The Phantom Ship
Captain Frederick Marryat
Part 4 out of 8
if the dream will decide against me, and that you will be commanded
to return to your duty; for I tell you honestly, I think not with the
priests; but I am your wife, Philip, and it is my duty that you should
not be deceived. Having the means, as I suppose, to decide your
conduct, I offer them. Promise me that, if I do this, you will grant
me a favour which I shall ask as my reward."
"It is promised, Amine, without its being known," replied Philip,
rising from the turf; "and now let us go home."
We observed that Philip, previous to his sailing in the _Batavia_, had
invested a large proportion of his funds in Dutch East India stock:
the interest of the money was more than sufficient for the wants of
Amine, and, on his return, he found that the funds left in her charge
had accumulated. After paying to Father Seysen the sums for the
masses, and for the relief of the poor, there was a considerable
residue, and Philip had employed this in the purchase of more shares
in the India stock.
The subject of their conversation was not renewed. Philip was rather
averse to Amine practising those mystical arts, which, if known to the
priests, would have obtained for her, in all probability, the anathema
of the Church. He could not but admire the boldness and power of
Amine's reasonings, but still he was averse to reduce them into
practice. The third day had passed away, and no more had been said
upon the subject.
Philip retired to bed, and was soon fast asleep; but Amine slept not.
So soon as she was convinced that Philip would not be awakened, she
slipped from the bed and dressed herself. She left the room, and in a
quarter of an hour returned, bringing in her hand a small brazier of
lighted charcoal, and two small pieces of parchment, rolled up and
fixed by a knot to the centre of a narrow fillet. They exactly
resembled the philacteries that were once worn by the Jewish nation,
and were similarly applied. One of them she gently bound upon the
forehead of her husband, and the other upon his left arm. She threw
perfumes into the brazier, and as the form of her husband was becoming
indistinct from the smoke which filled the room, she muttered a few
sentences, waved over him a small sprig of some shrub which she held
in her white hand, and then closing the curtains, and removing the
brazier she sat down by the side of the bed.
"If there be harm," thought Amine, "at least the deed is not his--'tis
mine; they cannot say that he has practised arts that are unlawful
and forbidden by his priests. On my head be it!" And there was a
contemptuous curl on Amine's beautiful arched lip, which did not say
much for her devotion to her new creed.
Morning dawned, and Philip still slumbered. "'Tis enough," said Amine,
who had been watching the rising of the sun, as she beheld his upper
limb appear above the horizon. Again she waved her arm over Philip,
holding the sprig in her hand; and cried, "Philip, awake!"
Philip started up, opened his eyes, and shut them again to avoid the
glare of the broad daylight, rested upon his elbow, and appeared to be
collecting his thoughts.
"Where am I?" exclaimed he. "In my own bed? Yes!" He passed his hand
across his forehead, and felt the scroll. "What is this?" continued
he, pulling it off, and examining it. "And Amine, where is she? Good
Heavens, what a dream! Another?" cried he, perceiving the scroll tied
to his arm. "I see it now. Amine, this is your doing." And Philip
threw himself down, and buried his face in the pillow.
Amine, in the meantime, had slipped into bed, and had taken her place
by Philip's side. "Sleep, Philip, dear! sleep!" said she, putting her
arms round him; "we will talk when we wake again."
"Are you there, Amine?" replied Philip, confused. "I thought I was
alone; I have dreamed--" And Philip again was fast asleep before
he could complete his sentence. Amine, too, tired with watching,
slumbered and was happy.
Father Mathias had to wait a long while for his breakfast that
morning; it was not till two hours later than usual that Philip and
Amine made their appearance.
"Welcome, my children," said he; "you are late."
"We are, Father," replied Amine; "for Philip slept, and I watched till
break of day."
"He hath not been ill, I trust," replied the priest.
"No, not ill; but I could not sleep," replied Amine.
"Then didst thou do well to pass the night--as I doubt not thou hast
done, my child--in holy watchings."
Philip shuddered; he knew that the watching, had its cause been known,
would have been, in the priest's opinion, anything but holy. Amine
"I have, indeed, communed with higher powers, as far as my poor
intellect hath been able."
"The blessing of our holy Church upon thee, my child!" said the old
man, putting his hand upon her head; "and on thee too, Philip."
Philip, confused, sat down to the table; Amine was collected as ever.
She spoke little, it is true, and appeared to commune with her own
As soon as the repast was finished, the old priest took up his
breviary, and Amine beckoning to Philip, they went out together. They
walked in silence until they arrived at the green spot where Amine had
first proposed to him that she should use her mystic power. She sat
down, and Philip, fully aware of her purpose, took his seat by her in
"Philip," said Amine, taking his hand, and looking earnestly in his
face, "last night you dreamed."
"I did, indeed, Amine," replied Philip, gravely.
"Tell me your dream; for it will be for me to expound it."
"I fear it needs but little exposition, Amine. All I would know is,
from what intelligence the dream has been received?"
"Tell me your dream," replied Amine, calmly.
"I thought," replied Philip, mournfully, "that I was sailing as
captain of a vessel round the Cape: the sea was calm and the breeze
light; I was abaft; the sun went down, and the stars were more than
usually brilliant; the weather was warm, and I lay down on my cloak,
with my face to the heavens, watching the gems twinkling in the sky
and the occasionally falling meteors. I thought that I fell asleep,
and awoke with a sensation as if sinking down. I looked around me; the
masts, the rigging, the hull of the vessel--_all_ had disappeared, and
I was floating by myself upon a large, beautifully shaped shell on the
wide waste of waters. I was alarmed, and afraid to move, lest I should
overturn my frail bark and perish. At last, I perceived the fore-part
of the shell pressed down, as if a weight were hanging to it; and
soon afterwards a small white hand, which grasped it. I remained
motionless, and would have called out that my little bark would sink,
but I could not. Gradually a figure raised itself from the waters, and
leaned with both arms over the fore-part of the shell, where I first
had seen but the hand. It was a female, in form beautiful to excess;
the skin was white as driven snow; her long loose hair covered her,
and the ends floated in the water; her arms were rounded and like
ivory: she said, in a soft sweet voice--
"'Philip Vanderdecken, what do you fear? Have you not a charmed life?'
"'I know not,' replied I, 'whether my life be charmed or not; but this
I know, that it is in danger.'
"'In danger!' replied she; 'it might have been in danger when you were
trusting to the frail works of men, which the waves love to rend to
fragments--your _good_ ships, as you call them, which but float about
upon sufferance; but where can be the danger when in a mermaid's
shell, which the mountain wave respects, and upon which the cresting
surge dare not throw its spray? Philip Vanderdecken, you have come to
seek your father?'
"'I have,' replied I; 'is it not the will of Heaven?'
"'It is your destiny--and destiny rules all above and below. Shall we
seek him together? This shell is mine; you know not how to navigate
it; shall I assist you?'
"'Will it bear us both?'
"'You will see," replied she, laughing, as she sank down from the
fore-part of the shell, and immediately afterwards appeared at the
side, which was not more than three inches above the water. To my
alarm, she raised herself up, and sat upon the edge, but her weight
appeared to have no effect. As soon as she was seated in this way--for
her feet still remained in the water--the shell moved rapidly along,
and each moment increased its speed, with no other propelling power
than that of her volition.
"'Do you fear now, Philip Vanderdecken?'
"'No!' replied I.
"She passed her hands across her forehead, threw aside the tresses
which had partly concealed her face, and said--
"'Then look at me.'
"I looked, Amine, and I beheld you!"
"Me!" observed Amine, with a smile upon her lips.
"Yes, Amine, it was you. I called you by your name, and threw my arms
round you. I felt that I could remain with you and sail about the
world for ever."
"Proceed, Philip," said Amine, calmly.
"I thought we ran thousands and thousands of miles--we passed by
beautiful islands, set like gems on the ocean bed; at one time
bounding against the rippling current, at others close to the
shore--skimming on the murmuring wave which rippled on the sand,
whilst the cocoa-tree on the beach waved to the cooling breeze."
"'It is not in smooth seas that your father must be sought,' said she,
'we must try elsewhere.'
"By degrees the waves rose, until at last they were raging in their
fury, and the shell was tossed by the tumultuous waters; but still not
a drop entered, and we sailed in security over billows which would
have swallowed up the proudest vessel.
"'Do you fear now, Philip?' said you to me.
"'No,' replied I; 'with you, Amine, I fear nothing.'
"'We are now off the Cape again,' said she; 'and here you may find
your father. Let us look well round us, for if we meet a ship it must
be _his_. None but the Phantom Ship could swim in a gale like this.'
"Away we flew over the mountainous waves--skimming from crest to crest
between them, our little bark sometimes wholly out of the water;
now east, now west, north, south, in every quarter of the compass,
changing our course each minute. We passed over hundreds of miles: at
last we saw a vessel, tossed by the furious gale.
"'There,' cried she, pointing with her finger, 'there is your father's
"Rapidly did we approach--they saw us from on board, and brought
the vessel to the wind. We were alongside--the gangway was clearing
away--for though no boat could have boarded, our shell was safe. I
looked up. I saw my father, Amine! Yes, saw him, and heard him as he
gave his orders. I pulled the relic from my bosom, and held it out
to him. He smiled, as he stood on the gunnel, holding on by the main
shrouds. I was just rising to mount on board, for they had handed to
me the man-ropes, when there was a loud yell, and a man jumped from
the gangway into the shell. You shrieked, slipped from the side, and
disappeared under the wave, and in a moment the shell, guided by the
man who had taken your place, flew away from the vessel with the
rapidity of thought. I felt a deadly chill pervade my frame. I turned
round to look at my new companion--it was the Pilot Schriften!--the
one-eyed wretch who was drowned when we were wrecked in Table Bay!
"'No! no! not yet!' cried he.
"In an agony of despair and rage I hurled him off his seat on the
shell, and he floated on the wild waters.
"'Philip Vanderdecken,' said he, as he swam, 'we shall meet again!'
"I turned away my head in disgust, when a wave filled my bark, and
down it sank. I was struggling under the water, sinking still deeper
and deeper, but without pain, when I awoke.
"Now, Amine," said Philip, after a pause, "what think you of my
"Does it not point out that I am your friend, Philip, and that the
Pilot Schriften is your enemy?"
"I grant it; but he is dead."
"Is that so certain?"
"He hardly could have escaped without my knowledge."
"That is true, but the dream would imply otherwise. Philip, it is
my opinion that the only way in which this dream is to be expounded
is--that you remain on shore for the present. The advice is that of
the priests. In either case you require some further intimation. In
your dream, _I_ was your safe guide--be guided now by me again."
"Be it so, Amine. If your strange art be in opposition to our holy
faith, you expound the dream in conformity with the advice of its
"I do. And now, Philip, let us dismiss the subject from our thoughts.
Should the time come, your Amine will not persuade you from your duty;
but recollect, you have promised to grant _one_ favour when I ask it."
"I have: say, then, Amine, what may be your wish?"
"O! nothing at present. I have no wish on earth but what is gratified.
Have I not you, dear Philip?" replied Amine, fondly throwing herself
on her husband's shoulder.
