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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesCaptain Mugford: Our Salt And Fresh Water Tutors - Chapter 14. Ugly Volunteers--Our Fresh Tute To The Rescue!
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Captain Mugford: Our Salt And Fresh Water Tutors - Chapter 14. Ugly Volunteers--Our Fresh Tute To The Rescue! Post by :healthyways2101 Category :Long Stories Author :William H. G. Kingston Date :May 2012 Read :3397

Click below to download : Captain Mugford: Our Salt And Fresh Water Tutors - Chapter 14. Ugly Volunteers--Our Fresh Tute To The Rescue! (Format : PDF)

Captain Mugford: Our Salt And Fresh Water Tutors - Chapter 14. Ugly Volunteers--Our Fresh Tute To The Rescue!

CHAPTER FOURTEEN. UGLY VOLUNTEERS--OUR FRESH TUTE TO THE RESCUE!


"Poor old Robinson Crusoe! poor old Robinson Crusoe!
They made him a coat of an old nanny-goat:
I wonder how they could do so!
With a ring a ting tang, and a ring a ting tang,
Poor old Robinson Crusoe." _Mother Goose_.


The storm broke before morning, and a clear fresh September day opened on us castaways. There was no exertion of ours that could get us home, for our little cutter was a complete wreck, and we had but one of the many requisites for constructing a boat or raft--it consisted of the few planks and timbers of the wreck of the boat which still held together or had been washed upon the beach, and which, if we were not rescued before another morning, must be employed in feeding our fire. All the provisions we had taken with us on our day's voyage were consumed, except one loaf of bread and two pies, but a sufficient supply of the fish had been brought from the cutter to feed us for several meals. Of water--the greatest necessity--there was not a drop on Boatswain's Half-Acre. During the morning, the want of that became a pain, and before night any one of us would have given all he possessed for a single glass of cold water. Captain Mugford told us that now, for the fourth time in his life, he knew the suffering of thirst.

We must wait to be discovered, to be rescued, and before that we _might die of thirst, for our island was only a low rock, and vessels going up and down channel kept generally too far from the reef to allow us to be seen by them on board. We could see our cape, and even the old house, but had no way of making signals, except by the fire at night.

Beautiful as was the day, it was one only of pain and anxiety to us. Of the few sails we saw, not one came within three miles of us. Where could Mr Clare be all this time?

The sea fell so fast that by two o'clock in the afternoon it was smooth as a lake. Harry Higginson and I sat looking at it on a point of the reef, with Ugly by our side. Ugly's tongue hung dry from his mouth, and he panted for a drop of water, but he was pained, too, I am sure, because of our silence and dejection. Watching our faces, as if wondering what he could do for us, he at length walked down to the waterline and looked across to the cape with a long whine. Then he ran back and put his paws on Harry's knee, as if he would have him say something. So Harry patted his head and said, "Yes, old boy, I wish we could get there."

He sprang down again and commenced to bark, pointing his nose towards the cape.

I called to him, "Don't be a fool, Ugly; your little bark can't reach them."

He cried and ran back to Harry, but in a second more, barking like fury, he ran to the water and swam off in the direction of our home.

We called to him again and again, entreating and commanding his return; but he paid no attention to us, and swam on. We were filled with sorrow and alarm, for surely little Ugly could not swim that distance--over three miles. We called to the Captain and the boys, and in a few minutes we were all standing watching the progress of brave Ugly.

What was going on at the cape all this time?

Mr Clare did not return on Saturday, and as night set in without our appearance, Clump and Juno got anxious. Having, however, great confidence in the Captain's care and skill, they were not so much alarmed as they might have been, supposing that he, seeing the approaching gale, had made some harbour, and that there we should stay until the weather changed. For some reason, both Clump and Juno supposed we had gone to the westward. That shore was broken by several bays and small rivers, and eleven miles westward was the fishing-village of ---. Nevertheless, the good old people were somewhat alarmed, and sat up all night over their kitchen fire.

By ten o'clock of the next day their fears had grown too troublesome to allow further inaction. Clump pulled over in his punt to the village, across the bay. There he got some sailors to take a boat and go down the south coast to look for us, and gathering all the advice and surmises he could, (which were not consoling), from seafaring men he knew, returned to the cape.

When Juno heard Clump's report, her distress was very great. As she groaned, and wiped her wet, shrivelled eyes with a duster, she said--

"Lor' o' Marsy! Clump, ef harm's cum ter dem chiles ob Massa Tregellin--den--den--you berry me--berry dis ole 'ooman deep."

"Now, toff your mout, June--toff your mout! Wen I'se done berry you, ou yer 'spects gwine 'posit Clump en de bowels ob de arth, ay? He jist stay here and _tink_."--He did not mean _think_, but another word commencing with that unpronounceable _s_--"You'se fool, ole 'ooman; when you'se begin mittrut de Lor', ay?"

Clump was so frightened himself that he had to talk pretty strong to his spouse.

Mr Clare, after morning service in the church at Q---town, where he had gone to hear a college friend preach, took advantage of the lovely autumn day to walk home, which was about ten miles. He made his way slowly, enjoying every foot of the road, little contemplating the shock he was to receive at his journey's end.

He heard Clump and Juno's report without a word, only growing paler and paler. Then he sat down and covered his face, and, after a moment of silence, asked the negroes certain questions as to the course they supposed us to have taken, as to the storm on the cape, etcetera, etcetera.

