Chapter XXI. {XLIV}

“Such news, my lord, as grieves me to unfold.” Henry IV. { sic}

{William Shakespeare, Richard III, II.iv.39}

THE Petrel was a very pretty little schooner, pronounced a crack craft by the knowing ones. She sat so buoyantly on the water when motionless, and glided along so gracefully when under way, that even landsmen and landswomen must have admired her. Let it not be supposed that the word landswomen is here used unadvisedly: although the Navy Department is decidedly ungallant in its general character, and seldom allows ladies to appear on board ship, excepting at a collation or a ball, yet it is well known that in some of the smaller sea-port towns, the female portion of the population are so much interested in nautical matters, and give so much time and attention to the subject, that they are looked upon as very good judges of spars and rigging; and it is even affirmed, that some of these charming young “salts” are quite capable of examining a midshipman on points of seamanship. If fame has not belied them, such are the accomplishments of the belles of Norfolk and Pensacola; while the wives and daughters of the whalers at Nantucket, are said to have also a critical eye for the cut of a jib and the shape of a hull. Hubert de Vaux hoped they had, for he thought it a pity that the Petrel’s beauties should be thrown away.

On the morning they sailed, when Elinor had watched the boat as she lay in the river, they had been waiting for Bruno. Harry wished to carry the dog with him; but after following Hazlehurst to the boat, he had returned home again; he was, however, enticed on board, and they hoisted sail, and slowly moved out of sight.

In spite of some little delay, the Petrel made a very good day’s work. That night and the following the party slept on board, and seemed very well satisfied with their quarters; they intended to run out of sight of land before the end of their cruise, but as yet they had landed every few hours for fresh water, vegetables, milk, &c.; as it did not enter at all into their calculations to be put on a short allowance of anything desirable. On the afternoon of the third day, the Petrel reached the wharf of a country place on Long-Island, where the party landed, according to a previous invitation, and joined some friends for a couple of days’ shooting, which proved a pleasant variety in the excursion; the sport was pronounced good, and the gentlemen made the most of it. Mr. Stryker, however, complained that the pomp and circumstance of sporting was wanted in this country.

“So long as we have the important items of good guns, good marksmen, and real wild-game, we need not find fault,” said Harry.

Many lamentations succeeded, however, upon the rapid disappearance of game from all parts of the country.

“There I have the best of it,” said Mr. Stryker to his host. “In the next twenty years you may expect to find your occupation gone; but I shall at least have fishing in abundance all my days; though at times I am not quite so sure of the brook-trout.”

“I don’t think Jonathan will be able to exterminate all the trout in the land,” said Hazlehurst, although he is a shamefully wasteful fellow; but I really think there is some danger for the oysters; if the population increases, and continues to eat them, in the same proportion they do now, I am afraid Jonathan of the next generation will devour the whole species.”

“Jonathan” = the American (from “Brother Jonathan”)}

From Glen-Cove the Petrel made a reach across the Sound to Sachem’s-Head, where Mr. Stryker enjoyed to perfection the luxuries of clam-soup, lobster-salad, and chowder.

Their next port was Nantucket. They happened to arrive there just before a thunder-shower, and Charlie Hubbard was much struck with the wild, desolate look of the island. He pointed out to Hazlehurst the fine variety of neutral tints to be traced in the waves, in the low sand- banks, and the dark sky forming the back-ground. Nantucket is a barren spot, indeed, all but bare of vegetation; scarcely a shrub will grow there, and even the tough beach-grass is often swept away in large tracts; while the forms of the sand-hills vary with every storm. The town itself, however, is a busy, lively little spot — one of the most nautical in feeling and character to be found on the globe. The chief interests of the inhabitants centre in the ocean; and even the very ornaments of their houses are spoils of the deep, shells and fish-bones from distant latitudes, and sailor’s fancy-work in various materials, all connected in some way with the sea. Charlie made a sketch of the island, and determined to return there and paint a picture of some size. The next day, which was Sunday, they remained at Nantucket; there is a pretty little church in the town, and Charlie, Harry, and Mr. Smith attended service there; the rest of the gentlemen preferring to idle away the morning in a less praiseworthy manner.

One of young de Vaux’s crew was taken sick here, and he was obliged to secure another man before leaving the island; it was easy to do so, however, as one who was waiting for a passage to New York soon offered, and the matter was settled.