It was about three months after this conversation that Amine and
Philip were again seated upon the mossy bank which we have mentioned,
and which had become their favourite resort. Father Mathias had
contracted a great intimacy with Father Seysen, and the two priests
were almost as inseparable as were Philip and Amine. Having determined
to wait a summons previous to Philip's again entering upon his strange
and fearful task; and, happy in the possession of each other, the
subject was seldom revived. Philip, who had, on his return, expressed
his wish to the Directors of the Company for immediate employment,
and, if possible, to have the command of a vessel, had, since that
period, taken no further steps, nor had any communication with
"I am fond of this bank, Philip," said Amine; "I appear to have formed
an intimacy with it. It was here, if you recollect, that we debated
the subject of the lawfulness of inducing dreams; and it was here,
dear Philip, that you told me your dream, and that I expounded it."
"You did so, Amine; but if you ask the opinion of Father Seysen, you
will find that he would give rather a strong decision against you--he
would call it heretical and damnable."
"Let him, if he pleases. I have no objection to tell him."
"I pray not, Amine; let the secret remain with ourselves only."
"Think you Father Mathias would blame me?"
"I certainly do."
"Well, I do not; there is a kindness and liberality about the old man
that I admire. I should like to argue the question with him."
As Amine spoke, Philip felt something touch his shoulder, and a sudden
chill ran through his frame. In a moment his ideas reverted to the
probable cause: he turned round his head, and, to his amazement,
beheld the (supposed to be drowned) mate of the _Ter Schilling_, the
one-eyed Schriften, who stood behind him, with a letter in his hand.
The sudden appearance of this malignant wretch induced Philip to
exclaim, "Merciful heaven! is it possible?"
Amine, who had turned her head round at the exclamation of Philip,
covered up her face, and burst into tears. It was not fear that caused
this unusual emotion on her part, but the conviction that her husband
was never to be at rest but in the grave.
"Philip Vanderdecken," said Schriften, "he! he! I've a letter for
you--it is from the Company."
Philip took the letter, but, previous to opening it, he fixed his eyes
upon Schriften. "I thought," said he, "that you were drowned when the
ship was wrecked in False Bay. How did you escape?"
"How did I escape?" replied Schriften. "Allow me to ask how did you
"I was thrown up by the waves," replied Philip; "but--"
"But," interrupted Schriften, "he! he! the waves ought _not_ to have
thrown me up."
"And why not, pray? I did not say that."
"No! but I presume you wish it had been so; but, on the contrary,
I escaped in the same way that you did--I was thrown up by the
waves--he! he! but I can't wait here. I have done my bidding."
"Stop," replied Philip; answer me one question. "Do you sail in the
same vessel with me this time?"
"I'd rather be excused," replied Schriften; "I am not looking for the
Phantom Ship, Mynheer Vanderdecken;" and, with this reply, the little
man turned round and went away at a rapid pace.
"Is not this a summons, Amine?" said Philip, after a pause, still
holding the letter in his hand, with the seal unbroken.
"I will not deny it, dearest Philip. It is most surely so; the hateful
messenger appears to have risen from the grave that he might deliver
it. Forgive me, Philip; but I was taken by surprise. I will not again
annoy you with a woman's weakness."
"My poor Amine," replied Philip, mournfully. "Alas! why did I not
perform my pilgrimage alone? It was selfish of me to link you with
so much wretchedness, and join you with me in bearing the fardel of
never-ending anxiety and suspense."
"And who should bear it with you, my dearest Philip, if it is not the
wife of your bosom? You little know my heart if you think I shrink
from the duty. No, Philip, it is a pleasure, even in its most acute
pangs; for I consider that I am, by partaking with, relieving you of a
portion of your sorrow, and I feel proud that I am the wife of one who
has been selected to be so peculiarly tried. But, dearest, no more of
this. You must read the letter."
Philip did not answer. He broke the seal, and found that the letter
intimated to him that he was appointed as first mate to the _Vrow
Katerina_, a vessel which sailed with the next fleet; and requesting
he would join as quickly as possible, as she would soon be ready to
receive her cargo. The letter which was from the secretary, further
informed him that, after this voyage, he might be certain of having
the command of a vessel as captain, upon conditions which would be
explained when he called upon the Board.
"I thought, Philip, that you had requested the command of a vessel for
this voyage," observed Amine, mournfully.
"I did," replied Philip; "but not having followed up my application,
it appears not to have been attended to. It has been my own fault."
"And now it is too late?"
"Yes, dearest, most assuredly so: but it matters not; I would as
willingly, perhaps rather, sail this voyage as first mate."
"Philip, I may as well speak now. That I am disappointed, I must
confess; I fully expected that you would have had the command of a
vessel, and you may remember that I exacted a promise from you, on
this very bank upon which we now sit, at the time that you told me
your dream. That promise I shall still exact, and I now tell you what
I had intended to ask. It was, my dear Philip, permission to sail
with you. With you, I care for nothing. I can be happy under every
privation or danger; but to be left alone for so long, brooding over
my painful thoughts, devoured by suspense, impatient, restless, and
incapable of applying to any one thing--that, dear Philip, is the
height of misery, and that is what I feel when you are absent.
Recollect, I have your promise, Philip. As captain, you have the means
of receiving your wife on board. I am bitterly disappointed in being
left this time; do, therefore, to a certain degree, console me by
promising that I shall sail with you next voyage, if Heaven permit
"I promise it, Amine, since you are so earnest. I can refuse you
nothing; but I have a foreboding that yours and my happiness will be
wrecked for ever. I am not a visionary, but it does appear to me that,
strangely mixed up as I am, at once with this world and the next, some
little portion of futurity is opened to me. I have given my promise,
Amine, but from it I would fain be released."
"And if ill _do_ come, Philip, it is our destiny. Who can avert fate?"
"Amine, we are free agents, and to a certain extent are permitted to
direct our own destinies."
"Ay, so would Father Seysen fain have made me believe; but what he
said in support of his assertion was to me incomprehensible. And yet
he said that it was a part of the Catholic faith. It may be so--I am
unable to understand many other points. I wish your faith were made
more simple. As yet the good man--for good he really is--has only led
me into doubt."
"Passing through doubt, you will arrive at conviction, Amine."
"Perhaps so," replied Amine; "but it appears to me that I am as yet
but on the outset of my journey. But come, Philip, let us return. You
must to Amsterdam, and I will go with you. After your labours of the
day, at least until you sail, your Amine's smiles must still enliven
you. Is it not so?"
"Yes, dearest, I would have proposed it. I wonder much how Schriften
could come here. I did not see his body it is certain, but his escape
is to me miraculous. Why did he not appear when saved? where could he
have been? What think you, Amine?"
"What I have long thought, Philip. He is a ghoul with an evil eye,
permitted for some cause to walk the earth in human form; and, is,
certainly, in some way, connected with your strange destiny. If it
requires anything to convince me of the truth of all that has passed,
it is his appearance--the wretched Afrit! Oh, that I had my mother's
powers!--but I forget; it displeases you, Philip, that I ever talk of
such things, and I am silent."
Philip replied not; and absorbed in their own meditations they walked
back in silence to the cottage. Although Philip had made up his own
mind, he immediately sent the Portuguese priest to summon Father
Seysen, that he might communicate with them and take their opinion as
to the summons he had received. Having entered into a fresh detail of
the supposed death of Schriften, and his reappearance as a messenger,
he then left the two priests to consult together, and went upstairs to
Amine. It was more than two hours before Philip was called down, and
Father Seysen appeared to be in a state of great perplexity.
"My son," said he, "we are much perplexed. We had hoped that our ideas
upon this strange communication were correct, and that, allowing all
that you have obtained from your mother and have seen yourself to have
been no deception, still that it was the work of the evil one; and, if
so, our prayers and masses would have destroyed this power. We advised
you to wait another summons, and you have received it. The letter
itself is of course nothing, but the reappearance of the bearer of the
letter is the question to be considered. Tell me, Philip, what is your
opinion on this point? It is possible he might have been saved--why
not as well as yourself?"
"I acknowledge the possibility, Father," replied Philip; "he may have
been cast on shore and have wandered in another direction. It is
possible, although anything but probable; but since you ask me
my opinion, I must say candidly that I consider he is no earthly
messenger--nay, I am sure of it. That he is mysteriously connected
with my destiny is certain. But who he is, and what he is, of course I
"Then, my son, we have come to the determination, in this instance,
not to advise. You must act now upon your own responsibility and your
own judgment. In what way soever you may decide we shall not blame
you. Our prayers shall be that Heaven may still have you in its holy
"My decision, holy Father, is to obey the summons."
"Be it so, my son; something may occur which may assist to work
out the mystery,--a mystery which I acknowledge to be beyond my
comprehension, and of too painful a nature for me to dwell upon."
Philip said no more, for he perceived that the priest was not at all
inclined to converse. Father Mathias took this opportunity of thanking
Philip for his hospitality and kindness, and stated his intention of
returning to Lisbon by the first opportunity that might offer.
In a few days Amine and Philip took leave of the priests, and quitted
for Amsterdam--Father Seysen taking charge of the cottage until
Amine's return. On his arrival, Philip called upon the Directors of
the Company, who promised him a ship on his return from the voyage he
was about to enter upon, making a condition that he should become part
owner of the vessel. To this Philip consented, and then went down to
visit the _Vrow Katerina_, the ship to which he had been appointed as
first mate. She was still unrigged, and the fleet was not expected
to sail for two months. Only part of the crew were on board, and the
captain, who lived at Dort, had not yet arrived.
So far as Philip could judge, the _Vrow Katerina_ was a very inferior
vessel; she was larger than many of the others, but old, and badly
constructed; nevertheless, as she had been several voyages to the
Indies, and had returned in safety, it was to be presumed that she
would not have been taken up by the Company if they had not been
satisfied as to her seaworthiness. Having given a few directions to
the men who were on board, Philip returned to the hostelry where he
had secured apartments for himself and Amine.
The next day, as Philip was superintending the fitting of the rigging,
the captain of the _Vrow Katerina_ arrived, and, stepping on board of
her by the plank which communicated with the quay, the first thing
that he did was to run to the mainmast and embrace it with both arms,
although there was no small portion of tallow on it to smear the cloth
of his coat. "Oh; my dear Vrow, my Katerina!" cried he, as if he were
speaking to a female. "How do you do? I'm glad to see you again; you
have been quite well, I hope? You do not like being laid up in this
way. Never mind, my dear creature! you shall soon be handsome again."
The name of this personage who thus made love to his vessel, was
Wilhelm Barentz. He was a young man, apparently not thirty years of
age, of diminutive stature and delicate proportions. His face was
handsome, but womanish. His movements were rapid and restless, and
there was that appearance in his eye which would have warranted the
supposition that he was a little flighty, even if his conduct had not
fully proved the fact.
No sooner were the ecstacies of the captain over than Philip
introduced himself to him, and informed him of his appointment. "Oh!
you are the first mate of the _Vrow Katerina_. Sir, you are a very
fortunate man. Next to being captain of her, first mate is the most
enviable situation in the world."
