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Chapter 6

THE leading particulars of this narration were all that Augustus
communicated to me while we remained near the box. It was not until
afterward that he entered fully into all the details. He was
apprehensive of being missed, and I was wild with impatience to leave
my detested place of confinement. We resolved to make our way at once
to the hole in the bulkhead, near which I was to remain for the
present, while he went through to reconnoiter. To leave Tiger in the
box was what neither of us could endure to think of, yet, how to act
otherwise was the question. He now seemed to be perfectly quiet, and
we could not even distinguish the sound of his breathing upon
applying our ears closely to the box. I was convinced that he was
dead, and determined to open the door. We found him lying at full
length, apparently in a deep stupor, yet still alive. No time was to
be lost, yet I could not bring myself to abandon an animal who had
now been twice instrumental in saving my life, without some attempt
at preserving him. We therefore dragged him along with us as well as
we could, although with the greatest difficulty and fatigue;
Augustus, during part of the time, being forced to clamber over the
impediments in our way with the huge dog in his arms- a feat to which
the feebleness of my frame rendered me totally inadequate. At length
we succeeded in reaching the hole, when Augustus got through, and
Tiger was pushed in afterward. All was found to be safe, and we did
not fail to return sincere thanks to God for our deliverance from the
imminent danger we had escaped. For the present, it was agreed that I
should remain near the opening, through which my companion could
readily supply me with a part of his daily provision, and where I
could have the advantages of breathing an atmosphere comparatively
pure.

In explanation of some portions of this narrative, wherein I have
spoken of the stowage of the brig, and which may appear ambiguous to
some of my readers who may have seen a proper or regular stowage, I
must here state that the manner in which this most important duty had
been per formed on board the Grampus was a most shameful piece of
neglect on the part of Captain Barnard, who was by no means as
careful or as experienced a seaman as the hazardous nature of the
service on which he was employed would seem necessarily to demand. A
proper stowage cannot be accomplished in a careless manner, and many
most disastrous accidents, even within the limits of my own
experience, have arisen from neglect or ignorance in this particular.
Coasting vessels, in the frequent hurry and bustle attendant upon
taking in or discharging cargo, are the most liable to mishap from
the want of a proper attention to stowage. The great point is to
allow no possibility of the cargo or ballast shifting position even
in the most violent rollings of the vessel. With this end, great
attention must be paid, not only to the bulk taken in, but to the
nature of the bulk, and whether there be a full or only a partial
cargo. In most kinds of freight the stowage is accomplished by means
of a screw. Thus, in a load of tobacco or flour, the whole is screwed
so tightly into the hold of the vessel that the barrels or hogsheads,
upon discharging, are found to be completely flattened, and take some
time to regain their original shape. This screwing, however, is
resorted to principally with a view of obtaining more room in the
hold; for in a full load of any such commodities as flour or tobacco,
there can be no danger of any shifting whatever, at least none from
which inconvenience can result. There have been instances, indeed,
where this method of screwing has resulted in the most lamentable
consequences, arising from a cause altogether distinct from the
danger attendant upon a shifting of cargo. A load of cotton, for
example, tightly screwed while in certain conditions, has been known,
through the expansion of its bulk, to rend a vessel asunder at sea.
There can be no doubt either that the same result would ensue in the
case of tobacco, while undergoing its usual course of fermentation,
were it not for the interstices consequent upon the rotundity of the
hogsheads.

It is when a partial cargo is received that danger is chiefly to
be apprehended from shifting, and that precautions should be always
taken to guard against such misfortune. Only those who have
encountered a violent gale of wind, or rather who have experienced
the rolling of a vessel in a sudden calm after the gale, can form an
idea of the tremendous force of the plunges, and of the consequent
terrible impetus given to all loose articles in the vessel. It is
then that the necessity of a cautious stowage, when there is a
partial cargo, becomes obvious. When lying-to (especially with a
small bead sail), a vessel which is not properly modelled in the bows
is frequently thrown upon her beam-ends; this occurring even every
fifteen or twenty minutes upon an average, yet without any serious
consequences resulting, provided there be a proper stowage. If this,
however, has not been strictly attended to, in the first of these
heavy lurches the whole of the cargo tumbles over to the side of the
vessel which lies upon the water, and, being thus prevented from
regaining her equilibrium, as she would otherwise necessarily do, she
is certain to fill in a few seconds and go down. It is not too much
to say that at least one-half of the instances in which vessels have
foundered in heavy gales at sea may be attributed to a shifting of
cargo or of ballast.

