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

No. 4.

W. H. Macy

Ballou's Monthly Magazine
Vol. LXV, No. 4 (Apr 1887)
pp. 312-315.



No. 4.

Landing the Crew of the "Daphne." – Captain McDougal and His Daughter. – Dave Bryant is "Interested."

      The beach shelved quite rapidly at the point where the brig first took the ground, and, as her bow wedged itself into the firm sand, the rushing wave lifted her stern, and swung her round, broadside on. She was sufficiently near for us to catch words shouted through a speaking-trumpet, but not for us to send our unaided voices to windward so as to make ourselves heard in reply.

      We strove, by all the signals in our power, to impress upon the crew the necessity of remaining on the wreck. Had they done so, all would have been saved. Daylight, we knew, must soon arrive, and we could find means to connect the wreck to the shore by a line.

      But a fatal infatuation had seized upon their minds, that a part of them might land in a boat; and a boat was accordingly lowered. How she was got safely into the water and pushed clear of the brig, was a mystery to us. AVe could not see the operation; but the glare of the torches, which had been lighted and held aloft by those remaining on deck, showed her rapidly approaching. We ran down as far as we dared, to be ready to seize her, and to assist the crew to land, should they succeed in beaching her safely.

      On she came, looming darkly in the fitful firelight; she seemed almost within our grasp, when an immense roller was seen coming in with frightful velocity, and a glance showed us that we must all be overwhelmed together. A terrible cry went up from those on board, who saw the danger but were powerless to avert it. For the moment we could only look to our own safety, as we ran for our lives up the slope of the beach, glancing over our shoulders at the great black wall of water moving on in pursuit.

      It burst with a thundering crash that drowned all other sounds. The devoted whaleboat was lifted, dashed end-over-end, filled and borne away, a shattered, worthless wreck, by the receding flood. Struggling desperately in the sandy bottom, I maintained my footing, and seized upon a human form, apparently stunned and bruised, which had been thrown against me.

      Dave was at my side in a moment, and together we dragged the unconscious man up on the stony ground near the bonfire. Mr. Fielding, being a little in the rear of us, was overtaken, and narrowly escaped drowning, but reached terra flrma, exhausted and breathless. One of the boat's crew was carried back under the lee of the brig, as she lay keeled inshore, and dragged on board by his shipmates. But four others, the remainder of the party, were swept out into the back current, or undertow, and were seen no more.

      No boat remained in which to make another attempt; for the vessel had carried only two, and one of them had been crushed to pieces when she struck. But the lesson had been sufficient for the survivors, who had seen the madness of the undertaking when too late to recall it.

      Several unsuccessful efforts were made to float a line ashore to us with pieces of board. But in the meantime, a better plan was in preparation. The fore-yard, which still remained aloft in its place, was topped up by the lee lift, the brace hauled taut, and the flapping canvas cut adrift. An active man then laid out on the yard-arm, pulled up a lance with a coil of light warp attached, and, watching his opportunity, darted it as far as possible, from his elevated perch, into the sand-beach. After several trials, Bryant at last succeeded, though at great risk of his life, in seizing it, and running up the bank with it.

      The rest was easy; for by the means of a light warp, a large rope was hauled ashore and carried higher up. In default of post or anchor, we secured it to the carcasses of two huge elephants, driven to the spot, and slain for the purpose.

      The man whom we had saved had so far recovered as to be able to assist us. But considerable time was consumed in our preparations, as day was dawning before the hauling apparatus was in working order. The weather was gradually moderating, and with the advantage of daylight, our labor of love was pushed forward with success, till,


as we thought, only the captain remained on board. He would, as in duty bound, be the last man to leave the vessel.

      At this point, there was a hitch in the operations; and we observed him carefully attaching to the hawser a sort of cradle, which appeared to have been extemporized from a deck-tub.

      "What's that rig for ?" asked Mr. Fielding. "To bring his chronometer and little valuables, I suppose."

      "Ay! one little valuable, that is more to him than all the chronometers ever turned out at Frodsham's," answered one who appeared to be the mate of the brigantine; "that's to haul Miss Caroline ashore in."

      "And who is Miss Caroline ?" was the inquiry, in tones of astonishment.

      "Caroline McDougal, the old man's daughter."

      "Is it possible that you have a lady on board, then?"

      "Ay! and a bonnie lassie she is as can be found within a month's sail from this desolate place. She's the old man's idol, and she is all he has to love. Her mother died two years ago, and he has taken her to sea with him, whenever the owners allowed it."

      "Here he comes with her out of the cabin! Now, boys, we shall have a deuble freight, and a precious one, too. We must mind the signal and haul lively at the word."

      The young lady, showing no signs of fear, stepped lightly upon the brig's rail, and was handed into the cradle by her -father. He then slung himself to the hawser close at her side, and, waving his hat to inform us that all was ready, a steady and careful pull brought the two safely on shore together. A dozen strong arms were extended to help the drenched and shivering young girl from her awkward position; for the tub in which she was obliged to crouch down was half filled with water at landing.

