/ The Children of Captain Grant

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Chapter I. The Shark

On the 26th of July, 1864, a magnificent yacht was steaming along the North Channel at full speed. The name of the yacht was the Duncan[1]1
Duncan ( )

, and the owner was Lord Glenarvan[2]2

, the most distinguished member of the Royal Thames Yacht Club, famous throughout the United Kingdom. Lord Edward Glenarvan was on board with his young wife, Lady Helena[3]3

, and one of his cousins, Major McNabbs[4]4


The Duncan was newly built, and had been making a trial trip. It was returning to Glasgow[5]5

, when the sailor on watch caught sight of an enormous fish sporting in the wake of the ship. Lord Edward, who was immediately apprised of the fact, came up a few minutes after with his cousin, and asked John Mangles[6]6
John Mangles

, the captain, what sort of an animal he thought it was.

Well, since your Lordship asks my opinion, said Mangles, I think it is a shark, and a large one.

A shark at these shores!

There is nothing at all improbable in that, returned the captain.

This fish belongs to a species that is found in all latitudes and in all seas. It is the hammer-headed shark[7]7
hammer-headed shark -

, if I am not much mistaken. But if your Lordship has no objections, well soon haul up the monster and find out what it really is.

What do you say, McNabbs? Shall we try to catch it? asked Lord Glenarvan.

If you like, was his cousins cool reply.

The more of those terrible creatures that are killed the better, at all events[8]8
at all events

, said John Mangles.

Very well, set to work, then[9]9
set to work, then

, said Glenarvan.

Lady Helena soon joined her husband on deck. The sea was splendid, and every movement of the shark was distinctly visible. In obedience to the captains orders, the sailors threw a strong rope over the starboard side of the yacht, with a big hook at the end of it. The bait took at once, though the shark was full fifty yards distant. This was evidently a monster.

The passengers and sailors on the yacht were watching all the animals movements with the liveliest interest. It soon came within reach of the bait, turned over on its back. In a few minutes more the shark was thrown on the deck. A man came forward immediately, and approaching it cautiously, with one powerful stroke cut off its tail.

The sailors knew the contents of its stomach might be worth investigation. The fish was still breathing; it measured ten feet[10]10
1 = 30

in length, and weighed more than six hundred pounds[11]11
1 = 409


The huge brute was soon ripped up in a very unceremonious fashion[12]12
in a very unceremonious fashion

. The hook had fixed right in the stomach, which was found to be absolutely empty, and the disappointed sailors were just going to throw the remains overboard, when the boatswains attention was attracted by some large object.

Whats this? he exclaimed.

Its just a rock that the shark has got in his inside and couldnt digest, said another of the crew.

Hold your tongues, all of you! said Tom Austin[13]13
Tom Austin

, the mate[14]14
the mate

of the Duncan. Dont you see the animal is a drunkard and has not only drunk the wine, but swallowed the bottle?

What! said Lord Glenarvan. Do you mean to say it is a bottle that the shark has got in his stomach?

Ay, it is a bottle, most certainly, replied the boatswain, but not just from the cellar.

Bring it to the cabin, said Lord Glenarvan, for bottles found in the sea often contain precious documents.

Tom obeyed, and in a few minutes brought in the bottle and laid it on the table, at which Lord Glenarvan and the Major were sitting ready with the captain, and, of course, Lady Helena. For a moment they all sat silent, gazing at this frail relic, wondering if it told the tale of sad disaster, or brought some message from a sailor.

However, the only way to know was to examine the bottle, and Glenarvan set to work without further delay, carefully and minutely. He commenced by a close inspection of the outside. The neck was long and slender, the sides were very thick, and strong enough to bear great pressure.

We may affirm it comes from a long way off. Look at those petrifactions all over it, these different substances almost turned to mineral, we might say, through the action of the salt water! This waif had been tossing about in the ocean a long time before the shark swallowed it.

I quite agree with you, said McNabbs. I dare say this bottle has made a long voyage.

But I want to know where from? said Lady Glenarvan.

Wait a little, dear Helena, wait; but if I am not much mistaken, this one will answer all our questions, replied her husband, beginning to scrape away the hard substances round the neck. Soon the cork made its appearance, but much damaged by the water.

Thats vexing, said Lord Edward, for if papers are inside, theyll be in a pretty state!

If your Lordship would simply break off the neck, I think we might easily withdraw the papers, suggested John Mangles.

Try it, Edward, try it, said Lady Helena.

The bottle was broken. There were pieces of paper inside.

