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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Crater: Or, Vulcan's Peak: A Tale Of The Pacific - Chapter 11
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The Crater: Or, Vulcan's Peak: A Tale Of The Pacific - Chapter 11 Post by :vaima Category :Long Stories Author :James Fenimore Cooper Date :May 2012 Read :2909

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The Crater: Or, Vulcan's Peak: A Tale Of The Pacific - Chapter 11

Chapter XI

"The globe around earth's hollow surface shakes,
And is the ceiling of her sleeping sons:
O'er devastation we blind revels keep;
While buried towns support the dancer's heel."

Young.


It was again mid-summer ere Mark Woolston had his boat ready for launching. He had taken things leisurely, and completed his work in all its parts, before he thought of putting the craft into the water. Afraid of worms, he used some of the old copper on this boat, too; and he painted her, inside and out, not only with fidelity, but with taste. Although there was no one but Kitty to talk to, he did not forget to paint the name which he had given to his new vessel, in her stern-sheets, where he could always see it. She was called the "Bridget Yardley;" and, notwithstanding the unfavourable circumstances in which she had been put together, Mark thought she did no discredit to her beautiful namesake, when completed. When he had everything finished, even to mast and sails, of the last of which he fitted her with mainsail and jib, the young man set about his preparations for getting his vessel afloat.

There was no process by which one man could move a boat of the size of the Bridget, while out of its proper element, but to launch it by means of regular ways. With a view to this contingency, the keel had been laid between the ways of the Neshamony, which were now all ready to be used. Of course it was no great job to make a cradle for a boat, and our boat-builder had 'wedged up,' and got the keel of his craft off the 'blocks,' within eight-and-forty hours after he had begun upon that part of his task. It only remained to knock away the spur-shores and start the boat. Until that instant, Mark had pursued his work on the Bridget as mechanically and steadily as if hired by the day When, however, he perceived that he was so near his goal, a flood of sensations came over the young man, and his limbs trembled to a degree that compelled him to be seated. Who could tell the consequences to which that boat might lead? Who knew but the 'Bridget' might prove the means of carrying him to his own Bridget, and restoring him to civilized life? At that instant, if appeared to Mark as if his existence depended on the launching of his boat, and he was fearful some unforeseen accident might prevent it. He was obliged to wait several minutes in order to recover his self-possession.

At length Mark succeeded in subduing this feeling, and he resumed his work with most of his former self-command. Everything being ready, he knocked away the spur-shores, and, finding the boat did not start, he gave it a blow with a mawl. This set the mass in motion, and the little craft slid down the ways without any interruption, until it became water-born, when it shot out from the Reef like a duck. Mark was delighted with his new vessel, now that it was fairly afloat, and saw that it sat on an even keel, according to his best hopes. Of course he had not neglected to secure it with a line, by which he hauled it in towards the rock, securing it in a natural basin which was just large enough for such a purpose. So great, indeed, were his apprehensions of losing his boat, which now seemed so precious to him, that he had worked some ringbolts out of the ship and let them into the rock, where he had secured them by means of melted lead, in order to make fast to.

The Bridget was not more than a fourth of the size of the Neshamony, though rather more than half as long. Nevertheless, she was a good boat; and Mark, knowing that he must depend on sails principally to move her, had built a short deck forward to prevent the seas from breaking aboard her, as well as to give him a place in which he might stow away various articles, under cover from the rain. Her ballast was breakers, filled with fresh water, of which there still remained several in the ship. All these, as well as her masts, sails, oars, &c., were in her when she was launched; and that important event having taken place early in the morning, Mark could not restrain his impatience for a cruise, but determined to go out on the reef at once, further than he had ever yet ventured in the dingui, in order to explore the seas around him. Accordingly, he put some food on board, loosened his fasts, and made sail.

The instant the boat moved ahead, and began to obey her helm, Mark felt as if he had found a new companion. Hitherto Kitty had, in a measure, filled this place; but a boat had been the young man's delight on the Delaware, in his boyhood, and he had not tacked his present craft more than two or three times, before he caught himself talking to it, and commending it, as he would a human being. As the wind usually blew in the same direction, and generally a good stiff breeze, Mark beat up between the Reef and Guano Island, working round the weather end of the former, until he came out at the anchorage of the Rancocus. After beating about in that basin a little while, as if merely to show off the Bridget to the ship, Mark put the former close by the wind, and stood off in the channel by which he and Bob had brought the latter into her present berth.

