The Phantom Ship
Captain Frederick Marryat
Part 2 out of 8
"And what was the better feeling, Amine?"
"I hardly know--many good feelings perhaps mixed up
together--gratitude, esteem, respect, confidence, good-will. Are not
"Yes, indeed, Amine, and much to gain upon so short an acquaintance;
but still I feel them all, and more, for you. If, then, you feel so
much for me, do oblige me by persuading your father to leave this
lonely house this day, and take up his abode in mine."
"And where do you intend to go yourself?"
"If your father will not admit me as a boarder for the short time I
remain here, I will seek some shelter elsewhere; but if he will, I
will indemnify him well--that is, if you raise no objection to my
being for a few days in the house?"
"Why should I? Our habitation is no longer safe, and you offer us a
shelter. It were, indeed, unjust and most ungrateful to turn you out
from beneath your own roof."
"Then persuade him, Amine. I will accept of nothing, but take it as
a favour; for I should depart in sorrow if I saw you not in
safety.--Will you promise me?"
"I do promise to use my best endeavours--nay, I may as well say at
once it shall be so; for I know my influence. Here is my hand upon it.
Will that content you?"
Philip took the small hand extended towards him. His feelings overcame
his discretion; he raised it to his lips. He looked up to see if Amine
was displeased, and found her dark eye fixed upon him, as once before
when she admitted him, as if she would see his thoughts--but the hand
was not withdrawn.
"Indeed, Amine," said Philip, kissing her hand once more, "you may
confide in me."
"I hope--I think--nay, I am sure I may," at last replied she.
Philip released her hand. Amine returned to the seat, and for some
time remained silent and in a pensive attitude. Philip also had his
own thoughts, and did not open his lips. At last Amine spoke.
"I think I have heard my father say that your mother was very poor--a
little deranged; and that there was a chamber in the house which had
been shut up for years."
"It was shut up till yesterday."
"And there you found your money? Did your mother not know of the
"She did, for she spoke of it on her death-bed."
"There must have been some potent reasons for not opening the
"What were they, Philip?" said Amine, in a soft and low tone of voice.
"I must not tell, at least I ought not. This must satisfy you--'twas
the fear of an apparition."
"She said that my father had appeared to her."
"And did he, think you, Philip?"
"I have no doubt that he did. But I can answer no more questions,
Amine. The chamber is open now, and there is no fear of his
"I fear not that," replied Amine, musing. "But," continued she, "is
not this connected with your resolution of going to sea?"
"So far will I answer you, that it has decided me to go to sea; but I
pray you ask no more. It is painful to refuse you, and my duty forbids
me to speak further."
For some minutes they were both silent, when Amine resumed--
"You were so anxious to possess that relic, that I cannot help
thinking it has connection with the mystery. Is it not so?"
"For the last time, Amine, I will answer your question--it has to do
with it: but now no more."
Philip's blunt and almost rude manner of finishing his speech was not
lost upon Amine, who replied,
"You are so engrossed with other thoughts, that you have not felt the
compliment shown you by my taking such interest about you, sir."
"Yes, I do--I feel and thank you too, Amine. Forgive me, if I have
been rude; but recollect, the secret is not mine--at least, I feel as
if it were not. God knows, I wish I never had known it, for it has
blasted all my hopes in life."
Philip was silent; and when he raised his eyes, he found that Amine's
were fixed upon him.
"Would you read my thoughts, Amine, or my secret?"
"Your thoughts perhaps--your secret I would not; yet do I grieve
that it should oppress you so heavily as evidently it does. It must,
indeed, be one of awe to bear down a mind like yours, Philip."
"Where did you learn to be so brave, Amine?" said Philip, changing the
"Circumstances make people brave or otherwise; those who are
accustomed to difficulty and danger fear them not."
"And where have you met with them, Amine?"
"In the country where I was born, not in this dank and muddy land."
"Will you trust me with the story of your former life, Amine? I can be
secret, if you wish."
"That you can be secret perhaps, against my wish, you have already
proved to me," replied Amine, smiling; "and you have a claim to know
something of the life you have preserved. I cannot tell you much, but
what I can will be sufficient. My father, when a lad on board of a
trading vessel, was taken by the Moors, and sold as a slave to a
Hakim, or physician, of their country. Finding him very intelligent,
the Moor brought him up as an assistant, and it was under this man
that he obtained a knowledge of the art. In a few years he was equal
to his master; but, as a slave, he worked not for himself. You know,
indeed it cannot be concealed, my father's avarice. He sighed to
become as wealthy as his master, and to obtain his freedom; he became
a follower of Mahomet, after which he was free, and practised for
himself. He took a wife from an Arab family, the daughter of a chief
whom he had restored to health, and he settled in the country. I was
born; he amassed wealth, and became much celebrated; but the son of a
Bey dying under his hands was the excuse for persecuting him. His head
was forfeited, but he escaped; not, however, without the loss of all
his beloved wealth. My mother and I went with him; he fled to the
Bedouins, with whom we remained some years. There I was accustomed
to rapid marches, wild and fierce attacks, defeat and flight, and
oftentimes to indiscriminate slaughter. But the Bedouins paid not well
for my father's services, and gold was his idol. Hearing that the
Bey was dead, he returned to Cairo, where he again practised. He was
allowed once more to amass until the heap was sufficient to excite
the cupidity of the new Bey; but this time he was fortunately made
acquainted with the intentions of the ruler. He again escaped, with
a portion of his wealth, in a small vessel, and gained the Spanish
coast; but he never has been able to retain his money long. Before he
arrived in this country he had been robbed of almost all, and has now
been for these three years laying up again. We were but one year
at Middleburgh, and from thence removed to this place. Such is the
history of my life, Philip."
"And does your father still hold the Mahomedan faith, Amine?"
"I know not. I think he holds no faith whatever: at least he hath
taught me none. His god is gold."
"Is the God who made this beautiful world, and all which it
contains--the God of nature--name him as you will. This I feel,
Philip, but more I fain would know; there are so many faiths, but
surely they must be but different paths leading alike to heaven. Yours
is the Christian faith, Philip. Is it the true one? But everyone calls
his own the true one, whatever his creed may be."
"It is the true and only one, Amine. Could I but reveal--I have such
"That your faith is true; then is it not your duty to reveal these
proofs? Tell me, are you bound by any solemn obligation never to
"No, I am not; yet do I feel as if I were. But I hear voices--it must
be your father and the authorities--I must go down and meet them."
Philip rose, and went downstairs. Amine's eyes followed him as he
went, and she remained looking towards the door.
"Is it possible," said she, sweeping the hair from off her brow, "so
soon,--yes, yes, 'tis even so. I feel that I would sooner share his
hidden woe--his dangers--even death itself were preferable with him,
than ease and happiness with any other. And it shall be strange indeed
if I do not. This night my father shall move into his cottage: I will
prepare at once."
The report of Philip and Mynheer Poots was taken down by the
authorities, the bodies examined, and one or two of them recognised
as well-known marauders. They were then removed by the order of the
burgomaster. The authorities broke up their council, and Philip and
Mynheer Poots were permitted to return to Amine. It will not be
necessary to repeat the conversation which ensued: it will be
sufficient to state that Poots yielded to the arguments employed by
Amine and Philip, particularly the one of paying no rent. A conveyance
for the furniture and medicines was procured, and in the afternoon
most of the effects were taken away. It was not, however, till dusk
that the strong box of the doctor was put into the cart, and Philip
went with it as a protector. Amine also walked by the side of the
vehicle, with her father. As may be supposed, it was late that night
before they had made their arrangements, and had retired to rest.
"This, then, is the chamber which has so long been closed," said
Amine, on entering it the next morning, long before Philip had
awakened from the sound sleep produced by the watching of the night
before. "Yes, indeed, it has the air of having long been closed."
Amine looked around her, and then examined the furniture. Her eyes
were attracted to the bird-cages; she looked into them:--"Poor little
things!" continued she, "and here it was his father appeared unto his
mother. Well, it may be so,--Philip saith that he hath proofs; and
why should he not appear? Were Philip dead, I should rejoice to
see his spirit,--at least it would be something. What am I
saying--unfaithful lips, thus to betray my secret?--The table thrown
over;--that looks like the work of fear; a workbox, with all its
implements scattered,--only a woman's fear: a mouse might have caused
all this; and yet there is something solemn in the simple fact that,
for so many years, not a living being has crossed these boards. Even
that a table thus overthrown could thus remain for years, seems
scarcely natural, and therefore has its power on the mind. I wonder
not that Philip feels there is so heavy a secret belonging to this
room--but it must not remain in this condition--it must be occupied at
Amine, who had long been accustomed to attend upon her father, and
perform the household duties, now commenced her intended labours.
Every part of the room, and every piece of furniture in it, were
cleaned; even the cobwebs and dust were cleared away, and the sofa
and table brought from the corner to the centre of the room; the
melancholy little prisons were removed; and when Amine's work of
neatness was complete, and the sun shone brightly into the opened
window, the chamber wore the appearance of cheerfulness.
Amine had the intuitive good sense to feel that strong impressions
wear away when the objects connected with them are removed. She
resolved then to make Philip more at ease; for, with all the fire and
warmth of blood inherent in her race, she had taken his image to her
heart, and was determined to win him. Again and again did she resume
her labour, until the pictures about the room, and every other
article, looked fresh and clean.
Not only the bird-cages, but the workbox, and all the implements, were
removed; and the piece of embroidery, the taking up of which had made
Philip recoil, as if he had touched an adder, was put away with the
rest. Philip had left the keys on the floor. Amine opened the buffets,
cleaned the glazed doors, and was busy rubbing up the silver flagons
when her father came into the room.
"Mercy on me!" exclaimed Mynheer Poots; "and is all that silver?--then
it must be true, and he has thousands of guilders; but where are
"Never do you mind, father; yours are now safe, and for that you have
to thank Philip Vanderdecken."
"Yes, very true; but as he is to live here--does he eat much--what
will he pay me? He ought to pay well, as he has so much money."
Amine's lips were curled with a contemptuous smile, but she made no
"I wonder where he keeps his money; and he is going to sea as soon as
he can get a ship? Who will have charge of his money when he goes?"
"I shall take charge of it, father," replied Amine.
"Ah--yes--well--we will take charge of it; the ship may be lost."
"No, _we_ will not take charge of it, father; you will have nothing to
do with it. Look after your own."