Chapter II. The Three Documents

All that could be discovered, however, on these pieces of paper was a few words here and there, the remainder of the lines. Lord Glenarvan examined them attentively for a few minutes, turning them over on all sides, holding them up to the light, and trying to decipher, while the others looked on with anxious eyes. At last he said: There are three distinct documents here, apparently copies of the same document in three different languages. Here is one in English, one in French, and one in German.

But can you make any sense out of them? asked Lady Helena.

Thats hard to say, my dear Helena, the words are quite incomplete.

Perhaps the one may supplement the other, suggested Major McNabbs.

Very likely they will, said the captain.

Thats what we will do, rejoined Lord Glenarvan; but let us proceed methodically. Here is the English document first.

All that remained of it was the following:

Theres not much to be made out of that, said the Major, looking disappointed.

No, but it is good English anyhow, returned the captain.

Theres no doubt of it, said Glenarvan. The words SINK, ALAND, LOST are entire; SKIPP is evidently part of the word SKIPPER, and thats what they call ship captains often in England. There seems a Mr. Gr. mentioned, and that most likely is the captain of the shipwrecked vessel.

Well, come, we have made out a good deal already, said Lady Helena.

Yes, but unfortunately there are whole lines wanting[15]15
there are whole lines wanting

, said the Major, and we have neither the name of the ship nor the place where it was shipwrecked.

Well get that by and by[16]16
by and by

, said Edward.

Oh, yes; there is no doubt of it, replied the Major, who always echoed his neighbors opinion. But how?

By comparing one document with the other.

Let us try them, said his wife.

The second piece of paper was even more destroyed than the first; only a few scattered words remained here and there.

It ran as follows:

This is written in German, said John Mangles the moment he looked at it.

And you understand that language, dont you? asked Lord Glenarvan.


Come, then, tell us the meaning of these words.

The captain examined the document carefully, and said:

Well, heres the date of the occurrence first: 7Juni means June 7; and if we put that before the figures 62 we have in the other document, it gives us the exact date, 7th of June, 1862.

Great! exclaimed Lady Helena. Go on, John!

On the same line, resumed the young captain, there is the syllable GLAS and if we add that to the GOW we found in the English paper, we get the whole word GLASGOW at once. The documents evidently refer to some ship that sailed out of the port of Glasgow.

That is my opinion, too, said the Major.

The second line is completely effaced, continued the Captain; but here are two important words on the third. There is ZWEI, which means TWO, and ATROSEN or MATROSEN, the German for SAILORS.

Then I suppose it is about a captain and two sailors, said Lady Helena.

It seems so, replied Lord Glenarvan.

I must confess, your Lordship, that the next word puzzles me. I dont understand it. Perhaps the third document may throw some light on it. The last two words are plain enough. BRINGT IHNEN means BRING THEM; and, if you recollect, in the English paper we had SSISTANCE, so by putting the parts together, it reads thus, I think: BRING THEM ASSISTANCE[17]17


Yes, that must be it, replied Lord Glenarvan. But where are the poor fellows? We have not the slightest indication of the place, meantime, nor of where the catastrophe happened.

Perhaps the French copy will be more explicit, suggested Lady Helena.

Here it is, then, said Lord Glenarvan, and that is in a language we all know.

The words it contained were these:

There are figures! exclaimed Lady Helena. Look!

Let us go steadily to work, said Lord Glenarvan, and begin at the beginning. I think we can make out from the incomplete words in the first line that a three-mast vessel is in question[18]18
a three-mast vessel is in question

, and there is little doubt about the name; we get that from the fragments of the other papers; it is the Britannia[19]19
Britannia ( )

. As to the next two words, GONIE and AUSTRAL, it is only AUSTRAL that has any meaning to us.

But that is a valuable scrap of information, said John Mangles. The shipwreck occurred in the southern hemisphere.

Thats a wide world, said the Major.

Well, well go on, resumed Glenarvan. Here is the word ABOR; that is clearly the root of the verb ABORDER. The poor men have landed somewhere; but where? CONTINdoes that mean continent? CRUEL!

CRUEL! interrupted John Mangles. I see now what GRAUS is part of in the second document. It is GRAUSAM, the word in German for CRUEL!

Lets go on, said Lord Glenarvan, becoming quite excited over his task, as the incomplete words began to fill up and develop their meaning. INDIis it India where they have been shipwrecked? And what can this word ONGIT be part of? Ah! I seeit is LONGITUDE; and here is the latitude, 37 degrees 11. That is the precise indication at last, then!

But we havent the longitude, objected McNabbs.

But we cant get everything, my dear Major; and it is something at all events, to have the exact latitude. The French document is decidedly the most complete of the three; but it is plain enough that each is the literal translation of the other, for they all contain exactly the same number of lines. What we have to do now is to put together all the words we have found, and translate them into one language, and try to ascertain their most probable and logical sense.