"Certainly not on account of her beauty," observed Philip; "she may
have many other good qualities."
"Not on account of her beauty! Why, sir, I say (as my father has said
before me, and it was his Vrow before it was mine) that she is the
handsomest vessel in the world. At present you cannot judge; and
besides being the handsomest vessel, she has every good quality under
"I am glad to hear it, sir," replied Philip; "it proves that one
should never judge by appearances. But is she not very old?"
"Old! not more than twenty-eight years--just in her prime. Stop, my
dear sir, till you see her dancing on the waters, and then you will do
nothing all day but discourse with me upon her excellence, and I have
no doubt that we shall have a very happy time together."
"Provided the subject be not exhausted," replied Philip.
"That it never will be, on my part: and, allow me to observe, Mr
Vanderdecken, that any officer who finds fault with the _Vrow
Katerina_ quarrels with me. I am her knight, and I have already fought
three men in her defence,--I trust, I shall not have to fight a
Philip smiled: he thought that she was not worth fighting for; but
he acted upon the suggestion, and, from that time forward, he never
ventured to express an opinion against the beautiful _Vrow Katerina_.
The crew were soon complete, the vessel rigged, her sails bent,
and she was anchored in the stream, surrounded by the other ships
composing the fleet about to be despatched. The cargo was then
received on board, and, as soon as her hold was full, there came, to
Philip's great vexation, an order to receive on board 150 soldiers and
other passengers, many of whom were accompanied by their wives and
families. Philip worked hard, for the captain did nothing but praise
the vessel, and, at last, they had embarked everything, and the fleet
was ready to sail.
It was now time to part with Amine, who had remained at the hostelry,
and to whom Philip had dedicated every spare moment that he could
obtain. The fleet was expected to sail in two days, and it was
decided, that on the morrow they should part. Amine was cool and
collected. She felt convinced that she should see her husband again,
and with that feeling, she embraced him as they separated on the
beach, and he stepped into the boat in which he was to be pulled on
"Yes," thought Amine, as she watched the form of her husband, as the
distance between them increased--"yes, I know that we shall meet
again. It is not this voyage which is to be fatal to you or me; but I
have a dark foreboding that the next, in which I shall join you, will
separate us for ever--in which way, I know not--but it is destined.
The priests talk of free-will. Is it free-will which takes him away
from me? Would he not rather remain on shore with me? Yes. But he is
not permitted, for he must fulfil his destiny. Free-will! Why, if it
were not destiny it were tyranny. I feel, and have felt, as if these
priests are my enemies; but why I know not: they are both good men,
and the creed they teach is good. Good-will and charity, love to all,
forgiveness of injuries, not judging others. All this is good; and yet
my heart whispers to me that--but the boat is alongside, and Philip
is climbing up the vessel. Farewell, farewell, my dearest husband. I
would I were a man! No, no! 'tis better as it is."
Amine watched till she could no longer perceive Philip, and then
walked slowly to the hostelry. The next day, when she arose, she found
that the fleet had sailed at daylight, and the channel, which had been
so crowded with vessels, was now untenanted.
"He is gone," muttered Amine; "now for many months of patient, calm
enduring,--I cannot say of living, for I exist but in his presence."
We must leave Amine to her solitude, and follow the fortunes of
Philip. The fleet had sailed with a flowing sheet, and bore gallantly
down the Zuyder Zee; but they had not been under way an hour before
the _Vrow Katerina_ was left a mile or two astern. Mynheer Barentz
found fault with the setting and trimming of the sails, and with the
man at the helm, who was repeatedly changed; in short, with everything
but his dear _Vrow Katerina_: but all would not do; she still dropped
astern, and proved to be the worst-sailing vessel in the fleet.
"Mynheer Vanderdecken," said he, at last, "the _Vrow_, as my father
used to say, is not so very _fast before_ the wind. Vessels that are
good on a wind seldom are: but this I will say, that, in every other
point of sailing, there is no other vessel in the fleet equal to the
"Besides," observed Philip, who perceived how anxious his captain was
on the subject, "we are heavily laden, and have so many troops on
The fleet cleared the sands and were then close-hauled, when the _Vrow
Katerina_ proved to sail even more slowly than before.
"When we are so _very_ close-hauled," observed Mynheer Barentz, "the
_Vrow_ does not do so well; but a point free, and then you will see
how she will show her stern to the whole fleet. She is a fine vessel,
Mynheer Vanderdecken, is she not?"
"A very fine, roomy vessel," replied Philip, which was all that, in
conscience, he could say.
The fleet sailed on, sometimes on a wind, sometimes free, but let the
point of sailing be what it might, the _Vrow Katerina_ was invariably
astern, and the fleet had to heave-to at sunset to enable her to keep
company; still, the captain continued to declare that the point of
sailing on which they happened to be, was the only point in which the
_Vrow Katerina_ was deficient. Unfortunately, the vessel had other
points quite as bad as her sailing; she was crank, leaky, and did not
answer the helm well: but Mynheer Barentz was not to be convinced. He
adored his ship, and, like all men desperately in love, he could
see no fault in his mistress. But others were not so blind, and the
admiral, finding the voyage so much delayed by the bad sailing of one
vessel, determined to leave her to find her way by herself so soon
as they had passed the Cape. He was, however, spared the cruelty of
deserting her, for a heavy gale came on which dispersed the whole
fleet, and on the second day the good ship _Vrow Katerina_ found
herself alone, labouring heavily in the trough of the sea, leaking so
much as to require hands constantly at the pumps, and drifting before
the gale as fast to leeward almost as she usually sailed. For a
week the gale continued, and each day did her situation become more
alarming. Crowded with troops, encumbered with heavy stores, she
groaned and laboured, while whole seas washed over her, and the men
could hardly stand at the pumps. Philip was active, and exerted
himself to the utmost, encouraging the worn-out men, securing where
aught had given way, and little interfered with by the captain, who
was himself no sailor.
"Well," observed the captain to Philip, as they held on by the
belaying-pins, "you'll acknowledge that she is a fine weatherly vessel
in a gale--is she not? Softly, my beauty, softly," continued he,
speaking to the vessel, as she plunged heavily into the waves, and
every timber groaned. "Softly, my dear, softly! How those poor
devils in the other ships must be knocking about now. Heh! Mynheer
Vanderdecken, we have the start of them this time: they must be a
terrible long way down to leeward. Don't you think so?"
"I really cannot pretend to say," replied Philip, smiling.
"Why, there's not one of them in sight. Yes, by Heavens, there is!
Look on our lee beam. I see one now. Well, she must be a capital
sailor at all events: look there, a point abaft the beam. Mercy on me!
how stiff she must be to carry such a press of canvas!"
Philip had already seen her. It was a large ship on a wind, and on the
same tack as they were. In a gale in which no vessel could carry the
topsails, the _Vrow Katerina_ being under close-reefed foresails and
staysails, the ship seen to leeward was standing under a press of
sail--top-gallant-sail, royals, flying-jib, and every stitch of canvas
which could be set in a light breeze. The waves were running mountains
high, bearing each minute the _Vrow Katerina_ down to the gunwale: and
the ship seen appeared not to be affected by the tumultuous waters,
but sailed steadily and smoothly on an even keel. At once Philip knew
it must be the Phantom Ship, in which his father's doom was being
"Very odd, is it not?" observed Mynheer Barentz.
Philip felt such an oppression on his chest that he could not reply.
As he held on with one hand, he covered up his eyes with the other.
But the seamen had now seen the vessel, and the legend was too well
known. Many of the troops had climbed on deck when the report was
circulated, and all eyes were now fixed upon the supernatural vessel;
when a heavy squall burst over the _Vrow Katerina_, accompanied with
peals of thunder and heavy rain, rendering it so thick that nothing
could be seen. In a quarter of an hour it cleared away, and, when they
looked to leeward, the stranger was no longer in sight.
"Merciful Heaven! she must have been upset, and has gone down in the
squall," said Mynheer Barentz. "I thought as much, carrying such a
press of sail. There never was a ship that could carry more than the
_Vrow Katerina_. It was madness on the part of the captain of that
vessel; but I suppose he wished to keep up with us. Heh, Mynheer
Philip did not reply to these remarks, which fully proved the madness
of his captain. He felt that his ship was doomed, and when he thought
of the numbers on board who might be sacrificed, he shuddered. After a
pause, he said--
"Mynheer Barentz, this gale is likely to continue, and the best ship
that ever was built cannot, in my opinion, stand such weather. I
should advise that we bear up, and run back to Table Bay to refit.
Depend upon it, we shall find the whole fleet there before us."
"Never fear for the good ship, _Vrow Katerina_," replied the captain;
"see what weather she makes of it."
"Cursed bad," observed one of the seamen, for the seamen had gathered
near to Philip to hear what his advice might be. "If I had known that
she was such an old, crazy beast, I never would have trusted myself on
board. Mynheer Vanderdecken is right; we must back to Table Bay ere
worse befall us. That ship to leeward has given us warning--she is not
seen for nothing,--ask Mr Vanderdecken, captain; he knows that well,
for he _is_ a sailor."
This appeal to Philip made him start; it was, however, made without
any knowledge of Philip's interest in the Phantom Ship.
"I must say," replied Philip, "that, whenever I have fallen in with
that vessel, mischief has ever followed."
"Vessel! why, what was there in that vessel to frighten you? She
carried too much sail, and she has gone down."
"She never goes down," replied one of the seamen.
"No! no!" exclaimed many voices; "but we shall, if we do not run
"Pooh! nonsense! Mynheer Vanderdecken, what say you?"
"I have already stated my opinion," replied Philip, who was anxious,
if possible, to see the ship once more in port, "that the best thing
we can do, is to bear up for Table Bay."
"And, captain," continued the old seaman who had just spoken, "we are
all determined that it shall be so, whether you like it or not; so
up with the helm, my hearty, and Mynheer Vanderdecken will trim the
"Why! what is this?" cried Captain Barentz. "A mutiny on board of the
_Vrow Katerina_? Impossible! The _Vrow Katerina_ the best ship, the
fastest in the whole fleet!"
"The dullest old rotten tub," cried one of the seamen.
"What!" cried the captain, "what do I hear? Mynheer Vanderdecken,
confine that lying rascal for mutiny."
"Pooh! nonsense! he's mad," replied the old seaman. "Never mind him;
come, Mynheer Vanderdecken, we will obey you; but the helm must be up
The captain stormed, but Philip, by acknowledging the superiority
of his vessel, at the same time that he blamed the seamen for their
panic, pointed out to him the necessity of compliance, and Mynheer
Barentz at last consented. The helm was put up, the sails trimmed,
and the _Vrow Katerina_ rolled heavily before the gale. Towards the
evening the weather moderated, and the sky cleared up; both sea and
wind subsided fast; the leaking decreased, and Philip was in hopes
that in a day or two they would arrive safely in the Bay.
As they steered their course, so did the wind gradually decrease,
until, at last, it fell calm; nothing remained of the tempest but a
long heavy swell which set to the westward, and before which the _Vrow
Katerina_ was gradually drifting. This was a respite to the worn-out
seamen, and also to the troops and passengers, who had been cooped
below or drenched on the main-deck.