He started off after that on a hard run for Bath Bay, where he jumped into a boat, and, pulling out into the greater bay, rowed with all his strength over to the village; but his inquiries there could gain no information, so he hired a small schooner-rigged boat and its owner to go out with him and hunt us up, or find some trace of our fate.

Mr Clare could not be still whilst the boatman, who had to go up to his home first, was getting ready, but ordered him to make all haste and call for him off the cape, and then he jumped into his own boat again and recrossed to the cape. But the boatman took a long time in coming, Mr Clare walking up and down the cape in the meanwhile, a prey to the gloomiest apprehensions. It was nearly five o'clock before Mr Clare saw his boat drawing near. At the same moment he heard a scampering through the short, dry grass behind him, and the wheezing of some animal breathing thick and quick. Turning, he saw, greatly to his surprise, Ugly coming towards him as fast as he could run. Poor little Ugly was dripping with water, and completely blown and tired out--so tired that, when he had reached Mr Clare's feet, he could only lie down there and pant. Mr Clare knew there was some important reason for Ugly's appearing in that manner, and though he did not suspect the exact state of the case, yet he lifted him in his arms and got on board the boat, which had now hauled in close to the rocks.

"Which way will're go, sir?" asked the grey, gruff boatman.

"Keep down south of the cape, near in shore. Clump says they went west," answered Mr Clare.

Poor Ugly had somewhat recovered by being wrapped up in Mr Clare's warm coat, and when he had put his nose into a pail of water that was on board, he kept it there until the bucket was empty, much to the surprise of both Mr Clare and Phil Grayson, the old boatman. Further strengthened and refreshed by something to eat, Ugly jumped up on the bow to see where they were going.

He showed evident signs of disapprobation when he saw the boat steering west; running to the stern, he there stretched his nose out to the east, and barked furiously. Mr Clare, thinking from the negroes' assertions that he must be on the right track, could not understand Ugly's uneasiness. How he had reached the cape, although it was evident he had been in the water somewhere, Mr Clare did not know, nor could he guess, of course, whence he had come. He only hoped that Ugly had left us in safety, and had come in some way to get assistance. It was nearly dark, and the wind had gone down with the sun. Soon the boat lay becalmed. Ugly showed an unmistakable disposition to jump overboard, which, however, was partly quieted when he saw Mr Clare and old Phil use the oars; but when they persevered on the westerly course, Ugly, with an angry bark, sprang overboard and swam in an opposite direction. That movement proved to Mr Clare that they were going wrong, so the boat was turned and pulled in Ugly's wake until he was overhauled and taken on board. He shook himself, wagged his tail frantically, and kissed the hands of both Phil and Mr Clare. It was but slow progress with the oars against the ebb-tide. In about an hour, however, the first whiffs of the night-breeze came to fill the sails, and the oars were put in. They had rounded the cape, and old Phil asked again--

"Whar ne-e-ow, Capting--in shore, you think, or straight ahead?"

"Near the shore, I should think, just br--" but Mr Clare's reply was interrupted by Ugly's barking.

Skipper Phil put the boat's head to the north-east, to get nearer in shore as Mr Clare had said, and--splash! Ugly was overboard again and making for the east.

"You see, Phil," said Mr Clare, "you must get sailing-orders from Ugly, not me; and, Phil, I begin to be much encouraged by that dog's actions. He does not hesitate, but seems to have something important to do, and to feel confidence in his ability to do it."

"That's so, Capting," answered Phil, as, having got the boat about, he belayed the sheets and put the other hand to the helm; "he's a clever animal, he is. It seems to me that ar dog understands talk like a Christian. Did you take notice h-e-ow he was overboard as quick as you spoke, afore I started a shut? But whar are we going?--that's what I want to know."

"Phil," interrupted Mr Clare, "what light is that flaring up away ahead there on your lee bow?"

"By God, I see! the sails hid that--they did," Phil grumbled, and bent down to see beneath the sails. He chuckled some time before he answered, and his chuckle grew to a laugh. "Ha! ha! ha!--that ar light is on Boatswain's Reef, just as sure as my name is Phil Grayson. Mr Clare--hurrah!--your boys are safe."

Ugly, who had been lifted on board before that, joined his rejoicing bark to the skipper's merriment, and from the reef came a distant hallooing.

The flames at the reef grew brighter and higher. The sparks flashed and flew up to the dark sky. The shouting increased to yells. The rescuers on the schooner answered; and as for Ugly, the hero of our deliverance, he was almost frantic with delight.

The first words that were distinguishable from the reef were--

"Is that you, Mr Clare? Have you any water on board?"

"Yes!" was responded.

"Oh! do hurry, then--we can't stand this any longer!" cried out Harry.

In two hours more as happy a boatload as ever floated was springing before a fresh breeze toward the cape. Long before we touched shore our glad halloos had reached the old house, and lifted a heavy weight from the hearts of Clump and Juno.

They met us on the rocks, and each one of us had to undergo an embrace from their sable excellencies, ay, excellencies indeed, in devotion and uprightness such as this world seldom sees surpassed. Even Captain Mugford did not escape the ardour of the welcome; and whilst they hugged us the dear old negroes were crying like children, from joy.

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