小说搜索     点击排行榜   最新入库
首页 » 经典英文小说 » Picked Up Adrift » CHAPTER 23
选择底色: 选择字号:【大】【中】【小】
CHAPTER 23
The Denizens of Bailey’s Den—Morning.—A Sail upon the Surface of the Sea.—The Spyglass.—Exciting Discovery to the lost Ones.—The strange Schooner.—Exchange of Signals.—The Excitement increases.—The Schooner draws nearer.—New Signals.—They take to the Boat.—Out to Sea.—Rough Water.—Another Sail.—A strange Suspicion.—Old Friends.—Pleasant Greetings.—Mrs. Corbet.—Obloquy heaped upon the Antelope and its venerable Commander.—Away to the Rescue.

BAILEY’S den was a particularly well sheltered recess in the rock, open to no wind, except a sou’-wester. The wind that blew while Bailey and his guests slumbered inside, came from the north-west, and therefore the sleepers knew nothing of it. Out in the sea, indeed, the waters felt its power, and the foaming waves on the following morning told them the story of the night; but during that night they knew nothing at all about it. Far down the side of the cliff, under the rocky precipice, out of the way of the wind, the occupants of Bailey’s den slumbered on the soft spruce brush and softer moss. All night long the fire burned outside, for Bailey had piled up the fuel generously, yet carefully, and had so arranged it, by making alternate layers of green wood and dry, that it would burn all night long, and yet send forth sufficient flame to be visible at sea.

Morning came, and the wind and sea had gone down. Upon rising, the denizens of Bailey’s den looked forth upon the water, and saw that it was very much the same as it had been on the preceding day. At this Arthur and Tom shook their heads, but Bailey was sanguine, and spoke encouragingly.

“The wind has hauled round a pint or two,” said he, “and I shouldn’t wonder if it was to come round a little more; and if so, it’ll be all right for us. A moderate north or north-east wind’ll be jest the cheese.”

They now replenished the fire, after which they sat down to their breakfast.

“So you got all this out of the Petrel,” said Bailey. “Well, only think! Why, what gormandizers them captains an mates in the cabin must be—feedin on potted meats! an only think what we eats before the mast! Hard tack, salt junk, an dish-water, that’s what we eats before the mast; but aft, my gentlemen won’t be satisfied with nothin less than Yorkshire game pie, and Oxford sassage—and, what’s this?—Bolony sassage, an all them other condyments what you’ve got done up in them there tin pots. Wall, they’re precious good eatin on a desert island, whatever they be in a ship’s cabin, only they seem most too good for the likes of me.”

“You?” said Arthur. “Why, you have a better right to them than we have; for we haven’t any right at all. And, as to the Petrel, if you can manage to save her, I hereby agree to deliver up and surrender to you. all my right, title, and interest in and to any part or portion of the so-called salvage.”

“And I too,” said Tom, chiming in with the utmost gravity; “and hereby make known by these presents, to all whom it may concern, and anything to the contrary hereof in any wise notwithstanding.”

Bailey was evidently much impressed by these legal formulas. He bowed very gravely.

“Your servant, young gents, and my ’umble dooty to both of you; but, at the same time, I don’t want any more’n fair an honest wages, and, if so be as you ain’t in the position to give it, why, well and good, says I; but, if so be as you can, why, I’ll take what’s fair, and right, and lawful, and no more—”

But at this point this interesting conversation was abruptly terminated by a loud cry from Tom. His eyes were fixed upon the sea, and were fascinated by something there.

“A sail! a sail!” he cried. “A sail! O, a sail! Look, look, look!”

Arthur and Bailey sprang to their feet, and looked in the direction where Tom was pointing. Tom seized the spy-glass, wrhich they had brought into the den, and examined more closely, while Arthur and Bailey watched the distant sea.

And there, on the distant sea, several miles away, a sail appeared, unmistakably. It was a schooner, and she was not more than five miles away.

“She’s heading away from us,” said Tom; “she’s going away, out to sea.”

“Don’t be too hasty,” said Bailey; “she may p’raps be only beatin up agin this here wrind. It’s a head wind for her.”

“I wish it may turn out so,” said Tom.

They now watched in silence for some time longer. The schooner held on her way steadily. At length she tacked, and, wearing round, headed towards the shore.

“I knowed it!” said Bailey, triumphantly. “She’s a coastin along, and is beatin up agin the wind. Just hand us that there glass for a minute, if you please, and let us git a squint at her.”

Tom handed the glass to Bailey, who took it, and looked at the schooner long and carefully.

At length he returned it to Tom. “It’s a fisher,” said he; “a Yankee fisher. I knows the cut of her jib; there’s no mistakin her. You don’t find any of yer Province fishermen git up such a turnout as that there. Why, she’s a cross between the best class of Liverpool pilot-boat and a nobleman’s yacht; and I don’t believe there’s a pilot-boat or a yacht afloat that can lick that there fisherman in a fair race.”

