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Chapter 13
A Roar of Laughter from Bruce.—End of this tremendous Adventure.—Reticence of the whole Party on the Subject.—No one can taunt the other.—Departure from the Haunt of the Buccaneers.—The Antelope expands her white Wings, but in vain.—The Precautions of the venerable Corbet against dead Calms.—All labor at the Sweeps.—The Solace of Toil.—What Vessel are you gliding in?—Taking to the Boat.—Tumbling into Bed.

SUDDENLY a roar of laughter burst from Bruce.

“It’s a dog! It’s a dog!” he cried.—“Tom’s shark’s turned out to be a dog!”

And saying this, he burst into another roar of laughter. The laughter proved contagious. Arthur and Phil both joined in. Their recent horror had been so great, that this sudden and unexpected turn affected them in a comical way, and the reaction was in proportion to their former panic fear. So their laughter was loud, boisterous, and unrestrained.

At the very moment when this cry had burst forth from Bruce, together with the peals of laughter, Tom had shrunk back in horror from the black muzzle that appeared on his right. But as he did so, and at the very moment of this horror in which his eyes were fixed on the monster, this monster became plainly revealed, and he saw it as it was.

He saw, what Bruce and the others now saw—a dog! a dog whose long, sharp muzzle and forehead were above the water, as also part of his back and his tail. He was a hound of some kind. Where he had come from, or where he was going to, or why he had appeared among them, they were, of course, unable to conjecture. Their whole recent terror had thus been the result of pure fancy in Tom’s case, and in the case of the others the result of Tom’s first shriek of alarm. In the case of all of them, however, the whole trouble was owing to the belief, of which they were not yet able to divest themselves, that this cove was some very sequestered spot. So convinced had they been of this, that even the sight of a public road had not altogether disabused them. They had been determined to find here the haunt of the buccaneers, and were unwilling to think that it might be a common resort, or even a regular thoroughfare. And therefore, when Torn had first caught sight of this black muzzle appearing above the surface of the water, he had been incapable of thinking about anything except a shark; and the horror that this thought created within him had been communicated to the others by his cries. Tom was the real cause of the whole mistake, and no one felt this more keenly than Tom himself; yet the others were all too much ashamed of their own recent terrors to twit or taunt him with his unfounded alarm.

The dog now swam alongside of Tom, and a little ahead of him, turning once or twice, and showing his face—not the cruel face of a monster of the deep, but the mild, humane, civilized, and benevolent countenance of a hound of the highest respectability; a face the sight of which made Tom feel renewed shame at his foolish and baseless fears.

The other boys walked up to the beach, and Tom soon joined them. The hound joined them also. He was a very friendly dog, and shook himself so violently that they all received a shower-bath from him. They patted him, and petted him, and stroked him; and these friendly advances of theirs were received in the politest possible manner by the well-bred hound, who finally planted himself on his haunches in the attitude known to dogs as “begging,” which so affected the boys, that they would have given him some biscuit if their coats had not unfortunately been elsewhere. But the dog had evidently his own business to attend to, for after a short delay he took his leave, and trotted up the road. This sudden and unexpected turn which had been given to what had, at one time, seemed like the most terrible of tragedies, rapidly restored their strength and spirits, in spite of the tremendous sensations which they had but recently experienced, and the exertions which they had put forth. They now prepared to return to the place where they had left their clothes; and since the fear of sharks had departed, they took to the water again, and soon reached the knoll. Here they clothed themselves, and prepared to return to the schooner.

On reaching the Antelope, they were all sensible of the most extreme fatigue and prostration. The exertions which they had made in the ascent and descent of Aspotogon, and more especially in their efforts to escape the imaginary shark, were the cause of this in part; but a greater cause existed in the intense excitement and terror to which they had been subject. They were fortunate, however, in having such a place of refuge as the hold of the Antelope, for there they found awaiting them a dinner, prepared by Solomon, in which that famous cook had surpassed himself, and had turned out the rarest specimens of the culinary art. Their exertions had sharpened their appetites, and the long time that had elapsed since breakfast made this dinner seem like a banquet. It acted upon them all like a charm. Their physical natures were refreshed, and their moral natures also.

