Bibliographic Information

The Plough Boy Journals

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19th Century American Whaling

Bonin Islands

Pitcairn's Island

Dictionaries & Glossaries

Ashley's Glossary of
Whaling Terms

Dana's Dictionary of
Sea Terms


W. H. Macy

Ballou's Monthly Magazine
Vol. XXVIII, No. 3 (Sep 1868)

232 Ballou's Monthly Magazine



      The good ship Boreas lay in the stream below New Bedford, her foretopsail loosed, and her last boat ashore. With dimmed eyes and a full heart, I hurried down the wharf to take my place in her; for I had lingered over the parting interview with her who had promised to keep her faith unbroken till the hour of reunion. The "old man" was chafing at my delay, and "Friend Matthew," the owner, who was waiting on the wharf to see us off, said, rather sharply, as I darted past him, "What, Allen! is thee the last one down? a boatsteerer, too. Thee ought not to be behind; especially as I believe thee has no parents or near relatives in town to part from."

      I made no reply to him, as I jumped lightly on the "clumsy-cleet" and coiled away the warp in silence, while all the rest were exchanging hearty farewells with friends and relatives on the wharf. He had spoken truly. I had no parents "in town," nor anywhere else, among the living. But, dear, innocent old gentleman! how could he know that little Nellie Field was and had promised to continue to be parents, brothers, sisters, near and distant relatives, and connections of every degree? and did he think I was going to tell him all this as an excuse for keeping his boat waiting?

      I pitied Friend Matthew; for what availed all his fleet of whaleships and his piles of bank-notes, when he didn't even know Nellie Field? Of course he didn't, or he wouldn't have made that remark about my having no near relatives in town. She lived in town with her mother, and worked every day in the cotton mills, where Friend Matthew was a stockholder to a fabulous amount. She had a sailor brother Dick away on a sealing voyage in the schooner Restless, in which the old man was also largely interested. And hadn't she told me that very morning that her own heart was "shipped for the voyage" in the Boreas, whereof Friend Matthew was sole proprietor? And yet he didn't know Nellie Field.

      We had ploughed the Indian Ocean to good purpose for more than a year, and our voyage was thus far a prosperous one. Another year at the same rate of success, and I should reach home – yes, a home of my own, which would require one gentle presence to illuminate it, and leave one vacancy among the operatives at the "mills."

      We were cruising near the island of Amsterdam or St. Paul's, and had taken and cut a large right whale within a few miles of the land, when it came on thick and cloudy weather just at nightfall; but having searoom enough, we stood on the southern tack under short sail, making just sufficient headway to draw well out clear of the island during the night. There was not much wind; enough, perhaps, for whole topsails close-hauled; but a ship running off free might carry all the kites she could set. The night was intensely dark as there was no moon, and the sky was overcast, and a large swell, occasioned by the continuance of strong westerly winds for several days, had not yet gone down. We had cleared the decks in the first watch, and having only one whale, and the blubber all snug between decks, were in no hurry about starting the fires. The outline of the island could be seen off the lee-quarter, serving to intensify the darkness in that direction, and to assure us that we had a safe offing with no necessity for making sail until sunrise.

      It might have wanted half an hour of daybreak when I came up out of the steerage or "bull-room," as the quarters of the boatsteerers were usually called, and, as I stepped on deck, my ear caught something like the flap of light canvas aloft, the sound seeming to be to windward of us. I looked over the weather-rail, but could see nothing through the opaque darkness. A sound was audible as of the rush of waters under the bow of a moving vessel, and I instinctively shouted, "Hard up the wheel!" though feeling at the time, that any movement of ours with so little headway on, must necessarily occupy considerable time. The order was repeated and obeyed by the helmsman as instinctively as it was given.

      "What do you see?" said the mate, rushing to my side.

      I had no need to answer. A cry came down to us out of the darkness;

Collision " "One Man missing." 233

      "Starboard! hard a starboard!" but too late; a black wall, much higher than our sail, appeared to overhang us for a moment; there was a tearing and cracking, as a spar passed over our heads through the main rigging, and the next instant, with a crash that seemed to have split every plank and timber to her very keel, the Boreas careened to her beam ends. I was carried to leeward amid the wreck of masts and rigging, my head came in contact with something, I knew not what, and all was a blank.