The upper deck was crowded; mothers basked in the warm sun with their
children in their arms; the rigging was filled with the wet clothes,
which were hung up to dry on every part of the shrouds; and the seamen
were busily employed in repairing the injuries of the gale. By their
reckoning, they were not more than fifty miles from Table Bay, and
each moment they expected to see the land to the southward of it. All
was again mirth, and everyone on board, except Philip, considered that
danger was no more to be apprehended.
The second mate, whose name was Krantz, was an active, good seaman,
and a great favourite with Philip, who knew that he could trust to
him, and it was on the afternoon of this day that he and Philip were
walking together on the deck.
"What think you, Vanderdecken, of the strange vessel we saw?"
"I have seen her before, Krantz; and--"
"Whatever vessel I have been in when I have seen her, that vessel has
never returned into port--others tell the same tale."
"Is she, then, the ghost of a vessel?"
"I am told so; and there are various stories afloat concerning her:
but of this, I assure you--that I am fully persuaded than some
accident will happen before we reach port, although everything, at
this moment, appears so calm, and our port is so near at hand."
"You are superstitious," replied Krantz; "and yet I must say that, to
me, the appearance was not like a reality. No vessel could carry such
sail in the gale; but yet, there are madmen afloat who will sometimes
attempt the most absurd things. If it was a vessel, she must have gone
down, for when it cleared up she was not to be seen. I am not very
credulous, and nothing but the occurrence of the consequences
which you anticipate will make me believe that there was anything
supernatural in the affair."
"Well! I shall not be sorry if the event proves me wrong," replied
Philip; "but I have my forebodings--we are not in port yet."
"No! but we are but a trifling distance from it, and there is every
prospect of a continuance of fine weather."
"There is no saying from what quarter the danger may come," replied
Philip; "we have other things to fear than the violence of the gale."
"True," replied Krantz; "but, nevertheless, don't let us croak.
Notwithstanding all you say, I prophesy that in two days, at the
farthest, we are safely anchored in Table Bay."
The conversation here dropped, and Philip was glad to be left alone. A
melancholy had seized him--a depression of spirits even greater than
he had ever felt before. He leant over the gangway and watched the
heaving of the sea.
"Merciful Heaven!" ejaculated he, "be pleased to spare this vessel;
let not the wail of women, the shrieks of the poor children, now
embarked, be heard; the numerous body of men, trusting to her
planks,--let them not be sacrificed for my father's crimes." And
Philip mused. "The ways of Heaven are indeed mysterious," thought
he.--"Why should others suffer because my father has sinned? And yet,
is it not so everywhere? How many thousands fall on the field of
battle in a war occasioned by the ambition of a king, or the influence
of a woman! How many millions have been destroyed for holding a
different creed of faith! _He_ works in His own way, leaving us to
wonder and to doubt."
The sun had set before Philip had quitted the gangway and gone down
below. Commending himself and those embarked with him to the care of
Providence, he at last fell asleep; but, before the bell was struck
eight times to announce midnight, he was awakened by a rude shove of
the shoulder, and perceived Krantz, who had the first watch, standing
"By the Heaven above us! Vanderdecken, you have prophesied right!
Up--quick! _The ship's on fire_!"
"On fire!" exclaimed Vanderdecken, jumping out of his berth--"where?"
"I will up immediately, Krantz. In the meantime, keep the hatches on
and rig the pumps."
In less than a minute Philip was on deck, where he found Captain
Barentz, who had also been informed of the case by the second
mate.--In a few words all was explained by Krantz: there was a strong
smell of fire proceeding from the main-hold; and, on removing one of
the hatches, which he had done without calling for any assistance,
from a knowledge of the panic it would create, he found that the hold
was full of smoke; he had put it on again immediately, and had only
made it known to Philip and the captain.
"Thanks for your presence of mind," replied Philip; "we have now time
to reflect quietly on what is to be done. If the troops and the poor
women and children knew their danger, their alarm would have much
impeded us: but how could she have taken fire in the main-hold?"
"I never heard of the _Vrow Katerina_ taking fire before," observed
the captain; "I think it is impossible. It must be some mistake--she
"I now recollect that we have, in our cargo, several cases of vitriol
in bottles," interrupted Philip. "In the gale, they must have been
disturbed and broken. I kept them above all, in case of accident: this
rolling, gunwale under, for so long a time must have occasioned one of
them to fetch way."
"That's it, depend upon it," observed Krantz.
"I did object to receive them, stating that they ought to go out in
some vessel which was not so encumbered with troops, so that they
might remain on the main-deck; but they replied, that the invoices
were made out and could not be altered. But now to act. My idea is to
keep the hatches on, so as to smother it if possible."
"Yes," replied Krantz; and, at the same time, cut a hole in the deck
just large enough to admit the hose, and pump as much water as we can
down into the hold."
"You are right, Krantz; send for the carpenter, and set him to work. I
will turn the hands up and speak to the men. I smell the fire now very
strong; there is no time to lose.--If we can only keep the troops and
the women quiet we may do something."
The hands were turned up, and soon made their appearance on deck,
wondering why they were summoned. The men had not perceived the state
of the vessel, for, the hatches having been kept on, the little smoke
that issued ascended the hatchway and did not fill the lower deck.
"My lads," said Philip, "I am sorry to say that we have reason to
suspect that there is some danger of fire in the main-hold."
"I smell it!" cried one of the seamen.
"So do I," cried several others, with every show of alarm, and moving
away as if to go below.
"Silence, and remain where you are, my men. Listen to what I say: if
you frighten the troops and passengers we shall do nothing; we must
trust to ourselves; there is no time to be lost.--Mr Krantz and the
carpenter are doing all that can be done at present; and now, my men,
do me the favour to sit down on the deck, every one of you, while I
tell you what we must do."
This order of Philip's was obeyed, and the effect was excellent: it
gave the men time to compose themselves after the first shock; for,
perhaps, of all shocks to the human frame, there is none which creates
a greater panic than the first intimation of fire on board of a
vessel--a situation, indeed, pitiable, when it is considered that you
have to choose between the two elements seeking your destruction.
Philip did not speak for a minute or two. He then pointed out to the
men the danger of their situation, what were the measures which he
and Krantz had decided upon taking, and how necessary it was that all
should be cool and collected. He also reminded them that they had but
little powder in the magazine, which was far from the site of the
fire, and could easily be removed and thrown overboard; and that, if
the fire could not be extinguished, they had a quantity of spars on
deck to form a raft, which, with the boats, would receive all on
board, and that they were but a short distance from land.
Philip's address had the most beneficial effects; the men rose up when
he ordered them; one portion went down to the magazine, and handed up
the powder, which was passed along and thrown overboard; another went
to the pumps; and Krantz, coming up, reported the hole to have been
cut in the planking of the deck above the main-hold: the hoses were
fixed, and a quantity of water soon poured down, but it was impossible
that the danger could be kept secret. The troops were sleeping on
the deck, and the very employment of the seamen pointed out what had
occurred, even if the smoke, which now increased very much, and filled
the lower deck, had not betrayed it. In a few minutes the alarm of
_Fire_! was heard throughout the vessel, and men, women, and children
were seen, some hurrying on their clothes, some running frightened
about the decks, some shrieking, some praying, and the confusion and
terror were hardly to be described.
The judicious conduct of Philip was then made evident: had the sailors
been awakened by the appalling cry, they would have been equally
incapable of acting, as were the troops and passengers. All
subordination would have ceased: some would have seized the boats,
and left the majority to perish: others would have hastened to the
spirit-room, and, by their drunkenness, added to the confusion and
horror of the scene: nothing would have been effected, and almost all
would, in all probability, have perished miserably. But this had been
prevented by the presence of mind shown by Philip and the second mate,
for the captain was a cypher:--not wanting in courage certainly, but
without conduct or a knowledge of his profession. The seamen continued
steady to their duty, pushing the soldiers out of the way as they
performed their allotted tasks: and Philip perceiving this, went
down below, leaving Krantz in charge; and by reasoning with the most
collected, by degrees he brought the majority of the troops to a state
of comparative coolness.
The powder had been thrown overboard, and another hole having been cut
in the deck on the other side, the other pump was rigged, and double
the quantity of water poured into the hold; but it was evident to
Philip that the combustion increased. The smoke and steam now burst
through the interstices of the hatchways and the holes cut in the
deck, with a violence that proved the extent of the fire which raged
below, and Philip thought it advisable to remove all the women and
children to the poop and quarter-deck of the ship, desiring the
husbands of the women to stay with them. It was a melancholy sight,
and the tears stood in Philip's eyes as he looked upon the group of
females--some weeping and straining their children to their bosoms;
some more quiet and more collected than the men: the elder children
mute or crying because their mothers cried, and the younger ones,
unconscious of danger, playing with the first object which attracted
their attention, or smiling at their parents. The officers commanding
the troops were two ensigns newly entered, and very young men,
ignorant of their duty and without any authority--for men in cases
of extreme danger will not obey those who are more ignorant than
themselves--and, at Philip's request, they remained with and
superintended the women and children.
So soon as Philip had given his orders that the women and children
should be properly clothed (which many of them were not), he went
again forward to superintend the labour of the seamen, who already
began to show symptoms of fatigue, from the excess of their exertions;
but many of the soldiers now offered to work at the pumps, and their
services were willingly accepted. Their efforts were in vain. In about
half an hour more the hatches were blown up with a loud noise, and a
column of intense and searching flame darted up perpendicularly from
the hold, high as the lower mast-head. Then was heard the loud shriek
of the women, who pressed their children in agony to their breasts,
as the seamen and soldiers who had been working the pumps, in their
precipitate retreat from the scorching flames, rushed aft, and fell
among the huddled crowd.
"Be steady, my lads--steady, my good fellows," exclaimed Philip;
"there is no danger yet. Recollect, we have our boats and raft, and
although we cannot subdue the fire, and save the vessel, still we
may, if you are cool and collected, not only save ourselves, but
everyone--even the poor infants, who now appeal to you as men to
exert yourselves in their behalf. Come, come, my lads, let us do our
duty--we have the means of escape in our power if we lose no time.
Carpenter, get your axes, and cut away the boom-lashings. Now, my men,
let us get our boats out, and make a raft for these poor women and
children; we are not ten miles from the land. Krantz, see to the boats
with the starboard watch; larboard watch with me, to launch over the
booms. Gunners, take any of the cordage you can, ready for lashing.
Come, my lads, there is no want of light--we can work without
The men obeyed, as Philip, to encourage them, had almost jocularly
remarked (for a joke is often well-timed, when apparently on the
threshold of eternity), there was no want of light. The column of fire
now ascended above the main-top--licking with its forky tongue the
top-mast rigging--and embracing the mainmast in its folds: and the
loud roar with which it ascended proved the violence and rapidity of
the combustion below, and how little time there was to be lost. The
lower and main decks were now so filled with smoke that no one could
remain there: some few poor fellows, sick in their cots, had long been
smothered, for they had been forgotten. The swell had much subsided,
and there was not a breath of wind: the smoke which rose from the
hatchways ascended straight up in the air, which, as the vessel had
lost all steerage way, was fortunate. The boats were soon in the
water, and trusty men placed in them: the spars were launched over,
arranged by the men in the boats, and lashed together. All the
gratings were then collected and firmly fixed upon the spars for the
people to sit upon; and Philip's heart was glad at the prospect which
he now had of saving the numbers which were embarked.
