountains in
the east, did not reach the cliff directly; but as far as the western
horizon, the sea sparkled under the first fires of day.
Dick Sand and his companions followed the strand of the shore, the
curve of which joined the mouth of the river.
There Dingo, motionless, and as if on guard, was continually barking.
It was evident that he saw or scented some native.
And, in fact, it was no longer against Negoro, against its enemy on
board the ship, that the dog had a grudge this time.
At that moment a man turned the last plane of the cliff. He advanced
prudently to the strand, and, by his familiar gestures, he sought to
calm Dingo. They saw that he did not care to face the anger of the
"It is not Negoro!" said Hercules.
"We cannot lose by the change," replied Bat.
"No," said the novice. "It is probably some native, who will spare us
the _ennui_ of a separation. We are at last going to know exactly where
And all four, putting their guns back on their shoulders, went rapidly
toward the unknown.
The latter, on seeing them approach, at first gave signs of the
greatest surprise. Very certainly, he did not expect to meet strangers
on that part of the coast. Evidently, also, he had not yet perceived
the remains of the "Pilgrim," otherwise the presence of the shipwrecked
would very naturally be explained to him. Besides, during the night the
surf had finished demolishing the ship's hull; there was nothing left
but the wrecks that floated in the offing.
At the first moment the unknown, seeing four armed men marching toward
him, made a movement as if he would retrace his steps. He carried a gun
in a shoulder-belt, which passed rapidly into his hand, and from his
hand to his shoulder. They felt that he was not reassured.
Dick Sand made a gesture of salutation, which doubtless the unknown
understood, for, after some hesitation, he continued to advance.
Dick Sand could then examine him with attention.
He was a vigorous man, forty years old at the most, his eyes bright,
his hair and beard gray, his skin sunburnt like that of a nomad who has
always lived in the open air, in the forest, or on the plain. A kind of
blouse of tanned skin served him for a close coat, a large hat covered
his head, leather boots came up above his knees, and spurs with large
rowels sounded from their high heels.
What Dick Sand noticed at first--and which was so, in fact--was that he
had before him, not one of those Indians, habitual rovers over the
pampas, but one of those adventurers of foreign blood, often not very
commendable, who are frequently met with in those distant countries.
It also seemed, by his rather familiar attitude, by the reddish color
of a few hairs of his beard, that this unknown must be of Anglo-Saxon
origin. At all events, he was neither an Indian nor a Spaniard.
And that appeared certain, when in answer to Dick Sand, who said to him
in English, "Welcome!" he replied in the same language and without any
"Welcome yourself, my young friend," said the unknown, advancing toward
the novice, whose hand he pressed.
As to the blacks, he contented himself with making a gesture to them
without speaking to them.
"You are English?" he asked the novice.
"Americans," replied Dick Sand.
"From the South?"
"From the North."
This reply seemed to please the unknown, who shook the novice's hand
more vigorously and this time in very a American manner.
"And may I know, my young friend," he asked, "how you find yourself on
But, at that moment, without waiting till the novice had replied to his
question, the unknown took off his hat and bowed.
Mrs. Weldon had advanced as far as the steep bank, and she then found
herself facing him.
It was she who replied to this question.
"Sir," said she, "we are shipwrecked ones whose ship was broken to
pieces yesterday on these reefs."
An expression of pity spread over the unknown's face, whose eyes sought
the vessel which had been stranded.
"There is nothing left of our ship," added the novice. "The surf has
finished the work of demolishing it during the night."
"And our first question," continued Mrs. Weldon, "will be to ask you
where we are."
"But you are on the sea-coast of South America," replied the unknown,
who appeared surprised at the question. "Can you have any doubt about
"Yes, sir, for the tempest had been able to make us deviate from our
route," replied Dick Sand. "But I shall ask where we are more exactly.
On the coast of Peru, I think."
"No, my young friend, no! A little more to the south! You are wrecked
on the Bolivian coast."
"Ah!" exclaimed Dick Sand.
"And you are even on that southern part of Bolivia which borders on
"Then what is that cape?" asked Dick Sand, pointing to the promontory
on the north.
"I cannot tell you the name," replied the unknown, "for if I know the
country in the interior pretty well from having often traversed it, it
is my first visit to this shore."