      It must have been full half an hour before I became conscious of a cold sensation, followed by a twinge of pain in my head; then another cold shiver, and a feeling of choking. I struck out with the impulse of a drowning man, and struggled into a sitting posture; but the effort so increased the pain in my head, that I was powerless to rise, though I knew that the water was washing the lower part of my body. But I soon roused myself, and recollecting what had happened, I became conscious that my preservation from death was almost miraculous. I was overhung and surrounded by a chaos of wreck, which had fallen over and about me in such away that I had received no injury, other than the severe blow on the forehead, which I remembered, and which had left me insensible. I shouted aloud, but no one answered. Day was breaking, and the streaks of gray light began to render objects more distinct around me. By a great effort I struggled clear of the labyrinth of rigging and spars, and crawled up to the booby hatch, which still remained in its place, rising like a low islet out of the surrounding sea. Overcome with pain, I fell at my length upon it and clung to it. I realized the terrible truth that the ship had sunk, and that I was alone upon the wreck, my shipmates having escaped on board the other vessel.

      I was unable for a few minutes to do more, or to make any further observations; but the pain abated in some measure, and this time I rose to my feet. I looked around upon the sea, not down upon it; for it was now washing level with the deck, and my feet stood in it. I could see the land looming, but no ship. I knew that she could not be many miles from me, but it was not yet light enough to distinguish her. Picking up a floating bucket, I made my way aft to the scuttle-butt, and, having washed my bleeding forehead in fresh water, and bound it up with bunting torn from a small flag which I found in the roundhouse, I began to feel better, and to take a more deliberate view of the situation.

      The ship was evidently cut right down to below the water-line abreast the main channels, and must have sunk in a few minutes, giving the crew barely time to save their lives with what they stood in. The wreck of the mainmast, broken close to the deck, lay over the lee side, but the fore and mizzenmasts stood, with the topmasts, the topgallantmasts, hanging over to leeward. The foresail and foretopmast-staysail were still set, and tended to keep her head off in the trough of the sea, causing her to roll and wallow heavily in her water-logged condition.

      As daylight advanced, I mounted the forerigging to look for the other ship, and at last made her out, about three miles to leeward, running fast away from me on an east-southeast course. I saw that there was little hope of attracting her attention by any signal which it was in my power to make, and still less of her being able to get to windward, even if she noticed a signal; for, as she yawed a little from her course, I could see that her bowsprit was gone, and that they were getting up preventer head-stays to secure the foremast. I saw that I was left to my own resources, and turned my attention to the land, which was not above fifteen miles off, and the ship, making so much lee way with her drift, she was nearing it slowly, in an oblique direction, so that she would finally, provided there was no change of wind, run ashore somewhere on the south side of the island. Having observed all this, I again descended, and began to examine my means of reaching the shore.

      The waist-boat had been crushed to pieces by the fall of the mainmast, and the head of the larboard boat so much injured as to render her useless. She was still on the cranes, rolling all under at each lurch of the ship, and the water all running out of her on the weather-roll. The bow and starboard boats had been used by the crew to save themselves in, so there was no boat left on the cranes; but there was a spare one on the bearers over my head, in good order. It was something of a task to get her afloat without assistance, but I resolved to attempt it; and by making use of the vangs and mizzentopsail halyards as purchases, I pulled her aft till one end rested on the taffrail, rolled her upright on her keel, and satisfied myself that I could now put her safely into her element in a few minutes, if wanted. This labor con-

234 Collision " "One Man missing!"

sumed all the forenoon, and I began now to feel the gnawings of hunger. In the lantern keg in the stern of the larboard boat was a quantity of hard tack, sufficient to last one man for several days; from this and some raw pork from the harness-cask, I made a hearty dinner, and felt no fear of starvation with the land under my lee; for I knew there were abundance of fresh fish to be had for the trouble of throwing a line; also that seals were more or less frequent visitors; while there was plenty of fresh water and birds' eggs on shore. I thought it not likely that I should remain there many days without being able to signalize some whaler, which would take me on board.

      After dinner I went aloft again to reconnoitre, and found, as I had before noticed, the ship setting slowly in shore, and now distant not more than ten or eleven miles. I resolved, in view of this fact, to pass one night on the wreck, and leave the ship in the morning, as, by that time, I should not have far to go, and would have the advantages of early day to select a spot for landing. I put everything into the boat that I intended to take ashore with me, and, first of all, the invaluable keg from the larboard boat which contained the hard bread I have spoken of, as well as tinder and fireworks. I took also the sail and a couple of oars from the stoven boat, and did not forget a couple of fishing-lines, which, luckily, had been left above deck in the round-house. That I might have the means of shelter after getting on shore, I unbent the ship's spanker, which was a small stormsail, and making it up as snug as possible, stowed it into my boat. I took a lance and some other weapons which I thought might be useful; but fire-arms were not to be got, nor anything else from below deck, but such articles as might accidentally float out from time to time.