When a partial cargo of any kind is taken on board, the whole,
after being first stowed as compactly as may be, should be covered
with a layer of stout shifting-boards, extending completely across
the vessel. Upon these boards strong temporary stanchions should be
erected, reaching to the timbers above, and thus securing every thing
in its place. In cargoes consisting of grain, or any similar matter,
additional precautions are requisite. A hold filled entirely with
grain upon leaving port will be found not more than three fourths
full upon reaching its destination -- this, too, although the
freight, when measured bushel by bushel by the consignee, will
overrun by a vast deal (on account of the swelling of the grain) the
quantity consigned. This result is occasioned by settling during the
voyage, and is the more perceptible in proportion to the roughness of
the weather experienced. If grain loosely thrown in a vessel, then,
is ever so well secured by shifting-boards and stanchions, it will be
liable to shift in a long passage so greatly as to bring about the
most distressing calamities. To prevent these, every method should be
employed before leaving port to settle the cargo as much as possible;
and for this there are many contrivances, among which may be
mentioned the driving of wedges into the grain. Even after all this
is done, and unusual pains taken to secure the shifting-boards, no
seaman who knows what he is about will feel altogether secure in a
gale of any violence with a cargo of grain on board, and, least of
all, with a partial cargo. Yet there are hundreds of our coasting
vessels, and, it is likely, many more from the ports of Europe, which
sail daily with partial cargoes, even of the most dangerous species,
and without any precaution whatever. The wonder is that no more
accidents occur than do actually happen. A lamentable instance of
this heedlessness occurred to my knowledge in the case of Captain
Joel Rice of the schooner Firefly, which sailed from Richmond,
Virginia, to Madeira, with a cargo of corn, in the year 1825. The
captain had gone many voyages without serious accident, although he
was in the habit of paying no attention whatever to his stowage, more
than to secure it in the ordinary manner. He had never before sailed
with a cargo of grain, and on this occasion had the corn thrown on
board loosely, when it did not much more than half fill the vessel.
For the first portion of the voyage he met with nothing more than
light breezes; but when within a day's sail of Madeira there came on
a strong gale from the N. N. E. which forced him to lie-to. He
brought the schooner to the wind under a double-reefed foresail
alone, when she rode as well as any vessel could be expected to do,
and shipped not a drop of water. Toward night the gale somewhat
abated, and she rolled with more unsteadiness than before, but still
did very well, until a heavy lurch threw her upon her beam-ends to
starboard. The corn was then heard to shift bodily, the force of the
movement bursting open the main hatchway. The vessel went down like a
shot. This happened within hail of a small sloop from Madeira, which
picked up one of the crew (the only person saved), and which rode out
the gale in perfect security, as indeed a jolly boat might have done
under proper management.

The stowage on board the Grampus was most clumsily done, if
stowage that could be called which was little better than a
promiscuous huddling together of oil-casks {*1} and ship furniture. I
have already spoken of the condition of articles in the hold. On the
orlop deck there was space enough for my body (as I have stated)
between the oil-casks and the upper deck; a space was left open
around the main hatchway; and several other large spaces were left in
the stowage. Near the hole cut through the bulkhead by Augustus there
was room enough for an entire cask, and in this space I found myself
comfortably situated for the present.

