The Project Gutenberg eBook of Under the Polar Star; or, The Young Explorers

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Title: Under the Polar Star; or, The Young Explorers

Author: Dwight Weldon

Release date: October 25, 2020 [eBook #63549]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Demian Katz, Craig Kirkwood, and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team at
(Images courtesy of the Digital Library@Villanova University



Transcriber’s Notes:

The Table of Contents was created by the transcriber and placed in the public domain.

Additional Transcriber’s Notes are at the end.


Chapter I. The Golden Moose.

Chapter II. Captain Stephen Morris.

Chapter III. A Daring Feat.

Chapter IV. The Adventures of a Night.

Chapter V. A Bad Predicament.

Chapter VI. The Fire.

Chapter VII. Strange Companions.

Chapter VIII. On the March.

Chapter IX. Lost.

Chapter X. In the Wilderness.

Chapter XI. Imprisoned by Wolves.

Chapter XII. Stowaways.

Chapter XIII. On the Ocean.

Chapter XIV. A Friend in Need.

Chapter XV. The Wreck.

Chapter XVI. The Wreck.

Chapter XVII. The Raft.

Chapter XVIII. On Board the Whaler.

Chapter XIX. The Breaking Ice.

Chapter XX. Cast Away in the Cold.

Chapter XXI. The Ice Hut.

Chapter XXII. On the Mainland.

Chapter XXIII. The Albatross.

Chapter XXIV. The Wrecked Ship.

Chapter XXV. A Thrilling Episode.

Chapter XXVI. The Young Explorers.

Chapter XXVII. The Snow Storm.

Chapter XXVIII. The Attack.

Chapter XXIX. Found at Last.

Chapter XXX. Captain Alan Bertram.

Chapter XXXI. A Terrible Experience.

Chapter XXXII. New Perils.

Chapter XXXIII. On the Yacht.

Chapter XXXIV. Imprisoned.

Chapter XXXV. The Rescued Castaways.

Chapter XXXVI. At Portland.

Chapter XXXVII. Will’s Escape.

Chapter XXXVIII. On the Yacht.

Chapter XXXIX. The Prisoners.

Chapter XL. Alan’s Fortune.

Chapter XLI. Conclusion.

Title page.

Golden Library
Of choice reading for Boys and Girls.
Price 10 cts

Copyrighted at Washington, D. C., by Albert Sibley & Co. Entered at the post-office at New York as second-class mail-matter.

Vol. I.—No. 3. NEW YORK. Nov. 1, 1886.

Under the Polar Star;


18 Rose Street.



Chip! chip!

All day long that same monotonous sound, chip, chip—chip, chip, had echoed through Solomon Bertram’s work room.

He called himself a ship carpenter, and he was one, for no member of that craft ever did finer work than that he was now engaged on. Before him, upon the bench, fast assuming artistic proportions, was what had been a rough block of wood, what was now very nearly a carved animal’s head.

The old man’s eyes filled with tears and his thin hand trembled more than once as he viewed the few tools at his command, and ever and anon glanced past the half open door which led into the living rooms of the humble cottage he called home.

For at the present moment grim poverty and want hovered over that threshold, and his brave heart that had never faltered before, became sad and oppressed.

From the window he could see the quaint Maine town and the shipping in the harbor. Here in Watertown he had lived, man and boy, for nearly half a century, had brought up a happy family, had accumulated almost a fortune.

Within two years that family had been sadly bereaved, the fortune cut down to a pittance, and one trouble succeeding another rapidly, had made Solomon Bertram a prematurely old man.

Chip, chip!

The mallet and chisel moved less deftly now, for the hand that wielded them was fast growing weary, and the task was almost completed.

There was a sudden interruption that made the work cease entirely. Followed by the smart, quick tramp of hurrying footsteps on the walk outside, a boisterous form dashed through the house and the work-room door,[4] and a bright, boyish face intruded itself upon the carpenter’s solitude.

“Is the ship’s head done, father?” its possessor asked eagerly, with a glance at the work bench.

“Almost, Will. Where have you been, and what does that mean?”

The boy’s eyes danced with delight and his face flushed excitedly as he laid several small silver coins on the bench.

“It means money, father,” he cried; “it means that I heard you tell mother this morning that there was not enough in the house to buy a pound of flour, and I made up my mind to earn some. Look, father, nearly four shillings!”

The old man’s eyes were suffused with tears as the boy rattled on volubly, and something choked in his voice as he sought to murmur, “My brave boy!”

“You know I’m old enough to begin work, father, and I know it too. There is not much chance for employment in the town, though, unless it’s among the shipping, and you won’t hear of my going to sea.”

“No, no!”

“Not even when the old tars say I’m a natural sailor and nimble as a monkey among the rigging?”

“Not even then, Will. The sea cost me one brave son. I can’t spare the other.”

“Well, I remembered that, and went among the shops. No work anywhere. Finally I came to the new building they are putting up on the public square, and there I met my luck, as the boys say.”

“How, Will?” inquired the interested Mr. Bertram.

“They were just putting on the spire to the tower, and, ready to arrange the tackle and climb the ropes, was the steeple Jack.”

“What’s a steeple Jack?” inquired the mystified old man.

“He’s a professional climber who makes a business of going up to high places like steeples and towers. They had sent to Portland for him. He wanted one of the workmen to help him by going to the top of the tower, but they said it was too risky, and they were more used to platforms than ropes. Well, to make a long story short, I offered my services.”

“Oh, Will, always venturesome and running into danger!” spoke a reproachful voice.

Will turned and surveyed his mother, who had come unobserved to the door, with a quizzical smile.

“Now, don’t scold, mother,” he said. “I’m at home among the ropes, as the man soon found. I was on the tower before he was half way up, and when he had set the vane on the tower, two hours later, he told me he wished he had me for an apprentice. Anyway, I earned a little money, and there it is. To-morrow I’ll start in for more, and then you’ll receive pay for the ship’s head, father, and we’ll get along famously.”

Old Solomon Bertram shook his head sadly.

“I shall get no pay for that work, Will,” he said.

“No pay, when you’ve put a week’s time on it! Why, what do you mean, father?”

Mr. Bertram looked anxiously at his wife as if silently questioning her. She nodded intelligently and withdrew.

“Sit down near me, Will,” said Mr. Bertram, seriously. “I promised to have the figure head done to-day, so I will have to work while I talk. You’re a good boy, Will; a dutiful son and a help and comfort to your old parents, and I don’t feel like clouding your life with our troubles.”

“Don’t worry about that, father,” cried Will, eagerly. “If there are any clouds we’ll drive them away.”

Mr. Bertram smiled at Will’s boyish enthusiasm and said:

“Well, up to two years ago, when your brother Alan sailed away for the far north on a whaling voyage, we were happy and comfortable. I owned the house and lot here and another piece of property, besides having two thousand dollars in bank. This I put together and purchased a share in the Albatross. That was the ship poor Alan was captain of.”

“Yes, I remember,” assented Will murmuringly.

“If the whaling voyage proved a success I should have made enough to buy Alan a ship of his own. Alas, my son, the staunch old Albatross and its brave captain never came back to Watertown again!”

Mr. Bertram stopped his work to wipe away a tear that trickled down his furrowed cheek.

“But one year afterwards,” he finally resumed, “the mate of the doomed ship returned—Stephen Morris. He told a thrilling tale of adventure. The Albatross, he said, had gone far north beyond the icebergs, but had met its fate among the glaciers, and all on board had been crushed in an ice floe but himself.”

“Do you believe him, father?” asked Will, a look of dislike in his face at the mention of Morris’ name.


“He surely would have no object in spreading a wholesale falsehood. No, no, his story seemed true. He said that he saw ship and men ground under a mighty wall of ice, and that he miraculously escaped by being on the ice floe away from the ship when the catastrophe occurred. For months he froze and starved amid a horrible solitude, and one day was discovered and rescued by a whaler. He landed at Boston, but came here at once and told the story of his adventures.”

“And he has been here since, hasn’t he, father?”

“Yes, Will, and that is the strange part of it. Stephen Morris went away a poor man. He came back a comparatively rich one. He claimed that a relative had died leaving him heir to a large fortune. Be that as it may, from mate he rose to captain and ship owner. He has an interest in several coasters, and is sole proprietor of the ocean ship the Golden Moose. It’s for that ship I’m making this figure head,” and Mr. Bertram resumed work on the same, while Will sat for some moments deeply absorbed in thought.

He had never liked the coarse, rough man his father had named, and despite himself he seemed to trace some dark mystery in his solitary rescue and the possession of sudden wealth.

“Is that all, father?” he asked after a pause.

“No, for in addition to Stephen Morris’ other possessions, he seems to have also purchased a mortgage on this house and lot, representing some of the money I borrowed to buy the Albatross. He has been very hard with me about it, for I have had to scrape and save to pay the interest regularly, and this figure head just makes out the amount to pay him this six months’ interest.”

“And I’ll be ready to pay the next,” cried Will, staunchly. “Father, I’m glad you told me just how we stand. I’m going to be a man and help you, and I’m going to find out just where Stephen Morris got all his money, for I have a suspicion that he is hiding the entire truth. You know how people dislike him. Suppose my brother Alan and the crew never perished at all?”

“No, no, Will,” cried his father, suspensefully, “don’t awaken my hopes only to be plunged in despair again. No man would be so cruel as to deceive a parent like that. Stephen Morris is hard-hearted and rough in his ways, but he would not dare to return with a false story about the Albatross. You are to take this figure head to Captain Morris. It is to take the place of the moose head that was broken in the last storm.”

“All right, father,” said Will, cheerily, but he kept thinking of the strange story he had heard.

“Tell Captain Morris to have it gilded at Portland when he goes there. It can’t be done, you know, in Watertown. There, it’s done at last!”

The old man drew back and surveyed his handiwork with some little pride as he gave it a last finishing touch with a chisel.

Then he smoothed off the rough edges and lifted it into Will’s arms.

It was quite a bulky object, but Will professed to be able without difficulty to convey it to its destination.

He carried it carefully by the doorway so as not to injure the broad-spreading antlers and walked down the street in the direction of the harbor.

His young mind was busy forming plans of how he should best secure work and rescue his parents from the poverty that threatened them.

“I will put school days and play days aside,” he said, resolutely, “and begin life in earnest.”

Mark him well, reader, this boy with honest face and manly bearing and noble determination to win his way in the world, for ere this story ends he is destined to meet with many strange and varied adventures.


“Look out there!”

Will Bertram dodged aside as he was walking along the wharf, near where the Golden Moose lay at anchorage and a broad rope-loop was thrown around a dock post from a yawl coming ashore.

“Ah, it’s you, my lad,” cried the same hearty voice. “What’s that you’ve got?” and fat and jolly Jack Marcy, boatswain of the Golden Moose, clambered ashore and confronted the lad.

“A new figure-head,” explained the latter. “The last one was lost in the storm.”

“And a great storm it was, boy. Where are you going—down to the ship?”

“Yes; I want to find Captain Morris.”

“Well, you’ll find him in squally temper, I tell you that, but not at the ship.”

“Where is he, then?”

“At the shipping office down the wharf. Come along, lad, I’ll show the way and help you, if you don’t mind.”

“It ain’t heavy, Jack,” replied Will, as he trudged along in the boatswain’s wake. “When does the Moose sail?”


“To-night, up the coast.”

“Oh, how I wish I was going!”

“Don’t I wish it too, lad. We’ve got one youngster on board, but he is no earthly good, except to get into mischief.”

“Tom Dalton?”

“Exactly; a shiftless, lazy piece of furniture. Here we are, my boy. I’ll go in first. Hear that; what did I tell you? The captain’s in one of his tantrums and no mistake.”

They had reached the door of the dilapidated structure where the shipping office was situated, and as the boatswain pushed it open an exciting scene was revealed to the vision of the two intruders.

Jack nimbly rounded a desk and got to the other side of the room unperceived by its occupants, while Will stood staring over the burden in his arms at Captain Morris and his clerk and general business manager, Donald Parker.

The latter lay at full length on the floor amid a wreck of the office furniture.

Glowering down at him, his face alive with brutal rage, was Captain Morris. He seemed beside himself with passion, and his beard fairly bristled as he clenched his fists.

“Say that again,” he shouted, “will you? I’m an imposter, am I? You know that I lied about the Albatross, do you? You can tell the public that, where my money came from, eh?”

“Don’t Captain, I didn’t mean anything, sure I didn’t,” pleaded the prostrate Parker, fearful of a second onslaught.

“You ungrateful scoundrel!” roared Morris, “I’ve a good mind to send you to jail, where you belong.”

“No, no!” cried the affrighted Parker.

“Yes I have. You might talk too freely. See here, Donald Parker, I saved you from prison and gave you a snug berth here, and how do you reward me—threatening to betray my secrets? I trust you no longer. You get ready to take a voyage with me, and a long one, too. You’re safer afloat, under my eye.”

“I don’t like the ocean,” whined Parker.

“You’ll like it or go to jail. As to what you pretend to know about the Albatross and my fortune, you lisp one single word outside and I’ll make you sorry for it. What do you want?”

Captain Morris directed this question to Will Bertram as he caught sight of him, but Will’s face was so obscured by the figurehead he did not at once recognize him.

“I’ve brought the moose head, sir.”

Captain Morris muttered an alarmed interjection under his breath and sprang to Will’s side.

“See here, you young Paul Pry, how long have you been sneaking around here listening to other people’s business?”

He seized Will’s shoulder in a cruel grasp as he spoke.

“I don’t sneak around anywhere,” retorted Will in a nettled tone, smarting under the man’s grip, and wrenching himself free.

Captain Morris scowled fearfully at the boy.

“Well, what do you want?” he demanded. “Oh, the figurehead! Take it to the ship, do you hear? What business have you to rush in here with it?”

“It’s my business to deliver it to you personally.”

“No sauce, you young Jackanapes. You’d better go slow or I’ll not only give your father no work, but I’ll put the clamps on him and close him out. Get out!”

He pushed Will rudely from the threshold and slammed the door in his face.

“He’s a perfect bear,” murmured Will, indignantly, as he started toward the ship. “I believed him to be a villain before and I know it now. He spoke of the Albatross as if there was some secret about it he hadn’t told. Oh, if I only knew! I will know, if watching and working can bring it out.”

The Golden Moose was a fine, seaworthy craft, and despite his unpleasant experience with its owner, Will felt a thrill of pleasure and interest as he crossed its broad deck.

He delivered the figure-head to the mate and was absorbed for some time in watching the sailors manipulate the rigging and sails.

There had always been a fascination about shipping for Will Bertram, and he glanced at a boy about his own age who was greasing some ropes with positive envy.

“I’d like to take Tom Dalton’s place for a trip or two,” he thought, but he changed his mind a moment later, as Captain Morris came walking briskly from the shipping office toward the ship.

At the sight of him the ship’s boy, Tom Dalton, whose head had been bent over his work, uttered a howl of terror, and, springing to the rigging, ensconced himself twenty feet from the decks, where he sat pale and sniveling.

A gloom seemed to come over every man on deck as Captain Morris stepped aboard. He had a reputation for excessive rudeness and brutality, and his gleaming eyes and flushed face told that he was half intoxicated and ugly.

“Aha, you’ve run away, have you?” he[7] yelled at the terrified Tom, shaking his fist at him; “well, so much the worse for you. I told you if you went ashore without my permission I’d treat you to the cat of nine tails, and I mean to keep my word. Come down, there!”

But the cabin boy only broke into wilder sobs and tears.

“Get the whip!” ordered Morris of the mate.


The latter went into the forecastle and returned with the dreaded instrument of torture with which the cruel captain occasionally terrorized the delinquent members of the ship’s crew.

Will Bertram shuddered as he took it from the mate’s hand and slashed it around a mast with a whistling, cutting sound, a look of fiendish satisfaction on his brutal face.

“Now, Tom Dalton,” he yelled up into the rigging, “it’s ten lashes if you take your punishment like a man.”

“Oh, captain, let me off, please let me off this time,” cried Tom, frantically.

“Come down, I tell you.”

“It will kill me—I can’t stand it.”

Captain Morris coolly consulted his watch.

“For every minute you stay up there I’ll give you an extra cut.”

Amid violent moanings and with streaming eyes, the wretched cabin boy began to slowly descend to the deck.

He shrank back as the captain made a vicious grasp for him, and growled out:

“Take off your jacket and shirt.”

“Oh, captain; dear captain,” shrieked the unhappy Tom, “for mercy’s sake not that; oh, please, please, and I’ll never, never disobey the rules again!”

He groveled at the captain’s feet, he writhed in an agony of fright and dread torture.

A low murmur of disapprobation swept from the lips of the watching crew, but not one of them dared to openly manifest his disapproval of the captain’s course.

Will Bertram alone, boiling over with indignation, murmured audibly, with flushed face and flashing eyes:


Captain Morris spurned the suppliant boy with his feet, glowered defiantly at the sullen faced crew, and then turned fiercely on Will.

“I’ll show you how I punish insolent and disobedient boys, my pert young friend,” he sneered, malignantly. “Off with your jacket, I tell you!” he thundered at the half-crazed Tom.

“Don’t let him whip me. Save me, save me!” shrieked the tormented boy, appealing to the silent sailors.

And then espying Will, he sprang to his side and caught his hand frantically.

There was not a fibre in Will Bertram’s frame that did not tremble with indignation. He was overwhelmed with sympathy for the friendless Tom, and burning with resentment against the brutal Morris.

One sentence, quickly and impulsively, he whispered into Tom’s ear:

“Run for it!”

A suggestion from an outsider, a hope clutched at eagerly, the words seemed to arouse him to action.

With one bound he was over the rail and on the wharf. Before Captain Morris could comprehend what had occurred, Tom Dalton was flying down the wharf like one mad.

“You young jackanapes,” he yelled, advancing with uplifted whip toward Will, “I’ll teach you to raise a mutiny on my ship.”

“Captain Morris, don’t you dare to strike me.”

Erect, defiant, flinching not one whit, the spirited boy faced the enraged captain.

“You’ll help my crew to desert, will you? Take that.”

The whip cut the air, but not so quickly but that Will Bertram evaded its circling stroke.

He leaped aside, and seized the first article for defense that came to hand.

It proved to be a bucket half full of soft soap with which a sailor had been washing the decks, but he did not notice that amid his excited determination to resent Captain Morris’ exercise of authority.

Lifting it threateningly aloft on a level with the captain’s form, he cried out:

“Don’t you strike me, Captain Morris; I am not your slave, if that poor boy is.”

“Drop that!”

At the captain’s foaming, rage-filled tones Will Bertram did drop it.

The bucket fell between them. Its contents splattering far and wide, and trickling over the deck, made the captain retreat summarily.

In so doing the soft, slimy substance gave him a slippery foothold. He slid forward with a muttered imprecation and fell.

Will Bertram experienced a vague alarm as the captain picked himself up.

From head to foot the soft soap clung to his clothing, while from his nose and mouth the blood spurted freely.

“I’ve done it,” muttered Will, apprehensively. “I’d better keep out of his way now.”

It was well that he clambered ashore at that moment, for the captain, frenzied with rage, was rushing towards the spot where he had stood.

“I’ll make you pay for this!” Will heard him yell as he hurried down the wharf in the direction Tom Dalton had gone, “I’ll make you and all your family suffer for this!”

Time proved to Will Bertram how cruelly Captain Morris kept his word.



Will Bertram satisfied himself on two points before he relaxed the rapid pace with which he had left the deck of the Golden Moose.

The first was to learn that Captain Morris was not following him, and the next that Tom Dalton had got out of sight.

“I don’t know whether I have done right or wrong in incurring Captain Morris’ enmity,” he soliloquized, “but I couldn’t stand it to see him abuse poor Tom, and I wouldn’t let him whip me. I wonder what father will say when I tell him what has occurred.”

This thought worried Will considerably, and, revolving the episodes of the day over and over in his mind, he found himself wandering considerably from a straight course homewards.

An exciting divertisement for the time being took his thoughts into new channels. As he reached the public square he observed quite a throng of people gathered around a large structure just in course of completion, and went towards them to learn the cause of the curiosity and excitement their actions manifested.

A moment’s lingering on the outskirts of the throng gave Will an intelligent hint as to their interest in the spot.

“It’s up yonder,” a man said, pointing up at the high spire which crowned the summit of the tower of the structure.

It was just getting towards dusk, but as Will looked upwards he could make out a white fluttering object. It seemed to be impaled upon the pointed vane of the spire, and Will, straining his vision, made out that it resembled a large ocean bird.

“What is it?” he asked.

“A white osprey.”

“How did it get there?”

“Flew against the point, I guess,” replied the man.

The dying daylight gleaming down the valley showed the bird making frantic efforts to release itself.

Its strange, weird cries could be faintly heard from where Will stood.

The crowd kept increasing every moment, and among them Will noticed a strange, well-dressed, gentlemanly looking person who seemed very much interested in the aerial scene above.

“It’s a fine specimen of a bird,” he remarked. “Is there not some way of releasing it from its plight?”

“Yes, climb up and catch it,” responded a pert young man.

The stranger was not discomfitted at the jeering proposition.

He calmly took out his pocket book and drew from it a ten dollar bill.

“Why not?” he asked complacently. “Suppose you try, since you suggest it. I will willingly give that money for the bird.”

The crowd laughed. It became the young man’s turn to look embarrassed.

“You ain’t in earnest,” he said.

“But I am.”

“Well, I guess no one in this crowd cares to risk his neck, even for ten dollars.”

“Steeple Jack would,” broke in a boy.

“Where is he?” asked the stranger.

“Oh, he’s left town after fixing the spire.”

Will Bertram, an interested listener to all that had been said, stepped forward impulsively.

His heart beat more quickly as he thought of how much good the money might do his family, yet he trembled at his own boldness, as he asked:

“Is the offer open to anybody, sir?”


“I’ll earn it. I’ll get the bird for you.”

“Here, come back! I don’t want a reckless boy to risk his life,” began the stranger, alarmed at the result of his careless offer.

But Will was gone, and a moment later after disappearing in the basement, appeared on the ledge of the third story of the building, waving his hand to the people below.

A new element of excitement was awakened by his rashness. When he appeared in view again at the base of the tower an apprehensive hush fell over the throng.

He glanced down once at the upturned faces and then looked upwards. But that he did not care to expose himself to ridicule and the charge of cowardice he would have returned below.

He remembered how he had seen the Steeple Jack nimbly climb the tower and by means of a rope work himself slowly round and round the tiled ornamental steeple.

Here and there in it were small holes bored, the only means of sustaining the weight of his body.

At that dizzy height a misstep or a slip of the hand meant certain death.

Will Bertram summoned all his courage, gained the base of the steeple, and tying the rope he had secured on a floor below around the steeple, rested his back against it and began pulling himself sideways and upwards along the smooth, even surface of the steeple.


The throng below had lost a casual, idle curiosity in the feat of daring now. Interest had succeeded, and then, as they saw that speck of diminishing humanity slowly, laboriously round the point of blackness against the darkening sky, a shuddering apprehension filled the strongest heart.

The clinging form would appear and disappear. It reached the narrowing summit of the steeple, and a hand clasped firmly the lower gilded bar of the spire.

There was a moment of awful suspense, and eyes strained and wearied by piercing the enveloping gloom of dusk, grew dimmer.

For a moment the figure rested at the base of the spire, then it was drawn a foot or two higher.

Darkness in earnest had come down over the earth, but one last glint of the dying sunlight far in the fading west illumined the gilded spire.

It showed the huddled form of the boy, his hand extended towards the vane. That hand clasped the bird, released it, and then swinging clear of the spire, dropped it flutteringly downward.

A faint cheer tinged with dread went up from the suspenseful throng. The daylight faded utterly—night came down over all the impressive scene, and only very dimly visible was the form of Will Bertram, returning to earth by the way he had left it.

At last tower, steeple and boy were a black blur against the darkened sky. A timid watcher shrieked outright as some object from above went whirling past him.

“What is it?” inquired a dozen eager voices.

“The rope! he has reached the base of the tower! he is safe!”

The stranger who had offered the money had grown very pale. His hat, dropped off in the excitement and suspense for the boy, was disregarded.

He turned to the side of the building and an exclamation of delight parted his lips as past a ledge of masonry a form came down a rope.

The rope was not long enough to reach the ground.

“Drop!” he cried, stretching out his arms.

One minute later, the centre of a surging, excited throng, Will Bertram had regained terra firma in safety.


Will uttered a great sigh of relief as the stranger led him towards the anxious throng.

“Here’s your money, my little man,” he said, extending a bill towards Will. “I wouldn’t go through the suspense I’ve suffered again, though, for ten ospreys.”