      I had the satisfaction to find the pain and soreness in my head hourly abating, and, indeed, while my mind had been so busily occupied, I had hardly suffered from my wound. I passed the night in my boat, which was in position for launching, with the tackles ready hooked on at both ends. I was up several times during the night, and found everything favorable, and the ship nearing the land slowly all the time. At daylight I was within about three miles of the shore, and I now determined to stay by the wreck no longer. After eating my breakfast, I "manned" the tackles, and, launching my boat carefully, little by little, I placed her safely over the stern and jumped into her with a thankful heart, though I could not repress a sigh and a tear as I shoved adrift from the old Boreas, and thought of the hard earnings of the past year gone down in her, and felt that I was so much further removed from the happiness to which I had looked forward with Nellie Field. I set the sail, and running in for a cove or inlet formed by along point of rocks which here served as a breakwater, I stood into a lagoon where the water was smooth and level as in a pond, and securing the boat by her warp, I stepped on terra firma.

      I had lost sight of the Boreas when I rounded the natural breakwater, and could see no more of her except by going outside again with the boat, as she was drifting to the eastward and a wall of volcanic rock rose before me, which barred all further progress by land in that direction. I spent the fore noon in exploring the beach for two or three miles to the westward of my inlet, but made no discoveries of any great importance. Two or three seals were seen, but they were very shy, and took to the water before I could approach near enough to attack them. I returned to my boat, and sitting down in her, made my dinner. as before of shipbread and raw pork. Fresh water I had found near the landing in abundance, and had filled my bucket with muscles; but these were no great addition to my fare, unless I cooked them, and, as yet, I had met with nothing for fuel.

      It was evident that I must take to my boat again, and seek another landing further to leeward. I had heard tell of a bay on the east side, which afforded anchorage for vessels that came here at times from Cape Town and Mauritius to catch fish. While I was eating and pondering, I cast my eyes towards a cliff that rose at my left a short distance inland, and a cry of joyful surprise escaped me at sight of two men standing on the brow of it. It occurred to me in a moment that they could not see me in the boat, as she lay in range of the rocks close in under them, and, jumping ashore, I climbed up on the ridge that I might be in full view; but, on reaching my perch, the men had disappeared. I shouted, hoping they would hear me and turn back; but all to no purpose. I had seen them long enough to know that both were armed, apparently with guns. Doubtless these men were either fishermen

Collision " "One Man missing!" 235

or sealers, and, if so, they had either a vessel in the lee harbor, or else a habitation of some kind on that side of the island.

      I cast off my boat, and shoved out into the lagoon, pulling my way along the rocks with a boat-hook, till I reached the outer point of the breakwater, when I loosed the sail and sped along shore at a swift rate, keeping just clear of the outer edge of the kelp, which grew so thickly in many places as to form an impassable barrier. After running an hour or so, I came in sight of the ill-fated ship, she having drifted with the eddy into a deep bend of the coast, where she had brought up on the rocks, and was rapidly going to pieces. I passed her with a sigh, and easing my sheet still more, for the land now began to trend to the northeast, I went on, hour after hour, spinning along the iron-bound coast, opening new headlands, and crossing the mouths of several rocky bends or indentations, but seeing nothing that offered shelter or a practicable spot for landing. The sun was almost down, and I began seriously to think of passing the night on the water in my boat, when I rounded a bold bluff, and the bay of which I had heard lay open before me. I had now to luff sharp on a wind, and head up into it, and I could see that it narrowed gradually as it made up into the land; but, after running an hour, I was gladdened by the sight of a strip of beach on my left hand, where the landing appeared good, and ran in for it, beaching my boat without difficulty or injury. Here I resolved to pass the night, and take daylight for further researches.

      I was satisfied there was no vessel at anchor in the haven, and therefore the men whom I had seen must either be members of some shore party left here by a sealer, or else shipwrecked mariners like myself.

