Bibliographic Information

The Plough Boy Journals

The Journals and Associated Documents

The Plough Boy Anthology

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. LIV, No. 3 (Sep 1881)
pp. 246-253.

246 Ballou's Monthly Magazine.

. . . .



      I have heard men say that a man who had been a sailor in his young days could be detected on a very brief acquaintance by something in his speech or manner, no matter what other change might have happened to him; but I am satisfied that this is all moonshine. Many cases to prove the contrary have come under my own observation, and have left me convinced that one need not carry the savor of the salt about him through his whole life. It is almost impossible for the landsman to put on the seaman and deceive any shrewd person by such counterfeit; but the converse of this proposition is not so true.

      Certainly I had never had reason to suspect anything nautical about Mr. Wiswall, the sleek, well-preserved elderly gentleman who owned the brig Resolute, in which I had made several West India voyages. While on shore I was thrown much into contact with him, but, in our most familiar intercourse, he had never dropped a word indicating any knowledge of marine matters but such as might have been picked up by any observing man who owned a vessel and fitted her out, and had various dealings with seamen. Indeed, whenever some nautical detail was the subject of conversation between us he always listened modestly, while I am afraid I was too much inclined to give myself airs for the time being, assuming the patronizing manner which comes natural to us when talking on nautical subjects with those whom we suppose to know nothing about such things.

      The Resolute was once more ready for sea, and I was spending the last evening ashore with the owner and his wife, in their pleasant home. Mrs. Wiswall was still a comely matron, though on the shady side of fifty, and I thought had a certain something English in her manner and speech, though I did not attach much importance to that, as I have learned that it is easy enough to be mistaken on the question of nationality, as well as upon other points. I had been looking over the daily papers, and observed that late arrivals reported great numbers of icebergs seen in the North Atlantic, some of which were of immense size. I was skeptical on the subject, and made a remark to that effect, thinking that an expression of opinion from me would almost settle the matter, so far as my listeners were concerned. Yet I knew really nothing by experience of trans-Atlantic passages, never having made a voyage in that direction. But much to my surprise, my employer and host at once declared his belief in the accuracy of the newspaper reports, saying that he had himself seen similar masses of ice in very nearly the same latitude and longitude mentioned.

      "Ah!" said I, "you have crossed the ocean, then? In one of the passenger steamers, perhaps?"

      "No, indeed," he answered; "I have made the voyage several times under canvas before any line of steamships was established. I was no passenger, either, but an able seaman, or at least called myself so in those days. But you look surprised at this."

      "I confess that I am so," said I.

      "Perhaps you thought you could detect an ex-seaman by something in the cut of his jib, or by some aroma of the sea hanging about him. Well, you can do this – sometimes. We were speaking of the accumulation of ice which drifts down from the Polar seas and hovers about the latitude of the Newfoundland Banks, threatening destruction to ships. It is no uncommon thing, though it is much more dangerous some seasons than others. It is now thirty-five years since I met with the greatest peril of my life, almost in that very locality, though it led to my life-long happiness," and he glanced admiringly at his wife, who was rising. "You are not going to leave us, Louisa?"

      "Oh, you can spare me very well," she answered with a laugh. "You and the cap-

Water-logged. 247

tain will have business to talk over, I suppose, and I shall be one too many."

      At my solicitation, Mr. Wiswall then told me his story, premising, with a merry twinkle of his eye, that he should be obliged to rub up his nautical knowledge, which had grown rusty, in order to put his affidavit into proper form for my professional ear.

      I did not exactly run away to sea, though I went much against the wish of my mother, who was at last persuaded to yield a reluctant consent. It is a great comfort to me to know that I was always true to her and her teachings, and that I was enabled to provide for her in later years, and to make her declining years happy in my own home. But I must say that I enjoyed the adventurous life of a seaman in my young days, and while I was a single man I desired nothing better than a good ship and plenty of sea-room. But there came a time when I saw things in a different light, for there is no tie to bind a man to the shore like those of wife and children.

