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The Arctic Prison

The Arctic Prison image
Parent Issue
Day
26
Month
February
Year
1864
Copyright
Public Domain
OCR Text

The ship swung heavily to and fro - the long yards creaking and shiverio iipon the masts. The wind whistled with a shrill, weird sound among theshrouds; and the shrouds bent inwards as though unseen bands of heavy footed men were ascending thein. It was a duik night, yet not so dark but that we could see Lhe lofty icebergs by which we were surrounded, loorning np lilse spectres through the gloom. We were tossir.g about pn the waters oí lhe Arctic Ocean, and, "subject to a heavy sea and gale of wind, pur position was a dangerous one. We had already begnn to prepare rafts, and to botst our chests on deck, expecting every moment that the ship would be stpvo by the ice. - Heavy maases were continually cruahing against the bovfs, and thunderipg under the counter, cáusing the vessal to shake and quiver from etam to stern, as though every timber was about to give way. At times the concussion would bo ro violent that all hands would be thrown ofi their feet, and tumble on top of each other, in a rnauqer that vas far from agreeable. Sudden'y a -white face with wild glaring eyes and quivering lipb appeared aniong us. It was that of the captain's wife. She had her band upon her husband's arm, as she stood near the bow, " liilian ! Lilian !" she gasped, "vvhere is our Lilian V' " Lilian ? Good heavens ! wife, what do you mean ? I left her with you in the cabin !" " She is not there now - I have looked in all the rooms. Oh, God ! my phild !" and the mother wrung her hands in anguish, vvhile her white face grew still whiter. " Wife ! wife 1" exclaimed the captain half sternly, " Lilian was with you when I left the cabin ; surely you djd not let her leave your side at such a time as thig 1" " íes, yes 1" cried hls wife, in accents :f the most piercing grief. " It is all :ny fault - she is lost ! My Htfje Lilian s lost ! and 1 am the cause !" " For God's sake cxphtin yourselt," gasped the captain. " I left her down in the cabin," faltered the agouized mother, " and came Dn deck, as I wanted to speak to you. l thought you wore in the waist, so I groped my wav there and tried to tiud you. Not seeing you, I started, on my return, foaring to leave Lilian so long alone. But when I roached the cabin agaio, she was not there - gone ! gone ! God only knows where!" " Lilian ! Lilian ! has any one seen Lilian ?" Fore and aft. from every lip, in startling accents, the cry went up amid the storm ! But the loud wind only answered with a deeper howl. The long yards creaked upon their rusty rivets. The heavy icebergs groaned and shool; as they had done before. The silvery accents of litlja Lijian's yoice cama not to our ears, and we feit as if itwas hushed forever. But the wailing toces of the poor mother, and the despairing sho-tg of t'ne iather - both oí whom could not bear to give up the child - continued long after our owu voices had cbascd. Thsn we - rough hearted, childless mon tho'ugh we were - torgetting our own danger, gafhered about the afflicted pair, and tried to console them. I don't think we suceeedod very we}], for our voices trembled a a great deal ; and the tc;rs would come to oor eyes, though we kept vviping thern away with the cuffs of our heavy jaokets. No one of us but had loved little Lilian almost as well as the parsnta thetnselves. She was but seven years of age ; yet th,e eaj'nost glanco of her large blue eyes would go straight to our hearts, and make us feel kind and good towards each other. To uiter an oath wben she was near would have seemed like sacrilege. Like a lily, she had bloomed in our midst, ehedding a heavenly influence atout us. Strong - ah ! etrong in the power oi her iunoaent childhüöd over a tsiulul heart ! ' ■ ■ It was while we thus stood, clustered near tho binnaolo, oifering what little consohition we could to the captain and his wife, that one of the ship's crew - an o.'d tar, by the carne of Bil! er - came towards us, holding a few ittle torn shreds of cloth ft búj fc&nd. " I found theso ere hanging on a hook on the outside oí the bulwark," said Bill in a mournful voice. " It is a part of Liliao's dress !" shriehed, the captain's voice. The captain buriod his face in his hands iin a groan, and we looked at one and another in sad silence. There could no longer be any doubt about the rnatter. Lilian had lallen ovorboard. The few remaiüing hours of the night wore away. The gale subsided. Miraculously, as it seerned to us, the ship had escaped being stove ; and aa the sea had gone down with the gale, there was no more danger. Overwhelmed with grief, vet feelir.g it his duty to try and console hia wife, the captain descended nto the cabin, leaving the management of the sbip's affairs in