Chapter 3 – The Wreck

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Dick Sand’s cry brought all the crew to their feet. The men who were
not on watch came on deck. Captain Hull, leaving his cabin, went toward
the bow.

Mrs. Weldon, Nan, even the indifferent Cousin Benedict himself, came to
lean over the starboard rail, so as to see the wreck signaled by the
young novice.

Negoro, alone, did not leave the cabin, which served him for a kitchen;
and as usual, of all the crew, he was the only one whom the encounter
with a wreck did not appear to interest.

Then all regarded attentively the floating object which the waves were
rocking, three miles from the "Pilgrim."

"Ah! what can that be?" said a sailor.

"Some abandoned raft," replied another.

"Perhaps there are some unhappy shipwrecked ones on that raft," said
Mrs. Weldon.

"We shall find out," replied Captain Hull. "But that wreck is not a
raft. It is a hull thrown over on the side."

"Ah! is it not more likely to be some marine animal – some mammifer of
great size?" observed Cousin Benedict.

"I do not think so," replied the novice.

"Then what is your idea, Dick?" asked Mrs. Weldon.

"An overturned hull, as the captain has said, Mrs. Weldon. It even
seems to me that I see its copper keel glistening in the sun."

"Yes – indeed," replied Captain Hull. Then addressing the helmsman:
"Steer to the windward, Bolton. Let her go a quarter, so as to come
alongside the wreck."

"Yes, sir," replied the helmsman.

"But," continued Cousin Benedict, "I keep to what I have said.
Positively it is an animal."

"Then this would be a whale in copper," replied Captain Hull, "for,
positively, also, I see it shine in the sun!"

"At all events, Cousin Benedict," added Mrs. Weldon, "you will agree
with us that this whale must be dead, for it is certain that it does
not make the least movement."

"Ah! Cousin Weldon," replied Cousin Benedict, who was obstinate, "this
would not be the first time that one has met a whale sleeping on the
surface of the waves."

"That is a fact," replied Captain Hull; "but to-day, the thing is not a
whale, but a ship."

"We shall soon see," replied Cousin Benedict, who, after all, would
give all the mammifers of the Arctic or Antarctic seas for an insect of
a rare species.

"Steer, Bolton, steer!" cried Captain Hull again, "and do not board the
wreck. Keep a cable’s length. If we cannot do much harm to this hull,
it might cause us some damage, and I do not care to hurt the sides of
the ‘Pilgrim’ with it. Tack a little, Bolton, tack!"

The "Pilgrim’s" prow, which had been directed toward the wreck, was
turned aside by a slight movement of the helm.

The schooner was still a mile from the capsized hull. The sailors were
eagerly looking at it. Perhaps it held a valuable cargo, which it would
be possible to transfer to the "Pilgrim." We know that, in these
salvages, the third of the value belongs to the rescuers, and, in this
case, if the cargo was not damaged, the crew, as they say, would make
"a good haul." This would be a fish of consolation for their incomplete

A quarter of an hour later the wreck was less than a mile from the

It was indeed a ship, which presented itself on its side, to the
starboard. Capsized as far as the nettings, she heeled so much that it
would be almost impossible to stand upon her deck. Nothing could be
seen beyond her masts. From the port-shrouds were banging only some
ends of broken rope, and the chains broken by the cloaks of
white-crested waves. On the starboard side opened a large hole between
the timbers of the frame-work and the damaged planks.

"This ship has been run into," cried Dick Sand.

"There is no doubt of that," replied Captain Hull; "and it is a miracle
that she did not sink immediately."

"If there has been a collision," observed Mrs. Weldon, "we must hope
that the crew of this ship has been picked up by those who struck her."

"It is to be hoped so, Mrs. Weldon," replied Captain, Hull, "unless
this crew sought refuge in their own boats after the collision, in case
the colliding vessel should sail right on – which, alas! sometimes

"Is it possible? That would be a proof of very great inhumanity, Mr.

"Yes, Mrs. Weldon. Yes! and instances are not wanting. As to the crew
of this ship, what makes me believe that it is more likely they have
left it, is that I do not see a single boat; and, unless the men on
board have been picked up, I should be more inclined to think that they
have tried to roach the land. But, at this distance from the American
continent, or from the islands of Oceanica, it is to be feared that
they have not succeeded."

