The Survivors of the Chancellor
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tide, such a one as could not be expected to occur again for
many months. Waiting was out of the question; so Curtis
determined to run the risk, and to take advantage of the
spring-tide, which would occur to-day, to make an attempt
to get the ship, lightened as she was, over the bar; after
which, he might ballast her sufficiently to sail.
The wind was blowing from the northwest, and conse-
quently right in the direction of the passage. The captain,
however, after a consultation, preferred to tow the ship over
the ridge, as he considered it was scarcely safe to allow a
vessel of doubtful stability at full sail to charge an obstacle
that would probably bring her to a dead lock. Before the
operation was commenced, Curtis took the precaution of
having an anchor ready in the stern, for, in the event of the
attempt being unsuccessful, it would be necessary to bring
the ship back to her present moorings. Two more anchors
were next carried outside the passage, which was not more
than two hundred feet in length. The chains were attached
to the windlass, the sailors worked at the hand-spikes, and
at four o'clock in the afternoon the Chancellor was in mo-
High tide would be at twenty minutes past four, and at
ten minutes before that time the ship had been hauled as
far as her sea-range would allow; her keel grazed the ridge,
and her progress was arrested. When the lowest part of her
stern, however, just cleared the obstruction, Curtis deemed
that there was no longer any reason why the mechanical ac-
tion of the wind should not be brought to bear and con-
tribute its assistance. Without delay, all sails were unfurled
and trimmed to the wind. The tide was exactly at its height,
passengers and crew together were at the windlass, M.
Letourneur, Andre, Falsten, and myself being at the star-
board bar. Curtis stood upon the poop, giving his chief
attention to the sails; the lieutenant was on the forecastle;
the boatswain by the helm. The sea seemed propitiously
calm and; as it swelled gently to and fro, lifted the ship
"Now, my boys," said Curtis, in his calm clear voice, "all
Round went the windlass; click, click, clanked the chains
as link by link they were forced through the hawse-holes.
The breeze freshened, and the masts gave to the pressure
of the sails, but round and round we went, keeping time in
regular monotony to the sing-song tune hummed by one of
We had gained about twenty feet, and were redoubling
our efforts when the ship grounded again.
And now no effort would avail; all was in vain; the tide
began to turn: and the Chancellor would not advance an inch.
Was there time to go back? She would inevitably go to
pieces if left balanced upon the ridge. In an instant the cap-
tain has ordered the sails to be furled, and the anchor
dropped from the stern.
One moment of terrible anxiety, and all is well.
The Chancellor tacks to stern, and glides back into the
basin, which is once more her prison.
"Well, captain," says the boatswain, "what's to be done
"I don't know," said Curtis, "but we shall get across
THE "CHANCELLOR" RELEASED FROM HER PRISON
NOVEMBER 21 TO 24. -- There was assuredly no time to be
lost before we ought to leave Ham Rock reef. The barom-
eter had been falling ever since the morning, the sea was
getting rougher, and there was every symptom that the
weather, hitherto so favorable, was on the point of breaking;
and in the event of a gale the Chancellor must inevitably be
dashed to pieces on the rocks.
In the evening, when the tide was quite low, and the rocks
uncovered, Curtis, the boatswain, and Dowlas went to exam-
ine the ridge which had proved so serious an obstruction.
Falsten and I accompanied them. We came to the conclu-
sion that the only way of effecting a passage was by cutting
away the rocks with pikes over a surface measuring ten feet
by six. An extra depth of nine or ten inches would give a
sufficient gauge, and the channel might be accurately marked
out by buoys; in this way it was conjectured the ship might
be got over the ridge and so reach the deep water beyond.
"But this basalt is as hard as granite," said the boatswain;
"besides, we can only get at it at low water, and conse-
quently could only work at it for two hours out of the
"All the more reason why we should begin at once, boat-
swain," said Curtis.
"But if it is to take us a month, captain, perhaps by that
time the ship may be knocked to atoms. Couldn't we man-
age to blow up the rock? we have got some powder aboard."
"Not enough for that," said the boatswain.
"You have something better than powder," said Falsten.
"What's that?" asked the captain.
"Picrate of potash," was the reply.
And so the explosive substance with which poor Ruby had
so grievously imperiled the vessel was now to serve her in
good stead, and I now saw what a lucky thing it was that
the case had been deposited safely on the reef, instead of be-
ing thrown into the sea.
The sailors went off at once for their pikes, and Dowlas
and his assistants, under the direction of Falsten, who, as an
engineer, understood such matters, proceeded to hollow out
a mine wherein to deposit the powder. At first we hoped
that everything would be ready for the blasting to take place
on the following morning, but when daylight appeared we
found that the men, although they had labored with a will,
had only been able to work for an hour at low water and
that four tides must ebb before the mine had been sunk to the
Not until eight o'clock on the morning of the 23d was
the work complete. The hole was bored obliquely in the
rock, and was large enough to contain about ten pounds of
explosive matter. Just as the picrate was being introduced
into the aperture, Falsten interposed:
"Stop," he said, "I think it will be best to mix the picrate
with common powder, as that will allow us to fire the mine
with a match instead of the gun-priming which would be
necessary to produce a shock. Besides, it is an understood
thing that the addition of gunpowder renders picrate far
more effective in blasting such rocks as this, as then the
violence of the picrate prepares the way for the powder
which, slower in its action, will complete the disseverment of
Falsten is not a great talker, but what he does say is al-
ways very much to the point. His good advice was imme-
diately followed; the two substances were mixed together,
and after a match had been introduced the compound was
rammed closely into the hole.
Notwithstanding that the Chancellor was at a distance
from the rocks that insured her from any danger of being
injured by the explosion, it was thought advisable that the
passengers and crew should take refuge in the grotto at the
extremity of the reef, and even Mr. Kear, in spite of his
many objections, was forced to leave the ship. Falsten, as
soon as he had set fire to the match, joined us in our retreat.
The train was to burn for ten minutes, and at the end of
that time the explosion took place; the report, on account of
the depth of the mine, being muffled, and much less noisy
than we had expected. But the operation had been perfectly
successful. Before we reached the ridge we could see that
the basalt had been literally reduced to powder, and that a
little channel, already being filled by the rising tide, had been
cut right through the obstacle. A loud hurrah rang through
the air; our prison-doors were opened, and we were prison-
ers no more.
At high tide the Chancellor weighed anchor and floated
out into the sea, but she was not in a condition to sail until
she had been ballasted; and for the next twenty-four hours
the crew were busily employed in taking up blocks of stone,
and such of the bales of cotton as had sustained the least
amount of injury.
In the course of the day, M. Letourneur, Andre, Miss
Herbey, and I took a farewell walk round the reef, and
Andre, with artistic skill, carved on the wall of the grotto
the word Chancellor -- the designation of Ham Rock, which
we had given to the reef -- and the date of our running
aground. Then we bade adieu to the scene of our three
weeks' sojourn, where we had passed days that to some at
least of our party will be reckoned as far from being the
least happy of their lives.
At high tide this morning, the 24th, with low, top, and
gallant sails all set, the Chancellor started on her onward
way, and two hours later the last peak of Ham Rock had
vanished below the horizon.
A NEW DANGER
NOVEMBER 24 to December1. -- Here we were then once