Chapter 184289218

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Chapter NumberXII
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article184289218
Full Date1898-02-19
Page Number5
Corrections0
Word Count3363
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleThe Bendigo Independent (Vic. : 1891 - 1918)
Trove TitleThe Captain of the Rajah
article text

THE CAPTAIN OF THE RAJAH.

CHAPTER XII (continued).

I filled two kegs with water from one Of the deck barrels, and lashed them se curely in the boat; then packed a lot of Ship’s biscuit in some large tin cans be-

longing to the galley; and' sto%ed : them under the thwarts After making up : a good fire in the range''l;;bohkcd;/.jsev6rar pieces of beef, which, -with the abroad, I reckoned would lost, mo.over two weeks, Had the boat been larger :X vyptild have carried more, but-;; 1. {judged;-that.; those; things, together weight, would be all that it wat< judicious' : f6r- iae to burden her with. . It was late, in the afternp;on *'when ray preparations.were completed 1 ,” but"as the sea was calm and the weather promising, I determined not ,to postpone my depar ture. - . r. t " ’ I said good-bye to th&Jlajah and stepped into the boat. . Casting off the painter, a a few strokes of the oars sent; me olear. Almost immediately- the current , caught the boat, sweeping her away pasfc'the rooks, and out into. the ocean. I allowed the ' boat to drift, for nothing was. to bp'gained bv speed. . ; . ' The stats came . out -lighting up the heavens with.a rare beauty,' - while away in the south the Southern Cross burned like a holy emblem in the sky, inspiring faith and hope. ? . , • : - I kept awake far into the night, and when I did sleep my reshwas fitful jnd un easy. My mind was filled .with fancies, and my cramped position in the boat, ad ? mitted of Uttlo comfort. ' : ‘ - Once I dreamt that! was at home again, and hurrying forward oager for the loving welcome; .then I opened my eyes .upon the lonely sea heaving about ine in the- dark ness, and slept no moreV; . As soon as morning caine I' rigged < an awning out of my sail, aiid gayomyself up to watching for a ship. • - v The day passed and the second - night drew on, showing nothing but the same dreary waste of waters, and the painful line of the horizon encircling mo. Worn out I fell into a sleep, from which I was awakened by the .crest, of a wave washing over the gunwale into thfe . boat. I found that the wind had freshened, and quite a little sea had commended to run. I hoisted .the sail and put the boat before the wind, for my safety oh not allowing the seas to overreach her;. ?v AH night long I drove before it, the little vessel dancing merrily:over the surges and anon shooting ahead with increased speed as a comber would sjveep up under the stern and bear her along a tiny play thing on its breast. CHAPTER XIII.. • HOPE DETBRbW.. The wind went down as- the sun rose, and when that luminary was a few hours high it fell a fiat calm. 