Dick Sand reflected on what he had just learned. That only half
astonished him, for his calculation might have, and indeed must have,
deceived him, concerning the currents; but the error was not
considerable. In fact, he believed himself somewhere between the
twenty-seventh and the thirtieth parallel, from the bearings he had
taken from the Isle of Paques, and it was on the twenty-fifth parallel
that he was wrecked. There was no impossibility in the "Pilgrim's"
having deviated by relatively small digression, in such a long passage.
Besides, there was no reason to doubt the unknown's assertions, and, as
that coast was that of lower Bolivia there was nothing astonishing in
its being so deserted.
"Sir," then said Dick Sand, "after your reply I must conclude that we
are at a rather great distance from Lima."
"Oh! Lima is far away--over there--in the north!"
Mrs. Weldon, made suspicious first of all by Negoro's disappearance,
observed the newly-arrived with extreme attention; but she could
discover nothing, either in his attitude or in his manner of expressing
himself which could lead her to suspect his good faith.
"Sir," said she, "without doubt my question is not rash. You do not
seem to be of Peruvian origin?"
"I am American as you are, madam," said the unknown, who waited for an
instant for the American lady to tell him her name.
"Mrs. Weldon," replied the latter.
"I? My name is Harris and I was born in South Carolina. But here it is
twenty years since I left my country for the pampas of Bolivia, and it
gives me pleasure to see compatriots."
"You live in this part of the province, Mr. Harris?" again asked Mrs.
"No, Mrs. Weldon," replied Harris, "I live in the South, on the Chilian
frontier; but at this present moment I am going to Atacama, in the
"Are we then on the borders of the desert of that name?" asked Dick
"Precisely, my young friend, and this desert extends far beyond the
mountains which shut off the horizon."
"The desert of Atacama?" repeated Dick Sand.
"Yes," replied Harris. "This desert is like a country by itself, in
this vast South America, from which it differs in many respects. It is,
at the same time, the most curious and the least known portion of this
"And you travel alone?" asked Mrs. Weldon.
"Oh, it is not the first time that I have taken this journey!" replied
the American. "There is, two hundred miles from here, an important
farm, the Farm of San Felice, which belongs to one of my brothers, and
it is to his house that I am going for my trade. If you wish to follow
me you will be well received, and the means of transport to gain the
town of Atacama will not fail you. My brother will be happy to furnish,
These offers, made freely, could only prepossess in favor of the
American, who immediately continued, addressing Mrs. Weldon:
"These blacks are your slaves?"
And he pointed to Tom and his companions.
"We have no longer any slaves in the United States," replied Mrs.
Weldon, quickly. "The North abolished slavery long ago, and the South
has been obliged to follow the example of the North!"
"Ah! that is so," replied Harris. "I had forgotten that the war of 1862
had decided that grave question. I ask those honest men's pardon for
it," added Harris, with that delicate irony which a Southerner must put
into his language when speaking to blacks. "But on seeing those
gentlemen in your service, I believed----"
"They are not, and have never been, in my service, sir," replied Mrs.
"We should be honored in serving you, Mrs. Weldon," then said old Tom.
"But, as Mr. Harris knows, we do not belong to anybody. I have been a
slave myself, it is true, and sold as such in Africa, when I was only
six years old; but my son Bat, here, was born of an enfranchised
father, and, as to our companions, they were born of free parents."
"I can only congratulate you about it," replied Harris, in a tone which
Mrs. Weldon did not find sufficiently serious. "In this land of
Bolivia, also, we have no slaves. Then you have nothing to fear, and
you can go about as freely here as in the New England States."
At that moment little Jack, followed by Nan, came out of the grotto
rubbing his eyes. Then, perceiving his mother, he ran to her. Mrs.
Weldon embraced him tenderly.
"The charming little boy!" said the American, approaching Jack.
"It is my son," replied Mrs. Weldon.
"Oh, Mrs. Weldon, you must have been doubly tried, because your child
has been exposed to so many dangers."
"God has brought him out of them safe and sound, as He has us, Mr.
Harris," replied Mrs. Weldon.
"Will you permit me to kiss him on his pretty cheeks?" asked Harris.
"Willingly," replied Mrs. Weldon.
But Mr. Harris's face, it appeared, did not please little Jack, for he
clung more closely to his mother.
"Hold!" said Harris, "you do not want me to embrace you? You are afraid
of me, my good little man?"