"Perhaps," said Mrs. Weldon, "we shall never know the secret of this
catastrophe. Meanwhile, it might be possible that some man of the crew
is still on board."

"That is not probable, Mrs. Weldon," replied Captain Hull. "Our
approach would be already known, and they would make some signals to
us. But we shall make sure of it. – Luff a little, Bolton, luff," cried
Captain Hull, while indicating with his hand what course to take.

The "Pilgrim" was now only three cables’ length from the wreck, and
they could no longer doubt that this hull had been completely abandoned
by all its crew.

But, at that moment, Dick Sand made a gesture which imperiously
demanded silence.

"Listen, listen!" said he.

Each listened.

"I hear something like a bark!" cried Dick Sand. In fact, a distant
barking resounded from the interior of the hull. Certainly there was a
living dog there, imprisoned perhaps, for it was possible that the
hatches were hermetically closed. But they could not see it, the deck
of the capsized vessel being still invisible.

"If there be only a dog there, Mr. Hull," said Mrs. "Weldon," we shall
save it."

"Yes, yes!" cried little Jack, "we shall save it. I shall give it
something to eat! It will love us well! Mama, I am going to bring it a
piece of sugar!"

"Stay still, my child," replied Mrs. Weldon smiling. "I believe that
the poor animal is dying of hunger, and it will prefer a good mess to
your morsel of sugar."

"Well, then, let it have my soup," cried little Jack. "I can do without
it very well."

At that moment the barking was more distinctly heard. Three hundred
feet, at the most, separated the two ships. Almost immediately a dog of
great height appeared on the starboard netting, and clung there,
barking more despairingly than ever.

"Howik," said Captain Hull, turning toward the master of the
"Pilgrim’s" crew, "heave to, and lower the small boat."

"Hold on, my dog, hold on!" cried little Jack to the animal, which
seemed to answer him with a half-stifled bark.

The "Pilgrim’s" sails were rapidly furled, so that the ship should
remain almost motionless, less than half a cable’s length from the

The boat was brought alongside. Captain Hull, Dick Sand and two sailors
got into it at once.

The dog barked all the time. It tried to hold on to the netting, but
every moment it fell back on the deck. One would say that its barks
were no longer addressed to those who were coming to him. Were they
then addressed to some sailors or passengers imprisoned in this ship?

"Is there, then, on board some shipwrecked one who has survived?" Mrs.
Weldon asked herself.

A few strokes of the oars and the "Pilgrim’s" boat would reach the
capsized hull.

But, suddenly, the dog’s manner changed. Furious barks succeeded its
first barks inviting the rescuers to come. The most violent anger
excited the singular animal.

"What can be the matter with that dog?" said Captain Hull, while the
boat was turning the stern of the vessel, so as to come alongside of
the part of the deck lying under the water.

What Captain Hull could not then observe, what could not be noticed
even on board the "Pilgrim," was that the dog’s fury manifested itself
just at the moment when Negoro, leaving his kitchen, had just come
toward the forecastle.

Did the dog then know and recognize the master cook? It was very

However that may be, after looking at the dog, without showing any
surprise, Negoro, who, however, frowned for an instant, returned to the
crew’s quarters.

Meanwhile the boat had rounded the stern of the ship. Her aftboard
carried this single name: "Waldeck."

"Waldeck," and no designation of the port attached. But, by the form of
the hull, by certain details which a sailor seizes at the first glance,
Captain Hull had, indeed, discovered that this ship was of American
construction. Besides, her name confirmed it. And now, this hull, it
was all that remained of a large brig of five hundred tons.

At the "Waldeck’s" prow a large opening indicated the place where the
collision had occurred. In consequence of the capsizing of the hull,
this opening was then five or six feet above the water – which explained
why the brig had not yet foundered.

On the deck, which Captain Hull saw in its whole extent, there was

The dog, having left the netting, had just let itself slip as far as
the central hatch, which was open; and it barked partly toward the
interior, partly toward the exterior.

"It is very certain that this animal is not alone on board!" observed
Dick Sand.

"No, in truth!" replied Captain Hull.

