The Little Savage

Frederick Marryat


Old Jew with a Boy - Picasso, 1903
Picasso, 1903

Chapter One.

I am about to write a very curious history, as the reader will agree with me when he has read this book. We have more than one narrative of people being cast away upon desolate islands, and being left to their own resources, and no works are perhaps read with more interest; but I believe I am the first instance of a boy being left alone upon an uninhabited island. Such was, however, the case; and now I shall tell my own story.

My first recollections are, that I was in company with a man upon this island, and that we walked often along the sea-shore. It was rocky and difficult to climb in many parts, and the man used to drag or pull me over the dangerous places. He was very unkind to me, which may appear strange, as I was the only companion that he had; but he was of a morose and gloomy disposition. He would sit down squatted in the corner of our cabin, and sometimes not speak for hours, — or he would remain the whole day looking out at the sea, as if watching for something, but what I never could tell; for if I spoke, he would not reply; and if near to him, I was sure to receive a cuff or a heavy blow. I should imagine that I was about five years old at the time that I first recollect clearly what passed. I may have been younger. I may as well here state what I gathered from him at different times, relative to our being left upon this desolate spot. It was with difficulty that I did so; for, generally speaking, he would throw a stone at me if I asked questions, that is, if I repeatedly asked them after he had refused to answer. It was on one occasion, when he was lying sick, that I gained the information, and that only by refusing to attend him or bring him food and water. He would be very angry, and say, that when he got well again, he would make me smart for it; but I cared not, for I was then getting strong, whilst he was getting weaker every day, and I had no love for him, for he had never shown any to me, but always treated me with great severity.

He told me, that about twelve years before (not that I knew what he meant by a year, for I had never heard the term used by him), an English ship (I did not know what a ship was) had been swamped near the island in a heavy gale, and that seven men and one woman had been saved, and all the other people lost. That the ship had been broken into pieces, and that they had saved nothing — that they had picked up among the rocks pieces of the wood with which it had been made, and had built the cabin in which we lived. That one had died after another, and had been buried (what death or burial meant, I had no idea at the time); and that I had been born on the island — (how was I born? thought I); that most of them had died before I was two years old; and that then, he and my mother were the only two left besides me. My mother had died a few months afterwards. I was obliged to ask him many questions to understand all this; indeed, I did not understand it till long afterwards, although I had an idea of what he would say. Had I been left with any other person, I should, of course, by conversation, have learned much; but he never would converse, still less explain. He called me, Boy, and I called him, Master. His inveterate silence was the occasion of my language being composed of very few words; for, except to order me to do this or that, to procure what was required, he never would converse. He did, however, mutter to himself, and talk in his sleep, and I used to lie awake and listen, that I might gain information; not at first, but when I grew older. He used to cry out in his sleep constantly: “A judgment, a judgment on me for my sins, my heavy sins! God be merciful!” But what judgement, or what sin was, or what was God, I did not then know, although I mused on words repeated so often.

I will now describe the island, and the way in which we lived. The island was very small, perhaps not three miles round; it was of rock, and there was no beach nor landing-place, the sea washing its sides with deep water. It was, as I afterwards discovered, one of the group of islands, to which the Peruvians despatch vessels every year to collect the guano, or refuse of the sea-birds which resort to the islands; but the one on which we were was small, and detached some distance from the others, on which the guano was found in great profusion; so that hitherto it had been neglected, and no vessel had ever come near it. Indeed, the other islands were not to be seen from it except on a very clear day, when they appeared like a cloud or mist on the horizon. The shores of the island were, moreover, so precipitous, that there was no landing-place, and the eternal wash of the ocean would have made it almost impossible for a vessel to have taken off a cargo. Such was the island upon which I found myself in company with this man. Our cabin was built of ship-plank and timber, under the shelter of a cliff, about fifty yards from the water; there was a flat of about thirty yards square in front of it, and from the cliff there trickled down a rill of water, which fell into a hole dug out to collect it, and then found its way over the flat to the rocks beneath. The cabin itself was large, and capable of holding many more people than had ever lived in it; but it was not too large, as we had to secure in it our provisions for many months. There were several bed-places level with the floor, which were rendered soft enough to lie on, by being filled with the feathers of birds. Furniture there was none, except two or three old axes, blunted with long use, a tin pannikin, a mess kid, and some rude vessels to hold water, cut out of wood. On the summit of the island, there was a forest of underwood, and the bushes extended some distance down the ravines which led from the summit to the shore. One of my most arduous tasks was to climb these ravines and collect wood, but fortunately a fire was not often required. The climate was warm all the year round, and there seldom was a fall of rain; when it did fall, it was generally expended on the summit of the island, and did not reach us. At a certain period of the year, the birds came to the island in numberless quantities to breed, and their chief resort was some tolerably level ground — indeed, in many places, it was quite level with the accumulation of guano — which ground was divided from the spot where our cabin was built by a deep ravine. On this spot, which might perhaps contain about twenty acres or more, the sea-birds would sit upon their eggs, not four inches apart from each other, and the whole surface of this twenty acres would be completely covered with them. There they would remain, from the time of the laying of the eggs, until the young ones were able to leave the nests and fly away with them. At the season when the birds were on the island, all was gaiety, bustle; and noise, but after their departure it was quiet and solitude. I used to long for their arrival, and was delighted with the animation which gladdened the island, the male birds diving in every direction after fish, wheeling and soaring in the air, and uttering loud cries, which were responded to by their mates on the nests.

But it was also our harvest time; we seldom touched the old birds, as they were not in flesh, but as soon as the young ones were within a few days of leaving the nests, we were then busy enough. In spite of the screaming and the flapping of their wings in our faces, and the darting their beaks at our eyes, of the old birds, as we robbed them of their progeny, we collected hundreds every day, and bore as heavy a load as we could carry across the ravine to the platform in front of our cabin, where we busied ourselves in skinning them, splitting them, and hanging them out to dry in the sun. The air of the island was so pure that no putrefaction ever took place, and during the last fortnight of the birds coming on the island, we had collected a sufficiency for our support until their return on the following year. As soon as they were quite dry they were packed up in a corner of the cabin for use.

These birds were, it may be said, the only produce of the island, with the exception of fish, and the eggs taken at the time of their first making their nests. Fish were to be taken in large quantities. It was sufficient to put a line over the rocks, and it had hardly time to go down a fathom before anything at the end of it was seized. Indeed, our means of taking them were as simple as their voracity was great. Our lines were composed of the sinews of the legs of the man-of-war birds, as I afterwards heard them named; and, as these were only about a foot long, it required a great many of them knotted together to make a line. At the end of the line was a bait fixed over a strong fish-bone, which was fastened to the line by the middle; a half-hitch of the line round one end kept the bone on a parallel with the line until the bait was seized, when the line being tautened, the half-hitch slipped off and the bone remained crossways in the gullet of the fish, which was drawn up by it. Simple as this contrivance was, it answered as well as the best hook, of which I had never seen one at that time. The fish were so strong and large, that, when I was young, the man would not allow me to attempt to catch them, lest they should pull me into the water; but, as I grew bigger I could master them. Such was our food from one year’s end to the other; we had no variety, except when occasionally we broiled the dried birds or the fish upon the embers, instead of eating them dried by the sun. Our raiment, such as it was, we were also indebted to the feathered tribe for. The birds were skinned with the feathers on, and their skins sewn together with sinews, and a fish-bone by way of a needle. These garments were not very durable, but the climate was so fine that we did not suffer from the cold at any season of the year. I used to make myself a new dress every year when the birds came; but by the time that they returned, I had little left of my last year’s suit, the fragments of which might be found among the rocky and steep parts of the ravine where we used to collect firing.

Living such a life, with so few wants, and those periodically and easily supplied, hardly varied from one year’s end to another, it may easily be imagined that I had but few ideas. I might have had more, if my companion had not been of such a taciturn and morose habit; as it was, I looked at the wide ocean, and the sky, and the sun, moon, and stars, wondering, puzzled, afraid to ask questions, and ending all by sleeping away a large portion of my existence. We had no tools except the old ones, which were useless — no employment of any kind. There was a book, and I asked what it was for and what it was, but I got no answer. It remained upon the shelf, for if I looked at it I was ordered away, and at last I regarded it with a sort of fear, as if it were a kind of incomprehensible animal. The day was passed in idleness and almost silence; perhaps not a dozen sentences were exchanged in the twenty-four hours; my companion always the same, brooding over something which appeared ever to occupy his thoughts, and angry if roused up from his reverie.

Chapter Two.

The reader must understand that the foregoing remarks are to be considered as referring to my position and amount of knowledge when I was seven or eight years old. My master, as I called him, was a short square-built man, about sixty years of age, as I afterwards estimated from recollection and comparison. His hair fell down his back in thick clusters and was still of a dark colour, and his beard was full two feet long and very bushy; indeed, he was covered with hair, wherever his person was exposed. He was, I should say, very powerful had he had occasion to exert his strength, but with the exception of the time at which we collected the birds, and occasionally going up the ravine to bring down faggots of wood, he seldom moved out of the cabin, unless it was to bathe. There was a pool of salt-water of about twenty yards square, near the sea, but separated from it by a low ridge of rocks, over which the waves only beat when the sea was rough and the wind on that side of the island. Every morning almost we went down to bathe in that pool, as it was secure from the sharks, which were very numerous. I could swim like a fish as early as I can recollect, but whether I was taught, or learned myself, I cannot tell. Thus was my life passed away; my duties were trifling; I had little or nothing to employ myself about, for I had no means of employment. I seldom heard the human voice, and became as taciturn as my companion. My amusements were equally confined — looking down into the depths of the ocean, as I lay over the rocky wall which girted the major portion of the island, and watching the motions of the finny tribes below, wondering at the stars, during the night season, eating, and sleeping. Thus did I pass away an existence without pleasure and without pain. As for what my thoughts were I can hardly say, my knowledge and my ideas were too confined for me to have any food for thought. I was little better than a beast of the field, who lies down on the pasture after he is filled. There was one great source of interest, however, which was to listen to the sleeping talk of my companion, and I always looked forward to the time when the night fell and we repaired to our beds. I would lie awake for hours, listening to his ejaculations and murmured speech, trying in vain to find out some meaning in what he would say — but I gained little; he talked of “that woman” — appearing to be constantly with other men, and muttering about something he had hidden away. One night, when the moon was shining bright, he sat up in his bed, which, as I have before said, was on the floor of the cabin, and throwing aside the feathers upon which he had been lying, scratched the mould away below them and lifted up a piece of board. After a minute he replaced everything, and lay down again. He evidently was sleeping during the whole time. Here, at last, was something to feed my thoughts with. I had heard him say in his sleep that he had hidden something — this must be the hiding-place. What was it? Perhaps I ought here to observe that my feelings towards this man were those of positive dislike, if not hatred; I never had received one kind word or deed from him, that I could recollect. Harsh and unfeeling towards me, evidently looking upon me with ill-will, and only suffering me because I saved him some trouble, and perhaps because he wished to have a living thing for his companion, his feelings towards me were reciprocated by mine towards him. What age I was at the time my mother died, I know not, but I had some faint recollection of one who treated me with kindness and caresses, and these recollections became more forcible in my dreams, when I saw a figure very different from that of my companion (a female figure) hanging over me or leading me by the hand. How I used to try to continue those dreams, by closing my eyes again after I had woke up! And yet I knew not that they had been brought about by the dim recollection of my infancy; I knew not that the figure that appeared to me was the shadow of my mother; but I loved the dreams because I was treated kindly in them.

But a change took place by the hand of Providence. One day, after we had just laid in our yearly provision of sea-birds, I was busy arranging the skins of the old birds, on the flat rock, for my annual garment, which was joined together something like a sack, with holes for the head and arms to pass through; when, as I looked to seaward, I saw a large white object on the water.

“Look, master,” said I, pointing towards it.

“A ship, a ship!” cried my companion.

“Oh,” thought I, “that is a ship; I recollect that he said they came here in a ship.” I kept my eyes on her, and she rounded to.

“Is she alive?” inquired I.

“You’re a fool,” said the man; “come and help me to pile up this wood, that we may make a signal to her. Go and fetch some water and throw on it, that there may be plenty of smoke. Thank God, I may leave this cursed hole at last!”

I hardly understood him, but I went for the water and brought it in the mess kid.

“I want more wood yet,” said he. “Her head is this way, and she will come nearer.”

“Then she is alive,” said I.

“Away, fool!” said he, giving me a cuff on the head; “get some more water and throw on the wood.”

He then went into the cabin to strike a light, which he obtained by a piece of iron and flint, with some fine dry moss for tinder. While he was so employed, my eyes were fixed on the vessel, wondering what it could be. It moved through the water, turned this way and that. “It must be alive,” thought I; “is it a fish or a bird?” As I watched the vessel, the sun was going down, and there was not more than an hour’s daylight. The wind was very light and variable, which accounted for the vessel so often altering her course. My companion came out with his hands full of smoking tinder, and putting it under the wood, was busy blowing it into a flame. The wood was soon set fire to, and the smoke ascended several feet into the air.

“They’ll see that,” said he.

“What then, it has eyes? It must be alive. Does it mind the wind?” inquired I, having no answer to my first remark, “for look there, the little clouds are coming up fast,” and I pointed to the horizon, where some small clouds were rising up, and which were, as I knew from experience and constantly watching the sky, a sign of a short but violent gale, or tornado, of which we usually had one, if not two, at this season of the year.

“Yes; confound it,” replied my companion, grinding his teeth, “it will blow her off! That’s my luck.”

In the meantime, the smoke ascended in the air and the vessel approached nearer and nearer, until she was within, I suppose, two miles of the island, and then it fell quite calm. My companion threw more water on to increase the smoke, and the vessel now hauling up her courses, I perceived that there were people on board, and while I was arranging my ideas as to what the vessel might be, my companion cried out — “They see us, they see us! There’s hope now. Confound it, I’ve been here long enough. Hurrah for old England!” and he commenced dancing and capering about like a madman. At last he said:

“Look out, and see if she sends a boat, while I go into the cabin.”

“What’s a boat?” said I.

“Out, you fool! Tell me if you see anything.”

“Yes, I do see something,” replied I. “Look at the squall coming along the water, it will be here very soon; and see how thick the clouds are getting up: we shall have as much wind and rain as we had the time before last, when the birds came.”

“Confound it,” replied he, “I wish they’d lower a boat, at all events;” and so saying, he went into the cabin, and I perceived that he was busy at his bed-place.

My eyes were still fixed upon the squall, as I watched it advancing at a furious speed on the surface of the water; at first it was a deep black line on the horizon, but as it approached the vessel, changed to white; the surface of the water was still smooth. The clouds were not more than ten degrees above the horizon, although they were thick and opaque but at this season of the year, these tornados, as I may call them, visited us; sometimes we had one, sometimes more, and it was only when these gusts came on that we had any rain below. On board of the vessel — I speak now from my after knowledge — they did not appear to be aware of the danger the sails were all set and flapping against the masts. At last, I perceived a small object close to the vessel; this I presumed was the boat which my companion looked for. It was like a young vessel close to the old one, but I said nothing, as I was watching and wondering what effect the rising wind would have upon her; for the observations of my companion had made me feel that it was important. After a time, I perceived that the white sails were disappearing, and that the forms of men were very busy, and moving on board, and the boat went back to the side of the vessel. The fact is, they had not perceived the squall until it was too late, for in another moment almost, I saw that the vessel bowed down to the fury of the gale, and after that, the mist was so great that I couldn’t see her any more.

“Is she sending a boat, boy?” cried my companion.