the hands of the mate. Presently the steward came on deck. He wished to know if any of the hands had seen Blusco that naorniog. This was tho name of a large JMewfoundland dog, which had been a great favorite with Lilian, and she had taken especial delight in feeding him, The dog had grown exceedingly fond of his young mistress, and would show his attacbment in many ways peculiar to his kind. Now tbat their darling was lost, the captain had ordered the steward to bring Blusoo to their) - thinking tbat the sight of him might aflord a melancholy consolation to Lis wife. HavingJ searched the cabin through without beiag ab!e to fiad the. animal, the steward carne od deck, as we have said, to inqaire if he had been noticed by any of the hands. Ye all answered in the negativo. None of us had secn the dog hince the previous night. Theroupon the ship was ransacked fore and aft, for the missing animal; and although we searched in every nook and corner, he was not to be found. While we were all wondering what had become of him, the man at the mast-head sung out that there were whales astern. The mate instantly ordered the boats to be lowered, and before we had scarcely time to divest ourselves of the idea that we were looking for the dog, were paddling swifty in the wake of a great bovv-aheadThe whale made straight for a field of ice in the distance, and went dowu when he had got in the midst of it. - Ve follovved bim almost to the spot wher'e he had disappeared, and then lay moticnjega and silent, waiting for the next rising. Large masseg al' ice, flash ng gloriously in the early rays of the sun aod moulded ino a Uiousand üirrerent shapes, surrounded our little craft on every hand, floating by with mnjestic slowness, and now and then crashing against each other. with a forcé that caused sorne of thein to be rent asunder. Strange, beautiful monuments are these fasliioned by the hand oí nature - monuments oí the frozen marines that sleep below. " There it goes again," said oíd Bill Butler, in a whisper. " What ?" asked the mate. " That barking noise," replied Bill ; "I've been hearing it ever since we left the ship, sir." "The rnafa lpaned ipon hia stgeringoar ar,d ljstened. " It is a seal," he said. ". Beg your pardon, sir," rcpüed Bill: :'but I never heará a seal bak !ike that." " Good heavens I" exdaimed a Portuguese, so loud that the mate was obliged to rap him on the head with his knuckles. "Good heavens !" he added, ii) a lower tone, " mg think that pne dog." " Good heavens, Mikell, me think !e same," remarked another Portugese - a little fat fellow by the name of Pat Plunket. " Pckee (suppose it) doge, a' miki !" (good, said a Kanaka.) " It doea sound mighty like a dog," said the mate, as the barking became more distinot. " Eerhaps it is Blusco op the ica cake.'i Turning the baat rqund with his steering oar, q.ntil her bov.'a pointed in the direetion of the noise, the mate pow ordered us to p&ddle ahead. We obeyed, and the t.oat slot, forward with an easy speed. The barking sounded nearer every moment, until at last we were convineed, by its peculiarity, that it erainated from no other throat than that pi Blusco. " But where was he?" This was the question that now rose to our lips. We could hear him plainly, but could see nothing of him. By the sound of his bark, we should have judged that he stood on the suramit of 'an iceberg we were then approaching, and was but a few fathoms distant.- - Yet, notwithstanding this, no Bluseo was there visible. What uould it mean? Had Borne mermaid cbarmed the dog into fhvisibility ? We continued to approach. The rking became much louder, and was now full of frantic joy. The iceberg - a rather large one - trombled as though under the influenoa of an epileptic fit. Still there was no BIbsco insighí. Our boat strack against the iceberg. A pair of brigbt eyes gleamsd at ua thröugh a cliink in the crystal wtil- - they were the eyes of Bluseo! The mystery was esplained. This monuraent cí' ice was hollow, forming a rude r.ttlc chamber, io which the dog was 8nugly eusconsed. " Mv God ! oh, heaven be praised ! jüst look Ibere," exclaimod the mate, to Bill, and rnotioning him to looi: through the crevice, irom which he had jus't drawn his own.eyes. Bill did as requested, and beheld a s'ght which filled him with as rauch joy as it did amazemeot. Keclining in one corner of the ice-bound apartmeot - her !oDg golden hair falling upon ber pa!e face, and the silícea lashes veiling her b,e.autiful eyea, he saw the unnaistaLjab]$ figure of Li lian, With a few blows of our hatches wo soon suoceeded in effecting an opening in the ice-wall. The little ii'l and Blusco were taken out and placed in the boat. We laid back upon ouroEirs with all tho strength we possessed, while the mate, drawing a brandy-flask from his pocket, pourcd a few drops of liquor down