Will took the money deprecatingly, and his murmured words to the effect that “it was too much,” were lost amid the busy hum of talk around him.

“Where’s the bird?” demanded the stranger, abruptly.

“They’re chasing it yonder, still alive.”

“Yes, but it can’t fly. Here they come with it.”

Will Bertram took this opportunity, while attention was diverted from himself, to slip away from the throng.

Clasping the ten dollar bill tightly in his hands, which were not a little bruised by climbing, he thought only of the benefit its possession would afford his parents.

He burst into the house just as his father and mother were sitting down to their humble evening meal, and wondering what had detained him so long beyond his usual time.

Impulsive, excited boy that he was, Will could not keep the climax of his adventure of the afternoon and evening as a denouement to a continuous narrative, but, flushed with delight at imparting surprise and pleasure to others, he laid the crisp, new bill at his mother’s plate.

“Will! Will!” she cried, in utter amazement, “where did you get this?”

“Earned it.”

The incredulous, almost anxious, expression in his mother’s face made Will hasten his explanation.

The repast was deferred, as with bated breath and wondering faces his parents listened to his recital.

He saw his father’s face grow grave as he told of his encounter with Captain Morris, and that of his mother blanch with anxiety when he described his ascent of the steeple.

No chiding words fell from his father’s lips when he had concluded his narrative. Instead, he said, calmly:

“It is not a question of incurring Captain Morris’ enmity, Will, it is a simple question of right and wrong. His conduct to poor Tom Dalton was cruel in the extreme, and I am afraid I should have done just as you did in telling him to run away. As to defying Morris and trying to resist his anger as you did, hereafter I would simply keep out the way of such men.”

“He cannot injure you, father, as he threatened?” inquired Will, anxiously.

“No, Will, at least not until the next interest note is due, six months hence, and by[11] that time it looks as if my brave boy intends to have enough money to settle the claim for good.”

“I will, father, see if I don’t,” cried Will, enthusiastically. “I’m bound to work, and I don’t intend to get into trouble and peril to do it as I did to-day, either. Don’t think me lacking in respect to my elders, father, because I defied Captain Morris, but he is a bad-hearted, malignant man, and I could not control my indignation at his conduct.”

“And where is Tom Dalton?” inquired Mrs. Bertram.

“I don’t know,” responded Will. “Poor fellow, I must hunt him up as soon as the Moose sails, for he’ll keep in hiding until then. Captain Morris says I’m helping a mutiny and breaking his discipline, but I think it’s a mighty bad discipline he’s got, father.”

“Well, come, Will, your supper is ready, and there’s plenty of time to discuss the affair later,” urged Mrs. Bertram, as she bestowed a tender look on her son and carefully folded away the bill.

They sat down at the table, but Will’s tongue would run over the exciting events of the day. They had scarcely completed the meal when a quick knock sounded at the door.

Mrs. Bertram looked inquiringly at the well-dressed stranger who stood revealed on the threshold as she answered the knock.

“Does Mr. Bertram live here?” he inquired, and then, as she nodded assent, he continued: “I am looking for Will Bertram.”

Will recognized the voice and hastened to the door.

“Oh! it’s the gentleman who wanted the osprey,” he explained.

“Come in, sir,” spoke Mrs. Bertram, while the husband tendered him a chair.

The stranger nodded pleasantly to Will.

“Yes, he’s the person I’m looking for. The people directed me here. I suppose he has told you of my recklessness in hiring him to risk his neck for the sake of a bird?”

Mrs. Bertram paled concernedly.

“He is very venturesome,” she said, solicitously.

“He is a natural acrobat,” broke in the stranger, enthusiastically. “Mind me, madam, not that I want to encourage him to these feats of danger, but the agility, courage and manliness he exhibits should not be suppressed.”

Will’s cheek flushed at the honest compliment the stranger bestowed upon him.

“And now to business,” continued the stranger, “for I didn’t come here from idle curiosity. My name is Robert Hunter, and I am an agent for the North American Menagerie and Museum. Every year we send out agents to secure material for our institution from all quarters of the globe. I myself am now on my way to the great northern forests of Maine. We shall remain there for some two months and endeavor to trap a large number and variety of animals, such as the deer, the moose, the otter, the beaver, the catamount, the wolf, the bear, the fox, the lynx, and also such large birds as can be found. For this expedition we are very nearly entirely equipped, and I am expected to-morrow to join the wagons containing our outfit, traps, and men, at a town some few miles north of here.”

Will Bertram had listened with breathless attention. His eyes glittered with excitement as Mr. Hunter’s words suggested to him a fascinating field of adventure.

“I’ve taken a rare fancy to your boy Will,” continued Hunter. “He’s just the lad we need for handy little tasks, and I’ve come to make him an offer to accompany us on our expedition.”

Mr. Bertram’s face had grown serious, while Mrs. Bertram’s hand stole caressingly, anxiously, around that of Will, who sat near her.

“You want him to go away,—to leave us?” she murmured, tremulously.

“If he wants to go and you are willing. Don’t fear, madam. I’ll lead him into no danger, and the wild life he’ll see will benefit him. We carry everything for comfort, and, aside from once in a while climbing a hill to prospect, or a tree to get some bird’s nest——”

Will looked his disapproval at this suggestion, and the keen-eyed stranger, quick to notice it, laid his hand kindly on his arm and said:

“Don’t misunderstand me, lad. I mean no nest-robbing expedition—only the securing of abandoned nests to fit up a fancy aviary in the museum. A man who has lived long with animals and birds for his daily companions learns to be kind to them, and we allow no wanton killing of harmless beasts. It was pity, as much as curiosity, that made me want the osprey. Come, madam, I’m ready to make your boy an offer. What do you say?”

Mrs. Bertram was mute, but glanced tearfully at Will, and then inquiringly at her husband.


Will took their silence as a token of encouragement.

“What will I be paid?” he asked. “You see, my father is old and there is a debt on the little home. As their help and support, I would not leave them for the mere pleasure of the expedition.”

“Spoken like the true lad I believe you to be,” said Mr. Hunter, heartily, “and business-like, in the bargain. Well, Master Will, aside from the premiums I will give you for any important discovery or capture, I will pay you fifteen dollars a month, and I’ll relieve your anxiety about your parents by paying you two months in advance.”

“Thirty dollars! Oh, father, think what a help it would be!” cried Will, breathlessly.

Mr. Hunter arose to his feet, hat in hand.

“I will leave the hotel here to join the expedition at ten o’clock to-morrow morning. If you want to go, let me hear from you early in the day. Think it over, Mrs. Bertram, and rest assured if you agree I’ll take good care of him and return him safe and sound when the expedition is over.”

He bade them good-night and was gone without another word, leaving Mrs. Bertram in tears, her husband anxious and silent, and Will excited and undecided over the strange proposition he had made.

“It seems like Providence, father,” he said finally, after an oppressive silence. “With what I got to-day, the two months’ wages will support you for a long time, and you won’t have to work so hard. Besides, if there’s any extra money to earn, I will not miss it. Why, at the stores here I couldn’t earn half the amount, and I get my living free.”

“We will have to think and talk it over, Will,” replied Mr. Bertram, gravely, and at a motion Mrs. Bertram followed him into the next apartment.

Will could hear the low, serious sound of their voices in earnest consultation, even after they had softly closed the door connecting the two rooms.

He took up a book and tried to read, but the exciting thoughts that would come about the expedition distracted his mind completely.

“I hope they’ll let me go,” he breathed fervently. “It’s even better than the ocean. Hello, what is that?”

There had come a quick, metallic tap at the window, and Will fixed his eyes in its direction.

“It’s the wind, I guess,” he finally decided. “No, there it is again.”

Will arose, put on his cap, and, walking to the door, opened it, stepped outside, and looked searchingly around.

A low whistle from the direction of the woodshed told him that some one was there—some one, he theorized, who had thrown the pebbles against the window to attract his attention, and who did not care to manifest himself openly—in all probability, Tom Dalton.

Will found his suspicions verified as he approached the shed, and a disorderly figure stepped from behind the door.

“Tom?” he queried, peering into the face of the other.

“Yes, it’s me,” came the low, dogged response. “I hadn’t ought to bother you, Will, but I’m nigh starved.”

“Hungry, eh, Tom?”

“I should say so. Bring me a hunk of bread and meat, and I’ll get out of town and your way.”

Poor Tom had become so used to being in people’s way that he could not regard his association with any human being as otherwise than a disagreeable tolerance.

“You ain’t in my way, Tom,” said Will, kindly, “and I’ll not only get you something to eat, but I’ll find a place for you to sleep to-night. Wait a minute.”

Will returned to the house, and, when he came back, tendered his belated companion the promised “hunk” of bread and meat, which Tom seized and devoured ravenously.

“Well, Tom,” said Will, finally, as the runaway bolted the last morsel of food with a sigh of intense satisfaction, “what are your plans?”

“Ain’t got any.”

“You won’t go back to the Moose?”

“Not much. Do you think I want to get killed? I tell you, Will, you don’t know what a brute the captain is.”

“Won’t they look for you?”

“Of course they will. They were down the street searching for me everywhere half an hour ago.”


“Captain Morris and two of the sailors in one party, and the mate and the boatswain in another.”

Will reflected. He had intended to obtain permission of his parents to allow Tom to sleep in the house that night, but if Captain Morris was looking for him it would be unsafe.

“If I can only keep out of the way until the Golden Moose sails, I shall be all right,” said Tom, confidently.


“Keep quiet, Tom; some one is coming,” whispered Will, warningly.

Some one was coming, sure enough, for as he spoke the heavy tramp of footsteps at the side of the house was followed by a thundering knock at the back door as the forms of two men loomed into view.

“What did I tell you?” quavered Tom, beginning to tremble violently.

“Keep quiet and listen,” repeated Will, peremptorily.

At that moment Mrs. Bertram, in answer to the knock, opened the door.

The lamplight fell upon the faces of two members of the crew of the Golden Moose—the boatswain and mate in quest of Tom Dalton, the runaway.


The first question asked by the mate of the Golden Moose referred to Will Bertram, as the watching lad had expected.

“Is your son at home, Mrs. Bertram?” were his words.

“He was a moment since,” replied Will’s mother, a slight shade of anxiety in her face as she glanced around the room. “He seems to have gone.”

“Where to?”

“I do not know. Maybe to visit some neighbor’s boy. Was it anything particular, sir?”

“Well, yes. You see he got our cabin boy at the ship, Tom Dalton, to run away to-day, and we’re ready to sail.”

“Oh, I am certain he does not know where he is,” Mrs. Bertram hastened to say.

“Trust a keen-witted boy like him for that,” incredulously remarked the mate.

“At least he has been busy or at home since he was at the ship this afternoon.”

“Well, I guess if we find Will Bertram we’ll place Tom Dalton,” said the mate, confidently. “Come, Jack, we won’t break our necks looking for the lads, but, of course, we must follow orders.”

The watching boys did not move until the two sailors were well out of sight. Tom was crying bitterly.

“Be a man, Tom,” urged Will, encouragingly. “What are you crying about?”

“Because they hunt me down so, and will be sure to catch me. Everybody’s against me.”

“Well I ain’t, Tom. Now, instead of mourning uselessly, put your wits together and decide what you’re going to do.”

“I don’t know,” responded Tom, hopelessly.

“Is there not some acquaintance you could stay with to-night?”

“I ain’t got any friends.”

Will pondered deeply for a moment or two. Finally he said:

“Look here, Tom; I think I know a place where you could go.”


“You know the old mill down the river?”

“Yes. I’ve been there lots of times.”

“Well, I suggest that you hide there for to-night.”

“They’ll never think of searching for me there. I’ll go, Will, if we can get there without being seen.”

“Come along, then.”

Will took the most retired route he could think of to reach the mill. As he went along he talked seriously to Tom about his future, and advised him to find his way to an uncle who lived some distance down the coast, and from whose charge Tom, who was an orphan, had run away to gain a seafaring experience at bitter cost.

“Won’t I see you to-morrow?” inquired Tom, lugubriously, somewhat depressed at being left to his own resources.

“I expect not.”

“Are you going away?”

“I may, Tom,” and Will told of Mr. Hunter’s offer.

Tom’s face grew animated and his eyes flashed eagerly as Will enthusiastically referred to the plans of the expedition.

“Oh, if I could only go with you!” he ejaculated.

“I don’t know that I am going myself, Tom.”

“Oh, Will!”

They were crossing a vacant lot when Tom brought Will to an abrupt halt with a startled exclamation, at the same time clutching his arm alarmedly.

“What’s the matter, Tom?” inquired Will.

“Look yonder. There is the Captain and two of his men.”

Will grew a little excited as he glanced in the direction his affrighted companion had indicated.

“It’s them, sure enough, Tom. Now don’t get frightened, but walk fast.”

He hoped to evade the scrutiny of the trio, who were some distance away, by getting out of their range of vision.

A shout behind him, however, told him that their identity was suspected, and he saw the three men break into a run.

Will followed their example, urging his companion to do the same, and directing the[14] way to the old ruined mill, the outline of which was visible a short distance ahead of them.

They gained on their pursuers, and, reaching the mill itself, observed with satisfaction that their pursuers were almost invisible in the darkness.

“Maybe they won’t trace us here, Tom,” said Will; “now you keep close to me, and when we’ve found a snug spot we’ll keep quiet and await developments.”

The dilapidated old structure, gone to wreck and ruin many a year agone, was a familiar place to the boys of Watertown. Will clasped Tom’s hand and led the way through the doorless entrance to its lower floor.

As he did so Tom uttered a frightened cry.

“Some one’s here,” he whispered.

Some one certainly was there, for at that moment a flashing light in one corner of the place showed dimly its entire interior.

Will soon made out the cause of the unexpected illumination. On a heap of straw sat a trampish-looking individual. He had just lighted a match preparatory to taking a smoke from his pipe, and did not apparently notice the intruders.

“It’s some old tramp,” whispered Will. “Come, Tom: yonder’s a ladder leading to the next story. Go slow on it, for it’s old and rickety. Here we are.”

He crept up a creaking ladder and Tom followed him. Will took the precaution to pull the ladder up after them, and closed the broken trap door over their means of entrance.

“Now we’ll sit down and wait,” he said, and both boys slid to the floor.

It was so still that they could hear every near sound. Will felt Tom tremble as from the outside echoed faintly the gruff, harsh voice of Captain Morris.

A minute later there was a quick cry and a sudden commotion below as if the sailors had discovered the old tramp, and then, as a light showed distinctly through the cracks of the floor, Tom quavered, gaspingly:

“They’ve traced us here, and have got a light and are looking for us!”

Will Bertram placed his eye to an interstice in the floor to ascertain what was going on below.

He arose suddenly to his feet with a startled cry.

“Quick, Tom, open the trap door and get the ladder down!”

“What for?”

“It is no light below, but a fire!”

“A fire?” echoed Tom, wildly.

“Yes; quick, I say; the trap! the ladder!”

Will himself was compelled to lift the trap door, for Tom was paralyzed with terror and utter helplessness in their dilemma.

He staggered back as he drew the trap open. A dense volume of smoke issued from below, while the crackling of burning wood and a ruddy glare told that the careless tramp had precipitated a catastrophe.

“Oh, Will! what shall we do?”

“Keep cool and get out of this,” replied Will, bravely. “Stay where you are for a minute.”

He flung the trap shut and groped his way to the window.

It was now an open aperture, but, as he well knew, looked down upon a deep pit by the side of the structure.

“There used to be some ladder steps nailed to the side of the building,” he said, as he leaned out of the window.

He peered searchingly forth, and with his hand felt for the means of escape he had described.

A murmur of concern swept his lips as he made a thrilling discovery.

The ladder steps were gone!


Wind and weather or the destructive freak of some careless boy had certainly cut off the one avenue of escape for the imprisoned boys from the burning building.

Had not the pit yawned far below the ground surface Will would have trusted to a flying jump in the darkness.

Tom Dalton, utterly overwhelmed, sat huddled together on the floor quaking with terror.

The encroaching fire showed through the cracks so plainly now that they could see each other’s face.

Already the fire was burning the floor beneath them. They could not descend.

“We must climb higher,” said Will, forming a quick resolution. “There is the old stairs yonder. Follow me, Tom.”

The cabin boy obeyed Will’s order mutely, and they found themselves in a large loft at the top story of the building.

Will began to reconnoitre at once, but he found that the distance from the windows to the ground was too great to encourage him to take a dangerous leap downwards.

They might reach the attic or the roof, but that only made their dilemma worse.


At last, after a rapid inspection, he lit a match and surveyed critically an aperture in the side of the building.

The smoke and heat had now become well-nigh intolerable, and occasionally some timber burning in two would make the weakened structure topple and tremble.

“Oh! what shall we do?” moaned Tom, despairingly.

“Get out of this when it comes to the worst.”


“By jumping from the window.”

“And kill ourselves by the fall!” cried Tom. “Can’t we call for help?”

“There’s no one in sight on this side of the building, and besides they couldn’t reach us from the river end. Now, listen carefully to me, Tom, for our safety depends on our own efforts.”

“What is it, Will?”

“In the corner yonder there’s an old shute leading to the river.”

“What’s a shute?”

“A long, tightly-boarded box. They used it to send rubbish down to the river. It slants down the side of the building about forty feet.”

“You don’t mean to slide down it?”

“Yes, I do. It’s our only chance of escape.”

It seemed a perilous one, and as Will held a match over the end of the shute and explained that a swift descent might terminate in a cold plunge in the river, Tom drew back in dismay.

“I’ll go first,” said Will. “You’ll follow.”

“I’m afraid, Will.”

“Then we’re lost, for the fire—hear that!”

“I’ll do it! I’ll do it!” cried Tom, starting, as one side of the building, the lower props burned away, sagged to one side.

It was high time for action. Will climbed over the extending top of the shute and lowered himself into it.

Clinging to the edge he gave Tom a warning word:

“Don’t delay a moment in following me.”

“I won’t.”

“Here goes, then!”

Will Bertram experienced a strange sensation as, relaxing his grasp, he shot vertically downwards.

His breath seemed taken away, and his hands, sweeping the bottom of the shute seemed to gather a thousand little slivers.

Then, with a gasp, he felt his body strike the water and become entirely submerged. He was chilled by the shock, but he puffed and struggled, and then clung at a rock and drew himself to the shore, breathless and exhausted.


A second echoing plunge followed his own, and in the radiating illumination he made out a struggling figure in the water.

Tom Dalton had followed his example, and just in time, for a crash told of a floor giving way in the structure they had vacated.

“Tom! Tom! this way!” called Will, cautiously.

But his companion in peril either did not hear him or had determined to follow his own course. He struck out deliberately to cross the river, swam vigorously forward, and, reaching the opposite shore, cast a quick look in the direction of the burning mill, and then disappeared in the darkness outside the radius of its light.

“He’s probably afraid the captain will catch him,” theorized Will. “At all events, he’s safe.”

Will shook the water from his clothes and made a wide detour of the burning.

As he looked back he saw quite a crowd gathered around the building, but determined to evade them, and made his way homeward, walking briskly to restore the circulation to his chilled frame.

He found the lamp turned down when he reached home, and was glad to know that his father and mother had retired for the night.

“There’s no use worrying them about what’s happened to-night,” he soliloquized, and he made up a good fire in the kitchen and spread out his soaked garments to dry.

“Is that you, Will?” Mrs. Bertram called from her chamber.

“Yes, mother.”

“Where have you been?”

“With Tom Dalton. The poor fellow was afraid Captain Morris would find him, and I went with him to try and find him a place to sleep,” and with this vague explanation Will bade his parents good-night and repaired to his own room.

He dozed restlessly the first portion of the night, and then, unable to sleep, his mind filled with thoughts of his varied adventures and the anticipated expedition of the morning, he wrapped a blanket around himself and stole silently to the kitchen.

He devoted the remainder of the night to drying his clothes. With the first break of dawn he had donned them and attended to various little chores around the house.

His curiosity impelled him to proceed a[16] little distance down the street, whence a view of the harbor could be obtained.

He was familiar enough with the various craft at anchorage to miss the trim sails and masts of Captain Morris’ ship.

The Golden Moose had sailed during the night; but where was poor Tom Dalton, the runaway?


Will Bertram studied his mother’s face searchingly as he sat down to breakfast that morning. The sad, patient features gave no indication of the decision arrived at regarding the proposed expedition, however, and Will was compelled to wait until the morning meal was over before the subject was referred to.

“Well, my son, your mother and I have talked over the matter of your going away,” said Mr. Bertram.

Will looked suspenseful.

“We have decided, since your heart seems so set upon it, to let you do as you please.”

“Oh, father, I am so glad!” cried Will, rapturously. “Of course I long for the adventurous life the expedition offers—what boy wouldn’t?—but, honestly, I want to help you, and in a business point of view it’s the best thing open to me.”

He promised his mother to indulge in no reckless or dangerous exploits, and to evade companionship with any evil persons he might meet.

Then, while his mother was making up a package of his clothes, Will went to the hotel.

Mr. Hunter expressed a keen satisfaction at his decision. He drew a sort of contract between them, and, as he had promised, advanced the two months’ wages, and bade Will return by ten o’clock to leave home for good.

Will paid the money over to his mother, and took occasion to relate his adventures of the night previous. She trembled at the stirring recital. He listened attentively to her parting words of advice. Mrs. Bertram was not the woman to show her anxiety and grief at his departure, but kissed him good-by with cheering words and hopeful smiles.

Little did either dream of the long, weary months destined to intervene ere they again clasped hands.

Will’s step was quick and elastic, and his heart thrilled with pleasure as he again reached the hotel, his bundle of clothing strapped over his shoulder.

Youth does not cherish sadness, and his exuberant spirits regarded the parting with his parents tenderly rather than with forebodings of distress.

“Well, my boy, all ready?” asked Mr. Hunter, as he welcomed Will.

“Yes, sir.”

“If we ride to the meeting place where the expedition is we will have to wait for a stage. It’s barely ten miles. What do you say to a walk?”

Will expressed himself eminently satisfied with this arrangement, and the two set out at a brisk gait.

Watertown was soon left behind them. The morning was clear and frosty, and as they trudged along Mr. Hunter entered into numerous details regarding the expedition.

Will found him one of the most entertaining talkers he had ever met. He told of all the practical operations of museum, menagerie and circus life, and revealed to his companion the fact that under the artificial glitter and tinsel of circus experience existed hard realities, of which securing the collection of animals was one.

The caravan bound for the expedition was reached shortly after noon. Mr. Hunter pointed it out to Will as they reached the edge of the town where he was to meet it.

Will Bertram was amazed to find that there were nearly twenty wagons and as many men.

Mr. Hunter noticed his surprise.

“Are you going to use all those wagons?” inquired Will.

“Yes, and possibly we will have to secure more before the expedition is ended. When we reach the northern limit of settlements half the wagons will remain there. The others will go on and again divide. When we come down to actual operations we will have only two wagons with us, one with cages for the animals we capture, and one for our own use. As soon as the former is filled we send it back to the last station, and the train moves forward the entire line, one station. Thus we will have a progressive and return caravan, the wagon with the animals going back to the nearest railroad town, shipping its cages, and coming back again.”

For over an hour Will studied the caravan in all its appointments. He found the men composing it rough, good natured people, who answered his numerous questions cheerfully.

They showed him the four living vehicles, as they were called, stout, boarded wagons, with heavy wheels and a stove and bunks inside,[17] as also the supply or provision cart and the cage wagons. These latter were provided with barred cages, and in some of them were animals that had already been purchased from people along the route, consisting of a tame fox, a pet bear, and quite a number of birds.

The wounded osprey Will had rescued the night previous, and which Mr. Hunter had sent on early that morning, was being fed and nursed by a member of the caravan.

Up to this stage of the journey the party had remained at a hotel when they reached a town, but as villages grew less frequent it was designed to cook, eat and sleep in the living wagons.

This nomadic life pleased Will from its very novelty, and he longed for the journey to begin, anticipating rare sport when they reached the wilderness, and marveling at the immense wagon load of traps and snares carried by the caravan.

Mr. Hunter ordered an immediate start. There were several extra horses, and he and Will rode two of them ahead of the train.

At dusk they halted in a little stretch of timber, no near town being visible. Huge torches were planted in the ground, the wagons drawn in a circle, the horses tethered, and an immense camp-fire built for the night.

It was a novel and busy sight for the interested Will, and he watched the preparations for supper with a keen appetite and rare enjoyment of the scene.

Suddenly, at one of the wagons, where a man was taking some feed for the horses, there was a quick commotion.

“Hello! Mr. Hunter,” he cried, “here’s a discovery.”