“I can’t see her,” replied I; “for she is hidden by the wind.”

As I said this, the tornado reached to where we stood, and threw me off my legs to the entrance of the cabin; and with the wind came down a torrent of rain, which drenched us, and the clouds covered the whole of the firmament, which became dark; the lightning darted in every direction, with peals of thunder which were deafening. I crawled into the cabin, into which the rain beat in great fury and flowed out again in a small river.

My companion sat near me, lowering and silent. For two hours, the tornado lasted without interruption; the sun had set, and the darkness was opaque. It was impossible to move against the force of the wind and the deluge of water which descended. Speak we did not, but shut our eyes against the lightning, and held our fingers to our ears to deaden the noise of the thunder, which burst upon us in the most awful manner. My companion groaned at intervals, whether from fear, I know not; I had no fear, for I did not know the danger, or that there was a God to judge the earth.

Gradually the fury of the gale abated, the rain was only heavy at intervals, and we could now hear the beating of the waves, as they dashed against the rocks beneath us. The sky also cleared up a little, and we could dimly discern the white foam of the breakers. I crawled out of the cabin, and stood upon the platform in front, straining my eyes to see the vessel: A flash of lightning for a second revealed her to me; she was dismasted, rolling in the awful breakers, which bore her down upon the high rocks not a quarter of a mile from her.

“There it is,” exclaimed I, as the disappearance of the lightning left me in darkness, more opaque than ever.

“She’s done for,” growled my companion, who, I was not till then aware, stood by my side. “No hopes this time, confound it!” Then he continued for some time to curse and swear awfully, as I afterwards discovered, for I did not then know what was cursing and swearing.

“There she is again,” said I, as another flash of lightning revealed the position of the vessel.

“Yes, and she won’t be there long; in five minutes she’ll be dashed to atoms and every soul perish.”

“What are souls?” inquired I.

My companion gave me no reply.

“I will go down to the rocks,” said I, “and see what goes on.”

“What,” said he, “and share their fate?”

Chapter Three.

I left him, and commenced a careful descent of the precipices by which we were surrounded, but, before I had gone fifty paces, another flash of lightning was followed up by a loud shriek, which arrested my steps. Where the noise came from I could not tell, but I heard my companion calling to me to come back. I obeyed him, and found him standing where I had left him.

“You called me, master?”

“Yes, I did; take my hand and lead me to the cabin.”

I obeyed him, wondering why he asked me so to do. He gained his bed-place, and threw himself down on it.

“Bring the kid full of water,” said he — “quick!”

I brought it, and he bathed his head and face. After a time, he threw himself back upon the bed-place, and groaned heavily.

“O God! It’s all over with me,” said he at last. “I shall live and die in this cursed hole.”

“What’s the matter, master?” said I.

He gave me no answer, but lay groaning and occasionally cursing. After a time, he was still, and then I went out again. The tornado was now over, and the stars were to be seen here and there, but still the wind was strong and the wild clouds flew fast. The shores of the island were one mass of foam, which was dashed high in the air and fell upon the black rocks. I looked for the vessel, and could see nothing — the day was evidently dawning, and I sat down and waited its coming. My companion was apparently asleep, for he lay without motion or noise. That some misfortune had happened, I was convinced, but what I knew not, and I passed a long time in conjecture, dividing my thoughts between him and the vessel. At last the daylight appeared — the weather was moderating fast, although the waves still beat furiously against the rocky shore. I could see nothing of the vessel, and I descended the path, now slippery and insecure from the heavy fall of rain, and went as near to the edge of the rocks as the breaking billows would permit. I walked along, occasionally drenched by the spray, until I arrived where I had last seen the vessel. The waves were dashing and tossing about, as if in sport, fragments of timber, casks, and spars; but that was all I could see, except a mast and rigging, which lay alongside of the rocks, sometimes appearing above them on the summit of the waves, then descending far out of my sight, for I dared not venture near enough to the edge to look over. “Then the vessel is dashed to pieces, as my companion said,” thought I. “I wonder how she was made.” I remained about an hour on the rocks, and then turned back to the cabin. I found my companion awake, and groaning heavily.

“There is no ship,” said I, “nothing but pieces of wood floating about.”

“I know that,” replied he; “but what do I care now?”

“I thought by your making a smoke, that you did care.”

“Yes, I did then, but now I am blind, I shall never see a ship or anything else again. God help me! I shall die and rot on this cursed island.”

“Blind, what is blind?” inquired I.

“The lightning has burned out my eyes, and I can see nothing — I cannot help myself — I cannot walk about — cannot do anything, and I suppose you will leave me here to die like a dog.”

“Can’t you see me?”

“No, all is dark, dark as night, and will be as long as I live.” And he turned on his bed-place and groaned. “I had hope, I lived in hope — it has kept me alive for many weary years, but now hope is gone, and I care not if I die to-morrow.” And then he started up and turned his face towards me, and I saw that there was no light in his eyes.

“Bring me some more water, do you hear?” said he angrily. “Be quick, or I’ll make you.”

But I now fully comprehended his condition and how powerless he was. My feelings, as I have before said, were anything but cordial towards him, and this renewed violence and threatening manner had its effect. I was now, I suppose, about twelve or thirteen years old — strong and active. I had more than once felt inclined to rebel, and measure my strength against his. Irritated, therefore, at his angry language, I replied — “Go for the water yourself.”

“Ah!” sighed he, after a pause of some seconds, “that I might have expected. But let me once get you into my hands, I’ll make you remember it.”

“I care not if I were in your hands,” replied I; “I am as strong as you.” For I had thought so many a day, and meant to prove it.

“Indeed! Well, come here, and let us try.”

“No, no,” replied I, “I’m not such a fool as you say I am — not that I’m afraid of you; for I shall have an axe in my hand always ready, and you will not find another.”

“I wish that I had tossed you over the cliffs when you were a child,” said he, bitterly, “instead of nursing you and bringing you up.”

“Then why have you not been kind to me? As far back as I can remember you have always treated me ill; you have made me work for you; and yet never even spoken kindly to me. I have wanted to know things, and you have never answered my questions, but called me a fool, and told me to hold my tongue. You have made me hate you; and you have often told me how you hated me — you know you have.”

“It’s true, quite true,” replied he, as if talking to himself. “I have done all that he says, and I have hated him. But I have had cause. Come here, boy.”

“No;” replied I, “do you come here. You have been master, and I have been boy, long enough. Now I am master and you are boy, and you shall find it so.”

Having said this, I walked out of the cabin and left him. He cried out, “Don’t leave me;” but I heeded him not, and sat down at the edge of the flat ledge of the rock before the cabin. Looking at the white dancing waves, and deep in my own thoughts, I considered a long while how I should behave towards him. I did not wish him to die, as I knew he must if I left him. He could not obtain water from the rill without a great chance of falling over the cliff. In fact, I was now fully aware of his helpless state; to prove it to myself, I rose and shut my own eyes; tried if I could venture to move on such dangerous ground, and I felt sure that I could not. He was then in my power; he could do nothing; he must trust to me for almost everything. I had said, let what would follow, I would be master and he boy; but that could not be, as I must still attend upon him, or he would die. At last the thought came suddenly upon me — I will be master, nevertheless, for now he shall answer me all my questions, tell me all he knows, or he shall starve. He is in my power. He shall now do what I have ever tried to make him do, and he has ever refused. Having thus arranged my plans, I returned to the cabin, and said to him:

“Hear what I say — I will be kind to you, and not leave you to starve, if you will do what I ask.”

“And what is that?” replied he.

“For a long while I have asked you many questions, and you have refused to answer them. Instead of telling me what I would know, you have beaten me or thrown stones at me, called me names, and threatened me. I now give you your choice — either you shall promise to answer every question that I put to you, or you may live how you can, for I shall leave you to help yourself. If you do as I wish, I will do all I can to help you, but if you will not, thank yourself for what may happen. Recollect, I am master now; so take your choice.”

“Well,” replied he, slowly, “it’s a judgment upon me, and I must agree to it. I will do what you wish.”

“Well, then, to begin,” said I, “I have often asked you what your name was, and what was mine. I must call you something, and Master I will not, for I am master now. What is your name?”

He groaned, ground his teeth, and then said, “Edward Jackson.”

“Edward Jackson! Very well; and my name?”

“No, I cannot bear the name. I cannot say it,” replied he angrily.

“It it so,” replied I. “Then I leave you.”

“Will you bring me some water for my eyes? They burn,” said he.

“No, I will not, nor anything else, unless you tell me my name.”

“Frank Henniker — and curses on it!”

“Frank Henniker. Well, now you shall have the water.”

I went out, filled a kid, and put it by his side.

“There is the water, Jackson; if you want anything, call me. I shall be outside.”

“I have gained the mastery,” thought I, — “it will be my turn now. He don’t like to answer, but he shall, or he shall starve. Why does he feel so angry at my name? Henniker! What is the meaning of Henniker, I wonder? I will make him tell me. Yes, he shall tell me everything.” I may here observe, that as for pity and compassion, I did not know such feelings. I had been so ill-treated, that I only felt that might was right; and this right I determined upon exercising to the utmost. I felt an inconceivable pleasure at the idea of my being the master, and he the boy. I felt the love of power, the pride of superiority. I then revolved in my mind the daily task which I would set him before he should receive his daily sustenance. He should talk now as much as I pleased, for I was the master. I had been treated as a slave, and I was now fully prepared to play the tyrant. Mercy and compassion I knew not. I had never seen them called forth, and I felt them not. I sat down on the flat rock for some time, and then it occurred to me that I would turn the course of the water which fell into the hole at the edge of the cliff; so that if he crawled there, he would not be able to obtain any. I did so, and emptied the hole. The water was now only to be obtained by climbing up, and it was out of his power to obtain a drop. Food, of course, he could obtain, as the dried birds were all piled up at the farther end of the cabin, and I could not well remove them; but what was food without water? I was turning in my mind what should be the first question put to him; and I had decided that I would have a full and particular account of how the vessel had been wrecked on the island, and who were my father and mother, and why I was named Henniker — when I was roused by hearing Jackson (as I shall in future call him) crying out, “Boy, boy!”

“Boy, indeed,” thought I — “no longer boy,” and I gave no reply.

Again he called, and at last he cried out “Henniker,” but I had been ruffled by his calling me boy, and I would not answer him. At last he fairly screamed my name, and then was silent. After a moment, I perceived that he crawled out of his bed-place, and feeling by the sides of the cabin, contrived on his hands and knees to crawl in the direction of the hole into which the water had previously been received; and I smiled at what I knew would be his disappointment when he arrived there. He did so at last: put his hand to feel the edge of the hole, and then down into it to feel for the water; and when he found that there was none, he cursed bitterly, and I laughed at his vexation. He then felt all the way down where the water had fallen, and found that the course of it had been stopped, and he dared not attempt anything further. He dashed his clenched hand against the rock. “Oh! That I had him in this grasp — if it were but for one moment. I would not care if I died the next.”

“I do not doubt you,” replied I to him, above; “but you have not got me in your hands, and you will not. Go in to bed directly — quick,” cried I, throwing a piece of rock at him, which hit him on the head. “Crawl back as fast as you can, you fool, or I’ll send another at your head directly. I’ll tame you, as you used to say to me.”

The blow on the head appeared to have confused him; but after a time he crawled back to his bed-place, and threw himself down with a heavy groan.

Chapter Four.

I then went down to the water’s edge to see if I could find anything from the wreck, for the water was smooth, and no longer washed over the rocks of the island. Except fragments of wood, I perceived nothing until I arrived at the pool where we were accustomed to bathe; and I found that the sea had thrown into it two articles of large dimensions — one was a cask of the size of a puncheon, which lay in about a foot of water farthest from the seaward; and the other was a seaman’s chest. What these things were I did not then know, and I wish the reader to recollect that a great portion of this narrative is compiled from after knowledge. The cask was firm in the sand, and I could not move it. The chest was floating; I hauled it on the rocks without difficulty, and then proceeded to open it. It was some time before I could discover how, for I had never seen a lock or a hinge in my life; but at last, finding that the lid was the only portion of the chest which yielded, I contrived, with a piece of rock, to break it open. I found in it a quantity of seamen’s clothes, upon which I put no value; but some of the articles I immediately comprehended the use of, and they filled me with delight. There were two new tin pannikins, and those would hold water. There were three empty wine-bottles, a hammer, a chisel, gimlet, and some other tools, also three or four fishing-lines many fathoms long. But what pleased me most were two knives, one shutting up, with a lanyard sheath to wear round the waist; and the other an American long knife, in a sheath, which is usually worn by them in the belt. Now, three or four years back, Jackson had the remains of a clasp knife — that is, there was about an inch of the blade remaining — and this, as may be supposed, he valued very much; indeed, miserable as the article was, in our destitute state it was invaluable.

This knife he had laid on the rock when fishing, and it had been dragged into the sea as his line ran out; and he was for many days inconsolable for its loss. We had used it for cutting open the birds when we skinned them, and, indeed, this remains of a knife had been always in request. Since the loss of it, we had had hard work to get the skins off the birds; I therefore well knew the value of these knives, which I immediately secured. The remainder of the articles in the chest, which was quite full, I laid upon the rocks, with the clothes, to dry; of most of them I did not know the use, and consequently did not prize them at the time. It was not until afterwards, when I had taken them to my companion, that I learned their value. I may as well here observe, that amongst these articles were two books, and from the positive commands of my companion, not to touch the book in the cabin, I looked upon them with a degree of awe, and hesitated upon taking them in my hand; but, at last, I put them out to dry on the rocks, with the rest of the contents of the chest.

I felt the knives, the blades were sharp; I put the lanyard of the clasp knife round my neck; the sheath knife, which was a formidable weapon, I made fast round my waist, with a piece of the fishing-lines, which I cut off; and I then turned my steps towards the cabin, as night was coming on, though the moon was high in the heavens, and shining brightly. On my return, I found Jackson in his bed-place; he heard me come in, and asked me in a quiet tone, whether I would bring him some water. I answered —

“No, that I would not, for what he had said about me, and what he would do if he got me into his power. I’ll tame you,” cried I. “I’m master now, as you shall find.”

“You may be,” replied he, quickly, “but still that is no reason why you should not let me have some water. Did I ever prevent you from having water?”

“You never had to fetch it for me,” I rejoined, “or you would not have taken the trouble. What trouble would you take for me, if I were blind now and not you? I should become of no use to you, and you would leave me to die. You only let me live that you might make me work for you, and beat me cruelly. It’s my turn now — you’re the boy, and I’m the master.”

The reader must remember that I did not know the meaning of the word “boy;” my idea of it was, that it was in opposition to “master,” and boy, with me, had the same idea as the word “slave.”

“Be it so,” replied he, calmly. “I shall not want water long.”

There was a quietness about Jackson which made me suspect him, and the consequence was, that, although I turned into my bed-place, which was on the ground at the side of the cabin opposite to his, I did not feel inclined to go to sleep, but remained awake, thinking of what had passed. It was towards morning when I heard him move; my face being turned that way, I had no occasion to stir to watch his motions. He crept very softly out of his bed-place towards me, listening, and advancing on his knees, not more than a foot every ten seconds. “You want me in your grasp,” thought I; “come along,” and I drew my American knife from its sheath, without noise, and awaited his approach, smiling at the surprise he would meet with. I allowed him to come right up to me; he felt the side of my bed, and then passed his right hand over to seize me. I caught his right hand with my left, and passing the knife across his wrist, more than half divided it from his arm. He gave a shriek of surprise and pain, and fell back.

“He has a knife,” exclaimed he, with surprise, holding his severed wrist with the other hand.