      It was but a narrow strip of beach where I had landed, and within twenty yards of the boat the rocks rose abruptly some thirty feet to a ledge or table, and further inland to a much greater height. Close up under this precipice I resolved to pitch my encampment, and, dragging the ship's storm-mizzen out of the boat, I backed it up to this spot, and unrolling it, I was provided with both carpet and bed. Spreading one end of it open, and tossing the rest into an irregular heap, I sat down and satisfied my hunger, and then, after carefully looking to the safety of the boat, I rolled myself into one end of the sail to rest from the fatigues of the day.

      I lay awake for some time, listening to the slight rippling sound of the water against the scattered fragments of rock on the beach, varied at times by the shrill scream of some wild bird echoing among the lofty cliff's above. I thought, of course, of dear Nellie Field; of the effect the news of my death might have upon her, if the account of the disaster reached home in advance of any letter from me, and of the reaction of feeling when assured that I was still living; for I never permitted myself to doubt as to my ultimate safety. And dwelling upon this last happy phase of the matter, I fell into a deep sleep, sound and unbroken for at least several hours.

      I was roused suddenly by the sound of human voices coming apparently from the ledge over my head. I threw off my canvas covering and sprang to my feet, my first impulse being to shout aloud; but, perceiving that the voices were raised in angry altercation, I checked the impulse, and listened to catch the words.

      "So you tell me to my head that I aint good enough for her, do you?" roared one of the voices, which sounded broken and husky, as though affected by violent rage or intoxication. I thought by both.

      "I have told you plainly what I thought about it, and I have nothing to alter or take back. It is best to drop the subject altogether." The voice of the second speaker was firm, but on a lower key; it evinced a forced calmness, as of strong emotion held under control.

      "And you'll tell her the same when you see her, I suppose?" yelled the drunken voice again.

      "I shall certainly give my opinion honestly and candidly," responded the other. "As you are well aware, it will not be in your favor."

      "D–– you! you shall never give it at all!" said the first, seeming to hiss the words through his teeth. A shower of loose pebbles rattled about my ears, and a heavy body flashed darkly, so to speak, before my face, and fell, with tremendous force, upon the irregular heap of canvas near my feet.

      I stood speechless with horror and amazement for a moment; then stooping towards the body, I lifted the head and shoulders, which were those of a powerful young man. A low groan escaped his lips; then, as he recovered his senses, for he had been partially stunned by the heavy fall upon the yielding sailcloth, which had saved him from injury,

236 Collision " "One Man missing!"

he rose to his feet, and returned my stare of surprise with interest.

      "Who are you?" said he; "and what good angel sent you here, with this canvas, to save my life? Where did you come from?"

      I thought I might answer him after the Socratic method. "Who are you?" I asked, "and what bad angel sent you here to save your life almost at the expense of mine? for if you had fallen upon my head, there's no doubt but that I should have got the worst of it. I needn't ask where you came from, as that's very evident," said I, with a glance at the cliff above us.

      He laughed and extended his hand, which I grasped with a hearty pressure.

      "And now," said I, "let us sit down here, and we'll introduce ourselves to each other. I am simply a castaway seaman; my name is Joe Allen, lately of ship Boreas of New Bedford, run into and sunk to windward of this island three nights ago, and I have found my way thus far, and halted for the night."

      "And are you the only survivor?" he asked.

      "No," said I. "They were probably all saved by the ship that ran us down. I was left on the wreck alone. But that is a long story that I will tell more at leisure. I see daylight breaking off to seaward, and, by the way, I have a boat here on the beach, which is very much at your service, if you know where you are bound, for I don't."

      "Well," said he, "your confidence shall be fairly returned, with many thanks for your kind offer; for I should find it a hard task to get off this beach by the same road that I reached it. My name is Dick Field, of schooner Restless of New Bedford, and I was put ashore here some two months ago to pick up seals, in company with a rascally, drunken shipmate, who just now pushed me off the cliff, by taking me unawares. He doubtless thinks I was dashed to pieces, and has gone back to our shanty to drown his remorse in liquor."

      "But why should he take your life?" I asked.

      "I shall quote your own words, "that's a long story, that I'll tell you more at leisure," replied my new acquaintance.

      "All right," said I: "let's make up this old storm-mizzen, that has served us both so good a turn, and we'll be ready for a start in a few minutes, unless you prefer to take breakfast first."

      "Breakfast?" said he. "What's your bill of fare? "kelp and raw muscles?"