But their difficulties were not surmounted--the fire now had
communicated to the main-deck, and burst out of the port-holes
amidships--and the raft which had been forming alongside was obliged
to be drifted astern, where it was more exposed to the swell. This
retarded their labour, and, in the meantime, the fire was making rapid
progress; the mainmast, which had long been burning, fell over the
side with the lurching of the vessel, and the flames out of the
main-deck ports soon showed their points above the bulwarks,
while volumes of smoke were poured in upon the upper deck,
almost suffocating the numbers which were crowded there; for all
communication with the fore-part of the ship had been, for some time,
cut off by the flames, and everyone had retreated aft. The women and
children were now carried on to the poop; not only to remove them
farther from the suffocating smoke, but that they might be lowered
down to the raft from the stern.
It was about four o'clock in the morning when all was ready, and by
the exertions of Philip and the seamen, notwithstanding the swell,
the women and children were safely placed on the raft, where it was
considered that they would be less in the way, as the men could
relieve each other in pulling when they were tired.
After the women and children had been lowered down, the troops were
next ordered to descend by the ladders; some few were lost in the
attempt, falling under the boat's bottom and not reappearing; but
two-thirds of the men were safely put in the berths they were ordered
to take by Krantz, who had gone down to superintend this important
arrangement. Such had been the vigilance of Philip, who had requested
Captain Barentz to stand over the spirit-room hatch, with pistols,
until the smoke on the main-deck rendered the precaution unnecessary,
that not a single person was intoxicated, and to this might be
ascribed the order and regularity which had prevailed during this
trying scene. But before one-third of the soldiers had descended by
the stern ladder, the fire burst out of the stern windows with a
violence that nothing could withstand; spouts of vivid flame extended
several feet from the vessel, roaring with the force of a blow-pipe;
at the same time, the flames burst through all the after-ports of the
main-deck, and those remaining on board found themselves encircled
with fire, and suffocated with smoke and heat. The stern ladders were
consumed in a minute and dropped into the sea; the boats which had
been receiving the men were obliged, also, to back astern from the
intense heat of the flames; even those on the raft shrieked as they
found themselves scorched by the ignited fragments which fell on them
as they were enveloped in an opaque cloud of smoke, which hid from
them those who still remained on the deck of the vessel. Philip
attempted to speak to those on board, but he was not heard. A scene
of confusion took place which ended in great loss of life. The only
object appeared to be who should first escape; though, except by
jumping overboard, there was no escape. Had they waited, and (as
Philip would have pointed out to them) have one by one thrown
themselves into the sea, the men in the boats were fully prepared
to pick them up; or had they climbed out to the end of the lateen
mizen-yard which was lowered down, they might have descended safely by
a rope, but the scorching of the flames which surrounded them and the
suffocation from the smoke was overpowering, and most of the soldiers
sprang over the taffrail at once, or as nearly so as possible. The
consequence was that there were thirty or forty in the water at the
same time, and the scene was as heart-rending as it was appalling; the
sailors in the boats dragging them in as fast as they could--the women
on the raft, throwing to them loose garments to haul them in; at one
time a wife shrieking as she saw her husband struggling and sinking
into eternity;--at another, curses and execrations from the swimmer
who was grappled with by the drowning man, and dragged with him under
the surface. Of eighty men who were left of the troops on board at the
time of the bursting out of the flames from the stern windows, but
twenty-five were saved. There were but few seamen left on board with
Philip, the major part having been employed in making the raft or
manning the three boats; those who were on board remained by his side,
regulating their motions by his. After allowing full time for the
soldiers to be picked up, Philip ordered the men to climb out to the
end of the lateen yard which hung on the taffrail, and either to lower
themselves down on the raft if it was under, or to give notice to the
boats to receive them. The raft had been dropped farther astern by the
seamen, that those on board of it might not suffer from the smoke and
heat; and the sailors, one after another, lowered themselves down
and were received by the boats. Philip desired Captain Barentz to go
before him, but the captain refused. He was too much choked with smoke
to say why, but no doubt but that it would have been something in
praise of the _Vrow Katerina_. Philip then climbed out; he was
followed by the captain, and they were both received into one of the
The rope which had hitherto held the raft to the ship, was now cast
off, and it was taken in by the boats; and in a short time the _Vrow
Katerina_ was borne to leeward of them; and Philip and Krantz now made
arrangements for the better disposal of the people. The sailors were
almost all put into boats, that they might relieve one another in
pulling; the remainder were placed on the raft, along with the
soldiers, the women, and the children. Notwithstanding that the boats
were all as much loaded as they could well bear, the numbers on the
raft were so great that it sunk nearly a foot under water when the
swell of the sea poured upon it; but stanchions and ropes to support
those on board had been fixed, and the men remained at the sides,
while the women and children were crowded together in the middle.
As soon as these arrangements were made, the boats took the raft in
tow, and just as the dawn of day appeared, pulled in the direction of
The _Vrow Katerina_ was, by this time, one volume of flame; she had
drifted about half a mile to leeward, and Captain Barentz, who was
watching her as he sat in the boat with Philip, exclaimed--"Well,
there goes a lovely ship, a ship that could do everything but
speak--I'm sure that not a ship in the fleet would have made such a
bonfire as she has--does she not burn beautifully--nobly? My poor
_Vrow Katerina_! perfect to the last, we never shall see such a ship
as you again! Well, I'm glad my father did not live to see this sight,
for it would have broken his heart, poor man."
Philip made no reply, he felt a respect even for Captain Barentz's
misplaced regard for the vessel. They made but little way, for the
swell was rather against them, and the raft was deep in the water. The
day dawned, and the appearance of the weather was not favourable; it
promised the return of the gale. Already a breeze ruffled the surface
of the water, and the swell appeared to increase rather than go down.
The sky was overcast and the horizon thick. Philip looked out for the
land but could not perceive it, for there was a haze on the horizon,
so that he could not see more than five miles. He felt that to gain
the shore before the coming night was necessary for the preservation
of so many individuals, of whom more than sixty were women and
children, who, without any nourishment, were sitting on a frail raft,
immersed in the water. No land in sight--a gale coming on, and in
all probability, a heavy sea and dark night. The chance was indeed
desperate, and Philip was miserable--most miserable--when he reflected
that so many innocent beings might, before the next morning,
be consigned to a watery tomb,--and why?--yes, there was the
feeling--that although Philip could reason against, he never could
conquer; for his own life he cared nothing--even the idea of his
beloved Amine was nothing in the balance at these moments. The only
point which sustained him, was the knowledge that he had his duty to
perform, and, in the full exercise of his duty, he recovered himself.
"Land ahead!" was now cried out by Krantz, who was in the headmost
boat, and the news was received with a shout of joy from the raft and
the boats. The anticipation and the hope the news gave was like manna
in the wilderness; and the poor women on the raft, drenched sometimes
above the waist by the swell of the sea, clasped the children in their
arms still closer, and cried--"My darling, you shall be saved."
Philip stood upon the stern-sheets to survey the land, and he had the
satisfaction of finding that it was not five miles distant, and a ray
of hope warmed his heart. The breeze now had gradually increased, and
rippled the water. The quarter from which the wind came was neither
favourable nor adverse, being on the beam. Had they had sails for the
boats, it would have been otherwise, but they had been stowed away and
could not be procured. The sight of land naturally rejoiced them all,
and the seamen in the boats cheered, and double-banked the oars to
increase their way; but the towing of a large raft sunk under water
was no easy task; and they did not, with all their exertions, advance
more than half a mile an hour.
Until noon they continued their exertions, not without success;
they were not three miles from the land; but, as the sun passed the
meridian, a change took place; the breeze blew strong; the swell of
the sea rose rapidly; and the raft was often so deeply immersed in the
waves as to alarm them for the safety of those upon her. Their way
was proportionally retarded, and by three o'clock they had not gained
half-a-mile from where they had been at noon. The men not having had
refreshment of any kind during the labour and excitement of so many
hours, began to flag in their exertions. The wish for water was
expressed by all--from the child who appealed to its mother, to the
seaman who strained at the oar. Philip did all he could to encourage
the men; but finding themselves so near to the land, and so overcome
with fatigue, and that the raft in tow would not allow them to
approach their haven, they murmured, and talked of the necessity of
casting loose the raft and looking out for themselves. A feeling of
self prevailed, and they were mutinous: but Philip expostulated with
them, and out of respect for him, they continued their exertions for
another hour, when a circumstance occurred which decided the question,
upon which they had recommenced a debate.
The increased swell and the fresh breeze had so beat about and tossed
the raft, that it was with difficulty, for some time, that its
occupants could hold themselves on it. A loud shout, mingled with
screams, attracted the attention of those in the boats, and Philip,
looking back, perceived that the lashings of the raft had yielded to
the force of the waves, and that it had separated amidships. The
scene was agonising; husbands were separated from their wives and
children--each floating away from each other--for the part of the raft
which was still towed by the boats had already left the other far
astern. The women rose up and screamed, and held up their children;
some, more frantic, dashed into the water between them, and attempted
to gain the floating wreck upon which their husbands stood, and sank
before they could be assisted. But the horror increased--one lashing
having given way, all the rest soon followed; and, before the boats
could turn and give assistance the sea was strewed with the spars
which composed the raft, with men, women, and children clinging to
them. Loud were the yells of despair, and the shrieks of the women,
as they embraced their offspring, and in attempting to save them were
lost themselves. The spars of the raft still close together, were
hurled one upon the other by the swell, and many found death by
being jammed between them. Although all the boats hastened to their
assistance, there was so much difficulty and danger in forcing them
between the spars, that but few were saved, and even those few were
more than the boats could well take in. The seamen and a few soldiers
were picked up, but all the females and the children had sank beneath
The effect of this catastrophe may be imagined, but hardly described.
The seamen who had debated as to casting them adrift to perish, wept
as they pulled towards the shore. Philip was overcome, he covered his
face, and remained, for some time, without giving directions, and
heedless of what passed.
It was now five o'clock in the evening; the boats had cast off the
tow-lines, and vied with each other in their exertions. Before the sun
had set they all had arrived at the beach, and were safely landed in
the little sand bay into which they had steered; for the wind was off
the shore, and there was no surf. The boats were hauled up, and the
exhausted men lay down on the sands, till warm with the heat of the
sun, and forgetting that they had neither eaten nor drank for so long
a time, they were soon fast asleep. Captain Barentz, Philip, and
Krantz, as soon as they had seen the boats secured, held a short
consultation, and were then glad to follow the example of the seamen;
harassed and worn out with the fatigue of the last twenty-four hours,
their senses were soon drowned in oblivion.