Early on Monday morning they again made sail, for Martha’s Vineyard; from thence the Petrel’s head was to be turned southward, and after coasting the eastern shore of Long-Island, they expected to return to the wharf at Broadlawn, as fast as the winds would carry them. The Vineyard, owing to a more sheltered position, bears a different aspect from the barren sands of Nantucket; parts of the island are well wooded. Choosing a pleasant bay known to their pilot, where a rude wharf had been built, the party landed and prepared to dine, and pass some hours there. They were no sooner on shore than Mr. Stryker made his arrangements for fishing; having secured bait, Dr. Van Horne and himself, with one of the men, took the Petrel’s boat and rowed off from shore, changing their ground occasionally, until they had turned the point which formed the bay on one side, and were no longer in sight. De Vaux and Smith took their guns and went into the wood; Charlie brought out his sketchbook, and was soon engaged in taking some tints, in watercolours, from a heavy bank of clouds which had been slowly rising in the west for several hours. Hazlehurst was lying on the grass near him, with a spy-glass, watching a couple of sloops in the distance: turning his head accidentally towards the spot where they were commencing preparations for dinner, Harry saw one of the men, the new recruit, whom he had not yet remarked, looking at him closely. It struck Hazlehurst that he had met this man before; the sailor saw that he was observed, and after a moment’s hesitation he approached, touching his hat with the common salutation of a seaman, and looking as if he wished to speak, but scarcely knew how to begin.

“Have you anything to say to me, my friend? — It strikes me I have seen your face somewhere lately.”

“If you are Mr. Hazlehurst, I guess, sir, you seed me not long since,” replied the man, a little embarrassed.

It suddenly flashed upon Harry’s mind, that it was during the Stanley trial that he had seen this person; yes, he could not be mistaken, he was one of the witnesses for the plaintiff on that occasion. Hazlehurst gave him a keen look; the fellow faltered a little, but begged Harry to step aside for a moment, as he wished to speak alone with him. They moved to the adjoining bank, within the edge of the wood, and a conversation followed of some consequence to Hazlehurst, certainly. After a few prefatory remarks, this man offered to make important revelations, upon condition that he should be screened from justice — being considered as state’s evidence — and rewarded by Harry for volunteering his services; to which Hazlehurst readily agreed.

We shall tell his story for him, rather as it appeared at a later day, than in the precise words in which it was first given at Martha’s Vineyard. By his disclosures, the villany { sic} of Clapp and his client were placed beyond a doubt; and he himself was good authority, for he was Robert Stebbins, the witness who had sworn to having returned the pocket-book and the accompanying documents to the plaintiff, as their rightful owner; he now confessed that he had perjured himself for a heavy bribe, but stood ready to turn state’s evidence, and reveal all he knew of the plot. Those papers had actually been placed in his care thirteen years since by his own brother, Jonathan Stebbins, who had died of small-pox in an hospital at Marseilles. This brother had been a favourite companion of William Stanley’s from his first voyage; they had shipped together in the Jefferson, and before sailing, Stanley had placed a package of papers and other articles, for safe-keeping, in an old chest of Stebbins’s, which was left with the sailor’s mother in Massachusetts. They were wrecked in the Jefferson on the coast of Africa, as had been already reported; but they were not drowned, they both succeeded in reaching the shore, having lashed themselves to the same spar. It was a desert, sandy coast, and they were almost starved after having reached the land; their only shelter was a small cave in a low ledge of rocks near the beach; they fed upon half-putrid shell-fish thrown upon the sands by the gale, and they drank from the pools of rain-water that had formed on the rock during the storm; for they had saved nothing from the wreck but a sealed bottle, containing their protections as American sailors, some money in an old glove, and a few other papers. William Stanley had been ill before the gale, and he had not strength to bear up against these hardships; he declined rapidly, and aware that he could not live, the young man charged his companion, if he ever returned to America, to seek his family, relate the circumstances of his death, and show the papers in the bottle — an old letter to himself, and within it the notice of his father’s marriage, which he had cut from a paper, obtained from an American vessel spoken on the voyage — and also the package left on shore in the old chest, as these documents would be considered testimonials of his veracity. He farther charged Stebbins to say that he asked his father’s forgiveness, acknowledging that he died repenting of his past misconduct. The third day after the gale the young man expired, and Stebbins buried him in the sand near the cave. The survivor had a hard struggle for life; the rain-water had soon dried away, and he set out at night in search of a spring to relieve his thirst, still keeping in sight of the shore. As the morning sun rose, when all but exhausted, he discovered on the beach several objects from the wreck, which had drifted in that direction, the wind having changed after the gale. He found a keg of spirits and some half-spoiled biscuit, and by these means his life was prolonged. He made a bag of his shirt, bound a few things on his back, and buried others in the sand, to return to if necessary, and then continued to follow the shore northward, in search of some spring or stream. Fortunately, he soon came to a woody tract which promised water, and climbing a tree he watched the wild animals, hoping to discover where they drank; at length, following a flock of antelopes, he came suddenly upon the bank of a stream of some size; and to his unspeakable joy, saw on the opposite bank a party of white men, the first human beings he had beheld since Stanley’s death; they proved to be Swedes belonging to a ship in the offing; and immediately took him into their boat. The vessel was bound to Stockholm, where she carried young Stanley’s shipmate; from there he went to St. Petersburgh, where he met with the brother who related his story to Hazlehurst, and both soon after enlisted in the Russian navy. They were sent to the Black Sea, and kept there and in the Mediterranean for five years, until the elder brother, Jonathan Stebbins, died of small-pox in a hospital at Marseilles, having never returned to America since the wreck of the Jefferson. Before his death, however, he left all his effects and William Stanley’s papers to his brother. This man, Robert Stebbins, seemed to have paid very little attention to the documents; it was by mere chance that he preserved the old letter, and the marriage notice within it, for he confessed that he had torn up the protection, once when he wanted a bit of paper: he had never known William Stanley himself, the inquiries about the young man had ceased before he returned to America, and he had attached no importance whatever to these papers. He had left them where they had first been placed, in the old sea-chest at his mother’s house, near New Bedford, while he led the usual wandering life of a sailor. He told Harry that he had at last quite forgotten this package, until he accidentally fell in with a man calling himself William Stanley, at a low tavern, only some five or six years since, and, to his amazement, heard him declare he had been wrecked in the Jefferson.