Amine placed the silver in the buffets, locked the doors, and took the
keys with her when she went out to prepare breakfast, leaving the old
man gazing through the glazed doors at the precious metal within. His
eyes were riveted upon it, and he could not remove them. Every minute
he muttered, "Yes, all silver."
Philip came downstairs; and as he passed by the room, intending to go
into the kitchen, he perceived Mynheer Poots at the buffet, and he
walked into the room. He was surprised as well as pleased with the
alteration. He felt why and by whom it was done, and he was grateful.
Amine came in with the breakfast, and their eyes spoke more than their
lips could have done; and Philip sat down to his meal with less of
sorrow and gloom upon his brow.
"Mynheer Poots," said Philip, as soon as he had finished, "I intend
to leave you in possession of my cottage, and I trust you will find
yourself comfortable. What little arrangements are necessary, I will
confide to your daughter previous to my departure."
"Then you leave us, Mr Philip, to go to sea? It must be pleasant to go
and see strange countries--much better than staying at home. When do
"I shall leave this evening for Amsterdam," replied Philip, "to make
my arrangements about a ship, but I shall return, I think, before I
"Ah! you will return. Yes--you have your money and your goods to see
to; you must count your money--we will take good care of it. Where is
your money, Mr Vanderdecken?"
"That I will communicate to your daughter this forenoon, before I
leave. In three weeks at the furthest you may expect me back."
"Father," said Amine, "you promised to go and see the child of the
burgomaster; it is time you went."
"Yes, yes--by-and-bye--all in good time; but I must wait the pleasure
of Mr Philip first--he has much to tell me before he goes."
Philip could not help smiling when he remembered what had passed when
he first summoned Mynheer Poots to the cottage, but the remembrance
ended in sorrow and a clouded brow.
Amine, who knew what was passing in the minds of both her father and
Philip, now brought her father's hat, and led him to the door of the
cottage; and Mynheer Poots, very much against his inclination, but
never disputing the will of his daughter, was obliged to depart.
"So soon, Philip?" said Amine, returning to the room.
"Yes, Amine, immediately. But I trust to be back once more before I
sail; if not, you must now have my instructions. Give me the keys."
Philip opened the cupboard below the buffet, and the doors of the iron
"There, Amine, is my money; we need not count it, as your father would
propose. You see that I was right when I asserted that I had thousands
of guilders. At present they are of no use to me, as I have to learn
my profession. Should I return some day, they may help me to own a
ship. I know not what my destiny may be."
"And should you not return?" replied Amine, gravely.
"Then they are yours--as well as all that is in this cottage, and the
"You have relations, have you not?"
"But one, who is rich; an uncle, who helped us but little in our
distress, and who has no children. I owe him but little, and he wants
nothing. There is but one being in this world who has created an
interest in this heart, Amine, and it is you. I wish you to look upon
me as a brother--I shall always love you as a dear sister."
Amine made no reply. Philip took some more money out of the bag which
had been opened, for the expenses of his journey, and then locking up
the safe and cupboard, gave the keys to Amine. He was about to address
her, when there was a slight knock at the door, and in entered Father
Seysen, the priest.
"Save you, my son; and you, my child, whom as yet I have not seen. You
are, I suppose, the daughter of Mynheer Poots?"
Amine bowed her head.
"I perceive, Philip, that the room is now opened, and I have heard of
all that has passed. I would now talk with thee, Philip, and must beg
this maiden to leave us for awhile alone."
Amine quitted the room, and the priest, sitting down on the couch,
beckoned Philip to his side. The conversation which ensued was too
long to repeat. The priest first questioned Philip relative to his
secret, but on that point he could not obtain the information which he
wished; Philip stated as much as he did to Amine, and no more. He
also declared his intention of going to sea, and that, should he not
return, he had bequeathed his property--the extent of which he did
not make known--to the doctor and his daughter. The priest then made
inquiries relative to Mynheer Poots, asking Philip whether he knew
what his creed was, as he had never appeared at any church, and report
said that he was an infidel. To this Philip, as usual, gave his frank
answer, and intimated that the daughter, at least, was anxious to
be enlightened, begging the priest to undertake a task to which he
himself was not adequate. To this request Father Seysen, who perceived
the state of Philip's mind with regard to Amine, readily consented.
After a conversation of nearly two hours, they were interrupted by the
return of Mynheer Poots, who darted out of the room the instant he
perceived Father Seysen. Philip called Amine, and having begged her as
a favour to receive the priest's visits, the good old man blessed them
both and departed.
"You did not give him any money, Mr Philip?" said Mynheer Poots, when
Father Seysen had left the room.
"I did not," replied Philip; "I wish I had thought of it."
"No, no--it is better not--for money is better than what he can give
you; but he must not come here."
"Why not, father," replied Amine, "if Mr Philip wishes it? It is his
"O yes, if Mr Philip wishes it; but you know he is going away."
"Well, and suppose he is--why should not the Father come here? He
shall come here to see me."
"See you, my child!--what can he want with you? Well, then, if he
comes, I will not give him one stiver--and then he'll soon go away."
Philip had no opportunity of further converse with Amine; indeed he
had nothing more to say. In an hour he bade her farewell in presence
of her father, who would not leave them, hoping to obtain from Philip
some communication about the money which he was to leave behind him.
In two days Philip arrived at Amsterdam, and having made the necessary
inquiries, found that there was no chance of vessels sailing for the
East Indies for some months. The Dutch East India Company had long
been formed, and all private trading was at an end. The Company's
vessels left only at what was supposed to be the most favourable
season for rounding the Cape of Storms, as the Cape of Good Hope was
designated by the early adventurers. One of the ships which were to
sail with the next fleet was the _Ter Schilling_, a three-masted
vessel, now laid up and unrigged.
Philip found out the captain, and stated his wishes to sail with him,
to learn his profession as a seaman; the captain was pleased with his
appearance, and as Philip not only agreed to receive no wages during
the voyage, but to pay a premium as an apprentice learning his duty,
he was promised a berth on board as the second mate, to mess in the
cabin; and he was told that he should be informed whenever the vessel
was to sail. Philip having now done all that he could in obedience to
his vow, determined to return to the cottage; and once more he was in
the company of Amine.
We must now pass over two months, during which Mynheer Poots continued
to labour at his vocation, and was seldom within doors, and our two
young friends were left for hours together. Philip's love for Amine
was fully equal to hers for him. It was more than love--it was a
devotion on both sides, each day increasing. Who, indeed, could be
more charming, more attractive in all ways than the high-spirited, yet
tender Amine? Occasionally the brow of Philip would be clouded when he
reflected upon the dark prospect before him; but Amine's smile would
chase away the gloom, and, as he gazed on her, all would be forgotten.
Amine made no secret of her attachment; it was shown in every word,
every look, and every gesture. When Philip would take her hand, or
encircle her waist with his arm, or even when he pressed her coral
lips, there was no pretence of coyness on her part. She was too noble,
too confiding; she felt that her happiness was centred in his love,
and she lived but in his presence. Two months had thus passed away,
when Father Seysen, who often called, and had paid much attention
to Amine's instruction, one day came in as Amine was encircled in
"My children," said he, "I have watched you for some time: this is not
well. Philip, if you intend marriage, as I presume you do, still it is
dangerous. I must join your hands."
Philip started up.
"Surely I am not deceived in thee, my son," continued the priest, in a
"No, no, good Father; but I pray you leave me now: to-morrow you may
come, and all will be decided. But I must talk with Amine."
The priest quitted the room, and Amine and Philip were again alone.
The colour in Amine's cheek varied and her heart beat, for she felt
how much her happiness was at stake.
"The priest is right, Amine," said Philip, sitting down by her. "This
cannot last;--would that I could ever stay with you: how hard a fate
is mine! You know I love the very ground you tread upon, yet I dare
not ask thee to wed to misery."
"To wed with thee would not be wedding misery, Philip," replied Amine,
with downcast eyes.
"'Twere not kindness on my part, Amine. I should indeed be selfish."
"I will speak plainly, Philip," replied Amine. "You say you love
me,--I know not how men love,--but this I know, how I can love. I feel
that to leave me now were indeed unkind and selfish on your part; for,
Philip, I--I should die. You say that you must go away,--that fate
demands it,--and your fatal secret. Be it so;--but cannot I go with
"Go with me, Amine--unto death?"
"Yes, death; for what is death but a release? I fear not death,
Philip; I fear but losing thee. Nay, more; is not your life in the
hands of Him who made all? then why so sure to die? You have hinted to
me that you are chosen--selected for a task;--if chosen, there is less
chance of death; for until the end be fulfilled, if chosen, you must
live. I would I knew your secret, Philip: a woman's wit might serve
you well: and if it did not serve you, is there no comfort, no
pleasure, in sharing sorrow as well as joy with one you say you dote
"Amine, dearest Amine; it is my love, my ardent love alone, which
makes me pause: for, O Amine, what pleasure should I feel if we were
this hour united! I hardly know what to say, or what to do. I could
not withhold my secret from you if you were my wife, nor will I wed
you till you know it. Well, Amine, I will cast my all upon the die.
You shall know this secret, learn what a doomed wretch I am, though
from no fault of mine, and then you yourself shall decide. But
remember, my oath is registered in heaven, and I must not be dissuaded
from it; keep that in mind, and hear my tale,--then if you choose to
wed with one whose prospects are so bitter, be it so,--a short-lived
happiness will then be mine, but for you, Amine--"
"At once the secret, Philip," cried Amine, impatiently.
Philip then entered into a detail of what our readers are acquainted
with. Amine listened in silence; not a change of feature was to be
observed in her countenance during the narrative. Philip wound up
with stating the oath which he had taken. "I have done," said Philip,
"'Tis a strange story, Philip," replied Amine: "and now hear me;--but
give me first that relic,--I wish to look upon it. And can there be
such virtue--I had nigh said, such mischief--in this little thing?
Strange; forgive me, Philip,--but I've still my doubts upon this tale
of _Eblis_. You know I am not yet strong in the new belief which
you and the good priest have lately taught me. I do not say that it
_cannot_ be true: but still, one so unsettled as I am may be allowed
to waver. But, Philip, I'll assume that all is true. Then, if it be
true, without the oath you would be doing but your duty; and think not
so meanly of Amine as to suppose she would restrain you from what is
right. No, Philip, seek your father, and, if you can, and he requires
your aid, then save him. But, Philip, do you imagine that a task like
this, so high, is to be accomplished at one trial? O! no;--if you have
been so chosen to fulfil it, you will be preserved through difficulty
and danger until you have worked out your end. You will be preserved,
and you will again and again return;--be comforted--consoled--be
cherished--and be loved by Amine as your wife. And when it pleases Him
to call you from this world, your memory, if she survive you, Philip,
will equally be cherished in her bosom. Philip, you have given me to
decide;--dearest Philip, I am thine."
