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W. H. Macy

Ballou's Monthly Magazine
Vol. XXVIII, No. 5 (Nov 1868)
pp. 453-460

Our Adventure in Titania Bay. 453

. . . .



      My first voyage to the Pacific was in an ancient and venerable craft called the Titania, as great a misnomer perhaps, as could be found "in a day's sail;" as it would have surpassed the imaginative powers of even the immortal bard himself to discover anything either regal or fairy-like about her. We fell in with whales in vast numbers off Banks’s Peninsula, on the southeast coast of New Zealand, a ground seldom visited by whalemen at that time. We had taken "a good cut" of oil, having the chance all to ourselves, and, though we experienced much heavy weather there, we were determined to hang on and finish out the season. But, returning to the ship late one day from a long chase of whales, we discovered, on trying the pumps, that she had started a bad leak, and our suspicions at once pointed to the probable source of it. She had been in the timber-trade for many years, previous to being bought for a whaler, and had a large port in her bow, below the lower deck. This, of course, had been planked over permanently, and caulked tight, when fitted for her present business, and the port was also partially covered by the sheathing and copper. She had been tight, or very nearly so, up to the time spoken of and had made two Pacific voyages, always proving a lucky ship, notwithstanding the ironical character of her name. We suspected some weakness about this detached planking, and on investigating in the fore peak, we were satisfied that our fears were well founded, as we could hear the water gushing in there, and running down behind the ceiling. Nothing could be done till we could make harbor, and sail was made at once to run off the ground. The wind heading us off, we were unable to fetch into Pigeon Bay or Akaroa, so we stood to the northward, approaching the coast on a converging line, the leak increasing and the pumps in operation night and day.

      We kept the land well aboard, but as the weather was unfavorable for observations, we had no means of knowing our precise latitude. We must have been not far from the mouth of Cook's Straits, however, when we saw what appeared to be a small haven, formed by a slight indentation in the coast, and a small island abreast of the opening. A

454 Our Adventure in Titania Bay.

boat was sent in to reconnoitre, and sound with the hand-lead, and we soon had the satisfaction to see her waif set, the signal agreed upon as a favorable report. We stood in with the ship, entering on the south side of the small island, while our boat pulled on and made the circuit of it, ascertaining that both passages were practicable for a ship, though that by which we had entered was the best and widest. We let go our anchor in eight fathoms, nearly in the centre of the bay or basin, where no wind could make the least impression upon us except from the southeast, and that was broken by the island sufficiently to make the anchorage a safe one for our purposes. So smooth a harbor seemed a very godsend to us, under the circumstances, and two or three days would complete our repairs, and see us headed back for our whaling ground.

      The haven was small, the land being not more than a quarter of a mile distant from us in any direction. The shores were well wooded, but no signs of human beings were discernible. We were rejoiced at this fact, for the New Zealanders were not to be trusted, with a single ship placed at their mercy in an out-of-the-way spot like this; and we hoped to finish our work and get to sea, before any native scout should inform his tribe of our presence. It was late on Saturday when we came to, and, after furling the sails, and making all snug, we pumped her out dry, and 'set an anchor watch of one man, so as to give us as much rest as possible. Notwithstanding the fatiguing labor at the pumps for three days past, we could not afford to rest all day Sunday, and were turned to at daylight to trim the ship by the stern, so as to bring the port as high out of water as possible before commencing to strip it to examine for the leak. This work occupied the greater part of the day, so that the captain decided not to commence opening the bows until morning, as we could probably finish it and have everything tight again in a day, and so avoid any risk of having it open during the night, in case of a strong breeze springing up.

      We knocked off work, therefore, at an early hour, and the mate calling for his boat’s crew, of whom I was one, we started off on an expedition of discovery round the bay. We met with nothing worthy of note in making the whole circuit of it. The trees grew so near the water that there was scarcely more than beach enough to haul the boat up her length above high water mark, and the circular or slightly elliptical form of the shore was unbroken by any inlet or river. In one place the land was comparatively low, the hills rising gradually inland, and not so thickly timbered as the more abrupt ones elsewhere. The mate and his boatsteerer, both well armed, reconnoitered a short distance up this partial clearing. They came upon a small canoe turned bottom up under the trees, and carefully covered with bark and boughs, which had evidently lain for a considerable time undisturbed. They returned to the boat without having seen any trace of human habitation, and we pushed off for the small island that formed the shelter of the anchorage on the seaward side. We pulled round it, landing in two or three places, finding it also wooded, but not thickly, and meeting with no signs of either dwelling-place or temporary encampment.