'I loft the sail standing for the shade which it afforded. Again I took up my station on the look out, sweeping the horizon regularly every few minutes in hopes that my eye. might detect that little white speck against the sky which I would know so well. The day passed without .iheJonged - for sign. As the night/ deepened, a gobble .breeze carao creeping out from the nbftli-Aast— when the stars -were shining,-- as well as when the snn and moon rose and» sot, it was easy to make out the cardinal points. There was nor necessity for keeping way upon tho boat, so I took in the sail and stretched myself in the stem shoots with my head testing on the gunwale.,, Care-, lessly I lay watching for some time a will J o the wisp red light out on tho .horizon, which danced in and out'of .sight over the bows to the lift and fall of'the boat. It was too low down to be. a star v With a sadden joy of joy . -I sprung to my feet, for I realized that it must be tho port side light of a vessel. -- Stepping oyer tho thwarts I ran'up the sail; and headed the boat for the; light, my heart beating high with a prospect of speedy rescue. The vessel was standing to the west ward, for as I kept her lighb doad ahead ! iaired my wind. Knowing .that-my only chance of overtaking her was! by cutting off at an angle, I eased off the sheet and stood into the north-west. : Tho. light kept' growing .all. the-time, and had just commenced to iraage-that the vessel was looming against the dark back ground, whon my sail flapped idly against the mast, and the boat Ipstr all Head way and remained bobbing, upJand down in maddening caprice. I threw my ..oars; in to tho thole pins and pulled a long, telling; stroke that whirled the •Water- sobbing. along the sides; but a f ewmo ments later when Ilooked over my shoulder for tho light it had disappeared, and I knew that tho screen board was hiding, it from me as the vessel,, carrying the broezo . with her. passed ahead beyond, all chance of ray reaching her. - And then, as-if to mock mo when it was too late, a catspaw came creeping ©vor the water, and steadied into a: fresh'little breeze. I shouted I stood on for some time longer, though reasoning, dictated that the vessel was'too far away for any cry of mine to reach her. morning came, ushering in day and a mirrored sea. The heat seemed to sap my very life,, and .tbo gldro from the unruffled water obliged mptpkeep off my eyes closed to prevent: blinding.. The paint on tho boat lifted into;blisbdrB, and tho pitch with which filled trickled down wav-. .• All that night arid the; fdlioWjng-day. the calm continued, thqrh‘ma a' strange feeling in tho air and-a, sickly hue in the sky. Ifc.was an oppression, a bielraf ; of .\cpraing; evil-, dominating me. I could;- only..watch and' .wait, . 1 ?' - . Aa the sun: wont down a .priff of hot; air passed by the boat from the transient, sickening gust wich; seemed to die in its conception. Then, ab inky blaokr ness, a hellish pall, setfclod. down upon the ocean. Howl.’.-rogre(^ ; -ihbf^ndd''nob carried away dhd with it I could hayp 'dt^ipaijoS l im mediate gloom which; ohconma^sod-'rae. And then;a now ’ih&, mind to add still furthervip for had $ been- provided with : i could; I not have mado’buch a “ di splay fof it as to attract tliq a(.ton'tidn ;of td)o watplv on the vessel that had paasod mo tonights before ? ' j+i ; How long I sab Btnnid-has.tp \rithwWch';i -fihd: Kajab I do not know; bnb all of the .past, whro driven put pi;. ,hy a. .blimlihg' 'bt crash of {bunder now Boomed ;tp .bp J( . rprit^;a«u3dor‘.'; / hy. tlm shock, and tMwater from the and the ' thank heavehfl'^^ aw o-i nsnjrihg '^eM' tno to tho' bpttpm^pfrtße^^^^ stunnodl. during theday^hid: the almost vortical rays anxiously; awnifcc^tbb - )next'ph%d • Bd? storm' Presently the rajnilfeH, tub not