“What is it?” inquired Mr. Hunter, coming to the wagon, Will pressing close to his side.

Amid a mass of straw was a form, which kicked vigorously as the man endeavored to drag it from the wagon.

“A stowaway!” cried the man.

“True enough,” replied Mr. Hunter. “Pull him out, and let us have a look at him.”

“Let me go! Let me go! I tell you I haven’t done anything wrong!” cried a voice that fell familiarly on Will’s startled ear.

The man drew its possessor out of the wagon, and wheeled him around to the camp-fire.

Mr. Hunter stared amusedly at the form thus revealed.

An amazed ejaculation swept Will Bertram’s lips as he recognized him.

“Why, its Tom Dalton!” he cried, breathlessly.


Will Bertram’s expressive face must have betrayed to Mr. Hunter that the stowaway was a friend, for that gentleman regarded Tom with a critical, amused smile, and then asked Will:

“You know this boy?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Who is he?”

“Tom Dalton. He is from Watertown, but how he came here is more than I can tell.”

Tom stood sullenly regarding the curious men around him, half-cowering, as if expecting the usual beating he had received on board the Golden Moose for any delinquency.

“Come to the fire and warm yourself, and get something to eat,” said Mr. Hunter, in a kindly tone, to the friendless runaway.

Tom crept to the camp-fire with a look of infinite relief. He evaded Will’s glance sheepishly, and was entirely silent until the rude, but plentiful, evening repast was finished.

Will was consumed with curiosity to learn by what strange series of circumstances Tom had become a member of the wagon train, but no opportunity presented itself to question him.

Mr. Hunter himself, however, took Tom in hand and drew from him the story of his escapade.

Briefly related, it was to the effect that after the fire at the mill, concerning which Will had spoken freely to Mr. Hunter, he had wandered away from Watertown.

Tom remembered all Will had told him about the proposed expedition, recalling even the location of the meeting place.

The temptations offered by the expected trip to the wilderness were too much for Tom. He climbed into a wagon, and had lain snugly ensconced in his hiding place until now.

“And what do you expect I’m going to do with you?” inquired Mr. Hunter.

“Let me work for you, sir,” responded Tom, promptly.

“Good! I will,” and, to the infinite delight of Tom, he was accepted as a member of the caravan and assigned to a bunk in the same wagon with Will.

The evening around the camp-fire, during which rare stories of adventure held the boys spellbound, the jaunt through a strange country, and the zest of anticipated pleasure when hunting and trapping should begin,[18] made the time pass rapidly to Will and Tom.

The history of each succeeding day tallied with its predecessor in the main details of incident, except that the caravan was penetrating farther and farther into the belt of the uninhabited territory where their actual operations were to begin.

The weather had been clear and cold, but the rivers they passed, so far, were free of ice, and the roads were not blocked with snow.

Mr. Hunter had predicted a change, and one evening it came. Since morning they had passed only one solitary hut, and he explained that they were entering a section of timber where some game might be found.

At any rate, the caravan was divided, and minute instructions given for the future. Then the main party struck off into the wilderness.

The flakes began to fall thick and heavy as darkness came down. Mr. Hunter expressed his satisfaction at this.

“If we have a heavy fall of snow and it continues cold,” he said, “it will be just right for trapping. At any rate, we’ll stay here a day or two and reconnoitre.”

No camp-fire was built that night, the men huddling around their stoves in the living wagons.

It was cozy and warm for Will and Tom, but one of the drivers, whose horses had got loose and had to be hunted up, reported a severe experience.

“The snow’s getting terribly deep and blinding,” he said, “and, as I came up to the horses, I’m sure I heard and saw a wolf.”

“We’ll keep a watch on the horses, then,” said Mr. Hunter. “Are the traps all ready for use?” he inquired of the man who had charge of the equipment wagon.

“Yes, sir.”

“Very well; we’ll devote to-morrow and the next day to a search for animals. If the signs are plentiful we’ll make our first station here.”

Bright and early the two boys were awake and up. They found the ground foot deep with snow, and the vast forests, now covered with a mantle of white, presenting the aspect of a vast, untraversed wilderness.

Mr. Hunter joined them as they gathered a lot of wood for a fire, and invited them to take a brief tour of inspection with him.

His practiced eyes passed by no marks in the snow, and whenever he came to a series of tracks he examined them closely.

“Plenty of small animals,” he remarked; “and an occasional fox and wolf.”

“What is this?” inquired Will.

He pointed to a deep, heavy furrow in the snow, which looked as if some object had been dragged over its surface.

Mr. Hunter proceeded at once to follow the marks. Here and there a hole like that made by a horse’s foot would appear outside of the smooth indentation.

It led direct to a dark ravine, and terminated at a cave-like aperture in a mound covered with stunted trees.

Here Mr. Hunter paused.

“You’ve made quite a discovery, Will,” he said.

“Is it an animal, sir?”

“Yes. Its footmarks are obscured by the object it seems to have been dragging along by its mouth.”

“And you think it’s in the cave there?”


“What is it—a wolf or fox?”

“No, a bear.”

The announcement excited both boys tremendously.

“Let’s catch him,” cried Tom.

Mr. Hunter smiled.

“He’d catch us if he saw us unarmed as we are. No, we’ll get back to camp and get the traps out. Maybe by morning Mr. Bruin will walk into the one we shall set for him.”

After breakfast there was a busy time among the men. At Mr. Hunter’s direction traps and snares were set in various places, and Will and Tom were employed in gathering tree moss and abandoned nests for the aviary. A hawk and an owl were captured during the day, but it was the following morning that Mr. Hunter expected to find quite a number of animals in the traps baited over night.

The large bear trap left at the entrance to the cave was a great objective point of interest to the boys, and they visited the spot several times, hoping to be the first to announce the capture of bruin should that important event occur.

They stood before the entrance to the cave late in the afternoon regarding the set trap curiously.

“Do you see?” remarked Will, pointing to it.

“What?” inquired Tom.

“The meat is gone. It must be a cunning bear. He has sniffed the bait and cautiously eaten it off without putting his feet in.”

It certainly seemed that what Will said was true, for the marks of the animal’s feet could be traced in the snow that had blown into the entrance to its den.


Will left Tom at the place and announced his intention of going around the mound.

He made a new discovery as he came to the other side of the mound. A double track in the snow led to and from a clump of bushes, and these latter were brushed aside and broken as if recently passed over.

Will thrilled at his discovery. The cave had two entrances, and the bear, too keen-witted to step into the trap, was using this one as a means of entrance and exit.

“I believe I’ll have a look into the place,” murmured Will.

He parted the brushes and found a large aperture looking down into complete darkness.

Will’s curiosity overcame his prudence, and there being no indication of the presence of the bear, he withdrew his head, and, cutting a large, resinous knot from a tree near at hand, proceeded to ignite it with a match.

When it flared up sufficiently, he again approached the rear opening to the cave, brushed aside the bushes, and extended it far into the darkness.

Its radiance showed the clay floor of the cave a few feet below. Straining his eyes to pierce the darkness, Will met with an unexpected accident.

The bush he was holding to gave way, and he fell forward precipitately. The torch was hurled downwards, while he himself plunged head foremost into the cave.

Bruised and startled, he scrambled to his feet.

At that moment a terrific roar echoed through the darkness and gloom of the cave.


Will Bertram discovered two things as he thrilled to a realization of his true position.

Some ten feet away was daylight penetrating through the main aperture to the cave, while directly in front of him and against this light was the great, crouching body of the bear itself.

Its eyes, like two sparks of yellow fire, glared fixedly upon him, while its low grumblings told that its rage was fully aroused.


Will stood rooted to the spot, but only for a moment, for a movement on the part of the bear aroused him to sudden action.

Springing forward, the animal brought its huge foot across the intruder’s arm, tearing the sleeve of his coat into shreds.

The torch had fallen to the floor of the cave, and still flickered brightly. With no weapon to defend himself, Will stooped and seized it, and brandished it squarely in the bear’s face.

With a growl the animal retreated a step or two, but maintained a strict and entire guardianship of the way leading to the main exit from the cave.

Will gave a quick glance behind him, but instantly abandoned all thoughts of escaping by the way he had come.

The aperture was at the end of a slanting decline and several feet above his head.

To climb up that would consume time, and bruin, more agile than he, would certainly overtake him ere he had accomplished the exit.

In a flash, Will decided that but one way of escape lay open to him, and that was by dashing past the bear through the main entrance, beyond which a glance revealed Tom Dalton.

The cave narrowed as it came to this spot, and this passage way was almost completely filled by the bear’s enormous body.

The animal seemed ready for a second onslaught on the intruder, when Will, waving the torch so as to cause it to flame still more, again thrust it into the animal’s face.

Bruin roared with pain and rage and showed his horrible fangs, but retreated slowly.

“If I could only drive him to the open air,” murmured Will, tumultuously.

There seemed but little hope of this, however, for the bear at last appeared to make a sullen stand, and half-raised himself, as if to spring on Will.

The latter could see open daylight beyond. A few feet more and he believed he could rush past the bear in safety.

With a last, desperate movement he flung the burning torch square at the head of the bear.

The animal crouched back, and then turned with a frightful howl.

A sudden, clicking snap echoed on the air, and the bear seemed struggling and floundering in a strange way.

“The trap!” cried Will, wildly.

His excited words expressed the bear’s dilemma. Bruin, enraged and retreating, had walked into the very snare he had before avoided.

He was foaming with rage, and, his hind legs firmly caught between the clamps of the immense steel trap set at the mouth of the cave, was struggling wildly to release himself.

With a shout of relief and joy, Will darted past the imprisoned bear and into the open air.

He found Tom Dalton standing staring at the bear in open-mouthed wonderment.

The trap was secured by an iron chain around a tree, and, although it allowed bruin a certain range of action, it held him a prisoner.

Tom was struck on the arm, and came very near within the bear’s floundering grasp, but Will pulled him aside in time to avoid a crushing blow from the animal’s heavy paw.

Will entertained his companion with a vivid account of his adventure.

“You run to the camp and tell Mr. Hunter what has occurred,” he said, when he had concluded his story. “I’ll stay and watch the bear.”

Mr. Hunter and several of the men arrived soon. He complimented Will on his capture, and pronounced the bear a fine specimen of his species.

Will watched the men interestedly as, with the aid of poles and hooks, they secured bruin so that he could not injure them, when they conveyed him to a cage wagon which was sent for.

Some chloroform on a sponge robbed bruin of his natural fierceness, and he was finally safely caged.

The ensuing morning a fox and a wolf were found, with other smaller animals, in the traps, set in various places around the camp.

The history of one day was that of all the week spent at the camp. One wagon was ready to send back, and then Mr. Hunter announced that they would push on still further into the wilderness.

It was an exciting and interesting tramp for the two boys. The ensuing three weeks were the busiest ones they had ever known.

They learned how the moose, the deer, the otter, the catamount and other animals were captured, and many a thrilling experience was theirs in a quest for rare birds amid the lonely forests.

When the snow became compact, rude runners were substituted for wheels on the wagons, and several of the vehicles left the expedition filled with captured animals and birds.


When they were traveling it would sometimes be entire days ere they would come across a settlement, or even a house.

It was just about a month after leaving Watertown when, one day, an incident occurred which materially changed all the plans of the two boys who had so strangely become members of the expedition.

They had orders to prepare for a new move that night, and early in the day had gone back by the route they had come to a place where a rocky formation in the landscape had suggested the idea of successful bird hunting.

Several eagles had been noticed by the boys, and it was to capture one of these that they determined to make the expedition on their own account.

The weather had become mild, and the snow had almost disappeared. Mr. Hunter warned them not to go too far from the camp, as a storm was threatened.

Provided with ropes and snares, Will and Tom reached the spot they had in view, and for over an hour wandered about the place.

At last, some distance away, they made out several large birds circling about a rocky point of land.

Will suggested that they visit the spot, and this took them still farther away from the camp.

Clambering over the rocks, exploring this and that secluded aerie, and endeavoring to snare some of the birds, which they thought to be eagles, the hours passed so rapidly away that dusk grew upon them before they realized how the day had advanced.

“Why, Will, it’s getting dark!” suddenly exclaimed Tom.

They abandoned their efforts at catching the birds and descended to the level plain beneath.

The scenery around them seemed utterly unfamiliar, and Will was somewhat alarmed, as he found that he was considerably confused as to the points of the compass.

However, he finally decided upon what he supposed to be the direction in which the camp lay, and they started forward on their way.

Darkness came on, and, although they had progressed several miles, they were more bewildered than ever concerning their real whereabouts.

Any person who has been lost knows how, in the effort to regain some familiar landmark, the mind becomes affrighted and bewildered, and the feet wander unconsciously and aimlessly.

It was so with Will and Tom. It must have been nearly morning before they came to a halt.

They built a fire in a thicket and determined to wait until daybreak before they attempted again to ascertain their bearings or endeavored to reach the camp.

Will had not imparted his real anxieties to Tom, but when, the ensuing day, several hours’ wandering failed to reveal any trace of the camp or its proximity, he began to exhibit a deep concern.

“See here, Tom,” he said, frankly, at last, “I’ve led you to believe that it was only a matter of time in reaching the camp.”

“Yes, Will.”

“Well, I thought it was, but I’ve changed my mind.”

“You said the opening here looked like one near our last camping place.”

“I was mistaken.”

“Then you don’t think we’ll reach camp to-night?”

“I’m afraid not, Tom. There’s no use evading the true condition of affairs. We’ve been going in a wrong direction all day. We are lost!”


It was a dreary prospect for the tired and hungry boys, and Tom’s face lengthened as he realized the hardship and privation in store for them.

They had eaten the last morsel of food they had brought with them the day before, and the danger of actual starvation stared them in the face.

“We may have wandered miles from the camp, and Mr. Hunter may be looking for us in an entirely different direction,” said Will, seriously.

“Can’t we reach some town or settlement?” inquired Tom, hopefully.

“There may not be a house within a hundred miles, and there may be one within ten. All we can do is to struggle on, and as it’s getting night and looks like snow, we had better hurry away from this level prairie.”

In the far distance trees were visible, and the boys, keeping them in view, trudged wearily onwards.

Snow began to fall late in the afternoon, and this caused Will to urge the lagging Tom to hasten his pace, and endeavor to reach the timber ere night and storm overtook them.

They reached a scattering woods finally. Seeking a place to camp for the night, Tom[22] startled his companion with a welcome discovery.

It was the track of horses’ feet and wagon wheels along the edge of the timber, and they were quite fresh.

“Some vehicle has passed here lately, sure,” said Will, quite excitedly.

“Let us follow up the tracks,—they may lead to some town,” suggested Tom.

This course seemed a wise one, and was immediately followed, but when the road diverged to the opening all traces were hidden by the fast falling snow.

Darkness coming down showed a dreary waste of snow lying before them far as the eye could reach.

“We had better find a camp for the night,” said Will.

They devoted some time to searching for a convenient spot. The snow had become heavy and blinding, and penetrated even the timber.

“We’ll find a clump of screening bushes somewhere,” said Will, and they kept on through the woods.

At a little opening they paused, wet, chilled and discouraged.

Suddenly Will started.

“Hark!” he said, impressively.

Tom bent his ear to catch an ominous noise echoing strangely through the silent woods.

A distant baying sound was borne upon the breeze, becoming augmented in volume and nearness as they listened.

“What is it, Will?” inquired Tom, in awe-stricken tones.


Tom’s face grew pale and his hands began trembling violently.

“Oh, Will, what shall we do if they come here?”

“They probably will come here, but we won’t let them catch us just yet.”

“What shall we do?”

“Build a fire and climb the highest tree we can find.”

Will began at once to gather leaves and wood, but paused with a cry of delight.

“Come this way quick, Tom. Do you see yonder?”

“In the opening?”

“Yes. It’s a house. Run, Tom, for the wolves are coming nearer.”

The baying sound seemed directly in the timber as they dashed across the snowy waste.

In the centre of the opening stood a structure of some kind. As they neared it the rude outlines of a log cabin were revealed.

The single door was open. Through the roofless top the snow came down heavily.

But it was a welcome house of refuge amid peril. Will pushed the door shut and propped a heavy log lying inside against it.

As he did so he saw, breaking from the cover of the forest, a dozen or more wolves.

“Just in time,” he murmured, relievedly, as he glanced around at the stout timbers enclosing the cabin.


Tom Dalton could not overcome the terror he experienced at the near proximity of the wolves until Will assured him that they were safe.

“They can’t break in the door nor reach the roof.”

“But we’ll have to stay here all night.”

“Very probably, Tom, and we’ll make the best of it and try and keep comfortable.”

It was a cheerless outlook, however, for the snow came down through the roofless top of the cabin the same as if they were out doors.

Will adjusted some logs to form a kind of shelter, however, and then for some time listened to the noises from the outside.

The wolves were baying and snarling and tearing at the logs as if hungry for their expected prey.

These sounds died away after a while, the animals seeming to abandon their assault on the cabin as useless.

“They have gone off on a new trail,” said Will; but half an hour later his theory seemed to be an incorrect one.

Far in the distance the baying began again, came nearer and nearer, and sounded more vicious in its echoing tones than before.

“I wonder what it means,” spoke Tom.

“They seem to be coming to the cabin again,” said Will. “Why, one of them is tearing at the logs.”

A scraping sound emanated from the outside as Will spoke.

“Yes, and the wolf is reaching the top. Oh, Will, we are lost! Look!”

Over the edge of the roof a dark form climbed, plainly visible against the sky.

“It’s no wolf, Tom,” said Will, quickly.

“What, then?”

“A man. Don’t you see? Some belated traveler like ourselves.”

There was no doubt of Will’s statement, for the form climbed astride the roof pole, and, as the howling of the wolves sounded below him, shook his fist in their direction.


“Ye varmints,” the boys heard him cry, “I’ve cheated ye this time; but I guess this is the only tavern I’ll see to-night.”

His hat had fallen off in climbing to a place of safety, but some object in a box was clasped in one hand.

Curious, interested at this new phase in the occurrences of the night, the boys watched the man silently.

He kept talking down to the snarling wolves, seeking vainly to reach him, in a quaint, complaining tone.

Then he opened the box, and, to Will’s amazement, drew forth a violin.

“Ye didn’t get this, although ye’ve spoiled the party at the Corners’ tavern,” he shouted at the wolves. “I’ll give ye some music to dance to, ye jolly varmints.”

A jolly old person himself seemed the refugee, for, without more ado, as if rather enjoying his strange dilemma than otherwise, he began playing a quick, merry tune on his violin.


As the strains of melody died away, Will shouted the word to the musician.

The latter started and stared all around him.

“Curious,” he muttered; “I knew music tamed animals, but to make ’em speak! Why, it’s some one inside the cabin,” he cried, in surprise, looking down as Will shouted up to him again. “Who are you?”

“Two boys driven here by the storm and the wolves.”

“Well, well, if this ain’t a night of adventures my name ain’t Jabez Brown,” muttered the stranger. “Catch the fiddle, youngsters, and don’t let it drop, for it’s my bread and butter. I’m coming down.”

He lowered the violin and followed it nimbly, staring curiously at his young companions in distress.

His big, honest eyes fairly shone in the semi-darkness of the hut as he questioned Will rapidly, and the latter briefly related the causes leading to their present dilemma.

In return, the musician informed them that they were in the vicinity of two isolated settlements, that he was a schoolmaster and musician, and that he was on his way to a place called “the Corners,” to play at a party at the tavern, when the storm belated him and the wolves drove him to the old cabin.

“It ain’t safe to venture out before daylight,” he said, “for the storm’s heavy and[24] the wolves are as thick as bees. We’ll build a fire in the old fireplace yonder and keep warm, and I’ve got a little lunch in my pocket here.”

The bustling old musician, with the help of the boys, made a slanting cover of the loose logs in the cabin, and then, with his knife, cut some kindling from one of them.

A cheerful fire soon blazed in the fireplace, warming the chilled denizens of the hut. The stranger’s lunch was very welcome to the boys, and his merry stories of frontier life kept them entertained until nearly morning.

At daylight they started over a trackless waste of snow for the Corners. Here the boys found some kind-hearted friends of Brown, who welcomed them to a cozy home until they could decide as to their future course.

A discussion of the situation with Brown led to an abandonment of the hope of again joining Mr. Hunter.

The only settlement they could remember where a station had been made, they were informed, was many miles to the west, through a trackless wilderness.

“We will have to work our way back to Watertown,” decided Will, and the ensuing day an opportunity presented itself to begin their progress homewards.

The storekeeper intended driving to a town some fifty miles distant for goods, and offered to give them a free ride.

When they reached the place they learned that it would be easier for them to reach the seacoast and then proceed home than to pass through a less inhabited portion direct to Watertown.

Four days after leaving the Corners, by means of occasional rides from farmers and others, they reached the city of Portland.

“We won’t be long in reaching Watertown now,” said Will, confidently.

“Why not?” inquired Tom.

“Because there must be some ships going that way, and I am acquainted with a good many of the sailors.”

The first place he visited was the wharves of the city. It was just dusk when they came to a dock where a large ship, which Will recognized, was moored.

Tom, less observing than his companion, had not noticed it particularly.

“There seems to be only one ship we know here,” said Will.

“I haven’t seen any.”

“Look yonder, then. That one lying nearest to us runs regularly to Watertown.”

Tom started as he recognized the craft, and looked dismayed.

For it was the Golden Moose.


Tom Dalton stood grimly silent for a moment or two regarding the ship before him as if to satisfy himself that it was indeed Captain Morris’ ship.

“Yes,” he said, finally, “it’s the Golden Moose.”

“And ready to sail soon, too,” remarked Will. “Where are you going, Tom?”

Tom had started to leave the spot.

“To look for another ship.”

“What for?”

“To get back to Watertown, of course.”

“See here, Tom.”


“I doubt if there’s a craft here going to Watertown.”

“Then we’ll wait for one,” responded Tom, gruffly. “You surely ain’t thinking of the Moose?”

“I am. Why not? We have friends aboard. There’s the boatswain.”

Tom shook his head persistently.

“It’s no use of talking, Will,” he said. “I daren’t trust myself in Captain Morris’ clutches again. He’d kill me, sure.”

“Nonsense. See here, Tom, the hatches are fastened down and the Moose probably sails to-night. It’s only a short voyage.”


“There’s a dozen places we could hide about the ship.”

“That may be, but—”

“And Captain Morris may not be aboard at all. You know he sometimes gives the mate charge of the ship.”

“If I thought that, I’d venture, Will, but I’m really afraid of him.”

“Once aboard we’ll hide snug and safe until we reach Watertown and then skip ashore.”

Tom’s hesitation gave way under Will’s arguments, and he said:

“All right. I’ll sort of sneak around the ship and see who is aboard.”

Will waited while Tom approached the ship.

The latter was gone about ten minutes.

“Well?” asked Will, as he returned to the place where he was.

“The coast’s clear.”

“No one aboard?”

“Oh, yes; the mate and boatswain and half a dozen others are in the cabin.”


“And the crew?”

“I guess they’re ashore.”

“Did you see Captain Morris?”


“Does it look as if they were going to sail to-night?”

“Yes; the lanterns are ready for an outward trip. Come, now’s our time to steal aboard. They’ve been making a lot of changes, just as if they were going on a long voyage.”

Tom led the way to the ship, and Will followed him over the rail to the deck.

“Where shall we hide?” he asked Tom.

“In the forecastle.”

“Won’t we be discovered?”

Tom laughed.

“You must remember I’m at home on the Moose,” he said.

A lamp burned dimly in the forecastle, and thither Tom led the way. They passed a row of bunks, and finally came to a trap door, which he opened.

“Are we going in there?” inquired Will, peering into the dark aperture.


“What is it?”

“A sort of storage cubby hole, and it’s warm and cozy.”

Both boys found themselves ensconced in a low, boarded apartment. Several old mattresses afforded a soft couch, and they could command a full view of the room through which they passed through the cracks in the door, which Tom had pulled shut after him.

They had tramped quite a long distance that day, and their whispered conversation soon subsided, and drowsiness overcame them.

Will was the first to awake in the morning. From the motion of the ship he knew that they were on the ocean. Peering through the interstices of the trap door he saw several sailors asleep and others coming from and going to the deck.

When Tom awoke they discussed the situation and decided that by that night or the next morning they would reach Watertown.

“I’m getting desperately hungry,” Tom said more than once, as the long morning glided away.

“We can’t get anything to eat here without revealing ourselves,” replied Will.

Tom’s fortitude, however, gave out completely before the day was ended.

“I can’t stand it, Will,” he ejaculated at last. “I’m fairly dying of hunger and thirst. Look, Will, there’s the boatswain.”