      I had made several European voyages as able seaman, and in the course of my wanderings had made the acquaintance of a young Englishman named Hastings, who was mate of a ship, with a good prospect of rising in his profession. We took a great liking for each other, and kept up an occasional correspondence by sending letters to different ports, thus anticipating each other's arrival. Thus it happened that on arriving in New York from one of my voyages, I found a letter from my friend, now Captain Hastings, awaiting me. It had been written only a few days before, from St. John, New Brunswick, and informed me that he was to sail within a month, in command of the Scarborough, with lumber and deals for Liverpool. He would keep the berth of second mate open for me until the latest possible moment, and urged me to come on at once, if I got his letter in time.

      This would be sailing under the English flag, of course, but I cared little about that; as, on the other hand, it would be a voyage with a man whom I liked and who liked me, and a good opening to promotion. So I determined, after giving but a day or two to my mother, to accept his offer.

      I arrived just in good time at St. John, for the Scarborough was nearly loaded, and my friend had meant to ship an officer the next day if I had not appeared. I liked the ship well enough, and I thought I had done well to improve this offer, which gave me an increase of wages, while it also put a handle to my name, and I was for the first time Mr. Wiswall.

      I did not take kindly to the mate, a little wiry fellow, with immense whiskers, named Digby, and I am quite positive that he hated me at sight. But he had been in the same employ before, had the reputation of being a fair seaman, and had been engaged as mate before my young friend had been offered the command.

      I learned that a Mr. Armstrong, who owned the cargo of lumber and was supposed to be worth a comfortable sum, was going out as passenger with us, accompanied by his only child, a grown-up daughter. I thought this might make a pleasant state of things, as two or three passengers would no doubt be very companionable, though I never cared to go in regular passenger-ships, carrying a large number of them. I had several times before had a woman or two as shipmates, and thought it rather enjoyable, though, being only a Jack before the mast, I did not get much of their company. But now I should be brought every day into close contact with a young woman, and of course felt myself on my good behavior.

      Little Mr. Digby was much averse to the idea of having any passengers at all, especially a lady, and growled about women and black cats bringing evil luck, with other nonsense of the sort, to which the captain and I paid no attention. But the more I saw and heard of the mate, the more I disliked him; while it was plain enough from his evil looks that there was no love lost between us.

      Our passengers did not come on board until the final hour, and in the bustle of preparation for sea, I had no opportunity to observe more than that Mr. Armstrong was a quiet-seeming gentleman of sixty, apparently in shattered health, and that his daughter Louisa was – well, never mind. You have seen her this evening. Take five-and-thirty years from her age, and make up your own judgment. I found it in my heart to envy the young captain, who would have, more than any one else, the opportunity to spend his time in the company of his passengers. But then he was just married, and was now leaving his young wife for the first time.

      We sailed with a fair wind, which followed us for three days, steadily increasing in force, but with no sudden change. On the third night out from St. John we were still carrying the main-top-gallant sail over single reef, and making a rapid run through the water, with the wind well abaft the beam and a smart sea helping us along. The night was very dark, and the regular lookout from the bow was well-kept, for there is always danger of collision with other ships, but I can't say that I had thought of icebergs that night, though I had seen a few of them on former voyages across the North Atlantic. There was a chilly feeling in the night air, but I did not take special note of

248 Ballou's Monthly Magazine.

this until I came to think it over afterward, when it was too late.

      I had called Mr. Digby at twelve o'clock, and as he came on deck to relieve me, the captain also turned out and came up to look at the weather. After exchanging a few words with them both, I went below, and had just thrown off my jacket, with the prospect of a comfortable four-hours' snooze, when I heard a cry, which seemed to come from the look-out man forward.

      "Hard up your helm!" I heard Captain Hastings repeat the order in a voice of excitement, and then the sound of his heavy steps as he ran forward. The next instant I was thrown into a sitting posture on my sea-chest by the sudden stoppage of the ship, with a crash, as if her whole broadside had been driven in. It seemed to me that I could not only hear, but feel her stout timbers crack, and I realized on the very instant that her career was ended, and we must look only to the safety of our lives. I heard the door of Mr. Armstrong's state-room thrown open, but I had no time to explain or answer questions, for my duty was elsewhere.