It was easy enough to avoid all such breakers as would be dangerous to a boat, by simply keeping out of white water; but the Bridget could pass over most of the reefs with impunity, on account of the depth of the sea on them. Mark beat up, on short tacks, therefore, until he found the two buoys between which he had brought the ship, and passing to windward of them, he stood off in the direction where he expected to find the reef over which the Rancocus had beaten. He was not long in making this discovery. There still floated the buoy of the bower, watching as faithfully as the seaman on his look-out! Mark ran the boat up to this well-tried sentinel, and caught the lanyard, holding on by it, after lowering his sails.

The boat was now moored by the buoy-rope of the ship's anchor, and it occurred to our young man that a certain use might be made of this melancholy memorial of the calamity that had befallen the Rancocus. The anchor lay quite near a reef, on it indeed in one sense; and it was in such places that fish most abounded. Fishing-tackle was in the boat, and Mark let down a line. His success was prodigious. The fish were hauled in almost as fast as he could bait and lower his hook, and what was more they proved to be larger and finer than those taken at the old fishing-grounds. By the experience of the half hour he passed at the spot, Mark felt certain that he could fill his boat there in a day's fishing. After hauling in some twenty or thirty, however, he cast off from the lanyard, hoisted his sails, and crossed the reef, still working to windward.

It was Mark's wish to learn something of the nature and extent of the shoals in this direction. With this object in view, he continued beating up, sometimes passing boldly through shallow water, at others going about to avoid that which he thought might be dangerous, until he believed himself to be about ten miles to windward of the island. The ship's masts were his beacon, for the crater had sunk below the horizon, or if visible at all, it was only at intervals, as the boat was lifted on a swell, when it appeared a low hummock, nearly awash. It was with difficulty that the naked spars could be seen at that distance; nor could they be, except at moments, and that because the compass told the young man exactly where to look for them.

As for the appearance of the reefs, no naked rock was anywhere to be seen in this direction, though there were abundant evidences of the existence of shoals. As well as he could judge, Mark was of opinion that these shoals extended at least twenty miles in this direction, he having turned up fully five leagues without getting clear of them. At that distance from his solitary home, and out of sight of everything like land, did the young man eat his frugal, but good and nourishing dinner, with his jib-sheet to windward and the boat hove-to. The freshness of the breeze had induced him to reef, and under that short sail, he found the Bridget everything he could wish. It was now about the middle of the afternoon, and Mark thought it prudent to turn out his reef, and run down for the crater. In half an hour he caught a sight of the spars of the ship; and ten minutes later, the Summit appeared above the horizon.

It had been the intention of our young sailor to stay out all night, had the weather been promising. His wish was to ascertain how he might manage the boat, single-handed, while he slept, and also to learn the extent of the shoals. As the extraordinary fertility of the crater superseded the necessity of his labouring much to keep himself supplied with food, he had formed a plan of cruising off the shoals, for days at a time, in the hope of falling in with something that was passing, and which might carry him back to the haunts of men. No vessel would or could come in sight of the crater, so long as the existence of the reefs was known; but the course steered by the Rancocus was a proof that ships did occasionally pass in that quarter of the Pacific. Mark had indulged in no visionary hopes on this subject, for he knew he might keep in the offing a twelvemonth and see nothing; but an additional twenty-four hours might realize all his hopes.

The weather, however on this his first experiment, did not encourage him to remain out the whole night. On the contrary, by the time the crater was in sight, Mark thought he had not seen a more portentous-looking sky since he had been on the Reef. There was a fiery redness in the atmosphere that alarmed him, and he would have rejoiced to be at home, in order to secure his stock within the crater. From the appearances, he anticipated another tempest with its flood. It is true, it was not the season when the last occurred, but the climate might admit of these changes. The difference between summer and winter was very trifling on that reef, and a hurricane, or a gale, was as likely to occur in the one as in the other.

Just as the Bridget was passing the two buoys by which the ship-channel had been marked, her sail flapped. This was a bad omen, for it betokened a shift of wind, which rarely happened, unless it might be from six months to six months, without being the precursor of some sort of a storm. Mark was still two miles from the Reef, and the little wind there was soon came ahead. Luckily, it was smooth water, and very little air sufficed to force that light craft ahead, while there was usually a current setting from that point towards the crater. The birds, moreover, seemed uneasy, the air being filled with them, thousands flying over the boat, around which they wheeled, screaming and apparently terrified. At first Mark ascribed this unusual behaviour of his feathered neighbours to the circumstance of their now seeing a boat for the commencement of such an acquaintance; but, recollecting how often he had passed their haunts, in the dingui, when they would hardly get out of the way, he soon felt certain there must be another reason for this singular conduct.

