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   Chapter 26 No.26

The World of Ice By R. M. Ballantyne Characters: 16877

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:04


The return-The surprise-Buzzby's sayings and doings-The narrative-Fighting battles o'er again-Conclusion.

Once again we are on the end of the quay at Grayton. As Fred stands there, all that has occurred during the past year seems to him but a vivid dream.

Captain Guy is there, and Captain Ellice, and Buzzby, and Mrs. Buzzby too, and the two little Buzzbys also, and Mrs. Bright, and Isobel, and Tom Singleton, and old Mr. Singleton, and the crew of the wrecked Dolphin, and, in short, the "whole world"-of that part of the country.

It was a great day for Grayton that. It was a wonderful day-quite an indescribable day; but there were also some things about it that made Captain Ellice feel, somehow, that it was a mysterious day, for, while there were hearty congratulations, and much sobbing for joy, on the part of Mrs. Bright, there were also whisperings which puzzled him a good deal.

"Come with me, brother," said Mrs. Bright, at length, taking him by the arm, "I have to tell you something."

Isobel, who was on the watch, joined them, and Fred also went with them towards the cottage.

"Dear brother," said Mrs. Bright, "I-I-O Isobel, tell him. I cannot."

"What means all this mystery?" said the captain in an earnest tone, for he felt that they had something serious to communicate.

"Dear uncle," said Isobel, "you remember the time when the pirates attacked-"

She paused, for her uncle's look frightened her.

"Go on, Isobel," he said quickly.

"Your dear wife, uncle, was not lost at that time-"

Captain Ellice turned pale. "What mean you, girl? How came you to know this?" Then a thought flashed across him. Seizing Isobel by the shoulder he gasped, rather than said, "Speak quick-is-is she alive?"

"Yes, dear uncle, she-"

The captain heard no more. He would have fallen to the ground had not Fred, who was almost as much overpowered as his father, supported him. In a few minutes he recovered, and he was told that Alice was alive-in England-in the cottage. This was said as they approached the door. Alice was aware of her husband's arrival. In another moment husband and wife and son were reunited.

Scenes of intense joy cannot be adequately described, and there are meetings in this world which ought not to be too closely touched upon. Such was the present. We will therefore leave Captain Ellice and his wife and son to pour out the deep feelings of their hearts to each other, and follow the footsteps of honest John Buzzby, as he sailed down the village with his wife and children, and a host of admiring friends in tow.

Buzzby's feelings had been rather powerfully stirred up by the joy of all around, and a tear would occasionally tumble over his weather-beaten cheek, and hang at the point of his sunburnt and oft frost-bitten nose, despite his utmost efforts to subdue such outrageous demonstrations.

"Sit down, John dear," said Mrs. Buzzby in kind but commanding tones, when she got her husband fairly into his cottage, the little parlour of which was instantly crowded to excess. "Sit down, John dear, and tell us all about it."

"Wot! begin to spin the whole yarn o' the Voyage afore I've had time to say, 'How d'ye do?'" exclaimed Buzzby, at the same time grasping his two uproarious sons, who had, the instant he sat down, rushed at his legs like two miniature midshipmen, climbed up them as if they had been two masts, and settled on his knees as if they had been their own favourite cross-trees!

"No, John, not the yarn of the voyage," replied his wife, while she spread the board before him with bread and cheese and beer, "but tell us how you found old Captain Ellice and where, and what's comed of the crew."

"Werry good! then here goes."

Buzzby was a man of action. He screwed up his weather-eye (the one next his wife, of course, that being the quarter from which squalls might be expected). and began a yarn which lasted the better part of two hours.

It is not to be supposed that Buzzby spun it off without interruption. Besides the questions that broke in upon him from all quarters, the two Buzzbys junior scrambled, as far as was possible, into his pockets, pulled his whiskers as if they had been hoisting a main-sail therewith, and, generally, behaved in such an obstreperous manner as to render coherent discourse all but impracticable. He got through with it, however; and then Mrs. Buzzby intimated her wish, pretty strongly, that the neighbours should vacate the premises, which they did laughingly, pronouncing Buzzby to be "a trump," and his better half "a true blue."

"Good day, old chap," said the last who made his exit; "tiller's fixed agin-nailed amid-ships, eh?"

"Hard and fast," replied Buzzby, with a broad grin, as he shut the door and returned to the bosom of his family.

Two days later a grand feast was given at Mrs. Bright's cottage, to which all the friends of the family were invited to meet with Captain Ellice and those who had returned from their long and perilous voyage. It was a joyful gathering that, and glad and grateful hearts were there.