      I tumbled up the companion-way, and reached the quarter-deck, I hardly knew how, while the cracking and tearing was terrific, for the ship had struck the ice-island at its lee end, and as she forged ahead, it raked us fore and aft. The fore and main-topmast had both been broken off, and the whole chaos of spars and canvas had fallen upon the wreck below, thus adding to the confusion. In less time than I could tell it, we had driven clear of the ice, but now all order was lost, and in the general terror and confusion, no one could control any one else. The voice of Captain Hastings was not to be heard, and knowing his cool and resolute character, I felt sure that some accident must have happened to him. I started aft again, however, to look into the cabin, but met only the terrified faces of Mr. Armstrong and his daughter, peering up the stairway. With a word to them to prepare for the worst, as the ship was sinking, I turned away to aid Digby in rallying the men and clearing away the boats. I thought of the long-boat and started forward toward her, but in so doing I fell over the body of a man lying close by the mainmast. A close look at his face and his clothing assured me that it was all that remained of my dear friend, Captain Hastings. The cause of his death was apparent enough in the masses of ice that lay near him. An over-hanging spar must have broken off from the bergs as the ship was scraping past it, and the mass of ice, which must have weighed a ton or two before it fell, now lay in many fragments among the wreck, having crushed the brave young captain in its fall, at the very moment when I last heard his foot-steps as he ran forward, after repeating the cry to the helmsman. But there was no chance for sentiment, and being satisfied that there would be no time to clear the long-boat away, I said as much to the mate, who was now, of course, in command of the ship, and together we turned our attention to clearing away the quarter-boat, which hung high up on the davits. We both seemed instinctively to feel that it was useless to waste time in trying the pumps or sounding the well, for we knew that the voyage was ended, as far as the ship was concerned.

      The Scarborough, being a small ship, carried only ten seamen before the mast, and we counted seventeen human souls on board just previous to the accident. She had a small jolly-boat, scarcely fit to bear more than four persons, while the quarter-boat, much longer and better in a sea-way, would take ten or even a dozen with safety. Luckily, both these boats being on the offside when the ice-island raked us, had escaped unbroken, and we went to work with a kind of orderly disorder, to get them lowered into the sea, while some were collecting food and water, of which, however, we could not take much without over-loading the boats. The ship had been brought to the wind, which was blowing a strong breeze, indeed almost a gale, but having now no pressure of canvas aloft, she lay comfortably enough. It was already apparent that she was settling bodily, and we must hurry up and work lively if we would escape with our lives.

      When we came to muster the men aft, it was found that two others besides Captain Hastings were missing; it was idle to look for them, as there was no doubt they had been knocked overboard, or buried under the wreck of the falling spars.

      Mr, Digby showed himself cool and steady as soon as the first shock was over, and did all that a good seaman could do in carrying on the preparations for leaving the ship. The little jolly-boat was floated first, and he ordered four men into her, selecting them by name, and with instructions to lie off at a short distance and wait for the larger boat to join them; as the quarter-boat was provided with mast and sail, his intention was to take the jolly-boat in tow, as the only way to keep us together at the start. He meant to put me in charge of the small boat, as this of course was my natural place as second officer; but for the present he wanted me to remain and assist in the work, as we ought to be the last two men to leave the wreck. We put such weight as we dared into the quarter-boat before lowering her, and then rested from our labors, desiring to remain in the ship until the last min-

Water-logged. 249

ute possible, for the better chance of being seen and rescued.

      Mr. Armstrong came to the cabin-door, and called Mr. Digby and myself, saying that he wished to consult with us. We found him calm and collected, and his daughter even more so, and they had made their little preparations with the best judgment. He now told us that he had a considerable sum of money in gold, which he would like to take into the boat with him, but would be governed entirely by our advice in the matter.

      I saw the mate's eyes glisten and his fingers work involuntarily as the bag of sovereigns was produced, but in a moment he said coolly: –

      "Yes, you had better take the bag with you; it will make no great difference in the boat's trim, and if worst comes to worst, we can throw it overboard afterward. But we mustn't let all hands know. Hold on a bit; I'll manage it."

