In a minute he was on the foot-rope of the top-sail yard, and he let go the rope-bands which kept the sail bound.

Then he stood on the spars again and climbed on the royal yard, where he let out the sail rapidly.

Dick Sand had finished his task, and seizing one of the starboard backstays, he slid to the deck.

There, under his directions, the two sails were vigorously hauled and fastened, then the two yards hoisted to the block. The stay-sails being set next between the mainmast and the foremast, the work was finished. Hercules had broken nothing this time.

The "Pilgrim" then carried all the sails that composed her rigging. Doubtless Dick Sand could still add the foremast studding-sails to larboard, but it was difficult work under the present circumstances, and should it be necessary to take them in, in case of a squall, it could not be done fast enough. So the novice stopped there.

Tom was relieved from his post at the wheel, which Dick Sand took charge of again.

The breeze freshened. The "Pilgrim," making a slight turn to starboard, glided rapidly over the surface of the sea, leaving behind her a very flat track, which bore witness to the purity of her water-line.

"We are well under way, Mrs. Weldon," then said Dick Sand, "and, now, may God preserve this favorable wind!"

Mrs. Weldon pressed the young man's hand. Then, fatigued with all the emotions of that last hour, she sought her cabin, and fell into a sort of painful drowsiness, which was not sleep.

The new crew remained on the schooner's deck, watching on the forecastle, and ready to obey Dick Sand's orders--that is to say, to change the set of the sails according to the variations of the wind; but so long as the breeze kept both that force and that direction, there would be positively nothing to do.

During all this time what had become of Cousin Benedict?

Cousin Benedict was occupied in studying with a magnifying glass an articulate which he had at last found on board--a simple orthopter, whose head disappeared under the prothorax; an insect with flat elytrums, with round abdomen, with rather long wings, which belonged to the family of the roaches, and to the species of American cockroaches.

It was exactly while ferreting in Negoro's kitchen, that he had made that precious discovery, and at the moment when the cook was going to crush the said insect pitilessly. Thence anger, which, indeed, Negoro took no notice of.

But this Cousin Benedict, did he know what change had taken place on board since the moment when Captain Hull and his companions had commenced that fatal whale-fishing? Yes, certainly. He was even on the deck when the "Pilgrim" arrived in sight of the remains of the whale-boat. The schooner's crew had then perished before his eyes.

To pretend that this catastrophe had not affected him, would be to accuse his heart. That pity for others that all people feel, he had certainly experienced it. He was equally moved by his cousin's situation. He had come to press Mrs. Weldon's hand, as if to say to her: "Do not be afraid. I am here. I am left to you."

Then Cousin Benedict had turned toward his cabin, doubtless so as to reflect on the consequences of this disastrous event, and on the energetic measures that he must take. But on his way he had met the cockroach in question, and his desire was--held, however, against certain entomologists--to prove the cockroaches of the phoraspe species, remarkable for their colors, have very different habits from cockroaches properly so called; he had given himself up to the study, forgetting both that there had been a Captain Hull in command of the "Pilgrim," and that that unfortunate had just perished with his crew. The cockroach absorbed him entirely. He did not admire it less, and he made as much time over it as if that horrible insect had been a golden beetle.

The life on board had then returned to its usual course, though every one would remain for a long time yet under the effects of such a keen and unforeseen catastrophe.

During this day Dick Sand was everywhere, so that everything should be in its place, and that he could be prepared for the smallest contingency.

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A Captain at Fifteen Page 39

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Jules Verne

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