      "No," said I. "I can entertain you rather better than that. Here's hard tack and raw pork, and we can have muscles cooked, for I see there's drift-wood enough here to start a fire."

      "Well, then, I should advise taking a bite before we start; for it's a long way up the bay to our shanty, and we shall be two or three hours working up there by water."

      We set to work to build a fire and prepare the morning meal, while I kept pondering in my mind on the singular chance that had thrown us together, and glancing at him to admire his handsome, manly face, which bore so strong a resemblance to another, in which the same features, softened down, were dearer to "my mind's eye," than all the world beside. This, then, was "brother Dick," of whom I had heard so often, but whom I had never seen until this moment. He, on the other hand, knew nothing of my engagement with his sister, and it was a matter of which I did not, as yet, feel called upon to speak.

      While we sat chatting over our breakfast, a ship drew into view off the mouth of the bay. We both jumped up and ran to the beach to get a fair look at her,while my heart bounded at the prospect of speedy deliverance. She luffed to with her maintopsail aback; two boats were lowered from her, and pulled, not into the bay, but in a direction to be hidden by the rocks at the left of the entrance.

      "That's a passing whaler," said Dick, who had stopped to get some fish. He can haul enough to load his boats there in an hour or two. He wont stop long, for the weather looks threatening, and I think it will blow a gale by noon."

      "I must get on board that ship, Dick," said I. "If I don't secure this chance, I may have to play Robinson Crusoe here for a month or two, and every day is precious to me."

      "That's true," answered Dick: "and you'll have to start soon, or you'll lose her. If he's any judge of the weather here, and knows its signs as well as he knows the best fishing ground, he'll soon have a signal of recall for his boats, and be off."

      "Now," said I, "if we go up the bay to land you, I shall lose the ship; but if you'll go on board with me, no doubt the captain will send help to bring you back, and I'll make you a present of my boat and all her fixtures, which would be a valuable prize to you."

      "So it would," said Dick: "and how generous you are with Friend Matthew's property! But jump in, and let's be pushing out. Of

Collision ""One Man missing." 237

course, I'll go off with you; for I like the cruise for a change, and I may as well confess, Joe, that if I don't get back here, I shall not be inconsolable. It's but a miserable life I'm leading here with this scoundrel of a comrade. I don't exactly like the idea of running away from my employers; but I haven't the slightest objection to being run away with."

      We passed swiftly out of the bay, with a reef in our boat's sail, running within hail of the fishermen, from whom we learned that the ship was the Lancaster, only four months from home, and bound into the Pacific Ocean, intending to cruise on New Zealand. While we were speaking, the signal went up at her gaff, and the boats weighed their grapnels and followed us on board. It was none too soon; for the wind was piping on, and the sea rising every moment.

      "You see," said Dick, "I'm in for it; for the best boat's crew in the ship couldn't pull me back now, and an hour hence no sane man will lower a boat at all. So we'll tell him we're a couple of shipwrecked seamen; that'll be half true, and explain the other half more at leisure."

      We were kindly received and cared for on board the Lancaster. As the captain intended to cruise a month or two between New Holland and New Zealand, he promised to land us at Sydney, or some place convenient to it, so that we could soon get a voyage in some vessel from there. In the letter-bag Dick and I both found letters from New Bedford, and I shrewdly suspected they were both from the same correspondent; but, as mine was all that I could wish it to be, I was too happy to ask any questions about his, which appeared to be equally satisfactory.

      Now that we had ample leisure, I gave my friend the whole history of my shipwreck and subsequent adventures, up to the time he had so unceremoniously joined me on the beach; and he, in turn, explained the circumstances which led to the difficulty between himself and the would-be murderer.

      "I must tell you, in the first place, that this Lucas, while in New Bedford, was very much in love, or professed to be, with a sister of mine, who worked in the cotton mills." Here Dick paused to clear his pipe, and I waited, very patiently, as he thought, for the continuation; for why should I feel interested? "She never gave him any encouragement, for she had very soon taken a great dislike to him, and rejected all his advances. I was not sorry to see this; for, though I was not much acquainted with the man then, I never thought he was worthy of my sister. She is a good, sensible girl, is Nellie, though I say it, and you may think my judgment not impartial. But if my sister ever marries any man with her own free will and choice, I think it will be his own fault if his home isn't a happy one."

      Of course I had no doubt in my mind that she would prove the very model and paragon of wives. Her brother thought so, and who should know if he didn't?