{“protection” = a paper testifying to the American citizenship of a seaman, carried to protect him against being forced into the British Navy as an Englishman. Stebbins’ survival reflects descriptions of a shipwreck on the Atlantic coast of North Africa in James Fenimore Cooper’s Homeward Bound (1838)}

“The fellow was half-drunk,” said Stebbins; “but I knew his yarn was a lie all the time, for I had sailed with him in another ship, at the time my brother Jonathan was wrecked in the Jefferson. He shipped then under the name of Benson, but I knew his real name was Edward Hopgood — ”

“Edward Hopgood!” exclaimed Harry, passing his hand over his forehead — ” surely I have heard that name before. Wait a moment,” he added, to Stebbins; while he endeavoured to recollect why that name, singular in itself, had a familiar sound to him. At length his eye brightened, the whole matter became more clear; he recollected when a mere child, a year or two before Mr. Stanley’s death, while staying at Greatwood during a vacation, to have heard of the bad conduct of a young man named Edward Hopgood, a lawyer’s clerk in the adjoining village, who had committed forgery and then run away. The circumstances had occurred while Harry was at Greatwood, and had been so much talked of in a quiet, country neighbourhood, as to make a decided impression on himself, child as he was. Harry also remembered to have heard Mr. Stanley tell Mr. Wyllys that this Hopgood was very distantly related to himself, through the mother, who had made a very bad connexion; adding, that this lad had been at Greatwood, and would have been assisted by himself, had he not behaved very badly, and done so much to injure his own son that he had been forbidden the house. Harry farther remembered, that Clapp had belonged to the same office from which this Hopgood had run away. There was, however, one point which he did not understand; he thought he had since heard that this Hopgood had turned actor, and died long since of yellow-fever, at New Orleans. Still, he felt convinced that there was a good foundation for Stebbins’s story, and he hoped soon to unravel the whole plot, from the clue thus placed in his hands.

“Go on,” said Harry, after this pause. “You say this man, whom you knew to be Hopgood, called himself William Stanley. What became of him?”

“It is the same chap that hoisted your colours, Mr. Hazlehurst; him that the jury gave the verdict to in Philadelphia.”

“Yes; I knew it must be the same individual before you spoke,” said Harry, with a view to keep his informant accurate. “But how did you know that his name was Hopgood? for you say he had shipped under another.”

“I knew it because he had told me so himself. He told me how he had run away from a lawyer’s office in Pennsylvany, gone to New Orleans and turned play-actor a while, then shammed dead, and had his name printed in the papers among them that died of yellow-fever. He told me all that in his first voyage, when we were shipmates, and that was just the time that my brother Jonathan was wrecked in the Jefferson.”