      He took a covered bucket from the steward's pantry, and put the bag of gold into it, and it was passed into the stern sheets of the quarter-boat as if it were an article of cabin-stores. But now the water began to swash under the cabin-floor, as the ship rolled, warning us that we must hurry up our movements.

      My idea was to place the passengers in the boat before she was lowered down; but Mr. Digby at once over-ruled this, saying that there was already enough weight in her. He wanted me to go down in the head of the boat, with another careful seaman at the stern, and attend to receiving the remainder of the stores and stowing them away. He himself would looked out for the old gentleman and the young lady, and would remain by the wreck until the latest possible moment before he joined us. From my position in the bow, I should be all ready to jump into the jolly-boat as soon as we should join her.

      The arrangements were all made as the mate directed, and soon I had received and stowed away as much as we ought to attempt to carry, and the men, one after another, passed down the side and took their places in good order. Meanwhile the movements of the ship grew more and more suspicious, and at last she rolled down towards us with a lurch that seemed to threaten the swamping of the boat. But as I had the bight of the boat's long painter round one of the ship's chain-plates, so that I could veer and haul upon it, in a moment the ship recovered herself, and again rolled up to windward. I heard the order, "Let go the painter!" from some voice in the boat, and in a moment realized that Mr. Digby himself was at the stern-sheets. I was in the act of gathering in the warp, so as to keep alongside, and this new order struck me dumb with surprise for a moment.

      "Let go the painter, I say!" roared the mate. "No words, but let go!"

      "Will you murder a man, and a woman too, in cold blood?" I asked.

      "I'll murder you in hot blood, if you disobey my orders!" he answered, in a voice choked with passion, at the same time jumping toward me over the men seated in the boat.

      "Ryan," he cried to the man who was nearest me, "cut the painter, quick, before the ship makes another lurch."

      With the seaman's instinct of obedience to his superior officer, Ryan was drawing his sheath-knife, but I swung out my leg with a heavy kick, which sent him sprawling over among his shipmates.

      But at this instant I felt that the doomed ship was rolling down upon us as before, and instead of veering away the warp, I dropped both the ends and the bight, and grasping at a rope hanging above, swung myself bodily into the ship's main-chains. My mind had taken in the whole situation, and I felt that Digby was a diabolical villain, who meant, for the sake of that bag of sovereigns, to abandon a feeble old man and a lovely woman, to perish by the alternative of drowning or starving to death. I did not see it in my power to prevent such a hellish design from being carried out, but I formed the sudden resolution to take my chance with the victims on the wreck.

      There was a wild commotion in the boat, and she had a narrow escape from being crushed or capsized; but as the ship recovered herself on the weather-roll, I perceived that the boat was still afloat, though entirely adrift from us. A moment more, and she had fallen so far on the lee-quarter that the effort to get alongside again would have been a doubtful one, even had they made it with all their skill and energies. I could hear the foul language of altercation as she vanished away into the darkness, and I climbed on board, seriously wondering now whether their chance of being saved was any better than my own, and feeling that I must now live or die with Mr. Armstrong and his fair daughter.

      I found them both on deck, clinging to the rail to keep their balance under the violent lurches of the ship, for the cabin was now half full of water, and its level fast rising. The last place of safety would be the poop deck, which might stand like a low island in the sea, after all else should be submerged. I reflected that the Scarborough, from the buoyant character of the cargo, could not go down entirely, but would hang suspended at the surface, and float as long as she was strong enough to hold together. I could therefore take measures accordingly,

250 Ballou's Monthly Magazine.

and the manner in which she had stood the tremendous shock of the berg without instantly filling, gave me the best opinion of her strength, and inspired me with a glimmer of hope.

      The scuttle-butt stood firmly lashed in its place, under the break of the poop, and was still half full of water, even after all the kegs had been filled for the boats. There was no immediate danger of suffering on that score, and I hoped to secure food enough before the ship should entirely sink. I stopped scarcely a moment to explain the circumstances to my companions, but wading breast-deep in the forward cabin, I secured a barrel of bread, which as yet had received but little damage, and calling upon Mr. Armstrong to help, I secured it, after a hard struggle, high and dry upon the most elevated part of the poop-deck. I also saved a few other matters of provision from the steward's store-room, though at the last I was obliged to swim for it, and was finally driven out entirely by the rising water.