Amine extended her arms, and Philip pressed her to his bosom. That
evening Philip demanded his daughter of the father, and Mynheer Poots,
as soon as Philip opened the iron safe and displayed the guilders,
gave his immediate consent.
Father Seysen called the next day and received his answer; and three
days afterwards, the bells of the little church of Terneuse were
ringing a merry peal for the union of Amine Poots and Philip
It was not until late in the autumn that Philip was roused from his
dream of love (for what, alas! is every enjoyment of this life but a
dream?) by a summons from the captain of the vessel with whom he had
engaged to sail. Strange as it may appear, from the first day which
put him in possession of his Amine, Philip had no longer brooded over
his future destiny: occasionally it was recalled to his memory, but
immediately rejected, and, for the time, forgotten. Sufficient he
thought it to fulfil his engagement when the time should come; and
although the hours flew away, and day succeeded day, week week, and
month month, with the rapidity accompanying a life of quiet and
unvarying bliss, Philip forgot his vow in the arms of Amine, who was
careful not to revert to a topic which would cloud the brow of her
adored husband. Once, indeed, or twice, had old Poots raised the
question of Philip's departure, but the indignant frown and the
imperious command of Amine (who knew too well the sordid motives which
actuated her father, and who, at such times, looked upon him with
abhorrence) made him silent, and the old man would spend his leisure
hours in walking up and down the parlour with his eyes riveted upon
the buffets, where the silver tankards now beamed in all their
One morning, in the month of October, there was a tapping with the
knuckles at the cottage door. As this precaution implied a stranger,
Amine obeyed the summons, "I would speak with Master Philip
Vanderdecken," said the stranger, in a half-whispering sort of voice.
The party who thus addressed Amine was a little meagre personage,
dressed in the garb of the Dutch seamen of the time, with a cap made
of badger-skin hanging over his brow. His features were sharp and
diminutive, his face of a deadly white, his lips pale, and his hair
of a mixture between red and white. He had very little show of
beard--indeed, it was almost difficult to say what his age might be.
He might have been a sickly youth early sinking into decrepitude, or
an old man, hale in constitution, yet carrying no flesh. But the most
important feature, and that which immediately riveted the attention of
Amine, was the eye of this peculiar personage--for he had but one; the
right eye-lid was closed, and the ball within had evidently wasted
away; but his left eye was, for the size of his face and head, of
unusual dimensions, very protuberant, clear and watery, and most
unpleasant to look upon, being relieved by no fringe of eyelash either
above or below it. So remarkable was the feature, that when you looked
at the man, you saw his eye and looked at nothing else. It was not a
man with one eye, but one eye with a man attached to it: the body was
but the tower of the lighthouse, of no further value, and commanding
no further attention, than does the structure which holds up the
beacon to the venturous mariner; and yet, upon examination, you would
have perceived that the man, although small, was neatly made; that his
hands were very different in texture and colour from those of common
seamen; that his features in general, although sharp, were regular;
and that there was an air of superiority even in the obsequious manner
of the little personage, and an indescribable something about his
whole appearance which almost impressed you with awe. Amine's dark
eyes were for a moment fixed upon the visitor, and she felt a chill at
her heart for which she could not account, as she requested that he
would walk in.
Philip was greatly surprised at the appearance of the stranger, who,
as soon as he entered the room, without saying a word, sat down on the
sofa by Philip in the place which Amine had just left. To Philip there
was something ominous in this person taking Amine's seat; all that
had passed rushed into his recollection, and he felt that there was a
summons from his short existence of enjoyment and repose to a life of
future activity, danger, and suffering. What peculiarly struck Philip
was, that when the little man sat beside him, a sensation of sudden
cold ran through his whole frame. The colour fled from Philip's
cheek, but he spoke not. For a minute or two there was a silence. The
one-eyed visitor looked round him, and turning from the buffets he
fixed his eyes on the form of Amine, who stood before him; at last the
silence was broken by a sort of giggle on the part of the stranger,
which ended in--
"Philip Vanderdecken--he! he!--Philip Vanderdecken, you don't know
"I do not," replied Philip, in a half-angry tone.
The voice of the little man was most peculiar--it was a sort of
subdued scream, the notes of which sounded in your ear long after he
had ceased to speak.
"I am Schriften, one of the pilots of the _Ter Schilling_," continued
the man; "and I'm come--he! he!"--and he looked hard at Amine--"to
take you away from love"--and looking at the buffets--"he! he! from
comfort, and from this also," cried he, stamping his foot on the floor
as he rose from the sofa--"from terra firma--he! he!--to a watery
grave perhaps. Pleasant!" continued Schriften, with a giggle; and with
a countenance full of meaning he fixed his one eye on Philip's face.
Philip's first impulse was to put his new visitor out of the door; but
Amine, who read his thoughts, folded her arms as she stood before the
little man, and eyed him with contempt, as she observed:--
"We all must meet our fate, good fellow; and, whether by land or sea,
death will have his due. If death stare him in the face, the cheek of
Philip Vanderdecken will never turn as white as yours is now."
"Indeed!" replied Schriften, evidently annoyed at this cool
determination on the part of one so young and beautiful; and
then fixing his eye upon the silver shrine of the Virgin on the
mantel-piece--"You are a Catholic, I perceive--he!"
"I am a Catholic," replied Philip; "but does that concern you? When
does the vessel sail?"
"In a week--he! he!--only a week for preparation--only seven days to
leave all--short notice!"
"More than sufficient," replied Philip, rising up from the sofa. "You
may tell your captain that I shall not fail. Come, Amine, we must lose
"No, indeed," replied Amine, "and our first duty is hospitality:
Mynheer, may we offer you refreshment after your walk?"
"This day week," said Schriften, addressing Philip, and without making
a reply to Amine. Philip nodded his head, the little man turned on his
heel and left the room, and in a short time was out of sight.
Amine sank down on the sofa. The breaking-up of her short hour of
happiness had been too sudden, too abrupt, and too cruelly brought
about for a fondly doting, although heroic, woman. There was an
evident malignity in the words and manner of the one-eyed messenger,
an appearance as if he knew more than others, which awed and confused
both Philip and herself. Amine wept not, but she covered her face with
her hands as Philip, with no steady pace, walked up and down the small
room. Again, with all the vividness of colouring, did the scenes
half forgotten recur to his memory. Again did he penetrate the fatal
chamber--again was it obscure. The embroidery lay at his feet, and
once more he started as when the letter appeared upon the floor.
They had both awakened from a dream of present bliss, and shuddered at
the awful future which presented itself. A few minutes were sufficient
for Philip to resume his natural self-possession. He sat down by the
side of his Amine, and clasped her in his arms. They remained silent.
They knew too well each other's thoughts; and, excruciating as was
the effort, they were both summoning up their courage to bear, and
steeling their hearts against the conviction that, in this world, they
must now expect to be for a time, perhaps for ever, separated.
Amine was the first to speak: removing her arms, which had been wound
round her husband, she first put his hand to her heart, as if to
compress its painful throbbings, and then observed--
"Surely that was no earthly messenger, Philip! Did you not feel
chilled to death when he sat by you? I did, as he came in."
Philip, who had the same thought as Amine, but did not wish to alarm
her, answered confusedly--
"Nay, Amine, you fancy--that is, the suddenness of his appearance and
his strange conduct have made you imagine this; but I saw in him but a
man who, from his peculiar deformity, has become an envious outcast
of society--debarred from domestic happiness, from the smiles of the
other sex; for what woman could smile upon such a creature? His
bile raised at so much beauty in the arms of another, he enjoyed a
malignant pleasure in giving a message which he felt would break upon
those pleasures from which he is cut off. Be assured, my love, that it
was nothing more."
"And even if my conjecture were correct, what does it matter?" replied
Amine. "There can be nothing more--nothing which can render your
position more awful and more desperate. As your wife, Philip, I feel
less courage than I did when I gave my willing hand. I knew not then
what would be the extent of my loss; but fear not, much as I feel
here," continued Amine, putting her hand to her heart--"I am prepared,
and proud that he who is selected for such a task is my husband."
Amine paused. "You cannot surely have been mistaken, Philip?"
"No! Amine, I have not been mistaken, either in the summons or in
my own courage, or in my selection of a wife," replied Philip,
mournfully, as he embraced her. "It is the will of Heaven."
"Then may its will be done," replied Amine, rising from her seat. "The
first pang is over. I feel better now, Philip. Your Amine knows her
Philip made no reply; when, after a few moments, Amine continued:
"But one short week, Philip--"
"I would it had been but one day;" replied he; "it would have been
long enough. He has come too soon--the one-eyed monster."
"Nay, not so, Philip. I thank him for the week--'tis but a short time
to wean myself from happiness. I grant you, that were I to tease, to
vex, to unman you with my tears, my prayers, or my upbraidings (as
some wives would do, Philip), one day would be more than sufficient
for such a scene of weakness on my part, and misery on yours. But, no,
Philip, your Amine knows her duty better. You must go like some knight
of old to perilous encounter, perhaps to death; but Amine will arm
you, and show her love by closing carefully each rivet to protect you
in your peril, and will see you depart full of hope and confidence,
anticipating your return. A week is not too long, Philip, when
employed as I trust I shall employ it--a week to interchange our
sentiments, to hear your voice, to listen to your words (each of which
will be engraven on my heart's memory), to ponder on them, and feed my
love with them in your absence and in my solitude. No! no! Philip; I
thank God that there is yet a week."
"And so do I, then, Amine; and, after all, we knew that this must
"Yes! but my love was so potent, that it banished memory."
"And yet during our separation your love must feed on memory, Amine."
Amine sighed. Here their conversation was interrupted by the entrance
of Mynheer Poots, who, struck with the alteration in Amine's radiant
features, exclaimed, "Holy Prophet! what is the matter now?"
"Nothing more than what we all knew before," replied Philip; "I am
about to leave you--the ship will sail in a week."
"Oh! you will sail in a week?"
There was a curious expression in the face of the old man as he
endeavoured to suppress, before Amine and her husband, the joy which
he felt at Philip's departure. Gradually he subdued his features into
gravity, and said--
"That is very bad news, indeed."
No answer was made by Amine or Philip, who quitted the room together.