"Excuse him, sir," Mrs. Weldon hastened to say. "It is timidity on his
"Good! we shall become better acquainted," replied Harris. "Once at the
Farm, he will amuse himself mounting a gentle pony, which will tell him
good things of me."
But the offer of the gentle pony did not succeed in cajoling Jack any
more than the proposition to embrace Mr. Harris.
Mrs. Weldon, thus opposed, hastened to change the conversation. They
must not offend a man who had so obligingly offered his services.
During this time Dick Sand was reflecting on the proposition which had
been made to them so opportunely, to gain the Farm of San Felice. It
was, as Harris had said, a journey of over two hundred miles, sometimes
through forests, sometimes through plains--a very fatiguing journey,
certainly, because there were absolutely no means of transport.
The young novice then presented some observations to that effect, and
waited for the reply the American was going to make.
"The journey is a little long, indeed," replied Harris, "but I have
there, a few hundred feet behind the steep bank, a horse which I count
on offering to Mrs. Weldon and her son. For us, there is nothing
difficult, nor even very fatiguing in making the journey on foot.
Besides, when I spoke of two hundred miles, it was by following, as I
have already done, the course of this river. But if we go through the
forest, our distance will be shortened by at least eighty miles. Now,
at the rate of ten miles a day, it seems to me that we shall arrive at
the Farm without too much distress."
Mrs. Weldon thanked the American.
"You cannot thank me better than by accepting," replied Harris. "Though
I have never crossed this forest, I do not believe I shall be
embarrassed in finding the way, being sufficiently accustomed to the
pampas. But there is a graver question--that of food. I have only what
is barely enough for myself while on the way to the Farm of San Felice."
"Mr. Harris," replied Mrs. Weldon, "fortunately we have food in more
than sufficient quantity, and we shall be happy to share with you."
"Well, Mrs. Weldon, it seems to me that all is arranged for the best,
and that we have only to set out."
Harris went toward the steep bank, with the intention of going to take
his horse from the place where he had left it, when Dick Sand stopped
him again, by asking him a question.
To abandon the sea-coast, to force his way into the interior of the
country, under that interminable forest, did not please the young
novice. The sailor reappeared in him, and either to ascend or descend
the coast would be more to his mind.
"Mr. Harris," said he, "instead of traveling for one hundred and twenty
miles in the Desert of Atacama, why not follow the coast? Distance for
distance, would it not be better worth while to seek to reach the
nearest town, either north or south?"
"But my young friend," replied Harris, frowning slightly, "it seems to
me that on this coast, which I know very imperfectly, there is no town
nearer than three or four hundred miles."
"To the north, yes," replied Dick Sand; "but to the south----"
"To the south," replied the American, "we must descend as far as Chili.
Now, the distance is almost as long, and, in your place, I should not
like to pass near the pampas of the Argentine Republic. As to me, to my
great regret, I could not accompany you there."
"The ships which go from Chili to Peru, do they not pass, then, in
sight of this coast?" asked Mrs. Weldon.
"No," replied Harris. "They keep much more out at sea, and you ought
not to meet any of them."
"Truly," replied Mrs. Weldon. "Well, Dick, have you still some question
to ask Mr. Harris?"
"A single one, Mrs. Weldon," replied the novice, who experienced some
difficulty in giving up. "I shall ask Mr. Harris in what port he thinks
we shall be able to find a ship to bring us back to San Francisco?"
"Faith, my young friend, I could not tell you," replied the American.
"All that I know is, that at the Farm of San Felice we will furnish you
with the means of gaining the town of Atacama, and from there----"
"Mr. Harris," then said Mrs. Weldon, "do not believe that Dick Sand
hesitates to accept your offers."
"No, Mrs. Weldon, no; surely I do not hesitate," replied the young
novice; "but I cannot help regretting not being stranded a few degrees
farther north or farther south. We should have been in proximity to a
port, and that circumstance, in facilitating our return to our country,
would prevent us from taxing Mr. Harris's good will."
"Do not fear imposing upon me, Mrs. Weldon," returned Harris. "I repeat
to you that too rarely have I occasion to find myself again in the
presence of my compatriots. For me it is a real pleasure to oblige you."
"We accept your offer, Mr. Harris," replied Mrs. Weldon; "but I should
not wish, however, to deprive you of your horse. I am a good walker----"
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