"All," replied the young novice.

And at once he made his preparations for stranding the ship.

First of all, Mrs. Weldon, Jack, Cousin Benedict and Nan, must put on life-preservers. Dick Sand, Tom and the blacks, good swimmers, also took measures to gain the coast, in case they should be precipitated into the sea.

Hercules would take charge of Mrs. Weldon. The novice took little Jack under his care.

Cousin Benedict, very tranquil, however, reappeared on the deck with his entomologist box strapped to his shoulder. The novice commended him to Bat and Austin. As to Negoro, his singular calmness said plainly enough that he had no need of anybody's aid.

Dick Sand, by a supreme precaution, had also brought on the forecastle ten barrels of the cargo containing whale's oil.

That oil, properly poured the moment the "Pilgrim" would be in the surf, ought to calm the sea for an instant, in lubricating, so to say, the molecules of water, and that operation would perhaps facilitate the ship's passage between the reefs. Dick Sand did not wish to neglect anything which might secure the common safety.

All these precautions taken, the novice returned to take his place at the wheel.

The "Pilgrim" was only two cables' lengths from the coast, that is, almost touching the reefs, her starboard side already bathed in the white foam of the surf. Each moment the novice thought that the vessel's keel was going to strike some rocky bottom.

Suddenly, Dick Sand knew, by a change in the color of the water, that a channel lengthened out among the reefs. He must enter it bravely without hesitating, so as to make the coast as near as possible to the shore.

The novice did not hesitate. A movement of the helm thrust the ship into the narrow and sinuous channel. In this place the sea was still more furious, and the waves dashed on the deck.

The blacks were posted forward, near the barrels, waiting for the novice's orders.

"Pour the oil--pour!" exclaimed Dick Sand.

Under this oil, which was poured on it in quantities, the sea grew calm, as by enchantment, only to become more terrible again a moment after.

The "Pilgrim" glided rapidly over those lubricated waters and headed straight for the shore.

Suddenly a shock took place. The ship, lifted by a formidable wave, had just stranded, and her masting had fallen without wounding anybody.

The "Pilgrim's" hull, damaged by the collision, was invaded by the water with extreme violence. But the shore was only half a cable's length off, and a chain of small blackish rocks enabled it to be reached quite easily.

So, ten minutes after, all those carried by the "Pilgrim" had landed at the foot of the cliff.



So then, after a voyage long delayed by calms, then favored by winds from the northwest and from the southwest--a voyage which had not lasted less than seventy-four days--the "Pilgrim" had just run aground!

However, Mrs. Weldon. and her companions thanked Providence, because they were in safety. In fact, it was on a continent, and not on one of the fatal isles of Polynesia, that the tempest had thrown them. Their return to their country, from any point of South America on which they should land, ought not, it seemed, to present serious difficulties.

As to the "Pilgrim," she was lost. She was only a carcass without value, of which the surf was going to disperse the _debris_ in a few hours. It would be impossible to save anything. But if Dick Sand had not that joy of bringing back a vessel intact to his ship-owner, at least, thanks to him, those who sailed in her were safe and sound on some hospitable coast, and among them, the wife and child of James W. Weldon.

As to the question of knowing on what part of the American coast the schooner had been wrecked, they might dispute it for a long time. Was it, as Dick Sand must suppose, on the shore of Peru? Perhaps, for he knew, even by the bearings of the Isle of Paques, that the "Pilgrim" had been thrown to the northeast under the action of the winds; and also, without doubt, under the influence of the currents of the equatorial zone.

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A Captain at Fifteen Page 56

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Jules Verne

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