We must pass over this week, which was occupied in preparations for
Philip's departure. We must pass over the heroism of Amine, who
controlled her feelings, racked as she was with intense agony at the
idea of separating from her adored husband. We cannot dwell upon the
conflicting emotions in the breast of Philip, who left competence,
happiness, and love, to encounter danger, privation, and death. Now,
at one time, he would almost resolve to remain, and then at others,
as he took the relic from his bosom and remembered his vow registered
upon it, he was nearly as anxious to depart. Amine, too, as she fell
asleep in her husband's arms, would count the few hours left them;
or she would shudder, as she lay awake and the wind howled, at the
prospect of what Philip would have to encounter. It was a long week to
both of them, and, although they thought that time flew fast, it was
almost a relief when the morning came that was to separate them; for
to their feelings, which, from regard to each other, had been pent up
and controlled, they could then give vent; their surcharged bosoms
could be relieved; certainty had driven away suspense, and hope was
still left to cheer them and brighten up the dark horizon of the
"Philip," said Amine, as they sat together with their hands entwined,
"I shall not feel so much when you are gone. I do not forget that all
this was told me before we were wed, and that for my love I took the
hazard. My fond heart often tells me that you will return; but it may
deceive me--return you _may_, but not in life. In this room I shall
await you; on this sofa, removed to its former station, I shall sit;
and if you cannot appear to me alive, O refuse me not, if it be
possible, to appear to me when dead. I shall fear no storm, no
bursting open of the window. O no! I shall hail the presence even of
your spirit. Once more; let me but see you--let me be assured that you
are dead--and then I shall know that I have no more to live for in
this world, and shall hasten to join you in a world of bliss. Promise
"I promise all you ask, provided Heaven will so permit; but, Amine,"
and Philip's lips trembled, "I cannot--merciful God! I am indeed
tried. Amine, I can stay no longer."
Amine's dark eyes were fixed upon her husband--she could not
speak--her features were convulsed--nature could no longer hold
up against her excess of feeling--she fell into his arms, and lay
motionless. Philip, about to impress a last kiss upon her pale lips,
perceived that she had fainted.
"She feels not now," said he, as he laid her upon the sofa; "it is
better that it should be so--too soon will she awake to misery."
Summoning to the assistance of his daughter Mynheer Poots, who was
in the adjoining room, Philip caught up his hat, imprinted one more
fervent kiss upon her forehead, burst from the house, and was out of
sight long before Amine had recovered from her swoon.
Before we follow Philip Vanderdecken in his venturous career, it
will be necessary to refresh the memory of our readers by a succinct
recapitulation of the circumstances that had directed the enterprise
of the Dutch towards the country of the East, which was now proving to
them a source of wealth which they considered as inexhaustible.
Let us begin at the beginning. Charles the Fifth, after having
possessed the major part of Europe, retired from the world, for
reasons best known to himself, and divided his kingdoms between
Ferdinand and Philip. To Ferdinand he gave Austria and its
dependencies; to Philip Spain; but to make the division more equal
and palatable to the latter, he threw the Low Countries, with the few
millions vegetating upon them, into the bargain. Having thus disposed
of his fellow-mortals much to his own satisfaction, he went into a
convent, reserving for himself a small income, twelve men, and a pony.
Whether he afterwards repented his hobby, or mounted his pony, is not
recorded; but this is certain--that in two years he died.
Philip thought (as many have thought before and since) that he had a
right to do what he pleased with his own. He therefore took away from
the Hollanders most of their liberties: to make amends, however, he
gave them the Inquisition; but the Dutch grumbled, and Philip, to stop
their grumbling, burnt a few of them. Upon which, the Dutch, who are
aquatic in their propensities, protested against a religion which was
much too warm for their constitutions. In short, heresy made great
progress; and the Duke of Alva was despatched with a large army, to
prove to the Hollanders that the Inquisition was the very best of all
possible arrangements, and that it was infinitely better that a man
should be burnt for half-an-hour in this world than for eternity in
This slight difference of opinion was the occasion of a war, which
lasted about eight years, and which, after having saved some hundreds
of thousands the trouble of dying in their beds, at length ended in
the Seven United Provinces being declared independent. Now we must go
For a century after Vasco de Gama had discovered the passage round the
Cape of Good Hope, the Portuguese were not interfered with by other
nations. At last the adventurous spirit of the English nation was
roused. The passage to India by the Cape had been claimed by the
Portuguese as their sole right, and they defended it by force. For a
long time no private company ventured to oppose them, and the trade
was not of that apparent value to induce any government to embark in
a war upon the question. The English adventurers, therefore, turned
their attention to the discovery of a north-west passage to India,
with which the Portuguese could have no right to interfere, and in
vain attempts to discover that passage, the best part of the fifteenth
century was employed. At last they abandoned their endeavours, and
resolved no longer to be deterred by the Portuguese pretensions.
After one or two unsuccessful expeditions, an armament was fitted out
and put under the orders of Drake. This courageous and successful
navigator accomplished more than the most sanguine had anticipated. He
returned to England in the month of May, 1580, after a voyage which
occupied him nearly three years; bringing home with him great riches,
and having made most favourable arrangements with the king of the
His success was followed up by Cavendish and others in 1600. The
English East India Company, in the meanwhile, received their first
charter from the government, and had now been with various success
carrying on the trade for upwards of fifty years.
During the time that the Dutch were vassals to the crown of Spain, it
was their custom to repair to Lisbon for the productions of the East,
and afterwards to distribute them through Europe; but when they
quarrelled with Philip, they were no longer admitted as retailers of
his Indian produce: the consequence was, that, while asserting, and
fighting for, their independence, they had also fitted out expeditions
to India. They were successful; and in 1602 the various speculators
were, by the government, formed into a company, upon the same
principles and arrangement as those which had been chartered in
At the time, therefore, to which we are reverting, the English and
Dutch had been trading in the Indian seas for more than fifty years;
and the Portuguese had lost nearly all their power, from the alliances
and friendships which their rivals had formed with the potentates of
the East, who had suffered from the Portuguese avarice and cruelty.
Whatever may have been the sum of obligation which the Dutch owed to
the English for the assistance they received from them during their
struggle for independence, it does not appear that their gratitude
extended beyond the Cape; for, on the other side of it, the
Portuguese, English, and Dutch fought and captured each other's
vessels without ceremony; and there was no law but that of main force.
The mother countries were occasionally called upon to interfere, but
the interference up to the above time had produced nothing more than a
paper war; it being very evident that all parties were in the wrong.
In 1650, Cromwell usurped the throne of England, and the year
afterwards, having, among other points, vainly demanded of the Dutch
satisfaction for the murder of his regicide ambassador, which took
place in this year, and some compensation for the cruelties exercised
on the English at Amboyne some thirty years before he declared war
with Holland. To prove that he was in earnest, he seized more than two
hundred Dutch vessels, and the Dutch then (very unwillingly) prepared
for war. Blake and Van Tromp met, and the naval combats were most
obstinate. In the "History of England" the victory is almost
invariably given to the English, but in that of Holland to the Dutch.
By all accounts, these engagements were so obstinate, that in each
case they were both well beaten. However, in 1654, peace was signed;
the Dutchman promising "to take his hat off" whenever he should meet
an Englishman on the high seas--a mere act of politeness which Mynheer
did not object to, as it _cost nothing_. And now, having detailed
the state of things up to the time of Philip's embarkation, we shall
proceed with our story.
As soon as Philip was clear of his own threshold, he hastened away as
though he were attempting to escape from his own painful thoughts.
In two days he arrived at Amsterdam, where his first object was to
procure a small, but strong, steel chain to replace the ribbon by
which the relic had hitherto been secured round his neck. Having done
this, he hastened to embark with his effects on board of the _Ter
Schilling_. Philip had not forgotten to bring with him the money which
he had agreed to pay the captain, in consideration of being received
on board as an apprentice rather than a sailor. He had also furnished
himself with a further sum for his own exigencies. It was late in the
evening when he arrived on board of the _Ter Schilling_, which lay at
single anchor, surrounded by the other vessels composing the Indian
fleet. The captain, whose name was Kloots, received him with kindness,
showed him his berth, and then went below in the hold to decide a
question relative to the cargo, leaving Philip on deck to his own
And this, then, thought Philip, as he leaned against the taffrail and
looked forward--this, then, is the vessel in which my first attempt is
to be made. First and--perhaps, last. How little do those with whom I
am about to sail imagine the purport of my embarkation? How different
are my views from those of others? Do _I_ seek a fortune? No! Is it to
satisfy curiosity and a truant spirit? No! I seek communion with the
dead. Can I meet the dead without danger to myself and those who sail
with me? I should think not, for I cannot join it but in death. Did
they surmise my wishes and intentions, would they permit me to remain
one hour on board? Superstitious as seamen are said to be, they might
find a good excuse, if they knew my mission, not only for their
superstition, but for ridding themselves of one on such an awful
errand. Awful indeed! and how to be accomplished? Heaven alone, with
perseverance on my part, can solve the mystery. And Philip's
thoughts reverted to his Amine. He folded his arms and, entranced in
meditation, with his eyes raised to the firmament, he appeared to
watch the flying scud.
"Had you not better go below?" said a mild voice, which made Philip
start from his reverie.
It was that of the first mate, whose name was Hillebrant, a short,
well-set man of about thirty years of age. His hair was flaxen, and
fell in long flakes upon his shoulders, his complexion fair, and his
eyes of a soft blue; although there was little of the sailor in his
appearance, few knew or did their duty better.
"I thank you," replied Philip; "I had, indeed, forgotten myself, and
where I was: my thoughts were far away. Good-night, and many thanks."
The _Ter Schilling_, like most of the vessels of that period, was very
different in her build and fitting from those of the present day. She
was ship-rigged, and of about four hundred tons burden. Her bottom was
nearly flat, and her sides fell in (as she rose above the water), so
that her upper decks were not half the width of the hold.