      "God bless you, boys, whoever you may be!" said Captain McDougal, a fine, seamanlike looking man, trying to grasp the hands of all three of us at once, as soon as he found his footing among the group. "My second mate aud the other poor fellows! if 1 had only kept them all on the wreck; but we thought it was all for the best. The rest of us owe our lives to your courage and efforts, and I cannot find words to express the thanks of myself and daughter, and, indeed, of all hands, for"

      "Never mind, sir," interrupted Fielding. "Take the young lady up to the fire. That is the best we have to offer you at present. It was quite accidental our being here; and we have only done what you or any of your men would have done for us under like circumstances.

      "My poor brig !" said the captain. "Do you think she will beat to pieces where she lies?"

      '' I think not," Fielding answered. "She will beat up high on the beach, and you will be able to board her next ebb tide; for the sea will go down to-day. The norther is almost blown out, and we shall have a shift of wind."

      The brig, we now learned, was the "Daphne," of Hobart Town, which had been fitted as tender to the " Garrick," now at the anchorage. Her sailing had been delayed some days after the departure of the bark. Her passage had been long and boisterous, and they had suddenly found themselves near the land in the height of the gale, with little more than room to wear off. They knew nothing of the rock-bound point under their lee, but had rightly interpreted our signals to beach the vessel, as they were fast shoaling their water, and saw no hope of safety from anchoring in the teeth of such a gale. The survivors numbered fourteen, besides the captain's daughter.

      The sky had cleared sufficiently for us to see the vessels in the Bight, pitching and plunging at their anchors. But it still blew too fresh against us to attempt the passage of the glacier. Another night must be passed on shore in our cave. By our advice, the shipwrecked crew set to work to prepare similar quarters, a small cavern being dug and neatly lined expressly for the young lady, near her father.

      At sundown the wind had fallen away to a light breeze. The brig had gradually worked up on the beach, and her motion was much less violent. A watch was set for the night, on the shore, to observe and report any change in the situation, and the rest of us retired to the camp-ground, when preparations were made for supper. The bill of fare was much the same as on the previous night.

      Some of the brig's crew had filled small tarpaulin bags with hard bread, before being hauled ashore, but most of their stock had been landed in a damaged condition. Seaelephants and penguins were abundant


enough, and easily killed, and these animals 'were made to supply us with shelter, food, and fire. They seemed to take but little notice of this invasion of their dominions, further than to evacuate the space immediately about our fires.

      By special request, we passed the evening with Captain McDougal and his daughter. The presence and companionship of a young woman, one of intelligence and refinement, too, seemed, among this strange, wild scenery, more like a dream than a reality. She had quite recovered her spirits, and had experienced no ill effects from her rude morning bath.

      Caroline McDougal was at the interesting age of eighteen, with a lithe, petite figure, erect and graceful in all her movements, as was apparent through all disadvantages of dress and circumstances. Her countenance was rather pretty than handsome; but with the bloom of her native Highlands improved by her seafaring life, and a wealth of rich, brown hair, she well merited the title of "bonnie lassie" given her by the mate of the " Daphne." From the part which she took in the conversation, it was evident that her education had not been neglected; the father himself being a man of much general information, united with much worldly experience.

      The captain was not one to mourn long at his loss, though he had ventured nearly all his means in the expedition, and the accident which had shipwrecked his vessel at the very outset was a severe blow to his prospects. But like a true sailor, he accepted the situation, and made the best of circumstances as they now stood.

      "We shall have a fine day to-morrow to work on the wreck," he said, cheerfully.

      "Capital," assented Fielding. "The wind will be round in the sou'west quarter before morning, cool and clear. A few hours will cut the surf down, and, stronghanded as you are, you will soon have all the stores and provisions landed."

      "Yes; and our voyage is not ruined yet, though we shall be working under a great disadvantage with a heavy ship and no tender. I want to see Captain Proctor as soon as possible, and yet," he continued, with a fond glance at his daughter, " I think I had better stay by the wreck to-morrow, and attend to stripping her myself. Mr. Rawlings," he said to his first officer, "you can take a cruise over the bluff to-morrow with Mr. Fielding, a»d go on board the "Garrick." You can report all the circumstances, and his boat can land here to-morrow, or next day, at farthest. As soon as we get some lumber and sails ashore, we can put up comfortable quarters for the whole party."

      Before we separated for the night, his daughter, at his request, sang two or three of her beautiful native ballads, to the delight of all hands, who gathered silently round. Her voice possessed a wonderful flexibility and power, and, after the first embarrassment was over, the songs were given with much feeling, and with thrilling effect upon the rough, bearded seamen, several of whom were countrymen of hers, from over the Border.