Well, what language shall we choose? asked the Major.

I think we had better keep to the French, since that was the most complete document of the three.

Your Lordship is right, said John Mangles.

Very well, then, Ill set to work.

In a few minutes he had written as follows:

Now, friends, said Lord Glenarvan, let us go on with our investigations, for the lives of several human beings depend on our sagacity. We must give our whole minds to the solution of this enigma. We know that on the 7th of June a three-mast vessel, the Britannia of Glasgow, foundered; that two sailors and the captain threw this document into the sea in 37 degrees 11 latitude, and they need help.

Exactly so, said the Major.

So, continued Glenarvan. The shipwreck occurred in the southern seas; and here I would draw your attention at once to the incomplete word GONIE. Is this the name of the country?


! exclaimed Lady Helena.


But is Patagonia crossed by the 37th parallel? asked the Major.

Yes, it is, said the captain, opening a map of South America. Patagonia just touches the 37th parallel. It cuts through Araucania[21]21

, goes along over the Pampas[22]22
the Pampas

to the north, and loses itself in the Atlantic.

Well, the two sailors and the captain LANDland where? CONTINon a continent; on a continent, not an island. What becomes of them? There are two letters here providentially which give a clew to their fatePR, that must mean prisoners, and CRUEL INDIAN is evidently the meaning of the next two words. These unfortunate men are captives in the hands of cruel Indians. Dont you see it? Isnt the document quite clear now? Isnt the sense self-evident?

Glenarvan spoke in a tone of absolute conviction, and the others all exclaimed, too, Yes, it is evident, quite evident!

After an instant, Lord Edward said again, I have no doubt whatever the event occurred on the coast of Patagonia, but still I will know, in Glasgow, the destination of the Britannia.

Oh, said John Mangles. I have the Gazette here, and well see the name on the list, and all about it.

Do look at once, then, said Lord Glenarvan.

The papers for the year 1862 was soon brought, and John began to turn over the leaves rapidly. In a few minutes he called out: Ive got it! May 30, 1862, Peru-Callao[23]23
Peru-Callao -

, with cargo for Glasgow, the Britannia, Captain Grant[24]24
Captain Grant


Grant! exclaimed Lord Glenarvan. That is the adventurous Scotchman that attempted to found a new Scotland on the shores of the Pacific.

Yes, rejoined John Mangles, it is the very man. He sailed from Glasgow on the Britannia in 1861, and has not been heard of since.

There isnt a doubt of it, not a shadow of doubt, repeated Lord Glenarvan. It is just that same Captain Grant. The Britannia left Callao on the 30th of May, and on the 7th of June, a week afterward, it is lost on the coast of Patagonia. You see, friends, we know all now except one thing, and that is the longitude.

That is not needed now, we know the country. With the latitude alone, I would engage to go right to the place where the wreck happened.

And he took up the pen, and dashed off the following lines immediately:

On the 7th of June, 1862, the three-mast vessel, Britannia, of Glasgow, has sunk on the coast of Patagonia, in the southern hemisphere. Making for the shore, two sailors and Captain Grant are about to land on the continent, where they will be taken prisoners by cruel Indians. They have thrown this document into the sea, in longitude and latitude 37 degrees 11. Bring them assistance, or they are lost.

Lord Glenarvan flashed along the electric wire to London to the Times the following words: For information respecting the fate of the three-mast vessel Britannia, of Glasgow, Captain Grant, apply to Lord Glenarvan, Malcolm Castle[25]25
Malcolm Castle -

, Dumbartonshire, Scotland.

Chapter III. The Captains Children

Lord Edward Glenarvans fortune was enormous, and he spent it entirely in doing good. His kindheartedness was even greater than his generosity.

He was thirty-two years of age, tall, and had stern features; but there was an exceeding sweetness in his look. He was known to be brave. He had scarcely been married three months, and his bride was the daughter of great traveler. Miss Helena did not belong to a noble family, but she was Scotch, and that was better than all nobility in the eyes of Lord Glenarvan; and she was, moreover, a charming, religious young woman.

Lord Glenarvan did not forget that his wife was the daughter of a great traveler, and he had the Duncan built expressly that he might take his bride to the most beautiful lands in the world, and complete their honeymoon by sailing up the Mediterranean.

However, Lord Glenarvan had gone now to London. Lady Helena was too much concerned herself about the lives of the shipwrecked men.

In the evening, when Lady Helena was sitting alone in her room, the house steward[26]26
house steward

came in and asked if she would see a young girl and boy that wanted to speak to Lord Glenarvan.

