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Chapter 19
The Tale unfolded to Solomon and to Captain Corbet.—How they took it.—A New Departure.—A Bee-line for Home.—An Obstacle.—An old Enemy.—All at Sea literally and figuratively.—Terrible Calamity.—Striking a Rock.—Perilous Position.—Taking to the Pumps.—Preparing for the Worst.

TWO of the party in the Antelope had neither heard of the peril of Bart and Pat, nor known of their escape from it; and to these it was that the information of these things came last of all, yet not with the least profound effect. To Solomon the theory of the man Roach seemed unanswerable, and the very mention of it made his eyes roll about till nothing was visible except two revolving white disks on an ebon ground. His fingers clasped one another nervously, and his jaw fell and remained hanging, as though the owner of it had no further use for it, or had lost all control of it. From Solomon’s former actions on different occasions, he had given indications of a nature that was not untinged with superstition, and a fancy that was ready to kindle and flame up with all those visions of the supernatural which seem so congenial to the negro mind.

“O, de sakes alive!” he exclaimed. “An under neaf de groun—an back agin safe! What! down below dar to dat ar place! Clar, if it don’t make dis yer ole man go nigh stracted to think of. On dat ar island, down in dat ar hole, dar’s a hull slew of ghosts an hobblegobblums ob de wustest sort ob pirates an murderers all lyin in wait, wid de ole boy himself, an a watchin ober de treasure. How ebber youns managed to git out ob de clutches ob dem dar hobblegobblums beats me—does so. Clar, if I ain’t mos ’fraid to think ob it. Darsn’t—no how. Ef I’d ben down dar, I’d gon mad wid fright. But dar couldn’t be any danger ob me ebber goin down—no, sah! You may bet high on dat ar. Not for all de treasure dat Cap’n Kidd ebber buried.”

Captain Corbet heard the harrowing story with a face full of sickening suspense and terrible anxiety. In his gentle and affectionate nature he seemed to suffer all that the boys had suffered. He made no remark whatever, and after it was all told, he remained in silence for some time, looking, in an abstracted way, at vacancy. The others respected his evident emotion, and stood regarding him in solemn silence.

At length he raised his venerable head, and surveyed Bart and Pat with an impressive gaze; after which he looked at each of the other boys.

“Well, well, well!” he said, slowly, and with emphasis; “had I a knowed—had I a thought—had I a s’posed—had I a dreampt of the possee-bility of this, I’d never a ventoored into any harbure till I cud anchor opposite my natyve hum. An I might have expected it—tew. I know how it allus was, an might have expected how it allus was a goin for to be. But this here does clap the climax. And whuffore? What upon airth possessed you to ventoor down under ground on a broken rope, hangin from a rotten beam? Why, it won’t bar a thinkin on. It’s wuss than anythin that’s happened among all that long an eventfuel serious of misfort’ns an clamties that’s ben a befallin of us ever sence we fust assembled together on board this here schewner.

“And now what am I a goin to do? Do? Me? Why, I’ll tell you what I’m a goin to do. I’m a goin to take up a bee-line for hum, an never enter another harbure—no, not so much as look at one, till I get to the wharf at Grand Pr茅. This responsibility is tew, tew kerushin. I ain’t a stick, an I ain’t a stun, an I can’t abear it. A human heart beats in this aged boosum, an it’s ben wrung on-common. I don’t want to get another squinge. No—not me. An so I intend this day to hist anchor, an spread my sail to catch the gale. An them, that wants to go hum by land air at liberty so to do—an peace an joy go with em; but them as wishes to stand by the ship ‘ll be welcome to the aged Corbet, an make his path of life all the brighter for their presence. An, so sayin, I’ll kinclewd.”

The conclusion, thus announced, was one which the boys were not unwilling to accept. There was nothing more here which they particularly cared to see. After the adventure of Bart and Pat, the treasure of the seas and the plunder of the Spanish Main lost that dazzling and alluring charm which hitherto had been found in those sounding words. The fact that it was so inaccessible was of itself sufficient to quell their ardor; but, more than this, they were affected by the information of past attempts to get at the treasure, and especially by the present efforts at forming a joint stock company. This at once vulgarized the whole affair. It put it into the hands of every one. It made it a matter of shares and shafts, engineers and steam-engines. With such things as these the boys felt they had nothing to do, and in them they took no interest whatever. Then, finally, the adventure of Bart and Pat had so exhausted the possibilities of Ma-hone Bay, that they could hope for nothing which could surpass it.