Strength came to their bodies, and at the same time to their minds.

The affair of the shark was not mentioned. Under other circumstances, Bruce, and Arthur, and Phil might have taunted Tom with his absurd mistake; but as it was, they were all too much ashamed of their own fears, and of their own part in the affair. The consequence was, that all, with one consent, allowed the matter to drop, and made no reference to it whatever.

After dinner they went upon deck, and found all sail set, and the Antelope on her way back to Chester. But there was no wind whatever; it was a dead calm, and consequently the return to Chester was not likely to be accomplished very speedily. There was, from time to time, a faint puff of wind, it is true, which served, perhaps, to prevent the calm from being so dead as it might have been; yet, after all, their motion was so slight, and their progress so slow, that after two hours they had not put much more than a mile between themselves and the shore.

It was about four o’clock when they returned from Deep Cove to the Antelope. By six o’clock they had not made more than this one mile. The boys were now anxious to get back to Chester for various reasons. First, they wanted to have a good night’s rest at the inn. Secondly, they wanted to see the landlord, and ask him all about Deep Cove. Thirdly, they wanted to see Bart and Pat, and tell them about their wonderful discovery of the “Mound,” and their theory about the buried treasure. But the failure of the wind made it seem impossible for them to get back to Chester that night, and there was some talk of anchoring. To this, however, the boys would not listen, and they urged Captain Corbet to keep on and take advantage of any slight puffs of wind that might arise from time to time. Against this request Captain Corbet had no objections to offer, and so it was that the Antelope still moved on.

The Antelope therefore still held her sails expanded to catch any breath of wind that might arise, while the boys lounged along the taffrail, looking impatiently around. At another time they would not have failed to admire the beauty of the scene—the blue sea washing the long line of shore, and surrounding the numerous isles; but on the present occasion, they were too impatient and too tired to be affected by it. Time thus passed, and at length the sun went down in the western sky in a blaze of glory. By that time the boys found themselves approaching an island, which was about three miles from Aspotogon, and which thus indicated to them the distance which they had gone since leaving Deep Cove. Less than three miles in four hours had been their rate of progress.

The sun thus set, and the moon had now come out, throwing a gentler glow upon the scene, and lighting it up with wonderful beauty. The edges of the hills, and the outlines of the islands seemed all tipped with silver. On one side appeared Aspotogon, and Ironbound, and Tancook, rising out of the dark, shadowy water; while on the other side the islands shone in the lustre of the moon, and there, too, a broad pathway of radiant light lay outspread upon the surface of the water, reaching from the schooner to the horizon, where a low coast bounded the scene. Never had Ma-hone Bay appeared clothed in greater loveliness.

Captain Corbet had learned a very useful lesson during this last voyage of the Antelope, and that was to have some means on board by which he would not drift so helplessly. The long drifts which had borne him hither and thither over the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and over the ocean, had left a deep impression; and accordingly he had taken advantage of this visit to Chester to procure a pair of long sweeps, which may be described as oars of the largest size. On the present occasion, the sweeps were brought into requisition, one of them being worked by Turnbull, Bruce, and Phil, while the other was taken in hand by Wade, Arthur, and Tom. The venerable Corbet stood at the helm and steered, while Solomon stood at the bows, gazing pensively into space, and, as Tom declared, attitudinizing for a figure-head.

The sweeps were moved with very long, slow strokes. The two parties who managed them at first made an effort to work them in time, but at length gave this up, and each made their stroke at random, without reference to the others. Whether the Antelope made any progress or not, was not for a long time perceptible; but still the boys all felt as though they were doing something, and the lapse of time certainly seemed to bring them nearer to the island which they had been so long approaching.

The exercise was a pleasant one, and in order to cheer their spirits, they burst forth into songs. One was volunteered by Tom.

What vessel are you gliding in?
Pray tell to me its name;
Our vessel is the Antelope,
And Corbet is my name,
And Corbet is my name,
And Corbet is my name;
Our vessel is the Antelope,
And Corbet is my name.

At this Captain Corbet’s venerable face was all suffused with sudden smiles.

