Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

m

[ocr errors]

At first we thought we were only in for a such a desperate look upon it; we all savy very heavy squall, which would not last at once that it was impossible to make the more than two or three hours, but instead passage, close-hauled though we were, on of that it increased in fury, and so rapidly, that tack. There was not a second to be that within half an hour it was blowing a lost; we were almost on the reef; H perfect hurricane, and as we have since tried to put the cutter about, she missed found out, a regular cyclone. I have sel- stays ; we could not get her round; and dom seen such a sight; I never wish to the next moment we were broadside on, experience it again in such a small craft. among the huge waves and white foam Our cutter of nine tons, in ordinary sail. right on the reef, which here is some fifty ing weather, always boasted of fivé sails to sixty yards wide; an awful sea was -'a mainsail, square sail, gaff top-sail, running, and we were tossed up and down stay sail, and jib. We took in everything like a cockle shell. A- at the mastexcept the mainsail and jib, both of which head roared out his orders in a hoarse we shortened as much as possible, and voice of agony,“ Luff, luff! keep her full ! yet we lay over with our lee gunwale un- luff, luff! keep her full!” and in that way der water the whole time. At first the sea we literally dodged between the huge was comparatively smooth, for the wind rocks until we reached the deep water was so strong that it literally prevented beyond. Our escape was a most miracuthe sea from rising; it seemed at first lous one'; at one time if we had been in that it was impossible for the waves to the trough of the sea instead of on the lift, for if one attempted to do so the wind top of a huge wave, we must have all lost caught it and sent it hissing along in our lives. When we were safe in the spray; we were almost blinded with the open sea again, A- came down from heavy rain and spray; and although seven the masthead, his face very white, and o'clock in the morning, it became quite said to me, "Sonny, I would not have dark, and we were enveloped in a thick given five shillings for any of our lives a fog, and could only see a few yards minute ago." I looked at old H- he ahead.

was nearly crying with thankfulness. The storm came up from the eastward, That danger over, we had another diffibut soon shifted round to the N.E., right culty before us — how to reach the island; dead ahead in our teeth; we then decided for the wind was gradually hauling round, to try and make for the shelter of a small and was again blowing dead ahead, and a rocky barren islet, for we were out in the tremendous sea was running. After tackopen sea, and this was our only refuge. ing and tacking with the greatest diffiWe steered by compass, for we could not culty, we reached holding.ground on the see any distance ahead. H- steered, lee side of our barren island, and threw A- went up to the masthead, and Lui, out both anchors and sixty-five fathoms of the half-caste, and the two Fijians stood chain. Lui and the Fijians went ashore ready. As there were plenty of men to do in the boat to cook; she returned for what was wanted, I remained close to A-, who also went ashore. HH-, to lend him a hand if necessary. and I remained on board, not anticipating We were of course drenched all the time any danger. This was at nine o'clock in with the heavy rain and spray, but that the morning. Soon after A-left us was nothing. To reach the island we the wind went round to the northward, had to pass through some dangerous reef and instead of our being on the lee side patches, lying a mile and a half from it, the of the island, we were now on the wind. passage through the reef only a very nar- ward side, exposed to the full fury of the row one, being but a few yards wide. Not gale; it was impossible then for the boat one of us spoke a word; I knew afterwards to return to us; the sight was a grand that we were all thinking the same thing, one, and believing that our chains would that it was indeed very doubtful whether hold, and not dreaming that there was any any of us would see land again. We were danger, I thoroughly enjoyed it. close-hauled to endeavor to get as much Where the boat bad gone ashore was a as possible to windward of the passage, narrow strip of white sand, with a backand we were anxious to get through be- ground of trees, the rest of the island fore the wind shifted round any more. nothing but bluff, barren rocks, rising After a long time, A- cried out that straight out of the water; a tremendous we were close upon the reef; there it sea was rolling in, and dashing furiously was, a white seething mass of huge waves against these rocks, striking them and and foam. I looked at H-, his honest, rising high in the air, a mass of white brown face as white as a sheet, and with foam; the trees on the island in their new

a

said to me,

a

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

spring foliage forming a beautiful con- fear, that he never saw any one behave in trast. H