By the time my friend had got safely into the berth, and
readjusted his handcuffs and the rope, it was broad daylight. We had
made a narrow escape indeed; for scarcely had he arranged all
matters, when the mate came below, with Dirk Peters and the cook.
They talked for some time about the vessel from the Cape Verds, and
seemed to be excessively anxious for her appearance. At length the
cook came to the berth in which Augustus was lying, and seated
himself in it near the head. I could see and hear every thing from my
hiding-place, for the piece cut out had not been put back, and I was
in momentary expectation that the negro would fall against the
pea-jacket, which was hung up to conceal the aperture, in which case
all would have been discovered, and our lives would, no doubt, have
been instantly sacrificed. Our good fortune prevailed, however; and
although he frequently touched it as the vessel rolled, he never
pressed against it sufficiently to bring about a discovery. The
bottom of the jacket had been carefully fastened to the bulkhead, so
that the hole might not be seen by its swinging to one side. All this
time Tiger was lying in the foot of the berth, and appeared to have
recovered in some measure his faculties, for I could see him
occasionally open his eyes and draw a long breath.

After a few minutes the mate and cook went above, leaving Dirk
Peters behind, who, as soon as they were gone, came and sat himself
down in the place just occupied by the mate. He began to talk very
sociably with Augustus, and we could now see that the greater part of
his apparent intoxication, while the two others were with him, was a
feint. He answered all my companion's questions with perfect freedom;
told him that he had no doubt of his father's having been picked up,
as there were no less than five sail in sight just before sundown on
the day he was cut adrift; and used other language of a consolatory
nature, which occasioned me no less surprise than pleasure. Indeed, I
began to entertain hopes, that through the instrumentality of Peters
we might be finally enabled to regain possession of the brig, and
this idea I mentioned to Augustus as soon as I found an opportunity.
He thought the matter possible, but urged the necessity of the
greatest caution in making the attempt, as the conduct of the hybrid
appeared to be instigated by the most arbitrary caprice alone; and,
indeed, it was difficult to say if be was at any moment of sound
mind. Peters went upon deck in about an hour, and did not return
again until noon, when he brought Augustus a plentiful supply of junk
beef and pudding. Of this, when we were left alone, I partook
heartily, without returning through the hole. No one else came down
into the forecastle during the day, and at night, I got into
Augustus' berth, where I slept soundly and sweetly until nearly
daybreak, when he awakened me upon hearing a stir upon deck, and I
regained my hiding-place as quickly as possible. When the day was
fully broke, we found that Tiger had recovered his strength almost
entirely, and gave no indications of hydrophobia, drinking a little
water that was offered him with great apparent eagerness. During the
day he regained all his former vigour and appetite. His strange
conduct had been brought on, no doubt, by the deleterious quality of
the air of the hold, and had no connexion with canine madness. I
could not sufficiently rejoice that I had persisted in bringing him
with me from the box. This day was the thirtieth of June, and the
thirteenth since the Grampus made sad from Nantucket.

On the second of July the mate came below drunk as usual, and in
an excessively good-humor. He came to Augustus's berth, and, giving
him a slap on the back, asked him if he thought he could behave
himself if he let him loose, and whether he would promise not to be
going into the cabin again. To this, of course, my friend answered in
the affirmative, when the ruffian set him at liberty, after making
him drink from a flask of rum which he drew from his coat-pocket.
Both now went on deck, and I did not see Augustus for about three
hours. He then came below with the good news that he had obtained
permission to go about the brig as be pleased anywhere forward of the
mainmast, and that he had been ordered to sleep, as usual, in the
forecastle. He brought me, too, a good dinner, and a plentiful supply
of water. The brig was still cruising for the vessel from the Cape
Verds, and a sail was now in sight, which was thought to be the one
in question. As the events of the ensuing eight days were of little
importance, and had no direct bearing upon the main incidents of my
narrative, I will here throw them into the form of a journal, as I do
not wish to omit them altogether.