Peering through a crack in the door, Will saw Jack Marcy enter the place.

He was alone, and the forecastle was deserted except for himself.

“Shall I hail him?” he whispered, inquiringly, to Tom.

“Yes, do, Will. He’ll bring us something to eat and drink and won’t betray us.”

Will pushed the door of their place of concealment slightly ajar.

“Jack!” he uttered in a distinct but subdued tone.

The boatswain, who was arranging a bunk, started, and looked bewilderedly around him.

“Here, Jack, it’s Tom Dalton and myself,” spoke Will, pushing the door clear open.

Jack Marcy came to the spot and stood staring in profound amazement at the two boyish faces peering out at him.

“Well, well,” was all he could say, in dumbfounded amazement.

“Don’t you know us, Jack? It’s Tom Dalton and Will Bertram.”

“Yes, yes, I know you, but how on earth do you come here?” spoke the mystified boatswain.

“Oh, that’s a long story, Jack. All we’re thinking of now is getting back to Watertown, and we want something to eat.”

“Where?” cried Jack, wildly.

“To Watertown.”

The old boatswain shook his head gravely.

“You’re on the wrong ship, lads. It will be many a long day before you see Watertown.”

“What do you mean?” asked Will, in sudden alarm.

“The Moose ain’t going to Watertown at all.”

“What! Not going to Watertown?”

“No; she’s provisioned for a two-months’ ocean trip.”

“And Captain Morris——” quavered Tom, appealingly.

“Is in command.”


Will Bertram uttered a cry of surprise and dismay at Jack Marcy’s startling declaration, while Tom grew pale and frightened.

“Come out of that place, both of you,” said the boatswain. “You might hide away for a day or two, but not for two months. Here, lads, I’ll find a place where we can talk without being interrupted.”

He crossed the forecastle, and, taking a key from his pocket, unlocked a door, which, opened, revealed a small apartment with a little window looking out on the deck.


Jack relocked the door, and, pointing to some casks, told the boys to be seated.

“We’re safe in the spirit room here,” he said. “Now, then, lads, out with your story, and let’s hear the worst of it.”

Tom Dalton was too engrossed in his misery, as he imagined the blows in store for him when he met Captain Morris, to say a word.

Will briefly related what had occurred since the episode of Tom’s flight from the Moose.

Jack Marcy listened with mouth agape.

“Well, you boys deserve to get home, for you’re persevering enough, that’s sure,” and Jack went on to tell about the change in the usual sailing route of the ship.

It seemed that the coast trade had been light during the late winter months, and Captain Morris had prepared for a voyage to Nova Scotia and points farther north.

“I don’t know what he’ll say when he finds you’re aboard,” said Jack, dubiously.

“Don’t let him know; oh, please don’t tell him,” pleaded Tom, anxiously.

“We can’t very well hide the truth from him, lad,” said Jack. “Don’t begin to blubber, now, and we’ll think of the easiest way to get you out of this fix. You’re hungry, I guess; eh, lads?”

Will assented eagerly.

“I’ll get you something to eat and drink, and we’ll think the affair over,” said Jack.

He left them and returned in a few minutes with the promised food.

Then he relocked the door and left his young charges anxious and suspenseful over his promised mental consideration of the case.

Meantime, events were in progress in the cabin of the ship, of which the boys were in entire ignorance, but which materially affected their welfare.

Captain Morris and his mate had celebrated the sailing of the Golden Moose by drinking very freely, and immediately after the boatswain’s visit to the boys the captain had come on deck.

It had been Jack Marcy’s intention to approach the Captain on the subject of the stowaways.

The Captain’s sullen face and rough manner, however, deterred him from carrying his plan into operation. Under the influence of liquor, Captain Morris was a worse tyrant than ever, and he made it uncomfortable for all the men he came in contact with by finding fault with them or threatening chastisement for some alleged dereliction of duty.

Finally his attention was directed to a little knot of men gathered on the deck, in the centre of which was a pale and excited sailor, who was gesticulating violently and pointing to the forecastle.

“What’s the row here?” angrily demanded the Captain, approaching the men. “What are you loitering around here for?”

“Ben Allen has seen a spirit, sir,” spoke up one of the men.

“What’s this nonsense? Too much rum, I guess,” gruffly replied Morris.

“I did see a spirit, Captain, all the same,” seriously answered the sailor named Ben Allen.

“Whose?” inquired the Captain, scoffingly.

“The old cabin boy’s, Tom Dalton’s.”

“Where?” he demanded.

“At the little bull’s-eye glass in the forecastle spirit room.”

The man’s manner was so earnest that Morris looked half convinced.

Jack Marcy had overheard the conversation, and looked deeply concerned.

“It’s all up with the boys if the Captain believes him,” he muttered.

He at once discerned what had happened. Tom Dalton, peering out of the window of the spirit room, had been seen by the sailor Allen.

“Here, Jack Marcy, where’s the key to the spirit room?”

“You ain’t going to pay attention to Allen’s nonsense, are you, captain?” asked Jack, with assumed carelessness.

“Yes, I am. Here, you, Allen, we’ll hunt for this spirit that haunts the ship.”

He took the key from Jack’s hand and went forthwith into the forecastle.

Will and Tom heard the sound of approaching footsteps, but, little dreaming of what had transpired on the deck, supposed it was the boatswain bent on another visit to them, as the key grated in the lock.

The door opened.

Will Bertram stood transfixed, while Tom Dalton shrank back with a feeble cry of dread.

For a single moment Captain Morris stood rooted to the spot, gazing amazedly at the two boys.

“I told you, captain, Tom Dalton was there,” muttered Allen.

“But no spirit,” cried Captain Morris, his eyes flashing with malice. “Tom Dalton, eh? Well, my runaway cabin boy, we’ll now attend to the whipping you got out of so nicely at Watertown a month ago.”

And seizing the terrified Tom he dragged him triumphantly to the deck of the ship.



Land was nowhere in sight, and a chill, frosty air swept the deck of the Golden Moose as its captain confronted his crew with a new surprise.

He vouchsafed no explanation to them of his discovery of the boys, nor did he exhibit at first any curiosity as to how the stowaways had come aboard.

It seemed to be enough to him to know that the former object of his hatred and spite, Tom Dalton, was once more in his power.

Will Bertram had followed the Captain and Tom to the deck. As Morris flung the cabin boy with a violent jerk upon a pile of ropes he growled out, viciously:

“You stay there until I get the cat-of-nine-tails ready!”

Poor Tom crouched and cowered and hid his face in his hands, uttering moans of despair and terror.

Will grew sick at heart as he contemplated the brutal visage of the half-drunken Morris.

He summoned all his courage and boldness, however, and ventured to address him.

“Captain Morris, can I speak a word to you?”

Morris turned with a sneering snarl.

“Ah, my young friend, how humble we are! Our tone ain’t quite as defiant as it was!”

“I want to speak to you about Tom, sir.”

“We’ll clip his wings, and yours, too, before this voyage is ended. You got him to run away. I told you I’d get even with you, and you’ll soon find out how well I keep my word.”

“Captain Morris,” said Will, earnestly, “you have no right to abuse that boy, and you don’t dare to whip me!”

Captain Morris terminated Will’s appeal by going below and reappearing a minute later.

The dreaded instrument of torture, the cat-of-nine-tails, was in his grasp.

His big, brawny hand seized Tom’s jacket and fairly tore it from his back.

He did not wait to have his victim tied up, but began slashing at the poor cabin boy with fiendish satisfaction in his evil face.

“Take that, and that. Ah! you squirm, do you!”

“You coward!”

As blow after blow was rained on the shoulders and body of the screaming Tom, his companion could not restrain his indignation, and applied the censuring words to Morris.

The latter turned.

“I’ll see if this ship is to be run by boys any longer!” he yelled, choking with rage.

The whip came down across Will’s form with a violence that fairly took his breath away.

He gasped out wildly from the pain inflicted by the cutting strokes.

Suddenly there was an interruption. A hand stronger than that of the Captain clutched the descending whip.

“Don’t strike that boy again, Captain Morris!”

Jack Marcy had stepped forward, and it was he who now spoke.

The Captain directed one amazed glance at him, dumbfounded at the first evidence of rebellion he had ever seen on board the Golden Moose.

“What do you mean?” he demanded, red with anger.

“You ain’t treating these boys right, Captain; that’s what I mean,” said Jack, steadily. “Don’t strike them again.”

“Stand aside!”

“I won’t do it, Captain. You ain’t yourself, or you wouldn’t act this way.”

The Captain struggled to get his hands free, but Jack held him firmly.

“Mutiny!” he roared. “Here,” to the crew, “seize this man and lock him up below.”

Not a sailor stirred to interfere or relieve the Captain from his dilemma.

“Do you hear me?” raved Morris, finally wrenching his hands free. “Well, then, I’ll trounce the whole of you, beginning with you, my mutinous boatswain!”

He struck at Jack Marcy. The blow was not repeated.

Without an indication of anger on his bronzed face, but with a quick step forward, the boatswain lifted his fist and deliberately knocked the Captain down.

Captain Morris arose to his feet with blood in his eye.

“Do you know what you’ve done, you mutinous scoundrel?” he yelled. “Oh, my hearty, you’ll pay dearly for this! To the forecastle! You are no longer an officer on this ship! As to these boys, put them to work,” he ordered to the mate; “and give them plenty of it, and the hardest kind at that!”

Jack Marcy walked up to the Captain and looked him squarely in the eye.

“Captain Morris,” he said, “you’ve relieved me of duty on the ship, well and good; but[28] you leave those boys alone. It ain’t in my nature to see them abused, and I won’t, and there ain’t a man here that don’t stand by me. I’ve sailed with you a long time and did my duty, but I’m through now. You can send me home on a passing ship or land me ashore for mutiny, just as you like. You and I part company this voyage, and that’s the end of it.”

The Captain’s brow darkened.

“I will have you tried for mutiny!” he cried. “As to those boys, they’ll work their passage, I’ll guarantee.”

Captain Morris did not boast vainly. That day and for many days following, Will and Tom were put at the severest drudgery.

Jack Marcy’s position had been given to one of the sailors and he himself relieved from duty.

Captain Morris did not again exercise any positive cruelty against the boys, but saw that they did not idle their time away.

He and the mate seemed to be continually holding mysterious conversations, and more than once the crew discussed the strange course of the ship.

“We seem to be ocean bound,” Will overheard one of them say one day, “with no definite port in view.”

“He’s going to touch at Nova Scotia and points north, I hear,” remarked another sailor.

One dark night an event occurred which threw some light on the Captain’s action.

Will had been cleaning the lamps in the forward cabin. The weather had been squally all day, and had developed into a positive storm at night.

More than once the boatswain had come to the cabin where the captain and mate were, asking for orders, as the ship seemed in positive danger.

The mate went on deck several times, but would return almost immediately, and he and the Captain would resume their confidential talk, drinking freely from a bottle of liquor on the table, in the inner cabin.

They paid no attention to Will, who was in the next compartment to the one they occupied, but they started and looked up, and Will himself aroused curiously as a form came into the cabin and boldly entered on the privacy of the captain and the mate.

It was Jack Marcy, and his face was grim and uncompromising as he faced his superior officers.

Captain Morris scowled darkly.

“What do you want here?” he demanded, gruffly.

“I want to talk with you about this ship. The crew are getting uneasy. They say she is suffering from stress of weather, and that the commanding officers are not doing their duty.”

“What’s that of your business? You are no longer an officer on the ship.”

“Maybe not, Captain Morris, but I happen to know what the men do not. There’s a leak in the hold, and you two are plotting to sink the ship.”

Captain Morris sprang to his feet wildly.

“Are you mad, to make such a statement?” he cried.

“No,” replied Jack, calmly. “I know what I’m talking about. When you left Portland the Golden Moose was heavily insured and charged with a cargo she never carried. I accuse you, Captain Morris, and your mate, with trying to sink the ship in mid-ocean to get that insurance money!”


Captain Morris’ face underwent a variety of startling changes at the bold assertion of Jack Marcy.

Will Bertram could see them by the lamplight through the open door of the inner cabin, and was amazed at the bold charge the boatswain had made.

“Do you know what you are saying?” began the Captain.

“Perfectly. The ship is in danger.”

“We can’t help that.”

“And aleak.”

“Then it must be attended to.”

“You are right, Captain Morris, and if you and your mate do not immediately set about repairing your evil work I will tell the crew all.”

Morris’ usually red face had grown very pale.

“You say there is a leak?” he said, after a pause.



“In the hold, where you and your mate were two hours since, and where I overheard your plot to sink the ship and trust to the long-boat to get ashore.”

“And you imagine the crew would believe this story if you told it to them?”

“I do if I added some further information I have obtained.”

“What is that?”

“The real fate of the crew of the Albatross.”


At these words a horrible pallor crossed Morris’ face.

There was a crash, and the light in the cabin went suddenly out.

A heavy blow seemed struck, and then the mate’s voice fell on Will’s hearing:

“He knows too much, Captain.”

“For our safety, yes. Ha! what’s that?”

There was a violent lurch of the ship as the Captain spoke.

The next moment he and the mate rushed past Will to the deck.

The latter, alarmed at the wild tossing of the ship, followed them.

The deck of the Golden Moose was a scene of indescribable confusion.


The skies were of inky blackness, the sea lashed into a mad fury by a terrific gale.

It is doubtful if the captain and the mate anticipated such a tempest, for, as the new boatswain announced that the ship was becoming water-logged, both men seemed terribly frightened.

Each moment the condition of the ship became worse. It tossed in the trough of the sea and then on the crest of the waves.

Tom Dalton, pale and excited, had reached Will Bertram’s side, and both clung to a rope to escape being swept off the deck.

“We shall all go down,” quavered Tom. “See, Will, they are pulling off the long-boat.”

“And Jack Marcy is below. Follow me, Tom. The captain and mate intend leaving him behind.”

Both boys hurried into the cabin. Will groped his way to the inner compartment.

It was locked!

He had no thought now of personal safety, but, suspenseful for the rescue of their staunch friend, bade Tom help him.

Together they endeavored to force the locked door. Will beat at it with a chair, kicked at it, flung his body against it.

The door gave way at last.

“Jack! Jack!” he cried, groping his way about blindly in the darkness.

A lurch of the ship sent him to one side of the cabin.

As he fell his hand came in contact with a prostrate form.

“It is Jack, and he is insensible,” he murmured, concernedly. “Tom! Tom!”

“I’m here, Will.”

“Hurry on deck.”

“What for?”

“To tell the crew that Jack Marcy is lying here helpless and in peril.”

“How did he come here?” asked Tom, curiously.

“Never mind now. The captain and mate locked him in. Quick, tell the men.”

Tom disappeared.

A minute later he came rushing down wildly.

“Oh, Will! Will!” he cried, frantically.

“What has happened?”

“We are left behind. The captain and the crew have left in the long-boat, and have deserted the ship.”


Will Bertram was utterly overwhelmed at the intelligence conveyed by Tom’s announcement of the condition of affairs on the deck of the Golden Moose.

For some moments he did not speak. The peril of their situation stunned him completely.

“They could not have been so cowardly, so inhuman,” he murmured.

“Maybe the men didn’t miss us in the excitement, and the Captain wanted to leave us behind,” remarked Tom.

Will groped his way to a place where a lamp was fastened to the wall and lit it.

Its rays showed the boatswain, insensible on the floor. Will leaned over him and shook him gently.

In a few moments he had the satisfaction of seeing him move, open his eyes and stare bewilderedly around him.

“Why, what’s happened? Oh, I remember—the captain and the mate. They knocked me insensible. Where are they?”



“They locked you in and left the ship in the long-boat;” and Will related what had occurred.

“The scoundrels!” ejaculated the boatswain. “Stay here, my lads, for the ship’s tossing at a terrible rate, and it ain’t safe for you to go on deck.”

The practiced eye of the old sailor took in the peculiar position of the ship at a glance.

One of the masts was broken, and whole parts of the deck had been swept away. The forward part of the ship dipped low, as though disabled, and its course was erratic and unguided by rudder or sails.

Amid the darkness there was no sight of the long-boat.

“You’re right, lads,” said the old tar, returning to the cabin. “The ship is deserted and at the mercy of the storm—and a bad storm it is.”


As he spoke, a gigantic wave swept over the deck and into the cabin.

“We’ll get out of here as soon as we can. No whimpering, Tom. With common sense and courage we may be saved yet.”

Jack ransacked several nooks in the cabin and brought to view several old coats made of tarpaulin cloth. In these, as a protection against the rain and waves, the trio encased themselves.

Then the boatswain tied a strong rope around his waist and bade his fellow-companions in peril do the same.

“Now, keep close to me,” he said.

He climbed to the deck, the boys following him. It was well that he took the precautions he did, for the first wave swept Will and Tom off their feet.

Jack clung to the wheel, toward which he with difficulty made his way.

His companions crouched at his feet, awed and frightened at the wildness of the storm.

“The boat may weather the storm yet, leaking as she is,” remarked Jack.

“But if not?”

“Then we must trust to the small boat those scoundrels have left behind. Hold fast, lads. A light!”

Old Jack strained his vision to pierce the darkness.

“I certainly saw a light,” he repeated, anxiously; “there it is ahead, directly in our course, and bearing down on us.”

“Is it land?” queried Tom.

“No; we are hundreds of miles from land.

“It is probably a ship in distress, like ourselves. It’s coming nearer, and our lantern is swept out. Steady, lads, for a crash is coming.”

One single speck of light relieved the gloom of the scene. The excited boys could make it out coming nearer and nearer.

It shadowed out dimly the outlines of a large ship, and then——

A crash that sent a shock through their frames sounded above the frightful roar of the tempest.

The timbers started beneath their feet; Jack’s hold was torn from the wheel, and the trio were flung indiscriminately across the deck.

The ship that had collided with them had passed on or sunk, they knew not which. Their own desperate situation called for immediate action.

“We’re sinking, lads. It’s the boat, now, or certain death by drowning.”

But the boat had been swept away. Old Jack uttered a cry of dismay.

The water was up to their waists now, and various movable objects were floating about as if on the surface of the sea itself.

“Cling to this, lads,” shouted Jack, as a wooden grating that had been near the forecastle drifted before them.

They obeyed him just in time, for a gigantic wave enveloped the deck and swept the ship from beneath them.

Clinging to the grating they were flung upon the boiling waters about them.

“She’s gone down,” they heard Jack’s voice say. “It is a matter of endurance now.”

Tom was half fainting with terror, while Will, chilled and benumbed, blindly, hopelessly clung to the frail craft.

At the mercy of the waves, it drifted to and fro, now on the crest of the waves, now in the trough of the sea, always half submerged, the salt sea-water blinding and choking the three voyagers.

It was an awful experience for the imperiled trio. Only the staunch, encouraging words of Jack Marcy, ringing above the tempest, kept them from utterly succumbing to the terrors of their situation.

At last—it seemed after many hours—the storm subsided. A calm stole over the wild waters and faint daylight began to creep over the scene.

A dusky gray in the far horizon was succeeded by a flush of ruddy hue. Darkness faded at last, and a great golden globe of fire shone over the dreary scene.

Far as the eye could reach was water, unbroken, monotonous.

The old boatswain’s eye scanned the bleak expanse searchingly.

He saw what the boys had not noticed. His face was eager and hopeful as he fixed his glance toward the rising sun.

Then he announced in thrilling tones:

“A sail!”


The words of the old boatswain infused new hope and courage into the drooping hearts of the two boys.

They had been enabled, when the waters grew calm, to creep upon the grating, but they were so chilled and exhausted that they were only conscious of suffering and misery.

Both looked eagerly in the direction where Jack’s glance was fixed.

“I don’t see anything, Jack,” said Will.

“The sun blinds your eyes, lad, and the salt water makes them weak. It’s a sail, and it’s drifting this way.”


And a few minutes later the boatswain reported:

“A raft—two people on it! Do you see it now?”

“Yes, plainly!” cried Will, in excited tones. “Oh, Jack, will they see us?”

Some distance away, on the surface of the waters, could plainly be made out a floating object resembling a raft.

A single pole with a piece of sail was fixed upon it, while two forms, apparently human beings, sat on the raft.

“It’s bearing our way. Now, then, lads, yell your loudest.”

While the boys obeyed the boatswain and shouted vigorously, Jack broke a bar of the wooden grating, tied a handkerchief to its end, and, maintaining a standing position with difficulty, waved the signal wildly.

“They see us!” cried Jack, excitedly. “They are setting the sail to come this way! Ahoy! ahoy!”

Amid his excitement, the boatswain nearly fell into the water. A minute later the raft came towards them. It touched the side of the grating, and a hearty voice cried out:

“Messmates in distress, welcome!”

The occupants of the raft were two—a boy and a man. The dress of the latter indicated him to be a sailor. He was about Jack’s age.

His companion was a boy, a year or two older than Will and Tom. His pallor showed that he had suffered from exposure to the storm, but his eye brightened as he assisted the boys to clamber on the raft.

It was a strong, substantial craft, made of stout timbers, covered with a gangway top, and lashed together with stout ropes.

Old Jack secured the grating to the end of the raft with a rope, and then turned to the sailor in charge of it.

There was a gleam of curiosity in the eyes of the latter as he surveyed Jack’s dripping form.

“Well, mate,” he said, “you seem to have been cruising on a frail craft?”

“Since last night, yes.”

“Shipped from——”

“Portland, on the Golden Moose, and sunk in midocean a few hours since. And you?”

“Hugo Arnold, second mate of the merchantman Liverpool, bound for Philadelphia, and went down, disabled in a collision with an unknown ship.”


“Last night.”

A few words of interrogation and reply showed that the ship which had hastened the sinking of the Moose was the Liverpool.

“The crew and the passengers all got off—some in the long-boats, some on rafts. This one we fixed up quickly, but three others on it abandoned us and swam after the boats.”

“And you’ve been on the water since?”

“Yes. We saw your signal, and are mighty glad of company. We took one precaution,” and the old sailor pointed to a cask and a box. “Drink and food,” he remarked.

Never did food have a more welcome taste to Will and Tom than the hard ship’s biscuit they were proffered.

They learned that the Liverpool had come from Germany with a large cargo, and that the mate’s companion was a student of a German university, returning to his home in Boston.

His name was Willis Moore, and the boys soon struck up a genial acquaintanceship.

The two old sailors indulged in a long confidential conversation while the boys were discussing the situation among themselves.

They were experienced sailors, and their general knowledge of the ocean enabled them to very clearly estimate their probable location.

“We cannot have floated far out of the course of ships,” said Jack. “The storm has gone down, and if we can keep afloat for a few days we will probably be picked up by some passing craft.”

Except for the keen wind, the rescued Will and Tom did not suffer on the craft. There was sufficient to eat and drink for some time, and, after their dreadful experience on the Moose and the grating, they were insensible to minor discomforts.

There was a shade of anxiety cast over the forlorn group of voyagers as the days and nights wore on, however.

For two days passed and there was no indication of a ship. The sail rudely improvised was not of much use, and, as they had lost all accurate bearings, the raft had been allowed to drift at its will.

“We’ll set a watch to-night,” said Jack, that evening. “It looks as if we might have a storm before evening. Now, Hugo, you and the boys turn in and I’ll take the lookout for half the night.”

It must have been on towards midnight when Will awoke to feel the rain beating on his face.

The wind, too, was blowing, and he aroused himself as he remembered Jack’s prediction of the storm, and he noticed a slight ruddy glow on the waters near the raft.

He discerned the cause of the strange illumination as he hurried to where Jack was.


The boatswain was at the extreme windward end of the raft. Before him, on the bottom of the raft, a small fire flashed and spluttered.

He had emptied the water out from the cask, knocked in the head, and then, breaking up the box that held the biscuits, had built a fire with the wood inside the cask.

This he kept feeding continuously with bits of the wood.

Will crept to his side and spoke his name.

The boatswain did not speak until he had drawn the grating in tow upon the raft, and, breaking a piece of wood from it, placed it in the cask.

“Don’t wake the others up,” said Jack, in a low, hurried tone, that had a shade of excitement quite unusual to the old sailor.

“What is it, Jack,—the cask—the fire?”

“A light—some ship, sure,” replied the boatswain, pointing into the darkness.

“Did you see it?”

“Yes; it comes and goes yonder. I keep the open end of the cask in that direction, and if they see the light we may be rescued.”

“But you’ve thrown away the water, and if we shouldn’t be seen?”

“It’s raining. We can get plenty more.”

Jack kept feeding the fire with broken pieces of the grating. The open end of the cask gave the light quite a focus; but Will, scanning the horizon, could see no indication of the light Jack claimed to have discovered.