Lilian's throat. By the iaint pulsations of her heart he knew that the currents of life were nol yet frozen - that she had only sunk into that cold, stupid kind of a doze from which there is no awakening. The ship was reachod at last. The mate ascended to the deck, and took the iusensible burden that Bill passed up to him. " Captain I" he exclaimed, as he descended the companion-way, " I have broughtyou.no whule, but aomoüiing that I think will be still more acceptable !" The captain and hia wife both caught sight of their child at one and the same moment. " My child ! my Lilian !" ecreamed the molher, rushing forward to clasp her in her arma. Then noticing her pale face and drooping head, she sank into a seat, overeóme by hor fceüngs, and stretehed forth her arms, faintiug ly murinuring : " Dead ! dead ! - she is dead ! Giva üi)3 ir.y poor little dead girl !" "Ño- no ! she is not dead !" replied the mato, "If the proper measures oan bo taken shs oan bo restored in a few moments." So saying, he luid her upon tho lied, and assisted tho ansio us father in his efforts to restore the cirou: lation of her blood, In a few moments thoy had the satisfaction of seeing Lilian open her blue eyes, and of hearing her spiaak the word " molher," The nexl instant she was pressed to the latter's bosom, and covered with tears and kisses. This probably helped nearly as muoh as the other operations had done to restore the ciroulation of blood, for there was now a deep carnation tiat upon hor cheek and lip. The excitement having in some degree subsided, explanation followed. Lilian stated tbat after her mother Lad left her to go on deck, she thought she would just go up to get a li tilo peop over the rail at the icebergs. - This idea had np soone.r entered her bead than she carried it into execution, In leaning too far over the rail, however - the ahip happaned lp. give a lurch at the samo time - she lost her balance and was precipitated into tho wators, Qn rising to the surface she feit heraeíf seized by the neck of the dress, and the nest mciaent was dragged safely on to a large pieee of ice. - Then she perceived that her deliverer was iho noble Blusco. She feit terribly frightened, and plung' olqso to tho dog. She remembered they were half shut in by three walls of ica, whish partly prevonted the waves from cjashiog in upon them. Suddenly the cake ijpon which they wure standing carne in contact with anpther ene which towered up likp 'a Iofty column. Whpn the coüoussioa tpqk place, the Iofty mass tottered over, and feil upon three walls of ice, by which the little girl and her dog were encompassed, in siieh a curious manner aa to completely cloae them up as though they were n prison. In this position ehe remained a long time, prayitig and husging the dog by turns, until at last feeling cold and benumbed, she began to grow drowsy, and feil into a doze. Had her rescue from th8 situation been delayed a few minutos longer, we would never have in all probabiüty succeeded in bringiug her to Jife. As it was, a l'ong time elapsed ere the natural circulatioa could be restored to one of her ai na. Many were-fhe priseg lav9hed pn Blusco for his noble conduot, and although he shakes Jiis heac apd (iurps up his broad riQSfj when' any peraon rfpeaks to him about it, as mueh as to say " pshaw, it's nothing " - still we beieve that in his heait he is proud oí his exploit. L3" The cultivation of coffee and tea promises to beeorne an important business ia California. One nursery in Sacramento has five thousand eoffee planta on trial, and it is believed that there will be no difficulty in bringing up the plant to the standard of haraiuess to wcather the mid-winter of that climate. Near the Mission Dolores several thousand teaplauts have been raised during the last year. The tea plant is grown in China and Japan very extensiveiy in latitudes corrcspouding to all California, and San Francisco joúrnais think there can be liftle doubt tint it will be cultivated hereafter for household purpones at least on cvery farm in that SuUs. J5'S" man w'10ra Dr. Johnson once reproved fcr following a useless and demoralizinjr èuViness, said, in excuse, "You know thatl nrust live." The brave old hater of everything mean and hatuful, coolly replied, " I do not seo the loast uecessity of that." " A letter from Chattanooga says, that tlio colored troops organized in the South-west by Adjutant Gen. Thomas, will perform an important part in the spring campaign in that región, 75,000 colored men will be ready for service in the Southwest by May lst. t" The special election to amond the Constituían of New York so as to extend the eleptive franchise to ïüldiors in the field v.'ill take place on the scoond Tuesday 'm March. Innoceuco is not suspicious, but gllt.ja always ready to turn informer.

Article

Subjects
Old News
Michigan Argus