      All this had occupied but little time, and it still wanted two hours to daylight. Up to this time I am positive that Louisa and her father did not really understand the situation, but had a vague idea that somehow the mate was coming back to take us off, and that I was collecting the provision against their return. But I had now done all that I could for the present, and had leisure to talk with them at length. They could hardly realize that Mr. Digby could be guilty of such fiendish wickedness, but when after my explanation they succeeded in grasping all the facts, I was surprised to find the daughter much more cool and courageous than the father. I felt the greatest admiration for her character, being convinced that we should have no trouble in the form of womanly weakness to contend with; and if I had admired her while the Scarborough was still afloat, I think that my love for her dates from the hour when she sank.

      "Mr. Wiswall," she asked, "why are you here with us? I think I can now understand that for the sake of the gold, the mate, Digby, has left me and my father to this dreadful fate, but why did he abandon you too? Ah, it occurs to me! you were the only other person who knew about the money, and he means to try and secure it all to himself."

      I modestly related all the circumstances, telling how I had been seized with a sudden impulse to return to the ship and share their fate as soon as I found myself powerless against Digby's wickedness. She said nothing for some minutes afterward, but I could see that she fully believed all my words, and that they had made a deep impression.

      When the tardy daylight at last broke upon the ocean, our situation, though bad enough, did not seem to me so desperate as it had in the preceding hours of idleness and darkness. The ship now lay totally logged with water, and her main-deck all awash; but the poop formed our little island of refuge, and to this we must cling. I had carefully covered the bread and other matters with canvas, of which I had an abundance from the torn sails, and we were safe from starvation and thirst for some time, unless a heavy gale and sea should sweep away our stores; but in such a case we were likely to perish with it. It was, however, a favorable season of the year, and the temperature too mild for us to suffer much with cold.

      My spirits rose with the morning sun, and re-assuring my companions, I climbed into the rigging and mounted to the mizzen-topsail yard, which was down upon the lifts. But as the other two topmasts were broken off, and still thrashing alongside, I had a fair view over the stumps, and could see all around the horizon. No sail was to be seen in any direction, and I could do no good by hoisting signals, for if any vessel hove in sight, the crippled condition of our spars would be quite sufficient to attract attention and advertise our distress. The weather looked promising, and I was glad enough of the prospect of the sea going down; for, though the ship rode buoyantly, her rolling motion was very violent, and I had my fears as to her holding together many days, while the upward pressure of the vast piles of lumber and deals must bring an immense strain to bear under her decks.

      I determined to get rid, if possible, of the wrecked hamper of spars and canvas, and descending to the deck again, I looked up an axe which I knew had been used during the night, and soon found it lying in the lee-scuppers. Armed with this, I went to work deliberately, all alone, for neither of my companions could be of any assistance to me in such a job, and distributing the blows of my axe in the right places, I succeeded, after two or three hours' labor, in getting rid of all the wreck, and had the satisfaction of seeing it float away clear of the ship. I now had a chance to examine the condition of the long-boat, and found one of her gunwales broken by some of the fallen spars, but otherwise in good condition, the resistance of the house over her having partially broken the force of the blows upon the boat herself. I thought I could upon a pinch mend this gunwale with seizing, in case I should determine to put to sea with her; but I meant to stick to the ship as long as possible. I thought that we could float the longboat, as she appeared at times to be afloat now, and to be only held down by

Water-logged. 251

her lashings when the water swashed heavily across the deck. But as we could not possibly lift her, it would be necessary to get rid of the high bulwarks and rails on one side at least.

      After a good rest, and a long talk with Louisa, for her father had but very little to say, and seemed to droop more and more every hour, I again left them to renew my labors. I had a tough job to cut through the rail, though I made short work of the bulwarks; but, hardest of all, I had to chop off several stout upright stanchions, and my work was not finished that day. The weather was moderate, and we made comfortable arrangements for the night on our little inland. Of course we talked much, and made the time pass as cheerfully as possible; but as for the father, he could be only temporarily aroused from a sort of half-stupor, so that my conversation as to our plans and chances was mostly confined to the daughter. Her good sense, as well as her graces, made her more interesting and dear to me each succeeding hour that we passed together.