“When you afterwards heard him say he was William Stanley, did you tell him you knew his real name?”

“Yes; I told him I knew he lied; for my brother had buried Stanley with his own hands, and that I had his papers at home. Then he told me, he was only laughing at the green-horns.”

“Did you mention to any one at the time that you knew this man was not William Stanley?”

“No, sir, for I didn’t speak to him until we were alone; and we parted company next morning, for I went to sea.”

“When did you next see Hopgood?”

“Well, I didn’t fall in with him again for a long while, until this last spring. When I came home from a voyage to China in the Mandarin, last May, I went to my mother’s, near New Bedford, and then I found a chap had been to see her in the winter, and persuaded her to give him all the papers in the old chest, that had belonged to William Stanley, making out he was one of the young man’s relations. It was that lawyer Clapp; and Hopgood had put him on the track of them ‘ere papers.”

“What were the documents in your chest?”

“Most of what they had to show came from me: to be sure, Hopgood had got some letters and papers, written to himself of late years under the name of William Stanley; but all they had before the wreck of the Jefferson came from me.”

“Were there any books among the articles in your possession?”

“No, sir; nothing but the pocket-book.”

“Are you quite sure? Was there not one book with William Stanley’s name in it?”

“Not one; that ‘ere book they had in court didn’t come from me; how they got it I don’t know,” replied Stebbins positively; who, it seemed, knew nothing of the volume of the Spectator.

“Where did you next meet Hopgood?”

“Well, I was mad when I found he had got them papers; but the lawyer had left a message with my mother, saying if I came home, she was to tell me I’d hear something to my advantage by applying to him. So I went after him to the place where he lives; and sure enough there was Hopgood, and he and Clapp as thick as can be together. I guess they’d have liked it better if I had never showed myself again: but they got round me, and told me how it was all settled, and if I would only lend a hand, and keep quiet about Hopgood, and speak for them once in a while, they would enter into an agreement to give me enough to make a skipper of me at once. Them ‘ere lawyers they can make black look like white — and so I agreed to it at last.”

Hazlehurst strongly suspected that less persuasion had been necessary than the man wished him to believe.

“Did they tell you all their plan?”

“Pretty much all; they said it was easy to make people believe Hopgood was William Stanley, for he looked so much like the young man, that he had been asked if that wasn’t his name. He said it was that first gave him the notion of passing off for William Stanley — that, and knowing all about the family, and the young man himself. He said Stanley had no near relations who would be likely to remember him; there was only one old gentleman they was afraid of, but they calculated they knew enough to puzzle him too. Hopgood had been practising after Stanley’s handwriting; he was pretty good at that trade when he was a shaver,” said Stebbins, with a look which showed he knew the story of the forgery. “He was bred a lawyer, and them ‘ere lawyers are good at all sorts of tricks. Clapp and him had made out a story from my papers and what they know’d before, and got it all ready in a letter; they agreed that from the time of the wreck, they had better keep pretty straight to Hopgood’s real life; and so they did.”

“They seem to have laid all their plans before you.”

“Well, they couldn’t help it, for they wanted me to tell them all I heard from my brother; but I told ‘em to speak first. They made out that Hopgood had a right to the property; for they said that old Mr. Stanley had no family to leave it to, that you was a stranger, and that Hopgood was a relation.”

“This Hopgood, who first helped to corrupt William Stanley, even if he had actually been a near relation, would have been the last human being to whom Mr. Stanley would have left his property,” said Harry, coolly. “But go on with your story; why did they not show the pocket- book before the trial?”

“They settled it so, because they thought it would look better before the jury.”

“Why did you change your own mind so soon after the trial? You should have come to me before.”

“Hopgood and I had a quarrel only three days ago, when he was drunk; he swore they could have done without me, and I swore I’d be revenged. Then that fellow, Clapp, wouldn’t pay me on the spot according to agreement, as soon as they had gained the cause. I had kept my part, and he hadn’t lifted a finger yet for me; nor he wouldn’t if he could help it, for all he had given me his word. I know him from more than one thing that came out; he is one of your fellows who sham gentlemen, with a fine coat to his back; but I wouldn’t trust him with a sixpence out of sight; no, nor out of arm’s length,” and Stebbins went on, swearing roundly at Clapp and Hopgood, until Harry interrupted him.