For many hours they all slept soundly, dreamt of water, and awoke to
the sad reality that they were tormented with thirst, and were on a
sandy beach with the salt waves mocking them; but they reflected how
many of their late companions had been swallowed up, and felt thankful
that they had been spared. It was early dawn when they all rose from
the forms which they had impressed on the yielding sand; and, by the
directions of Philip, they separated in every direction, to look for
the means of quenching their agony of thirst. As they proceeded over
the sand-hills, they found growing in the sand a low spongy-leaf
sort of shrub, something like what in our greenhouses is termed the
ice-plant; the thick leaves of which were covered with large drops
of dew. They sank down on their knees, and proceeded from one to the
other licking off the moisture which was abundant, and soon felt
a temporary relief. They continued their search till noon without
success, and hunger was now added to their thirst; they then
returned to the beach to ascertain if their companions had been more
successful. They had also quenched their thirst with the dew of
heaven, but had found no water or means of subsistence; but some of
them had eaten the leaves of the plant which had contained the dew in
the morning, and had found them, although acid, full of watery sap and
grateful to the palate. The plant in question is the one provided by
bounteous Providence for the support of the camel and other beasts
in the arid desert, only to be found there, and devoured by all
ruminating animals with avidity. By the advice of Philip they
collected a quantity of this plant and put it into the boats, and then
They were not more than fifty miles from Table Bay, and although they
had no sails, the wind was in their favour. Philip pointed out to them
how useless it was to remain, when before morning they would, in all
probability, arrive at where they would obtain all they required. The
advice was approved of and acted upon; the boats were shoved off and
the oars resumed. So tired and exhausted were the men, that their oars
dipped mechanically into the water, for there was no strength left to
be applied; it was not until the next morning at daylight, that they
had arrived opposite False Bay, and they had still many miles to pull.
The wind in their favour had done almost all--the men could do little
Encouraged, however, by the sight of land which they knew, they
rallied; and at about noon they pulled exhausted to the beach at the
bottom of Table Bay, near to which were the houses, and the fort
protecting the settlers who had for some few years resided there. They
landed close to where a broad rivulet at that season (but a torrent
in the winter) poured its stream into the Bay. At the sight of fresh
water, some of the men dropped their oars, threw themselves into the
sea when out of their depth--others when the water was above their
waists--yet they did not arrive so soon as those who waited till the
boat struck the beach, and jumped out upon dry land. And then they
threw themselves into the rivulet, which coursed over the shingle,
about five or six inches in depth, allowing the refreshing stream to
pour into their mouths till they could receive no more, immersing
their hot hands, and rolling in it with delight.
Despots and fanatics have exerted their ingenuity to invent torments
for their victims--how useless!--the rack, the boot, fire,--all that
they have imagined are not to be compared to the torture of extreme
thirst. In the extremity of agony the sufferers cry for water and
it is not refused: they might have spared themselves their refined
ingenuity of torment and the disgusting exhibition of it, had they
only confined the prisoner in his cell, and refused him _water_.
As soon as they had satisfied the most pressing of all wants, they
rose dripping from the stream, and walked up to the houses of the
factory; the inhabitants of which, perceiving that boats had landed,
when there was no vessel in the Bay, naturally concluded that some
disaster had happened, and were walking down to meet them.--Their
tragical history was soon told. The thirty-six men that stood before
them were all that were left of nearly three hundred souls embarked,
and they had been more than two days without food. At this intimation
no further questions were asked by the considerate settlers, until the
hunger of the sufferers had been appeased, when the narrative of their
sufferings was fully detailed by Philip and Krantz.
"I have an idea that I have seen you before," observed one of the
settlers; "did you come on shore when the fleet anchored?"
"I did not," replied Philip; "but I have been here."
"I recollect, now," replied the man; "you were the only survivor of
the _Ter Schilling_, which was lost in False Bay."
"Not the only survivor," replied Philip; "I thought so myself, but I
afterwards met the pilot, a one-eyed man, of the name of Schriften,
who was my shipmate--he must have arrived here after me. You saw him,
"No, I did not; no one belonging to the _Ter Schilling_ ever came here
after you, for I have been a settler here ever since, and it is not
likely that I should forget such a circumstance."
"He must, then, have returned to Holland by some other means."
"I know not how.--Our ships never go near the coast after they leave
the Bay; it is too dangerous."
"Nevertheless, I saw him," replied Philip, musing.
"If you saw him, that is sufficient: perhaps some vessel had been
blown down to the eastern side, and picked him up; but the natives in
that part are not likely to have spared the life of a European. The
Caffres are a cruel people."
The information that Schriften had not been seen at the Cape, was a
subject of meditation to Philip. He had always an idea, as the reader
knows, that there was something supernatural about the man, and this
opinion was corroborated by the report of the settler.
We must pass over the space of two months, during which the wrecked
seamen were treated with kindness by the settlers, and, at the
expiration of which, a small brig arrived at the Bay, and took in
refreshments: she was homeward bound, with a full cargo, and being
chartered by the Company, could not refuse to receive on board the
crew of the _Vrow Katerina_. Philip, Krantz, and the seamen embarked,
but Captain Barentz remained behind to settle at the Cape.
"Should I go home," said he to Philip, who argued with him, "I have
nothing in this world to return for. I have no wife--no children--I
had but one dear object, my _Vrow Katerina_, who was my wife, my
child, my everything--she is gone, and I never shall find another
vessel like her; and if I could, I should not love it as I did her.
No, my affections are buried with her; are entombed in the deep sea.
How beautifully she burnt! she went out of the world like a phoenix,
as she was. No! no! I will be faithful to her--I will send for what
little money I have, and live as near to her tomb as I can--I never
shall forget her as long as I live. I shall mourn over her, and 'Vrow
Katerina,' when I die, will be found engraven on my heart."
Philip could not help wishing that his affections had been fixed upon
a more deserving object, as then, probably, the tragical loss had
not taken place; but he changed the subject, feeling that, being no
sailor, Captain Barentz was much better on shore, than in the command
of a vessel. They shook hands and parted--Philip promising to execute
Barentz's commission, which was to turn his money into articles most
useful to a settler, and have them sent out by the first fleet which
should sail from the Zuyder Zee. But this commission it was not
Philip's good fortune to execute. The brig, named the _Wilhelmina_,
sailed, and soon arrived at St Helena. After watering she proceeded on
her voyage. They had made the Western Isles, and Philip was consoling
himself with the anticipation of soon joining his Amine, when to the
northward of the Islands, they met with a furious gale, before which
they were obliged to scud for many days, with the vessel's head to the
south-east; and as the wind abated and they were able to haul to it,
they fell in with a Dutch fleet, of five vessels, commanded by an
Admiral, which had left Amsterdam more than two months, and had been
buffeted about, by contrary gales, for the major part of that period.
Cold, fatigue, and bad provisions had brought on the scurvy, and the
ships were so weakly manned that they could hardly navigate them. When
the captain of the _Wilhelmina_ reported to the Admiral that he had
part of the crew of the _Vrow Katerina_ on board, he was ordered
to send them immediately to assist in navigating his crippled
fleet--remonstrance was useless--Philip had but time to write to
Amine, acquainting her with his misfortunes and disappointment; and,
confiding the letter to his wife, as well as his narrative of the loss
of the _Vrow Katerina_ for the directors, to the charge of the captain
of the _Wilhelmina_, he hastened to pack up his effects, and repaired
on board of the Admiral's ship, with Krantz and the crew. To them were
added six of the men belonging to the _Wilhelmina_, which the Admiral
insisted on retaining; and the brig, having received the Admiral's
despatches, was then permitted to continue her voyage.
Perhaps there is nothing more trying to the seaman's feelings, than
being unexpectedly forced to recommence another series of trials, at
the very time when they anticipate repose from the former; yet, how
often does this happen! Philip was melancholy. "It is my destiny,"
thought he, using the words of Amine, "and why should I not submit?"
Krantz was furious, and the seamen discontented and mutinous--but
it was useless. Might is right on the vast ocean, where there is no
appeal--no trial or injunction to be obtained.
But hard as their case appeared to them, the Admiral was fully
justified in his proceeding. His ships were almost unmanageable with
the few hands who could still perform their duty; and this small
increase of physical power might be the means of saving hundreds who
lay helpless in their hammocks. In his own vessel, the _Lion_, which
was manned with two hundred and fifty men, when she sailed from
Amsterdam, there were not more than seventy capable of doing duty; and
the other ships had suffered in proportion.
The first captain of the _Lion_ was dead, the second captain in his
hammock, and the Admiral had no one to assist him but the mates of the
vessel, some of whom crawled up to their duty more dead than alive.
The ship of the second in command, the _Dort_, was even in a more
deplorable plight. The Commodore was dead; the first captain was still
doing his duty; but he had but one more officer capable of remaining
The Admiral sent for Philip into his cabin, and having heard his
narrative of the loss of the _Vrow Katerina_, he ordered him to go on
board of the Commodore's ship as captain, giving the rank of Commodore
to the captain at present on board of her; Krantz was retained on
board his own vessel, as second captain; for, by Philip's narrative,
the Admiral perceived at once that they were both good officers and
The fleet under Admiral Rymelandt's command was ordered to proceed to
the East Indies by the western route, through the Straits of Magellan
into the Pacific Ocean--it being still imagined, notwithstanding
previous failures, that this route offered facilities which might
shorten the passage of the Spice Islands.
The vessels composing the fleet were the _Lion_ of forty-four guns,
bearing the Admiral's flag; the _Dort_ of thirty-six guns, with the
Commodore's pendant--to which Philip was appointed; the _Zuyder Zee_
of twenty; the _Young Frau_ of twelve, and a ketch of four guns,
called the _Schevelling_.
The crew of the _Vrow Katerina_ were divided between the two larger
vessels; the others, being smaller, were easier worked with fewer
hands. Every arrangement having been made, the boats were hoisted
up, and the ships made sail. For ten days they were baffled by light
winds, and the victims to the scurvy increased considerably on board
of Philip's vessel. Many died and were thrown overboard, and others
were carried down to their hammocks.
The newly-appointed Commodore, whose name was Avenhorn, went on board
of the Admiral, to report the state of the vessel, and to suggest, as
Philip had proposed to him, that they should make the coast of South
America, and endeavour, by bribery or by force, to obtain supplies
either from the Spanish inhabitants or the natives. But to this the
Admiral would not listen. He was an imperious, bold, and obstinate
man, not to be persuaded or convinced, and with little feeling for
the sufferings of others. Tenacious of being advised, he immediately
rejected a proposition which, had it originated with himself, would
probably have been immediately acted upon; and the Commodore returned
on board his vessel, not only disappointed, but irritated by the
language used towards him.
"What are we to do, Captain Vanderdecken? you know too well our
situation--it is impossible we can continue long at sea; if we do, the
vessel will be drifting at the mercy of the waves, while the crew die
a wretched death in their hammocks. At present, we have forty men
left; in ten days more we shall probably have but twenty; for as the
labour becomes more severe, so do they drop down the faster. Is it not
better to risk our lives in combat with the Spaniards, than die here
like rotten sheep?"