The consequence was, that, not long after the happy return of Bart and Pat, the Antelope once more set sail. The wind was fair, and the ship was ready. The landlord and Roach watched them as they moved away, and waved their hats after them as they passed down the harbor. And so the Antelope went away, leaving behind her, in its resting-place, undisturbed, the treasure of the sea.

All that day the wind continued fair from the north-west, and all the night following. The Antelope made a good run, and it was hoped that now they might reach their destination without any further trouble; but, on the following day, they found that these hopes were premature, and that trials yet awaited them; for, on going to the deck, they saw, all around, and above, and beneath, their old enemy—the enemy that they detested—the fog.

Yes, the fog was upon them—like some stealthy, vigilant, inexorable foe, who, finding them thus setting forth on their last voyage for home, now advanced upon them from all sides, to assail them for the last time. Bruce saw this first, and groaned. Arthur groaned likewise. So did Tom and Phil. And so did Bart and Pat. As for Solomon, he took no notice of it whatever, but devoted himself, as usual, to his pots and pans, while Captain Corbet had far too philosophical a soul, and far too much experience of such a situation, to be disturbed in the slightest degree by so commonplace a matter.

“I don’t like this,” said Bruce, after a long and most unhappy silence, which told more eloquently than words their opinions as to this last mischance. “I didn’t expect it.”

“We might have expected it,” said Arthur, “judging from the past. We’ve had enough of it to make it seem natural. Still, I didn’t expect it, I must say, any more than you did.”

“For my part,” said Phil, “I had forgotten all about it, and thought that the Atlantic Ocean would be like Mahone Bay.”

“I wish we had left the Antelope,” said Tom, “and gone off by land, as Captain Corbet advised, either to Grand Pr茅, or anywhere else.”

“O, sure an it’ll blow over, so it will,” said Pat. “Not it.”,

“Sure an it’s best to be afther lookin on the bright side.”

“There isn’t any bright side to the fog that I could ever see,” said Tom.

“Well,” said Bart, “we’ll have to do as we’ve done before—grin and bear it.”

“But it’s a great deal harder to grin now than it used to be,” said Phil, plaintively; “and I can’t bear it at all.”

“O, well, Captain Corbet’ll work his way along. He understands fog, at any rate.”

“Well, I don’t altogether think so,” said Bruce. “After losing himself so utterly a few days ago, and fetching up at Sable Island, I rather begin to doubt his power to understand fog.”

“O, well, that was in a strange place.”

“Well, this is a strange place.”

“Not quite. We are getting well on towards the Bay of Fundy.”

“Well, we’re not there yet. As yet, we’re in the Atlantic Ocean. Now, Captain Corbet got lost once before in this same place,—the Atlantic Ocean,—and it’s my fixed belief that he’ll do it again.”

“O, we know where the coast of Nova Scotia is now, and we’re all right. I’m determined to look on the bright side.”

“Well, and I’m determined to be prepared for the worst.”

The event showed that this fog did not have a bright side, and that it was wiser, in these circumstances, to be prepared for the worst. That day passed, and the fog still held on. The wind that brought the fog was strong, steady, and sustained, showing neither violence nor irresolution, but blowing in a way that promised to last long after their stock of patience was exhausted. It was a sou’-wester, the wind of fog and storm.

After another day had passed, Captain Corbet’s face assumed an expression, the meaning of which was but too well known to all the boys through sad experience. That meaning was, that he was puzzled, that he was uncertain, hesitating, and not decided where to go. And the boys discussed this among themselves, and perceived that once again their good, their venerable, their modest, but, after all, somewhat incapable commander had again lost his way.

“Ye see,” said he to Bruce, who mentioned this to him in a mild way,—“ye see thar’s ben so much tackin backard an forard that I kine o; got out o’ the knack of it, an thar’s a kink or two in my cal’lations. Ef we hadn’t got to alius beat up agin this sou’-wester, we’d manage to keep a better course; but, as it is, we ain’t got no course in pa’ticular, wuth mentionin. An then thar’s them tides, an currents, an all that; an what with them, an tackin, an the fog, why, it’s got to be precious hard navigatin.”

“But why don’t you keep well in to the Nova Scotia shore?”

“Wal, that thar’s the very identical thing I’m a drivin at, an I dar say, if the fog was to lift, you’d see it quite handy over thar.”

“But where are we now?”