      "Well, it happened that we both shipped in the same vessel, and I soon had reason to rejoice at my sister's instinctive aversion for him, as I came to know his character better."

      That was not strange, I thought. I had reason to rejoice at the same circumstance, and I had no acquaintance with the man at all.

      "We were put ashore together at St. Paul's," continued Dick, "to collect seal-skins, while the schooner went up to the other stations at the Crozettes and Desolation. Of course my wishes were not consulted, or I might have chosen a different companion to share my hermitage. After we got ashore, he was always harping about my sister; but I generally gave him evasive answers, and changed the subject, if possible. I found him a very irritable man, even when sober; but a few days before you arrived, a boat came in from a Dutch ship, and Lucas traded a lot of cured fish for half a dozen bottles of schnapps. Alter that he became more quarrelsome than ever, and still more importunate about my sister. At last I got irritated about it, and told him plainly, that, so far as my influence went, he would never make any further progress in his suit than he had already; that I thought she was too good for him, and advised him to drop the subject, and not talk to me any more about it. When we came out that dark morning, as was our practice an hour or two before daylight, he was half-crazy in liquor, for he had "ginned up " a dozen times or more during the night. He renewed the tiresome subject, and I gave him the same answers as before, and, maddened at my provoking coolness, he gave me a push when I was off my guard and walking near the verge of the cliff. I presume that, as soon as he realized what he had done, he rushed back to his bottle, and I don't think he knew anything of our departure, or of the appearance of the Lancaster, for he was probably in a drunken stupor at that time.

238 Collision " "One Man missing!"

We never knew of the wreck of the Boreas; for at the time you saw us from the rocky cove, she had drifted beyond our range of view, and we seldom visited the south side of the island, as the rocks are so bold there are no good spots for the seals to 'haul,' and no chance to get at them if they did."

      In due time the captain landed us at Sydney, and, kindly recommending us to the care of the consul, we took leave of him, with many thanks and hearty good wishes for the success of his voyage. We had learned from the consul that the ship that ran us down had arrived there only a few days before, and he thought some of my shipmates might be still in town, but most of them had scattered into different vessels. The captain and mate had taken passage for the United States only two days before my arrival.

      Within an hour after we left the consul's office, while passing a "public," I was saluted by a man standing in the doorway.

      "Halloo, Allen! is it you or your ghost? Have you been drowned and resurrected? or did you swim all the way from Amsterdam Island to Sydney?"

      I crossed over to meet a hearty grasp of the hand from Mr. Tripp, late second officer of the Boreas. He was the only one left on the beach, he told me, and he had shipped in a barque bound to London.

      "Come in and sit down," said he, "and have a drop of something for the good of the house, and let's hear your yarn; for I am impatient to know how you have risen from the dead."

      I soon satisfied his curiosity, and, casually taking up a last week's "Australian" that lay on the bar, my eye fell upon the marine list.

      "Here, Dick," said I, "is my obituary. About as terse and compact a thing as can be written."

      "Read it up," said Dick.

      "No," I replied, handing him the newspaper. "It must be seen to be appreciated."

      It ran thus:

      "Arr'd sh'p Tasmania, Sterling, London, 122 ds., with loss of bowsprit and leaking badly. Jan. 10th off St. Paul's, collided with Am. wh. sh'p Boreas, which sunk immediately. Crew saved by the T., except one man named Allen, missing; probably killed or carried overboard with the wreck."

      "Good!" said Dick. "You can't find any fault with that."

      In a few days we got an opportunity to ship in a small brig bound to New York. We did not like the voyage much in so small a vessel, nor was I pleased with the idea of coming home penniless; but seeing no better opening, we determined to make New Bedford, and take a "fresh departure." So down went our autographs on her papers – Joe Allen as second officer, and Dick Field seaman.