“I know them ‘ere lawyers, they think they can cheat Jack any day; but I won’t trust him an hour longer! I know your real gentleman from your tricky sham at a minute’s warning, though their coats be both cut off the same piece of broadcloth. I haven’t served under Uncle Sam’s officers for nothing. Now I’ll trust you, Mr. Hazlehurst, as long as it suits you; I’d no more have talked to Clapp without having his name down in black and white, as I have to you, than I’d be shot.”

“The agreement I have made shall be strictly kept,” replied Harry, coldly. “Had you come to me before the trial, you would have had the same reward, without the crime of perjury.”

“Well, that ‘ere perjury made me feel uncomfortable; and what with having sworn vengeance on Clapp and Hopgood, I made up my mind to go straight back to Philadelphy, and turn state’s evidence. I was waiting for a chance to get to New York when I saw you on the wharf at Nantucket, and I knew you in a minute.”

The conversation was here interrupted by a call from the beach, which attracted Harry’s attention, after having been so much engrossed during the disclosures of Stebbins, as to be quite regardless of what was going on about him. It was de Vaux who had called — he now approached.

“I couldn’t think where that fellow, Stebbins, had got to; if you have nothing for him to do here, Hazlehurst, he is wanted yonder.”

Harry and the sailor accordingly parted. After exchanging a few words to conclude their agreement, they both returned to the beach.

The Petrel seemed to be getting under way again; Smith and de Vaux, who had just returned from the wood with their guns, and Charlie, who had just left his sketching apparels, were standing together looking on when Harry joined them.

“I didn’t know what had become of you,” said Charlie. “What a long yarn that fellow seemed to be telling you!”

“It was well worth hearing,” said Harry, with a significant look at his friend.

“Really? I had some hope it might prove so from the man’s look,” added Charlie, comprehending at once the drift of the conversation, though he had little idea of its complete success in unravelling the plot.

“You shall hear it before long,” added Harry.

“When you please; in the mean time I wish you joy of any good news!”

“But what are you about here, de Vaux? I thought we were to remain on the island till sun-set.”

“So we shall; but it seems that fellow, Black Bob, has forgot the vegetables I ordered him to bring from Nantucket; we have discovered a house with something like a garden on the opposite point, and I am going to send Bob with the boy Sam on a foraging expedition; I dare say they will find potatoes and onions at least. That is the spot; do you see the apple-trees? With the glass I saw a woman moving about, and milk-pans drying in the sun.”

“Why don’t you send the boat?”

“Stryker hasn’t come back yet, and there is wind enough to carry the Petrel over and back again in half an hour.”

“Smith and I are going as commanding officers; and you will have a much better dinner for our exertions, no doubt,” said Charlie.

“Holloa, there, Bob — Sam! — tumble on board; mind you bring all the garden-stuff they can spare. You Bob, see if you can pick up half you contrived to forget, sir, at Nantucket. You deserve to be made to swim across for it,” said de Vaux.

“Never could swim a stroke in my born days, sir,” muttered Black Bob.

“There isn’t much choice of sa’ace at Nantucket, anyway,” added the boy Sam.

{“sa’ace” = sauce, a slang term for vegetables}

“Here we go,” said Charlie, jumping lightly on board, followed by Smith.

“It is possible you may find some melons, Hubbard; don’t forget to ask for them,” said de Vaux.

“Ay, ay, sir,” replied Charlie, nodding as the Petrel moved off. The boy was steering, while Black Bob and the gentlemen tended the sails; and the little schooner glided gracefully on her way, with a light breeze, sufficiently favourable.

Harry went to take a look at Charlie’s sketch, which he found just as the young artist had left it — spirited and true to nature as usual, but only half-finished. De Vaux looked into the chowder pot, where all seemed to be going on well. He then joined Harry, and the young men continued walking together near the shanty, where preparations for dinner were going on under the charge of Stebbins and the acting steward of the cruise.

“It is nearly time Stryker made his appearance with the fish,” said Harry.

“If the sport is good, we shan’t see him this hour yet,” replied de Vaux. “He will only come back in time to put the finishing stroke to the chowder.”

“If he waits too long he will have a shower,” observed Harry, pointing eastward, where dark clouds were beginning to appear above the wood.

“Not under an hour I think,” said de Vaux. “He will take care of himself at any rate — trust to Stryker for that.”