The sun went down in a bank of lurid fire, and the Bridget was still a mile from the ship. A new apprehension now came over our hermit. Should a tempest bring the wind violently from the westward, as was very likely to be the case under actual circumstances, he might be driven out to sea, and, did the little craft resist the waves, forced so far off as to make him lose the Reef altogether. Then it was that Mark deeply felt how much had been left him, by casting his lot on that beautiful and luxuriant crater, instead of reducing him to those dregs of misery which so many shipwrecked mariners are compelled to swallow! How much, or how many of the blessings that he enjoyed on the Reef, would he not have been willing to part with, that evening, in order to secure a safe arrival at the side of the Rancocus! By the utmost care to profit by every puff of air, and by handling the boat with the greatest skill, this happy result was obtained, however, without any sacrifice.

About nine o'clock, and not sooner, the boat was well secured, and Mark went into his cabin. Here he knelt and returned thanks to God, for his safe return to a place that was getting to be as precious to him as the love of life could render it. After this, tired with his day's work, the young man got into his berth and endeavoured to sleep.

The fatigue of the day, notwithstanding the invigorating freshness of the breeze, acted as an anodyne, and our young man soon forgot his adventures and his boat, in profound slumbers. It was many hours ere Mark awoke, and when he did, it was with a sense of suffocation. At first he thought the ship had taken fire, a lurid light gleaming in at the open door of the cabin, and he sprang to his feet in recollection of the danger he ran from the magazine, as well as from being burned. But no cracking of flames reaching his ears, he dressed hastily and went out on the poop. He had just reached this deck, when he felt the whole ship tremble from her truck to her keel, and a rushing of water was heard on all sides of him, as if a flood were coming. Hissing sounds were heard, and streams of fire, and gleams of lurid light were seen in the air. It was a terrible moment, and one that might well induce any man to imagine that time was drawing to its close.

Mark Woolston now comprehended his situation, notwithstanding the intense darkness which prevailed, except in those brief intervals of lurid light. He had felt the shock of an earthquake, and the volcano had suddenly become active. Smoke and ashes certainly filled the air, and our poor hermit instinctively looked towards his crater, already so verdant and lively, in the expectation of seeing it vomit flames. Everything there was tranquil; the danger, if danger there was, was assuredly more remote. But the murky vapour which rendered breathing exceedingly difficult, also obstructed the view, and prevented his seeing where the explosion really was. For a brief space our young man fancied he must certainly be suffocated; but a shift of wind came, and blew away the oppressive vapour, clearing the atmosphere of its sulphurous and most offensive gases and odours. Never did feverish tongue enjoy the cooling and healthful draught, more than Mark rejoiced in this change. The wind had got back to its old quarter, and the air he respired soon became pure and refreshing. Had the impure atmosphere lasted ten minutes longer, Mark felt persuaded he could not have breathed it with any safety.

The light was now most impatiently expected by our young man. The minutes seemed to drag; but, at length, the usual signs of returning day became apparent to him, and he got on the bowsprit of the ship, as if to meet it in its approach. There he stood looking to the eastward, eager to have ray after ray shoot into the firmament, when he was suddenly struck with a change in that quarter of the ocean, which at once proclaimed the power of the effort which the earth had made in its subterranean throes. Naked rocks appeared in places where Mark was certain water in abundance had existed a few hours before. The sea-wall, directly ahead of the ship, and which never showed itself above the surface more than two or three inches, in any part of it, and that only at exceedingly neap tides, was now not only bare for a long distance, but parts rose ten and fifteen feet above the surrounding sea. This proved, at once, that the earthquake had thrust upward a vast surface of the reef, completely altering the whole appearance of the shoal! In a word, nature had made another effort, and islands had been created, as it might be in the twinkling of an eye.

Mark was no sooner assured of this stupendous fact, than he hurried on to the poop, in order to ascertain what changes had occurred in and about the crater. It had been pushed upward, in common with all the rocks for miles on every side of it, though without disturbing its surface! By the computation of our young man, the Reef, which previously lay about six feet above the level of the ocean, was now fully twenty, so many cubits having been, by one single but mighty effort of nature, added to its stature. The planks which led from the stern of the vessel to the shore, and which had formed a descent, were now nearly level, so much water having left the basin as to produce this change. Still the ship floated, enough remaining to keep her keel clear of the bottom.