      We "caught Cape Horn napping," and had a fine run through the trades. Our voyage was not marked by anything out of the common course, till we had passed the capes of Virginia and were within two days' sail of our port, when we fell in with a schooner, which seemed, by her manoeuvres, to be her own pilot and helmsman, and to be making the voyage "on her own hook," with a roving commission. On boarding her, we found she had been run into by another vessel and abandoned, apparently under the influence of a sudden panic. She had received an ugly wound on the starboard quarter, which had laid open her upper works; but the injury was all above water so long as the sea continued smooth. She was heavily-loaded with a West India cargo, and had only two feet of water in the hold. Trying the pumps for a short time we gained on it rapidly, and there was no doubt we could soon free her. The old man was anxious to save her and get her into port; but I saw that he was shy of ordering any one to go on board, and also that he felt unable to spare sufficient force to man her, as the brig had only five men before the mast, and only nine, all told. I sounded Dick, and found he was willing to run the risk with me. I then volunteered to take charge of her, if the captain would let me have Dick Field as my mate. Our offer was accepted, and we were put on board, with orders to keep company if we could; but a thick fog shut in an hour afterwards, so we were left to our own resources. I kept her well in shore, determined to hug the land and follow it.

      "Dick," said I to my mate, "we are all right so long as the weather holds moderate; but if it blows fresh and gets up a sea, we shall want to get out of her as fast as possible, or we shall go down in her. But we'll stick to the wreck till the last hope is gone. We can lighten her some, if necessary, by scuttling the deckload of molasses. We'll keep in shoal water, at all events, and, if the weather continues moderate, we can get her into New York. If nothing better can be done, we'll

Collision " "One Man missing!" 239

beach her somewhere on the Jersey shore. It was a collision, you know, that set me adrift, and now here's another that may be the means of filling our empty pockets."

      We had moderate weather all that day and the next, so that we got a Jersey pilot on board; but it came on to blow after this, and we had a narrow escape from foundering. But the pilot-boat, seeing the state of affairs, had put two men on board, so that we managed to keep the pumps jogging; and we finally got her safely into New York bay, with all her deckload intact, though we had five feet of water in the hold when we anchored. But more help was sent to us at once, for the brig had arrived the day before, and the old man was looking out anxiously for us. I had the pleasure of seeing my first command secured at the pier the same night, and the next day Dick and I left for New Bedford in the "Sound steamer."

      I now for the first time made known to Dick my engagement with his sister, showing him her letter in proof of the fact. He was taken by surprise, of course; but after looking over the precious document, he returned it, apparently well satisfied.

      "It's all right," said he, "just as it should be. I don't mean to flatter you; but I think she has chosen well, as, indeed, I always supposed she would."

      We learned on board the steamer from a fellow-passenger, that the captain and some of the crew of the Boreas had arrived home, reporting the loss of the ship, and also of the boatsteerer Allen. The schooner Restless had also arrived, and our informant remembered having heard that a young man was missing, who had been left ashore on an island with a comrade. This comrade had been found dead drunk when the schooner returned, and could give no definite account of his companion's fate. But it was generally supposed that he must have been drunk too, and had fallen somewhere among the rocky cliffs and perished.

      It was a chilly winter's morning when we stepped out of the car at the Taunton depot in New Bedford. A well-dressed man, with a face much marked by dissipation, was standing on the platform. He was an utter stranger to me, but evidently not so to my companion, who, with folded arms, confronted him. As the stranger met the glance of Dick's eyes, he seemed transfixed with astonishment and terror.

      "Lucas," said Dick, in a low tone, "I don't want to work any revenge upon you. I don't want any further trouble with you. I don't want to see or hear of you, so mark what I say, and be warned in time. If you are in New Bedford after the next train leaves, or if you ever show your head here again, you shall be arrested for attempted murder. It will go hard with you, too, for I can produce a witness to swear to the facts, who can detail the very words of our last conversation. Don't answer me," he continued, as Lucas seemed to be trying to stammer out something. "I don't want to hear your voice again. The clerk here will tell you when the next train starts. "Come, Joe," said he, as he turned on his heel, "let's go home."

      Yes, home – home to the Widow Field's cottage, where despair is soon changed to triumphant happiness, where surprises and reunions, which to some of the parties seem resurrections, render all attempts at description a mere mockery. Home it proves to us all for years afterwards; for, though new ties are formed, old ones are not severed; the fond wife and mother is still the loving daughter and sister. Many years have passed since then; our home is a larger one now, but there is still happiness enough to fill it. Children cluster round our fireside; and bright eyes grow brighter yet, while soft curls tremble with emotion, as Dick and Joe, the two eldest boys, rehearse the story of the collision, and dwell especially upon the fact that "father was missing."


Author: Macy, William Hussey
Title: Collision "One man missing."
Publication: Ballou's Monthly Magazine.
Vol/No/Date: Vol 28, No. 3 (Sep 1868)
Pages: 232-239