They turned to look at the Petrel. Some ten or fifteen minutes had passed since she left the little wharf, and she was already near her destination; the point on which the farm-house stood being scarcely more than a mile distant, in a direct line, and a single tack having proved sufficient to carry her there.

“The wind seems to be falling,” said Harry, holding up his hand to feel the air. “It is to be hoped they will make a quick bargain, or they may keep your potatoes too late to be boiled for to-day’s dinner.”

De Vaux took up the glass to look after their movements.

“They have made the point, handsomely,” he said; “and there is a woman coming down to the shore, and a boy, too.”

The friends agreed that there seemed every prospect of a successful negotiation; for a woman was seen going towards the garden with a basket, and Sam, the boy, had landed. Before long a basket was carried down from the house; while Sam and the woman were still busy in the garden.

“They had better be off as soon as they can,” said de Vaux, “for the wind is certainly falling.”

“There is a shower coming up over the island, Captain de Vaux,” said Stebbins, touching his hat.

“Coming, sure enough! — look yonder!” — exclaimed Harry, pointing eastward, where heavy clouds were now seen rising rapidly over the wood.

“We shall have a shower, and something of a squall, I guess,” added Stebbins.

There could not indeed be much doubt of the fact, for a heavy shower now seemed advancing, with the sudden rapidity not unusual after very warm weather; the position of the bay, and a wooded bank having concealed its approach until close at hand.

“We shall have a dead calm in ten minutes,” said de Vaux; “I wish the Petrel was off.”

But still there seemed something going on in the garden; the woman and Sam were very busy, and Charlie and Smith had joined them.

“They must see the shower coming up by this time!” exclaimed de Vaux.

“There will be a squall and a sharp one, too,” added Stebbins.

The wind, which had prevailed steadily all the morning in a light, sultry breeze from the south, was now dying away; the sullen roll of distant thunder was heard, while here and there a sudden flash burst from a nearer cloud.

“Thank Heaven, they are off at last!” cried de Vaux, who was watching the schooner with some anxiety.

Harry and the two men were busy gathering together under cover of the shanty, the different articles scattered about, and among others Charlie’s half-finished sketch.

The sun was now obscured; light, detached clouds, looking heated and angry, were hurrying in advance with a low flight, while the heavens were half-covered by the threatening mass which came gathering in dark and heavy folds about the island. Suddenly the great body of vapour which had been hanging sullenly over the western horizon all the morning, now set in motion by a fresh current of air, began to rise with a slow movement, as if to meet the array advancing so eagerly from the opposite direction; it came onward steadily, with a higher and a wider sweep than the mass which was pouring immediately over the little bay. The landscape had hung out its storm-lights; the dark scowl of the approaching gust fell alike on wood, beach, and waters; the birds were wheeling about anxiously; the gulls and other water-fowl flying lower and lower, nearer and nearer to their favourite element; the land-birds hurrying hither and thither, seeking shelter among their native branches. But not a drop of rain had yet fallen; and the waves still came rolling in upon the sands with the measured, lulling sound of fair weather.

The air from the south revived for a moment, sweeping in light, fitful puffs over the bay. Favoured by this last flickering current of the morning’s breeze, the Petrel had succeeded in making her way half across the bay, though returning less steadily than she had gone on her errand an hour before.

“Give us another puff or two, and she will yet be here before the squall,” said de Vaux.

The little schooner was now indeed within less than half a mile of the wharf; but here at length the wind entirely failed her, and she sat idly on the water. De Vaux was watching her through the glass; there seemed to be some little hesitation and confusion on board; Sam, the boy, had given up the tiller to Black Bob. Suddenly the first blast of the gust from the east came rustling through the wood, making the young trees bend before it; then as it passed over the water there was a minute’s respite.

“How she dodges! — What are they about?” exclaimed Harry.

“What do they mean? — Are they blind? — can’t they see the squall coming?” cried de Vaux in great anxiety, as he watched the hesitation on board the Petrel.

“As my name is Nat Fisher, that nigger is drunk! — I thought so this morning!” exclaimed the steward.

“And Smith and Hubbard know nothing of a boat!” cried de Vaux, in despair.

The words had scarcely passed his lips before the wind came rushing over the wood, in a sudden, furious blast, bringing darker and heavier clouds, accompanied by quick, vivid flashes of lightning, and sharp cracks of thunder; the rain pouring down in torrents. It was with difficulty the young men kept their footing on the end of the wharf, such was the first fury of the gust; but they forgot themselves in fears for their friends.

