List Of Contents | Contents of Elinor Wyllys, by Susan Fenimore Cooper
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"It was well worth hearing," said Harry, with a significant look
at his friend.

"Really? I had some hope it might prove so from the man's look,"
added Charlie, comprehending at once the drift of the
conversation, though he had little idea of its complete success
in unravelling the plot 

"You shall hear it before long," added Harry.

"When you please; in the mean time I wish you joy of any good

"But what are you about here, de Vaux? I thought we were to
remain on the island till sun-set."

"So we shall; but it seems that fellow, Black Bob, has forgot the
vegetables I ordered him to bring from Nantucket; we have
discovered a house with something like a garden on the opposite
point, and I am going to send Bob with the boy Sam on a foraging
expedition; I dare say they will find potatoes and onions at
least. That is the spot; do you see the apple-trees? With the
glass I saw a woman moving about, and milk-pans drying in the

"Why don't you send the boat?"

"Stryker hasn't come back yet, and there is wind enough to carry
the Petrel over and back again in half an hour."

"Smith and I are going as commanding officers; and you will have
a much better dinner for our exertions, no doubt," said Charlie.

"Holloa, there, Bob--Sam!--tumble on board; mind you bring all
the garden-stuff they can spare. You Bob, see if you can pick up
half you contrived to forget, sir, at Nantucket. You deserve to
be made to swim across for it," said de Vaux.

"Never could swim a stroke in my born days, sir," muttered Black

"There isn't much choice of sa'ace at Nantucket, anyway," added
the boy Sam.

{"sa'ace" = sauce, a slang term for vegetables}

"Here we go," said Charlie, jumping lightly on board, followed by

"It is possible you may find some melons, Hubbard; don't forget
to ask for them," said de Vaux.

"Ay, ay, sir," replied Charlie, nodding as the Petrel moved off.
The boy was steering, while Black Bob and the gentlemen tended
the sails; and the little schooner glided gracefully on her way,
with a light breeze, sufficiently favourable.

Harry went to take a look at Charlie's sketch, which he found
just as the young artist had left it--spirited and true to nature
as usual, but only half-finished. De Vaux looked into the chowder
pot, where all seemed to be going on well. He then joined Harry,
and the young men continued walking together near the shanty,
where preparations for dinner were going on under the charge of
Stebbins and the acting steward of the cruise.

"It is nearly time Stryker made his appearance with the fish,"
said Harry.

"If the sport is good, we shan't see him this hour yet," replied
de Vaux. "He will only come back in time to put the finishing
stroke to the chowder."

"If he waits too long he will have a shower," observed Harry,
pointing eastward, where dark clouds were beginning to appear
above the wood.

"Not under an hour I think," said de Vaux. "He will take care of
himself at any rate--trust to Stryker for that," They turned to
look at the Petrel. Some ten or fifteen minutes had passed since
she left the little wharf, and she was already near her
destination; the point on which the farm-house stood being
scarcely more than a mile distant, in a direct line, and a single
tack having proved sufficient to carry her there.

"The wind seems to be falling," said Harry, holding up his hand
to feel the air. "It is to be hoped they will make a quick
bargain, or they may keep your potatoes too late to be boiled for
to-day's dinner."

De Vaux took up the glass to look after their movements.

"They have made the point, handsomely," he said; "and there is a
woman coming down to the shore, and a boy, too."

The friends agreed that there seemed every prospect of a
successful negotiation; for a woman was seen going towards the
garden with a basket, and Sam, the boy, had landed. Before long a
basket was carried down from the house; while Sam and the woman
were still busy in the garden.

"They had better be off as soon as they can," said de Vaux, "for
the wind is certainly falling."

"There is a shower coming up over the island, Captain de Vaux,"
said Stebbins, touching his hat.

"Coming, sure enough!--look yonder!"--exclaimed Harry, pointing
eastward, where heavy clouds were now seen rising rapidly over
the wood.

"We shall have a shower, and something of a squall, I guess,"
added Stebbins.

There could not indeed be much doubt of the fact, for a heavy
shower now seemed advancing, with the sudden rapidity not unusual
after very warm weather; the position of the bay, and a wooded
bank having concealed its approach until close at hand.

"We shall have a dead calm in ten minutes," said de Vaux; "I wish
the Petrel was off."

But still there seemed something going on in the garden; the
woman and Sam were very busy, and Charlie and Smith had joined

"They must see the shower coming up by this time!" exclaimed de

"There will be a squall and a sharp one, too," added Stebbins.