All the vessels employed by the Company being armed, she had her main
deck clear of goods, and carried six nine-pounders on each broadside;
her ports were small and oval. There was a great spring in all her
decks,--that is to say, she ran with a curve forward and aft. On her
forecastle another small deck ran from the knight-heads, which was
called the top-gallant forecastle. Her quarter-deck was broken with a
poop, which rose high out of the water. The bowsprit staved very much,
and was to appearance almost as a fourth mast: the more so, as she
carried a square spritsail and sprit-topsail. On her quarter-deck and
poop-bulwarks were fixed in sockets implements of warfare now long
in disuse, but what were then known by the names of cohorns and
patteraroes; they turned round on a swivel, and were pointed by
an iron handle fixed to the breech. The sail abaft the mizen-mast
(corresponding to the driver or spanker of the present day) was
fixed upon a lateen-yard. It is hardly necessary to add (after this
description) that the dangers of a long voyage were not a little
increased by the peculiar structure of the vessels, which (although
with such top hamper, and so much wood above water, they could make
good way before a favourable breeze) could hold no wind, and had but
little chance if caught upon a lee-shore.
The crew of the _Ter Schilling_ were composed of the captain, two
mates, two pilots, and forty-five men. The supercargo had not yet
come on board. The cabin (under the poop) was appropriated to the
supercargo; but the main-deck cabin to the captain and mates, who
composed the whole of the cabin mess.
When Philip awoke the next morning he found that the topsails were
hoisted, and the anchor short-stay apeak. Some of the other vessels of
the fleet were under weigh and standing out. The weather was fine
and the water smooth, and the bustle and novelty of the scene were
cheering to his spirits. The captain, Mynheer Kloots, was standing
on the poop with a small telescope, made of pasteboard, to his eye,
anxiously looking towards the town. Mynheer Kloots, as usual, had his
pipe in his mouth, and the smoke which he puffed from it for a time
obscured the lenses of his telescope. Philip went up the poop ladder
and saluted him.
Mynheer Kloots was a person of no moderate dimensions, and the
quantity of garments which he wore added no little to his apparent
bulk. The outer garments exposed to view were, a rough fox-skin cap
upon his head, from under which appeared the edge of a red worsted
nightcap; a red plush waistcoat, with large metal buttons; a jacket of
green cloth, over which he wore another of larger dimensions of coarse
blue cloth, which came down as low as what would be called a spencer.
Below he had black plush breeches, light blue worsted stockings,
shoes, and broad silver buckles; round his waist was girded, with a
broad belt, a canvas apron which descended in thick folds nearly to
his knee. In his belt was a large broad-bladed knife in a sheath of
shark's skin. Such was the attire of Mynheer Kloots, captain of the
He was as tall as he was corpulent. His face was oval, and his
features small in proportion to the size of his frame. His grizzly
hair fluttered in the breeze, and his nose (although quite straight)
was, at the tip, fiery red from frequent application to his bottle of
schnapps, and the heat of a small pipe which seldom left his lips,
except for _him_ to give an order, or for _it_ to be replenished.
"Good morning, my son," said the captain, taking his pipe out of his
mouth for a moment. "We are detained by the supercargo, who appears
not over-willing to come on board; the boat has been on shore this
hour waiting for him, and we shall be last of the fleet under weigh. I
wish the Company would let us sail without these _gentlemen_, who
are (_in my opinion)_ a great hindrance to business; but they think
otherwise on shore."
"What is their duty on board?" replied Philip.
"Their duty is to look after the cargo and the traffic, and if
they kept to that, it would not be so bad; but they interfere with
everything else and everybody, studying little except their own
comforts; in fact, they play the king on board, knowing that we dare
not affront them, as a word from them would prejudice the vessel when
again to be chartered. The Company insist upon their being received
with all honours. We salute them with five guns on their arrival on
"Do you know anything of this one whom you expect?"
"Nothing, but from report. A brother captain of mine (with whom he has
sailed) told me that he is most fearful of the dangers of the sea, and
much taken up with his own importance."
"I wish he would come," replied Philip; "I am most anxious that we
"You must be of a wandering disposition, my son: I hear that you leave
a comfortable home, and a pretty wife to boot."
"I am most anxious to see the world," replied Philip; "and I must
learn to sail a ship before I purchase one, and try to make the
fortune that I covet." (Alas! how different from my real wishes,
thought Philip, as he made this reply.)
"Fortunes are made, and fortunes are swallowed up too, by the ocean,"
replied the captain. "If I could turn this good ship into a good
house, with plenty of guilders to keep the house warm, you would not
find me standing on this poop. I have doubled the Cape twice, which is
often enough for any man; the third time may not be so lucky."
"Is it so dangerous, then?" said Philip.
"As dangerous as tides and currents, rocks and sand-banks, hard gales
and heavy seas, can make it,--no more! Even when you anchor in the
bay, on this side of the Cape, you ride in fear and trembling, for you
may be blown away from your anchor to sea, or be driven on shore among
the savages, before the men can well put on their clothing. But when
once you're well on the other side of the Cape, then the water dances
to the beams of the sun as if it were merry, and you may sail for
weeks with a cloudless sky and a flowing breeze, without starting tack
or sheet, or having to take your pipe out of your mouth."
"What port shall we go into, Mynheer?"
"Of that I can say but little. Gambroon, in the Gulf of Persia, will
probably be the first rendezvous of the whole fleet. Then we shall
separate: some will sail direct for Bantam, in the island of Java;
others will have orders to trade down the Straits for camphor, gum,
benzoin, and wax; they have also gold and the teeth of the elephant to
barter with us: there (should we be sent thither) you must be
careful with the natives, Mynheer Vanderdecken. They are fierce and
treacherous, and their curved knives (or creeses, as they, call them)
are sharp and deadly poisoned. I have had hard fighting in those
Straits both with Portuguese and English."
"But we are all at peace now."
"True, my son; but when round the Cape, we must not trust to papers
signed at home: and the English press us hard, and tread upon our
heels wherever we go. They must be checked; and I suspect our fleet is
so large and well appointed in expectation of hostilities."
"How long do you expect your voyage may occupy us?"
"That's as may be: but I should say about two years;--nay, if not
detained by the factors, as I expect we shall be, for some hostile
service, it may be less."
Two years, thought Philip, two years from Amine! and he sighed deeply,
for he felt that their separation might be for ever.
"Nay, my son, two years is not so long," said Mynheer Kloots, who
observed the passing cloud on Philip's brow. "I was once five years
away, and was unfortunate, for I brought home nothing, not even my
ship. I was sent to Chittagong, on the east side of the great Bay of
Bengala, and lay for three months in the river. The chiefs of the
country would detain me by force; they would not barter for my cargo,
or permit me to seek another market. My powder had been landed, and
I could make no resistance. The worms ate through the bottom of my
vessel, and she sank at her anchors. They knew it would take place,
and that then they would have my cargo at their own price. Another
vessel brought us home. Had I not been so treacherously served, I
should have had no need to sail this time; and now my gains are small,
the Company forbidding all private trading. But here he comes at last;
they have hoisted the ensign on the staff in the boat; there--they
have shoved off. Mynheer Hillebrant, see the gunners ready with their
linstocks to salvo the supercargo."
"What duty do you wish me to perform?" observed Philip. "In what can I
"At present you can be of little use, except in those heavy gales in
which every pair of hands is valuable. You must look and learn for
some time yet; but you can make a fair copy of the journal kept for
the inspection of the Company, and may assist me in various ways, as
soon as the unpleasant nausea, felt by those who first embark, has
subsided. As a remedy, I should propose that you gird a handkerchief
tight round your body so as to compress the stomach, and make frequent
application of my bottle of schnapps, which you will find always at
your service. But now to receive the factor of the most puissant
Company. Mynheer Hillebrant, let them discharge the cannon."
The guns were fired, and soon after the smoke had cleared away,
the boat, with its long ensign trailing on the water, was pulled
alongside. Philip watched the appearance of the supercargo, but he
remained in the boat until several of the boxes with the initials
and arms of the Company were first handed on the deck; at last the
He was a small, spare, wizen-faced man, with a three-cornered cocked
hat, bound with broad gold lace, upon his head, under which appeared a
full-bottomed flowing wig, the curls of which descended low upon his
shoulders. His coat was of crimson velvet, with broad flaps: his
waistcoat of white silk, worked in coloured flowers, and descending
half-way down to his knees. His breeches were of black satin, and his
legs were covered with white silk stockings. Add to this, gold buckles
at his knees and in his shoes, lace ruffles to his wrists, and a
silver-mounted cane in his hand, and the reader has the entire dress
of Mynheer Jacob Janz Von Stroom, the supercargo of the Hon. Company,
appointed to the good ship _Ter Schilling_.
As he looked round him, surrounded at a respectful distance by the
captain, officers, and men of the ship, with their caps in their
hands, the reader might be reminded of the picture of the "Monkey who
had seen the World" surrounded by his tribe. There was not, however,
the least inclination on the part of the seamen to laugh, even at his
flowing, full-bottomed wig: respect was at that period paid to dress;
and although Mynheer Von Stroom could not be mistaken for a sailor, he
was known to be the supercargo of the Company, and a very great man.
He therefore received all the respect due to so important a personage.
Mynheer Von Stroom did not, however, appear very anxious to remain
on deck. He requested to be shown into his cabin, and followed the
captain aft, picking his way among the coils of ropes with which
his path was encumbered. The door was opened, and the supercargo
disappeared. The ship was then got under weigh, the men had left the
windlass, the sails had been trimmed, and they were securing the
anchor on board, when the bell of the poop-cabin (appropriated to the
supercargo) was pulled with great violence.
"What can that be?" said Mynheer Kloots (who was forward), taking the
pipe out of his mouth. "Mynheer Vanderdecken, will you see what is the
Philip went aft, as the pealing of the bell continued, and opening
the cabin door, discovered the supercargo perched upon the table and
pulling the bell-rope, which hung over its centre, with every mark of
fear in his countenance. His wig was off, and his bare skull gave him
an appearance peculiarly ridiculous.
"What is the matter, sir?" inquired Philip.
"Matter!" spluttered Mynheer Von Stroom; "call the troops in with
their firelocks. Quick, sir. Am I to be murdered, torn to pieces, and
devoured? For mercy's sake, sir, don't stare, but do something--look,
it's coming to the table! O dear! O dear!" continued the supercargo,
evidently terrified out of his wits.
Philip, whose eyes had been fixed on Mynheer Von Stroom, turned them
in the direction pointed out, and, much to his astonishment perceived
a small bear upon the deck who was amusing himself with the
supercargo's flowing wig, which he held in his paws, tossing it about,
and now and then burying his muzzle in it. The unexpected sight of the
animal was at first a shock to Philip, but a moment's consideration
assured him that the animal must be harmless, or it never would have
been permitted to remain loose in the vessel.
Nevertheless, Philip had no wish to approach the animal, whose
disposition he was unacquainted with, when the appearance of Mynheer
Kloots put an end to his difficulty.