The cask itself had begun to burn and would soon fall in and no longer confine the fire.

In the glare Jack’s face looked seriously disappointed.

“The light I saw is gone, sure. The ship may have turned so we can’t see it.”

“Maybe it was a star.”

“No, no. Ahoy! ahoy! Look, lad; we’re almost upon them.”

The wild call of the boatswain aroused the remaining sleeping occupants of the raft.

Only a short distance ahead of them a ship’s light could be seen, and the outlines of the ship itself made out.

Evidently Jack had been looking in the wrong direction for it. He redoubled his cries and piled the wood on the fire, which, fanned by the breeze, threatened to set the entire raft in flames.


The responsive call came near at hand. A yawl, manned by several sailors, drove directly into the raft.

Their signal had been heard! They were rescued!

Ten minutes later, as the boys and sailors clambered upon the deck of a stately ship to which the yawl had conveyed them, they could see the burning raft, a diminishing speck of light, in the far distance.


It did not take long for the excited party to learn that the ship, which now offered them a comfortable temporary home, was the Arctic, Captain John Smith, of Bedford.

The rescued party were immediately taken into the captain’s cabin, and for over an hour questioned as to their past adventures.

Jack Marcy concealed the fact of Captain Morris’ plot to sink the Golden Moose with a grim resolution that, when he once more reached Portland, the truth should be made known.

Inquiry from Captain Smith revealed the fact that the Arctic was a whaler fully rigged for a cruise to the far North.

The castaways were cared for and treated with kindly consideration, and the next morning the Captain said to Jack Marcy:

“We cannot change our course to get you ashore, boatswain.”

“We could not expect that, sir.”

“But should we meet a returning vessel?”

“’Taint likely at this season of the year.”

“No, not so early. Still, we make a landing five days ahead, with favorable weather, and you can go ashore and wait for a ship going back.”

“All right, Captain.”

“Or, if you and Hugo want to ship with us? We’re short-handed.”

Jack considered deeply.

“There’s the lads, sir.”

“We might make them useful, and, with a successful voyage, they might get home almost as soon as waiting for a ship at our last landing station.”

“I’ll think it over, sir,” said Jack. “Meantime, make us useful around the ship.”

The boys were delighted with the Arctic, and the arrangements made for the capture of whales and the securing of oil fairly fascinated them.

Were it not for thoughts of anxious friends at home Will Bertram would have been glad to accompany the Arctic on her voyage.

Circumstances prevented their stopping at the landing place Captain Smith had spoken of. A storm drove the ship out of its course, and without passing a single ship, two weeks after picking up the sailors and the boys the[34] captain assigned them to duties on the ship.

“You’ll have to stay with the Arctic till she returns, now,” he said, “and you might find less comfortable quarters.”

Jack and Hugo were easily provided for, and the boys were given light duties to perform. The variety and excitement of the voyage made time pass pleasantly, and they resigned themselves to the inevitable when they learned that their return home was a matter of the far future.

“We’ve crossed the line of the whale hunting grounds, and you may expect to see some sport,” said old Jack one day.

His prediction was verified soon afterwards. The Arctic had been sailing into lower temperatures, and one morning, after passing several large masses of ice, was put in order for a whale catch.

The boats and harpoons were got ready, and about noon the man on watch sang out the cry so familiar to old whalers,

“Ahoy! There she blows!”

Immediately the deck was a scene of action. Two boats were lowered, and the men piled into them indiscriminately.

Old Jack had arranged with the Captain to take part in the capture, and, to Will’s delight, found a place for him by his side in one of the boats.

A mile or more to the south every eye had noticed a volume of water spurted into the air, the signal of the location of the whale.

There was a brisk rivalry between the two boats to reach the whale first. The monster they were in pursuit of had disappeared beneath the surface of the water, but became visible at times again, and the boats were rapidly nearing its vicinity.

The boat Jack and Will were in was commanded by the mate of the Arctic and soon gained a lead on the other boat.

At last they came so near to the whale that one of the sailors stood, with harpoon poised, ready to strike at the proper moment.

Will, watching with profound interest, saw the harpoon fly forward. It became lodged in the body of the whale. Then there was a quick jerk, and the monster disappeared beneath the waves, the blood from its wound dyeing the water a bright red.

The rope attached to the harpoon that had struck the whale was wound round a stout reel in the boat, and this began to go out so rapidly that it seemed as if it would saw itself in two whenever it touched the edge of the boat.

The whale after diving deep came up again to the surface of the water and began running at a terrible rate of speed.

“The reel’s out,” cried a sailor.

The oars were drawn in now and the boat abandoned entirely to the caprice of the whale.

It was a novel experience for Will—a ride, with the marine monster as a horse.

One of the sailors stood by the reel with a hatchet in his hand, uplifted as if ready to sever the rope at a moment’s notice.

“What is he waiting for?” Will inquired of Jack.

“You see the rope is all played out?”


“Well, if the whale should dive the boat would follow. See there!”

“Cut loose!”

This cry came from the mate, who had been watching the whale’s maneuvers.

At the same moment the whale disappeared again.

The hatchet descended and cut the rope in two.

The men resumed their oars and rowed rapidly towards the spot where the whale had last been seen.

A second harpoon, with a smaller reel of rope, was hastily got ready.

Suddenly there was a commotion directly by the side of the boat. The practiced harpooner flung the harpoon as the whale came up, and then a scene of indescribable confusion ensued.

The whale had struck the boat with its tail, crushing the boat in which Will sat and flinging its occupants high in the air.

Old Jack seized Will as they fell into the water, and then caught at a floating piece of the boat.

The other sailors swam towards the companion boat, which hurried to the scene of the disaster and picked up all who were in the water.

Half an hour later the Arctic was signalled, and came to where the whale lay floating on the water, dead from the wounds it had received.

The cutting up of the monster and the securing of the oil was an active and interesting scene to the boys.

For nearly two weeks the Arctic cruised in the vicinity. Several other whales were sighted, but evaded capture.

A terrible storm drove them northwards soon afterwards. During its prevalence the boys were ordered to remain below.

At last one morning the tempest subsided, and the boys came on deck.


A cry of amazement and delight broke from their lips.

The Arctic was sailing onward amid fields of floating icebergs.


Far as the eye could reach a scene of bewildering beauty met the vision of the enchanted boys.

To the far south a level field of snow-covered ice seemed to reach, while on the east and west were towering walls of ice, between which an open sheet of water alone admitted of the onward progress of the ship.

Except for this glimpse of the sea, everywhere was ice and snow.

Will surveyed the scene in mute interest for some moments. Then he turned to Jack, who stood by his side.

“How did we get here?” he asked.

“Drifted, floated and blew, lad,” replied the old boatswain, sententiously. “The storm took us along, and we couldn’t help it.”

“And we are still going north?” remarked Will.

“Yes, lad; because the ice has closed around us behind. Our hope is of striking the open sea somewhere and getting back to our old bearings.”

“And if we don’t, Jack?”

“Then we’ll have to lay up alongside some iceberg till the snow melts.”

That day and the ensuing one the ship made but little progress, and with difficulty several times evaded being crushed in the ice.

The Arctic experienced all the perils of the frozen deep. Ice floes closing in on it, or the toppling of some immense iceberg, more than once threatened the safety of the ship and the crew.

An incident of excitement and enjoyment occurred the third day in the ice fields. A ship—a whaler—was met, like the Arctic seeking the open sea, and courtesies were exchanged, and the monotony of ocean solitude broken in upon.

That same night, however, the ships lost one another. A transient thaw set in, and the ensuing morning the Arctic was driving ahead through a narrow water-way, with temperature that frosted everything on deck and warned the crew to prepare for an icy experience.

The Arctic was well provided with the necessary clothing to protect its crew from the cold. Wrapped in thick coats, even to the boys, they were enabled to face the icy blast, which each hour grew more intense.

One morning the ship came to a stop. During the night the water-way had frozen up, and they were unable to proceed farther. Captain Smith made a calculation of the locality, and announced to the crew that night that it was probable that they would be compelled to stay where they were for some time to come.

“When the ice melts or breaks we may be able to reach the open sea again, but for the present we will go into winter quarters.”

They cut a course for the ship to the shelter of a slanting iceberg, and then the deck was lightly boarded over. The cabins and forecastle were made snug and warm, and a monotonous, but not unpleasant, life began for the ice-imprisoned crew.

Occasionally an expedition would venture out in quest of game or to explore the neighboring country, but the intense cold made the sailors chary of these wanderings.

One afternoon an event occurred which led to serious consequences for the boys.

The sailors had made a large sled, and a run across the ice fields in quest of a white bear that had been seen prowling in the vicinity, was suggested.

At Jack Marcy’s solicitation and pledge of careful guardianship, the three boys were allowed to join the party.

“Don’t go far,” the captain had said, as the party of twelve left the ship. “All last night I heard distant rumblings, as though the ice was breaking up around us. It comes quick when it starts.”

The party were provided with guns and other weapons, for use in case either bears or seals were found, and started off across the ice, dragging the sled.

When they reached a spot where the larger icebergs prevented the free progress of the sled, the discovery of some bear tracks caused them to separate.

It was arranged that Jack, Hugo and the boys should remain in charge of the sled, while the seven sailors set off in quest of the bear.

Soon, however, the boys grew tired of remaining in one spot, and, while Jack and Hugo were engaged in conversation, set off on a brief exploration on their own account.

Scaling this and that berg and exploring the ice caves and sliding on the smooth plains, they wandered farther than they thought.

“We must return, boys,” said Will with a[36] start, finally. “Why, the sled ain’t in view.”

“We can find our way back by the snow marks,” said Tom.

They retraced their way more slowly than they had come. As they reached a high hummock Tom uttered a loud shout.

“What is it?” inquired Will.

“The ship.”

“Can you see the sled?”

“No; it ain’t in sight. Oh, Will, something has happened. Look yonder.”

Will and his companion climbed up to where Tom was.

A singular spectacle met the vision of the trio as they gazed to the east.

Between them and the open plain over which they had come was an uneven ridge of hummocks and icebergs shutting out the immediate view beyond.

Far to the east, however, could be seen the Arctic, and it was upon the ship and the surroundings that the eyes of the watching boys were riveted.

A strange transformation in the icy scene before them was taking place. A series of low, crackling sounds were succeeded by loud echoes like the reports of a cannon.

Beyond the ship, immense icebergs, the moment before fixed to the landscape, suddenly trembled, toppled and fell.

As they did so, all the eastern expanse seemed to melt into a white, rushing sea, moved to and fro in gigantic waves, as if by a mighty tempest.

“The ship! She is lost!” cried the appalled Will.

The iceberg near which the Arctic was moored at that moment parted as if cleft in twain.

Amid the falling mass of shattered ice and snow, the ship was temporarily shut out from view.

“Look—the sailors!”

It was Tom who spoke, and, as his companions followed the direction of his extended finger, they discerned several forms hurrying over the ice towards the ship.

“Jack and Hugo must be still with the sled,” said Will, anxiously. “Come, boys; we must find them and endeavor to regain the ship.”

They climbed down and hastened over the uneven ice towards the spot where they had left the sled.

Amid their confusion they wandered aimlessly over the ice, at last coming to the verge of the level plain they had left.

A spectacle met their vision which held them spellbound.

The plain was no longer a vast field of ice. Some immense pressure had cracked its surface into a myriad of fragments. A white, churning sea, dotted here and there with whirling icebergs, pulsated at their feet.

The Arctic and the men they had seen on the ice had disappeared.

Far in the distance a wall of icebergs receded momentarily farther and farther from view.

“The Arctic has been borne out of view beyond the icebergs by the breaking ice,” murmured Will. “The men must have reached the ship in safety.”

Every minute the broken ice receded from the spot where they stood.

“We must be on solid ground,” said Will; “but, oh, boys, what shall we do, left here without food or arms or even the fuel for a fire?”

“What!” cried Tom, apprehensively; “you do not think we will not reach the ship again?”

“How can we?”

“Will they not return and look for us?”

“They may be swept hundreds of miles by the floating ice.”

Tom Dalton and Willis Moore looked concerned and despairing.

“What shall we do?” murmured the latter.

“First seek for Jack and Hugo, who, like ourselves, may not have reached the Arctic.”

The boys started along the edge of the open waterway.

Suddenly Willis uttered a quick cry of surprise and pointed at an object ahead of them.

“Look,” he said.

“What is it?” inquired Will, anxiously.

“The sled we used on the ice.”

“And broken to pieces. Oh, boys, Jack and Hugo must have been lost in the breaking ice!”


For some moments Will, Tom and Willis stood gazing blankly down at the broken pieces of the sled and at the bleak and cheerless scene about them.

Not until that moment did they realize fully the loneliness and peril of their position.

There was no indication of the presence of any human beings except themselves in the vicinity.

The Arctic had either been crushed in the ice or had drifted away.


Those of the crew who had been chasing the bear had sailed with the ship or been lost in the breaking of the ice.

Jack and Hugo, there seemed to be no doubt, had perished in striving to regain the ship or fly before the advancing sea of ice and snow.

They were alone, separated from all of their kind, cast away in the cold.

To make their situation more gloomy, night began to come down, dark and terrible.

The cold they had not noticed so much in their previous excitement, but, after standing still a few moments, they found themselves chilled to the bone.

Will Bertram for once had no cheering words for his companions. He fully comprehended that their dilemma was an extremely perilous one.

Still, he endeavored to regard their situation as philosophically as possible.

“We have all been in danger before,” he said to his companions. “Do not let us shrink now.”

“But we have no arms, no food,” said Willis.

“Our greatest enemy is the cold. Against that we may in a measure provide. However, perhaps the morning may see an entire change in our position.”

“What do you mean?” inquired Tom.

“The ship may return. We may find Jack and Hugo. We can only hope. Come, boys, do not stand still, but gather the broken pieces of the sled together.”

“What for?” inquired Tom.

“To make a fire.”

Willis started towards the accomplishment of the task, but Tom, with a despairing sigh, sank to a large boulder of ice.

“Get up Tom,” urged Will.

“But I’m so tired.”

“We must work if we hope to get through the night.”

“And I’m cold and sleepy.”

“Tom! Tom!” cried Will, aroused to positive terror at his words; “you must get up and stir about. That’s just the way people freeze to death in this temperature. Once asleep, you are lost.”

Tom reluctantly arose to his feet and moved about a little. His feet were unsteady, however, and he seemed to be sinking into a sort of torpor.

Willis Moore brought an armful of the pieces of the broken sled to a place Will had selected, where a sort of cave was formed by the grouping of huge blocks of ice.

“Get your knife and whittle off some shavings,” ordered Will.

His companion set to work at the task allotted, but made slow progress, affirming that he had become so chilly he was benumbed all over.

Will saw with consternation the same drowsy apathy steal over him that had overtaken Tom.

He himself was beginning to experience a terrible change in the temperature.

It was dark now, and the closing day heralded the coming of intense cold for the night.

He piled together the shavings, wet and ice-clogged, and found a match in his pocket.

The pile took fire slowly, first the shavings and then the large pieces of wood.

He made Willis and Tom sit down within the shelter of the cave, and almost directly over the fire.

“It will blaze up in a minute, boys,” he said, “and we shall have some heat.”

“But it won’t last an hour,” remarked Tom, wearily.

“That is why you must arouse yourselves; get thoroughly warmed through and rested.”

“And then?”

“We must resolutely fight off sleep through the night.”


“By running and walking and keeping the blood in circulation. Boys, I have read of people situated just as we are who were almost comfortable living in the cold region for years. Our case is not hopeless. With daybreak we will build an ice hut. We can surely find something to eat—fish or animal, and we may be found by Esquimaux.”

Will’s words encouraged his companions considerably.

“But do not droop an eyelid. To sleep means death!” he concluded, impressively.

Will piled all the pieces of wood on the fire. They burned briskly, but he was amazed to find how little heat they imparted.

He saw that in a few minutes the dying cinders would fade out, leaving them even without a light.

He had not noticed his companions huddled together amid the smoke, except to suppose they, like himself, were trying to gather all the warmth while the fire lasted.

To his amazement and dread, as he approached them and called their names there was no response.

He shook them wildly. They sat braced against each other, their heads bent on their breast, and slumbering profoundly!

Will groaned in spirit as he dragged Willis Moore to his feet.

He succeeded in arousing him, and finally[38] got him to comprehend the dangers of their position.

Willis groped his way backward and forward along the ice, leaning against the frozen wall for support.

Tom was more difficult to arouse, but Will almost carried him around to make him move.

The fatal somnolence, however, would return almost immediately. He would get Willis started, when, looking around, he would find Tom sunk to the ice again.

At last he despaired utterly. His exertion had almost exhausted him. He took off the heavy coats the boys wore and spread them on the ice.

Then he carried Willis and Tom in turn to them and covered them up in them as tightly as he could.

He even took off his own coat and spread it over his sleeping companions.

For over half an hour Will kept running to and fro trying to fight off the intense cold that had attacked them.

It was no ordinary battle, and he at last was forced to own himself vanquished.

His feet seemed like lead, a strange numbness stole over his frame, and his senses became confused.

“I shall perish if I stay here!” he murmured, and he had just strength enough to crawl under the overcoats with his companions.

The warmth of their bodies, he hoped, might prevent their freezing.

He was delighted after a few moments to find that all sensation of cold had left him.

Little did he think this the first signal of danger—the beginning of that lassitude preceding the sleep of death.

From beneath the covering he had one last glimpse of the starry heavens.

The northern lights flamed in the sky in rare effulgence and beauty.

A peaceful calm held all the scene in death-like stillness.

Almost overhead glimmered a radiant star he knew so well as the guide-lamp of the Arctic mariner.

His eyes closed. Slumber held the strange trio, all unconscious of their perils, cast away on the frozen deep under the Polar star.


When the breaking up of the ice occurred there were three parties who were imperiled by that occurrence besides the boys.

Those on board the Arctic had due warning, and, although the ship was badly shattered, the crew got it in order to run the dangerous course the chopping sea opened to it.

The seven sailors who had left the sled also saw their danger. They hurried towards the ship, and not one moment too soon reached its deck.

Then, driven rapidly forward, the Arctic sped on its way, unable to stop and aid those who had been left behind.

To the crew of the ship, as to Will Bertram and his companions, the fate of the two sailors, Jack and Hugo, was a mystery.

The old tars, however, had not been caught in the broken ice, but had reached a place of safety before extreme peril had come.

They had been engaged in conversing, and had not noticed the movements of the party searching for the bear, nor that the boys had wandered out of sight.

Engrossed in discussing some complex marine question, it was not until the break-up had reached the ship that they aroused to a sense of their peril.

Jack’s first thought was of the missing members of his party.

“The boys!” he ejaculated, starting to his feet and eagerly scanning the scene.

Like Will and his companions they saw the ship’s dilemma and the sailors rushing towards it.

An instinct of self preservation bade them believe that they themselves might reach the Arctic, but the brave old sailors were true to their duty.

“The boys have gone beyond the field here,” said Hugo.

“We must find them,” replied Jack. “Quick, mate, let us get the sled out of this!”

The oncoming ice warned them to act quickly.

There was no way, however, to drag the sled up the ascent to the place where the boys had gone.

They kept dragging it along the ice for quite a distance, hoping to find an opening.

“It’s no use,” said Jack at last, with an anxious look at the ice plain. “The break-up will overtake us in a few moments.”

“Shall we abandon the sled?” asked Hugo.

“Yes; but not the things on it. We may need them yet.”

A large tarpaulin covered the sled, and they gathered it and its contents up.

Among them was an axe.

Seizing this, Jack began cutting steps in the icy wall, and then, by means of these, they gained the upper ice.


The sled was borne upwards and crushed to pieces a few minutes later.

They had escaped certain death, and just in time.

Each seizing an end of the tarpaulin, they started inland, seeking for the boys everywhere.

Jack was terribly anxious when darkness came down.

They shouted themselves hoarse for nearly an hour, and wandered aimlessly over the place.

“We must find them,” remarked Hugo.

“They will be lost in this terrible cold. Look, mate.”

“What is it?”

“A light.”

A dull glow, some distance away, met their vision.

“It’s the Aurora,” remarked Hugo.

“Not in the south, mate.”

“What, then?”

“Some kind of a fire.”

They struggled on heroically, tired as they were, towards the distant light.

The jagged, irregular ice caused several detours, and the light had become a vague reflection when at length they reached the vicinity of the spot whence it emanated.

“It was a fire,” said Jack, as, looking beyond them, he caught sight of some glowing cinders.

They dropped the tarpaulin and its contents, and Jack ran forward.

A moment later his waiting companion heard him call:

“Ahoy, mate, we’ve found them.”

“The boys?” cried Hugo, dragging the tarpaulin towards the ice cave.

“Yes, and asleep.”

“They are lost, then, in this cold and exposed to the open air?”

“No, but they soon would be. To work, Hugo. They must be awakened.”

It was a lively scene that ensued. The two stalwart sailors dragged the boys to and fro, put on their overcoats, beat their hands and feet, and finally had them wide awake.

Jack bathed their hands and faces with alcohol, a can of which was found in the outfit of the sled.

The sight of friends made the boys more hopeful and courageous, and they listened with attention to Jack’s directions.

It was not safe to sleep, he told them, and managed to keep them moving until Hugo and he had improvised a warm shelter.

They took the articles from the tarpaulin and spread the latter over the entrance to the ice cave.

They then cut a round, circular hole in the ice and pouring some alcohol into it set it on fire.

It was remarkable how the brief but fierce heat of the burning spirits warmed the temperature of the place.

The long night was uncomfortable, but old Jack was quite satisfied when morning came to find none of them frost-bitten or sick from the cold.

His first work of the morning was to take an inventory of the things from the sled.

They consisted of the articles the sailors had taken from the ship in case of exigency, and consisted of a can of alcohol, two guns, a hatchet, package of powder, caps and lead bullets, a package of food, some ropes and several large knives.

“These will be valuable to us if we have to stay here any length of time,” remarked Jack.

“You don’t think the Arctic will return, do you?” inquired Will.

“It may. Anyway, we seem to be on solid ground, and, as you observe, the sea is quite open beyond. We will remain here for a few days.”

“And freeze to death, as we came very nearly doing last night?”

“No; we must provide for that.”


“By building a house.”

“There is no wood,” suggested Tom.

“We don’t need any.”

“What will you build the house of then?”

“Ice and snow, like the Esquimaux.”

While Jack imparted his plan to his fellow exiles they helped themselves to what provisions had been saved from the sled.

They found enough canned meat and biscuits to last them for a day or two, and the food revived them considerably.

The day was much warmer than the night, and they did not suffer from the cold to any extent.

After breakfast Jack selected a spot where they could safely build the ice house.

He secured a firm foundation on the ice, and then, with the hatchet, began to cut blocks of ice and shape them as he wished them.

It was an interesting day for the boys. They were so engrossed in watching and helping Jack and Hugo that when the ice hut was completed they were amazed to find that the day had nearly passed.

The hut was built in circular shape, with a[40] very small aperture at the top. The cracks were filled with snow, and water thrown over it to form a complete casing.

In front a single block was left open, which, removed, allowed of entrance to the hut.

The boys were compelled to crawl through this aperture, and found quite a cozy interior, around which packed-down banks of snow indicated the couches they were to lie on.

The tarpaulin was cut up and distributed around. Out of a powder flask, with a wick made of cloth, Jack improvised an alcohol lamp to afford light.

After supper the entire party rolled up in their overcoats. Jack closed the aperture or door tightly, and then saturated a piece of cloth with alcohol several times and set it on fire.

This heated the air of the hut quite comfortably, and the experiment was repeated several times throughout the night.

The next day Jack gave the boys various bits of advice tending to show them how to avoid the cold.

The provision stock was getting low, and he and Hugo started out with loaded guns to find what game they could.

They returned successful before nightfall. They had found a large bird resembling a duck and quite a quantity of a species of moss.

“We will fare better to go farther to the interior,” said Jack that night.

“And leave this place where the Arctic may return!” asked Hugo.

“I have watched the movement of the ice,” said Jack in reply, “and I believe that the Arctic, borne before it, will be carried too far to come back readily. At any rate, we will take a tramp back from the coast to-morrow.”

The next morning they packed up their traps and left the open water behind them.

The sun was quite warm, and in some places the snow was melting. At any event, they scarcely felt the cold.

The tracks of various animals were observed, but none seen or captured.

After traveling for many miles they came to a broad, open waterway similar to the one they had left behind.

“We are on an island,” remarked Jack, after surveying the country. “Yonder across the water is probably the mainland. The question is, shall we decide to remain here or attempt to cross over to what is undoubtedly a much larger scope of territory?”

“How can we do it?” inquired Hugo.