" What an iron- such a cool manner as I did. Just before bound coast!” I made some remark, I I jumped into the sea, I turned round to think, that it was very grand; and H- H- and said, “Old man, I can't do it.” said, “ Yes, old man, but I pity the poor | The next moment I was among the waves, fellow who gets dashed up against those swimming for the shore. I kept up my ro s."

presence of mind grandly. I swam slowly Meanwhile, the storm was increasing and deliberately, for I knew I stood a rapidly in fury, the cutter dipping bows poor chance if I Aurried myself. I heard under' to every wave, the spray Aying H- plunge into the sea behind me; clean over us. We went down below into he soon passed me, swimming with far the little cabin and had something to eat, greater ease than I did; he is much more a biscuit and salt beef. It was impossi- powerfully built than I am, stronger in ble for the boat to come out to us; noth- every way, and has led a very rough life ing could have lived in the heavy sea, so since his boyhood; he stood a far better we were obliged to remain on board, the chance of reaching the shore than I did. storm raging worse and worse. A little It was terrible work amongst those huge before three o'clock in the afternoon I breakers; they followed each other in went down below, for I was very cold and such quick succession, that when you did wet. I was down but a few minutes, manage to rise to the surface after being when H called to me, “Old man, overwhelmed with one, you had not time stand by to swim, one chain has parted !” even to breathe before the next huge

The tone of his voice was quite enough. wave was upon you. I was getting very I did not say a word; I felt the worst had exhausted, my arms and legs so tired that come; I went on deck at once; there was I could hardly move them, and I found it H, with nothing but his shirt on, his more difficult to rise from under the waves. face very white, and with the same look I saw A- (who cannot swim a stroke) on it that I had noticed when we were on on the beach, gesticulating and running the reef. I went to the bows, and of about frantically. I saw H far ahead course saw at once that one chain had of me, still making good way; then I saw gone. I said to H — "Let us lash two Lui, the half-caste, a perfect Hercules in oars together, and get ashore on them.” strength, and a splendid swimmer, dash He said, “Not a bit of use, you will only into the water followed by the two Fijians. be drifted upon those rock's; your only I saw them reach H; one Fijian rechance is to swim, and try and make for mained with him to help him, and Lui that bit of sandy beach. It is your only and the other came on towards me. It chance, old man; if you get upon those seemed child's play to them; the breakers rocks you will be dashed to pieces.” were rolling in towards the shore; as Now, in order to reach that sandy beach they met each one they dived under it, we had to swim in a great measure against and so they came on to me. I was afraid wind, waves, and tide. I merely said, “I they would not reach me in time, for I suppose we had better go before the other was completely exhausted.

I had no chain parts." He said, “Yes, if you wait strength left in me, and I gave an awful till then you will have less chance." I yell

, and sank before they reached me. did not say another word. I stripped my When I came to the surface, I found myclothes off. As I was taking my shirt off, self almost unconsciously between them, H-said, “ You had better keep that my left hand on Lui's shoulder, my right on; you will want something on shore. arm held up by the Fijian. We made for But I took it off, for I knew I could not the shore; in a second a huge breaker swim in it; I, however, kept my jersey was upon us, and separated us. on, and there I stood ready. We both A-, who was watching from the stood together hanging on to the shrouds, beach, says he thought none of us would both of us silent, for a minute or two, come to the surface again, we were so very quiet, and our faces --- for mine must long beneath the waves; however, we have been the same as H-'s — very came to the surface again, and Lui and white. I looked at the huge breakers, at the Fijian grasped me again; a huge the rocks, at the distance from the strip wave separated us again, again we came of beach, and I felt my heart sink terribly; together, and made a vain attempt. Lui I did not say a word, but I felt I could said, “ Sa oti” (“It is finished"), shook not reach the shore, there was no time me off, and made for the shore, followed for any cowardice. H- told me after- by the Fijian....I then heard a yell from wards that I did not show the slightest | H- the Fijian who came out to help