The wind, which had prevailed steadily all the morning in a
light, sultry breeze from the south, was now dying away; the
sullen roll of distant thunder was heard, while here and there a
sudden flash burst from a nearer cloud.

"Thank Heaven, they are off at last!" cried de Vaux, who was
watching the schooner with some anxiety.

Harry and the two men were busy gathering together under cover of
the shanty, the different articles scattered about, and among
others Charlie's half-finished sketch.

The sun was now obscured; light, detached clouds, looking heated
and angry, were hurrying in advance with a low flight, while the
heavens were half-covered by the threatening mass which came
gathering in dark and heavy folds about the island. Suddenly the
great body of vapour which had been hanging sullenly over the
western horizon all the morning, now set in motion by a fresh
current of air, began to rise with a slow movement, as if to meet
the array advancing so eagerly from the opposite direction; it
came onward steadily, with a higher and a wider sweep than the
mass which was pouring immediately over the little bay. The
landscape had hung out its storm-lights; the dark scowl of the
approaching gust fell alike on wood, beach, and waters; the birds
were wheeling about anxiously; the gulls and other water-fowl
flying lower and lower, nearer and nearer to their favourite
element; the land-birds hurrying hither and thither, seeking
shelter among their native branches. But not a drop of rain had
yet fallen; and the waves still came rolling in upon the sands
with the measured, lulling sound of fair weather.

The air from the south revived for a moment, sweeping in light,
fitful puffs over the bay. Favoured by this last flickering
current of the morning's breeze, the Petrel had succeeded in
making her way half across the bay, though returning less
steadily than she had gone on her errand an hour before.

"Give us another puff or two, and she will yet be here before the
squall," said de Vaux.

The little schooner was now indeed within less than half a mile
of the wharf; but here at length the wind entirely failed her,
and she sat idly on the water. De Vaux was watching her through
the glass; there seemed to be some little hesitation and
confusion on board; Sam, the boy, had given up the tiller to
Black Bob. Suddenly the first blast of the gust from the east
came rustling through the wood, making the young trees bend
before it; then as it passed over the water there was a minute's

"How she dodges!--What are they about?" exclaimed Harry.

"What do they mean?--Are they blind?--can't they see the squall
coming?" cried de Vaux in great anxiety, as he watched the
hesitation on board the Petrel.

"As my name is Nat Fisher, that nigger is drunk!--I thought so
this morning!" exclaimed the steward.

"And Smith and Hubbard know nothing of a boat!" cried de Vaux, in

The words had scarcely passed his lips before the wind came
rushing over the wood, in a sudden, furious blast, bringing
darker and heavier clouds, accompanied by quick, vivid flashes of
lightning, and sharp cracks of thunder; the rain pouring down in
torrents. It was with difficulty the young men kept their footing
on the end of the wharf, such was the first fury of the gust; but
they forgot themselves in fears for their friends.

"Are they mad!" cried de Vaux, as he marked the uncertainty of
their movements; while the wind was sweeping furiously over the
darkened waters towards them.

A heavy sheet of rain, pouring in a flood from the clouds,
completely enveloped the party on the wharf; another second and a
shout was indistinctly heard amid the tumult of the winds and
waters; a lighter cloud passed over, the bay was partially seen
again; but neither the white sails of the Petrel nor her buoyant
form could be traced by the eager eyes on the wharf. She had been
struck by the gust and capsized.

"She is gone!" exclaimed de Vaux, with a cry of horror.

"Charlie can't swim!" cried Harry.

"Nor Bob, for certain," said the steward. "I don't know about the

Three shots from a fowling-piece were rapidly fired, as a signal
to the party in the Petrel that their situation was known to
their friends on shore. The steward was instantly ordered to run
along the beach to the farthest point, and carry the boat from
there to the spot; it was a distance of more than two miles by
land, still de Vaux thought it best to be done; while he himself
and Stebbins seized another pair of oars, and set off at full
speed in the opposite direction, to the nearest point, about a
mile from the wharf, beyond which Stryker was fishing with their
own boat, intending to carry her instantly to the relief of the
party in the schooner.

Harry thought of his friend; Charlie could not swim, he himself
was a remarkably good swimmer. It must be some little time before
either boat could reach the capsized schooner, and in the
interval, two at least of the four individuals in the Petrel,
were helpless and in imminent peril. The idea of Charlie's danger
decided his course; in a moment he had cast off his clothes, and
with Bruno at his side--a faithful ally at such a moment--he had
thrown himself into the water, confident that he could swim the
distance himself with ease.