“We must devise some way. For the night we will stay here.”

“And build another ice house?” inquired Tom.

“No; we will secure temporary quarters and make a rough snow house.”

Ready hands soon constructed a hut. The weather was much colder than the preceding night, but with the alcohol and some moss they managed to pass a comfortable night.

When they awoke they found a thin sheet of ice covering the water, evidently an arm of the sea. Large cakes of ice were held in the field, and after breakfast Jack imparted his plan to his companions.

“We must ferry across on the cakes of ice,” he said. “The new ice is thin, and can be broken through easily. It is not more than half a mile across.”

Jack selected a large cake of ice near the shore and they all got on it.

Then Jack took a rope from the sled and, attaching the hatchet, flung it to the nearest large cake of ice, when he would pull on the rope and slowly progress forward.

It took several hours to cross the water. When they at length reached the opposite shore they saw that the new ice had melted and the floating cakes were speeding along to the sea.

The mainland they believed they had reached was in character like the island they had left, a vast field of ice and snow.

While Hugo and Will were exploring for a place for a camp for the night the latter became very much excited as he observed what seemed to be an ice hut.

It was covered with the snow of many storms, but its shape was plainly defined.

“Is it a hut?” Hugo asked Will, eagerly.

“Yes, lad, and it has been occupied at some time or other. Run for Jack. This may prove an important discovery.”


Jack Marcy and the remainder of the party soon joined Hugo, and the old boatswain surveyed the round heap that had been discovered with a critical eye.

“It is an ice hut, sure enough,” he said, quite excitedly, “but it is probably a long time since it was used. Let us get to work at it and see if it is habitable.”

They scraped off what ice and snow there was, and then Jack cut a block out of the side of the structure.


He crawled into the house and came out again with a pleased look on his face.

“We’ll sleep warm to-night,” he said.

“Why?” asked Will, eagerly.

“Whoever occupied the hut before left quite a lot of things behind. Creep in after me and see.”

The rest of the party did so, and found themselves in a hut much larger than the one they had built on the island.

Upon the floor was a rudely constructed lamp, such as is in common use among the Esquimaux.

By its side was a pouch or pail made of the skin of a bear or fox, and containing frozen chunks of the blubber or fat of some animal.

The floor of the hut showed a long occupancy in the past, and was discolored with grease and bits of meat and fish bones.

The discovery cheered all of the party, for it showed that the place had once been visited, and that they might in time find some native settlement.

At any rate the hut was a comfortable shelter for them.

Jack directed Hugo, Willis and Tom to get the hut in order, and he and Will went out with the guns in search of food.

They saw some birds and animals, but could not get near to them.

Returning after a disappointing tramp, they made a second discovery that later proved of the utmost importance.


They had passed several singular formations in the snow and ice during their tramp, and more than once Will supposed he had discovered another hut.

Investigation, however, proved the masses to be of ice or snow, and they abandoned this line of exploration until, as they came near the camp, Will made the discovery noted at the end of the last chapter.

From several blocks of ice there protruded an object which made old Jack stare blankly.

“Why, it’s a piece of wood!” he cried.

There was no doubt of this fact, as was proven by a brief investigation. It seemed to be a part of the boarding of a boat, and had evidently been placed where it was, not carelessly, but for a purpose.

“It’s a landmark,” said Jack.

“Of what?” inquired Will.

“Of the same party, probably, that built the hut we found. You see those blocks of ice, lad?”

“Yes, Jack.”

“They were dragged, not thrown here.”

“For what purpose?”

“To protect a cache.”

“What is that, Jack?”

“It’s a hiding-place for food or the like. For instance, the men who were here, probably castaways like ourselves, abandoned their hut to seek some native settlement or find a ship. They could not carry all their stores, and wanted to secure them from animals, so they buried them in the snow, piled the ice over it, and then put up this board as a marking signal of the spot. Should they return, it would be a supply station for them.”

“I understand, Jack; and you think we shall find something under those blocks of ice?”

“Undoubtedly, lad.”

“Let us go to work, then.”

“All right,” and Jack and his companion united their strength to remove the solid ice blocks.

They found it no easy task, and when they were displaced came to a foundation of solidly packed snow.

The hatchet was used to loosen this. Some feet below the surface they found a package encased in the hard, dried skin of some animal and tied securely with pieces of rope.

There were a dozen or more of these packages of various sizes, and at the bottom of the cache several large planks of wood laid there to protect the packages in case of a thaw, when the mass would sink uniformly and not become scattered.

“Run to the hut, Will,” said Jack, after they had lifted out all the contents of the cache.

“For Hugo and the boys?”

“Yes. We have uncovered this stuff now, and we must remove it.”

When Will and his excited companions rejoined Jack they found that he had constructed a rough drag-sled out of the pieces of wood. Upon this they piled the packages, and then, attaching a rope, started with their treasures for the hut.

By dark they had all the packages inside the hut, and were housed for the night.

Their new shelter proved to be a most comfortable one, for the house had been carefully built, and the lamp and blubber they found imparted both light and heat.

“How cozy and home-like,” remarked Will, as Jack set about examining the various packages.


They contained a score of delightful surprises, and indicated clearly that their original possessors were members of some ship’s crew and castaways like themselves.

There were several packages of canned meats, jellies and biscuits; there was a variety of clothing, some books, tools and cooking utensils.

“A glorious find,” remarked Hugo, enthusiastically; “we can defy the arctic cold now.”

But among all they found there was not an indication as to the name of the ship whence these articles had come originally.

They discovered no clew in this direction until, in looking over one of the books, Will came to a roughly written line.

It had been scrawled on a blank page by a piece of burned cinder and left unfinished.

It read:

“This day abandoned the ship and started on an exploring tour down Barnell’s Point.”

Old Jack looked up from tying one of the packages quite excitedly.

“What’s that, lad?”

“A line written in this book.”

“Read it again.”

Will did so.

“You are sure it says Barnell’s Point?”

“Yes; it is plainly written here. Why, Jack?”

There was a peculiar look in the old mariner’s eye.

“Because, lad, if this is Barnell’s Point we’ve made a great discovery for you.”

“For me?”


“What do you mean?”

“That Barnell’s Point is the place where the Albatross was crushed to pieces in the ice.”


Will Bertram started violently at old Jack’s announcement.

“Are you sure? How do you know?” he asked tumultuously.

“That’s what Captain Stephen Morris said.”

“That the Albatross was lost at Barnell’s Point?”


“And this is probably that place?”


“The ship my brother Alan was captain of,” murmured Will. “Here the unfortunate crew were all crushed in the ice?”


Jack’s last word was explosive and emphatic.

Will looked at him in surprise.

“That’s what Captain Morris said.”

“He said what was false, lad. I happened to overhear him talking on the Golden Moose with the mate one day, and it verified a suspicion I had formed when I noticed how familiar he was with Donald Parker, his business manager, at Watertown. I knew there was some mystery about the loss of the Albatross.”

“I never believed Captain Morris’ story,” cried Will.

“I determined to watch and wait. When you heard me in the cabin of the Golden Moose accuse him of evil work with the Albatross, you know how guilty he acted.”

“Then you think my brother was not killed?”

“I do.”

“How did Morris get the men who rescued him to believe it?”

“That’s as much a mystery as where his sudden wealth came from. There was some wicked work done, for I believe the men who built this hut were of the crew of the Albatross. I theorize that they abandoned the ship for some reason, and this was a station they made in the search for some native settlement.”

For a long time the castaways discussed the matter of the crew of the Albatross.

Their discovery materially changed their plans.

“They seem to have kept near the seacoast,” said Jack. “I propose that we follow the same course, for as they have not returned they may have discovered a settlement.”

The next morning Jack made a sled of the wood they had found and packed their baggage upon it.

Strong ropes were attached, and they took turns at pulling it over the snow.

They kept close to the coast. The first day out they made no discoveries of any importance, but just at dark the second day, as they rounded a high eminence, their eyes met a scene that startled and delighted them.

Held in place by the ice, in a slight indentation in the land, was a ship.

Will stood transfixed for a moment, and then one cry of joy rang from his lips.

“My brother’s ship!” he ejaculated, wildly. “It is the Albatross!”


It was indeed the Albatross, or rather the dismantled hull of that ship, which the Arctic castaways had discovered.


Will and Jack both recognized it at a glance, although it was encrusted in ice and covered with snow.

Its presence here gave the lie to Captain Stephen Morris’ story, but it intensified the mystery of his solitary escape.

It was apparent as they approached the ship that it had been deserted for a long time.

They were compelled to remove a large quantity of snow from the deck before they could force a way to the cabin.

Everything here was in disorder—the hold almost empty and the forecastle dismal and badly damaged by a fire that had taken place there.

A few days previous the little party would have been delighted at the discovery of a warm home and the various articles of utility and comfort with which the cabin abounded.

Now, however, Jack was almost positive that research would result in the finding of a native settlement, and through this means a return home.

Will, too, believing his brother Alan alive, was anxious to pursue their journey.

They found a stove in the cabin and plenty of fuel to burn, and they had an abundance of food.

“We have been going in a wrong direction,” said Jack that night. “The party that left the ship went around to the northeast.”

“Then we must retrace our way?” asked Hugo.

“Yes, by following them as closely as possible we shall learn their fate or reach the place of safety they have gained.”

It was decided to prepare for a long journey.

Jack built a better sled and selected various articles of food which he made into compact packages.

They were two days on the ship when some startling incidents occurred to hasten their journey from the place.

Tracks of various animals had been seen in the snow, and the boys had been allowed to visit the shore.

Will had constructed a trap out of two iron hoops found in the hold of the ship, and had set it at a spot where these tracks in the snow were most numerous.

It was the ensuing morning that he and Tom, visiting the vicinity, to their delight saw some kind of an animal struggling in the trap they had set.

As they drew nearer Tom exclaimed:

“A fox, Will!”

They got near enough to observe it closely.

It proved to be an animal of a strange color, with bushy tail and thickly furred feet, even to the soles.

Will made a slip-knot on a rope they carried and flung it over the fox’s head.

He pulled at the animal while Tom released it from the trap.

The first movement of the fox was to start on a run. Will held on to the rope, slipped, fell and went clear over an icy ledge ten feet below.

The fox had disappeared, carrying the rope away.

Will was half disposed to laugh. He looked up to see how he would regain the ledge, when he heard Tom utter a frightened cry.

At the same moment an immense white object loomed up before his vision.

It was a white polar bear, and with eyes fixed on Will it was advancing straight towards him.

Will turned pale and began to retreat[44] slowly. He could hear Tom’s cry die out in the distance, and knew that he was deserted.

Will found that he had one advantage over the bear. The place where he was had a narrow path leading towards the sea, was deep with snow, and the bear made but slow progress.

Still it kept following him, and he could not run.

He grew terrified as he came to an abrupt halt.

The path he had been following was blocked by a projecting mass of ice.

He must either retrace his way or leap down a steep incline at the risk of his life.

The bear, after floundering around for some moments, glared at him fiercely.

It kept advancing in a cautious, stealthy manner.

“I am lost,” murmured the imperilled lad, in a tone of utter despair.

Just then he saw a dark object drop directly behind the bear from the ledge above.

It was Jack.

He held in his hand the hatchet, and Will saw him creep behind the bear until he had reached the animal.

The bear seemed about to spring upon Will when Jack lifted the hatchet.

Its sharp edge came down on the hind foot of the animal with terrific force, almost severing it from its body.

At the same moment a gun was fired from the upper ledge, doubtless in the hands of Hugo.

The bear turned with a horrible howl, and then, making a red track in the snow after it, fell down the steep incline.

It seems that Tom had alarmed Jack and Hugo at the ship in time to come to Will’s rescue.

Will reached the ledge again with Jack’s help, and the little party hurried down to the ravine where the bear lay.

They found the animal dead. The shot from the gun and the blow from the hatchet had killed him.

The bear was a monster, and Jack set about removing its skin, which froze hard before they reached the ship with it.

That night they had fresh bear steaks for supper.

The next morning they were arranging the sled, ready to depart, with the bear skin covering the articles carried, when Tom came rushing from the cabin, where he had remained.

“Fire! Fire!” he cried, wildly; “the ship is on fire!”


Tom’s carelessness with a lamp had precipitated a catastrophe, and the Albatross was soon enveloped in flames.

It was fortunate that the stores ready for the journey were outside on the sled, else the loss would have been a serious one.

The fire showed how frail the stability of Arctic home life was to those unused to it. Had they depended on the ship as a shelter, the present disaster would have made them entirely homeless.

They, however, were thinking of the expedition down the coast which had preceded them.

“We are well equipped,” said Jack, “and cannot starve or freeze if we take proper care of ourselves.”

“Will you follow the coast to the ice hut?” asked Will.

“We may as well, and thence still keep along the shore.”

The sled was easily moved along the snow, and when one of the boys got very tired he was allowed a brief ride.

The second night after leaving the Albatross they camped in the ice house they had discovered the day they crossed to the main land.

From this spot they followed the water-way surrounding the island they had been cast away on originally.

Sometimes the route was irregular and difficult, but they made a steady progress.

They discovered no further trace of the party from the Albatross for nearly a week.

During that time they were compelled to build a temporary shelter each night. They suffered little from the cold now, as they had become used to it in a measure, and the weather was considerably milder than when they first left the Arctic.

At last, they one day came to what had evidently been an ice hut. It was now in ruins, but it showed they were on the right route.

Beyond this the coast-line was so irregular that a detour was made, and Jack decided that the party preceding them had done the same.

They regained the coast, not wishing to go too far into the interior, but found it more difficult of traversing as they progressed.

One day the boys discovered several seals disporting themselves on the ice, and an hour was devoted to attempting a capture, but without effect.



Finally the rocky character of the coast became uniform, and they found they could not keep to the shore and take the sled with them.

Jack decided to leave the ocean and make a venture of crossing the plains lying back from the sea, at least for a day or two, to see if some new traces of the Albatross party might not be found.

They found the temperature considerably lower as they progressed to the interior, and the second day of their journey was so cold that they made a snow hut and did not travel at all that day.

The days, too, were becoming much shorter, and when there was little sunlight seemed to merge into a hazy twilight early in the afternoon.

For two weeks they continued on their way, meeting with no traces of previous occupancy of the vicinity.

Jack and Hugo looked serious and concerned over the situation, and discussed it continually.

“We have left the coast,” the former said, “and cannot find it again. But we are progressing blindly, and possibly further and further away from any settlement.”

“We can’t help it, mate,” rejoined Hugo.

“Maybe not,” said Jack, “but there’s some kind of a great change in the weather coming.”

“Colder, you mean?”


“Well, let us provide for it.”

“I think it best. Here’s my plan: You see the high ridge of land and ice yonder?”

“You mean about twenty miles to the north?”

“Nearer fifty.”

“Well, Jack?”

“That either marks the boundary of the land or looks over some new country. We’ll go there.”

“And then?”

“See what a view shows. If we’re going to go into temporary quarters and wait for something to develop it is better to be near the protection of the cliffs than on the open plain.”

It took three days to accomplish the journey to the bold, jagged headland Jack had discovered.

It was so cold when they reached it that all their energies were set in action to provide for the rigors of the night.

A strong ice hut was constructed, and they were content to crowd around the blubber lamp for warmth and be thankful they had a shelter.

The next morning Jack announced that he would scale the icy cliffs and take a view of their location.

He allowed Will and Tom to accompany him. It took several hours to scale the slippery headland.

At its top a wide scope of scenery met their view.

They could look back for miles over the vast plain they had traversed.

Beyond was what resembled an immense lake, terminating many miles distant in the boldly-defined shores of some new land.

It was frozen over, but its surface here and there was marked with huge chasms where the ice had cracked.

As they stood viewing the desolate scene Will’s keen eyes discerned some moving objects on the frozen plain.

“Look, Jack!” he said. “What is that? Wolves—foxes?”

Jack strained his vision to the utmost.

Then he uttered an ejaculation of excitement.

“It’s no wolves or foxes, lad,” he said.

“What then?”

“Dogs—a sled and an Esquimaux driver, as sure as my name is Jack Marcy.”


The longer the intensely absorbed and excited Jack and the boys gazed at the distant object that had attracted their attention the more distinct did it become.

“It is certainly a sled, and it is coming this way!” exclaimed Will.

“Yes, we must try and reach the plain,” said Jack.

He was about to descend as they had come, for the only way to carry out his plan was to go around some distance to where the cliffs were lower, when he paused.

The moving objects on the snow seemed suddenly to blend into a confused mass.

The sled and its driver mysteriously disappeared from view, while the dogs were flung in the air and then seemed to stand stationary.

“What has happened?” asked Tom, breathlessly.

“A break in the ice. The sled and its unfortunate driver have gone down. Oh, if we were near enough to give him help!”

Jack waited no longer, and they hurried[47] down to the ice house much faster than they had ascended the cliff.

Jack hurriedly related to Hugo what had occurred, and explained how they might scale the cliff farther down the shore and get out on the ice beyond.

“The boys will stay here,” he said. “Do not leave the hut till we return, Will.”

The two sailors took each a gun and started out on their hurried errand.

Time passed drearily to the trio they had left behind them. Tom and Willis wished to go up to the cliffs to see the lake, but Will reminded them of Jack’s injunction.

It was well they followed it, for shortly afterwards a wild wind swept over the spot and a furious snow storm set in.

As darkness came down, and there were no signs of the return of Jack and Hugo, Will became alarmed.

He pushed aside the door, or block of ice, that filled the entrance to the hut and crawled out finally.

The snow was deep and blinding, and he became terrified as he realized the difficulty the sailors would have in finding the hut.

He imparted his apprehensions to his companions.

“They may be out on the lake yet,” he said.

“Can we not signal them?” inquired Tom.

“How?” asked Will.

“A light—a fire.”

Will reflected deeply. Then he decided on a course that might be of some utility in guiding Jack and Hugo to the hut.

He ordered Tom to wrap himself up closely and take the blubber lamp outside the hut.

He was to keep feeding it freely, so as to make as much flame as possible and shade it from the wind and snow.

Will himself had ventured on an exploit that was fraught with peril.

“You remain here with the light as long as you can stand the cold,” he said.

“You think Jack and Hugo are this side of the cliffs?”

“Possibly. If so, they will be guided by the light.”

“And you, Will?”

“I am going to scale the cliffs.”

Tom uttered a cry of dismay.

“In this terrible storm?”

“Yes, Tom.”

Will began the slow and difficult ascent.

A dozen times he slipped and fell, but he finally had the satisfaction of reaching the summit of the rocks overlooking the frozen lake.

He had brought the can of alcohol and some pieces of cloth with him.

Saturating the latter with the alcohol, he set them afire and waved them to and fro.

This he kept up until all the alcohol was exhausted except what was left in the lamp Jack had improvised from the powder flask.

Lighting the wick, he shaded the feeble light with pieces of ice and set its flame towards the lake.

“They may not be able to see it,” he soliloquized; “but I have done all I could for them.”

He was chilled and wearied long before he reached the hut again.

Tom had been forced to retreat into the hut, well-nigh frozen.

He welcomed Will’s safe return with delight.

“Jack and Hugo have made a snow house somewhere,” he said; and with this theory they were forced to be content.

With the first dawn of day the boys were awake and outside.

They looked vainly for some trace of the two sailors until they heard a loud series of yelps.

They ran through the deep snow as best they could towards the spot whence these sounds emanated.

Half a dozen dogs, such as they had often heard Jack and Hugo describe as the faithful servants of the Esquimaux, were gamboling in the snow under the partial shelter of an overhanging ledge of ice.

They were secured together by long strings made of dried skin of some animal, the end of which was secured around a huge boulder of ice.

As they were gazing, curious and interested, two forms pushed aside a bank of snow, and, from a cave-like aperture, the two sailors came into view.

“Jack!—Hugo!” cried the boys, delightedly.

“Yes, lads; and snug and safe. We found the snow a warm bed for the night.”

Will explained how they had endeavored to signal them; then he pointed to the dogs.

Jack looked sad.

“It’s a sorrowful story, lad. The man who drove them and the sled went down in a fissure in the ice.”

“And you couldn’t save him?”

“No. When we reached the place the ice had closed and the dogs had broken loose.”

“How did you bring them here?”

“They followed us. They’re gentle as kittens. Had the Esquimaux lived, and had we[48] overtaken him, he might have led us at once to a settlement.”

“And maybe to the very one the crew of the Albatross and my brother Alan have reached,” said Will, hopefully.

“Possibly, lad. However, it shows there are natives near here.”

“And you will search for them?”

“The dogs will find them.”


“We will make a new sled and start them over the frozen lake. They will probably start direct for the nearest Esquimaux village.”



Amid the excitement of a most momentous episode in the Arctic experience of the young castaways, this excited cry burst from their lips.

They forgot all the sorrows and perils of the past in the exhilarating delight of the hour.

Jack Marcy had made a long, narrow sled by reconstructing the old one brought from the ship and placing most of their stores on this, and, seating themselves one behind the other, they started on a wild journey over the ice.

They had crossed over the cliffs, and as the long whip in Jack’s hands cracked, the trained animals attached to the sled started on their journey.

By noon the sled had reached the opposite shores of the lake.

Jack allowed the dogs to take their own course, believing their natural sagacity would lead them right.

In this he was not in error. Towards evening the animals began to yell joyfully.

As they rounded a slight elevation in the ground the voyagers knew that they were near human habitation.

Beyond they could see several ice huts, and four Esquimaux boys near at hand were engaged in playing a popular American game with bone clubs and a ball.

The youngsters stared wonderingly at the strangers, and then scampered off towards the ice huts.

Towards these Jack directed the sled. By the time they had reached them quite a throng of natives were gathered to greet them.

The leader, a large, closely-muffled man, looked suspiciously at Jack and his party and extended his hand, murmuring some unintelligible words.

He also spoke to some of those around him, and these began busily unloading the sled and carrying the parcels to an ice hut.

When they had completed the transfer the leader motioned for them to follow him, and led them into the rude home his hospitality placed at their disposal.

Jack made several efforts to converse with the man by signs and words, but the latter could not comprehend them.

He accepted, however, several of the packages as presents, and himself and two others finally brought their guests a large bowl filled with smoking grease and chunks of fat.

It was an unsavory dish for the boys, hungry as they were, but they ate some in order that they might not offend their hosts.

The leader left his two companions in the hut, who stared steadily at the strangers with big, owl-like eyes, but were silent.

“They evidently consider us friends, but don’t know how to express it,” remarked Jack.

A few moments later, however, an episode occurred which somewhat changed their confident opinion.

The leader re-entered the hut with an ominous face.

He spoke a few words to his companions, who arose and departed silently.

Then he sat down by Jack and uttered a single word.

It sounded like “Kaoka.”

Jack looked puzzled.

The Esquimaux imitated the actions of a driver on a sled.

“He means the man we saw drowned,” suggested Hugo.

Jack made a motion as of ice opening and closing.

He then went through the pantomime of a man drowning.

The Esquimaux looked fixedly at him for a moment or two, and then shook his head solemnly.

He arose without another word and left the hut.

“What does that mean?” inquired Hugo.

“It means that he don’t believe us.”

This was soon verified.

The little party were preparing to sleep when a loud thud sounded on the outside of the hut.

It was followed by others, as if large projectiles were being flung against the hut.

Then a huge block in the side was dashed in, almost striking one of the boys.

A second block fell—the hut seemed crumbling into ruins.


Jack caught a glimpse of a dozen or more of the Esquimaux.

They were shouting and gesticulating wildly, and were armed with large clubs and solid chunks of ice.

“We will be crushed to death!” he cried. “Hand me the gun, Hugo.”

“Don’t shoot, Jack!”

“We must, or they will kill us. It is our only means of self protection to frighten them away.”

“They are terribly angry.”

“Yes; they think we killed the owner of the dogs and stole the animals.”

“Look out!”

As Hugo uttered the warning a shower of ice fell over the ruined hut.

Jack raised the gun and fired.

The yells of the Esquimaux mingled with the deafening explosion.


That the Esquimaux were enraged, and believing that their companion had been murdered, were determined to avenge his death, there could be no doubt.

They had retreated when the gun was fired, and Jack said, quickly:

“Climb out of here as soon as you can. We must fly.”

“But won’t they listen to reason?” demurred Hugo.

“They can’t understand us. See yonder, Hugo, is a sled and some dogs. Get the boys there.”

“You intend to take them away?”

“I intend to escape as best we may before the Esquimaux return to the attack,” replied Jack, determinedly.

As the natives made a forward movement the gun was again fired, and had the effect of checking their advance.

They had some difficulty in urging the dogs away from the camp, but once started the sled flew over the snowy expanse.