"I perfectly agree with you, Commodore," replied Philip; "but still we
must obey orders. The Admiral is an inflexible man."
"And a cruel one. I have a great mind to part company in the night,
and, if he finds fault, I will justify myself to the directors on my
"Do nothing rashly--perhaps, when day by day he finds his own ship's
company more weakened, he will see the necessity of following your
A week had passed away after this conversation, and the fleet had made
little progress. In each ship the ravages of the fatal disease became
more serious, and, as the Commodore had predicted, he had but twenty
men really able to do duty. Nor had the Admiral's ship and the other
vessels suffered less. The Commodore again went on board to reiterate
Admiral Rymelandt was not only a stern, but a vindictive man. He
was aware of the propriety of the suggestion made by his second in
command, but, having refused it, he would not acquiesce; and he felt
revengeful against the Commodore, whose counsel he must now either
adopt, or by refusing it be prevented from taking the steps so
necessary for the preservation of his crew, and the success of his
voyage. Too proud to acknowledge himself in error, again did he
decidedly refuse, and the Commodore went back to his own ship. The
fleet was then within three days of the coast, steering to the
southward for the Straits of Magellan, and that night, after Philip
had retired to his cot, the Commodore went on deck and ordered the
course of the vessel to be altered some points more to the westward.
The night was very dark, and the _Lion_ was the only ship which
carried a poop-lantern, so that the parting company of the _Dort_ was
not perceived by the Admiral and the other ships of the fleet. When
Philip went on deck next morning, he found that their consorts were
not in sight. He looked at the compass, and, perceiving that the
course was altered, inquired at what hour and by whose directions.
Finding that it was by his superior officer, he of course said
nothing. When the Commodore came on deck, he stated to Philip that he
felt himself warranted in not complying with the Admiral's orders, as
it would have been sacrificing the whole ship's company. This was,
In two days they made the land, and, running into the shore, perceived
a large town and Spaniards on the beach. They anchored at the mouth of
the river, and hoisted English colours, when a boat came on board to
ask them who they were and what they required? The Commodore replied
that the vessel was English, for he knew that the hatred of the
Spanish to the Dutch was so great that, if known to belong to that
nation, he would have had no chance of procuring any supplies, except
by force. He stated that he had fallen in with a Spanish vessel, a
complete wreck, from the whole of the crew being afflicted with the
scurvy; that he had taken the men out, who were now in their
hammocks below, as he considered it cruel to leave so many of his
fellow-creatures to perish, and that he had come out of his course to
land them at the first Spanish fort he could reach. He requested that
they would immediately send on board vegetables and fresh provisions
for the sick men, whom it would be death to remove, until after a few
days, when they would be a little restored; and added, that in return
for their assisting the Spaniards, he trusted the Governor would also
send supplies for his own people.
This well made-up story was confirmed by the officer sent on board by
the Spanish Governor. Being requested to go down below and see the
patients, the sight of so many poor fellows in the last stage of that
horrid disease--their teeth fallen out, gums ulcerated, bodies full
of tumours and sores--was quite sufficient, and, hurrying up from the
lower deck, as he would have done from a charnel-house, the officer
hastened on shore and made his report.
In two hours a large boat was sent off with fresh beef and vegetables
sufficient for three days' supply for the ship's company, and these
were immediately distributed among the men. A letter of thanks was
returned by the Commodore, stating that his health was so indifferent
as to prevent his coming on shore in person to thank the Governor, and
forwarding a pretended list of the Spaniards on board, in which he
mentioned some officers and people of distinction, whom he imagined
might be connected with the family of the Governor, whose name and
titles he had received from the messenger sent on board; for the Dutch
knew full well the majority of the noble Spanish families--indeed,
alliances had continually taken place between them, previous to their
assertion of their independence. The Commodore concluded his letter by
expressing a hope that, in a day or two, he should be able to pay his
respects and make arrangements for the landing of the sick, as he was
anxious to proceed on his voyage of discovery.
On the third day, a fresh supply of provisions was sent on board, and,
so soon as they were received, the Commodore, in an English uniform,
went on shore and called upon the Governor, gave a long detail of the
sufferings of the people he had rescued, and agreed that they should
be sent on shore in two days, and they would, by that time, be well
enough to be moved. After many compliments, he went on board, the
Governor having stated his intention to return his visit on the
following day, if the weather were not too rough. Fortunately, the
weather was rough for the next two days, and it was not until the
third that the Governor made his appearance. This was precisely what
the Commodore wished.
There is no disease, perhaps, so dreadful or so rapid in its effects
upon the human frame, and at the same time so instantaneously checked,
as the scurvy, if the remedy can be procured. A few days were
sufficient to restore those, who were not able to turn in their
hammocks, to their former vigour. In the course of the six days nearly
all the crew of the _Dort_ were convalescent and able to go on deck;
but still they were not cured. The Commodore waited for the arrival of
the Governor, received him with all due honours, and then, so soon
as he was in the cabin, told him very politely that he and all
his officers with him were prisoners. That the vessel was a Dutch
man-of-war, and that it was his own people, and not Spaniards, who had
been dying of the scurvy. He consoled him, however, by pointing out
that he had thought it preferable to obtain provisions by this _ruse_,
than to sacrifice lives on both sides by taking them by force, and
that his Excellency's captivity would endure no longer than until he
had received on board a sufficient number of live bullocks and fresh
vegetables to insure the recovery of the ship's company; and, in the
meantime, not the least insult would be offered to him. Whereupon the
Spanish Governor first looked at the Commodore and then at the file of
armed men at the cabin door, and then to his distance from the town;
and then called to mind the possibility of his being taken out to sea.
Weighing all these points in his mind, and the very moderate ransom
demanded (for bullocks were not worth a dollar apiece in that
country), he resolved, as he could not help himself, to comply with
the Commodore's terms. He called for pen and ink, and wrote an order
to send on board immediately all that was demanded. Before sunset the
bullocks and vegetables were brought off, and, so soon as they were
alongside, the Commodore, with many bows and many thanks, escorted the
Governor to the gangway, complimenting him with a salvo of great guns,
as he had done before, on his arrival. The people on shore thought
that his Excellency had paid a long visit, but, as he did not like to
acknowledge that he had been deceived, nothing was said about it at
least, in his hearing, although the facts were soon well known. As
soon as the boats were cleared, the Commodore weighed anchor and made
sail, well satisfied with having preserved his ship's company; and, as
the Falkland Islands, in case of parting company, had been named as
the rendezvous, he steered for them. In a fortnight he arrived, and
found that his Admiral was not yet there. His crew were now all
recovered, and his fresh beef was not yet expended, when he perceived
the Admiral and the three other vessels in the offing.
It appeared that so soon as the _Dort_ had parted company, the Admiral
had immediately acted upon the advice that the Commodore had given
him, and had run for the coast. Not being so fortunate in a _ruse_
as his second in command, he had landed an armed force from the four
vessels, and had succeeded in obtaining several head of cattle, at the
expense of an equal number of men killed and wounded. But at the same
time they had collected a large quantity of vegetables of one sort or
another, which they had carried on board and distributed with great
success to the sick, who were gradually recovering.
Immediately that the Admiral had anchored, he made the signal for
the Commodore to repair on board, and taxed him with disobedience of
orders in having left the fleet. The Commodore did not deny that he
had so done, but excused himself upon the plea of necessity, offering
to lay the whole matter before the Court of Directors so soon as they
returned; but the Admiral was vested with most extensive powers, not
only of the trial, but the _condemnation_ and punishment of any person
guilty of mutiny and insubordination in his fleet. In reply, he told
the Commodore that he was a prisoner, and, to prove it, he confined
him in irons under the half-deck.
A signal was then made for all the captains: they went on board, and
of course Philip was of the number. On their arrival the Admiral held
a summary court-martial, proving to them by his instructions that he
was so warranted to do. The result of the court-martial could be but
one,--condemnation for a breach of discipline, to which Philip was
obliged reluctantly to sign his name. The Admiral then gave Philip the
appointment of second in command, and the Commodore's pendant, much to
the annoyance of the captains commanding the other vessels,--but in
this the Admiral proved his judgment, as there was no one of them so
fit for the task as Philip. Having so done, he dismissed them. Philip
would have spoken to the late Commodore, but the sentry opposed it,
as against his orders; and with a friendly nod, Philip was obliged to
leave him without the desired communication.
The fleet remained three weeks at the Falkland Islands, to recruit the
ships' companies. Although there was no fresh beef, there was plenty
of scurvy-grass and penguins. These birds were in myriads on some
parts of the island, which, from the propinquity of their nests, built
of mud, went by the name of _towns_. There they sat, close together
(the whole area which they covered being bare of grass), hatching
their eggs and rearing their young. The men had but to select as many
eggs and birds as they pleased, and so numerous were they, that, when
they had supplied themselves, there was no apparent diminution of the
numbers. This food, although in a short time not very palatable to the
seamen, had the effect of restoring them to health, and, before the
fleet sailed, there was not a man who was afflicted with the scurvy.
In the meantime the Commodore remained in irons, and many were the
conjectures concerning his ultimate fate. The power of life and death
was known to be in the Admiral's hands, but no one thought that such
power would be exerted upon a delinquent of so high a grade. The other
captains kept aloof from Philip, and he knew little of what was the
general idea. Occasionally when on board of the Admiral's ship, he
ventured to bring up the question, but was immediately silenced; and
feeling that he might injure the late Commodore (for whom he had a
regard), he would risk nothing by importunity; and the fleet sailed
for the Straits of Magellan, without anybody being aware of what might
be the result of the court-martial.
It was about a fortnight after they had left the Falkland Islands,
that they entered the Straits. At first they had a leading wind which
carried them half through, but this did not last, and they then had to
contend not only against the wind, but against the current, and they
daily lost ground. The crews of the ships also began to sicken from
fatigue and cold. Whether the Admiral had before made up his mind, or
whether, irritated by his fruitless endeavours to continue his voyage,
it is impossible to say; but, after three weeks' useless struggle
against the wind and currents, he hove-to and ordered all the captains
on board, when he proposed that the prisoner should receive his
punishment--and that punishment was--_to be deserted_--that is, to be
sent on shore with a day's food, where there was no means of obtaining
support, so as to die miserably of hunger. This was a punishment
frequently resorted to by the Dutch at that period, as will be seen by
reading an account of their voyages: but, at the same time, seldom, if
ever, awarded to one of so high a rank as that of Commodore.
Philip immediately protested against it, and so did Krantz, although
they were both aware, that by so doing they would make the Admiral
their enemy; but the other captains, who viewed both of them with a
jealous eye, and considered them as interlopers and interfering with
their advancement, sided with the Admiral. Notwithstanding this
majority, Philip thought it his duty to expostulate.
"You know well, Admiral," said he, "that I joined in his condemnation
for a breach of discipline: but, at the same time, there was much in
extenuation. He committed a breach of discipline to save his ship's
company, but not an error in judgment, as you yourself proved, by
taking the same measure to save your own men. Do not, therefore, visit
an offence of so doubtful a nature with such cruelty. Let the Company
decide the point when you send him home, which you can do so soon
as you arrive in India. He is sufficiently punished by losing his
command: to do what you propose will be ascribed to feelings of
revenge more than to those of justice. What success can we deserve if
we commit an act of such cruelty; and how can we expect a merciful
Providence to protect us from the winds and waves when we are thus
barbarous towards each other?"