Arthur now took the glass, and looked at her long and earnestly.

“I say, Tom,” said he.

“What?”

“Do you know what I’m thinking?”

“I dare say it’s the very thought that I had.”

“What? The Fawn?”

“The very thing.”

“Of course it’s all nonsense. I suppose all the Yankee fishermen, or, at any rate, a great many, are just like the Fawn; but, at any rate, wouldn’t it be fun if it should turn out to be her?”

“Well, it’s too much to hope for,” said Tom; “it’ll be fun enough for me if she only takes us off—if she only sees us. Hadn’t we better pile on more fuel, Bailey?”

“No; ’tain’t no use. The fire’s makin as much smoke as it can, an that’s the best thing by daytime. If that there vessel’s beatin up the coast, she’s bound to see us on the next tack, if she don’t see us now; and it’ll only take three more tacks to bring her right opposite—Hallo!”

An abrupt exclamation terminated Bailey’s remarks. He seized the glass without a word of apology, and took a hasty glance.

“They’re a histin an a lowerin of the flag! They’re a signalizing, as sure as I’m a born sinner! and to us! Hooray!”

This Bailey shouted, quite beside himself, and then dropping the spy-glass, at the imminent risk of its destruction, he seized a pole that lay near, and scattered the fire about in all directions.



0325

“I’m a tryin to answer their signals,” said he. “They see us! They know that were a signalizin to them, and they’re a tellin us that they’ll be along! Hooray!”

The schooner now tacked, and stood out to sea.

“All right,” said Bailey; “the next tack’ll bring her nearer.”

This reassured the boys, who did not like even the appearance of desertion. They watched her now in silence, and at length had the gratification of seeing her taking her next tack, and standing in towards the shore. This time she was very much nearer. Bailey rushed off, and gathered a quantity of dry spruce twigs and moss. As the schooner neared the shore, her flag rose and fell rapidly, and the report of a rifle sounded over the waters. At this Bailey flung his moss and spruce twigs upon the fire, and a vast cloud of smoke shot up, intermingled with sparks and flame.

“We’re gradooly a comin to a understandin,” said Bailey, as he rubbed his hands in immense glee, and watched the schooner. “And I do believe that the next tack’ll bring her here. Boys, let’s get ready with the boat.”

Saying this, Bailey hurried down, followed by the boys. They hurried as fast as possible to the boat, and began to launch her. As she was uncommonly high and dry, this was a work of time; but it was at length accomplished, and the boat was afloat.

The wind was still off the land, to a certain extent, and the water had become far smoother. Besides, for a quarter of a mile or so from the land, it had never been much affected by the wind. They were too eager to wait, and so in a short time the sail was up, and Bailey, at the stern, headed the boat so as to meet the schooner on her return tack. As the wind caught the sail, the boat moved through the water, at first slowly, but gradually more swiftly. While the boat moved out, the schooner seemed to be sailing away, and leaving them behind; but this gave them no trouble, for they knew that before long she would wear round, and come to meet them. And so, with eager eyes, they watched her, and waited impatiently for the moment when she would turn.

Suddenly Arthur gave a cry, and pointed down the coast. There, as they looked, to their great amazement, they saw another sail, far away, emerging from the land, and standing out to sea.

“Wall—this—doos—beat—my—grandmother!” cried Bailey. “Or, in other words, boys, it never rains but it pours. We’ll have the whole fishing fleet yet.”

Arthur and Tom said nothing. Tom seized the glass, and looked for a few minutes. Then he handed it to Arthur in silence.

Arthur looked for some time most earnestly and most curiously.

“It’s queer!” said he.

“What?” said Tom.

“I don’t believe there’s another vessel in the world like that.”

“Do you think that?” said Tom. “It’s the very idea that I had.”

“What! Not the Antelope?”

“Yes; the Antelope—her own very old self.”

“The Antelope!” cried Bailey. “You don’t mean it. If it is her, then it’s all explained. So he’s come arter you—has he? So that’s it. Wal, it’s the least he could do, arter gittin you into such a precious scrape.”

“O, it’s only a fancy. It mayn’t be her, after all.”

“O, but to my mind, it’s more likely to be her than any one else. No one but a friend, in search of a friend, would ever think of beatin up this here way along the coast of Anticosti. That’s my idee.” This assurance of Bailey’s tended to strengthen the idea which the boys had formed. After all, it was not impossible; nay, they thought it was not even improbable; for had they not been on the lookout for this very Antelope? and what vessel was more likely to come after them than this one? and why should she not come even to Anticosti?

“There she comes!” cried Bailey.

It was the fishing schooner. She was tacking. She wore round easily and gracefully, and headed straight towards them. They saw her draw nearer and nearer every moment, her bows rising, and tossing the water aside in showers of spray. They also stood boldly out now, for Bailey was at the helm, and was a far different sailor from Arthur or Tom. The little boat plunged soon into the rough water, and occasionally a torrent of foam dashed on board; but this was nothing, for all their eyes and all their thoughts were centred upon the approaching schooner.