The boat then skirted the larboard netting, which was half under water.
A somewhat strong swell of the sea would certainly submerge the
"Waldeck" in a few moments.

The brig’s deck had been swept from one end to the other. There was
nothing left except the stumps of the mainmast and of the mizzen-mast,
both broken off two feet above the scuttles, and which had fallen in
the collision, carrying away shrouds, back-stays, and rigging.
Meanwhile, as far as the eye could see, no wreck was visible around the
"Waldeck" – which seemed to indicate that the catastrophe was already
several days old.

"If some unhappy creatures have survived the collision," said Captain
Hull, "it is probable that either hunger or thirst has finished them,
for the water must have gained the store-room. There are only dead
bodies on board!"

"No," cried Dick Sand, "no! The dog would not bark that way. There are
living beings on board!"

At that moment the animal, responding to the call of the novice, slid
to the sea, and swam painfully toward the boat, for it seemed to be

They took it in, and it rushed eagerly, not for a piece of bread that
Dick Sand offered it first, but to a half-tub which contained a little
fresh water.

"This poor animal is dying of thirst!" cried Dick Sand.

The boat then sought a favorable place to board the "Waldeck" more
easily, and for that purpose it drew away a few strokes. The dog
evidently thought that its rescuers did not wish to go on board, for he
seized Dick Sand by his jacket, and his lamentable barks commenced
again with new strength.

They understood it. Its pantomime and its language were as clear as a
man’s language could be. The boat was brought immediately as far as the
larboard cat-head. There the two sailors moored it firmly, while
Captain Hull and Dick Sand, setting foot on the deck at the same time
as the dog, raised themselves, not without difficulty, to the hatch
which opened between the stumps of the two masts.

By this hatch the two made their way into the hold.

The "Waldeck’s" hold, half full of water, contained no goods. The brig
sailed with ballast – a ballast of sand which had slid to larboard and
which helped to keep the ship on her side. On that head, then, there
was no salvage to effect.

"Nobody here," said Captain Hull.

"Nobody," replied the novice, after having gone to the foremost part of
the hold.

But the dog, which was on the deck, kept on barking and seemed to call
the captain’s attention more imperatively.

"Let us go up again," said Captain Hull to the novice.

Both appeared again on the deck.

The dog, running to them, sought to draw them to the poop.

They followed it.

There, in the square, five bodies – undoubtedly five corpses – were lying
on the floor.

By the daylight which entered in waves by the opening, Captain Hull
discovered the bodies of five negroes.

Dick Sand, going from one to the other, thought he felt that the
unfortunates were still breathing.

"On board! on board!" cried Captain Hull.

The two sailors who took care of the boat were called, and helped to
carry the shipwrecked men out of the poop.

This was not without difficulty, but two minutes after, the five blacks
were laid in the boat, without being at all conscious that any one was
trying to save them. A few drops of cordial, then a little fresh water
prudently administered, might, perhaps, recall them to life.

The "Pilgrim" remained a half cable’s length from the wreck, and the
boat would soon reach her.

A girt-line was let down from the main-yard, and each of the blacks
drawn up separately reposed at last on the "Pilgrim’s" deck.

The dog had accompanied them.

"The unhappy creatures!" cried Mrs. Weldon, on perceiving those poor
men, who were only inert bodies.

"They are alive, Mrs. Weldon. We shall save them. Yes, we shall save
them," cried Dick Sand.

"What has happened to them?" demanded Cousin Benedict.

"Wait till they can speak," replied Captain Hull, "and they will tell
us their history. But first of all, let us make them drink a little
water, in which we shall mix a few drops of rum." Then, turning round:
"Negoro!" he called.

At that name the dog stood up as if it knew the sound, its hair
bristling, its mouth open.

Meanwhile, the cook did not appear.

"Negoro!" repeated Captain Hull.

The dog again gave signs of extreme fury.

Negoro left the kitchen.

Hardly had he shown himself on the deck, than the dog sprang on him and
wanted to jump at his throat.

With a blow from the poker with which he was armed, the cook drove away
the animal, which some of the sailors succeeded in holding.

"Do you know this dog?" Captain Hull asked the master cook.

"I?" replied Negoro. "I have never seen it."

"That is singular," murmured Dick Sand.


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