“Yes, he has a knife, and more than one,” replied I; “and you see that he knows how to use it. Will you come again? Or will you believe that I am master?”

“If you have any charity or mercy, kill me at once,” said he, as he sat up in the moonlight, in the centre of the floor of the cabin.

“Charity and mercy,” said I, “what are they? I never heard of them.”

“Alas! No,” replied he, “I have showed none — it’s a judgment on me — a judgment on me for my many sins; Lord, forgive me! First my eyes, now my right hand useless. What next, O Lord of Heaven?”

“Why, your other hand next,” replied I, “if you try it again.”

Jackson made no reply. He attempted to crawl back to his bed, but, faint with loss of blood, he dropped senseless on the floor of the cabin. I looked at him, and, satisfied that he would make no more attempts upon me, I turned away, and fell fast asleep. In about two hours I awoke, and looking round, perceived him lying on the floor, where he had fallen the night before. I went to him and examined him — was he asleep; or was he dead? He lay in a pool of blood. I felt him, and he was quite warm. It was a ghastly cut on his wrist, and I thought, if he is dead, he will never tell me what I want to know. I knew that he bound up cuts to stop the blood. I took some feathers from the bed, and put a handful on the wound. After I had done it, I bound his wrist up with a piece of fishing-line I had taken to secure the sheath knife round my waist, and then I went for some water. I poured some down his throat; this revived him, and he opened his eyes.

“Where am I?” said he, faintly.

“Where are you? — why, in the cabin,” said I.

“Give me some more water.”

I did so, for I did not wish to kill him. I wanted him to live, and to be in my power. After drinking the water, he roused himself, and crawled back to his bed-place. I left him then, and went down to bathe.

The reader may exclaim — What a horrid tyrant this boy is — why, he is as bad as his companion. Exactly — I was so; but let the reader reflect that I was made so by education. From the time that I could first remember, I had been tyrannised over; cuffed, kicked, abused, and ill-treated. I had never known kindness. Most truly was the question put by me, “Charity and mercy — what are they?” I never heard of them. An American Indian has kind feelings — he is hospitable and generous — yet, educated to inflict, and receive, the severest tortures to, and from, his enemies, he does the first with the most savage and vindictive feelings, and submits to the latter with indifference and stoicism. He has, indeed, the kindlier feelings of his nature exercised; still, this changes him not. He has been from earliest infancy brought up to cruelty, and he cannot feel that it is wrong. Now, my position was worse. I had never seen the softer feelings of our nature called into play; I knew nothing but tyranny and oppression, hatred and vengeance. It was therefore, not surprising that when my turn came, I did to others as I had been done by. Jackson had no excuse for his treatment of me, whereas I had every excuse for retaliation. He did know better, I did not. I followed the ways of the world in the petty microcosm in which I had been placed. I knew not of mercy, of forgiveness, charity, or good-will. I knew not that there was a God; I only knew that might was right, and the most pleasurable sensation which I felt was that of anxiety for vengeance, combined with the consciousness of power.

After I had bathed, I again examined the chest and its contents. I looked at the books without touching them. “I must know what these mean,” thought I, “and I will know.” My thirst for knowledge was certainly most remarkable, in a boy of my age; I presume for the simple reason, that we want most what we cannot obtain; and Jackson having invariably refused to enlighten me on any subject, I became most anxious and impatient to satisfy the longing which increased with my growth.

Chapter Five.

For three days did Jackson lie on his bed; I supplied him with water, but he did not eat anything. He groaned heavily at times, and talked much to himself, and I heard him ask forgiveness of God, and pardon for his sins. I noted this down for an explanation. On the third day, he said to me:

“Henniker, I am very ill. I have a fever coming on, from the wound you have given me. I do not say that I did not deserve it, for I did, and I know that I have treated you ill; and that you must hate me; but the question is, do you wish me to die?”

“No,” replied I, “I want you to live, and answer all my questions, and you shall do so.”

“I will do so,” replied he. “I have done wrong, and I will make amends. Do you understand me? I mean to say, that I have been very cruel to you, and now I will do all you wish, and answer every question you may put to me, as well as I can.”

“That is what I want,” replied I.

“I know it is, but my wound is festering, and must be washed and dressed. The feathers make it worse. Will you do this for me?”

I thought a little, and recollected that he was still in my power, as he could not obtain water. I replied, “Yes, I will.”

“The cord hurts it, you must take it off.”

I fetched the kid of water, and untied the cord, and took away the feathers, which had matted together with the flow of blood, and then I washed the wound carefully. Looking into the wound, my desire of information induced me to say, “What are these little white cords which are cut through?”

“They are the sinews and tendons,” replied he, “by which we are enabled to move our hands and fingers; now these are cut through, I shall not have the use of my hand again.”

“Stop a moment,” said I, rising up, “I have just thought of something.” I ran down to the point where the chest lay, took a shirt from the rock, and brought it back with me, and tearing it into strips, I bandaged the wound.

“Where did you get that linen?” said Jackson. I told him.

“And you got the knife there, too,” said he, with a sigh. I replied in the affirmative.

As soon as I had finished, he told me he was much easier, and said:

“I thank you.”

“What is, I thank you?” replied I.

“It means that I am grateful for what you have done.”

“And what is grateful?” inquired I again. “You never said those words to me before.”

“Alas, no,” replied he, “it had been better if I had. I mean that I feel kindly towards you, for having bound up my wound, and would do any thing for you if I had the power. It means, that if I had my eyesight, as I had a week ago, and was master, as I then was, that I would not kick nor beat you, but be kind to you. Do you understand me?”

“Yes,” replied I, “I think I do; and if you tell me all I want to know, I shall believe you.”

“That I will as soon as I am well enough; but now I am too ill — you must wait a day or two, till the fever has left me.”

Satisfied with Jackson’s promise, I tended him carefully, and washed and dressed his wound for the two following days. He said that he felt himself much better, and his language to me was so kind and conciliatory, that I hardly knew what to make of it; but this is certain, that it had a good effect upon me, and gradually the hatred and ill-will that I bore to him wore off, and I found myself handling him tenderly, and anxious not to give him more pain than was necessary, yet without being aware that I was prompted by better feelings. It was on the third morning that he said —

“I can talk to you now; what do you want to know?”

“I want to know the whole story of how we came to this island, who my father and mother were, and why you said that you hated me and my name?”

“That,” said Jackson, after a silence of a few minutes, “will take some time. I could soon tell it you, if it were not for the last question, — why I hated your name? But the history of your father is so mixed up with mine, that I cannot well tell one without the other. I may as well begin with my own history, and that will be telling you both.”

“Then tell it me,” replied I, “and do not tell me what is not true.”

“No; I will tell you exactly what it was,” replied Jackson; “you may as well know it as not. — Your father and I were both born in England, which you know is your country by birth, and you also know that the language we talk is English.”

“I did not know it. Tell me something about England before you say any more.”

I will not trouble the reader with Jackson’s description of England, or the many questions which I put to him. It was night-fall before he had finished answering, and before I was satisfied with the information imparted. I believe that he was very glad to hold his tongue, for he complained of being tired, and I dressed his wound and wetted the bandage with cold water for him before he went to sleep.

I can hardly describe to the reader the effect which this uninterrupted flow of language had upon me; I was excited in a very strange way, and for many nights after could not sleep for hours. I may say here, I did not understand a great proportion of the meaning of the words used by Jackson; but I gathered it from the context, as I could not always be interrupting him.

It is astonishing how fast ideas breed ideas, and how a word, the meaning of which I did not understand when it was first used, became by repetition clear and intelligible; not that I always put the right construction on it; but if I did not find it answer when used at another time to my former interpretation of it, I would then ask and obtain an explanation. This did not, however, occur very often. As for this first night, I was positively almost drunk with words, and remained nearly the whole of it arranging and fixing the new ideas that I had acquired. My feelings towards Jackson also were changed — that is, I no longer felt hatred or ill-will against him. These were swallowed up in the pleasure which he had afforded me, and I looked upon him as a treasure beyond all price, — not but that many old feelings towards him returned at intervals, for they were not so easily disposed of; but still I would not for the world have lost him until I had obtained from him all possible knowledge; and if his wound did not look well when I removed the bandage, I was much more distressed than he was. Indeed, there was every prospect of our ultimately being friends, from our mutual dependence on each other. It was useless on his part, in his present destitute condition, to nourish feelings of animosity against one on whose good offices he was now so wholly dependent, or on my part, against one who was creating for me, I may say, new worlds for imagination and thought to dwell on. On the following morning. Jackson narrated in substance (as near as I can recollect) as follows: —

“I was not intended for a sailor. I was taught at a good school, and when I was ten years old, I was put into a house of business as a clerk, where I remained at the desk all day long, copying into ledgers and day-books, in fact, writing what was required of me. This house was connected with the South American trade.”

“Where is South America?” said I.

“You had better let me tell my story,” replied Jackson, “and after I have done, you can ask any questions you like; but if you stop me, it will take a week to finish it; yesterday we lost the whole day.”

“That’s very true,” replied I, “then I will do so.”

“There were two other clerks in the counting-house — the head clerk, whose name was Manvers, and your father, who was in the counting-house but a few months before me. Our master, whose name was Evelyn, was very particular with both your father and myself, scanning our work daily, and finding fault when we deserved it. This occasioned a rivalry between us, which made us both very active, and I received praise quite as often as he did. On Sunday, Mr Evelyn used to ask your father and me to spend the day. We went to church in the forenoon and dined with him. He had a daughter a little younger than we were. She was your mother. Both of us, as we grew up, were very attentive to her, and anxious to be in her good graces. I cannot say which was preferred at first, but I rather think that if anything, I was the favourite during the first two years of our being acquainted with her. I was more lively and a better companion than your father, who was inclined to be grave and thoughtful. We had been about four years in the counting-house, when my mother died — my father had been dead some time before I went into it — and at her death I found my share of her property to amount to about 2,500 pounds. But I was not yet twenty-one years of age. I could not receive it for another year. Mr Evelyn, who had till then every reason to be satisfied with my conduct, used to joke with me, and say that as soon as I was of age, he would allow me, if I chose it, to put the money in the business, and thus obtain a small share in it — and such was my intention, and I looked forward to bright prospects and the hope of one day being married to your mother; and I have no doubt but such would have been the case, had I still conducted myself properly. But, before I was of age, I made some very bad acquaintances, and soon ran into expenses which I could not afford, and the worst was, that I contracted a habit of sitting up late at night, and drinking to excess, which I never have since got over, which proved my ruin then, and has proved my ruin through life. This little fortune of mine not only gave me consequence, but was the cause of my thinking very highly of myself. I now was more particular in my attentions to Miss Evelyn, and was graciously received by her father; neither had I any reason to complain of my treatment from the young lady. As for your father, he was quite thrown into the back-ground. He had no property nor hope of any, except what he might hereafter secure by his diligence and good conduct; and the attention I received from Mr Evelyn, and also the head clerk, who had an idea that I was to be a partner and consequently would become his superior, made him very melancholy and unhappy, for I believe that then he was quite as much in love with Miss Evelyn as I was myself; and I must tell you, that my love for her was unbounded, and she well deserved it. But all these happy prospects were overthrown by my own folly. As soon as it was known that I had property left to me, I was surrounded by many others who requested to be introduced to me, and my evenings were passed in what I considered very good company, but which proved the very reverse. By degrees I took to gambling, and after a time, lost more money than I could afford to pay. This caused me to have recourse to a Jew, who advanced me loans at a large interest to be repaid at my coming of age. Trying to win back my money, I at last found myself indebted to the Jew for the sum of nearly 1,000 pounds. The more that I became involved, the more reckless I became. Mr Evelyn perceived that I kept late hours, and looked haggard, as I well might; indeed, my position had now become very awkward. Mr Evelyn knew well the sum that had been left me, and how was I to account to him for the deficiency, if he proposed that I should put it into the business? I should be ruined in his opinion, and he never, I was convinced, would intrust the happiness of his daughter to a young man who had been guilty of such irregularities. At the same time, my love for her nearly amounted to adoration. Never was there a more miserable being than I was for the last six months previous to my coming of age; and to drown my misery I plunged into every excess, and seldom, if ever, went to bed but in a state of intoxication. Scheme after scheme did I propose to enable me to conceal my fault; but I could hit upon nothing. The time approached; I was within a few days of coming of age, when Mr Evelyn sent for me and then spoke to me seriously, saying, that out of regard to the memory of my father, with whom he had been very intimate, he was willing to allow me to embark my little capital in the business, and that he hoped that by my good conduct and application I might soon become a useful partner. I stammered some reply, which surprised him; and he asked me to be more explicit. I stated that I considered my capital too small to be of much use in such a business as his, and that I preferred trying some quick method of doubling it; that as soon as I had so done I would accept his offer with gratitude. ‘As you please,’ replied he coolly; ‘but take care, that in risking all, you do not lose all. Of course, you are your own master,’ and so saying, he left me, apparently much displeased and mortified. But circumstances occurred, which exposed the whole affair. When in company with my evening companions, I stated my intentions of trying my fortune in the East Indies, not seriously, but talking at random. This came to the ears of the Jew of whom I had borrowed the money; he thought that I intended to leave the kingdom, without taking up my bonds, and immediately repaired to Mr Evelyn’s counting-house, to communicate with the head clerk, and ascertain if the report was correct, stating also the sums I was indebted to him. The head clerk informed Mr Evelyn, and on the day upon which I became twenty-one years of age, he sent for me into his private room, and, after some remonstrances, to which I replied very haughtily, it ended in my being dismissed. The fact was, that Mr Evelyn had, since his last interview with me, made inquiries, and finding out I had been living a very riotous life, he had determined upon my leaving his service. As soon as my first burst of indignation was over, I felt what I had lost; my attachment to Miss Evelyn was stronger than ever, and I bitterly deplored my folly; but after a time, as usual, I had recourse to the bottle, and to drowning my cares in intemperance. I tried very hard to obtain an interview with Miss Evelyn previous to my quitting the house, but this Mr Evelyn would not permit, and a few days after, sent his daughter away, to reside, for a time, with a relation in the country. I embarked my capital in the wine-trade, and, could I have restrained myself from drinking, should have been successful, and in a short time might have doubled my property, as I stated to Mr Evelyn; but now I had become an irreclaimable drunkard; and when that is the case, all hope is over. My affairs soon became deranged, and, at the request of my partner, they were wound up, and I found myself with my capital of 1,500 pounds reduced to 1,000 pounds. With this I resolved to try my fortune in shipping; I procured a share in a brig, and sailed in her myself. After a time, I was sufficiently expert to take the command of her, and might have succeeded, had not my habit of drinking been so confirmed. When at Ceylon, I fell sick, and was left behind. The brig was lost, and as I had forgotten to insure my portion of her, I was ruined. I struggled long, but in vain — intemperance was my curse, my bane, the millstone at my neck, which dragged me down: I had education, talents, and energy, and at one time, capital; but all were useless; and thus did I sink down, from captain of a vessel to mate, from mate to second mate, until I at last found myself a drunken sailor before the mast. Such is my general history; to-morrow I will let you know how, and in what way, your father and I met again, and what occurred, up to this present time.”

But I was too much bewildered and confused with what he had told me, to allow him to proceed, as he proposed.

“No, no,” replied I. “I now recollect all you have said, although I do not understand. You must first answer my questions, as to the meaning of words I never heard of before. I cannot understand what money is, what gaming is, and a great many more things you have talked about, but I recollect, and can repeat every word that you have said. To-morrow, I will recall it all over, and you shall tell me what I cannot make out; after that you can go on again.”