      In this wild, isolated spot, with its strange, dreary surroundings, the emotions stirred within the hearts of these wanderers were akin to those excited by the music of the "Bam des" when heard by the old campaigners in the African deserts, or amid the snows of Russia.

      Hardly less marked was the effect upon our own party. So strange and unlooked-for had been the advent of the beautiful singer among us, that we could hardly credit the evidence of our senses. Her gentle presence had a refining, humanizing influence upon us all, but upon no one was it more observable than my rollicking friend, Dave Bryant. His usual boisterous merriment had given place to seriousness; and, as we parted from our hosts to return to our own subterranean chamber, I could not refrain from rallying my comrade for being, for the first time during our acquaintance, " under a cloud."

      "I don't feel very well, to-night," he said, abstractedly. "Those penguins' hearts are rather indigestible, I think."

      "I have no doubt that heart-disease is at the bottom of the difficulty," I replied; "but don't lay it to the poor, innocent penguins, Dave. There's a young lady in the case, this time."

      "Have you any peculiar detective skill in these matters?" he asked, with a slight sneer.

      "None is required," I answered. "The diagnosis is simple enough, and the perception of a true friend cannot be mistaken in the symptoms."

      "Well, Joe," he said, striving to be cheerful again, " I admit the soft impeachment.


I believe I am interested, for the first time in my life."

      "Is it anything more, think you, than a sort of romantic interest, engendered by the circumstances of the case? The whole thing is strange—it is so strange that the girl shculd be here at all, in this out-of-the-way place, her presence among such surroundings seems so like an angel visit, that it would be no wonder if more than one susceptible youth among us were attacked with heart-disease."

      We had, by this time, arrived at our encampment. We had left Fielding behind, conversing with the captain, so that we had a fine opportunity for confidential talk. But Dave, without making any immediate reply, proceeded to stir up and revive the smouldering fire, while I sallied forth with my lance, to butcher another load of fuel. A cheerful blaze in a few minutes rewarded our efforts; and, sitting down by its genial warmth, we smoked and ruminated for some time in silence.

      "There's a Providence in it," said Bryant, at last. "There's more in it than the mere romance of the situation; and I own to you, Joe, that I am deeply interested in Carrie McDougal, I hardly know why, myself. As you say, the whole thing is so strange I And not the least strange pari of it is, that I, who have stood the fascinations of all the Broadway belles unmoved, should come out here to this distant corner of the earth to be in danger of losing my heart to a little Scotch fairy, who has hardly exchanged a dozen sentences with me."

      "Say, rather, to a little sea-nymph, who rose into view, dripping from a deck-tub, like a burlesque upon Venus," I returned. "But, to be serious, Dave, I should not be much surprised if the interest should prove to be mutual. Without flattery, I may say that you are a geod-looking fellow. And, as you have been instrumental in saving Miss McDougal's life, the acquaintance has begun according to the established rules of romance."

      "But the same reasons would apply to you, Joe. You are certainly as comely as I, and have had an equal share in her rescue."

      "Oh, you need not fear me as a rival. Not but that I admire the girl very much, and truly believe she is worthy of any man's love. But I am heart-whole, and intend to remain so for the present."

      "I am glad to hear it, Joe; for, if we were both to fall in love with the same woman, we might fall out in our friendship."

      "You shall have a clear field, so far as I am concerned. And, moreover, if I can aid you in any way, I shall be at your service. You may trust me, I shall never play Sir Proteus to your Valentine. But here comes Mr. Fielding, and it is time to creep into our cave, for we have a tiresome jaunt before us in the morning, to cross the glacier."

      My comrade did not follow me immediately, but still sat meditating in the firelight, and gave short, absent replies to Mr. Fielding's remarks. I could not but feel concerned, as I thought of the change that had come over my friend. But I hoped it might be for the best, and that there was, as he believed, a Providence in this strange meeting. I doubted not, that if the attraction were mutual, the influence of this interesting young girl upon him would be for his good.

      It may be thought that I attached undue importance to this little confession of sudden attachment which my friend had made to me. But, knowing him as I did, I had the most perfect confidence in his word, and felt that he meant all, and even more, than he had said. Though a little wild, and, as yet, unsettled, he had the ring of the true metal in him. He would, in the end, I was sure, vindicate his manhood, and take his proper stand among his fellows.

      As to his views of the gentier sex, I knew him to be the soul of honor, and incapable of anything like trifling flirtation. His course, in an affair of this kind, would be a frank, straightforward one; and a young girl's reputation and peace of mind would be sacred in his keeping.

      And, thinking all this, I fell sound asleep on my downy penguin bed under the tussock, my last glance of consciousness falling upon the subject of my thoughts, sitting in a reverie by the camp-fire.


Author: Macy, William Hussey
Title: Beyond Desolation - No. 4.
Publication: Ballou's Monthly Magazine.
Vol/No/Date: Vol. 65, No. 4 (Apr 1887)
Pages: 312-315