“Are they mad!” cried de Vaux, as he marked the uncertainty of their movements; while the wind was sweeping furiously over the darkened waters towards them.

A heavy sheet of rain, pouring in a flood from the clouds, completely enveloped the party on the wharf; another second and a shout was indistinctly heard amid the tumult of the winds and waters; a lighter cloud passed over, the bay was partially seen again; but neither the white sails of the Petrel nor her buoyant form could be traced by the eager eyes on the wharf. She had been struck by the gust and capsized.

“She is gone!” exclaimed de Vaux, with a cry of horror.

“Charlie can’t swim!” cried Harry.

“Nor Bob, for certain,” said the steward. “I don’t know about the others.”

Three shots from a fowling-piece were rapidly fired, as a signal to the party in the Petrel that their situation was known to their friends on shore. The steward was instantly ordered to run along the beach to the farthest point, and carry the boat from there to the spot; it was a distance of more than two miles by land, still de Vaux thought it best to be done; while he himself and Stebbins seized another pair of oars, and set off at full speed in the opposite direction, to the nearest point, about a mile from the wharf, beyond which Stryker was fishing with their own boat, intending to carry her instantly to the relief of the party in the schooner.

Harry thought of his friend; Charlie could not swim, he himself was a remarkably good swimmer. It must be some little time before either boat could reach the capsized schooner, and in the interval, two at least of the four individuals in the Petrel, were helpless and in imminent peril. The idea of Charlie’s danger decided his course; in a moment he had cast off his clothes, and with Bruno at his side — a faithful ally at such a moment — he had thrown himself into the water, confident that he could swim the distance himself with ease.

The next half-hour was one of fearful anxiety. The gust still raged with sullen fury; the shower from eastward, collected among the mists of the ocean, and the array from the west, gathered amid the woods and marshes of the land, met with a fierce shock on the shores of the Vineyard. The thunder and lightning were unusually severe, several bolts falling within a short distance about the bay; the rain pouring down in a dense sheet, as the wind drove cloud after cloud over the spot in its stormy flight. And amid this scene of violence four human beings were struggling for life, while their anxious friends were hurrying to their relief, with every nerve alive. Frederick Smith was the first who rose after the Petrel capsized; in another moment he saw the head of the boy emerge from the water at a little distance; the lad could swim, and both had soon gained the portion of the little schooner’s hull which was partially bare, though constantly washed by the waves. Another minute, and Smith saw amid the spray Charlie’s head; he knew that Hubbard could not swim, and moved towards him with a cry of encouragement.

“Here!” replied the young painter; but he had disappeared before Smith could reach him.

A fresh blast of wind, rain, and hail passed over the spot; Smith moved about calling to Hubbard and the negro; but he received no answer from either.

“There’s one of them!” cried the boy eagerly; he swam towards the object he had seen, but it proved to be only a hat.

Both returned to the Petrel’s side, watching as closely as the violence of the wind and rain would permit. Not a trace of the negro was seen; yet Smith thought he must have risen to the surface at some point unobserved by them, for he was a man of a large, corpulent body, more likely to float than many others. A second time Smith was relieved by seeing Charlie rise, but at a greater distance from the Petrel’s hull; a second time he strained every nerve to reach him, but again the young man sunk beneath the waves.

A shout was now heard. “It is the boat!” said Smith, as he answered the call. He was mistaken; it was Hazlehurst who now approached, with Bruno at his side, guided by the voices of Smith and the boy.

“Charlie!” cried Harry, as he made his way through the water. Charlie!” he repeated again.

“Hubbard has sunk twice, and the negro is gone!” cried Smith.

“Come to the hull and take breath,” added Smith.

But just as he spoke, Harry had seen an arm left bare by a passing wave; he made a desperate effort, reached the spot, and seized Charlie’s body, crying joyfully, “It is Hubbard; I have him! — Charlie, do you know me? — Charlie, speak but a word, my good fellow!”

But the young man had lost his consciousness; he returned no answer either by look or word. Harry grasped his collar, holding his face above the water, and at the same time moving towards the Petrel’s hull as rapidly as he could.

“Here Bruno, my noble dog! That’s right, Smith, get a firm hold on the schooner; we must draw him up, he has fainted; but the boats must be here soon.”

Smith was following Hazlehurst’s directions; but ere Bruno had joined his master, Harry, now within a short distance of the schooner, suddenly cried, “Help!” — and in another second both he and Charlie had disappeared beneath the water, in a manner as incomprehensible, as it was unexpected and distressing to Smith.

