He could not succeed, but the dog had scented Arthur Pym, and this suggested to Augustus the idea of fastening a note to Tiger’s neck bearing the words:
“I scrawl this with blood—remain hidden—your life depends on it—”
This note, as we have already learned, Arthur Pym had received. Just as he had arrived at the last extremity of distress his friend reached him.
Augustus added that discord reigned among the mutineers. Some wanted to take the Grampus towards the Cape Verde Islands; others, and Dirk Peters was of this number, were bent on sailing to the Pacific Isles.
Tiger was not mad. He was only suffering from terrible thirst, and soon recovered when it was relieved.
The cargo of the Grampus was so badly stowed away that Arthur Pym was in constant danger from the shifting of the bales, and Augustus, at all risks, helped him to remove to a corner of the ‘tween decks.
The half-breed continued to be very friendly with the son of Captain Barnard, so that the latter began to consider whether the sailing-master might not be counted on in an attempt to regain possession of the ship.
They were just thirty days out from Nantucket when, on the 4th of July, an angry dispute arose among the mutineers about a little brig signalled in the offing, which some of them wanted to take and others would have allowed to escape. In this quarrel a sailor belonging to the cook’s party, to which Dirk Peters had attached himself, was mortally injured. There were now only thirteen men on board, counting Arthur Pym.
Under these circumstances a terrible storm arose, and the Grampus was mercilessly knocked about. This storm raged until the 9th of July, and on that day, Dirk Peters having manifested an intention of getting rid of the mate, Augustus Barnard readily assured him of his assistance, without, however, revealing the fact of Arthur Pym’s presence on board. Next day, one of the cook’s adherents, a man named Rogers, died in convulsions, and, beyond all doubt, of poison. Only four of the cook’s party then remained, of these Dirk Peters was one. The mate had five, and would probably end by carrying the day over the cook’s party.
There was not an hour to lose. The half-breed having informed Augustus Barnard that the moment for action had arrived, the latter told him the truth about Arthur Pym.
While the two were in consultation upon the means to be employed for regaining possession of the ship, a tempest was raging, and presently a gust of irresistible force struck the Grampus and flung her upon her side, so that on righting herself she shipped a tremendous sea, and there was considerable confusion on board. This offered a favourable opportunity for beginning the struggle, although the mutineers had made peace among themselves. The latter numbered nine men, while the half-breed’s party consisted only of himself, Augustus Barnard and Arthur Pym. The ship’s master possessed only two pistols and a hanger. It was therefore necessary to act with prudence.
Then did Arthur Pym (whose presence on board the mutineers could not suspect) conceive the idea of a trick which had some chance of succeeding. The body of the poisoned sailor was still lying on the deck; he thought it likely, if he were to put on the dead man’s clothes and appear suddenly in the midst of those superstitious sailors, that their terror would place them at the mercy of Dirk Peters. It was still dark when the half-breed went softly towards the ship’s stern, and, exerting his prodigious strength to the utmost, threw himself upon the man at the wheel and flung him over the poop.
Augustus Barnard and Arthur Pym joined him instantly, each armed with a belaying-pin. Leaving Dirk Peters in the place of the steersman, Arthur Pym, so disguised as to present the appearance of the dead man, and his comrade, posted themselves close to the head of the forecastle gangway. The mate, the ship’s cook, all the others were there, some sleeping, the others drinking or talking; guns and pistols were within reach of their hands.
The tempest raged furiously; it was impossible to stand on the deck.