"It scomed to descend in solid sheets, struck the water with quick thuds, and I! haji all X could do to keep the boat from filling. Still there was no wind, hub after the rain had lastedfor about an hour it gradually died away, the blackness lifted and. the stars;'shone forth. / Almost immediately I detected < a ] low inpaning which rapidly increased'in volume and then I knew that the wind was upon me. I had barely time to get out an oar around so as to direct it away from whore the wiudTjwas coming, when it swept by tho boafc, curling the water into froth as it nasscd. For a time I ran before it, the, mast in the eyes of the boat keeping her steadily pointed, but the sea was getting ..upland;, occasionally the crest of 'a r -waver broke over the stern. I hoisted the' •‘sail ;:and; scandalized it, by making the peak fast-to; the tack with the end of* the --ithroat hal yards. This kept her well ahead’ of ' the running, seas; aud it bad commenced -to i believe that the boat would thus weather tho.gale in safety, when, with a loud re port, the sail blew into pieces. , ' 1 CHAPTER XIV. : . ; ‘ / WATER, WATER EVBBIWOBBE.” . "^ : I knew that, there was not a moment to lose, for if the boat.broached'bool was lost; so with the vigor which is giyon to a man -whode life is at.stake, I bent the painter to the centre of the two oars and bottom boards of. the boat, and dropped them over the side. In an instant the boat had driven by them, then bringing a strain on thsjine, her head swung quickly around 1 , and she lay easy, riding to the seas which rolled down upon her. Fearing, if the sea grew heayjer, that, the oars and boards would not besuffioient, to keep tho boat's head up, I unstopped the mast, fashioned a bridle with the hal-. yards, bent the sheet to the bight, and secured the other end to the ring bolt in the 63*es. , Then I veered that put also over the bow, and laid down in the boat in order to have all the weight as low as possible. The storm lasted until the .next a ftor riopn; then the wind‘Hied down-to a steady north-east breeze ; but the sea remained heavy, and I lot the boat lie as , she was during tho night that followed.. : i ' The sun shining .in my face awakened ,me to find that a moderate wind continued and that the sea had subsided into long, even swells. From the northerly drift which I had made since leaving the islands, I had reason to believe that I had reached the . parallels of -tho north-east trades. I got in my improvised sea anchor, and making my undershirt fast to the top of the mast, : I restepped it, thinking that it would servo as a signal of distress for attracting the notice of any vessel that came within my circle of the horizon. .It was just a week since I had left St. Paul's Rocks, and in all that time I had sighted only one ship. I was more help less than when I started, for in losing/ my . sail all chances for running down a vessel were forfeited. : another week go by and find me still drifting over the waste of waters ? And if ho did, would my mental and physical powers be equal to the strain ? My blood was almost stagnant from lack of exercise; arid'the frightful anxiety of the,long hours through which I had: for my life with only a half inch plank'between me and eternity, was toll ing upon me. Once I questioned if it would not have boon bettor to have remained Upon the -island, but the mate's last advice: “ Let the current take you, it is your only chance," answered the thought, and I con sidered it no more. I got a tin of water from tho keg, and. a handful of biscuit. After cutting off a slice of beef I sat down in the after part’ of the boat to breakfast. The first mouth ful of meat that I tasted was quickly ejected, for it had spoiled from long ex posure. I got out all the cans and counted the biscuit remaining, finding that there was about ton pounds. Allowing myself tho generous supply of a pound a day, there was enough to last mo for over a week. s When I had drawn the cup,of water last, tho keg had given out a ringing sound as T rested it on tho thwart, so I know that there could not be .much left in it; but I had under tho seat a little barrel filled with that precious fluid which would sustain life long after my broad was gone. I out the lashing that held it, and at that moment the boat lurched, and. tho keg rolled across tho flooring with a hollow sound that turned mo faint. After a moment I reached down fiercely and grasped it by the chimes. I could not ac cept the thought that of all tho water round-mo I had none to drink ; but the barrel came up in my hands without re sistance, a false, treacherous tiring, with a hoHow heart, and I dashed it into tho bottom of tho boat and cursed it. . What good was my bread to mo now ? It would only cling to my parched throat and choke me. How was it that nothing remained in tho once full kog ? I turned it about, and in doing so one of tho binding hoops near the chimes slipped off and the head foil to tho bottom of the. boat. • Hour after hour I sat thoro, stony, des pair in ray heart, gazing upon tho few drops of water that I had emptied the first, keg of, and thinking of what would follow if I was riot rescued soon after it was gone/ . Was tho picture which my imagination painted to he the final scone in tho long , tragedy? ' , r A few days of agonisirig thirst uridpr a burning sky, with the brain yielding as tho ’ bodily sufferings multiplied; then in tor raerit lapping tho briny water; the follow ing madness, and at the last a grinning, hideous skclton in an open boat upon an .open sea. CHAPTER XT. * /?., * “AS A TALE THAT IS TOM)." 'Twas two days since I had drank ray last drop of water. 1 lay in the bottom of the boat in a.half stupor, .-waiting for what I had. mind r enough left l b know foould not bo.long delayed.^The sun burned with a fiery heat upon my upturned face, ihuti I felt it nbt. Thoro. was a broad ;roach of sea, about mo in tho clear atraos- for a sail, bub I did jnofc'lopky; for all hqpp was gone. ; v-. r . 'Throughout; tho Ipng day Xbliad fought" tho demon that wasgnawing at hiy tongue andyvitals; pitted successfully again; bmVhgdiri my weakening will against the awful odds,.but at Ipst in frenzy and despair ! leaned-ovor the side of the, boat to gulp; down v ttys fateful potion,: iwhppjl not bearing right' dovvn upon -inov rigged fO)ip ; yEitb ßtip\vy cloths hoUicdV t<j 'tho trades 'whioh'BWbpt ? 'V. ;; They; had evidently koat: Bpmp - .little time before, • for they :woro shortening sail* 9 ' '"?/ woreoloso tb mo Ihby hacked" thomain yard, and a moment liter a hdafc; inlibfc but from under hor storn and- headed - . : of . ray oars, and crawling fbr into the, thplo pins, and if* the! my exoifcomont when -bhoy/toaohod