“Very well,” replied he, “I don’t care how long it takes me to answer your questions, for I am not very anxious to tell all about your father and myself.”

Chapter Six.

I can hardly describe to the reader the effect which these conversations with Jackson had upon me at first. If a prisoner were removed from a dark cell, and all at once introduced into a garden full of fruit and flowers, which he never before had an idea were in existence, he could not have been more filled with wonder, surprise, and pleasure. All was novelty and excitement, but at the same time, to a great degree, above my comprehension. I had neither language nor ideas to meet it, and yet I did, to a certain degree, comprehend. I saw not clearly, but sometimes as through a mist, at others through a dark fog, and I could discern little. Every day, however, my increased knowledge of language and terms gave me an increased knowledge of ideas. I gained more by context than I did by any other means, and as I was by degrees enlightened, so my thirst for information and knowledge became every day more insatiable.

That much that I considered I understood was erroneous, is certain, for mine was a knowledge, as yet, of theory only. I could imagine to myself, as far as the explanation I received, what such an object might be, and, having made up my ideas on the matter, I was content; further knowledge would, however, incline me to think, and occasionally to decide, that the idea I had formed was incorrect, and I would alter it. Thus did I flounder about in a sea of uncertainty, but still of exciting interest.

If any one who has been educated, and has used his eyes in a civilised country, reads an account of people and things hitherto unknown to him, he can, from the description and from his own general knowledge, form a very correct idea of what the country contains. But then he has used his eyes — he has seen those objects between which the parallel or the difference has been pointed out. Now I had not that advantage. I had seen nothing but the sea, rocks, and sea-birds, and had but one companion. Here was my great difficulty, which, I may say, was never surmounted, until I had visited and mixed with civilisation and men. The difficulty, however, only increased my ardour. I was naturally of an ingenious mind, I had a remarkable memory, and every increase of knowledge was to me a source of delight. In fact, I had now something to live for — before I had not; and I verily believe, that if Jackson had been by any chance removed from me at this particular time, I should soon have become a lunatic, from the sudden drying up of the well which supplied my inordinate thirst for knowledge.

Some days passed before I asked Jackson to continue his narrative, during which we lived in great harmony. Whether it was that he was deceiving me, and commanding his temper till he had an opportunity of revenge, or whether it was that his forlorn and helpless condition had softened him down, I could not say; but he appeared gradually to be forming an attachment to me; I was, however, on my guard at all times. His wounded wrist had now healed up, but his hand was quite useless, as all the tendons had been severed. I had therefore less to fear from him than before. At my request that he would continue his history, Jackson related as follows: —

“After sailing in vessel after vessel, and generally dismissed after the voyage for my failing of intemperance, I embarked on board a ship bound to Chili, and after having been on the coast for nearly a year, we were about to proceed home with a cargo, when we anchored at Valdivia, previous to our homeward voyage, as we had some few articles to ship at that port. We were again ready for sea, when we heard, from the captain, that he had agreed to take two passengers, a gentleman and his wife, who wished to proceed to England. The cabin was cleared out, and every preparation made to receive them on board, and in the evening the boat was sent on shore for the luggage. I went in the boat, as I thought it likely that the gentleman would give the boat’s crew something to drink; nor was I wrong — he gave us four dollars, which we spent immediately in one of the ventas, and were all more or less intoxicated. It had been arranged that the luggage should first be carried on board, and after that, we were to return for the passengers, as we were to sail early in the morning. We pulled off with the luggage, but on our arrival on board, I was so drunk, that the captain would not allow me to return in the boat, and I knew nothing of what had passed until I was roused up the next morning to assist in getting the ship under weigh. We had been under weigh two or three hours, and were clearing the land fast, when the gentleman passenger came on deck; I was then coiling down a rope on the quarter-deck, and as he passed by me, I looked at him, and I recognised him immediately as your father. Years had passed — from a stripling he had grown a man; but his face was not to be mistaken. There he was, apparently a gentleman of property and consideration; and I, what was I? A drunken sailor. All I hoped was, that he would not recognise me. Shortly afterwards he went down again, and returned escorting his wife on deck. Again I took a furtive curious glance, and perceived at once that she was that Miss Evelyn, whom I had once so loved, and by my folly had lost. This was madness. As they stood on the deck, enjoying the cool sea breeze, for the weather was delightfully fine, the captain came up and joined them. I was so confused at my discovery, that I knew not what I was about, and I presume was doing something very awkwardly; for the captain said to me — ‘Jackson, what are you about, you drunken hound? I suppose you are not sober yet.’ At the mention of my name, your father and mother looked at me, and as I lifted up my head to reply to the captain, they eyed me earnestly, and then spoke to each other in a low tone; after which they interrogated the captain. I could not hear what they said, but I was certain they were talking about me, and that they had suspected, if they had not recognised me. I was ready to sink to the deck, and, at the same time, I felt a hatred of your father enter my heart, of which, during his life, I never could divest myself. It was as I supposed; your father had recognised me, and the following morning he came up to me as I was leaning over the gunwale amid ships, and addressed me, — ‘Jackson,’ said he, ‘I am sorry to find you in this situation. You must have been very unfortunate to have become so reduced. If you will confide your history to me, perhaps I may, when we arrive in England, be able to assist you, and it really will give me great pleasure.’ I cannot say that I replied very cordially. ‘Mr Henniker,’ said I, ‘you have been fortunate, by all appearances, and can therefore afford compassion to those who have not been so; but, sir, in our positions, I feel as if pity was in reality a sort of triumph, and an offer of assistance an insult. I am content with my present position, and will at all events not change it by your interference. I earn my bread honestly. You can do no more. Times may change yet. It’s a long road that has no turning to it. I wish you a good morning.’ So saying, I turned from him, and walked away forward, with my heart full of bitterness and anger. From that hour he never spoke to me or noticed me again; but the captain was more severe upon me, and I ascribed his severity most unjustly to your father. We were about to go round Cape Horn, when the gale from the S.E. came on, which ended in the loss of the vessel. For several days we strove up against it, but at last the vessel, which was old, leaked so much from straining, that we were obliged to bear up and run before it, which we did for several days, the wind and sea continuing without intermission. At last we found ourselves among these islands, and were compelled occasionally to haul to the wind to clear them. This made her leak more and more, until at last she became water logged, and we were forced to abandon her in haste, during the night, having no time to take anything with us; we left three men on board, who were down below. By the mercy of Heaven we ran the boat into the opening below, which was the only spot where we could have landed. I think I had better stop now, as I have a good deal to tell you yet.”

“Do then,” replied I; “and now I think of it, I will bring up the chest and all the things which were in it, and you shall tell me what they are.”

I went down and returned with the clothes and linen. There were eight pair of trousers, nine shirts, besides the one I had torn up to bandage his wounds with, two pair of blue trousers, and two jackets, four white duck frocks, some shoes, and stockings. Jackson felt them one by one with his hands, and told me what they were, and how worn.

“Why don’t you wear some of them?” inquired I.

“If you will give me leave, I will,” replied he. “Let me have a duck frock and a pair of trousers.”

I handed the articles to him, and then went back for the rest, which I had left on the rocks.

When I returned, with my arms full, I found that he had put them on, and his other clothes were beside him. “I feel more like a Christian now,” said he.

“A Christian,” said I, “what is that?”

“I will tell you by-and-bye. It is what I have not been for a long, long while,” replied he. “Now, what have you brought this time?”

“Here,” said I, “what is this?”

“This is a roll of duck, to make into frocks and trousers,” replied he. “That is bees’-wax.” He then explained to me all the tools, sailing-needles, fish-hooks, and fishing-lines, some sheets of writing-paper, and two pens, I had brought up with me. “All these are very valuable,” said he, after a pause, “and would have added much to our comfort, if I had not been blind.”

“There are more things yet,” said I; “I will go and fetch them.”

This time I replaced the remaining articles, and brought up the chest. It was a heavy load to carry up the rocks, and I was out of breath when I arrived and set it down on the cabin floor.

“Now I have the whole of them,” said I. “Now, what is this?”

“That is a spy-glass — but, alas! I am blind — but I will show you how to use it, at all events.”

“Here are two books,” said I.

“Give them to me,” said he, “and let me feel them. This one is a Bible, I am quite sure by its shape, and the other is, I think, a Prayer-book.”

“What is a Bible, and what is a Prayer-book?” replied I.

“The Bible is the word of God, and the Prayer-book teaches us how to pray to him.”

“But who is God? I have often heard you say, ‘O God!’ and ‘God damn’ — but who is he?”

“I will tell you to-night, before we go to sleep,” replied Jackson, gravely.

“Very well, I shall remind you. I have found a little box inside the chest, and it is full of all manner of little things — strings and sinews.”

“Let me feel them.”

I put a bundle into his hand.

“These are needles and thread for making and mending clothes — they will be useful by-and-bye.”

At last the whole contents of the chest were overhauled and explained. I could not well comprehend the glass bottles, or how they were made, but I put them, with the pannikins, and everything else, very carefully into the chest again, and hauled the chest to the further end of the cabin, out of the way. Before we went to bed that night, Jackson had to explain to me who God was, but as it was only the commencement of several conversations on the subject, I shall not at present trouble the reader with what passed between us. Jackson appeared to be very melancholy after the conversation we had had on religious matters, and was frequently agitated and muttering to himself.

Chapter Seven.

I did not on the following day ask him to resume his narrative relative to my father and mother, as I perceived that he avoided it, and I already had so far changed, as to have consideration for his feelings. Another point had now taken possession of my mind, which was, whether it were possible to learn to read those books which I had found in the chest, and this was the first question that I put to Jackson when we arose on that morning.

“How is it possible?” replied he. “Am I not blind — how can I teach you?”

“Is there no way?” replied I, mournfully.

“Let me think. — Yes, perhaps there is a way — at all events we will try. You know which book I told you was the Prayer-book?”

“Oh yes! The small, thin one.”

“Yes — fetch it here. Now,” said he, when I put it into his hand, “tell me; is there a straight line down the middle of the page of the book, so that the words and letters are on both sides of it?”

“Yes, there is,” replied I; “in every page, as you call it, there is a black line down the middle, and words and letters (I suppose they are) on both sides.”

“And among the letters there are some larger than others, especially at the side nearest to the margin.”

“I don’t know what margin is.”

“I mean here,” replied he, pointing to the margin of the page.

“Yes, there are.”

“Well then, I will open the book as near as I can guess at the Morning Service, and you tell me if you can find any part of the writing which appears to begin with a large round letter, like — what shall I say? — the bottom of a pannikin.”

“There is one on this leaf, quite round.”

“Very well — now get me a small piece of stick, and make a point to it.”

I did so, and Jackson swept away a small place on the floor of the cabin.

“Now,” said he, “there are many other prayers which begin with a round O, as the letter is called; so I must first ascertain if this one is the one I require. If it is, I know it by heart, and by that shall be able to teach you all the letters of the alphabet.”

“What’s an alphabet?”

“The alphabet is the number of letters invented to enable us to read and write. There are twenty-six of them. Now look, Frank; is the next letter to O the shape of this?” and he drew with the pointed stick the letter U on the ground.

“Yes, it is,” replied I.

“And the next is like this,” continued he, drawing the letter R, after he had smoothed the ground and effaced the U.

“Yes,” replied I.

“Well then, to make sure, I had better go on, OUR is one word, and then there is a little space between; and next you come to an F.”

“Yes,” replied I, looking at what he had drawn, and comparing it with the letter in the book.

“Then I believe that we are all right, but to make sure, we will go on for a little longer.”

Jackson then completed the word “Father,” and “which art,” that followed it, and then he was satisfied.

“Now,” said he, “out of that prayer I can teach you all the letters, and if you pay attention, you will learn to read.”

The whole morning was passed in my telling him the different letters, and I very soon knew them all. During the day, the Lord’s Prayer was gone through, and as I learnt the words as well as the letters, I could repeat it before night; I read it over to him twenty or thirty times, spelling every word, letter by letter, until I was perfect. This was my first lesson.

“Why is it called the Lord’s Prayer?” said I.

“Because, when our Lord Jesus Christ was asked by his followers in what way they ought to address God, he gave them this prayer to repeat, as being the most proper that they could use.”

“But who was Jesus Christ?”

“He was the Son of God, as I told you yesterday, and at the same time equal with God.”

“How could he be equal with God, if, as you said yesterday, God sent him down to be killed?”

“It was with his own consent that he suffered death: but all this is a mystery which you cannot understand at present.”

“What’s a mystery?”

“That which you cannot understand.”

“Do you understand it yourself?”

“No, I do not; I only know that such is the fact; but it is above not only mine, but all men’s comprehension. But I tell you honestly, that on these points, I am but a bad teacher; I have paid little attention to them during my life, and as far as religion is concerned, I can only give you the outlines, for I know no more.”

“But I thought you said that people were to be punished or rewarded when they died, according as they had lived a bad or good life; and that to live a good life, people must be religious, and obey God’s commands.”

“I did tell you so, and I told you the truth; but I did not tell you that I had led a bad life, as I have done, and that I have neglected to pay obedience to God’s word and command.”

“Then you will be punished when you die, will you not?”

“Alas! I fear so, child,” replied Jackson, putting his hands up to his forehead and hiding his face. “But there is still time,” continued he, after a pause; and “O God of mercy!” exclaimed he, “how shall I escape?”

I was about to continue the conversation, but Jackson requested that I would leave him alone for a time. I went out and sat on the rock, watching the stars.

“And those,” he says, “were all made by God.”

“And God made everything,” thought I, “and God lives up beyond those stars.” I thought for a long while, and was much perplexed. I had never heard anything of God till the night before, and what Jackson had told me was just enough to make me more anxious and curious; but he evidently did not like to talk on the subject. I tried, after a time, if I could repeat the Lord’s Prayer, and I found that I could, so I knelt down on the rock, and looking up to a bright star, as if I would imagine it was God, I repeated the Lord’s Prayer to it, and then I rose up and went to bed.

This was the first time that I had ever prayed.

I had learnt so much from Jackson, latterly, that I could hardly retain what I had learnt; at all events, I had a very confused recollection in my brain, and my thoughts turned from one subject to another, till there was, for a time, a perfect chaos; by degrees things unravelled themselves, and my ideas became more clear; but still I laboured under that half-comprehension of things which, in my position, was unavoidable.

But now my mind was occupied with one leading object and wish, which was to learn to read. I thought no more of Jackson’s history and the account he might give me of my father and mother, and was as willing as he was that it should be deferred for a time. What I required now was to be able to read the books, and to this object my whole mind and attention were given. Three or four hours in the earlier portion of the day, and the same time in the latter, were dedicated to this pursuit, and my attention never tired or flagged. In the course of, I think, about six weeks, I could read, without hesitation, almost any portion of the Bible or Prayer-book. I required no more teaching from Jackson, who now became an attentive hearer, as I read to him every morning and evening a portion of the Gospel or Liturgy. But I cannot say that I understood many portions which I read, and the questions which I put to Jackson puzzled him not a little, and very often he acknowledged that he could not answer them. As I afterwards discovered, this arose from his own imperfect knowledge of the nature of the Christian religion, which, according to his statement to me, might be considered to have been comprised in the following sentence: “If you do good on earth, you will go to heaven and be happy; if you do ill, you will go to hell and be tormented. Christ came down from heaven to teach us what to do, and how to follow his example; and all that we read in the Bible we must believe.” This may be considered as the creed imparted to me at that time. I believe that Jackson, like many others, knew no better, and candidly told me what he himself had been taught to believe.