At length they met—the schooner driving through the sea under a cloud of canvas. There was a man at the bow—a well-known form—the form of Captain Tobias Ferguson. The graceful Fawn wore round; the boat came up; a line was thrown, and Bailey seized it. The boys clambered up her sides, and the instant they reached her deck, they found themselves seized by Ferguson, who said, in a voice broken by agitation,—“Hooray! We’ve got—we’ve got you—at—at last! Where are the others? Why didn’t they come off too?”

“All right,” said Arthur. “They are all safe in a cove about twenty miles west of this.”

Then followed a torrent of questions from Ferguson, which the boys answered. Their answers brought peace to his soul, for it appeared that he had been full of terror at the coming of these two, and two only, and had feared that they were bringing some disastrous tidings about the others.

The boat was towed astern. Bailey was welcomed right royally, as was befitting one whom the boys introduced as their friend. At length the mind of Captain Tobias Ferguson was at rest; and the Fawn, rounding on another tack, stood out to sea, on her way towards the cove, where the rest of the party were encamped.

“But you haven’t told us how you heard about us,” said Arthur, as soon as he had a chance to ask a question.

Ferguson seized his arm, and pointed over the water to the sail that Arthur and Tom had already noticed.

“Do you see that?”

“Yes; that schooner?”

“No; that tub, that wash-basin, that horse-trough, anything but a schooner. Well, do you know what that is?”

“The Antelope?” suggested Tom.

“Yes; that’s what she is called by her commander—that old woman, Mrs. Corbet, Mrs. Captain Corbet—old woman! Why, I can find fifty old women down our way that would take better care of a vessel than him—her, I mean. Well, boys, I was at Magdalen Islands when Mrs. Corbet came there in her wash-tub. I felt uneasy about you; knew something had happened; asked him—her, I mean—all about it; but Mrs. Corbet wouldn’t answer. Well, I followed her. I was bound to see what had become of you. And where do you think that old woman went? Where? Why, to Miramichi! Well, I followed her there and back, and come up to her, to find her in the middle of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, at her wit’s end; for she had come there thinking that you would be anchored there, and waiting for her. Now, what do you think of that for an Old Woman?”

The boys were very much surprised at this, and questioned him more closely. At first they thought that he was too hard on the venerable captain; but when they learned how the venerable captain had actually gone all the way to Miramichi, leaving them in their perilous position, they thought that the V. C., aforesaid, had gone too far, and that he merited all the contumely which Ferguson heaped so lavishly upon him.

“Anybody else,” he continued,—“anybody else but me, Tobias Ferguson, would simply have gone mad at trying to keep that old woman and her tub in sight. It’s taken two days to do what might have been done in one. I’ve sailed back a dozen times to keep her in sight; and look at her now! There she is, losing as much as she gains at every tack; standing still, as I’m a living sinner. I sailed off, that very day I was telling you about, for Anticosti, and got to East Point. There I waited for Mrs. Corbet, inspecting the coast at odd times, and it was nearly the end of the next day before she came up; and even then I had to sail back ever so far to find her. Then we began to beat up along the coast, against the wind, watching all the time, not only the shore, but Mrs. Corbet. And there she is! At any rate, I won’t bother about her any longer. I’ll hurry up to the cove to get the rest of the boys, and let Mrs. Corbet come along as well as her venerable limbs’ll carry her.”

“But how did you know so well that we had drifted to Anticosti?”

“Well, for various reasons. Partly because I found out from Mrs. Corbet all about her crazy experiment at anchoring the ship; partly because I understood the general set of the tide; partly because I knew how the wind had been; but chiefly, I may say, because I had a presentiment all along that you were bound to get ashore on the worst place in all the gulf; which was Anticosti, and no other place. I knowed it. I was sure of it.”

Meanwhile the Fawn was careering through the waters. The boys had no regret at leaving Bailey’s den, even though a number of cans of meat had been left behind. Bailey was on the broad grin, and felt no homesickness whatever. Arthur and Tom could not help contrasting the Fawn with the Antelope, greatly to the disadvantage of the latter, and began to think that in choosing Captain Corbet for their guide, they had made a mistake. But all these thoughts were swallowed up in the one great thought of the deliverance which they were bringing to their friends in the cove—a deliverance so much better than anything which they had hoped for, since it was in the form of old familiar friends, and not through the medium of strangers. Even the Antelope, and the much-maligned Corbet, as they followed far behind, seemed like additional elements in their joy.


欢迎访问英文小说网http://novel.tingroom.com

©英文小说网 2005-2010

有任何问题,请给我们留言,管理员邮箱:tinglishi@gmail.com  站长QQ :点击发送消息和我们联系56065533

鲁ICP备05031204号