Impatient to learn all, Mark ran ashore, for by this time it was broad daylight, and hastened into the crater, with an intention to ascend at once to the Summit. As he passed along, he could detect no change whatever on the surface of the Reef; everything lying just as it had been left, and the pigs and poultry were at their usual business of providing for their own wants. Ashes, however, were strewn over the rocks to a depth that left his footprints as distinct as they could have been made in a light snow. Within the crater the same appearances were observed, fully an inch of ashes covering its verdant pastures and the whole garden. This gave Mark very little concern, for he knew that the first rain would wash this drab-looking mantle into the earth, where it would answer all the purposes of a rich dressing of manure.

On reaching the Summit, our young man was enabled to form a better opinion of the vast changes which had been wrought around him, by this sudden elevation of the earth's crust. Everywhere sea seemed to be converted into land, or, at least, into rock. All the white water had disappeared, and in its place arose islands of rock, or mud, or sand. A good deal of the last was to be seen, and some quite near the Reef, as we shall still continue to call the island of the crater. Island, however, it could now hardly be termed. It is true that ribands of water approached it on all sides, resembling creeks, and rivers and small sounds; but, as Mark stood there on the Summit, it seemed to him that it was now possible to walk for leagues, in every direction, commencing at the crater and following the lines of reefs, and rocks, and sands, that had been laid bare by the late upheaving. The extent of this change gave him confidence in its permanency, and the young man had hopes that what had thus been produced by the Providence of God would be permitted to remain, to answer his own benevolent purposes. It certainly made an immense difference in his own situation. The boat could still be used, but it was now possible for him to ramble for hours, if not for days, along the necks, and banks, and hummocks, and swales that had been formed, and that with a dry foot. His limits were so much enlarged as to offer something like a new world to his enterprise and curiosity.

The crater, nevertheless, was apparently about the centre of this new creation. To the south, it is true, the eye could not penetrate more than two or three leagues. A vast, dun-looking cloud, still covered the sea in that direction, veiling its surface far and wide, and mingling with the vapours of the upper atmosphere. Somewhere within this cloud, how far or how near from him he knew not, Mark made no doubt a new outlet to the pent forces of the inner earth was to be found, forming another and an active crater for the exit of the fires beneath. Geology was a science that had not made its present progress in the day of Mark Woolston, but his education had been too good to leave him totally without a theory for what had happened. He supposed that the internal fires had produced so much gas, just beneath this spot, as to open crevices at the bottom of the ocean, through which water had flowed in sufficient quantities to create a vast body of steam, which steam had been the immediate agent of lifting so much of the rock and land, and of causing the earthquake. At the same time, the internal fires had acted in concert; and following an opening, they had got so near the surface as to force a chimney for their own exit, in the form of this new crater, of the existence of which, from all the signs to the southward, Mark did not entertain the smallest doubt.

This theory may have been true, in whole or in part, or it may have been altogether erroneous. Such speculations seldom turn out to be minutely accurate. So many unknown causes exist in so many unexpected forms, as to render precise estimates of their effects, in cases of physical phenomena, almost as uncertain as those which follow similar attempts at any analysis of human motives and human conduct. The man who has been much the subject of the conjectures and opinions of his fellow-creatures, in this way, must have many occasions to wonder, and some to smile, when he sees how completely those around him misjudge his wishes and impulses. Although formed of the same substance, influenced by the same selfishness, and governed by the same passions, in nothing do men oftener err than in this portion of the exercise of their intellects. The errors arise from one man's rigidly judging his fellow by himself, and that which he would do he fancies others would do also. This rule would be pretty safe, could we always penetrate into the wants and longings of others, which quite as often fail to correspond closely with our own, as do their characters, fortunes, and hopes.