Two days later still, and another feast was given. On this occasion Buzzby was the host, and Buzzby's cottage was the scene. It was a joyful meeting, too, and a jolly one to boot, for O'Riley was there, and Peter Grim, and Amos Parr, and David Mizzle, and Mivins-in short, the entire crew of the lost Dolphin-captain, mates, surgeon, and all. Fred and his father were also there, and old Mr. Singleton, and a number of other friends, so that all the rooms in the house had to be thrown open, and even then Mrs. Buzzby had barely room to move. It was on this occasion that Buzzby related to his shipmates how Mrs. Ellice had escaped from drowning on the night they were attacked by pirates on board the West Indiaman. He took occasion to relate the circumstances just before the "people from the house" arrived, and as the reader may perhaps prefer Buzzby's account to ours, we give it as it was delivered.

"You see, it happened this way," began Buzzby.

"Hand us a coal, Buzzby, to light my pipe, before ye begin," said Peter Grim.

"Ah! then, howld yer tongue, Blunderbore," cried O'Riley, handing the glowing coal demanded, with as much nonchalance as if his fingers were made of cast-iron.

"Well, ye see," resumed Buzzby, "when poor Mrs. Ellice wos pitched overboard, as I seed her with my own two eyes-"

"Stop, Buzzby," said Mivins; "'ow was 'er 'ead at the time?"

"Shut up, Mivins," cried several of the men; "go on, Buzzby."

"Well, I think her 'ead wos sou'-west, if it warn't nor'-east. Anyhow it wos pintin' somewhere or other round the compass. But, as I wos sayin', when Mrs. Ellice struck the water (an' she told me all about it herself, ye must know) she sank, and then she comed up, and didn't know how it wos, but she caught hold of an oar that wos floatin' close beside her, and screamed for help; but no help came, for it wos dark, and the ship had disappeared, so she gave herself up for lost. But in a little the oar struck agin a big piece o' the wreck o' the pirate's boat, and she managed to clamber upon it, and lay there, a'most dead with cold, till mornin'. The first thing she saw when day broke forth wos a big ship, bearin' right down on her, and she wos jist about run down when one o' the men observed her from the bow.

"'Hard a-port!' roared the man.

"'Port it is,' cried the man at the wheel, an' round went the ship like a duck, jist missin' the bit of wreck as she passed. A boat wos lowered, and Mrs. Ellice wos took aboard. Well, she found that the ship wos bound for the Sandwich Islands, and as they didn't mean to touch at any port in passin', Mrs. Ellice had to go on with her. Misfortins don't come single, howsiver. The ship wos wrecked on a coral reef, and the crew had to take to their boats, which they did, an' got safe to land; but the land they got to wos an out-o'-the-way island among the Feejees, and a spot where ships never come, so they had to make up their minds to stop there."

"I thought," said Amos Parr, "that the Feejees were cannibals, and that whoever was wrecked or cast ashore on their coasts was killed and roasted, and eat up at once."

"So ye're right," rejoined Buzzby; "but Providence sent the crew to one o' the islands that had bin visited by a native Christian missionary from one o' the other islands, and the people had gin up some o' their worst

practices, and wos thinkin' o' turnin' over a new leaf altogether. So the crew wos spared, and took to livin' among the natives, quite comfortable like. But they soon got tired and took to their boats agin, and left. Mrs. Ellice, however, determined to remain and help the native Christians, till a ship should pass that way. For three years nothin' but canoes hove in sight o' that lonesome island; then, at last, a brig came, and cast anchor off shore. It wos an Australian trader that had been blown out o' her course on her way to England, so they took poor Mrs. Ellice aboard, and brought her home-and that's how it wos."

Buzzby's outline, although meagre, is so comprehensive that we do not think it necessary to add a word. Soon after he had concluded, the guests of the evening came in, and the conversation became general.

"Buzzby's jollification," as it was called in the village, was long remembered as one of the most interesting events that had occurred for many years. One of the chief amusements of the evening was the spinning of long yarns about the incidents of the late voyage, by men who could spin them well.

Their battles in the Polar Seas were all fought over again. The wondering listeners were told how Esquimaux were chased and captured; how walruses were lanced and harpooned; how bears were speared and shot; how long and weary journeys were undertaken on foot over immeasurable fields of ice and snow; how icebergs had crashed around their ship, and chains had been snapped asunder, and tough anchors had been torn from the ground or lost; how schools had been set agoing and a theatre got up; and how, provisions having failed, rats were eaten-and eaten, too, with gusto. All this and a great deal more was told on that celebrated night-sometimes by one, sometimes by another, and sometimes, to the confusion of the audience, by two or three at once, and, not unfrequently, to the still greater confusion of story-tellers and audience alike, the whole proceedings were interrupted by the outrageous yells and turmoil of the two indomitable young Buzzbys, as they romped in reckless joviality with Dumps and Poker. But at length the morning light broke up the party, and stories of the World of Ice came to an end.

* * *

And now, reader, our tale is told. But we cannot close without a parting word in regard to those with whom we have held intercourse so long.