[ocr errors]

a

him had deserted him also. When Lui | where there was just room for them to said, “ Sa oti," and the two men left me, stand; they seized me by the wrists and the agony of mind I suffered is something legs, and there I vomited a quantity of indescribable; I gave up all hope of life, blood and water; after a while they I was utterly exhausted, and down I sank. dragged me up higher to another ledge; I heard the breakers roaring above me, I as they were doing so, the cutter, which could just see my arms moving feebly had in the mean time parted the remaining about, my stomach began to swell most chain, was dashed against the rocks, her painfully with the amount of salt water I topmast striking the rocks within a few was swallowing, and then in the most un- feet of me. Well, they dragged me up accountable manner I came to the surface from ledge to ledge until we got to a safe again, and saw them dragging, H- place, and there I lay and vomited bucketashore. Down I sank again, and so on, fuls. The Fijians seeing I was numb until at last I felt dashed against the with the cold, lay upon me with their rocks. I grasped at them, but they were naked bodies like blankets until I had smooth and slippery, and back 'I was got some warmth into me, they then besucked again by the waves; the next tween them carried me down to the beach wave threw me up again, and I felt a into a sort of cave.

A

came up, and hand clutch hold of me and drag me never shall I forget the rough fellow's higher up; I fully realized then how a tender kindness to me. “ Old man, old drowning man grasps at every straw; the man, I never thought I should see you wave flattened both of us against the rock, again; I told H- long ago that you which rose sheer above us, I clutched at were cooked. Lui and the Fijians when it in a helpless kind of way, and most they came ashore said it was impossible to mercifully three fingers of each hand save you, that you were a drowned man, stuck in two small niches in the rock; I that it was written on your face, that could only get them in as far as the first they themselves were nearly drowned, joint, no more; how I held on is a marvel that the sharks were already at you.' to me, a marvel to every one who saw the A-fortunately had brought a rug place afterwards. The next wave lifted ashore with him in the boat; he stripped me clean off my feet, and towered high off my wet jersey, took off his own dry above us, how my fingers retained their fisherman's blue jersey, made me put it hold I cannot tell, it was pure despera- on, and wrapped me in his rug, and made tion; as the wave receded the suction the Fijians light a fire, and I lay close was very great, it washed the Fijian, who alongside. It was quite dark then — just had saved me, back again amongst the think how awful it would have been if the breakers. I looked round for an instant, storm had come upon us during the night. and saw him struggling in the water, but The shake of the hand old A gave the next wave was upon me, a huge body me when he first saw me I shall never of water, and I held on again like grim forget. Soon H- came limping up; death; my strength was gone, my arms we said nothing at first but just looked at and legs 'numb, but I did not leave go. each other in quiet thankfulness. He The wave washed the Fijian into a small then told me he had never had such a hole in the rock hollowed out by the narrow squeak for his life before, that he action of the water; into this the waves also gave up all hope, and yet I saw him swept with fearful force; but the Fijian dragged ashore. A told me that they was fresh and stuck there. After a while all rushed into the water and dragged him he clambered round the rocks, how I ashore, and that when he saw his face he don't know, and went for help; he saw gave up all hope of ever seeing me again; A- and shouted to him for a rope; for His face was like a corpse's, his he (A-) chopped off the boat's painter lips livid. with an axe, and sent Lui and the Fijians That night, when the tide went down, over the rocks to me. They came down A-, Lui, and the Fijians went to the from above, and let the rope down to me cutter to get some food and water, in a noose; it was too short - they called for we were on a barren island without and yelled to me to catch hold of it, but I either; although the waves were dashcould not, I had no strength left; they let ing over the cutter, they pluckily dived it down a little lower, it was now about into her hold and brought up a box of two feet above me; I waited for the next tinned meats and a bag of flour belonging wave, it lifted me up, I made one des- to me; they also secured a keg of water, perate effort and caught hold of the rope. so were fortunately provided with They dragged me up to a small ledge, provisions for a week. This was all that