At first sight, Mark had a good deal of difficulty in understanding the predominant nature of the very many bodies of water that were to be seen on every side of him. On the whole, there still remained almost as much of one element as of the other, in the view; which of itself, however, was a vast change from what had previously been the condition of the shoals. There were large bodies of water, little lakes in extent, which it was obvious enough must disappear under the process of evaporation, no communication existing between them and the open ocean. But, on the other hand, many of these sheets were sounds, or arms of the sea, that must always continue, since they might be traced, far as eye could reach, towards the mighty Pacific. Such, Mark was induced to believe, was the fact with the belt of water that still surrounded, or nearly surrounded the Reef; for, placed where he was, the young man was unable to ascertain whether the latter had, or had not, at a particular point, any land communication with an extensive range of naked rock, sand, mud, and deposit, that stretched away to the westward, for leagues. In obvious connection with this broad reach of what might be termed bare ground, were Guano and Loam Islands; neither of which was an island any longer, except as it was a part of the whole formation around it. Nevertheless, our young man was not sorry to see that the channel around the Reef still washed the bases of both those important places of deposit, leaving it in his power to transport their valuable manures by means of the raft, or boat.

The situation of the ship next became the matter of Mark's most curious and interested investigation. She was clearly afloat, and the basin in which she rode had a communication on each side, of it, with the sound, or inlet, that still encircled the Reef. Descending to the shore, our young mariner got into the dingui, and pulled out round the vessel, to make a more minute examination. So very limpid was the water of that sea, it was easy enough to discern a bright object on the bottom, at a depth of several fathoms. There were no streams in that part of the world to pour their deposits into the ocean, and air itself is scarce more transparent than the pure water of the ocean, when unpolluted with any foreign substances. All it wants is light, to enable the eye to reach into it's mysteries for a long way. Mark could very distinctly perceive the sand beneath the Rancocus' keel, and saw that the ship still floated two or three feet clear of the bottom. It was near high water, however; and there being usually a tide of about twenty inches, it was plain enough that, on certain winds, the good old craft would come in pretty close contact with the bottom. All expectation of ever getting the vessel out of the basin must now be certainly abandoned, since she lay in a sort of cavity, where the water was six or eight feet deeper than it was within a hundred yards on each side of her.

Having ascertained these facts, Mark provided himself with a fowling-piece, provisions, &c., and set out to explore his newly acquired territories on foot. His steps were first directed to the point where it appeared to the eye, that the vast range of dry land to the westward, extending both north and south, had become connected with the Reef. If such connection existed at all, it was by two very narrow necks of rock, of equal height, both of which had come up out of the water under the late action, which action had considerably altered and extended the shores of Crater Island. Sand appeared in various places along these shores, now; whereas, previously to the earthquake, they had everywhere been nearly perpendicular rocks.

Mark was walking, with an impatient step, towards the neck just mentioned, and which was at no great distance from the ship-yard, when his eye was attracted towards a sandy beach of several acres in extent, that spread itself along the margin of the rocks, as clear from every impurity as it was a few hours before, when it had been raised from out of the bosom of the ocean. To him, it appeared that water was trickling through this sand, coming from beneath the lava of the Reef. At first, he supposed it was merely the remains of some small portion of the ocean that had penetrated to a cavity within, and which was now trickling back through the crevices of the rocks, to find its level, under the great law of nature. But it looked so pleasant to see once more water of any sort coming upwards from the earth, that the young man jumped down upon the sands, and hastened to the spot for further inquiry. Scooping up a little of the water in the hollow of his hand, he found it sweet, soft, and deliciously cool. Here was a discovery, indeed! The physical comfort for which he most pined was thus presented to him, as by a direct gift from heaven; and no miser who had found a hoard of hidden gold, could have felt so great pleasure, or a tenth part of the gratitude, of our young hermit, if hermit we may call one who did not voluntarily seek his seclusion from the world, and who worshipped God less as a penance than from love and adoration.

Before quitting this new-found treasure, Mark opened a cavity in the sand to receive the water, placing stone around it to make a convenient and clean little basin. In ten minutes this place was filled with water almost as limpid as air, and every way as delicious as the palate of man could require. The young man could scarce tear himself away from the spot, but fearful of drinking too much he did so, after a time. Before quitting the spring, however, he placed a stone of some size at a gap in the rock, a precaution that completely prevented the hogs, should they stroll that way, from descending to the beach and defiling the limpid basin. As soon as he had leisure, Mark resolved to sink a barrel in the sand, and to build a fence around it; after which the stock might descend and drink at a pool he should form below, at pleasure.