“Why railly.” said he, “railly now, dew tell. Why, ef you ain’t ben an done it agin. Only think, more rimes about me. Why, it doos beat all. How upon airth dew you ever manage to fix em up that way? It doos—beat—my—grandmother!”

Other songs followed, till almost everything was made use of that they had ever heard—the Canadian Boat Song, the Maltese Boat Song, and others of a kindred character, including “Hail to the Chief,” and “March! March! Ettrick, and Teviotdale.” In this way the time was beguiled, and their toil at the long sweeps lightened.

Around them the whole scene glowed in the moonlight. The silver islands set in silver seas, clothed in soft lustre, lay reflected in the smooth water. Overhead the moon hung in a cloudless sky, and lightened up all things with its soft and mellow radiance. They could see also by the change in their position, which they noticed from time to time, that they were actually making some progress with their sweeps, and the discovery, when it was made, encouraged them not a little.

So at it they all went again, more vigorously than ever, and sang new songs, some of which were of a kind never before heard in these waters. One in particular, which was sung to a remarkable fugue tune, was called Ode to Disappointment.

I never had a piece of bread
Particularly wide,
Partic-kik-kik-kik-kik-cu-lar-ly wide,
But fell upon the dusty floor,
All on the buttered side.
All on the but—
All on the but—
All on the but—
All on the but—
All on the but-tut-tut-tut-tut-tut-tered side.

And always thus, from childhood’s hour,
This luck on me has fell.
This luck-kuk-kuk-kuk-kuk on me has fell.

There always comes a soaking shower,
When I’ve no umberell,
When I’ve no umb—
When I’ve no umb—
When I’ve no umb—
When I’ve no umb—
When I’ve no umb-bum-bum-bum-bum-bum-

This spirited ode was the arrangement of Phil, who prided himself hugely upon it. He did not claim it as original, but as having been “arranged” and “adapted” to its present tune.

“Well, boys,” said Bruce at length, “I dare say we are making some progress; but it strikes me that it hardly pays.”

“No,” said Tom. “At this rate it’ll take us till to-morrow morning to make another mile.”

“I don’t object to rowing all night,” said Phil, “but I do object to row without getting the benefit of it.”

“I move,” said Arthur, “that we vote the sweeps a humbug.”

“I second that motion,” said Phil.

“Gentlemen,” said Bruce, “it’s being moved and seconded, that the sweeps are a humbug. Those of that mind will please manifest it by saying Ay.”

“Ay!” rang forth from Arthur, Tom, and Phil.

“Contrary minds, Nay.”

No response.

“It’s a vote,” said Bruce. “And now, gentlemen, we may as well consider what’s to be done next.”

“O, well,” said Phil, as he and the other boys left the sweeps which Turnbull and Wade, however, still kept working. “I suppose there’s nothing left to do but to turn in.”

“It can’t be helped,” said Arthur.

“We’ll have to make the best of it,” said Tom.

“I say, boys,” said Bruce, “why can’t we take the boat and row to Chester?”

“A good idea,” cried Arthur. “Capital. I only wish we’d done it before.”

“Captain,” said Tom, “we’re going to take the boat.”

“Hadn’t you better wait a little,” said the anxious Corbet, who was evidently not pleased with the proposal.

“O there’s no use; we want to get to Chester to-night. You’ll get along before morning. How many miles is it from here?” he asked, turning to Turnbull.

“Four,” said that taciturn individual.

“Four miles. Well, boys, what do you say?”

“I’m agreed,” said Bruce.

“And I,” said Arthur.

“Anything’s better than this,” said Phil; “so I agree to the boat.”

With this agreement they all turned to the boat, and got in. A few brief directions were given by Turnbull, and the boys pulled away. First Bruce and Arthur pulled, then Tom and Phil. Taking turns in this way, they had the satisfaction of seeing themselves making good progress, and at length reached the wharf at Chester.

It was about three o’clock in the morning. They knocked up the people at the inn, and hurried up to their rooms. They were so utterly worn out, and so sleepy, that they did not think of asking about Bart and Pat, but tumbled into bed, and in a few moments were all sound asleep.


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