The next half-hour was one of fearful anxiety. The gust still
raged with sullen fury; the shower from eastward, collected among
the mists of the ocean, and the array from the west, gathered
amid the woods and marshes of the land, met with a fierce shock
on the shores of the Vineyard. The thunder and lightning were
unusually severe, several bolts falling within a short distance
about the bay; the rain pouring down in a dense sheet, as the
wind drove cloud after cloud over the spot in its stormy flight.
And amid this scene of violence four human beings were struggling
for life, while their anxious friends were hurrying to their
relief, with every nerve alive. Frederick Smith was the first who
rose after the Petrel capsized; in another moment he saw the head
of the boy emerge from the water at a little distance; the lad
could swim, and both had soon gained the portion of the little
schooner's hull which was partially bare, though constantly
washed by the waves. Another minute, and Smith saw amid the spray
Charlie's head; he knew that Hubbard could not swim, and moved
towards him with a cry of encouragement.

"Here!" replied the young painter; but he had disappeared before
Smith could reach him.

A fresh blast of wind, rain, and hail passed over the spot; Smith
moved about calling to Hubbard and the negro; but he received no
answer from either.

"There's one of them!" cried the boy eagerly; he swam towards the
object he had seen, but it proved to be only a hat.

Both returned to the Petrel's side, watching as closely as the
violence of the wind and rain would permit. Not a trace of the
negro was seen; yet Smith thought he must have risen to the
surface at some point unobserved by them, for he was a man of a
large, corpulent body, more likely to float than many others. A
second time Smith was relieved by seeing Charlie rise, but at a
greater distance from the Petrel's hull; a second time he
strained every nerve to reach him, but again the young man sunk
beneath the waves.

A shout was now heard. "It is the boat!" said Smith, as he
answered the call. He was mistaken; it was Hazlehurst who now
approached, with Bruno at his side, guided by the voices of Smith
and the boy.

"Charlie!" cried Harry, as he made his way through the water.
Charlie!" he repeated again.

"Hubbard has sunk twice, and the negro is gone!" cried Smith.

"Come to the hull and take breath," added Smith.

But just as he spoke, Harry had seen an arm left bare by a
passing wave; he made a desperate effort, reached the spot, and
seized Charlie's body, crying joyfully, "It is Hubbard; I have
him!--Charlie, do you know me?--Charlie, speak but a word, my
good fellow!"

But the young man had lost his consciousness; he returned no
answer either by look or word. Harry grasped his collar, holding
his face above the water, and at the same time moving towards the
Petrel's hull as rapidly as he could.

"Here Bruno, my noble dog! That's right, Smith, get a firm hold
on the schooner; we must draw him up, he has fainted; but the
boats must be here soon."

Smith was following Hazlehurst's directions; but ere Bruno had
joined his master, Harry, now within a short distance of the
schooner, suddenly cried, "Help!"--and in another second both he
and Charlie had disappeared beneath the water, in a manner as
incomprehensible, as it was unexpected and distressing to Smith.

"He's sunk!" cried the boy.

"How?--where? Surely he was not exhausted!"

A howl burst from Bruno.

"Perhaps it's the cramp," said the lad.

"Both sunk!--Hazlehurst too!" again exclaimed Smith, as much
amazed as he was distressed. He and the boy threw themselves from
the schooner's side again, looking anxiously for some trace of

"Look sharp, my lad, as you would save a fellow-creature!"

"There's one of them!" cried the boy, and in another instant he
had caught Charlie by the hair. But not a trace of Hazlehurst was
seen since he first disappeared, and the waters had closed so
suddenly over him. Charlie was carried to the Petrel's side; and
while Smith and the lad were endeavouring to raise him on the
schooner, Bruno was swimming hither and thither, howling
piteously for his master.

A shout was now heard.

"The boat at last, thank Heaven!" cried Smith, returning the

A minute passed; nothing was seen of Harry; Charlie was raised
entirely above water; when at length the Petrel's boat dashed
towards them, urged by all the strength of four rowers.

"Hubbard!--Bob!" cried de Vaux, as the first glance showed him
that both Smith and the boy were safe.

"Hubbard is here, insensible--Bob gone--Hazlehurst sunk, too!"

"Hazlehurst and Bob, too!--Merciful powers!" exclaimed the party.

A hurried, eager search succeeded, as soon as Charlie, with Smith

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