But the season for the return of the birds arrived, and our stock of provender was getting low. I was therefore soon obliged to leave my books, and work hard for Jackson and myself. As soon as the young birds were old enough, I set to my task. And now I found how valuable were the knives which I had obtained from the seaman’s chest; indeed, in many points I could work much faster. By tying the neck and sleeves of a duck frock, I made a bag, which enabled me to carry the birds more conveniently, and in greater quantities at a time; and with the knives I could skin and prepare a bird in one quarter of the time. With my fishing-lines also, I could hang up more to dry at one time, so that, though without assistance, I had more birds cured in the same time than when Jackson and I were both employed in the labour. The whole affair, however, occupied me from morning to evening for more than three weeks, by which time the major portion of my provender was piled up at the back of the cabin. I did not, however, lose what I had gained in reading, as Jackson would not let me go away in the morning, or retire to my bed in the evening, without my reading to him a portion of the Bible: indeed he appeared to be quite uncomfortable if I did not do so.

At last, the work was ended, and then I felt a strong desire return to hear that portion of Jackson’s history connected with my father and mother, and I told him so. He did not appear to be, pleased with my communication, or at all willing to proceed; but as I pressed him hard and showed some symptoms of resolution and rebellion, he reluctantly resumed his narrative.

Chapter Eight.

“I wish you to understand,” said he, “that my unwillingness to go on with my history proceeds from my being obliged to make known to you the hatred that subsisted between your father and me; but if you will recollect, that we both had, in our early days, been striving to gain the same object — I mean your mother — and also that he had taken, as it were, what I considered to have been my place, in other points — that he had been successful in life, and I had been unfortunate, you must not then be surprised at my hating him as I did.”

“I understand nothing about your feelings,” replied I; “and why he injured you by marrying my mother, I cannot see.”

“Why, I loved her.”

“Well, suppose you did, I don’t know what love is, and therefore cannot understand it, so tell me the story.”

“Well then, when I left off, I told you that we had ventured to land upon this island, by running the boat into the bathing-pond; but in so doing, the boat was beaten to pieces, and was of no use afterwards. We landed, eight persons in all; that is, the captain, your father, the carpenter, mate, and three seamen, besides your mother. We had literally nothing in the boat except three axes, two kids, and the two pannikins, which we have indeed now; but as for provisions, or even water, we had none of either. Our first object, therefore, was to search the island to obtain water, and this we soon found at the rill which now runs down by the side of the cabin. It was very fortunate for us that we arrived exactly at the time that the birds had come on the island and had just laid their eggs; if not, we must have perished with hunger, for we had not a fish hook with us, or even a fathom of line.

“We collected a quantity of eggs, and made a good meal, although we devoured them raw. While we were running about, or rather climbing about, over the rocks; to find out what chance of subsistence we might have on the island, the captain and your father remained with your mother, who sat down in a sheltered spot near to the bathing-pool. On our return in the evening, the captain called us all together, that he might speak to us; and he said, that if we would do well, we must all act in concert; that it also would be necessary that one should have the command and control of the others; that without such was the case, nothing would go on well; — and he asked us if we did not consider that what he said was true. We all agreed, although I, for one, felt little inclination to do so; but as all the rest said so, I raised no objections. The captain then told us that, as we were all of one opinion, the next point was to decide as to who should have the command; he said, that if it had been on ship-board, he of course would have taken it himself, but now we were on shore, he thought that Mr Henniker was a much more competent person than he was, and he therefore proposed that the command should be given to him, and he, for one, would willingly be under his orders. To this proposal, the carpenter and mate immediately agreed, and at last two of the seamen. I was left alone, but I resisted, saying, that I was not going to be ordered about by a landsman, and that if I were to obey orders, it must be from a thorough-bred seaman. The other two sailors were of my way of thinking, I was sure, although they had given their consent, and I hoped that they would join me, which they appeared very much inclined to do. Your father spoke very coolly, modestly, and prudently. He pointed out that he had no wish to take the command, and that he would cheerfully serve under the captain of the vessel, if it would be more satisfactory to all parties that such should be the case. But the captain and the others were positive, saying that they would not have their choice disputed by such a drunken vagabond as I was, and that if I did not like to remain with them, I might go to any part of the island that I chose. This conference ended by my getting in a passion, and saying that I would not be under your father’s orders; and I was seizing one of the axes to go off with it, when the captain caught my arm and wrested it from me, stating that the axe was his property, and then telling me that I was welcome to go where I pleased.

“I left them, therefore, and went away by myself to where the birds were hatching, as I wished to secure a supply of eggs. When the night closed in, I lay down upon the guano, and felt no cold; for the gale was now over, and the weather was very mild.

“The next morning, when I awoke, I found that the sun had been up some time. I looked for the rest of my companions whom I had quitted, and perceived that they were all busily at work. The sea was quite calm; and, when the vessel went down after we left, many articles had floated, and had been washed to the island. Some of the men were busy collecting spars and planks, which were near the rocks, and pushing them along with the boat-hooks to the direction of the bathing-pond, where they hauled them over the ridge, and secured them. Your father and mother, with the carpenter, were on this ledge where we now are, having selected it as a proper place for building a shelter, and were apparently very busy. The captain and one of the seamen were carrying up what spars and timber could be collected to where your father was standing with the carpenter. All appeared to be active, and working into each other’s hands; and I confess that, as I looked on, I envied them, and wished that I had been along with them; but I could not bear the idea of obeying any orders given by your father; and this alone prevented my joining them, and making my excuses for what I had done and said the previous night. I therefore swallowed some more bird’s eggs raw, and sat down in the sun, looking at them as they worked.

“I soon perceived that the carpenter had commenced operations. The frame of this cabin was, with the assistance of your father, before it was noon, quite complete and put up; and then they all went down to the bathing-place, where the boat was lying with her bottom beaten out. They commenced taking her to pieces and saving all the nails; the other men carried up the portions of the boat as they were ripped off, to where the frame of the cabin had been raised. I saw your mother go up with a load in her hand, which I believed to be the nails taken from the boat. In a couple of hours the boat was in pieces and carried up, and then your father and most of the men went up to assist the carpenter. I hardly need tell what they did, as you have the cabin before you. The roof, you see, is mostly built out of the timbers of the boat; and the lower part out of heavier wood; and a very good job they made of it. Before the morning closed in, one of the sides of the cabin was finished; and I saw them light a fire with the chips that had been cut off with the axes, and they then dressed the eggs and birds which they had collected the first day.

“There was one thing which I had quite forgotten when I mutinied and left my companions, which was, the necessity of water to drink; and I now perceived that they had taken possession of the spot where the only water had as yet been found. I was suffering very much from thirst towards the close of the day, and I set off up the ravine to ascertain if there was none to be found in that direction. Before night I succeeded in finding some, as you know, for you have often drunk from the spring when you have gone up for firewood. This gave me great encouragement, for I was afraid that the want of water would have driven me to submission. By way of bravado, I tore off; and cut with my knife, as many boughs of the underwood on the ravine as I well could carry, and the next morning I built a sort of wigwam for myself on the guano, to show them that I had a house over my head as well as they had; but I built it further up to the edge of the cliff, above the guano plain, so that I need not have any communication with those who I knew would come for eggs and birds for their daily sustenance.

“Before the night of the following day set in, the cabin was quite finished.

“The weather became warmer every day, and I found it very fatiguing to have to climb the ravine two or three times a day to procure a drink of water, for I had nothing to hold water in, and I thought that it would be better that I should take up my quarters in the ravine, and build myself a wigwam among the brushwood close to the water, instead of having to make so many journeys for so necessary an article. I knew that I could carry eggs in my hat and pocket-handkerchief sufficient for two or three days at one trip; so I determined that I would do so; and the next morning I went up the ravine, loaded with eggs, to take up my residence there. In a day or two I had built my hut of boughs, and made it very comfortable. I returned for a fresh supply of eggs on the third day, with a basket I had constructed out of young boughs, and which enabled me to carry a whole week’s sustenance. Then I felt quite satisfied, and made up my mind that I would live as a hermit during my sojourn on the island, however long it might be; for I preferred anything to obeying the orders of one whom I detested as I did your father.

“It soon was evident, however, how well they had done in selecting your father as their leader. They had fancied that the birds would remain on the island, and that thus they would always be able to procure a supply. Your father, who had lived so long in Chili, knew better, and that in a few weeks they would quit their nesting-place. He pointed this out to them, showing them what a mercy it was that they had been cast away just at this time, and how necessary it was to make a provision for the year. But this they could not imagine that it was possible to do without salt to cure the birds with; but he knew how beef was preserved without salt on the continent, and showed them how to dry the birds in the sun. While therefore I was up in the ravine, they were busy collecting and drying them in large quantities, and before the time of the birds leaving they had laid up a sufficient supply. It was he also that invented the fishing-lines out of the sinews of the legs of the birds, and your mother who knotted them together. At first, they caught fish with some hooks made of nails, but your father showed them the way to take them without a hook, as you have learnt from me, and which he had been shown by some of the Indians on the continent.

“Owing to your father, they were well prepared when the birds flew away with their young ones, while I was destitute. Previous to the flight, I had fared but badly, for the eggs contained the young birds half formed, and latterly so completely formed that I could not eat them; and as I had no fire, and did not understand drying them, I had no alternative but eating the young birds raw, which was anything but pleasant. I consoled myself, however, with the idea that your father and mother and the rest were faring just as badly as myself, and I looked forward to the time when the birds would begin to lay eggs again, when I resolved to hoard up a much larger supply while they were fresh. But my schemes were all put an end to, for in two days, after a great deal of noise and flying about in circles, all the birds, young and old, took wing, and left me without any means of future subsistence.

“This was a horrid discovery, and I was put to my wits’ ends. I wandered over the guano place, and, after the third day of their departure, was glad to pick up even a dead bird with which to appease my hunger. At the same time, I wondered how my former companions got on, for I considered that they must be as badly off as I was. I watched them from behind the rocks, but I could perceive no signs of uneasiness. There was your mother sitting quietly on the level by the cabin, and your father or the captain talking with her. I perceived, however, that two of the party were employed fishing off the rocks, and I wondered where they got their fishing-lines; and at last I concluded that it was by catching fish that they supported themselves. This, however, did not help me — I was starving, and starvation will bring down the pride of any man. On the fifth day, I walked down to the rocks, to where one of the seamen was fishing, and having greeted him, I told him that I was starving, and asked for something to eat.

“‘I cannot help you,’ replied he; ‘I have no power to give anything away; it is more than I dare do. You must apply to Mr Henniker, who is the governor now. What a foolish fellow you were to mutiny, as you did; see what it has brought you to.’

“‘Why,’ replied I, ‘if it were not for fishing, you would not be better off than I am.’

“‘Oh yes we should be; but we have to thank him for that — without him, I grant, we should not have been. We have plenty of provisions, although we fish to help them out.’

“This puzzled me amazingly, but there was no help for it. I could starve no longer, so up I went to the level where your father was standing with the captain, and in a swaggering sort of tone, said that I had come back, and wanted to join my comrades. The captain looked at me and referred me to your father, who said that he would consult with the rest when they came to dinner, as without their permission he could do nothing; and then they both turned away. In the meantime I was ravenous with hunger, and was made more so by perceiving that two large fish were slowly baking on the embers of the fire, and that your mother was watching them. However, there was no help for it, and I sat down at some little distance, anxiously waiting for the return of the rest of the party, when my fate would be decided. My pride was now brought down so low, that I could have submitted to any terms which might have been dictated. In about two hours they were all assembled to dinner, and I remained envying every morsel that they ate, until the repast was finished; when, after some consultation, I was ordered to approach — which I did — and your father addressed me: ‘Jackson, you deserted us, when you might have been very useful, and when our labour was severe; now that we have worked hard, and made ourselves tolerably comfortable, you request to join us, and partake with us of the fruits of our labour and foresight. You have provided nothing, we have — the consequence is, that we are in comparative plenty, while you are starving. Now I have taken the opinion of my companions, and they are all agreed, that as you have not assisted when you were wanted, should we now allow you to join us, you will have to work more than the others to make up an equivalent. It is therefore proposed that you shall join us on one condition, which is, that during the year, till the birds again visit the island, it will be your task to go up to the ravine every day, and procure the firewood which is required. If you choose to accept these terms, you are permitted to join, always supposing that to all the other rules and regulations which we have laid down for our guidance, you will be subject as well as we are. These are our terms, and you may decide as you think proper.’ I hardly need say, that I gladly accepted them, and was still more glad when the remnants of the dinner were placed before me: I was nearly choked, I devoured with such haste until my appetite was appeased.

“When this was done, I thought over the conditions which I had accepted, and my blood boiled at the idea that I was to be in a manner the slave to the rest, as I should have to work hard every day. I forgot that it was but justice, and that I was only earning my share of the year’s provisions, which I had not assisted to collect. My heart was still more bitter against your father, and I vowed vengeance if ever I had an opportunity; but there was no help for it. Every day I went up with a piece of cord and an axe, cut a large fagot of wood, and brought it down to the cabin. It was hard work, and occupied me from breakfast to dinner-time, and I had no time to lose if I wanted to be back for dinner. The captain always examined the fagot, and ascertained that I had brought down a sufficient supply for the day’s consumption.”

Chapter Nine.

“A year passed away, during which I was thus employed. At last, the birds made their appearance, and after we had laid up our annual provision, I was freed from my task, and had only to share the labour with others. It was now a great source of speculation how long we were likely to remain on the island; every day did we anxiously look out for a vessel, but we could see none, or if seen, they were too far off from the island to permit us to make signals to them. At last we began to give up all hope, and, as hope was abandoned, a settled gloom was perceptible on most of our faces. I believe that others would have now mutinied as well as myself, if they had known what to mutiny about. Your father and mother were the life and soul of the party, inventing amusements, or narrating a touching story in the evenings, so as to beguile the weary time. Great respect was paid to your mother, which she certainly deserved; I seldom approached her; she had taken a decided dislike to me, arising, I presume, from my behaviour towards her husband; for now that I was again on a footing with the others, I was as insolent to him as I dared to be, without incurring the penalty attached to insubordination, and I opposed him as much as I could in every proposal that he brought forward — but your father kept his temper, although I lost mine but too often. The first incident which occurred of any consequence, was the loss of two of the men, who had, with your father’s permission, taken a week’s provisions, with the intention of making a tour round the island, and ascertaining whether any valuable information could be brought back: they were the carpenter and one of the seamen. It appears, that during their return, as they were crossing the highest ridge, they, feeling very thirsty, and not finding water, attempted to refresh themselves by eating some berries which they found on a plant. These berries proved to be strong poison, and they returned very ill. After languishing a few days, they both died.

“This was an event which roused us up, and broke the monotony of our life; but it was one which was not very agreeable to dwell upon, and yet, at the same time, I felt rather pleasure than annoyance at it — I felt that I was of more consequence, and many other thoughts entered my mind which I shall not now dwell upon. We buried them in the guano, under the first high rock, where, indeed, the others were all subsequently buried. Three more months passed away, when the other seaman was missing. After a search, his trousers were found at the edge of the rock. He had evidently been bathing in the sea, for the day on which he was missed, the water was as smooth as glass. Whether he had seen something floating, which he wished to bring to land, or whether he had ventured for his own amusement, for he was an excellent swimmer, could never be ascertained — any more than whether he had sunk with the cramp, — or had been taken down by a shark. He never appeared again, and his real fate is a mystery to this day, and must ever remain so. Thus were we reduced to four men — your father, the captain, the mate, and me. But you must be tired — I will stop now, and tell you the remainder some other time.”

Although I was not tired, yet, as Jackson appeared to be so, I made no objections to his proposal, and we both went to sleep.