      But I was tired enough to lose my senses at an early hour, and slept soundly, waking with the dawn of day. I fully realized the danger of collision, as we lay in the track of other ships crossing the Atlantic, but I could take no precautions against it, as our own vessel was entirely unmanageable, and I had no means of setting lights or making any night-signals. I must sleep myself to be fit for what was devolving upon me, and I made no attempt at setting any regular watch. But I had reason to know afterward that bright young eyes were watching over my safety a great portion of the night-time.

      But there is no great variety of incident to relate in the history of those nine long days and nights that we remained on the water-logged wreck of the Scarborough. The patience and fortitude of Louisa – for I may surely call her so now, if I could not then – were something marvelous to me, for I had until then known about as much, or as little, about women as young sailors usually do, and had no idea of the reserve force that is in them, or, at least, in some of them. She seemed to me something more than human when I studied her patient endurance, her unselfishness, her solicitude for her invalid father, and her sweet gratitude to me for the little that I was able to do for her and for him. I knew then, for the first time in my life, the loveliness of a true woman, and felt that she had done quite as much in sustaining me as I could do for her, for I was sure I could live and die with her, while life became more dear to me, and all my energy quickened, by reason of her presence there, and the faith she evidently had in me as her nearest friend and protector, for she could no longer look to her parent for strength, but was obliged to draw constantly on her own to sustain him.

      During all this time we had no heavy gale of wind and but little rainy weather. Sometimes the sea was comparatively smooth, but at other times the wind rose and the sea became quite boisterous, making our situation very uncomfortable, and causing the shattered hull to strain fearfully. The old gentleman grew weaker and weaker, and excepting for his child's sake, she being the only near and dear one he had in this world, seemed to care but little whether he lived or died. But Louisa and I had preserved our strength and health wonderfully, considering our coarse prison fare, as it might be called, though it was not deficient in quantity. But I watched the condition of the old ship with much the same anxiety as that of our own health, and each recurrence of rugged weather increased my terrible anxiety.

      On the ninth day I became satisfied, from certain indications, that her frame was weakening fast, and that she could not hold together much longer. I dared not risk waiting by her through another fresh gale, and as the weather was all that could be desired, I began my preparations for abandonment. I stated the whole case, and discussed our chances with Louisa that night before I slept, for I had no secrets from her, and always felt stronger for a consultation with her. She was calm and even cheerful, satisfied that whatever course I had decided upon was the best one, and desiring only to know what she could do to help and forward my plans. As for Mr. Armstrong, he took no interest in the matter, one way or the other, but submitted stoically to the leadership of his loving daughter.

      I was stirring early, after a good night's sleep, and at once began operations for getting the long-boat afloat, as the weather was favorable for my purpose. I succeeded even better than I had anticipated, for as soon as I had released the lashings, a great rush of water across the deck came just in the nick of time, lifting her from the chocks, and I had only to snub her movements with the warp, and guide her in the right direction, to go out at the gangway which I had cut for her. I then veered her astern quickly, for safety from harm, and to prevent her being thrown in on deck again, and set about getting things into her that I thought might be useful to us on our voyage. But again I wavered and hesitated when I thought of the prospect before us, for the Scarborough, according to her reckoning, had made over five hundred miles in three days, after leaving St. John. It was a

252 Ballou's Monthly Magazine.

perilous voyage, to be undertaken only as an alternative from still greater peril. I now had my craft on the sea, and it could do no harm to stay by the ship another night if the weather continued so quiet, and the process of breaking up was so gradual. I thought especially how much greater were the chances of being seen and rescued by remaining on the wreck, compared with those in the smaller craft, and thus it happened that we lay down to rest for another night on the poop of the Scarborough. Mr. Armstrong was even more quiet than I had ever seen him before, and there was a deeper shade of anxiety on the lovely, patient face that hung over him, though she seemed unwilling to express her feelings in words.