a

we

a

a

[ocr errors]

could be done then; the seas had broken suffers horrors of conscience; it was not open the hatches, and were washing the so with me. I thought of you, my dear cargo out in the most merciless way. father and mother, and of you all at home, That night the wind went right round to and what a sorrow the news of my death the southward, and then gradually to the would be to you all, and then, strange to eastward, proving that we had experi. say, I thought how people do lie; I have enced a regular cyclone. The gale raged always been told that death by drowning all night and we never expected to see is the easiest death, and yet here I am the cutter in the morning. We none of suffering agonies of pain, and I rememus slept that night, but we all lay down; an ber wishing if I am to be drowned, let it oar served us three for a pillow. A- be done quickly. Then I thought, I am and H put me between them; no about to solve the problem about the clothes had been saved from the wreck. future world, and I felt the same feeling A—had fortunately his rug; we lay as of shyness and dread come over me that close to each other as we possibly could, I have felt so often, and never could conI close up to H-'s back, and A- quer, when I was outside a drawing-room close up to mine with his arm round me. door, and about to be ushered into the How bitterly cold it was, how the wind presence of a crowd of ladies and men. I did roar! I could not sleep, my chest have been asked if I never thought about was paining me too much; I said, "I the sharks which infest the place. I can't breathe.” H—said, “I am just am thankful to say they never entered the same, every breath I take pains me.” into my head; if I had remembered them I

suppose this was the result of the quan- I feel sure I should have gone down like tity of salt water we had swallowed. We a stone. were very thankful when morning at last Next morning the cutter, to our great dawned. H— and I could not move; surprise, was still there; when she had his legs were much cut about, but I was drifted ashore it was high tide, and the in a far worse state. When they hauled waves wedged her in between the rocks me over the rocks I was bleeding, I may most securely; twenty yards beyond the truly say, all over; it was a great mercy place where she struck, and she would no limbs were broken. I was cut all over, have missed the island altogether, and my feet and legs terribly; when H- been driven clean away; she came ashore and A-looked me over next morn- at the very place where I did, thus showing, they said, “By Jove, old ınan, you ing how helplessly the wind and waves would make a splendid zebra.” I was had driven me; twenty yards more and afraid at first

left knee was seri. I should have been lost. ously damaged, for "ny could not move it';

During the day the wind and waves my feet were much swollen, and I had an went down; the trees whose tender foliugly cut in my groin. My wounds were age I had admired the day before looked all full of dirt; there was no water to as if a severe fire had passed through them, wash in, for we had but very little for the leaves were all black and withered. drinking purposes, and it was necessary I was bringing up a large stock of stores to husband that very carefully, for we did and necessaries for the plantation ; remnot know when we might be rescued. nants only saved, a quantity of silver for However, I bore all with the greatest plantation use gone, my good heavy coats cheerfulness everything seemed so ut- that are invaluable on these voyages all terly trivial when I thought how merci- washed away, cases broken open by the fully my life had been spared. That waves, and some of the contents washed night as I lay awake, a feeling of utter ashore; even tinned meats strewn about horror came over me when I thought of on the reef; sulus (cloth for plantation what I had gone through, and then it use) found in strips all over the recf; would change to intense thankfulness my belt was picked up three days afterthat I was still safe and sound in limb. wards. I cannot tell the extent of my A- told me that I was at least three loss at present; but I look upon it as quarters of an hour in the water, and two nothing when I think how wonderfully hours upon the rocks, so you can imag. my life has been spared. ine what I endured.