      On the north side of the island, at a point not visible from the anchorage, we found a mud-bank abounding in "pippies," as they are called in New Zealand, a shell-fish like our hard clams or quahaug, being in fact, nearly the same thing. This was a windfall for us, though as the tide was half~flood, and rising fast, we could get but few of them, but promised ourselves a boat-load at the night ebb. It rained hard, however, in the night, and we did not go. It cleared again in the morning, and all hands turned to with a will to stop our leak.

      We found, on examination, that one of the plank-ends had started adrift, and furthermore, that our wood was much decayed about the butts, where we attempted to caulk. It would be necessary to tear out nearly the whole of it and replace it by new planks. We worked all day, but had still two planks to put in, when night overtook us. The rest were all in and caulked, and these two were cut and prepared, so that an hour or two in the morning would finish the job. The watch was set as usual, everything quiet, indeed the silence of the grave seemed to reign around us. The mate asked us if we were ready to go at midnight to the mud-bank, as the tide would serve us about that hour, and we could dig all we wanted. Of course we were on hand for the cruise, our mouths watering for the "pippies," and we shoved off at about eleven o’clock, leaving Old Gibson, who had the anchor watch at that hour, singing a song to keep himself awake, his voice echoing all round the concave of the

Our Adventure in Titania Bay. 455

hill-sides, for we had become so accustomed to the solitude of the place, that we had passed from alarm to extreme security, and had almost ceased to think of the possibility of a visit from human beings while in this secluded basin. We continued hearing the echoes till we had pulled round the point which hid the ship from view. The sounds then became very faint, and soon we had drawn entirely out of hearing as well as sight of the Titania.

      We found the tide nearly out when we reached the place where the quahaugs were bedded, but not wishing to strain our boat by throwing much weight into her while grounded on the flat, we pushed her off and anchored her where she would float. Collecting the shell-fish in buckets, and lugging them to the boat occupied considerable time, and it was probably one o’clock before we got as many into her as it was prudent to carry. We then sat down to rest a while, for we were in no particular hurry about going on board. We found we had loaded her as deep as she would swim, for she was almost gunwales-to when our own weight was added to that of the pippies. It would be nice work to keep her balanced, so as not to ship water; but rather than throw away any of the cargo, we took the paddles instead of the oars, and thus jogged carefully along, moving very slowly through the water.

      We had made about half the distance to the point where our ship would again be in view, when the report of a musket broke upon the stillness of the night. The sound was smothered by the intervening bluff of land, but there was no mistaking its character, and the echoes from the hills at the north end of the bay came back to our ears more distinctly than the report itself. It could scarcely mean anything else at that hour of the night than a signal of alarm,though none had been agreed upon, it seems, so perfectly were we all lulled into security. The mate was puzzled, for it might be simply to notify us that the captain thought we had stayed long enough, and wished to hasten our return. He was not long in doubt, however, for a minute or two later, two reports in quick succession,not so loud as the first, were heard.

      "That's my revolver!" said Mr. Archer, now thoroughly roused. "There’s trouble there, and here we are, helpless as a log! Overboard with the pippies! Tumble them over, boys, and clear the boat!"

      Over they went, back to their muddy bed, much faster than they had been collected, the mate encouraging us, both by words and example; and as soon as the boat was partially lightened, we began to pull some of the oars, the rest of us still continuing to throw cargo overboard while the mate pulled out his gun, which he always carried under the sternsheets, and looked to the condition of it, to have it ready for an emergency. As we drew out by the point, a terrible yell rang in our ears from many voices at once. The echoes repeated it back and forth across the harbor; it died away, and all was still as the grave again.

      "Heave up!" said Mr. Archer, in a low tone. "Lie still where we are. It’s all over, and those devils have got the ship! That was their howl for victory, and now they'll be quiet. Our poor shipmates! they are probably all killed – taken by surprise! O, blind! blind! we have all been, to be taken off our guard in this way. Well, I’ll take my share of the blame home, for I deserve as much as any one."

      We all sat waiting in blank astonishment and dismay for the next word from him. None of us spoke, for we seemed, for the time being, bereft of the power. We had confidence in Mr. Archer, who was a bold and resolute young man, with excellent judgment for his years. He was silent for a minute or two, and then appeared to have made up his mind.

      "Take the paddles quietly," said he, " and paddle back again in range of the land."

      He laid the boat’s head round at the same time without the slightest noise, and steered in for the low rocky beach on the north side of the point.