“Wal, as nigh as I can cal’clate, we’ve about got to the end of Nova Scotia; an I’ve a mind to take a long tack to the nothe-west, next turn, an hain’t got no reasonable doubt but what we’ll keep on till we fetch up in old Fundy.”

All this was rather disheartening to the boys. They saw that Captain Corbet did not even profess to have any exact knowledge of his position, and, judging from the past, they did not believe that he had any. Still, the change of course which he announced was something, and it seemed to afford some slight material for hope.

At length the Antelope came round on her next tack, and, taking a north-west course, she kept it for some time. At first the captain was rather watchful; but, after three or four hours, his vigilance began to relax, and at length he ventured to announce to the boys that they must be in the Bay of Fundy.

“An when I’m here, in this Bay o’ Fundy, boys, mind you,” said he, with something of exultation in his tone,—“when I’m here, why, I’m to hum. These waters was the place whar I sported in boyhood’s days. Here I matoored into a man. Here I’ve held commoon with the ragin biller, an rode on the kerest of the toomultus ocean. You can’t disturb me when I’m in old Fundy. It’s my hum. Fog an tide hev ben my companions from childhood, an the Bay of Fundy recognizes in the aged Corbet her—”

But what he was going to say was never said, for the word was taken out of his mouth, and exchanged for the interjection,—


The Antelope had come to a sudden stop. The shock was strong enough to knock Captain Corbet on his knees, and huddle all the boys together in a startled and struggling crowd.

In an instant Corbet was on his feet, and rushed forward to see what was the matter. The boys followed. The helm was left to take care of itself, and the sails snapped and fluttered in the wind. All was confusion.

“Why, I do believe,” said the captain, “I do rail-ly believe she’s struck! Dear me! Wal, I never! This—doo—beat—my—grandmother!”

This allusion to his grandmother, under such circumstances, far from reassuring the boys, only excited their alarm the more, and made them think that their revered commander had lost his senses.

“Boys,” cried Bruce, “the Antelope’s struck, and is sinking. We’ll have to take to the boat. I’ll fill a keg of water. The rest of you gather a supply of biscuit for a week, and one of you bring the compass.”

“O, no; don’t trouble yourselves,” said Captain Corbet. “It’s—it’s—not—the slightest conse-kence. Don’t—don’t—hurry.”

But these and other words were lost on the boys, who, now in the full conviction that the Antelope was sinking, hurried to do as Bruce had told them.

But Tom and Pat held back. Pat rushed to the mainmast, and busied himself with some ropes; and Tom went to the pump, and, after taking a peep into the hold, began pumping.

After a minute or so he called out,—

“I say, boys, there’s no hurry. There’s no water in her.”

These words made the others desist from their preparations. Seeing Tom pumping, it struck them all that this was better than taking to the boat; so they all hurried to his help. As yet, however, there was nothing to be done.

“O, thar’s no danger in p’tic’lar,” said Captain Corbet. “She’s struck a sand-bank, paps, or, paps, a reef, somewhars. An now I wonder whar it can be.”

To this remark, which showed his utter ignorance of the situation, the boys had no reply to make. Bruce, however, tied an iron belaying-pin to a rope, and began sounding for bottom. At the stern he found three fathoms, at the bows only three feet. He took a boat-hook, and, plunging it down into the water at the bows, found that it was smooth sand, and the bows were resting upon it. This gave some comfort, for he hoped that they might yet escape.

But the wind was strong, and the waves made the Antelope roll and work about in her sandy bed after a most unpleasant fashion. If this continued long, the boys knew that the schooner would be lost, for she could not resist such a strain as this. Still, they turned their thoughts now rather to the task of saving her, if possible, than taking to the boat; and so, lowering the sails, so as to lessen the effect of the wind upon her, they set to work, some with the sweeps rowing, and others with the boat-hook pushing, and thus they tried to get her off the sand-bank.

“It’s about the best thing we can do,” said Captain Corbet, in a patronizing tone; “an we’ll do it yet. An I dare say the tide’ll lift us.”

This mention of the tide cheered the boys. If the tide was rising, they could hope; if not, it would be bad for them. A little calculation showed them that it could not be falling, but must be rising, and this discovery made them work with renewed energy.

At length they had the satisfaction of finding that their efforts were successful. The water at the bows deepened; the schooner moved. She was afloat! Quickly the sails were hoisted, and the Antelope, catching the wind, came round, and once more sought the deep water.


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