It must not be supposed that from this date everything in the affairs of our various friends flowed on in a tranquil, uninterrupted course. This world is a battle-field, on which no warrior finds rest until he dies; and yet, to the Christian warrior on that field, the hour of death is the hour of victory. "Change" is written in broad letters on everything connected with Time; and he who would do his duty well, and enjoy the greatest possible amount of happiness here, must seek to prepare himself for every change. Men cannot escape the general law. The current of their particular stream may long run smooth, but sooner or later the rugged channel and the precipice will come. Some streams run quietly for many a league, and only at the last are troubled. Others burst from their very birth on rocks of difficulty, and rush, throughout their course, in tortuous, broken channels.

So was it with the actors in our story. Our hero's course was smooth. Having fallen in love with his friend Tom Singleton's profession, he studied medicine and surgery, became an M.D., and returned to practise in Grayton, which was a flourishing sea-port, and, during the course of Fred's career, extended considerably. Fred also fell in love with a pretty young girl in a neighbouring town, and married her. Tom Singleton also took up his abode in Grayton, there being, as he said, "room for two." Ever since Tom had seen Isobel on the end of the quay, on the day when the Dolphin set sail for the Polar Regions, his heart had been taken prisoner. Isobel refused to give it back unless he, Tom, should return the heart which he had stolen from her. This he could not do, so it was agreed that the two hearts should be tied together, and they two should be constituted joint guardians of both. In short, they were married, and took Mrs. Bright to live with them, not far from the residence of old Mr. Singleton, who was the fattest and jolliest old gentleman in the place, and the very idol of dogs and boys, who loved him to distraction.

Captain Ellice, having had, as he said, "more than his share of the sea," resolved to live on shore, and, being possessed of a moderately comfortable income, he purchased Mrs. Bright's cottage on the green hill that overlooked the harbour and the sea. Here he became celebrated for his benevolence, and for the energy with which he entered into all the schemes that were devised for the benefit of the town of Grayton. Like Tom Singleton and Fred, he became deeply interested in the condition of the poor, and had a special weakness for poor old women, which he exhibited by searching up, and doing good to, every poor old woman in the parish. Captain Ellice was also celebrated for his garden, which was a remarkably fine one; for his flagstaff, which was a remarkably tall and magnificent one; and for his telescope, which constantly protruded from his drawingroom window, and pointed in the direction of the sea.

As for the others-Captain Guy continued his career at sea as commander of an East Indiaman. He remained stout and true-hearted to the last, like one of the oak timbers of his own good ship.

Bolton, Saunders, Mivins, Peter Grim, Amos Parr, and the rest of them, were scattered in a few years, as sailors usually are, to the four quarters of the globe. O'Riley alone was heard of again. He wrote to Buzzby "by manes of the ritin' he had larn'd aboord the Dolfin," informing him that he had forsaken the "say" and become a small farmer near Cork. He had plenty of murphies and also a pig-the latter "bein'" he said, "so like the wan that belonged to his owld grandmother, that he thought it must be the same wan corned alive agin, or its darter."

And Buzzby-poor Buzzby-he also gave up the sea, much against his will, by command of his wife, and took to miscellaneous work, of which there was plenty for an active man in a sea-port like Grayton. His rudder, poor man, was again (and this time permanently) lashed amid-ships, and whatever breeze Mrs. Buzzby chanced to blow, his business was to sail right before it. The two little Buzzbys were the joy of their father's heart. They were genuine little true-blues, both of them, and went to sea the moment their legs were long enough, and came home, voyage after voyage, with gifts of curiosities and gifts of money to their worthy parents.

Dumps resided during the remainder of his days with Captain Ellice, and Poker dwelt with Buzzby. These truly remarkable dogs kept up their attachment to each other to the end. Indeed, as time passed by, they drew closer and closer together, for Poker became more sedate, and, consequently, a more suitable companion for his ancient friend. The dogs formed a connecting link between the Buzzby and Ellice families-constantly reminding each of the other's existence by the daily interchange of visits.

Fred and Tom soon came to be known as the best doctors with which that part of the country had ever been blessed. And the secret of their success lay in this, that while they ministered to the diseased bodies of men, they also ministered to their diseased souls. With skilful hands they sought to arrest the progress of decay; but when all their remedies failed, they did not merely cease their efforts and retire-they turned to the pages of divine truth, and directed the gaze of the dying sufferers to Jesus Christ, the Great Physician of souls. When death had done its work, they did not quit the mourning household as if they were needed there no longer, but kneeling down with the bereaved, they prayed to Him who alone can bind up the broken heart, and besought the Holy Spirit to comfort the stricken ones in their deep affliction.

Thus Fred and his friend went hand in hand together, respected and blessed by all who knew them-each year as it passed cementing closer and closer that undying friendship which had first started into being in the gay season of boyhood, and had bloomed and ripened amid the adventures, dangers, and vicissitudes of the World of Ice.

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