July 3. Augustus furnished me with three blankets, with which I
contrived a comfortable bed in my hiding-place. No one came below,
except my companion, during the day. Tiger took his station in the
berth just by the aperture, and slept heavily, as if not yet entirely
recovered from the effects of his sickness. Toward night a flaw of
wind struck the brig before sail could be taken in, and very nearly
capsized her. The puff died away immediately, however, and no damage
was done beyond the splitting of the foretopsail. Dirk Peters treated
Augustus all this day with great kindness and entered into a long
conversation with him respecting the Pacific Ocean, and the islands
he had visited in that region. He asked him whether be would not like
to go with the mutineers on a kind of exploring and pleasure voyage
in those quarters, and said that the men were gradually coming over
to the mate's views. To this Augustus thought it best to reply that
he would be glad to go on such an adventure, since nothing better
could be done, and that any thing was preferable to a piratical life.

July 4th. The vessel in sight proved to be a small brig from
Liverpool, and was allowed to pass unmolested. Augustus spent most of
his time on deck, with a view of obtaining all the information in his
power respecting the intentions of the mutineers. They had frequent
and violent quarrels among themselves, in one of which a harpooner,
Jim Bonner, was thrown overboard. The party of the mate was gaining
ground. Jim Bonner belonged to the cook's gang, of which Peters was a
partisan.

July 5th. About daybreak there came on a stiff breeze from the
west, which at noon freshened into a gale, so that the brig could
carry nothing more than her trysail and foresail. In taking in the
foretopsail, Simms, one of the common hands, and belonging also to
the cook's gang, fell overboard, being very much in liquor, and was
drowned- no attempt being made to save him. The whole number of
persons on board was now thirteen, to wit: Dirk Peters; Seymour, the
black cook; Jones, Greely, Hartman Rogers and William Allen, all of
the cook's party; of the cook's party; the mate, whose name I never
learned; Absalom Hicks, Wilson, John Hunty Richard Parker, of the mate's
party;- besides Augustus and myself.

July 6th. The gale lasted all this day, blowing in heavy squalls,
accompanied with rain. The brig took in a good deal of water through
her seams, and one of the pumps was kept continually going, Augustus
being forced to take his turn. Just at twilight a large ship passed
close by us, without having been discovered until within hail. The
ship was supposed to be the one for which the mutineers were on the
lookout. The mate hailed her, but the reply was drowned in the
roaring of the gale. At eleven, a sea was shipped amidships, which
tore away a great portion of the larboard bulwarks, and did some
other slight damage. Toward morning the weather moderated, and at
sunrise there was very little wind.

July 7th. There was a heavy swell running all this day, during
which the brig, being light, rolled excessively, and many articles
broke loose in the hold, as I could hear distinctly from my
hiding-place. I suffered a great deal from sea-sickness. Peters had a
long conversation this day with Augustus, and told him that two of
his gang, Greely and Allen, had gone over to the mate, and were
resolved to turn pirates. He put several questions to Augustus which
he did not then exactly understand. During a part of this evening the
leak gained upon the vessel; and little could be done to remedy it,
as it was occasioned by the brigs straining, and taking in the water
through her seams. A sail was thrummed, and got under the bows, which
aided us in some measure, so that we began to gain upon the leak.

July 8th. A light breeze sprang up at sunrise from the eastward,
when the mate headed the brig to the southwest, with the intention of
making some of the West India islands in pursuance of his piratical
designs. No opposition was made by Peters or the cook- at least none
in the hearing of Augustus. All idea of taking the vessel from the
Cape Verds was abandoned. The leak was now easily kept under by one
pump going every three quarters of an hour. The sail was drawn from
beneath the bows. Spoke two small schooners during the day.

July 9th. Fine weather. All hands employed in repairing bulwarks.
Peters had again a long conversation with Augustus, and spoke more
plainly than he had done heretofore. He said nothing should induce
him to come into the mate's views, and even hinted his intention of
taking the brig out of his hands. He asked my friend if he could
depend upon his aid in such case, to which Augustus said, "Yes,"
without hesitation. Peters then said he would sound the others of his
party upon the subject, and went away. During the remainder of the
day Augustus had no opportunity of speaking with him privately.

Edgar Allan Poe

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