boat- alongside Of mine and I rolled over into it, pointing to my mouth, for when t tried to speak only a rasping sound issued from my throat. “ Give way lively, men," said the' officer, “and let us get alongside, for the lad is dyiug.with: thirst" , ' ?; They .tent.to'their pars with such fierce sweeps that the captain hailedfche boat in terrogatingly. - When the answer Was called back to him ho drew,.,a, dipper of, water out of the 6cufcfcle-bui;.aridas the men passed me upjover the side, he held it to my lips. That draught,! It sought, . out every parched spot, drowned the fever in my veins, and gave me now life. ; The 1 captain led and shortly torqugii't mb a bowl of broth, Wten I had;drunk eagerly all that was allowed me, and bad- been . persuaded to lib' down in one of the cabin staterooms, I feel into a sound sleep, from which I did hot awaken until 1 the foUowing -morning. The captiiih and his ifitat mate were stand ing by my bedside when I opened my eyes, j and the former siiid/Cheerily; ... \.- “ \yel], my dad, how So you feel this morning ? A ire. you strong enough to turn out?” : , . “ X fcliink I am, sir,” and 'suiting the action to ray words, I slid out of the bunk and stood up,}but I was 7 Weaker than I had bargained for, and found it convenient to lean against the bulkhead for support. ; L“ Haven’t gob strength enough' to haul Che main yard alone, have you?” said the mate. He handed me a . suit of “ slop j chest ” clothes, and after shifting myself’ into them, and slicking up a bit, I went out into-the cabin, finding the captain and his .chief officer at breakfast. The former gave mo a place beside him, and remarked good naturcdly; “'Only ballast trim in your eating, this morning, lad; we’ll look out for a good hold later on.” Shortly, following wo went on deck,-’and the captain made me comfortable in a big chair under the shade of the spanker, then?: asked me to toll him hoW it was that I oarae to be in a small - boat in the - middle of the Atlantic. ' I commenced from the time the Rajah left New York and detailed the events of the voyage' up to the timo the vessel bad been .cast away,.and how,-after touryihg my' last shipmate, I had taken to the boat, and bad been drifting for nine days.v Then he told me that, I was on bpard tho ship San Juan, bound to New York from 'San Francisco; that his name was Captain Stafford, and that ho had been the first one to make out ray signal of dis tress. ' During the run to New York; Captain. Stafford' had a talk with me about my' future, and when ho was convinced that I still intended to follow tho sea as a pro fession, ho made mo a most agreeable offer to sail with him as an apprentice, promis ing to advance me as rapidly as my pro gress warranted. - Three weeks from tho time the good ship San Juan had picked me up, wo sailed into the harbor-last scon .from tho poor old Rajah’s deck. When tho captain went ashore to report his arrival, ho took me with him, and as he sent mo home to relate my adventures he pressed a roll of money into my hand with sailor generosibj^and said; . “Take this, Harry, and fix-up your,sea ohost again ready for tho Saif Juan.” A few year& later, when/ .in my first command. I re-visited St. T'rfTulV Rock; but my history has already been sufficiently disclosed under tho title of a story which calls for no unnecessary personal raconler but whose interest is naturally supposed to focus on The Captain" of the Rajah. [tub end.] An: amusing incident (says “Oxonian,” London) happened at the opening of the Centenary Headquarters of tho 3rd Middle sex. Rifle Volunteers. Tho Duke of Cam bridge .had declared tho hell formally open, when a gentleman in the body of tho ball asked if he might be allowed to say a few words. There were several cries of “ No,” and finally a volunteer sitting behind him pulled him into hisseat. Ho rose a second time and attempted to gain a hearing, but an officer present, thinking that'be was one of tho array grievance brigade, re quested him to leavo tho building. Ho (lid so, and latter in the evening it was ex plained that ho wished to speak merely to offer .£IOO towards the fund for supplying now uniforms, of which the Duke had made mention. Hi? .charitable intention was, however, frustrated by tho zeal of the stewards, and their alacrity looks likely to cause tho loss of 100 sovereigns to the corps. .