Mark proceeded. On reaching the narrowest part of the 'Neck,' he found that the rocks did not meet, but the Reef still remained an island. The channel that separated the two points of rock was only about twenty feet wide, however, though it was of fully twice that depth. The young man found it necessary to go back to the ship-yard (no great distance, by the way), and to bring a plank with which to make a bridge. This done, he passed on to the newly emerged territory. As might have been expected, the rocks were found tolerably well furnished with fish, which had got caught in pools and crevices when the water flowed into the sea; and what was of still more importance, another and a much larger spring of fresh water was found quite near the bridge, gushing through a deposit of sand of some fifteen or twenty acres in extent. The water of this spring had run down into a cavity, where it had already formed a little lake of some two acres in surface, and whence it was already running into the sea, by overflowing its banks. These two discoveries induced Mark to return to the Reef again, in quest of the stock. After laying another-plank at his bridge, he called every creature he had over into the new territory; for so great was the command he had obtained over even the ducks, that all came willingly at his call. As for Kitty, she was never more happy than when trotting at his side, accompanying him in his walks, like a dog.

Glad enough were the pigs, in particular, to obtain this new range. Here was everything they could want; food in thousands, sand to root on, fresh water to drink, pools to wallow in, and a range for their migratory propensities. Mark had no sooner set them at work on the sea-weed and shell-fish that abounded there, for the time being at least, than he foresaw he should have to erect a gate at his bridge, and keep the hogs here most of the time. With such a range, and the deposits of the tides alone, would have no great difficulty in making their own living. This would enable him to increase the number kept, which he had hitherto been obliged to keep down with the most rigid attention to the increase.

Mark now set out, in earnest, on his travels. He was absent from the Reef the entire day. At one time, he thought he was quite two leagues in a straight line from the ship, though he had been compelled to walk four to get there. Everywhere he found large sheets of salt water, that had been left on the rocks, in consequence of the cavities in the latter. In several instances, these little lakes were near a mile in length, having the most beautifully undulating outlines. None of them were deep, of course, though their bottoms varied. Some of these bottoms were clean rock; others contained large deposits of mud; and others, again, were of a clean, dark-coloured sand. One, and one only, had a bottom of a bright, light-coloured sand. As a matter of course, these lakes, or pools, must shortly evaporate, leaving their bottoms bare, or encrusted with salt. One thing gave the young man great satisfaction. He had kept along the margin of the channel that communicated with the water that surrounded the Reef, and, when at the greatest distance from the crater, he ascended a rock that must have had an elevation of a hundred feet above the sea. Of course most of this rock had been above water previously to the late eruption, and Mark had often seen it at a distance, though he had never ventured through the white water near so far, in the dingui. When on its apex, Mark got an extensive view of the scene around him. In the first place, he traced the channel just mentioned, quite into open water, which now appeared distinctly not many leagues further, towards the north-west. There were a great many other channels, some mere ribands of water, others narrow sounds, and many resembling broad, deep, serpenting creeks, which last was their true character, being strictly inlets from the sea. The lakes or pools, could be seen in hundreds, creating some confusion in the view; but all these must soon disappear, in that climate.

Towards the southward, however, Mark found the objects of his greatest wonder and admiration. By the time he reached the apex of the rock, the smoke in that quarter of the horizon had, in a great measure, risen from the sea; though a column of it continued to ascend towards a vast, dun-coloured cloud that overhung the place. To Mark's astonishment he had seen some dark, dense body first looming through the rising vapour. When the last was sufficiently removed, a high, ragged mountain became distinctly visible. He thought it arose at least a thousand feet above the ocean, and that it could not be less than a league in extent. This exhibition of the power of nature filled the young man's soul with adoration and reverence for the mighty Being that could set such elements at work. It did not alarm him, but rather tended to quiet his longings to quit the place; for he who lives amid such scenes feels that he is so much nearer to the arm of God than those who dwell in uniform security, as to think less of ordinary advantages than is common.

Mark knew that there must have been a dislocation of the rocks, to produce such a change as that he saw to the southward. It was well for him it occurred there at a distance, as he then thought, of ten or fifteen miles from the Reef, though in truth it was at quite fifty, instead of happening beneath him. It was possible, however, for one to have been on the top of that mountain, and to have lived through the late change, could the lungs of man have breathed the atmosphere. Not far from this mountain a column of smoke rose out of the sea, and Mark fancied that, at moments, he could discern the summit of an active crater at its base.

After gazing at these astonishing changes for a long time, our young man descended from the height and retraced his steps homeward. Kitty gladly preceded him, and some time after the sun had set, they regained the Reef. About a mile short of home, Mark passed all the hogs, snugly deposited in a bed of mud, where they had esconced themselves for the night, as one draws himself beneath his blanket.

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