"What is the matter, Mynheer?" said the captain. "O! I see: it is
Johannes," continued the captain, going up to the bear, and saluting
him with a kick, as he recovered the supercargo's wig. "Out of the
cabin, Johannes! Out, sir!" cried Mynheer Kloots, kicking the breech
of the bear till the animal had escaped through the door. "Mynheer
Von Stroom, I am very sorry--here is your wig. Shut the door, Mynheer
Vanderdecken, or the beast may come back, for he is very fond of me."
As the door was shut between Mynheer Von Stroom and the object of his
terror, the little man slid off the table to the high-backed chair
near it, shook out the damaged curls of his wig, and replaced it on
his head; pulled out his ruffles, and, assuming an air of magisterial
importance, struck his cane on the deck, and then spoke.
"Mynheer Kloots, what is the meaning of this disrespect to the
supercargo of the puissant Company?"
"God in Heaven! no disrespect, Mynheer;--the animal is a bear, as you
see; he is very tame, even with strangers. He belongs to me. I have
had him since he was three months old. It was all a mistake. The mate,
Mynheer Hillebrant, put him in the cabin, that he might be out of the
way while the duty was carrying on, and he quite forgot that he was
here. I am very sorry, Mynheer Von Stroom; but he will not come here
again, unless you wish to play with him."
"Play with him! I! supercargo to the Company, play with a bear!
Mynheer Kloots, the animal must be thrown overboard immediately."
"Nay, nay; I cannot throw overboard an animal that I hold in much
affection, Mynheer Von Stroom; but he shall not trouble you."
"Then, Captain Kloots, you will have to deal with the Company, to whom
I shall represent the affair. Your charter will be cancelled, and your
freight-money will be forfeited."
Kloots was, like most Dutchmen, not a little obstinate, and this
imperative behaviour on the part of the supercargo raised his bile.
"There is nothing in the charter that prevents my having an animal on
board," replied Kloots.
"By the regulations of the Company," replied Von Stroom, falling back
in his chair with an important air, and crossing his thin legs, "you
are required to receive on board strange and curious animals,
sent home by the governors and factors to be presented to crowned
heads,--such as lions, tigers, elephants, and other productions of
the East;--but in no instance is it permitted to the commanders of
chartered ships to receive on board, on their own account, animals of
any description, which must be considered under the offence of private
"My bear is not for sale, Mynheer Von Stroom."
"It must immediately be sent out of the ship, Mynheer Kloots; I order
you to send it away,--on your peril to refuse."
"Then we will drop the anchor again, Mynheer Von Stroom, and send on
shore to head-quarters to decide the point. If the Company insists
that the brute be put on shore, be it so; but recollect, Mynheer Von
Stroom, we shall lose the protection of the fleet, and have to sail
alone. Shall I drop the anchor, Mynheer?"
This observation softened down the pertinacity of the supercargo; he
had no wish to sail alone, and the fear of this contingency was more
powerful than the fear of the bear.
"Mynheer Kloots, I will not be too severe; if the animal is chained,
so that it does not approach me, I will consent to its remaining on
"I will keep it out of your way as much as I can; but as for chaining
up the poor animal, it will howl all day and night, and you will have
no sleep, Mynheer Von Stroom," replied Kloots.
The supercargo, who perceived that the captain was positive, and that
his threats were disregarded, did all that a man could do who could
not help himself. He vowed vengeance in his own mind, and then, with
an air of condescension, observed: "Upon those conditions, Mynheer
Kloots, your animal may remain on board."
Mynheer Kloots and Philip then left the cabin; the former, who was in
no very good humour, muttering as he walked away--"If the Company send
their _monkeys_ on board, I think I may well have my _bear_" And,
pleased with his joke, Mynheer Kloots recovered his good humour.
We must allow the Indian fleet to pursue its way to the Cape with
every variety of wind and weather. Some had parted company; but
the rendezvous was Table Bay, from which they were again to start
Philip Vanderdecken was soon able to render some service on board.
He studied his duty diligently, for employment prevented him from
dwelling too much upon the cause of his embarkation, and he worked
hard at the duties of the ship, for the exercise procured for him that
sleep which otherwise would have been denied.
He was soon a favourite of the captain, and intimate with Hillebrant,
the first mate; the second mate, Struys, was a morose young man, with
whom he had little intercourse. As for the supercargo, Mynheer Jacob
Janz Von Stroom, he seldom ventured out of his cabin. The bear
Johannes was not confined, and therefore Mynheer Von Stroom confined
himself; hardly a day passed that he did not look over a letter which
he had framed upon the subject, all ready to forward to the Company;
and each time that he perused it he made some alteration, which he
considered would give additional force to his complaint, and would
prove still more injurious to the interests of Captain Kloots.
In the meantime, in happy ignorance of all that was passing in the
poop-cabin, Mynheer Kloots smoked his pipe, drank his schnapps, and
played with Johannes. The animal had also contracted a great affection
for Philip, and used to walk the watch with him.
There was another party in the ship whom we must not lose sight
of--the one-eyed pilot, Schriften, who appeared to have imbibed a
great animosity towards our hero, as well as to his dumb favourite
the bear. As Philip held the rank of an officer, Schriften dared not
openly affront, though he took every opportunity of annoying him, and
was constantly inveighing against him before the ship's company. To
the bear he was more openly inveterate, and seldom passed it without
bestowing upon it a severe kick, accompanied with a horrid curse.
Although no one on board appeared to be fond of this man, everybody
appeared to be afraid of him, and he had obtained a control over the
seamen which appeared unaccountable.
Such was the state of affairs on board the good ship _Ter Schilling_,
when, in company with two others, she lay becalmed about two days'
sail to the Cape. The weather was intensely hot, for it was the summer
in those southern latitudes, and Philip, who had been lying down under
the awning spread over the poop, was so overcome with the heat that he
had fallen asleep. He awoke with a shivering sensation of cold over
his whole body, particularly at his chest, and half-opening his eyes,
he perceived the pilot, Schriften, leaning over him, and holding
between his finger and his thumb a portion of the chain which had not
been concealed, and to which was attached the sacred relic. Philip
closed them again, to ascertain what were the man's intentions: he
found that he gradually dragged out the chain, and, when the relic was
clear, attempted to pass the whole over his head, evidently to gain
possession of it. Upon his attempt Philip started up and seized him by
"Indeed!" cried Philip, with an indignant look, as he released the
chain from the pilot's hand.
But Schriften appeared not in the least confused at being detected
in his attempt: looking with his malicious one eye at Philip, he
"Does that chain hold her picture?--he! he!"
Vanderdecken rose, pushed him away, and folded his arms.
"I advise you not to be quite so curious, Master Pilot, or you may
"Or perhaps," continued the pilot, quite regardless of Philip's wrath,
"it may be a child's caul, a sovereign remedy against drowning."
"Go forward to your duty, sir," cried Philip.
"Or, as you are a Catholic, the finger-nail of a saint; or, yes, I
have it--a piece of the holy cross."
"That's it! that's it!" cried Schriften, who now went forward to where
the seamen were standing at the gangway. "News for you, my lads!" said
he; "we've a bit of the holy cross aboard, and so we may defy the
Philip, hardly knowing why, had followed Schriften as he descended the
poop-ladder, and was forward on the quarter-deck, when the pilot made
this remark to the seamen.
"Ay! ay!" replied an old seaman to the pilot; "not only the devil, but
the _Flying Dutchman_ to boot."
"The _Flying Dutchman_" thought Philip, "can that refer to--?" and
Philip walked a step or two forward, so as to conceal himself behind
the mainmast, hoping to obtain some information, should they continue
the conversation. In this he was not disappointed.
"They say that to meet with him is worse than meeting with the devil,"
observed another of the crew.
"Who ever saw him?" said another.
"He has been seen, that's sartain, and just as sartain that ill-luck
follows the vessel that falls in with him."
"And where is he to be fallen in with?"
"O! they say that's not so sartain--but he cruises off the Cape."
"I should like to know the whole long and short of the story," said a
"I can only tell what I've heard. It's a doomed vessel; they were
pirates, and cut the captain's throat, I believe."
"No! no!" cried Schriften, "the captain is in her now--and a villain
he was. They say that, like somebody else on board of us now, he left
a very pretty wife, and that he was very fond of her."
"How do they know that, pilot?"
"Because he always wants to send letters home when he boards vessels
that he falls in with. But, woe to the vessel that takes charge of
them!--she is sure to be lost, with every soul on board!"
"I wonder where you heard all this," said one of the men. "Did you
ever see the vessel?"
"Yes, I did!" screamed Schriften; but, as if recovering himself, his
scream subsided into his usual giggle, and he added, "but we need not
fear her, boys; we've a bit of the true cross on board." Schriften
then walked aft as if to avoid being questioned, when he perceived
Philip by the mainmast.
"So, I'm not the only one curious?--he! he! Pray did you bring that on
board, in case we should fall in with the _Flying Dutchman?_"
"I fear no _Flying Dutchman_," replied Philip, confused.
"Now I think of it, you are of the same name; at least they say that
his name was Vanderdecken--eh?"
"There are many Vanderdeckens in the world besides me," replied
Philip, who had recovered his composure; and having made this reply,
he walked away to the poop of the vessel.
"One would almost imagine this malignant one-eyed wretch was aware of
the cause of my embarkation," mused Philip; "but no! that cannot be.
Why do I feel such a chill whenever he approaches me? I wonder if
others do; or whether it is a mere fancy on the part of Amine and
myself. I dare ask no questions.--Strange, too, that the man should
feel such malice towards me. I never injured him. What I have just
overheard confirms all; but there needed no confirmation. Oh, Amine!
Amine! but for thee, and I would rejoice to solve this riddle at the
expense of life. God in mercy check the current of my brain," muttered
Philip, "or my reason cannot hold its seat!"
In three days the _Ter Schilling_ and her consorts arrived at Table
Bay, where they found the remainder of the fleet at anchor waiting for
them. Just at that period the Dutch had formed a settlement at the
Cape of Good Hope, where the Indian fleets used to water and obtain
cattle from the Hottentot tribes who lived on the coast, and who for
a brass button or a large nail would willingly offer a fat bullock. A
few days were occupied in completing the water of the squadron, and
then the ships, having received from the Admiral their instructions
as to the rendezvous in case of parting company, and made every
preparation for the bad weather which they anticipated, again weighed
their anchors, and proceeded on their voyage.