Philip's arguments were of no avail. The Admiral ordered him to return
on board his ship, and had he been able to find an excuse, he would
have deprived him of his command. This he could not well do; but
Philip was aware that the Admiral was now his inveterate enemy. The
Commodore was taken out of irons and brought into the cabin, and his
sentence was made known to him.
"Be it so, Admiral," replied Avenhorn; "for, to attempt to turn you
from your purpose, I know would be unavailing. I am not punished for
disobedience of orders, but for having, by my disobedience, pointed
out to you your duty--a duty which you were forced to perform
afterwards by necessity. Then be it so; let me perish on these black
rocks, as I shall, and my bones be whitened by the chilly blasts which
howl over their desolation. But mark me, cruel and vindictive man! I
shall not be the only one whose bones will bleach there. I prophesy
that many others will share my fate, and even you, Admiral, _may_ be
of the number,--if I mistake not, we shall lie side by side."
The Admiral made no reply, but gave a sign for the prisoner to be
removed. He then had a conference with the captains of the three
smaller vessels; and, as they had been all along retarded by the
heavier sailing of his own ship and the _Dort_ commanded by Philip, he
decided that they should part company, and proceed on as fast as they
could to the Indies--sending on board of the two larger vessels all
the provisions they could spare, as they already began to run short.
Philip had left the cabin with Krantz after the prisoner had been
removed. He then wrote a few lines upon a slip of paper--"Do not leave
the beach when you are put on shore, until the vessels are out of
sight;" and, requesting Krantz to find an opportunity to deliver this
to the Commodore, he returned on board of his own ship.
When the crew of the _Dort_ heard of the punishment about to be
inflicted upon their old Commander, they were much excited. They felt
that he had sacrificed himself to save them, and they murmured much at
the cruelty of the Admiral.
About an hour after Philip's return to his ship, the prisoner was sent
on shore and landed on the desolate and rocky coast, with a supply of
provisions for two days. Not a single article of extra clothing, or
the means of striking a light was permitted him. When the boat's keel
grazed the beach, he was ordered out. The boat shoved off, and the men
were not permitted even to bid him farewell.
The fleet, as Philip expected, remained hove-to, shifting the
provisions, and it was not till after dark that everything was
arranged. This opportunity was not lost. Philip was aware that it
would be considered a breach of discipline, but to that he was
indifferent; neither did he think it likely that it would come to the
ears of the Admiral, as the crew of the _Dort_ were partial both to
the Commodore and to him. He had desired a seaman whom he could trust,
to put into one of the boats a couple of muskets and a quantity of
ammunition, several blankets, and various other articles, besides
provisions for two or three months for one person, and, as soon as it
was dark, the men pulled on shore with the boat, found the Commodore
on the beach waiting for them, and supplied him with all these
necessaries. They then rejoined their ship, without the Admiral's
having the least suspicion of what had been done, and shortly after
the fleet made sail on a wind, with their heads off shore. The next
morning, the three smaller vessels parted company, and by sunset had
gained many miles to windward, after which they were not again seen.
The Admiral had sent for Philip to give him his instructions, which
were very severe, and evidently framed so as to be able to afford him
hereafter some excuse for depriving him of his command. Among others,
his orders were, as the _Dort_ drew much less water than the Admiral's
ship, to sail ahead of him during the night, that, if they approached
too near the land as they beat across the Channel, timely notice might
be given to the Admiral, if in too shallow water. This responsibility
was the occasion of Philip's being always on deck when they approached
the land of either side of the Straits. It was the second night after
the fleet had separated that Philip had been summoned on deck as they
were nearing the land of Terra del Fuego; he was watching the man in
the chains heaving the lead, when the officer of the watch reported
to him that the Admiral's ship was ahead of them instead of astern.
Philip made enquiry as to when he passed, but could not discover; he
went forward, and saw the Admiral's ship with her poop-light, which,
when the Admiral was astern, was not visible. "What can be the
Admiral's reason for this?" thought Philip; "has he run ahead on
purpose to make a charge against me of neglect of duty? it must be so.
Well, let him do as he pleases; he must wait now till we arrive
in India, for I shall not allow him to _desert_ me; and, with the
Company, I have as much, and I rather think, as a large proprietor,
more interest than he has. Well, as he has thought proper to go ahead,
I have nothing to do but follow. 'You may come out of the chains
Philip went forward: they were now, as he imagined, very near to the
land, but the night was dark and they could not distinguish it. For
half an hour they continued their course, much to Philip's surprise,
for he now thought he could make out the loom of the land, dark as it
was. His eyes were constantly fixed upon the ship ahead, expecting
every minute that she would go about; but no, she continued her
course, and Philip followed with his own vessel.
"We are very close to the land, sir," observed Vander Hagen, the
lieutenant, who was the officer of the watch.
"So it appears to me: but the Admiral is closer, and draws much more
water than we do," replied Philip.
"I think I see the rocks on the beam to leeward, sir."
"I believe you are right," replied Philip: "I cannot understand this.
Ready about, and get a gun ready--they must suppose us to be ahead of
them, depend upon it."
Hardly had Philip given the order, when the vessel struck heavily on
the rocks. Philip hastened aft; he found that the rudder had been
unshipped, and the vessel was immovably fixed. His thoughts then
reverted to the Admiral. "Was he on shore?" He ran forward, and the
Admiral was still sailing on, with his poop-light, about two cables'
length ahead of him.
"Fire the gun, there," cried Philip, perplexed beyond measure.
The gun was fired, and immediately followed up by the flash and report
of another gun close astern of them. Philip looked with astonishment
over the quarter and perceived the Admiral's ship close astern to him,
and evidently on shore as well as his own.
"Merciful Heaven!" exclaimed Philip, rushing forward, "what can this
be?" He beheld the other vessel with her light ahead, still sailing on
and leaving them. The day was now dawning, and there was sufficient
light to make out the land. The _Dort_ was on shore not fifty yards
from the beach, and surrounded by the high and barren rocks; yet the
vessel ahead was apparently sailing on over the land. The seamen
crowded on the forecastle watching this strange phenomenon; at last it
vanished from their sight.
"That's the _Flying Dutchman_, by all that's holy!" cried one of the
seamen, jumping off the gun.
Hardly had the man uttered these words when the vessel disappeared.
Philip felt convinced that it was so, and he walked away aft in a very
perturbed state. It must have been his father's fatal ship which had
decoyed them to probable destruction. He hardly knew how to act. The
Admiral's wrath he did not wish, just at that moment, to encounter. He
sent for the officer of the watch, and, having desired him to select
a crew for the boat, out of those men who had been on deck, and could
substantiate his assertions, ordered him to go on board of the Admiral
and state what had happened.
As soon as the boat had shoved off, Philip turned his attention to
the state of his own vessel. The daylight had increased, and Philip
perceived that they were surrounded by rocks, and had run on shore
between two reefs, which extended half a mile from the mainland. He
sounded round his vessel, and discovered that she was fixed from
forward to aft, and that, without lightening her, there was no chance
of getting her off. He then turned to where the Admiral's ship lay
aground, and found that, to all appearance, she was in even a worse
plight, as the rocks to leeward of her were above the water, and she
was much more exposed, should bad weather come on. Never, perhaps, was
there a scene more cheerless and appalling: a dark wintry sky--a sky
loaded with heavy clouds--the wind cold and piercing--the whole
line of the coast one mass of barren rocks, without the slightest
appearance of vegetation; the inland part of the country presented
an equally sombre appearance, and the higher points were capped with
snow, although it was not yet the winter season. Sweeping the coast
with his eye, Philip perceived, not four miles to leeward of them (so
little progress had they made), the spot where they had _deserted_ the
"Surely this has been a judgment on him for his cruelty," thought
Philip, "and the prophecy of poor Avenhorn will come true--more bones
than his will bleach on those rocks." Philip turned round again to
where the Admiral's ship was on shore, and started back, as he beheld
a sight even more dreadful than all that he had viewed--the body of
Vander Hagen, the officer sent on board of the Admiral, hanging at the
main-yard-arm. "My God! is it possible?" exclaimed Philip, stamping
with sorrow and indignation.
His boat was returning on board, and Philip awaited it with
impatience. The men hastened up the side, and breathlessly informed
Philip that the Admiral, as soon as he had heard the Lieutenant's
report, and his acknowledgment that he was officer of the watch, had
ordered him to be hung, and that he had sent them back with a summons
for him to repair on board immediately, and that they had seen another
rope preparing at the other yard-arm.
"But not for you, sir," cried the men; "that shall never be--you shall
not go on board--and we will defend you with our lives."
The whole ship's company joined in this resolution, and expressed
their determination to resist the Admiral. Philip thanked them
kindly--stated his intention of not going on board, and requested
that they would remain quiet, until it was ascertained what steps the
Admiral might take. He then went down to his cabin, to reflect upon
what plan he should pursue. As he looked out of the stern-windows, and
perceived the body of the young man still swinging in the wind, he
almost wished that he was in his place, for then there would be an end
to his wayward fate: but he thought of Amine, and felt that, for her,
he wished to live. That the Phantom Ship should have decoyed him to
destruction was also a source of much painful feeling, and Philip
meditated, with his hands pressed to his temples. "It is my destiny,"
thought he at last, "and the will of Heaven must be done: we could not
have been so deceived if Heaven had not permitted it." And then his
thoughts reverted to his present situation.
That the Admiral had exceeded his powers in taking the life of the
officer was undeniable, as, although his instructions gave him power
of life and death, still it was only to be decided by the sentence of
the court-martial held by the captains commanding the vessels of the
fleet; he therefore felt himself justified in resistance. But Philip
was troubled with the idea that such resistance might lead to much
bloodshed; and he was still debating how to act, when they reported to
him that there was a boat coming from the Admiral's ship. Philip went
upon deck to receive the officer, who stated that it was the Admiral's
order that he should immediately come on board, and that he must
consider himself now under arrest, and deliver up his sword.
"No! no!" exclaimed the ship's company of the _Dort_. He shall not go
on board. We will stand by our Captain to the last."
"Silence, men! silence!" cried Philip. "You must be aware, sir," said
he to the officer, "that in the cruel punishment of that innocent
young man, the Admiral has exceeded his powers: and, much as I
regret to see any symptoms of mutiny and insubordination, it must be
remembered that, if those in command disobey the orders they have
received, by exceeding them, they not only set the example, but give
an excuse for those who otherwise would be bound to obey them, to do
the same. Tell the Admiral that his murder of that innocent man has
determined me no longer to consider myself under his authority, and
that I will hold myself, as well as him, answerable to the Company
whom we serve, for our conduct. I do not intend to go on board and
put myself in his power, that he might gratify his resentment by my
ignominious death. It is a duty that I owe these men under my command
to preserve my life, that I may, if possible, preserve theirs in this
strait; and you may also add, that a little reflection must point out
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