      I thought she approved of my decision to wait one more night at least before embarking, and as we again talked together before retiring, she thanked me for what she called my tender consideration of her, and frankly giving me her hand for the first time, told me she had a presentiment of our final safety. She did not think much of presentiments as a general thing, but in this case she could not help feeling that we should be rescued – she knew not in what way or how soon. We both felt our hearts lightened by the interview, for the love of life was strong in our young hearts, and we both loved life the more for having known each other.

      I was awakened from a sound sleep by a gentle touch on my arm, and my name was pronounced in the voice that had of late grown so familiar to me. Rousing myself, I jumped to my feet, and turned my gaze in the direction where Louisa was pointing with outstretched hands. There was a ship within half a mile of us, steering eastward under a pile of canvas, but it was possible that she might pass without seeing us, as we were somewhat out of her track, and her lookouts would observe ahead rather than abeam. But she would pass under my lee, and I had the chances in my favor if I could make noise enough. Grasping the long speaking-trumpet, which still reposed in its becket just under the companion-slide, I summoned all my power of lungs and sent down to leeward a blast which astonished myself as well as my companion. I rested a moment and then repeated it. I thought I could see a slight lifting and fluttering, and presently the ship kept a hard full again, but the report of a gun and the sight of a signal-lantern assured me that we had been heard and seen.

      "We are saved!" said I, "thanks to my good angel, who has watched over me while I slept. The ship will make a short tack to fetch to windward of us, and then help will be at hand. But how is your father? Will the news of rescue rouse him up, do you think?"

      "I fear not," she said in a whisper. "It is nearly over with him."

      I stood reverently aside while she bent over the old man and tenderly lifted his head.

      "Father, do you hear? There is help at hand. Come, cheer up."

      But no word came in response. One arm was raised and passed over her neck as she bent her face close to his. And thus they remained, but no word was spoken. Half an hour later, the lifeless form of Mr. Armstrong was tenderly lifted by strong arms and passed into the boat that bore his only child and myself to the Cambria, packetship, bound from New York to Liverpool.

      There is no need to relate in detail how the next day we stood with uncovered heads as chief-mourners at the ocean-burial, or how or at what moment we first spoke together of love and marriage. Indeed, we hardly knew ourselves, for our affection had grown insensibly, and already we seemed to understand each other. After what we had passed through together, it seemed the most natural thing in the world for her to look to me always as her protector. Mr. Armstrong had no near relatives on this side of the Atlantic, but had business acquaintances in Liverpool, and funds on deposit there, so that Louisa was well provided for as soon as we arrived. But on the return voyage of the Cambria she brought us both as passengers joined in the life-long bonds which man may not put asunder.

      The quarter-boat of the Scarborough had been picked up within two days after our shipwreck, bottom up, with a hole stove in her bows, as if she had struck a rock. There can be no doubt that while running under sail, probably during the same night when she left the ship, she came in contact with ice, probably a fragment of the same great berg, filled, sank and rolled over. The seven men in her had miserably perished, and the bag of gold, for which the mate had bartered his soul, went to the bottom of the Atlantic.

      The four men in the little jolly-boat, who had been basely deserted by Digby as soon as he made sail in his larger boat, were all rescued and brought to Halifax by an inward-bound vessel.

      As the cargo of the Scarborough and the bag of sovereigns were a total loss, the estate of Mr. Armstrong was not large when all his affairs were settled, for which purpose we made a trip to St. John. With the balance I was able to start business in a small way on our return to Boston, and, having prospered, found myself able to give up the seafaring life while still a young man. Our children have grown to maturity, and we have grand-children growing up now, but Louisa is as young as ever in my

Bonaparte and Josephine. 253

eyes, and even more fondly loved now than on the night when her father died on the wreck of the Scarborough.

      But you will believe after this that your nautical phrases in speech are no riddles to me, and also that I have good reason to credit the recent reports of icebergs seen in the North Atlantic.


Author: Macy, William Hussey
Title: Water-Logged.
Publication: Ballou's Monthly Magazine.
Vol/No/Date: Vol. 54, No. 3 (Sep 1881)
Pages: 246-253