      "Jump out, now, all of you," said he, " and make the boat fast. She can’t be seen where she is, and we can reconnoitre from the point here without being seen ourselves. Come here now, all of us, close together, and we can keep our eyes on the ship, and consult at the same time.

      "Do you really think the natives have got the ship?" asked the boatsteerer.

      "I'm sure of it," said Mr. Archer, who was now, outwardly at least, as cool as he would have been about his ordinary duties. "That was their yell of victory that we heard. I know these New Zealanders; they wont waste any more breath at present, but we shall see something else to convince us, soon. It's useless to show ourselves, or attempt any-

456 Our Adventure in Titania Bay.

thing now. But perhaps something may turn up between now and daylight, and if not, we may as well start and pull out of the harbor. We may fall in with a ship, or land in some better place, but, at all events, I've no mind to give myself up to these cannibals. See, now, there’s a canoe shoving off from her. And there’s another. You see how slow they move? They are loaded with coils of line probably. They are paddling right in for the clearing where the land is lowest. That’s where they intend to beach her, but I shouldn’t suppose they would begin now, for they can’t have her well up before flood tide, which will be after daylight."

      At this moment a light flared up on board the ship. It swayed and flickered a moment, and then burned up brightly, casting a lurid glare on the waters of the bay for a considerable distance round the ship. We had now a clear and distinct view of the canoes, as they passed to and fro, streaming their line to the shore. The light was on the top of the tryworks, and we could now make out that they had something burning in what seemed to be a small iron pot.

      "That’s our pitch pot, that we were using to-day; they’ve set it going, and are feeding it with scraps,I suppose. I don’t know why they should make that bonfire, but it may be a signal to another party on shore somewhere. At all events, it answers our purpose, for we can now see everything that they do, without being seen ourselves," continued Mr. Archer.

      We could see the dusky figures moving about the decks glancing in the firelight, their orders seeming to come from a tall chief who had taken his stand between the knight-heads. But it was astonishing to us all how quietly everything was done, contrary to the usual manner of savages. We heard no shouting or outcries, and only occasionally a low, guttural word was spoken by the chief, which immediately produced its effect. In the profound stillness the blows of the axe upon the cable were distinctly heard, for our ship, like most other whalers at that period, carried one cable of hemp and one chain, and was, in this case, riding by the hempen one. We could also hear their hauling line splash in the water, as they were gathering in the slack; and had a fair opportunity to count them, now that they were strung out fore and aft the deck. There were only forty of them besides the chief, and only three canoes were to be seen among them, and we decided that this was all they had. Under the impulse of the line and forty pairs of nervous arms, the ship began to forge slowly across the basin, heading directly in for the clearing or defile before mentioned. No shouting or other noises were heard; they hauled in silence but vigorously, and as it appeared, the pulls were made in admirable concert. Soon she increased her rate of movement, shooting faster and faster, till she brought up all standing in a mud bank. A stout rope, apparently a cutting fall, was then carried out and attached to a tree on shore, and hauled taut inboard, and no more could be done till the rise of the tide.

      All this time the fire was kept burning brightly in the pitch pot on the caboose cover, some of the savages feeding and reviving it, every few minutes. But objects on board were not to be seen so distinctly now from our stand on the point, by reason of the ship having doubled her distance from us; for she was now nearly at the middle of the head of the bay, and distant full half a mile. There was no fear of their seeing us, or our boat, now.

      "It may be," said Mr. Archer, "that they know nothing about the absence of the boat, and think they have disposed of all the men. If so, all the better for us; for we may have a chance for a surprise before morning. We have at least three good hours before daylight, and those the best hours in the twenty-four, to catch them napping. See, they are going ashore now! a part of them at any rate."

      Two canoes full of men shoved ashore as he spoke, and the dusky figures disappeared among the trees as soon as the canoes were hauled on the beach above the reach of the tide. As well as we could count them, there were twenty in the canoes; about half their force.

      "So much the better for us," said Mr. Archer. "Now if these other pirates on board will only give way to drowsiness, I think the Titania will change hands again before daylight. Forty men is probably their whole force, and they have only three canoes. See, the third one is towing astern of the ship yet."

      For some time we continued to watch the savages on deck moving about, but the number of them gradually diminished, as one after another went below. There was no fear of their sleeping on deck, while they could

Our Adventure in Titania Bay. 457

find good quarters below, for the weather was quite cool, it being the winter season. They were ready to rest from their fatigue now, and would not be likely to do any more work until the top of the tide, which would be at about half-past six, or soon after broad daylight.