They were not followed by the Esquimaux, who were, doubtless, affrighted at the guns.

After several hours Jack ordered a halt, and they found a shelter for the night, resuming their journey the next day.

Several times on their way they passed ice huts and other evidences of the passage of recent travelers, such as broken sleds and scraps of food.

At nightfall, two days later, they came to a settlement.

Beyond it was the open sea.

Anchored near the coast was a large ship.

Snow huts and several rude frame houses were also visible.

The first man they met as the sled stopped was a white man.

He welcomed them cordially, and for the first time since leaving home they entered a house resembling those they had been used to live in.

The man explained that the place was a whaling station known to most ships in the trade.

The settlement had numerous Esquimaux among its population, and several of these and members of the crew of the ship at anchor soon gathered in the depot building, as it was called, to survey with curiosity the escaped castaways.

Jack related the story of their adventures. In its narration he several times spoke of the Albatross and its crew.

When he had concluded the man who had welcomed him turned to Will.

“And this is Captain Bertram’s brother, eh?”

“Yes,” replied Jack.

“Do you know my brother, sir?” queried Will, anxiously.

“We parted company a week ago.”

“Then he is alive and well?”

“He was at last accounts. He has gone about fifty miles down the coast.”

“What for?”

“To find a ship to return home in. There was none here then.”

“And her crew?”

“Are with him.”

The information made Will excited and anxious, and he asked the man a score of questions about the Albatross.

Jack, Hugo and the boys held a consultation that evening as to the best course for them to pursue.

The ship at anchor sailed in a few days for the whaling grounds, and both Jack and Hugo could have found positions among the crew.

The chances of finding ships returning home at the next station induced them to determine to go thither.

There Will might find his brother, and the ensuing morning two Esquimaux agreed to drive them to their intended destination on their sleds.

They came upon a ship in the ice before they reached the settlement, and were witnesses to the burial in the frozen deep of two sailors who had died on shipboard.

The lonely procession on the ice, the[51] strange lunar phenomena in the sky and the silence of the scene impressed them all with its solemnity.


From the sailors they learned that several ships were intending to sail soon from the next station, and they traveled all that night, reaching the whaling depot at daylight.

Will Bertram could scarcely contain himself when the sled stopped.

A casual inquiry had revealed the fact that the crew of the Albatross were at the main building in the settlement, and Will rushed thither.

A room crowded with bunks showed a dozen or more men just arising from sleep.

Will’s heart in his mouth, he cried out, eagerly:

“Captain Bertram!”

“Here!” replied a hearty voice.

Will dashed precipitately forward.

“Oh! Alan! My brother, my brother! I have found you at last.”


It was Alan Bertram, his long-lost brother, bronzed and bearded and changed, but the same kindly eyes beamed down on the happy Will, and the same hearty voice welcomed him.

“Will!” ejaculated the amazed Alan.

“Yes, yes, it is I, and you are alive whom we thought dead.”

Captain Bertram acted like a man stunned by an unexpected blow. He sank to a bunk—Will never releasing his grasp on his hand—and could only stare blankly at Will for some moments.

“How did you come here? It seems like a dream.”

“It is no dream, but a reality,” cried Will. “I have been seeking you for a long time. We have followed you step by step from the wreck of the Albatross.”

The sailors had crowded around them, interested and spellbound at the strange meeting.

They listened intently as, at Alan’s request, Will began the story of his adventures.

As he told of Captain Stephen Morris more than one excited and angry ejaculation interrupted him.

“The scoundrel!”

“He knew we were alive!”

These and similar expressions broke from the sailors.

At last Will concluded his story.

As he did so Jack, Hugo and the boys entered the room.

A cheery welcome greeted the trusty old sailors who had so faithfully guarded their young charges.

A noisy scene ensued when the sailors discussed the actions of Captain Morris, whom they had believed to be dead.

An inquiry from Jack led to Captain Bertram telling his story.

It seems that the Albatross had made a most successful voyage.

The ship had captured several whales, had a hold full of oil, and was returning, homeward bound, when adverse winds bore it into the storm area.

The Albatross was driven north and cast upon the Arctic coast.

The icebergs threatened to crush the ship, and the captain, believing they were not far out of the course of ships, determined to attempt to save the cargo.

The barrels of oil were therefore landed and piled away in a nook near the coast.

The next day the ice broke, carrying the Albatross some distance.

The ship was wrecked, but not so badly but that it afforded a temporary home for the crew.

They remained on the ship all through the rigorous winter, and then started to find a settlement.

On the way Stephen Morris, in scaling an ice cliff, fell into the sea.

They searched for him, but could not find him, and, giving him up for drowned, proceeded on their way.

They built the ice huts the castaways had seen, and at last came upon a wandering tribe of Esquimaux.

With them they lived for some months. They told them of the whale-oil deposit, and several of them and the crew visited the spot.

They returned, amazed and disappointed.

The barrels of oil had disappeared. Either they had been found by some ship or, the ice melting, had floated them into the sea.

For many months the Albatross crew remained with the tribe, finally finding their way to the whaling station.

Within a day or two Captain Bertram said they would sail for home on a whaler.

This was his story, briefly told.

“And you wonder where the oil went to, Captain?” he asked, with a curious look on his face.


“And you wonder how Stephen Morris got rich?”


“Ah! Then you suspect—”

“That he is a villain and a robber.”

“You have a theory?”

“A very plausible one.”

“What is it?”

“He was not drowned at all.”

“That seems certain.”

“In some way he escaped. He found himself alone, and he remained around the ship. One day, I theorise, a ship came along.”

“That’s possible.”

“He was seen and taken aboard. They did not see the wreck of the Albatross.”


“He made up a false story about it being crushed in the ice and all aboard lost.”

“What for?”

“Because he wanted no witnesses against his crime.”

“What crime?”

“Robbery! He and the captain of the ship seized the oil as legally theirs and divided on it when they got into port.”

“The villain!”

“That he is, and he let you take the chances of perishing in the cold to carry out his plot.”

This seemed very plausible, and when Jack told of the sinking of the Golden Moose their rage knew no bounds.

“We’ll have him punished when we return,” they affirmed.

A bountiful breakfast was prepared for the castaways, and they and the crew of the Albatross were a happy party all that day.

Towards noon Captain Bertram led Will to a point some distance away where a ship was anchored.

“You see the ice is beginning to break and float for good,” he said. “We will sail as soon as the channel is open; probably to-morrow.”

When they returned to the depot he ordered the men to get their traps packed ready for conveying them to the ship.

They comprised, mostly, relics of their Arctic experience, and the white bear-skin Jack’s party had secured was not forgotten.

Captain Bertram got a sled ready and asked Will to aid him.

“I haven’t much baggage,” he said, “but I have one article that I have clung to through all my adventures.”

Under one of the bunks he pointed to a barrel. It was secured in a piece of sail cloth, and bore the captain’s name.

“What is it?” asked Will, curiously.

“Our fortune,” was Captain Bertram’s mysterious reply.


“Our fortune?” repeated Will, in vague wonderment.

“Yes, Will,” replied Alan, looking around to see that they were not observed. “That cask contains valuable property. No matter what just now. I brought it from the ship to here, heavy as it is, and it has been a source of mystery to the crew all along. I had reasons for not telling them its contents, but if we succeed in getting it safely home we will be rich, and they shall not be forgotten. Some one is coming,” and the appearance of a sailor interrupted the conversation.

The barrel was conveyed to the ship, and Captain Bertram, having some business to discuss with the captain of the ship, Will decided to return to the settlement.

He did not go as they had come, by land, but in an adventurous spirit set out to cross on the ice, which was broken up and already floating.

Leaping from cake to cake, he enjoyed the sport until he found himself on a large piece which, when he came to leave it, had floated several feet from any other piece.

“It will float against some of them again,” he murmured, but to his consternation he observed that the entire mass was floating rapidly seawards.

He had reason for apprehension now, for he was fast getting in open water.

He could not venture to swim with his heavy clothing on, and besides the ice, if it came together, would crush him.

His face paled as he saw that no one was in sight on land, and that the ice was moving in a swift current.

“I am lost!” he cried, wildly. “Oh! why did I foolishly venture on the ice?”

But it was too late to remedy his error, and he could only hope he might drift to some floe.

Darkness came down over the scene. The shore had disappeared. He was afloat on a cake of ice in the open sea!

The horrors of that night poor Will never forgot. At the very verge of a swift journey home with his recovered brother, the cup of happiness seemed dashed from his lips.

In his awful peril eternity loomed before him, and, after an hour of fervent prayer, he resigned himself to his fate.

In wandering over the piece of ice he slipped and fell. The contact with a jagged edge stunned him, and he knew no more.

When he awakened to consciousness he[53] was lying in a warm, cozy bunk, a grizzled old sailor bending over him.

His head was bandaged and he was weak and feverish.

“Well, lad, you’ve come back to life at last, it seems,” spoke a gruff, but kindly voice.

“Where am I?”

“On board the whaler Penguin.”

“How did I come here?”

“Picked up on a floating cake of ice.”

“When—last night?”

The sailor laughed.

“No, indeed. A week ago.”

“And I have been here since?”

“Under the surgeon’s care, yes.”

“Then I must have been injured?”

“You had an ugly cut in the head, and you’ve been delirious since.”

Will thought of his brother Alan with anxiety as he contemplated his grief when he found him gone.

He consoled himself with the thought, however, that Captain Bertram would soon sail for home.

The Penguin made a rapid voyage.

One bright morning the ship anchored at Portland.

The captain provided Will with sufficient money to reach home.

Hence he had sailed a stowaway months previous.

He had returned as poor as he went away, but his experience had been of a character likely to benefit him in after years.

He proceeded within twenty miles of Watertown by rail.

A coach took him to Princeton, ten miles nearer.

Here, just at dusk, he entered a little store to purchase something to eat, and was emerging a minute later, when he started and then stood dumbfounded.

A man walking briskly had stopped as abruptly as himself.

“Will Bertram!” cried the man, wildly. “What does this mean? How came you here?”

It was Captain Stephen Morris!


The street was dark and deserted except where the two persons so strangely met stood staring at each other.

Will’s first impulse was to fly under the influence of the old terror he felt of Captain Morris.

The latter, however, recovering partly from his surprise, suddenly seized him by the arm.

“Come with me,” was all he said, in a choked, unnatural tone.

“I won’t!”

Will struggled to get free, but Morris held him in a tight clasp.

“You keep quiet, if you’re wise,” said Morris, menacingly. “I don’t want to hurt you.”

“What do you want of me?”

“To talk to you.”

“I don’t want to talk with you. Let me go, Captain Morris.”

But Morris held tightly to him, and almost dragged him along.

At a retired spot on the confines of the village was a tavern.

Will knew of it as a place of unsavory reputation, it being a low drinking den.

“I won’t go to that place with you,” he appealed, holding back.

“Well, you will.”

Will struggled and shouted for help, but the Captain only laughed at him.

“They are my friends yonder,” he said, “and your obstinacy won’t help you.”

Will was compelled to accompany him through the narrow entrance to the living rooms of the tavern.

A man, evidently the landlord, came to the door, but at a glance from Morris retired.

The latter entered a room that was dark, except where the light showed from a transom looking into an adjoining room.

From that apartment sounds of drinking and dispute arose.

The air was foul with tobacco smoke and the fumes of liquor.

Captain Morris flung Will into a chair and confronted him.

“Now then,” he said, “I have a few questions to ask you.”

Will was silent.

“And I expect you to answer them,” he supplemented.

“And then I can go?”


“Very well. What is it?”

“How did you escape from drowning on the Golden Moose?”

“After you left us to sink—” began Will, but the captain interrupted him, impatiently.

“After I left you to sink?”


“I did nothing of the kind.”

“You certainly put off in the long boat.”

“The waves carried us away from the ship.”


“Oh, that was it?” remarked Will, incredulously.

“Exactly. We tried to get back to the ship and couldn’t do it.”

“Well,” resumed Will, “when we found the boat gone, Jack and Tom and I—”

Captain Morris started.

“Oh, Jack escaped, too.”

“Yes, we floated away on a grating and were rescued by a raft.”

“And where is Jack now?”

“I don’t know.”

“Did he come back with you?”


Captain Morris looked mystified.

Will was determined not to tell what he knew concerning the remainder of his adventures.

“Where did you separate with Jack?” Morris asked.

“Oh, that was after we reached land.”


“Up around Barnell’s Point.”

At hearing these words Captain Morris sprang to his feet.

“What!” he almost shrieked out.

“Around Barnell’s Point.”

His hand trembled as he seized Will’s arm in a fierce grasp.

“See here, boy,” he quavered, “what are you hiding from me?”

“What should I hide?”

“What do you know about Barnell’s Point?”

“All. I was there.”

“With Jack?”


“How did you get there?”

“We were wrecked.”

“And how did you leave there?”

“Part of the way on a sled.”

“A sled?”

“Yes, Captain Morris, a sled made of part of the timbers of the Albatross.”

As Will uttered these words Captain Morris fell to a chair.

A groan of apprehension passed his lips.

In hoarse, stricken tones Will heard him murmur:

“They have discovered all! I am lost—ruined!”


For fully two minutes there was a lapse of dead silence, broken only by the commotion in the outside bar-room.

Will sat watching Morris in the half light of the apartment with the keenest satisfaction.

He realized that the latter was tormented over what he knew from Will’s disclosures to be the wreck of all his evil schemes.

For if the true story of the Albatross was known, and his attempt to wreck the Golden Moose made public he might lose both his fortune and his liberty.

It was not Will’s intention to reveal the entire truth to him, however.

He was, in fact, now sorry that he had warned him to the extent he had.

Finally the captain said:

“You say you don’t know where Jack Marcy is?”

“Not positively.”

“Why not?”

“Because I got separated from him and the others.”

“What others?”

“Castaways who were with us.”


“And I floated out to sea on a cake of ice.”

“And was picked up?”

“Yes, and brought to Portland. Now then, Captain Morris, I’ve answered your questions and I wish to go.”

“To tell people all about the Albatross?”

“Why not?”

“It will show my former story to have been a lie.”

“Well, ain’t it one?”

“Maybe. You’re a dangerous enemy to my interests, and for self-protection I think I’ll keep you here a few days.”

“No, you won’t.”

Will had made a dash for the door.

Before Morris could interrupt him he had opened it and sprang into the next apartment.

As he did so, and attempted to rush past the men who were there, one of them put his feet out.

As Will stumbled over and fell to the floor he recognized him.

It was Donald Parker, the manager and confidant of Captain Morris.

He seemed to understand that Will was trying to escape.

“Stop that boy!” yelled Morris from the next room.

Parker sprang to the door and blocked Will’s exit.

The latter turned to three men seated drinking and smoking.

“They are trying to keep me here against my will!” he cried.

At that moment Captain Morris entered the room.


With a single blow of his fist he knocked Will to the floor.

“You’ve killed him, captain,” spoke Parker, concernedly.

“Nonsense, he’s only stunned. See here, men, you all know me?”

“Very well, captain,” chimed in the denizens of the bar-room.

“I’m your friend, and we’re working for mutual interests.”

“In the smuggling trade; eh, captain?” laughed one of the men.

“Never mind. This boy may ruin all our plans.”

“Don’t let him.”

“I don’t intend to. I intend to keep him a close prisoner for a few days, and no one must know of his being here. You understand, Jones?” he said, turning to the landlord.

“You get me my liquor too cheap to have me meddle with your business,” replied the tavern-keeper.

“Now boys,” continued Morris, “we must get him out of here.”


“At once.”

“Where are you going to take him to?”

“To the old yacht.”

“Anchored near Watertown?”


“How are we going to get him there?”

“One of you secure a horse and wagon at once.”

Parker started out to fill Morris’ order.

“When we get to the yacht I’ll explain this affair to you,” said the captain to the men.

Half an hour later Morris, Parker and the three men, who were evidently familiar associates, left the bar-room.

The captain exhorted the landlord to keep silent about Will, which he agreed to do.

Will was placed, still insensible from Morris’ cowardly blow, in a wagon.

An hour or two later it stopped at a point on the coast near Watertown.

Here a large yacht was moored.

Will was placed in a compartment behind the little cabin of the yacht, in a rude bunk, still insensible.

The horse and wagon were sent back to Princeton with one of the men, who was engaged to return as soon as possible.

It was about midnight when Will awoke.

He had a dull pain in his head, and he could not at first comprehend his situation.

A small glass bull’s-eye looked out on the water, and through the cracks in the door he could see a light.


He then decided that he was on a boat of some kind.

He peered through the cracks of the door, and uttered a sigh of dismay.

For he was still in the power of his enemy.

Captain Morris and his four associates were seated at a table drinking.

Parker was saying:

“The boy sleeps a long time, Captain. Maybe he’ll never wake up.”

“It might be the best thing for us if he never did,” was Morris’ brutal reply. “Now, then, mates, let me explain to you my scheme, and why this boy’s appearance bids fair to spoil it for us.”

Will came nearer to the door and prepared to listen to some startling revelations.


“When the Golden Moose sunk in mid-ocean,” were Captain Morris’ first words, “I believed that Jack Marcy, the boatswain, went down with the ship.”

“Did he know of your plot, captain?” inquired Parker.

“He suspected it. I returned to Portland and filed my claim for the insurance money.”

“Ship and cargo?”

“Exactly, although there was no cargo except a few empty casks and boxes labeled merchandise. As I said, I supposed Marcy and Will Bertram and Tom Dalton were drowned.”

“And they ain’t?” inquired one of the sailors.

“No. This boy returns and says they are still in the Arctic regions. If so, we are safe.”

“But they are alive?”

“True; but I only want to keep the boy quiet a week and Marcy away, and our plans will be completed.”

“You mean the insurance money?”

“Yes. That will be paid over soon. I have converted all my other property into money, and we will leave Watertown before the truth is known. This boy also spoke of the Albatross. When I returned I reported that ship lost with all on board but myself. Instead, I had made a bargain with the captain, who rescued me, to seize the oil the Albatross had stored away, and we divided the profits.”

“You’re in a bad box, captain, if the truth gets out.”

“It mustn’t. This boy must be kept a close prisoner until the insurance money is collected.”

Will was horrified at the cool villainy displayed by Morris. He only hoped that ere his evil schemes were put into operation some of the crew of the Albatross would return to Watertown.

Captain Morris visited him the next morning and endeavored to induce him to tell more of Jack and his whereabouts.

Will, however, refused to do so.

“You’ll stay here till you do,” said Morris.

“I’d stay here even if I did,” replied Will, boldly. “You are sailing in deep waters, Captain Morris, and you will yet regret all your crimes and my detention here.”

His meals were brought to him regularly.

Twice he endeavored to force the door leading to the cabin, but was unsuccessful.

The glass bull’s-eye might be easily removed, but he could not creep through the aperture.

Besides, there was always some one of the crew in the cabin or on deck.

The yacht, which was moored at a rocky and isolated portion of the coast, remained there for some days.

One morning the captain came into the cabin, where Parker was seated, with an excited face.

“Any news, captain?” inquired the latter.


“About the insurance money?”

“Exactly. A letter from Portland.”

“They will pay it?”

“On demand.”

“Then we sail?”

“This afternoon.”

Parker pointed to Will’s prison.

“What about the boy?” he asked.

“We’ll take him with us until the affair is settled.”

That afternoon the men made ready to start on their voyage up the coast.

Will’s heart sank as he realized that he was again leaving the vicinity of home.

He had tried to patiently suffer his forced imprisonment, but he grew sad and tearful as he thought of his parents, and all his happy anticipations of meeting them dashed rudely to the ground.

The yacht started on its voyage, and, skirting the coast, crossed the harbor channel at Watertown.

Will, through the little window, could discern in the near distance many familiar land-marks.

As the yacht started on its course northward a stately ship passed up the harbor.

The yacht barely cleared its bows.

Will, looking back, started, regarded the[57] ship closely, caught sight of several persons on the deck and uttered a wild ejaculation of surprise and delight.

Then, seizing a heavy piece of wood broken from the hunk, he struck desperately at the window.

The glass bull’s-eye was shattered into a myriad of fragments.

And, pressing his pale and excited face to the opening, Will Bertram cried wildly in the direction of the passing ship:

“Help! Help! Help!”


While Will Bertram was passing through strange and varied adventures the friends he had left behind him at the whaling station were mourning him as lost.

Captain Bertram missed him when he returned to the settlement, and search was at once instituted.

He learned that Will had not returned by land. He must, therefore, have attempted to cross on the ice.

The field had broken up and floated to sea, and it was believed that Will had been carried away in this manner.

A small boat searched along the coast, but after a long quest no trace was found of the missing boy.

“He has been drowned,” decided Captain Bertram at last.

“Don’t say that, captain,” said old Jack, hopefully. “He may have been picked up by some ship.”

The next day the captain and crew of the Albatross set sail on the whaler for home. Jack, Hugo and Tom accompanied them.

They made a rapid and uneventful voyage.

Captain Bertram was continually under the gloom of his bereavement.

“Poor Will,” he would say; “what will the old folks say when they learn he is lost?”

“Cheer up, captain,” said Jack. “Will ain’t the boy to give up easily, and had a dozen chances for escape. He may be home before we are.”

As the ship neared home the action of Captain Morris was discussed.

“He shall be arrested at once,” said Captain Bertram, sternly. “It is his wickedness that caused all our troubles.”

“We must give him no warning,” said Jack, “or he will escape.”

One morning the ship started down the coast for Watertown.

The crew were excited and anxious to reach their native land once more.

As the ship sailed into the harbor channel they passed a small yawl, outward bound.

Jack watched the little craft intently.

There were four men visible on deck, three of whom were strangers to him.

The fourth, however, he recognized at a glance.

“Look there, captain!” he cried to Alan.

“Who is it?”

“Donald Parker, Captain Morris’ right-hand man!”

“Then Morris himself may be on board?”

“Yes; see, he is there, just coming out of the cabin!”

If Jack had had his way the ship would have stopped the yacht, so anxious was he to see Morris apprehended for his many crimes.

The yacht crossed the bows of the ship.

Jack, following it with his glance, saw a strange sight at its stern.

The glass bull’s-eye in the rear of the cabin was suddenly broken out.

A white face appeared at the opening, and a voice cried loudly for help.

“Captain! Captain! Look there!” shouted Jack.

He was almost frantic with amazement and excitement.

“What is it?” asked Alan.

“Will, your brother!”

“Oh, it cannot be; Jack—Jack are you sure?”

“I am positive I saw him. Now he is gone. Quick, get one of the boats out; we must overtake them. Some new villainy is afloat!”

Will had disappeared from the window.

His cries had been heard by Morris, who had instantly rushed below.

He burst into the compartment where Will was, wild with rage.

He dragged him away from the window and locked him in a dark part of the hold.

Just then Parker came rushing to where he was.

“We’re in a bad box, captain,” he said.

“What’s the matter?”

“The boy’s cries.”

“Yes, I heard them and stopped him.”

“Too late.”

“What do you mean?”

“The men on the ship we passed heard him.”

“What of it?”

“It’s a whaler.”


“Homeward bound.”


“They won’t pay any attention to the boy.”

“They will, and have, for he had friends on board.”

Morris started violently.

“Friends,” he repeated, a vague suspicion of the truth entering his mind.

“Yes, and one of them was Jack Marcy.”

Morris turned pale and hastened to the deck, followed by Parker.

One glance in the direction of the whaler revealed the true state of affairs.

He saw several men letting down a yawl. Two of them he recognized—Alan Bertram and Jack Marcy!


When Jack Marcy saw Will Bertram’s face at the window in the boat he instantly comprehended, as he had said, that some new villainy was afloat.

It was enough for him to know that he was a prisoner and in Captain Morris’ power.

He acted on a quick impulse as he saw movements on board the yacht which indicated that its crew were about to proceed rapidly.

Rushing to the captain of the ship which had brought them home, he asked, hurriedly: “Can we have a boat, captain?”

“What for?”

“To follow that yacht. The man we came back here to arrest is upon it, and a friend of ours is a prisoner aboard.”

A boat was instantly lowered, and Jack, Alan, and several sailors sprang to the oars.

Meanwhile this action had been discerned from the yacht.

“They are coming on board, captain,” said Parker to Morris.

“We won’t let them.”

“Shall we crowd sail?”


“We can soon outrun them,” and Parker gave the necessary orders to his assistants. They soon left the yawl behind.

They saw their disappointed pursuers abandon the chase and return to the ship.

“We’re safe, captain,” said Parker, triumphantly.

“For a time, yes.”

“They will follow us later, you think?”

“Of course. They have seen the boy.”

“You are sure of it?”

“Didn’t he shout to them? We must act quickly in what we do, Parker.”