While I had read the Bible to Jackson, I had often been puzzled by numbers being mentioned, and never could understand what was meant; that is, I could form no idea of the quantity represented by seventy or sixty, or whatever it might be. Jackson’s answer was, “Oh! It means a great many; I’ll explain to you by-and-bye, but we have nothing to count with, and as I am blind, I must have something in my hand to teach you.” I recollected that at the bathing-pool there were a great many small shells on the rocks, about the size of a pea; there were live fish in them, and they appeared to crawl on the rocks. I collected a great quantity of these, and brought them up to the cabin, and requested Jackson would teach me to count. This he did, until he came to a thousand, which he said was sufficient. For many days I continued to count up to a hundred, until I was quite perfect, and then Jackson taught me addition and subtraction to a certain degree, by making me add and take away from the shells, and count the accumulation, or the remainder. At last, I could remember what I had gained by manipulation, if I may use the term; but further I could not go, although addition had, to a degree, made me master of multiplication, and subtraction gave me a good idea of division.

This was a new delight to me, and occupied me for three or four weeks. At last I had, as I thought, learned all that he could teach me in his blind state, and I threw away the shells, and sighed for something more.

Of a sudden it occurred to me, that I had never looked into the book which still lay upon the shelf in the cabin, and I saw no reason now that I should not; so I mentioned it to Jackson, and asked him why I might not have that book?

“To be sure you may,” replied he; “but you never asked for it, and I quite forgot it.”

“But when I asked you before, you were so particular that I should not open it. What was your reason then?”

Jackson replied — “I had no reason except that I then disliked you, and I thought that looking into the book would give you pleasure. It belonged to that poor fellow that was drowned; he had left it in the stern-sheets of the boat when we were at Valdivia, and had forgotten it, and we found it there when we landed on the island. Take it down, it will amuse you.”

I took down the book, and opened it. It was, if I recollect right, called “Mayor’s Natural History.” At all events, it was a Natural History of Beasts and Birds, with a plate representing each, and a description annexed. It would be impossible for me to convey to the reader my astonishment and delight. I had never seen a picture or drawing in my life. I did not know that such things existed. I was in an ecstasy of delight as I turned over the pages, hardly taking sufficient time to see one object before I hastened on to another. For two or three hours did I thus turn over leaves, without settling upon any one animal; at last my pulse beat more regularly, and I commenced with the Lion. But now what a source of amusement, and what a multitude of questions had to be answered by my companion. He had to tell me all about the countries in which the animals were found; and the description of the animals, with the anecdotes, were a source of much conversation; and, what was more, the fore-grounds and back-grounds of the landscapes with which the animals were surrounded produced new ideas. There was a palm-tree, which I explained to Jackson, and inquired about it. This led to more inquiries. The lion himself occupied him and me for a whole afternoon, and it was getting dark when I lay down, with my new treasure by my side. I had read of the lion in the Scriptures, and now I recalled all the passages; and before I slept I thought of the bear which destroyed the children who had mocked Elisha the prophet, and I determined that the first animal I would read about the next morning should be the bear.

I think that this book lasted me nearly two months, during which time, except reading a portion every night and morning to Jackson, the Bible and Prayer-book were neglected. Some times I thought that the book could not be true; but when I came to the birds, I found those which frequented the island so correctly described, that I had no longer any doubt on the subject. Perhaps what interested me most were the plates in which the barn-door fowls and the peacock were described, as in the back-ground of the first were a cottage and figures, representing the rural scenery of England, my own country; and in the second there was a splendid mansion, and a carriage and four horses driving up to the door. In short, it is impossible to convey to the reader the new ideas which I received from these slight efforts of the draftsman to give effect to his drawing. The engraving was also a matter of much wonder, and required a great deal of explanation from Jackson. This book became my treasure, and it was not till I had read it through and through, so as almost to know it by heart, that at length I returned to my Bible. All this time I had never asked Jackson to go on with his narrative; but now that my curiosity was appeased, I made the request. He appeared, as before, very unwilling; but I was pertinacious, and he was worried into it.

“There were but four of us left and your mother, and the mate was in a very bad state of health; he fretted very much, poor fellow, for he had left a young wife in England, and what he appeared to fear most was, that she would be married again before he could get home. It ended in a confirmed liver complaint, which carried him off nine months afterwards; and thus was one more of our companions disposed of. He died very quietly, and gave me his sleeve-buttons and watch to deliver to his wife, if ever I should escape from the island. I fear there is little chance of her ever receiving them.”

“Where are they?” said I, recollecting how I had seen him lift up the board under his bed-place.

“I have them safe,” replied Jackson, “and it necessary, will tell you where to find them.”

This reply satisfied me, and I allowed him to proceed.

“We buried him in the guano, by the side of the two others, and now we were but three. It was at this time that your mother was confined and you were born; that is, about three months after the death of the mate. We had just finished laying in our stock of birds for the year when she was taken ill, sooner than was expected, and it was supposed that was occasioned by over-exertion at the time. However, she got up very well without any medical assistance, and your father was much pleased at having a son, for he had been married five years without any prospect of a family. I ought to observe, that the loss of our companions, one after another, had had the effect of bringing those that remained much closer together; I was treated with more kindness by both your father and mother, and the captain, and I returned it as well as my feelings would permit me, for I could not altogether get rid of my animosity to your father. However, we became much more confidential, that is certain, and I was now treated as an equal.

“Six months passed away and you had become a thriving child, when a melancholy occurrence — ” here Jackson covered up his face with his hands and remained for some time silent.

“Go on,” said I, “Jackson; I know that they all died somehow or another.”

“Very true,” replied he, recovering himself. “Well, your father disappeared. He had gone to the rocks to fish, and when I was sent to bring him home to dinner, he was nowhere to be found. It was supposed that a larger fish than usual had been fast to his line, and that he had been jerked off the rocks into the water, and the sharks had taken him. It was a dreadful affair,” continued Jackson, again covering his face.

“I think,” replied I, “that any man in his senses would have allowed the fish to have taken the line rather than have been dragged into the water. I don’t think that the supposed manner of his death is at all satisfactory.”

“Perhaps not,” replied Jackson; “his foot may have slipped, who knows? We only could guess; the line was gone as well as he, which made us think what I said. Still we searched everywhere, but without hope; and our search — that is, the captain’s and mine, for your poor mother remained with you in her arms distracted — was the cause of another disaster — no less than the death of the captain. They say misfortunes never come single, and surely this was an instance of the truth of the proverb.”

“How did he die?” replied I, gravely; for somehow or other I felt doubts as to the truth of what he was saying. Jackson did not reply till after a pause, when he said —

“He was out with me up the ravine collecting firewood, and he fell over the high cliff. He was so injured that he died in half an hour.”

“What did you do?”

“What did I do — what could I do but go back and break the news to your mother, who was distracted when she heard it; for the captain was her friend, and she could not bear me.”

“Well, go on, pray,” said I.

“I did all that I could to make your mother comfortable, as there how were but her, you; and I, left on the island. You were then about three years old; but your mother always hated me, and appeared now to hate me more and more. She never recovered the loss of your father, to whom she was devotedly attached; she pined away, and after six months she died, leaving you and me only on the island. Now you know the whole history, and pray do not ask me any more about it.”

Chapter Ten.

Jackson threw himself back in his bed-place and was silent. So was I, for I was recalling all that he had told me, and my doubts were raised as to the truth of it. I did not like his hurrying over the latter portion of his narrative in the way which he had done. What he had said about my mother was not satisfactory. I had for some time been gradually drawing towards him, not only showing, but feeling, for him a great increase of good-will; but suspicion had entered my mind, and I now began to feel my former animosity towards him renewed. A night’s sleep, however, and more reflection, induced me to think that possibly I was judging him too harshly, and as I could not afford to quarrel with him, our intercourse remained as amicable as before, particularly as he become more and more amiable towards me, and did everything in his power to interest and amuse me.

I was one day reading to him the account of a monkey, given in the book of Natural History, in which it is said that that animal is fond of spirits and will intoxicate itself, and Jackson was telling me many anecdotes of monkeys on board of the vessel he had sailed in, when it occurred to me that I had never thought of mentioning to him, or of ascertaining the contents of the cask which had been thrown into the bathing-pool with the seaman’s chest, and I did so then to Jackson, wondering at its contents and how they were to be got at.

Jackson entered into the question warmly, explaining to me how and where to bore holes with a gimlet, and making two spiles for me to stop the holes with. As soon as he had done so, curiosity induced me to go down to the pool where the cask had been lying so long in about a foot and half water. By Jackson’s directions I took a pannikin with me, that I might bring him a specimen of the contents of the cask, if they should prove not to be water. I soon bored the hole above and below, following Jackson’s directions, and the liquor, which poured out in a small stream into the pannikin, was of a brown colour and very strong in odour, so strong, indeed, as to make me reel as I walked back to the rocks with the pannikin full of it. I then sat down, and after a time tasted it. I thought I had swallowed fire, for I had taken a good mouthful of it. “This cannot be what Jackson called spirits,” said I. “No one can drink this — what can it be?” Although I had not swallowed more than a table-spoonful of it, yet, combined with the fumes of the liquor which I had inhaled when drawing it off into the pannikin, the effect was to make my head swim, and I lay down on the rock and shut my eyes to recover myself. It ended in my falling asleep for many hours, for it was not much after noon when I went to the cask, and it was near sunset when I awoke, with an intense pain, in my head. It was some time before I could recollect where I was, or what had passed, but the pannikin full of liquor by my side first reminded me; and then perceiving how late it was, and how long I must have slept, I rose up, and taking the pannikin in my hand, I hastened to return to the cabin.

As I approached, I heard the voice of Jackson, whose hearing, since his blindness, I had observed, had become peculiarly acute.

“Is that you, Frank?”

“Yes,” replied I.

“And what has kept you so long? — how you have frightened me. God forgive me, but I thought that I was to be left and abandoned to starvation.”

“Why should you have thought that?” replied I.

“Because I thought that some way or another you must have been killed, and then I must have died, of course. I never was so frightened in my life, the idea of dying here all alone — it was terrible.”

It occurred to me at the time, that the alarm was all for himself, for he did not say a word about how sorry he should have been at any accident happening to me, but I made no remark, simply stating what had occurred, and my conviction that the contents of the cask were not drinkable.

“Have you brought any with you?” inquired he, sharply.

“Yes, here it is,” said I, giving him the pannikin. He smelt it, and raised it to his lips — took about a wine-glass full of it, and then draw his breath.

“This is delightful,” said he; “the best of old rum, I never tasted so good. How big did you say that the cask was?”

I described it as well as I could.

“Indeed, then it must be a whole puncheon — that will last a long while.”

“But do you mean to say that you really like to drink that stuff?” inquired I.

“Do I like to drink it? Yes, it is good for men, but it’s death to little boys. It will kill you. Don’t you get fond of it. Now promise me that you will never drink a drop of it. You must not get fond of it, or some sad accident will happen to you.”

“I don’t think you need fear my drinking it,” replied I. “I have had one taste, as I told you, and it nearly burnt my mouth. I shan’t touch it again.”

“That’s right,” replied Jackson, taking another quantity into his mouth. “You are not old enough for it; by-and-bye, when you are as old as I am, you may drink it, then it will do you good. Now, I’ll go to bed, it’s time for bed. Bring the pannikin after me and put it by my side. Take care you don’t spill any of it.”

Jackson crawled to his bed and I followed him with the pannikin, and put it by his side, as he requested, and I returned to my own resting-place, without, however, having the least inclination to sleep, having slept so long during the day.

At first Jackson was quiet, but I heard him occasionally applying to the pannikin, which held, I should say, about three half-pints of liquor. At last he commenced singing a sea-song; I was much surprised, as I had never heard him sing before; but I was also much pleased, as it was the first time that I had ever heard anything like melody, for he had a good voice and sang in good tune. As soon as he had finished, I begged him to go on.

“Ah!” replied he, with a gay tone I had never heard from him before. “You like songs, do you? My little chap? Well, I’ll give you plenty of them. ’Tis a long while since I have sung, but it’s a ‘poor heart that never rejoiceth.’ The time was when no one in company could sing a song as I could, and so I can again, now that I have something to cheer my heart. Yes, here’s another for you. I shall rouse them all out by-and-bye, as I get the grog in — no fear of that — you find the stuff, and I’ll find songs.”

I was surprised at first at this unusual mirth; but recollecting what Jackson had told me about his intemperance, I presumed that this mirth which it produced was the cause why he indulged so much in it; and I felt less inclined to blame him. At all events, I was much pleased with the songs that he sang to me one after another for three or four hours, when his voice became thick, and, after some muttering and swearing, he was quite silent, and soon afterwards snored loudly. I remained awake some time longer, and then I also sank into forgetfulness.

When I awoke the next morning, I found Jackson still fast asleep. I waited for him for our morning meal; but, as he did not wake, I took mine by myself, and then I walked out to the rock, where I usually sat, and looked round the horizon to see if there was anything in sight. The spy-glass, from having been in sea-water, was of no use, and I did not know what to do with it; nor could Jackson instruct me. After I had been out about an hour I returned, and found Jackson still snoring, and I determined to wake him up. I pushed him for some time without success; but, at last, he opened his eyes, and said:

“My watch already?”

“No;” said I; “but you have slept so long, that I have waked you up.”

He paused, as if he did not know my voice, and then said:

“But I can’t see anything; how’s this?”

“Why, don’t you know that you’re blind, Jackson?” replied I, with amazement.

“Yes, yes; I recollect now. Is there anything in the pannikin?”

“Not a drop,” replied I; “why, you must have drunk it all.”

“Yes, I recollect now. Get me some water my good boy; for I am dying with thirst.”

I went for the water; he drank the whole pannikin, and asked for more.

“Won’t you have something to eat?” said I.

“Eat? Oh no; I can’t eat anything. Give me drink;” and he held out his hand for the pannikin. I perceived how it trembled and shook, and I observed it to him.

“Yes;” replied he, “that’s always the case after a carouse, and I had a good one last night — the first for many a year. But there’s plenty more of it. I wish you would get me a little more now, Frank, just to steady me; just about two or three mouthfuls, no more; that is, no more till night time. Did I make much noise last night?”

“You sang several songs,” replied I, “with which I was much amused.”

“I’m glad that you liked them. I used to be considered a good singer in my day; indeed, if I had not been such good company, as they term it, I had not become so fond of drinking. Just go and fetch me about half an inch high of the pannikin, my good fellow, that’s all I want now.”

I went down to the cask, drew off the quantity that he requested, and brought it to him. He drank it off; and, in a few moments, appeared to be quite himself again. He then asked for some thing to eat, and commenced telling me a variety of stories relative to what he termed jolly parties in his former days; so that the day passed very agreeably. As the night closed in, he said:

“Now, Frank, I know you want to hear some more songs; so go down and bring me up a full pannikin, and I will sing you plenty.”

I complied with his request, for I was anxious to be again amused as I was the night before. The consequence was, that this night was, in the early portion of it, but a repetition of the previous one. Jackson took the precaution to get into his bed-place before he commenced drinking; and, as soon as he had taken his second dose, he asked me what sort of songs I liked. My reply naturally was, that I had never heard any one sing but him, and therefore could not say.

“What did I sing to you last night?” said he.

I replied as well as I could.

“Ah,” said he, “they were all sea-songs; but now I will give you something better.”

After a little thought, he commenced singing a very beautiful and plaintive one, and certainly much better than he had sung the night before; for he now was sober. The consequence was, that I was still more delighted; and, at my request, he sang several others; but at last his speech became rapid and thick, and he would not sing any more, using some very coarse expressions to me when I asked him. For a time he was silent, and I thought that he was going to sleep, and I was reflecting upon the various effects which the liquor appeared to have upon him, when I heard him talking and muttering, and I listened.