      "It can’t be more than three o'clock now," mused the impatient mate. "They’ve set an anchor watch. See! that old scoundrel feeding the fire – he's left all alone. I believe I haven’t seen any one else for the last ten minutes. Now, I wish I could get him to take a dose of laudanum out of the medicine chest. There he sits down on the caboose cover, and hauls his mat round his shoulders. He's making himself comfortable for a snooze. He don't feed his fire, lately, but I suppose they don’t care about keeping it burning any longer."

      For a long time we waited, with our eyes fixed anxiously upon the firelight, and the single savage now visible near it. He raised his head now and then and stared round him; then dropped it again on his breast. He seemed to feel perfectly secure, and in this very feeling lay our hopes of success; for it was plain that he knew nothing of any boat having left the ship during the night. We judged that the scout who first discovered her at the anchorage, must have done so just at nightfall, and started off to inform the rest, who had arrived after our departure. They must be a war party, or detachment separated from the rest of their tribe for some reason, which would account for the smallness of their force, as well as for the savage bonfire, as, although this could not be seen at a great distance, it might attract the attention of another prowling scout. Whether the three canoes paddled round by sea, or were brought over land, was of course unknown. A more probable thing than either was, that they had been covered up and stored among the trees in the vicinity, like the one seen by Mr. Archer.

      The fire grew more and more faint as we sat watching it, sometimes flaring up for a moment, and bringing out in strong relief the figure of the savage, who appeared now to be motionless, and then dying away till we thought it was gone entirely, as was evident it would be erelong for want of fuel. The mate now gave his instructions to us in a few words, providing for every contingency that might arise, and together we walked down to the boat, and took our respective places in her in perfect silence. Cautiously we dipped our paddles with a strong but silent stroke, shooting rapidly across the bay towards the ship, our eyes still fixed upon the sleeping savage, who was only seen at intervals when the remnants of the bonfire flickered up a little. He appeared not to have moved, however, but sat as if frozen in that attitude, his arms folded in his mat, and his head drooping towards his breast. Before we had made two-thirds of the distance, the fire made its last flicker and died out entirely. This was all in our favor; we needed no light by which to find the tired sentinel, if he would only remain at his post, which he seemed likely to do. We now laid our paddles carefully into the boat, using only our hands as propellers, dipping them with care, for we were content to advance but slowly, silence being the first and greatest object. It was not more than four o’clock, so that there was time enough for us to act without precipitation, and this was the time, if ever, when the savages might be taken by surprise.

      When within two boat's lengths of the ship's bow, being in fact close alongside in the waist, we ceased even to dip our hands, and let her run by the momentum already given to her, till the boatsteerer seized the lanyard of the staging which was slung under the bow-port where we had been at work. The warp was hitched round the bobstay, close to the cutwater, and the mate, taking the lead, stepped lightly into the staging, and from that up to the head rails. In silence one after another followed him, till we all stood together in the head, and looked in on deck. Not a living thing could be seen but the savage on the tryworks, whose weary head still remained pendent in the same position. In on deck we all stepped without a whisper, or even a loud breath. The mate took from the mainstay, near the heel of the bowsprit, some pieces of spunyarn which he passed to his boatsteerer and his bowman. Then seizing a small "top," such as is used in laying up small-sized ropes, he led the way to the tryworks, followed by his two assistants. A motion of his hand indicated to the rest of us that we were to carry out our parts of the plan at the same time.

      Mr. Archer, with a bound as light as that of a deer, leaped upon the caboose cover, and seized the sentinel tightly by the throat before he had time to come to his senses. As his mouth involuntarily flew open, the "top"

458 Our Adventure in Titania Bay

was driven home to the handle and instantly secured by its lanyard of spunyarn, making a perfect gag, for which purpose, its shape was admirably adapted. By the time this was done, his hands were also securely bound behind him by the other two men, and he was stretched at his length on the tryworks, the whole having been accomplished in perfect silence.