Some of the country people? asked Lady Helena.

No, madame, replied the steward, I do not know them at all.

Tell them to come up.

In a few minutes a girl and boy were shown in. They were evidently brother and sister. The girl was about sixteen years of age; her tired pretty face, and sorrowful eyes, as well as her neat though poor attire, made a favorable impression. The boy she held by the hand was about twelve, but his face expressed such determination, that he appeared quite his sisters protector.

Lady Helena said, with an encouraging smile:

You wish to speak to me, I think?

No, replied the boy, in a decided tone; not to you, but to Lord Glenarvan.

Excuse him, maam, said the girl, with a look at her brother.

Lord Glenarvan is not at the castle just now, returned Lady Helena; but I am his wife, and if I can do anything for you

You are Lady Glenarvan? interrupted the girl.

I am.

The wife of Lord Glenarvan, that put an announcement in the TIMES about the shipwreck of the Britannia?

Yes, yes, said Lady Helena, eagerly; and you?

I am Miss Grant, maam, and this is my brother.

Miss Grant, Miss Grant! exclaimed Lady Helena, drawing the young girl toward her, and taking both her hands and kissing the boys rosy cheeks.

What is it you know, maam, about the shipwreck? Tell me, is my father living? Shall we ever see him again? Oh, tell me, said the girl.

My dear child, replied Lady Helena. I cannot answer you lightly such a question; I would not delude you with vain hopes.

Oh, tell me all, tell me all, maam. I can bear to hear anything.

My poor child, there is but a faint hope; it is just possible you may one day see your father once more.

The girl burst into tears, and Robert seized Lady Glenarvans hand and covered it with kisses.

As soon as they grew calmer they asked some questions, and Lady Helena recounted the whole story of the document, telling them that their father had been wrecked on the coast of Patagonia, and that he and two sailors, the sole survivors, had written an appeal for help in three languages.

During the recital, Robert Grant more than once cried out, Oh, papa! My poor papa! and pressed close to his sister.

Miss Grant sat silent and motionless, with clasped hands, and all she said when the narration ended, was: Oh, maam, the paper, please!

I dont have it now, my dear child, replied Lady Helena.

You dont have it?

No. Lord Glenarvan took it to London, for the sake of your father; but I have told you all it contained, word for word. But except the longitude, unfortunately.

We can do without that, said the boy.

Yes, Mr. Robert, rejoined Lady Helena, smiling at the childs decided tone. And so you see, Miss Grant, you know the smallest details now just as well as I do. Well, tomorrow, perhaps, Lord Glenarvan will be back. My husband wanted to lay the document before the Lords of the Admiralty, to induce them to send out a ship immediately in search of Captain Grant.

Is it possible, maam, exclaimed the girl, that you have done that for us?

Yes, my dear Miss Grant, and I am expecting Lord Glenarvan back every minute now.

Oh, maam! Heaven bless you and Lord Glenarvan, said the young girl.

My dear girl, we deserve no thanks; anyone in our place would have done the same. Till my husband returns, you will remain at the Castle.

Oh, no, maam. We are just strangers.

Strangers, dear child! interrupted Lady Helena; you and your brother are not strangers in this house!

It was impossible to refuse an invitation given with such heart, and Miss Grant and her brother consented to stay till Lord Glenarvan returned.

Chapter IV. Lady Glenarvans Proposal

Lady Helena began to interrogate Miss Grant, asking her about her past life and her present circumstances. It was a touching, simple story she heard in reply, and one which increased her sympathy for the young girl.

Mary and Robert were the captains only children. Harry Grant was a fearless sailor and lived in Dundee[27]27

, in Perthshire[28]28

, Scotland. His father had given him a thorough education. He lost his wife when Robert was born, and during his long voyages he left his little ones in charge of his cousin, a good old lady. Now, the old cousin has died, and Harry Grants two children were left alone in the world.

Mary Grant was then only fourteen, but she devoted herself entirely to her little brother, who was still a mere child. She managed to support and educate him, working day and night, denying herself everything, that she might give him all he needed, watching over him and caring for him like a mother.

The two children were living in Dundee, struggling patiently and courageously with their poverty. Mary thought only of her brother, and indulged in dreams of a prosperous future for him. She was fully persuaded that her father was dead. What, then, was her emotion when she accidentally saw the notice in the TIMES!

She decided to go to Dumbartonshire immediately, to learn the best and worst. She told her brother about the advertisement, and the two children took the train, and arrived in the evening at Malcolm Castle.

Such was Mary Grants sorrowful story, and she recounted it in a simple and unaffected manner. But Lady Helena put her arms round both the children, and could not restrain her tears.

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