The third day the sea was almost calm. When I gave up all hope in the water, On Saturday á schooner came in sight; I did not suffer one pang of remorse we hailed her and she lent us men. All about my past life. I have always been ballast was taken out of the cutter, two told that when a man is drowning, all strong tackles rove to the reef, the holes his past life comes before him, and he ! in her were then patched up, and at high

[ocr errors]

6

tide she was hauled into deep water, and kind. “A creditor," says Rab Dinné, by constant pumping kept afloat. The "

“who knows that a person owing him schooner lent her an anchor and chain. money is unable to pay the amount must Then it was decided that I should go on avoid passing where the debtor is likely in the schooner to Savu Bay to break the to be found in order, of course, not to news to H-'s partner, and send down cause the latter pain or shame); othera letter to A 's wife to tell her that wise he violates the divine command, her husband was all right, for we knew Thou shalt not be towards him an exactthat everybody would be very anxious or’ (Exodus xii. 24).” The Ghemara about us. So I came on in the schooner further adds - by the mouth of Rabbi and reached this full of thankfulness. Amé and Rabbi Assé, “ that the credi

My wounds are showing no signs of tor who does this is regarded as though festering; they cannot look more healthy. he had cast his debtor into a flaming furHow I relished my first wash! My feet nace or into a stream of water." The are so much cut about that I cannot do law, however, provided that every man much walking at present, but I am in should be fully and legally responsible perfect health ; the difficulty I suffered at for all debts he contracted. The princifirst in breathing has entirely left me, so pal ordinances calling for explanation are do not be in the least alarmed about me. those referring to the taking and retain

I shall give the Fijian who saved my ing of pledges, and the mode of seizing life a handsome present; he indeed de- chattels or selling real property in satisserves one, although he did not come faction of properly established claims. with the intention of saving my life; he in any civil process the party against said to A-“I must go and see the whom judgment was given and who was white man die," and ran to the top of cast in damages became debtor in rethe rocks to get a good view. He saw I spect of the amount in question. The had life in me yet, and pluckily clam- ordinances of the Talmud regulating disbered down the rocks. How be found a traint upon goods and property will therefooting I don't know, but Fijians are as fore. suffice to indicate the manner in sure-footed as goats; at all events he got which the local tribunals could enforce down in time to seize my hand and save their decrees, whenever the obstinacy of

a suitor rendered such a proceeding nec'I have written this letter in a greatessary. hurry, and at one sitting, so I am pretty Money was lent among the Jews in well tired out; but I have a chance of three different ways: (1) on an article, sending to Levuka to-morrow; possibly utensil, or a garment, regarded as a pledge, I may not have another before the mail although the creditor might not take posleaves.

session of the object in question; (2) Your affectionate Son. on personal security, where one party

verbally i.e. in the presence of witnesses — or by deed guaranteed repay. ment of a loan contracted by another ;

(3) without security of any kind, the From The Pall Mall Gazette.

creditor knowing the means and position THE CIVIL CODE OF THE JEWS.

of the borrower, and relying upon the APART from the laws of usury, the responsibility incurred by the latter and general ordinances regulating transac- capable of being enforced at law. In the tions between debtor and creditor are case of money lent upon pledges the extremely interesting. They offer a following ordinances took effect. The marked contrast to analogous provisions Mosaic code forbade the taking of a found in other ancient legal systems, millstone as security for a debt; it was which delivered up the unfortunate debtor required for the preparation of a vital to the mercy of the person to whom he necessary, The rabbins saw in this instood indebted. The Hebrew code was junction' the enunciation of a general in this regard eminently humane and con- principle. The Mischna therefore exsiderate. Due regard was had to the tended the prohibition to all instruments position and circumstances and necessi- or utensils employed in the preparation ties of a borrower unable to meet his of alimentary substances. If such an engagements. The lender was enjoined article was taken in pledge by a creditor as well as legally prevented from pressing the tribunal could compel its restoration. harshly and to an extreme his claim Nor could such an object be seized in against one indebted to him in money or satisfaction of a debt. In like manner it

my life.

a

« VorigeDoorgaan »