      During this time, the rest of us had not been idle. The slide of the fore-scuttle was drawn over and secured, and passing aft, we also fastened the doors of the companion way leading into the cabin. The hatches were barred and bolted, and thus the twenty Savages were secured below for the present, and we had leisure to breathe freely, and to look about us. The bodies of our slaughtered shipmates still lay as they had fallen, in some parts of the deck, but near the cabin gangway lay the second and third mates together, and between the foremast and windlass bitt, three seamen were stretched side by side. These five had evidently been killed below and then brought on deck. The captain was lying against the mainmast, in a half-sitting attitude among the coils of the head-braces, his hand still grasping Mr. Archer's revolver, of which we had heard two barrels discharged. The surprise had not been so complete, it seemed, but that there had been detached struggles with individuals, but no time had been given for anything like concerted action on the part of the crew. Whether any of the assailants had been killed or wounded, we had no means of knowing; but, if so, they had, doubtless, been carried ashore in the canoes after the ship was hauled aground. We found twelve bodies of our comrades, which left six men still unaccounted for, the ship's company having numbered twenty-four, all told.

      But we had little time to dwell upon the details of this dreadful sight, or to indulge sentimental feelings. The ship was already so nearly afloat that a slight effort would bring her entirely so; and, as there was a light breeze at southwest, we loosed the jib, hoping that, by hoisting this, it would exert sufficient power to cast her head, her stern being already in a good depth of water. I was coming in from the jib-boom, after having loosed the sail by the summary process of cutting all the turns of the gasket, when I was startled at seeing the form of a man creeping out at the bow-port, jamming himself through the narrow space left open by the two planks which had not yet been replaced. A moment's reflection satisfied me that it was one of our crew who had escaped into the hold; and passing into the knightheads, I beckoned to the mate who stood near, and pointed my hand without speaking. By this time the man was on the staging, and climbing into the head, and we were able to recognize our negro cook.

      "Any more there?" whispered Mr. Archer, as the woolly head rose into view above the bows.

      "Four more, sir," answered the cook.

      "Tell them to bear a hand and crawl out here."

      There was no need; for by this time another body had nearly forced its way through the narrow exit. They had seen us board the ship, of course, though we were on the other side of the cutwater, and they dared not hail us; but on seeing me go out to loose the jib, they rightly judged that we had succeeded in getting possession of the ship, and were ready for reinforcements. Thus, one by one, the five men came up and joined us, and with our strength increased to eleven, we felt confidence in our ability to hold the ship against any attack, if we once got her afloat; as well as to take care of our prisoners cooped up below.

      A slight rustling over our heads attracted all eyes aloft. The yardarms of the foretopsail were already loosed, and the bunt gasket was being gently eased away, till the whole sail hung in readiness for sheeting home. A man now descended the rigging, and we were not long in identifying the colossal figure of the boatsteerer, Abraham, a Gay Head Indian. He had escaped the massacre, and lain concealed in the foretop until he saw an opportunity to make himself useful by loosing the topsail, though bleeding copiously from a severe cut in his arm.

      Arms were now collected in readiness for use, whaling craft chiefly, for we had only one musket in our possession, that which the mate always carried in his boat. The critical moment had arrived when we were to give the alarm by hoisting the jib. We were confident the ship would swing afloat as soon as she felt the power of this immense sheet of canvas; but the peculiar sound of the hanks working up the stay would be sure to rouse both those on shore and under the deck. The security of all the hatches was again looked to, and men stationed to guard them; four men were placed at the jib halyards, and

Our Adventure in Titania Bay. 459

a wave of the mate’s hand gave the signal to hoist away. The sail filled as it rose, and the groaning of the hanks was answered by a yell from the forest; dusky figures swarmed to the canoes on the beach, and at the same moment, a stir was perceptible under our feet, and a rush at the fore-scuttle.

      "Haul aft the jib-sheet!" shouted Mr. Archer, seeming to swell with delight, now that his tongue was loosed. "There she swings her head-all clear! Meet her with the helm! Keep her right away for the north passage! Haul out the spanker, some of you! Brace round the head-yards, and be ready to sheet home the topsail!"

      The "Queen of the Fairies" forged slowly out towards the island, with head erect like a whale in the act of breaching; but two heavy casks of water which had been slung over the taffrail were speedily cut adrift, and, to some extent, helped her trim. But more we dared not do, until we got the bow-port secured. The twenty savages on the beach kept up an incessant howling while launching their two canoes – howls of baffled rage, protracted, and confused, quite unlike their one simultaneous yell for victory.

      "Ay! screech away, you bloody pagans!" roared the mate, shaking his fist towards the shore. "Let ’em come out with their two canoes if they like! We don’t fear twenty canoes, with water under our keel and canvas on her. Keep a guard on those hatches and gangways," he added. "We’ll take care of these fellows by-and-by at our leisure."