“What is your plan?”

“To run to Portland.”

“They may follow us in a faster ship.”

“We have too great a start of them, and they may not suspect we are going there.”

“You intend to collect the insurance money?”


“And then?”

“Land the boy and sail to some distant port.”

All that afternoon and night the yacht sailed before a swift breeze.

The next day about noon the craft landed at the wharf at Portland.

There had been no indications of a pursuing ship.

“I will return soon,” said Captain Morris.

He had taken the papers about the lost Moose with him, and his intention was to visit the office of the company in which the ship was insured.

He had nearly reached his destination when he drew back in the shelter of a doorway.

Just entering the building where the insurance company was located were three men.

Two of them he recognized as Jack Marcy and Alan Bertram.

The other he assumed to be a detective.

“They have suspected all,” he murmured, in deep chagrin, “and have hurried here by rail to prevent my collecting the money. There’s nothing left but flight now.”

He hurriedly returned to the yacht.

Parker stood conversing with a stranger, and his face was ominous of some new complicating disaster to their cherished plans.

“Are you Captain Morris?” asked the stranger.

“Yes. Get ready to sail, Parker.”

“Not just yet, captain,” said the stranger, coolly.

“What do you mean?”

“I have orders to keep the yacht and crew here for further orders.”

“Who from?”

“The chief of police.”

Morris’ face fell.

“I don’t understand,” he stammered.

“Oh, yes you do, captain,” replied the stranger. “I’m a detective, and your scheme to collect money for a ship you sunk is known.”

Morris stood dumbfounded for a moment or two.

There was a dangerous gleam in his eye as he asked the stranger:

“I am under arrest, then?”


“Well, yes. That’s about it. Some officers will be here shortly.”

“The charge is a false one,” ventured Morris.

“The two men who came from Watertown an hour since and went with a detective to the office of the insurance company and sent me here to watch for the yacht, don’t seem to think so.”

“They have no proofs.”

“They have evidence enough to demand your arrest. Then there is the proof the boy furnished.”

“What boy?”

“The one you have locked up in the hold of the yacht.”

Captain Morris looked utterly crestfallen.

“What proof?” he stammered out.

“He seemed to have dropped a rough penciled letter telling of your intention of coming here, from the cabin window. It was picked up by his brother and his companion.”

Captain Morris was in a desperate strait.

The evidence against him was overwhelming, and he realized would certainly send him to prison.

He acted promptly in his dilemma.

Suddenly, seizing an iron bar lying near at hand, he dealt the detective a heavy blow.

The latter sank insensible to the deck.

“Fling him on the wharf,” ordered Morris, excitedly, “and set sail for the open sea at once.”

Ten minutes later, when other officers came to the place, they found their fellow-officer just recovering from the effects of Captain Morris’ stunning blow and the yacht gone.


Will Bertram, locked in the cabin apartment, could only imagine what was going on outside from the movements of the yacht and of its crew.

There was a little port-hole in the place where he was, but it did not admit of his looking out to any advantage.

He knew that the yacht had reached its destination, but when, an hour later, it again set sail his heart sank at the uncertainty of his situation.

Once he tried the door of the place. It was locked, but he found he could easily burst it open.

To do this and have his escape discovered, however, would only be to subject himself to renewed abuse at the hands of Captain Morris.

He could look into the cabin through a little window, and here he stationed himself.

“I will try to escape to-night,” he decided mentally, and he waited patiently for night to come.

The cabin was not visited for several hours after the yacht reached and left Portland.

At last, however, the boat came to a stop. A few minutes later Captain Morris and Parker came into the cabin.

“Are we going to stay here for the night?” the latter asked.

“Yes,” replied Morris.

“Do you think it safe?”

“Why not?”

“We cannot have traveled over forty miles.”

“But this is an unfrequented part of the coast. We will decide what to do by the morning. That boy has spoiled all our plans.”

“Then you have given up all idea of the insurance money?”

“I shall be glad if we get free and can get enough from the sale of the yacht to take us to some distant place.”

“You have the money from the sale of your property at Watertown?”

“Yes, all but the Bertram mortgage. I ordered my lawyer to foreclose and sell old Bertram out. I’m glad I did now,” remarked Morris, with malignant satisfaction expressed on his evil features.

“You’ll never get it.”

“I’ll have the pleasure of knowing that I’ve paid off this boy for making all this trouble.”

Parker looked avariciously at the well-filled pocket-book that Morris exhibited as he looked over some papers it contained.

At that moment one of the crew came below.

“Well?” said Morris, interrogatively.

“We’re moored for the night.”

“All right. Tell the others to watch for an hour or two.”

“All right, captain.”

The sailor returned to the deck, but soon reappeared.

Morris ordered him to bring them some liquor from a cupboard.

The man did so, and placed a bottle before Morris.

“Not that one,” said the latter.

“Why not, captain?”

“Because it’s drugged. We used that to dose the revenue officers in our last smuggling expedition.”


The sailor brought out another bottle, and the trio sat down and began drinking freely.

“We’ll look around the deck and all come below and have a game of cards, I guess,” remarked Morris, finally.

The next moment the cabin was deserted.

Will Bertram had been an interested listener and witness to all that had occurred.

A wild notion to secure liberty came into his mind as he recalled the episode of the two bottles of liquor.

He determined on a bold plan to render himself master of the yacht.

Without much effort he broke open the door and gained the cabin.

Going to the cupboard, he took the bottle Morris had said contained the drug and mixed the greater portion of it with the liquor on the table.

He regained his covert just as Morris and the men re-entered the cabin.

In a few minutes the party were engaged in playing games with a greasy pack of cards and drinking the drugged liquor.

Will noticed that Parker drank less heavily than his companions, and that he watched the captain narrowly.

An hour later the game was played slowly and the men seemed to become drowsy.

The drugged liquor had done its work. Will was in a fever of anxiety as he noticed that Parker alone seemed to resist the effects of the drug.

Even he, as he observed that all of his companions slumbered deeply, with difficulty arose to his feet.

He came over to where Morris sat and then seemed to reflect.

“The pocket-book contains a fortune for me,” he muttered, “and if I stay with Morris I’ll be sure to get into trouble. I declare I’m feeling dizzy and sleepy; I’ll wait and take the pocket-book l-a-t-e-r.”

He sank to a chair as he spoke. His eyelids drooped. He was asleep.

Will waited only a single moment. He pushed open the door and crept into the cabin past the sleeping men and to the deck of the yacht.

“Free!” he cried, delightedly. “I am out of Captain Morris’ power at last.”


Will’s first impulse as he regained his freedom was to fly instantly from the boat, which an enforced imprisonment had made hateful to him.

He paused, however, as he remembered the issues at stake.

“When Captain Morris regains consciousness he will fly with his associates. The money, too!” cried Will. “Does it not belong to the Albatross, for he robbed the ship of its cargo?”

But what could he do with four men, even if asleep and harmless for the time being? He might bind them, but alone he could not manage the yacht.

He scanned the landscape searchingly. A long distance away gleamed a light to the far interior, probably that of some isolated farm house.

Will determined to go thither, and let developments guide his future movements.

It took him over half an hour to reach the place where the light he had seen was located.

It proved to be as he had supposed—a farm house. He knocked at the door, and an old man met him.

Will was somewhat incoherent and excited at first as he told his story in brief.

The old farmer was almost incredulous when Will exposed the villainy of Morris and his associates.

“And you want some help in getting the yacht back to Portland and putting these scoundrels in jail, eh?” he remarked. “Well, I’ll help you.”

He called his two sons, and they were soon on their way to the yacht.

When they arrived they found Morris and the others still insensible.

The farmer secured some stout ropes and tied them securely.

Then, with his sons, he manned the yacht, and, Will deciding that two of them could take it to Portland, left one of his sons to complete the voyage.

They estimated the direction and location of their intended destination, and Will knew enough about a ship to sail the yacht.

It was morning when the boat reached Portland.

It had required all the attention of Will and the farmer’s son to manage the yacht, and they had not paid any attention to their prisoners.

The boat safely landed, however, a loud series of cries from the cabin caused Will to go below.

Captain Morris, red in the face and wild with rage, glared at him and endeavored vainly to break his bonds.

“Is this your work?” he raved.


“Yes, Captain Morris. The tables are turned now, and you are my prisoner.”

Parker, who was also awake, groaned audibly.

“Where are we?” he asked.

“At Portland, and you will soon be in jail.”

Captain Morris chafed in silence for some time. Finally he said:

“See here, boy.”

“Well, Captain Morris?”

“Who’s on deck with you?”

“A man who won’t let you get loose. So don’t try any tricks.”

“Do you want to be rich?”

“Not with your money.”

“Listen. Release us and I’ll give you a thousand dollars.”

Will laughed.

“You haven’t got it to give me.”

“I have ten times that amount in my pocket book.”

“It ain’t yours.”

“Whose, then?”

“It was stolen from the owners of the Albatross.”

Morris scowled deeply at Will’s words.

“They’ll have to prove it’s theirs,” he cried, “and I’ll risk their getting it. I have one satisfaction. Your family will be turned out of their home before another week.”

Will was silent and abruptly left the cabin.

He had confidence enough in his own ability and that of his brother Alan to make some arrangement for adjusting the matter of the mortgage.

Going up on the deck he instructed his assistant to keep a close watch over the prisoners.

“Are you going away?” asked the latter.



“For the police.”

“You are going to have these men arrested?”

“Yes. I shall return shortly.”

Will went to the police station and asked for the officer in charge.

A few words of inquiry revealed the fact that Captain Bertram and Jack Marcy were expected at the station that morning.

“Do you know where they are stopping?” inquired Will.

The officer named a hotel near by.

Will hastened there at once. Just as he was crossing the vestibule he saw two familiar forms.

“Alan—Jack!” he cried, as he rushed to where they were.

“Will!” cried Alan, in delighted tones. “You are free? You have escaped?”

“Yes, last night.”

“And Captain Morris?”

“He and his crew are prisoners on board the yacht.”


For several minutes Will Bertram was kept busy answering his brother’s rapid questions. He told Alan of all that had occurred, and the latter expressed the keenest satisfaction at the result of Will’s shrewdness and patience.

“We sent a ship in pursuit of the yacht after it left Portland,” he explained to Will.

“Are you going to the boat?” asked Jack.

“No; to the police station first.”

Here the officer in charge was made acquainted with all the recent facts of the case.

A detail of men were sent with Captain Bertram and his friends.

When they arrived at the yacht Morris and his companions were handcuffed and brought on deck.

The former did not speak a word, but glared in silence at Alan.

He knew that he was foiled in all his evil plans, and his heart was filled with hatred toward those he had wronged.

Captain Bertram dismissed Will’s assistant, the farmer’s son, with a moneyed reward for his aid.

The yacht was taken in charge by the police, who at once marched their prisoners to the station.

Here Morris was searched. To Will’s amazement the most persistent quest failed to reveal Captain Morris’ well-filled pocket-book.

He now wished he had taken it when the opportunity had presented itself.

Morris’ eyes gleamed with satisfaction as Will said to Alan:

“He had a pocket-book containing money he openly boasted was indirectly the proceeds of the oil he stole from the Albatross.”

“You won’t find it, either,” cried Morris, malignantly.

They were forced to remain in the dark as to its mysterious disappearance, and Morris and his accomplices were taken to the cells of the station.

From the station Captain Bertram, Jack and Will repaired for the office of the insurance company.

Here Alan consulted with the officers, who decided to prosecute Morris for sinking the Golden Moose and attempting to collect the insurance money fraudulently.


They advised Captain Bertram to at once begin a civil suit for the recovery of the amount Morris had received from the stolen whale oil.

He told him he could seize on the yacht until the case was tried in court.

They made a last visit to the police station before leaving Portland.

The officer then informed Captain Bertram that one of the prisoners wished to see him.

“Which one?” asked Alan.

“The man they call Parker. He seems very uneasy and has been upbraiding Morris for getting him into trouble. Will you see him?”


Parker was brought from the cells, and asked to see Alan alone.

They were shown into a private room.

“Well, what is it?” inquired Alan.

“I wanted to say that I had nothing to do with all Captain Morris’ schemes.”

“You were in his confidence all the time,” replied Alan.

“That may be, but I didn’t help sink the ship. I have a proposition to make to you.”

“What is it?”

“If you won’t prosecute I’ll tell all about the Captain’s schemes.”

“I know them already.”

“I’ll tell you who the Captain is he divided with on the oil, and you can make him pay it back.”

Alan was silent.

“I’ll also tell you where Morris hid his pocket book.”

“I can’t agree to compromise a crime,” said Alan, “but if you try to repair your wrong I will try to make your punishment as light as possible.”

“All right, Captain. I hope you will. I never would have stayed with Morris, only he knew I had been in jail and threatened to have me arrested again.”

“And the pocket book?”

“Here it is. Morris handed it to me while the officers were not looking.”

Alan left the pocket book with the police, and that night he and Will and Jack started homeward bound for Watertown.


It was a happy family party that gathered around the humble fireside of Solomon Bertram the day following the occurrences described in the last chapter.

Will Bertram never forgot the tearful, delighted welcome he received when his father and mother folded him in their arms with grateful hearts as one from the dead.

Willis and Tom and Hugo were also there, and, when the first raptures of welcome had subsided, the boys retired to a corner and talked over their past adventures, while the older people discussed the more momentous issues of the hour.

It was towards evening when an interruption to the harmony of the happy reunion occurred.

A knock at the door was followed by the entrance of a man the Bertrams knew very well.

It was Captain Morris’ lawyer, Mr. Rowe. He nodded to the occupants of the room and then addressed himself to Mr. Bertram.

“I wished to see you privately, Mr. Bertram,” he said.

“You can speak out,” replied Will’s father. “It’s about the mortgage, I suppose?”

“Yes. Captain Morris has ordered me to proceed in the matter.”

“In what way?”

“The last interest note is past due.”

“If you would wait a few days I might be able to pay it.”

“I can’t wait, Mr. Bertram. Captain Morris’ orders were definite.”

Mr. Bertram looked anxious and troubled.

Alan stepped forward abruptly.

“How much is it?” he asked.

“The interest note—”

“No; the entire amount of this mortgage.”

The lawyer looked surprised, but named the amount.

“I will pay it,” said Alan.

“You?” cried Mr. Bertram, amazedly.

“Yes,” and Captain Bertram drew from his pocket a large wallet.

It was filled to repletion with bills of large denomination.

“Alan! Alan!” cried Mrs. Bertram, “where did you get all that money?”

“It’s mine, honestly earned. Never fear, mother,” replied Alan, a proud smile on his lips. “Now, Mr. Rowe, there’s your money, and that pays the mortgage.”

Mr. Rowe muttered something about being sorry he had to act so harshly, but it was Morris’ orders.

Then he handed the papers to Alan and left the house.

Tears of joy stood in Mr. Bertram’s eyes as he clasped his son’s hand.

“You have saved us from homelessness in our old age, but what does this mystery of the money mean, you who lost all in the Albatross?”


Alan smiled mysteriously, while old Jack chuckled serenely.

“It’s quite a story,” said Captain Bertram.

“Tell it, Alan,” cried Will, curiously.

“We are no longer poor. This pocket-book contains ten times the amount of the mortgage, and it is all ours.”

The boys crowded around Alan.

“How did you come by the money, Alan?” asked Mrs. Bertram.

“It can be told in a single word.”

“What is that?” asked Will, excitedly.



Will stared curiously at his brother as he pronounced the mystical word “ambergris.”

“I won’t keep you in the dark speculating over what I mean,” said Alan. “Ambergris is a substance found in whales in very rare instances and only under certain conditions. It is used in the manufacture of cologne as the base to hold the perfume, and is almost worth its weight in gold.”

“And how did you find it?” asked the interested Mr. Bertram.

“It was during the cruise of the Albatross. We had came to anchor, and I was strolling down the shore with two members of the crew, when we came across a dead whale. To make a long story short, we examined it and suspected the presence of ambergris. We found enough to fill a cask.”

“And it was valuable, you say?” inquired Mrs. Bertram.

“Yes, indeed. We obtained a cask and brought it on board the ship. We did not tell the crew of it. In all our wanderings I clung to that ambergris, and on our way to Watertown left it at Portland.”

“You sold it?” asked Will.

“Yes, for many thousands of dollars. I divided the money with the crew of the Albatross. The remainder is mine.”

The faces of Mr. and Mrs. Bertram beamed with joy at the good fortune of their son.

Within a week affairs had resumed their wonted serenity with the Bertram family.

Alan and Jack were compelled to visit Portland to attend the preliminary trial of Captain Morris.

It was expected that Will’s evidence would be required in the case, but Jack Marcy’s testimony was sufficient.

One evening they returned, and Will was informed that the case against Morris had been decided.

“He was found guilty of scuttling the ship,” Jack told him.

“What did they do with him?” asked Will.

“He was sent to the penitentiary for a long term of years.”

“And Parker?”

“He was released upon giving his testimony against Morris. The mate of the Golden Moose had disappeared. The three sailors were given light terms of imprisonment.”

“And our suit for the stolen whale-oil was decided in our favor. Morris agreed to give us the money he had and the yacht to prevent being prosecuted for imprisoning you.”

The people of Watertown soon saw a change in the circumstances of the Bertram family, and Alan, who was a favorite generally, was met everywhere with friendly consideration.

The yacht Captain Morris had transferred to him was put in better order, and for a time Will and Jack ran it down the coast, doing a prosperous business.

Hugo, with a generous present from Captain Bertram, went off on another sea voyage.

Willis returned home, and Tom was taken into service on the yacht.

Captain Bertram himself purchased a warehouse in Watertown and entered business on his own account.

One day as Will entered the office he found there his old employer, the menagerie agent, Mr. Hunter.

“I was passing through Watertown and wanted to see you once more,” said Mr. Hunter. “You left us abruptly up in the woods.”

Will explained how he and Tom were lost, and told of his succeeding adventures.

“I never earned the salary you paid me in advance, Mr. Hunter,” he said.

“We won’t quarrel about that, Will,” was the hearty reply.

Will offered the polar bear’s skin to Mr. Hunter for his menagerie, but the latter said:

“No, no, Will. That is a memento of your Arctic experience you must keep.”

A year after his return from his eventful[64] voyage to the frozen north Will Bertram was owner of the yacht he and Jack had sailed for his brother.

Later he left this business to enter the warehouse.

With industry and perseverance as their motto, Alan and Will Bertram soon attained a commercial success, and as partners became representative men in the community.

When Will thought of his life as a castaway it was with pleasure, for that experience had developed many manly qualities.

He shuddered as he thought of the evil course and the punishment of Captain Morris.

His brief imprisonment in Morris’ yacht had shown him the true hideousness of crime, and from its contact he always shrank in after years.

Whenever Hugo came to Watertown he was a welcome guest at the house of the Bertrams.

Willis visited his old companions in exile very frequently, and Jack and Tom, the latter grown to a self-reliant, earnest man, and Will often met with him to talk over their past experiences together.

Mr. and Mrs. Bertram found their declining years the happiest of their life.

Blessed with a competency, they passed a life of happiness and comfort, proud of the sons who cherished their love as a precious boon.

The polar bear skin is still a trophy in Will’s room in the new Bertram mansion.

Often he relates how it came into his possession to visitors.

And whenever he recites the sufferings himself and his companions endured in the far north he gratefully remembers the kind providence which brought them safely through all their perils.

Looking back over the years, that adventurous experience in the Arctic zone is as fresh as if an occurrence of yesterday.

It is like a fairy picture in his memory—the days when he and Willis and Tom were young explorers Under the Polar Star.



The press, the pulpit, the parents, and the general public cry out for bright, pure, and attractive reading for boys and girls. Juvenile literature of the demoralizing kind only has heretofore been sold on the news-stands at cheap prices. The Golden Library comes to the rescue of a long-suffering community. Its pages are full of interest, its stories are original, full of life and brave endeavor for the right. It is not a goody-goody Sunday-school series. It will not cater to cant, hypocrisy, or vileness of any kind. It is for the right, the bright, the pure, the honest, first, last, and all the time. It has no other mission than to supplant the bad with something good that shall be equally as attractive to the young of both sexes and of all conditions. Examine it and read it. The publishers believe it is just the thing, and intend that it shall make a brave fight for recognition on its merits. Give us a good word, if we deserve it, whenever you can.


1 ONE CENT CAPITAL; or, A Young Clerk’s Adventures. By Archie Van.

2 HONOR BRIGHT; or, The Young Surveyor of Green River. By Henry L. Black.

3 UNDER THE POLAR STAR; or, The Young Explorers. By Dwight Weldon.

4 BOUND TO WIN; or, Jack o’ Lantern, the Ferry Boy. By Dwight Weldon.

5 TWENTY CRUSOES; or, The Grammar School Castaways. By Henry L. Black.

6 BAREFOOTED BEN; or, The Boy who Built a Railroad. By author of “Honor Bright.”

7 TRUE TO HIS COLORS; or, Bert Noble, the Young Reporter. By Henry L. Black.

8 WORKING HIS WAY; or, The Brookville Boys’ Club. By Dwight Weldon.

9 CLEAR GRIT; or, A Young Emigrant’s Adventures. By Archie Van.

10 CLEAR THE WAY; or, The Boys of Bear Hollow. By John Gordon.

11 SENT ADRIFT; or, Around the World on Eighty Cents. By Henry A. Wheeler.

12 WHEEL AND WHISTLE; or, The Young Pilot of Lake Linden. By Archie Van.

13 TRUE AS STEEL; or, The Anvil-Boy of Bessemer Forge. By Henry L. Black.

14 LINK AND LEVER; or, The Boy Railroader of Rushville. By John Gordon.

15 TWO BRAVE BOYS; or, The Mystery of the Great North Woods. By Dwight Weldon.

16 ROUGH AND READY; or, A Young Hero in Tatters. By Henry A. Wheeler.

17 CAMP AND CANOE; or, Cruise of the Red Jackets in Florida. By St. George Rathborne.

18 BLOWING A BUBBLE; or, The Bardstown Boys’ Stock Company. By Captain Castleton.

19 FIGHTING TO WIN; or, The Crusoe Boys of Treasure Island. By John Gordon.

20 PURE PLUCK; or, A Telegraph-Boy’s Adventures. By Dwight Weldon.

21 OUT WEST; or, The Pioneer Boys of Sun Prairie. By Henry A. Wheeler.

22 AFLOAT WITH A CIRCUS; or, The Diamond-Seekers of Natal. By Henry L. Black.

23 TRIED AND TRUE; or, The Locksmith Boy of Frankford. By Archie Van.

24 MAIL-BAG AND MONEY; or, The Boy Postmaster of Brimfield. By Captain Castleton.

25 UP NORTH; or, Making a Man of Himself. By John Gordon.

26 BOY MILLIONAIRE; or, The Lost Mine of the Sierra Madre. By Henry A. Wheeler.

27 RIFLE AND ROD; or, A Cruise Down the Lake. By J. M. Merrill.

28 BRIGHT AND EARLY; or, The Boy Who Became a Detective. By John Tulkinghorn.

29 ALWAYS ON DECK; or, Making a Start in Life. By Archie Van.

30 WESTWARD HO! or, The Cabin in the Clearing. By Henry L. Black.

31 ALL ABOARD! or, The Rival Boat-Clubs. By Weldon J. Cobb.

32 UP IN A BALLOON; or, The Gas Well of Mont Clare. By Captain Castleton.

33 TOM BERKLEY’S LUCK; or, A Brave Boy’s Fight for Fortune. By Weldon J. Cobb.

34 THE BOY MILL-OWNER; or, Doing His Level Best. By J. M. Merrill.

35 HIS OWN MASTER; or, Young Samson of the Iron Mills. By Henry A. Wheeler.

36 PLUCKY NAT; or, A Bright Boy’s Adventures in Texas. By George Henry Morse.

37 BEN BLY’S BIRTHRIGHT; or, The Boy Farmer of Fox Valley. By John Tulkinghorn.

38 DICK FARLEY’S GRIT; or, A Diamond in the Rough. By Dwight Weldon.

39 ALMOST A MAN; or, The Boy Pilot of the Mississippi. By Captain Castleton.

☞ The Golden Library is published semi-monthly, and is for sale by all newsdealers, or will be sent by mail, prepaid, on receipt of the price: Subscription, $2.25 a year; single copy, 10 cents.

Albert Sibley & Co.,
No. 18 Rose St., New York.

Transcriber’s Notes:

Illustrations have been moved to paragraph breaks near where they are mentioned.

Punctuation has been made consistent.

Variations in spelling and hyphenation were retained as they appear in the original publication, except that obvious typographical errors have been corrected.