For three days they beat against light and baffling winds, making but
little progress; on the third, the breeze sprang up strong from the
southward, until it increased to a gale, and the fleet were blown down
to the northward of the bay. On the seventh day the _Ter Schilling_
found herself alone, but the weather had moderated. Sail was again
made upon the vessel, and her head put to the eastward, that she might
run in for the land.
"We are unfortunate in thus parting with all our consorts," observed
Mynheer Kloots to Philip, as they were standing at the gangway; "but
it must be near meridian, and the sun will enable me to discover our
latitude. It is difficult to say how far we may have been swept by the
gale and the currents to the northward. Boy, bring up my cross-staff,
and be mindful that you do not strike it against anything as you come
The cross-staff at that time was the simple instrument used to
discover the latitude, which it would give to a nice observer to
within five or ten miles. Quadrants and sextants were the invention
of a much later period. Indeed, considering that they had so little
knowledge of navigation and the variation of the compass, and that
their easting and westing could only be computed by dead reckoning,
it is wonderful how our ancestors traversed the ocean in the way they
did, with comparatively so few accidents.
"We are full three degrees to the northward of the Cape," observed
Mynheer Kloots, after he had computed his latitude. "The currents must
be running strong; the wind is going down fast, and we shall have a
change, if I mistake not."
Towards the evening it fell calm, with a heavy swell setting towards
the shore; shoals of seals appeared on the surface, following the
vessel as she drove before the swell; the fish darted and leaped in
every direction, and the ocean around them appeared to be full of life
as the sun slowly descended to the horizon.
"What is that noise we hear?" observed Philip; "it sounds like distant
"I hear it," replied Mynheer Kloots. "Aloft there; do you see the
"Yes," replied the man, after a pause in ascending the topmast
shrouds. "It is right ahead--low sand-hills, and the sea breaking
"Then that must be the noise we hear. We sweep in fast with this heavy
ground-swell. I wish the breeze would spring up."
The sun was dipping under the horizon, and the calm still continued:
the swell had driven the _Ter Schilling_ so rapidly on the shore that
now they could see the breakers, which fell over with the noise of
"Do you know the coast, pilot?" observed the captain to Schriften, who
"Know it well," replied Schriften; "the sea breaks in twelve
fathoms at least. In half an hour the good ship will be beaten into
toothpicks, without a breeze to help us." And the little man giggled
as if pleased at the idea.
The anxiety of Mynheer Kloots was not to be concealed; his pipe was
every moment in and out of his mouth. The crew remained in groups
on the forecastle and gangway, listening with dismay to the fearful
roaring of the breakers. The sun had sunk down below the horizon, and
the gloom of night was gradually adding to the alarm of the crew of
the _Ter Schilling_.
"We must lower down the boats," said Mynheer Kloots to the first mate,
"and try to tow her off. We cannot do much good, I'm afraid; but at
all events the boats will be ready for the men to get into before she
drives on shore. Get the tow ropes out and lower down the boats, while
I go in to acquaint the supercargo."
Mynheer Von Stroom was sitting in all the dignity of his office, and
it being Sunday had put on his very best wig. He was once more reading
over the letter to the Company, relative to the bear, when Mynheer
Kloots made his appearance, and informed him in a few words that they
were in a situation of peculiar danger, and that in all probability
the ship would be in pieces in less than half an hour. At this
alarming intelligence, Mynheer Von Stroom jumped up from his chair,
and in his hurry and fear knocked down the candle which had just been
"In danger! Mynheer Kloots!--why, the water is smooth and the wind
down! My hat--where is my hat and my cane? I will go on deck. Quick! A
light--Mynheer Kloots, if you please to order a light to be brought; I
can find nothing in the dark. Mynheer Kloots, why do you not answer?
Mercy on me! he is gone and has left me."
Mynheer Kloots had gone to fetch a light, and now returned with it.
Mynheer Von Stroom put on his hat, and walked out of the cabin. The
boats were down and the ship's head had been turned round from the
land; but it was now quite dark, and nothing was to be seen but the
white line of foam created by the breakers as they dashed with an
awful noise against the shore.
"Mynheer Kloots, if you please, I'll leave the ship directly. Let my
boat come alongside--I must have the largest boat for the Honourable
Company's service--for the papers and myself."
"I'm afraid not, Mynheer Von Stroom," replied Kloots; "our boats will
hardly hold the men as it is, and every man's life is as valuable to
himself as yours is to you."
"But, Mynheer, I am the Company's supercargo. I order you--I will have
one--refuse if you dare."
"I dare, and do refuse," replied the captain, taking his pipe out of
"Well, well," replied Mynheer Von Stroom, who now lost all presence of
mind--"we will, sir as soon as we arrive--Lord help us!--we are lost.
O Lord! O Lord!" And here Mynheer Von Stroom, not knowing why, hurried
down to the cabin, and in his haste tumbled over the bear Johannes,
who crossed his path, and in his fall his hat and flowing wig parted
company with his head.
"O mercy! where am I? Help--help here! for the Company's honourable
"Cast off there in the boats, and come on board," cried Mynheer
Kloots; "we have no time to spare. Quick now, Philip, put in the
compass, the water, and the biscuit; we must leave her in five
So appalling was the roar of the breakers, that it was with difficulty
that the orders could be heard. In the meantime Mynheer Von Stroom lay
upon the deck, kicking, sprawling, and crying for help.
"There is a light breeze off the shore," cried Philip, holding up his
"There is, but I'm afraid it is too late. Hand the things into the
boats, and be cool, my men. We have yet a chance of saving her, if the
They were now so near to the breakers that they felt the swell in
which the vessel lay becalmed turned over here and there on its long
line, but the breeze freshened, and the vessel was stationary! the
men were all in the boats, with the exception of Mynheer Kloots, the
mates, and Mynheer Von Stroom.
"She goes through the water now," said Philip.
"Yes, I think we shall save her," replied the captain: "steady as you
go, Hillebrant," continued he to the first mate, who was at the helm.
"We leave the breakers now--only let the breeze hold ten minutes."
The breeze was steady, the _Ter Schilling_ stood off from the land,
again it fell calm, and again she was swept towards the breakers; at
last the breeze came off strong, and the vessel cleaved through the
water. The men were called out of the boats; Mynheer Von Stroom was
picked up along with his hat and wig, carried into the cabin, and in
less than an hour the _Ter Schilling_ was out of danger.
"Now we will hoist up the boats," said Mynheer Kloots, "and let us
all, before we lie down to sleep, thank God for our deliverance."
During that night the _Ter Schilling_ made an offing of twenty miles,
and then stood to the southward; towards the morning the wind again
fell, and it was nearly calm.
Mynheer Kloots had been on deck about an hour, and had been talking
with Hillebrant upon the danger of the evening, and the selfishness
and pusillanimity of Mynheer Von Stroom, when a loud noise was heard
in the poop-cabin.
"What can that be?" said the captain; "has the good man lost his
senses from the fright? Why, he is knocking the cabin to pieces."
At this moment the servant of the supercargo ran out of the cabin.
"Mynheer Kloots, hasten in--help my master--he will be killed--the
"The bear! what; Johannes?" cried Mynheer Kloots. "Why, the animal is
as tame as a dog. I will go and see."
But before Mynheer Kloots could walk into the cabin, out flew in
his shirt the affrighted supercargo. "My God! my God! am I to be
murdered?--eaten alive?" cried he, running forward, and attempting to
climb the fore-rigging.
Mynheer Kloots followed the motions of Mynheer Von Stroom with
surprise, and when he found him attempting to mount the rigging, he
turned aft and walked into the cabin, when he found to his surprise
that Johannes was indeed doing mischief.
The panelling of the state cabin of the supercargo had been beaten
down, the wig boxes lay in fragments on the floor, the two spare wigs
were lying by them, and upon them were strewed fragments of broken
pots and masses of honey, which Johannes was licking up with peculiar
The fact was, that when the ship anchored at Table Bay, Mynheer Von
Stroom, who was very partial to honey, had obtained some from the
Hottentots. The honey his careful servant had stowed away in jars,
which he had placed at the bottom of the two long boxes, ready for his
master's use during the remainder of the voyage. That morning, the
servant fancying that the wig of the previous night had suffered when
his master tumbled over the bear, opened one of the boxes to take out
another. Johannes happened to come near the door, and scented the
honey. Now, partial as Mynheer Von Stroom was to honey, all bears are
still more so, and will venture everything to obtain it. Johannes had
yielded to the impulse of his species, and, following the scent, had
come into the cabin, and was about to enter the sleeping-berth of
Mynheer Stroom, when the servant slammed the door in his face;
whereupon Johannes beat in the panels, and found an entrance. He then
attacked the wig-boxes, and, by showing a most formidable set of
teeth, proved to the servant, who attempted to drive him off, that he
would not be trifled with. In the meanwhile, Mynheer Von Stroom was in
the utmost terror: not aware of the purport of the bear's visit, he
imagined that the animal's object was to attack him. His servant took
to his heels after a vain effort to save the last box, and Mynheer
Von Stroom, then finding himself alone, at length sprang out of his
bed-place, and escaped as we have mentioned to the forecastle, leaving
Johannes master of the field, and luxuriating upon the _spolia opima_.
Mynheer Kloots immediately perceived how the case stood. He went up
to the bear and spoke to him, then kicked him, but the bear would not
leave the honey, and growled furiously at the interruption. "This is
a bad job for you, Johannes," observed Mynheer Kloots; "now you will
leave the ship, for the supercargo has just grounds of complaint. Oh,
well! you must eat the honey, because you will." So saying, Mynheer
Kloots left the cabin, and went to look after the supercargo, who
remained on the forecastle, with his bald head and meagre body,
haranguing the men in his shirt, which fluttered in the breeze.
"I am very sorry, Mynheer Von Stroom," said Kloots, "but the bear
shall be sent out of the vessel."
"Yes, yes, Mynheer Kloots, but this is an affair for the most puissant
Company--the lives of their servants are not to be sacrificed to the
folly of a sea-captain. I have nearly been torn to pieces."
"The animal did not want you; all he wanted was the honey," replied
Kloots. "He has got it, and I myself cannot take it from him. There is
no altering the nature of an animal. Will you be pleased to walk down
into my cabin until the beast can be secured? He shall not go loose
Mynheer Von Stroom, who considered his dignity at variance with his
appearance, and who perhaps was aware that majesty deprived of its
externals was only a jest, thought it advisable to accept the offer.