      The ship soon rounded the point of the island, and drew into the narrow passage heading seaward. The natives on the beach could no longer be seen, though their infernal noises still continued. They evidently saw that pursuit was useless. Now was our time to put in the two planks while nearly becalmed under the lee of the island. This took but a few minutes; the staging being ready slung, and the planks cut to fit. The caulking was hurried up, and the hot pitch completed the operation, for nothing had been forgotten. Ere it was finished we were again fairly at sea, with our topsails all set, and lifting on the long blue swells of the Pacific.

      The bodies of our murdered shipmates were laid together in the waist, and the ghastly spectacle covered from view for the present with an old sail, which happened to be left above deck.

      "And now," said Mr. Archer, perhaps more correctly Captain Archer, "we must get full possession of the ship. We can’t starve them out, for they’ve got all the grub, and we must let them up, even if we have to fight them; or we shall be starved ourselves. The sun is getting up now, and we all want some breakfast. But what shall we do with them, if they are let up, one at a time? They all deserve death; there can be but one opinion about that. And yet we all feel unwilling to strike down a human being in cold blood after he is wholly in our power. They must be driven overboard; thrown over, if they wont jump. I see no other way."

      We all agreed that this was the best method of compromising the matter. The old sentinel was brought aft, the gag taken from his mouth, and he was made to understand that his comrades would be let up, one at a time, through the little skylight, if they wished to come up and go overboard. If not, we would find means to fetch them out. All this he told them, as well as he understood it. His bonds were cut adrift and he leaped over the side without waiting to be helped. He struck out in the direction of the land, but whether he ever reached it or not is a question, for all this time we had been drawing rapidly away from it, and had taken care to stave the canoe before cutting her adrift.

      The skylight of the Titania was of the old-fashioned kind, simply a covering of plank, with two decklights of glass in it. Thus, while it admitted some light into the cabin, it effectually concealed both parties from each other’s sight. We stood ready armed, round the little combings, as the fastenings were undone, the mate having his gun aimed, as the hatch suddenly lifted off. His gun and that of the tall chief with a horribly tattooed face rang together, the two barrels touching as they were discharged, but the mate was the quickest. The ball intended for his brain just grazed his ear, and the tall savage fell dead to the floor of the cabin, as the skylight was dropped to its place and re-fastened.

      "It’s useless to think of mercy or compromise with such devils as these. I’m sorry for it, but it must be done, or more of us will be sent to join our poor shipmates there. Bring along the pitchpot, make a fire in it, and get a bed of coals. Open my lantern keg," said he to his boatsteerer, "and you will find some rolls of brimstone."

      As soon as the fire in the pot was sufficiently advanced for his purpose, he ordered

460 Nora Bryce.

the after hatches unbarred; and sent most of us forward to make a diversion at the forescuttle. We unfastened the slide, and pushed it partly off, drawing the enemy all to that end of the ship. Two spears were darted up at us, and one gun fired, but fortunately no one was hurt among us, while one savage was killed by a spade in the hands of one of our men.

      In the meantime one of the after hatches had been lifted and the pot, containing the fire and sulphur, lowered down. Everything was then closed and made as tight as possible.

      "That will fetch them out in a few minutes," said Mr. Archer, "unless they prefer to stay where they are and be smothered."

      A minute had hardly elapsed when a grand rush was made at both cabin and forecastle gangways, the stifled wretches pushing, struggling, and apparently trampling each other down, in their frantic efforts to get a breath of fresh air from the chinks, and gasping for breath as they strove to escape from the sulphurous smoke which pervaded every part of the ship below. This was continued for a few minutes, till the sounds became fainter, when the slides were thrown open both at once, and the poor fellows were seized, as they made their appearance, blinded and stupefied, and thrown overboard to take their chance. A few were already smothered to death; of those who came out alive, some probably reached the shore, and some were drowned. But we were well rid of them all, and that in the easiest possible manner, without risking more of our own lives.

      The melancholy duty of burying our own dead occupied the rest of the day, and a week afterwards our ship swung to her anchor in the Bay of Islands, showing no trace about her of the occurrences of that dreadful night and morning, save in the small number of her crew. The vacancies were filled, and the voyage successfully prosecuted under Captain Archer’s command.

      I have never heard of any other vessel having anchored in the little basin spoken of, either before or since. It is not to be found on the charts; but we, the survivors, have logged it in our records as Titania Bay.


Author: Macy, William Hussey
Title: Our Adventure in Titania Bay.
Publication: Ballou's Monthly Magazine.
Vol/No/Date: Vol 28, No. 5 (Nov 1868)
Pages: 453-460