“Never mind how I got them,” said he; “quite as honestly as other people, Old Moshes. There they are, do you choose to buy them?” Then there was a pause, after which he commenced: “They’re as pure diamonds as ever came out of a mine. I know that, so none of your lies, you old Jew. Where did I come by them? That’s no concern of yours. The question is, will you give me the price, or will you not? Well, then, I’m off. No, I won’t come back, you old thief.” Here he swore terribly, and then was silent.

After a while he recommenced —

“Who can ever prove that they were Henniker’s diamonds?”

I started up at the mention of my father’s name; I rested with my hands on the floor of the cabin, breathless as to what would come next.

“No, no,” continued Jackson, “he’s dead, and food for fishes — dead men tell no tales — and she’s dead, and the captain’s dead, all dead — yes, all;” and he gave a bitter groan and was silent.

The day was breaking, and I could just see him as he lay; but he said no more, and appeared to breathe heavily. As the sun rose, I got out of my bed-place; and, now that it was broad day light, I looked at Jackson. He was lying on his back; his brow was covered with large drops of perspiration, and his hands were clenched together. Although asleep, he appeared, by the convulsive twitching of the muscles of his face, to be suffering and in great agony. Occasionally he groaned deeply, and his lips appeared to move, but no sound proceeded from them. I perceived that the pannikin of liquor was not finished, one third at least having been left.

Chapter Eleven.

I then went out of the cabin and took my usual seat, and began to reflect upon what I had heard. He had talked about diamonds; now I knew what diamonds were, so far as they were of great value, for I had read of them in the Bible, and Jackson had explained the value of precious stones to me, and had told me of diamonds of very great value indeed. Then he said that they were Henniker’s diamonds — he must have meant my father, that was positive. And that no one could prove they were his — this implied that Jackson had no right to them; indeed how could he have? And then I recalled to mind his having a secret hiding-place under his bed, where I presumed the diamonds were deposited. I then turned over in my mind what he had told me relative to the death of my father, the captain, and my mother, how confused he was, and how glad he was to get rid of the subject, and how unsatisfactory I thought his account was at the time. After much cogitation, I made up my mind that Jackson had not told me the truth, and that there was a mystery yet to be explained but how was I to get at it? There was but one way. The liquor made him talk. I would supply him with liquor, and by degrees, I would get the truth out of him. At the same time I would not allow him to suppose that he had said anything to commit himself, or that I had any suspicions.

How naturally do we fall into treachery and deceit, from the evil in our own hearts, without any assistance or example from the world. How could I have learnt deceit? Isolated as I had been, must it not have been innate?

I returned to the cabin, and woke Jackson without much difficulty, since he had not drunk so much as on the previous night.

“How are you this morning?” said I.

“Not very well, I have had some bad dreams.”

“Well, you sang me some beautiful songs,” replied I.

“Yes, I recollect,” said he; “but I fell asleep at last.”

“Yes, you refused to sing any more, and went off in a loud snore.”

Jackson got out of his bed-place, and I gave him his meal. We talked during the whole day about singing, and I hummed the air which had pleased me most.

“You have got the air pretty correct,” said he; “you must have an ear for music. Have you ever tried to sing?”

“No, never; you know I have not.”

“You might have tried when I was not with you. Try now. I will sing a tune, and then do you repeat it after me.”

He did so, and I repeated it.

“Very good,” said he. “Let’s try the compass of your voice.”

He ran up the gamut, and I followed him.

“I think you can go higher than I can,” said he; “however, you go quite high enough, so now I’ll give you a singing lesson.”

Thus were we occupied at intervals during the whole day, for Jackson would not allow me to try my voice too much at first. As the evening fell, he again asked me to fetch some liquor, and as I had three quart wine-bottles, as I before mentioned, which I had found in the chest, I took them down to fill, as it would save me many trips, and be more convenient in every respect.

I brought them up full, and Jackson stopped them up with some of the rags which I had torn to bind round his wrist, and put them all three in his bed-place.

“That will be a much better arrangement,” said he, “as now I can pour out the liquor into the pannikin as I want it; besides, I mean to take a little water with it in future. It’s not quite so good with water, but it lasts longer, and one don’t go to sleep so soon. Well, I little thought that I should have such a comfort sent me after all my sufferings. I don’t so much care now about staying here. Go and fetch some water in the pannikin.”

That night was a repetition of the first. Jackson sang till he was intoxicated, and then fell fast asleep, not talking or saying a word, and I was disappointed, for I remained awake to catch anything he might say. It would be tedious to repeat what took place for about a month; — suffice it to say, it was very rarely, during that time, that Jackson said anything in his sleep, or drunken state, and what he did say, I could make nothing of. He continued in the ‘daytime’ to give me lessons in singing, and I could now sing several songs very correctly. At night he returned to his usual habit, and was more or less intoxicated before the night was over. I perceived, however, that this excess had a great effect upon his constitution, and that he had become very pale and haggard. Impatient as I felt to find out the truth, I concealed my feelings towards him (which had certainly very much changed again since the discovery I had made and the suspicions I had formed), and I remained on the best of terms with him, resolving to wait patiently. He had spoken once, and therefore I argued that he would speak again; nor was I wrong in my calculations.

One night, after he had finished his usual allowance of liquor, and had composed himself for sleep, I observed that he was unusually restless, changing his position in his bed-place every few minutes, and, at last, he muttered, “Captain James. Well, what of Captain James, eh?”

A thought struck me that he might reply to a question.

“How did he die?” said I, in a low clear voice.

“Die?” replied Jackson, “he fell down the cliff. Yes, he did. You can’t say I killed him. No — never put my finger on him.”

After that he was silent for some time, and then he recommenced.

“She always said that I destroyed them both, but I did not — only one — yes, one, I grant — but I hated him — no, not for his diamonds — no, no — if you said his wife indeed — love and hate.”

“Then you killed him for love of his wife, and hate of himself?”

“Yes, I did. Who are you that have guessed that? Who are you? I’ll have your life.”

As he said this, he started up in his bed-place, awakened by his dream, and probably by my voice, which he had replied to.

“Who spoke?” said he. “Frank Henniker, did you speak?”

I made no reply, but pretended to be sound asleep, as he still sat up, as if watching me. I feigned a snore.

“It could not have been him,” muttered Jackson, “he’s quite fast. Mercy, what a dream!”

He then sank down in his bed-place, and I heard the gurgling noise which told me that he had put the bottle of liquor to his mouth, and was drinking out of it. From the time that the gurgling lasted, he must have taken a great deal. At last, all was quiet again.

“So I have discovered it at last,” said I, as my blood boiled at what I had heard. “He did murder my father. Shall I kill him while he sleeps?” was the first thought that came into my troubled mind. “No, I won’t do that. What then, shall I tax him with it when he is awake, and then kill him?” but I thought, that, as he was blind, and unable to defend himself, it would be cowardly, and I could not do that. What then was I to do? And as I cooled down, I thought of the words of the Bible, that we were to return good for evil; for Jackson, of whom, when I read it, I asked why we were told to do so, had explained it to me, and afterwards when I came to the part which said, “Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord,” he had told me that there was punishment for the wicked hereafter, and that was the reason why we were not to obey the Jewish law of “an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth,” which I had referred to. This portion of the Bible he had well explained, and certain it is that it prevented my raising my hand against him that night. Still, I remained in a state of great excitement; I felt that it would be impossible for me to be any longer on good terms with him, and I revolved the question in my mind, till, at last, worn out by excitement, I fell fast asleep.

A short time before daylight, I started up at what I thought was a faint cry, but I listened, and hearing nothing more, I again fell asleep, and it was broad daylight when I arose; my first thoughts were naturally of Jackson, and I looked at where he lay, but he was no longer there — his bed-place was empty. I was astonished, and after a moment’s thought, I recollected the cry I had heard in the night, and I ran out of the cabin and looked around me; but I could see nothing of him. I then went to the edge of the flat rock upon which the cabin was built and looked over it; it was about thirty feet from this rock to the one below, and nearly perpendicular. I thought that he must have gone out in the night, when intoxicated with liquor, and have fallen down the precipice; but I did not see him as I peered over. “He must have gone for water,” thought I, and I ran to the corner of the rock, where the precipice was much deeper, and looking over, I perceived him lying down below without motion or apparent life. I had, then, judged rightly. I sat down by the side of the pool of water quite overpowered; last night I had been planning how I should destroy him, and now he lay dead before me without my being guilty of the crime. “Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord,” were the words that first escaped my lips; and I remained many minutes in deep thought. At last it occurred to me that he might not yet be dead; I ran down the cliff, and, clambering over the rocks, arrived breathless at the spot where Jackson lay. He groaned heavily as I stood by him.

“Jackson,” said I, kneeling down by him, “are you much hurt?” for all my feelings of animosity had vanished when I perceived his unhappy condition. His lips moved, but he did not utter any sound. At last he said, in a low voice, “Water.” I hastened back as fast as I could to the cabin, got a pannikin half full of water, and poured a little rum in it out of the bottle. This journey and my return to him occupied some ten minutes. I put it to his lips, and he seemed to revive. He was a dreadful object to look at. The blood from a cut on his head had poured over his face and beard, which were clotted with gore. How to remove him to the cabin I knew not. It would be hardly possible for me to carry him over the broken rocks which I had climbed to arrive at where he lay; and there was no other way but what was longer, and just as difficult. By degrees he appeared to recover; I gave him more of the contents of the pannikin, and at last he could speak, although with great pain and difficulty. As he did so he put his hand to his side. He was indeed a ghastly object, with his sightless eyeballs, his livid lips, and his face and beard matted with blood.

“Do you think you could get to the cabin, if I helped you?” said I.

“I shall never get there — let me die where I am,” said he.

“But the cut on your head is not very deep,” replied I.

“No, I don’t feel it; — but — my side — I bleed inwardly — I am — broken to pieces,” said he, pausing and gasping between each word.

I looked at his side, and perceived that it was already black and much swollen. I offered him more drink, which he took eagerly, and I then returned for a further supply. I filled two of the wine-bottles with water and a small drop of spirits as before, and went back to where he lay. I found him more recovered, and I had hopes that he might still do well, and I told him so.

“No, no,” replied he; “I have but a few hours to live — I feel that. Let me die here, and die in peace.”

He then sank into a sort of stupor, occasioned, I presume, by what I had given him to drink, and remained quite quiet, and breathing heavily. I sat by him waiting till he should rouse up again; for more than an hour I was in a very confused state of mind, as may well be imagined, after what had passed in the night.

Chapter Twelve.

What I most thought of was obtaining from him, now that he was dying, the full truth as to the deaths of my father and mother.

Jackson remained so long in this state of stupor, I feared that he would die before I could interrogate him; but this, as it proved, was not to be the case. I waited another hour, very impatiently I must acknowledge, and then I went to him and asked him how he felt. He replied immediately, and without that difficulty which he appeared before to have experienced.

“I am better now — the inward bleeding has stopped; but still I cannot live — my side is broken in, I do not think there is a rib that is not fractured into pieces, and my spine is injured, for I cannot move or feel my legs; but I may live many hours yet, and I thank God for his mercy in allowing me so much time — short indeed to make reparation for so bad a life; but still nothing is impossible with God.”

“Well, then,” replied I, “if you can speak, I wish you would tell me the truth relative to my father’s death, and also about the death of others — as for my father, I know that you murdered him — for you said so last night in your sleep.”

After a pause, Jackson replied — “I am glad that I did, and that you have told me so — I wished to make a full confession even to you; for confession is a proof of repentance. I know that you must hate me, and will hate my memory, and I cannot be surprised at it; but look at me now, Frank, and ask your own heart whether I am not more an object of pity than of hatred. ‘Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord!’ and has not his vengeance fallen upon me even in this world? Look at me; here I am, separated from the world that I loved so much, with no chance of ever joining it — possessed of wealth which would but a few months ago have made me happy — now blind, crushed to pieces by an avenging God, in whose presence I must shortly appear to answer for all my wickedness — all my expectations overthrown, all my hopes destroyed, and all my accumulated sins procuring me nothing, but, it may be, eternal condemnation. I ask you again, am I not an object of pity and commiseration?”

I could but assent to this, and he proceeded.

“I will now tell you the truth. I did tell the truth up to the time of your father and mother’s embarkation on board of the brig, up to when the gale of wind came on which occasioned eventually the loss of the ship. Now give me a little drink.

“The vessel was so tossed by the storm, and the waves broke over her so continually, that the between-decks were full of water, and as the hatches were kept down, the heat was most oppressive. When it was not my watch, I remained below, and looked out for another berth to sleep in. Before the cabin bulkheads on the starboard side, the captain had fitted up a sort of sail-room to contain the spare sails in case we should require them. It was about eight feet square, and the sails were piled up in it, so as to reach within two feet of the deck overhead; though the lower ones were wetted with the water, above they were dry, and I took this berth on the top of the sails as my sleeping-place. Now the state-room in which your father and mother slept was on the other side of the cabin bulkhead, and the straining and rolling of the vessel had opened the chinks between the planks, so that I could see a great deal of what was done in the state-room, and could hear every word almost that was spoken by them. I was not aware of this when I selected this place as my berth, but I found it out on the first night, the light of the candle shining through the chinks into the darkness by which I was surrounded outside. Of course, it is when a man is alone with his wife that he talks on confidential subjects; that I knew well, and hoped by listening to be able to make some discovery; — what, I had no idea of; but, with the bad feelings which stimulated me, I determined not to lose an opportunity. It was not till about a week after I had selected this berth, that I made any discovery. I had had the watch from six to eight o’clock, and had gone to bed early. About nine o’clock your father came into the state-room. Your mother was already in bed. As your father undressed, your mother said, ‘Does not that belt worry you a great deal, my dear?’

“‘No,’ replied your father, ‘I am used to it now; it did when I first put it on, but now I have had it on four days, I do not feel it. I shall keep it on as long as this weather lasts; there is no saying what may happen, and it will not do to be looking for the belt at a moment’s warning.’

“‘Do you think then that we are in danger?’

“‘No, not particularly so, but the storm is very fierce, and the vessel is old and weak. We may have fine weather in a day or two, or we may not; at all events, when property of value is at stake, and that property not my own, I should feel myself very culpable, if I did not take every precaution.’

“‘Well — I wish we were safe home again, my dear, and that my father had his diamonds, but we are in the hands of God.’

“‘Yes, I must trust to Him,’ replied your father.

“This circumstance induced me to look through one of the chinks of the bulkhead, so that I could see your father, and I perceived that he was unbuckling a belt which was round his body, and which no doubt contained the diamonds referred to. It was of soft leather, and about eight inches wide, sewed lengthways and breadthways in small squares, in which, I presumed the diamonds were deposited. After a time your mother spoke again.

“‘I really think, Henniker, that I ought to wear the belt.’

“‘Why so, my dear?’

“‘Because it might be the means of my preservation in case of accident. Suppose, now, we were obliged to abandon the vessel and take to the boats; a husband, in his hurry, might forget his wife, but he would not forget his diamonds. If I wore the belt, you would be certain to put me in the boat.’

“‘That observation of yours would have force with some husbands, and some wives,’ retorted your father; ‘but as I have a firm belief in the Scriptures, it does not affect me. What do the Proverbs say? “The price of a virtuous woman is far above rubies;” and a good ruby is worth even more in the market than a diamond of the same size.’

“‘Well, I must comfort myself with that idea,’ replied your mother, laughing.