“He’s sunk!” cried the boy.

“How? — where? Surely he was not exhausted!”

A howl burst from Bruno.

“Perhaps it’s the cramp,” said the lad.

“Both sunk! — Hazlehurst too!” again exclaimed Smith, as much amazed as he was distressed. He and the boy threw themselves from the schooner’s side again, looking anxiously for some trace of Hazlehurst.

“Look sharp, my lad, as you would save a fellow-creature!”

“There’s one of them!” cried the boy, and in another instant he had caught Charlie by the hair. But not a trace of Hazlehurst was seen since he first disappeared, and the waters had closed so suddenly over him. Charlie was carried to the Petrel’s side; and while Smith and the lad were endeavouring to raise him on the schooner, Bruno was swimming hither and thither, howling piteously for his master.

A shout was now heard.

“The boat at last, thank Heaven!” cried Smith, returning the call.

A minute passed; nothing was seen of Harry; Charlie was raised entirely above water; when at length the Petrel’s boat dashed towards them, urged by all the strength of four rowers.

“Hubbard! — Bob!” cried de Vaux, as the first glance showed him that both Smith and the boy were safe.

“Hubbard is here, insensible — Bob gone — Hazlehurst sunk, too!”

“Hazlehurst and Bob, too! — Merciful powers!” exclaimed the party.

A hurried, eager search succeeded, as soon as Charlie, with Smith and Sam, now somewhat exhausted by fatigue and agitation, were taken on board. Hubbard was quite insensible; young Van Horne, the physician, thought his appearance unfavourable, but instantly resorted to every means possible under the circumstances, with the hope of restoring animation. Still nothing was seen of Harry; his entire disappearance was quite incomprehensible.

“It must have been cramp; yet I never knew him have it, and he is one of the best swimmers in the country!” said de Vaux.

“He must have felt it coming, and had presence of mind to loosen his hold of Hubbard at the same moment he cried for help,” observed Smith.

Bruno was still swimming, now here, now there, encircling the Petrel in wider or narrower reaches, howling from time to time with a sound that went to the hearts of all who heard him. Different objects floating about beguiled the party for an instant with hope, but each time a few strokes of the oars undeceived them.

Suddenly Bruno stopped within a short distance of the Petrel, and dove; those in the boat watched him eagerly; he rose with a sharp bark, calling them to the spot; then dove again, rose with a howl, and for a third time disappeared beneath the water. Convinced that he had found either Harry or the negro, de Vaux threw off his coat and plunged into the water, to examine the spot thoroughly. The dog soon rose again with a rope in his mouth, pulling it with all his strength, uttering at the same time a smothered cry. The rope was seized by those in the boat, and de Vaux dove; he touched first one body, then another; but all his strength was unequal to the task of raising either. After a hurried examination, it was found that one body, that of the negro, was entangled in a rope and thus held under water from the first; while Harry’s leg was firmly clenched in the dying grip of Black Bob, who must have seized it as Hazlehurst passed, and drawn him downward in that way.

In as short a time as possible, Hazlehurst and the negro were placed in the boat by the side of Hubbard, who had not yet showed any sign of life; every effort was made to revive them by some of the party, while the others rowed with all their strength towards the shore.

All watched the face of Van Horne, the young physician, with the greatest anxiety, as he leaned first over one, then over another, directing the labours of the rest.

“Surely there must be some hope!” cried de Vaux to him.

“We will leave no effort untried,” replied the other; though he could not look sanguine.

The boat from the most distant point, rowed by the steward and a boy from the farm-house, now joined them; and those who could not be of use in assisting Van Horne, passed into her, taking their oars, and towing the boat of the ill-fated Petrel with her melancholy burden towards the beach. Bruno could not be moved from his old master’s side; it was painful to see him crawling from one body to the other, with as much watchfulness, as much grief, and almost as much intelligence as the surviving friends; now crouching at the cold feet of Hazlehurst, now licking the stiff hand, now raising himself to gaze wistfully at the inanimate features of the young man.

The shower was passing over; the rain soon ceased, the clouds broke away, the sun burst again in full glory upon the bay, the beach, the woods, throwing a brilliant bow over the island. But three of those upon whom it had shone only an hour earlier, were now stretched cold and lifeless on the sands; while the mourning survivors were hanging in heartfelt grief over the bodies of the two friends and the negro sailor.