After some trouble, with the assistance of the seamen, the bear was
secured and dragged away from the cabin, much against his will, for he
had still some honey to lick off the curls of the full-bottomed wigs.
He was put into durance vile, having been caught in the flagrant act
of burglary on the high seas. This new adventure was the topic of the
day, for it was again a dead calm, and the ship lay motionless on the
"The sun looks red as he sinks," observed Hillebrant to the captain,
who with Philip was standing on the poop; "we shall have wind before
to-morrow, if I mistake not."
"I am of your opinion," replied Mynheer Kloots. "It is strange that
we do not fall in with any of the vessels of the fleet. They must all
have been driven down here."
"Perhaps they have kept a wider offing."
"It had been as well if we had done the same," said Kloots. "That was
a narrow escape last night. There is such a thing as having too little
as well as having too much wind."
A confused noise was heard among the seamen who were collected
together, and looking in the direction of the vessel's quarter, "A
ship! No--Yes, it is!" was repeated more than once.
"They think they see a ship," said Schriften, coming on the poop. "He!
"There in the gloom!" said the pilot, pointing to the darkest quarter
in the horizon, for the sun had set.
The captain, Hillebrant, and Philip directed their eyes to the quarter
pointed out, and thought they could perceive something like a vessel.
Gradually the gloom seemed to clear away, and a lambent pale blaze to
light up that part of the horizon. Not a breath of wind was on the
water--the sea was like a mirror--more and more distinct did the
vessel appear, till her hull, masts and yards were clearly visible.
They looked and rubbed their eyes to help their vision, for scarcely
could they believe that which they did see. In the centre of the pale
light, which extended about fifteen degrees above the horizon, there
was indeed a large ship about three miles distant; but, although it
was a perfect calm, she was to all appearance buffeting in a violent
gale, plunging and lifting over a surface that was smooth as glass,
now careening to her bearing, then recovering herself. Her topsails
and mainsail were furled, and the yards pointed to the wind; she had
no sail set, but a close-reefed fore-sail, a storm stay-sail, and
trysail abaft. She made little way through the water, but apparently
neared them fast, driven down by the force of the gale. Each minute
she was plainer to the view. At last, she was seen to wear, and in so
doing, before she was brought to the wind on the other tack, she was
so close to them that they could distinguish the men on board: they
could see the foaming water as it was hurled from her bows; hear the
shrill whistle of the boatswain's pipes, the creaking of the ship's
timbers, and the complaining of her masts; and then the gloom
gradually rose, and in a few seconds she had totally disappeared.
"God in heaven!" exclaimed Mynheer Kloots.
Philip felt a hand upon his shoulder, and the cold darted through his
whole frame. He turned round and met the one eye of Schriften,
who screamed in his ear--"PHILIP VANDERDECKEN--That's the _Flying
The sudden gloom which had succeeded to the pale light had the effect
of rendering every object still more indistinct to the astonished crew
of the _Ter Schilling_. For a moment or more not a word was uttered by
a soul on board. Some remained with their eyes still strained towards
the point where the apparition had been seen, others turned away full
of gloomy and foreboding thoughts. Hillebrant was the first who spoke:
turning round to the eastern quarter, and observing a light on the
horizon, he started, and seizing Philip by the arm, cried out, "What's
"That is only the moon rising from the bank of clouds," replied
"Well!" observed Mynheer Kloots, wiping his forehead, which was damp
with perspiration, "I _have_ been told of this before, but I have
mocked at the narration."
Philip made no reply. Aware of the reality of the vision, and how
deeply it interested him, he felt as if he were a guilty person.
The moon had now risen above the clouds, and was pouring her mild pale
light over the slumbering ocean. With a simultaneous impulse, everyone
directed his eyes to the spot where the strange vision had last been
seen; and all was a dead, dead calm.
Since the apparition, the pilot, Schriften, had remained on the poop;
he now gradually approached Mynheer Kloots, and looking round, said--
"Mynheer Kloots, as pilot of this vessel, I tell you that you must
prepare for very bad weather."
"Bad weather!" said Kloots, rousing himself from a deep reverie.
"Yes, bad weather, Mynheer Kloots. There never was a vessel which
fell in with--what we have just seen, but met with disaster soon
afterwards. The very name of Vanderdecken is unlucky--He! he!"
Philip would have replied to the sarcasm, but he could not, his tongue
"What has the name of Vanderdecken to do with it?" observed Kloots.
"Have you not heard, then? The captain of that vessel we have just
seen is a Mynheer Vanderdecken--he is the Flying Dutchman!"
"How know you that, pilot?" inquired Hillebrant.
"I know that, and much more, if I chose to tell," replied Schriften;
"but never mind, I have warned you of bad weather, as is my duty;"
and, with these words, Schriften went down the poop-ladder.
"God in heaven! I never was so puzzled and so frightened in my life,"
observed Kloots. "I don't know what to think or say.--What think you,
Philip? was it not supernatural?"
"Yes," replied Philip, mournfully. "I have no doubt of it."
"I thought the days of miracles had passed," said the captain, "and
that we were now left to our own exertions, and had no other warnings
but those the appearance of the heavens gave us."
"And they warn us now," observed Hillebrant. "See how that bank of
clouds has risen within these five minutes--the moon has escaped from
it, but it will soon catch her again--and see, there is a flash of
lightning in the north-west."
"Well, my sons, I can brave the elements as well as any man, and do my
best. I have cared little for gales or stress of weather; but I like
not such a warning as we have had to-night. My heart's as heavy as
lead, and that's the truth. Philip, send down for the bottle of
schnapps, if it is only to clear my brain a little."
Philip was glad of an opportunity to quit the poop; he wished to have
a few minutes to recover himself and collect his own thoughts. The
appearance of the Phantom Ship had been to him a dreadful shock--not
that he had not fully believed in its existence; but still, to have
beheld, to have been so near that vessel--that vessel in which his
father was fulfilling his awful doom--that vessel on board of which he
felt sure that his own destiny was to be worked out--had given a whirl
to his brain. When he had heard the sound of the boatswain's whistle
on board of her, eagerly had he stretched his hearing to catch the
order given--and given, he was convinced, in his father's voice. Nor
had his eyes been less called to aid in his attempt to discover the
features and dress of those moving on her decks. As soon, then, as he
had sent the boy up to Mynheer Kloots, Philip hastened to his
cabin and buried his face in the coverlet of his bed, and then he
prayed--prayed until he had recovered his usual energy and courage,
and had brought his mind to that state of composure which could enable
him to look forward calmly to danger and difficulty, and feel prepared
to meet it with the heroism of a martyr.
Philip remained below not more than half an hour. On his return to the
deck, what a change had taken place! He had left the vessel floating
motionless on the still waters, with her lofty sails hanging down
listlessly from the yards. The moon then soared aloft in her beauty,
reflecting the masts and sails of the ship in extended lines upon the
smooth sea. Now all was dark: the water rippled short and broke in
foam; the smaller and lofty sails had been taken in, and the vessel
was cleaving through the water; and the wind, in fitful gusts and
angry moanings, proclaimed too surely that it had been awakened up to
wrath, and was gathering its strength for destruction. The men
were still busy reducing the sails, but they worked gloomily and
discontentedly. What Schriften, the pilot, had said to them, Philip
knew not, but that they avoided him and appeared to look upon him with
feelings of ill-will, was evident. And each minute the gale increased.
"The wind is not steady," observed Hillebrant; "there is no saying
from which quarter the storm may blow: it has already veered round
five points. Philip, I don't much like the appearance of things, and I
may say with the captain that my heart is heavy."
"And, indeed, so is mine," replied Philip; "but we are in the hands of
a merciful Providence."
"Hard a-port! flatten in forward! brail up the trysail, my men!
Be smart!" cried Kloots, as from the wind's chopping round to the
northward and westward, the ship was taken aback, and careened low
before it. The rain now came down in torrents, and it was so dark that
it was with difficulty they could perceive each other on the deck.
"We must clew up the topsails, while the men can get upon the yards.
See to it forward, Mr Hillebrant."
The lightning now darted athwart the firmament, and the thunder
"Quick! quick, my men, let's furl all!"
The sailors shook the water from their streaming clothes, some worked,
others took advantage of the night to hide themselves away, and
commune with their own fears.
All canvas was now taken off the ship, except the fore-staysail, and
she flew to the southward with the wind on her quarter. The sea had
now risen, and roared as it curled in foam, the rain fell in torrents,
the night was dark as Erebus, and the wet and frightened sailors
sheltered themselves under the bulwarks. Although many had deserted
from their duty, there was not one who ventured below that night. They
did not collect together as usual--every man preferred solitude and
his own thoughts. The Phantom Ship dwelt on their imaginations, and
oppressed their brains.
It was an interminably long and terrible night--they thought the day
would never come. At last the darkness gradually changed to a settled
sullen grey gloom--which was day. They looked at each other, but found
no comfort in meeting each other's eyes. There was no one countenance
in which a beam of hope could be found lurking. They were all
doomed--they remained crouched where they had sheltered themselves
during the night, and said nothing.
The sea had now risen mountains high, and more than once had struck
the ship abaft. Kloots was at the binnacle, Hillebrant and Philip at
the helm, when a wave curled high over the quarter, and poured itself
in resistless force upon the deck. The captain and his two mates were
swept away, and dashed almost senseless against the bulwarks--the
binnacle and compass were broken into fragments--no one ran to the
helm--the vessel broached to--the seas broke clear over her, and the
mainmast went by the board.
All was confusion. Captain Kloots was stunned, and it was with
difficulty that Philip could persuade two of the men to assist him
down below. Hillebrant had been more unfortunate--his right arm was
broken, and he was otherwise severely bruised; Philip assisted him to
his berth, and then went on deck again to try and restore order.
Philip Vanderdecken was not yet much of a seaman, but, at all events,
he exercised that moral influence over the men which is ever possessed
by resolution and courage. Obey willingly they did not, but they did
obey, and in half an hour the vessel was clear of the wreck. Eased by
the loss of her heavy mast, and steered by two of her best seamen, she
again flew before the gale.
Where was Mynheer Von Stroom during all this work of destruction? In
his bed-place, covered up with the clothes, trembling in every limb,
and vowing that if ever again he put his foot on shore, not all the
companies in the world should induce him to trust to salt-water again.
It certainly was the best plan for the poor man.
But although for a time the men obeyed the orders of Philip, they
were soon seen talking earnestly with the one-eyed pilot, and after a
consultation of a quarter of an hour, they all left the deck, with the
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