“‘Supposing we be thrown upon some out-of-the-way place,’ said your father, ‘I shall then commit the belt to your charge. It might soon be discovered on my person, whereas, on yours, it would stand every chance of being long concealed. I say this because, even in a desert, it would be dangerous to have it known by unscrupulous and unprincipled men that any one had so much wealth about him.’

“‘Well,’ replied your mother, ‘that is also comfortable for me to hear, for you will not leave me behind, because I shall be necessary to conceal your treasure.’

“‘Yes,’ replied your father, laughing, ‘there is another chance for you, you see.’

“Your father then extinguished the light, and the conversation was not renewed; but I had heard enough. Your father carried a great treasure about his person — wealth, I took it for granted, that if I once could obtain, and return to England, would save me from my present position. My avarice was hereby excited, and thus another passion equally powerful, and equally inciting to evil deeds, was added to the hate which I already had imbibed for your father. But I must leave off now.”

Jackson drank a little more, and then remained quiet, and as I had no food that day, I took the opportunity of returning to the cabin, with the promise that I would be back very soon. In half an hour I returned, bringing with me the Bible and Prayer-book, as I thought that he would ask me to read to him after he had made his confession. I found him breathing heavily, and apparently asleep, so I did not wake him. As I looked at him, and recalled to mind his words, “Am not I an object of pity?” I confessed that he was, and then I asked myself the question, Can you forgive him who was the murderer of your father? After some reflection, I thought that I could. Was he not already punished? Had not the murder been already avenged? It was not possible to retain animosity against one so stricken, so broken to pieces, and my heart smote me when I looked at his disabled hand, and felt that I, boy as I was, had had a share in his marring. At last, he spoke.

“Are you there, Frank?”

“Yes,” replied I.

“I have had a little sleep,” said he.

“Do you feel easier?” inquired I, kindly.

“Yes, I feel my side more numbed, and so it will remain, till mortification takes place. But let me finish my confession, I wish to relieve my mind; not that I shall die to-night, or perhaps to-morrow, but still, I wish it over. Come nearer to me, that I may speak in a lower voice, and then I shall be able to speak longer.”

I did so, and he proceeded.

“You know how we were cast upon this island, and how I behaved at first. When I afterwards took my place with the others, my evil thoughts gradually quitted me, and I gave, up all idea of any injury to your father. But this did not last long. The deaths of so many, and at last the captain, your father, and your mother being the only ones left on the island besides myself, once more excited my cupidity. I thought again of the belt of diamonds, and by what means I should gain possession of it; and the devil suggested to me the murders of the captain and of your father. I had ascertained that your father no longer carried the belt on his person when we all used to bathe at the bathing-pool; it was, therefore, as your father had proposed, in your mother’s keeping. Having once made up my mind, I watched every opportunity to put my intentions into execution. It was the custom for one of us to fish every morning, as your mother would not eat the dried birds, if fish could be procured, and I considered that the only chance I had of executing my horrible wish was when your father went to fish off the rocks. We usually did so off the ledge of rocks which divide the bathing-pool from the sea, but I found out another place, where more fish, and of a better quality, were to be taken, which is off the high wall of rocks just below. You know where I mean, I have often sent you to fish there, but I never could go myself since your father’s death. Your father took his lines there, and was hauling in a large fish, when I, who had concealed myself close to where he stood, watched the opportunity as he looked over the rock to see if the fish was clear of the water, to come behind him and throw him off into the sea. He could not swim, I knew, and after waiting a minute or two, I looked over and saw his body, just as it sank, after his last struggles. I then hastened away, and my guilty conscience induced me to ascend the ravine, and collect a faggot of firewood to bring home, that no suspicions might be entertained; but my so doing was the very cause of suspicion, as you will afterwards perceive. I returned with the wood, and the captain observed, when I came up to the cabin: —

“‘Why, it’s something new for you to collect wood out of your turn, Jackson. Wonders will never cease.’

“‘The fact is, that I am becoming very amiable,’ replied I, hardly knowing what to say, and afraid to look either of them in the face, for your mother, with you on her lap, was standing close by.

“‘Has my husband caught any fish, do you know, Jackson?’ said your mother, ‘for it is high time that he came home.’

“‘How can I tell?’ replied I. ‘I have been up the ravine for wood.’

“‘But you were down on the rock two hours ago,’ replied your mother, ‘for Captain James saw you coming away.’

“‘That I certainly did,’ replied the captain. ‘Had he caught any fish when you were with him?’

“They must have perceived my confusion when I said, ‘Yes, I was on the rocks, but I never went near Henniker, that I’ll swear.’

“‘You must have been near him, even when I saw you,’ replied the captain.

“‘I never looked at him, if I was,’ replied I.

“‘Well then, one of us had better go down and see what he is about,’ said the captain. ‘Shall I leave Jackson with you?’

“‘Yes, yes,’ replied your mother, much agitated, ‘for I have my forebodings; better leave him here.’

“The captain hastened down to the rocks, and in a quarter of an hour returned very much heated, saying, ‘He is not there!’

“‘Not there?’ replied I, getting up, for I had seated myself in silence on the rock during the captain’s absence: ‘that’s very odd.’

“‘It is,’ replied the captain. ‘Jackson, go and try if you see anything of him, while I attend to Mrs Henniker.’

“Your mother, on the captain’s return, had bowed her head down to her knees, and covered her face with her hands. I was glad of an excuse to be away, for my heart smote me as I witnessed her condition.

“I remained away half an hour, and then returned, saying, that I could see nothing of your father.

“Your mother was in the cabin, and the captain went in to her, while I remained outside with all the feelings of Cain upon my brow.

“That was a dreadful day for all parties — no food was taken. Your mother and the captain remained in the cabin, and I dared not, as usual, go into my own bed-place. I lay all night upon the rocks — sleep I could not; every moment I saw your father’s body sinking, as I had seen it in the morning. The next morning, the captain came out to me. He was very grave and stern, but he could not accuse me, whatever his suspicions might have been. It was a week before I saw your mother again, for I dared not intrude into her presence; but, finding there was no accusation against me, I recovered my spirits, and returned to the cabin, and things went on as before.”

Chapter Thirteen.

“One thing, however, was evident, that your mother had an aversion — I may say a horror — of me, which she could not conceal. She said nothing, but she never could look at me; and to any question I put, would seldom make reply. Strange to say, this treatment of hers produced quite a different effect from what might have been anticipated, and I felt my former love for her revive. Her shrinking from me made me more familiar towards her, and increased her disgust. I assumed a jocose air with her, and at times Captain James considered it his duty to interfere and check me. He was a very powerful man, and in a contest would have proved my master; this I knew, and this knowledge compelled me to be more respectful to your mother in his presence, but when his back was turned I became so disgustingly familiar, that at last your mother requested that whether fishing or collecting wood, instead of going out by turns we should both go, and leave her alone. This I could not well refuse, as Captain James would in all probability have used force if I had not consented, but my hatred to him was in consequence most unbounded. However, an event took place which relieved me from the subjection which I was under, and left me alone with you and your mother. Now I must rest a little. Wait another hour, and you shall know the rest.”

It was now late in the evening, but there was a bright moon which shone overhead, and the broad light and shadow made the rocks around us appear peculiarly wild and rugged. They towered up one above the other till they met the dark blue of the sky, in which the stars twinkled but faintly, while the moon sailed through the ether, without a cloud to obscure her radiance. And in this majestic scenery were found but two living beings — a poor boy and a mangled wretch — a murderer — soon to breathe his last, and be summoned before an offended God. As I remained motionless by his side, I felt, as I looked up, a sensation of awe, but not of fear; I thought to myself — “And God made all this and all the world besides, and me and him. The Bible said so;” and my speculation then was as to what God must be, for although I had read the Bible, I had but a confused idea, and had it been asked me, as it was to the man in the chariot by Philip, “Understandest thou what thou readest?” I most certainly should have answered, No. I remained for nearly two hours in this reverie, and at last fell asleep with my back against the rock. I was, however, wakened up by Jackson’s voice, when he asked in a low tone for water.

“There it is,” said I, handing it to him. “Have you called long?”

“No,” replied he, “I asked but once.”

“I have been asleep,” said I.

As soon as he had drunk, he said — “I will finish now; my side begins to burn.” He then proceeded — “It was about four months after your father’s death, that Captain James and I went together to the ravine to collect firewood. We passed under the wall of rock, which you know so well, and went through the gap, as we call it, when Captain James left the water-course and walked along the edge of the wall. I followed him: we both of us had our pieces of rope in our hands with which we tied the faggots. Of a sudden his foot slipped, and he rolled down to the edge of the rock, but catching hold of a small bush which had fixed its roots in the rocks, he saved himself when his body was hanging half over the precipice.

“‘Give me the end of your rope,’ said he to me, perfectly collected, although in such danger.

“‘Yes,’ replied I, and I intended so to do, as I perceived that, if I refused, he could still have saved himself by the bush to which he clung.

“But the bush began to loosen and give way, and Captain James perceiving it cried out —

“‘Quick, quick, the bush is giving way!’

“This assertion of his determined me not to give him the rope. I pretended to be in a great hurry to do so, but entangled it about my legs, and then appeared occupied in clearing it, when he cried again —

“‘Quick!’ — and hardly had he said the word when the root of the bush snapped, and down he fell below.

“I heard the crash as he came to the rock beneath. See the judgment of God — am I not now precisely in his position, lying battered and crushed as he was? After a time I went down to where he lay, and found him expiring. He had just strength to say ‘God forgive you,’ and then he died. It was murder, for I could have saved him and would not, and yet he prayed to God to forgive me. How much happier should I have felt if he had not said that. His ‘God forgive you’ rang in my ears for months afterwards. I returned to the cabin, and with a bold air stated to your mother what had happened, for I felt I could say, this time, I did not do the deed. She burst out into frantic exclamations, accusing me of being not only his murderer but the murderer of her husband. I tried all I could do to appease her, but in vain. For many weeks she was in a state of melancholy and despondency, that made me fear for her life; but she had you still to bestow her affections upon, and for your sake she lived. I soon made this discovery. She was now wholly in my power, but I was awed by her looks even, for a time. At last I became bolder, and spoke to her of our becoming man and wife; she turned from me with abhorrence. I then resorted to other means. I prevented her from obtaining food; she would have starved with pleasure, but she could not bear to see you suffer. I will not detail my cruelty and barbarity towards her; suffice to say it was such that she pined away, and about six months after the death of the captain she died, exhorting me not to injure you, but if ever I had an opportunity, to take you to your grandfather. I could not refuse this demand, made by a woman whom I as certainly killed by slow means as I had your father by a more sudden death. I buried her in the guano, by the side of the others. After her death my life was a torture to me for a long while. I dared not kill you, but I hated you. I had only one consolation, one hope, which occasionally gave me satisfaction; the consolation, if so it could be called, was, that I had possession of the diamonds; the hope — that I should one day see England again. You see me now — are they not all avenged?”

I could not but feel the truth of Jackson’s last sentence. They were indeed avenged.

After a short pause, he said to me —

“Now, Frank, I feel that the mortification in my side is making great progress, and, in a short time, I shall be in too great pain to talk to you. I have made a full confession of my crimes; it is all the reparation I can make to you. Now, can you forgive me? For I shall die very miserable if you do not. Just look at me. Can you feel resentment against one in my wretched state? Recollect that you pray to be forgiven as you forgive others. Give me your answer.”

“I think — yes, I feel that I can forgive you, Jackson,” replied I. “I shall soon be left alone on this island, and I am sure I should be much more miserable than I shall be, if I do not forgive you. I do forgive you.”

“Thanks; you are a good boy, and may God bless you. Is it not nearly daylight?”

“Yes, it is. I shall soon be able to read the Bible or Prayer-book to you. I have them both here.”

“The pain is too severe, and becomes worse every minute. I shall not be able to listen to you now; but I shall have some moments of quiet before I die; and then — ”

Jackson groaned heavily, and ceased speaking.

For many hours he appeared to suffer much agony, which he vented in low groans; the perspiration hung on his forehead in large beads, and his breathing became laborious. The sun rose and had nearly set again before Jackson spoke; at last he asked for some drink.

“It is over now,” said he, faintly. “The pain is subsiding, and death is near at hand. You may read to me now; but, first, while I think of it, let me tell you where you will find your father’s property.”

“I know,” replied I; “in your bed-place under the board. I saw you remove it when you did not see me.”

“True. I have no more to say; it will all be over soon. Read the burial service over me after I am dead; and now, while still above, read me what you think I shall like best; for I cannot collect myself sufficiently to tell you what is most proper. Indeed I hardly know. But I can pray at times. Read on.”

I did so, and came upon the parable of the prodigal son.

“That suits me,” said Jackson. “Now let me pray. Pray for me, Frank.”

“I don’t know how,” replied I; “you never taught me.”

“Alas, no!”

Jackson was then silent. I saw his pale lips move for some time. I turned away for a few moments; when I came back to him, he was no more! His jaw had fallen; and this being the first time that I had ever faced death, I looked upon the corpse with horror and dismay.

After a few minutes I left the body, and sat down on a rock at some distance from it, for I was somewhat afraid to be near to it. On this rock I remained till the sun was sinking below the horizon; when, alarmed at the idea of being there when it was dark, I took up my books and hastened back to the cabin. I was giddy from excitement, and not having tasted food for many hours. As soon as I had eaten, I lay down in my bed-place, intending to reflect upon what I was to do, now that I was alone; but I was in a few moments fast asleep, and did not wake until the sun was high. I arose much refreshed, and, seeing my Bible and Prayer-book close to my bed-place, I recollected my promise to Jackson that I would read the burial service over his body. I found the place in the Prayer-book, for I had read it more than once before; and, having just looked over it, I went with my book to where the body lay. It presented a yet more hideous spectacle than it had the night before. I read the service and closed the book. “What can I do?” thought I. “I cannot bury him in the guano. It will be impossible to carry the body over these rocks.” Indeed, if it had been possible, I do not think I could have touched it. I was afraid of it. At last I determined that I would cover it up with the fragments of rocks which lay about in all directions, and I did so. This occupied me about two hours, and then, carrying the bottles with me, I gladly hastened away from the spot, with a resolution never to revisit it. I felt quite a relief when I was once more in the cabin. I was alone, it was true, but I was no longer in contact with the dead. I could not collect my thoughts or analyse my feelings during the remainder of the day. I sat with my head resting on my hand, in the attitude of one thinking; but at the same time my mind was vacant. I once more lay down to sleep, and the following morning I found myself invigorated, and capable of acting as well as thinking. I had a weight upon my spirits which I could not at first account for; but it arose from the feeling that I was now alone, without a soul to speak to or communicate with; my lips must now be closed till I again fell in with some of my fellow-creatures — and was that likely? We had seen some of them perish not far from us, and that was all, during a period of many years.  [...]


Captain Frederick Marryat (July 10, 1792 - August 9, 1848) was an English novelist  noted today as an early pioneer of the sea story. He is probably one of the most important authors to write historical naval fiction books. Firstly he was one of the first authors to write such books and they must be considered as some of the most authentic as he actually served in the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic Wars. He first served aboard Lord Cochrane's HMS Imperieuse when she attacked French and Spanish interests in the Western Mediterranean.
He is now known particularly for the semi-autobiographical novel 'Mr. Midshipman Easy' and his children's novel 'The Children of the New Forest', and for a widely used system of maritime flag signalling, known as Marryat's Code.


The Little Savage by Frederick Marryat

The Little Savage
by Captain Frederick Marryat
Project Gutenberg
Produced by Nick Hodson of London, England



Maria José Alegre