A RAY OF HOPE.
At that time of the year the season
was favourable, and the crew might hope promptly to
reach the scene of the shipwreck.
Jean Cornbutte’s plan was naturally
traced out. He counted on stopping at the Feroe
Islands, whither the north wind might have carried
the castaways; then, if he was convinced that they
had not been received in any of the ports of that
locality, he would continue his search beyond the
Northern Ocean, ransack the whole western coast of
Norway as far as Bodoe, the place nearest the scene
of the shipwreck; and, if necessary, farther still.
Andre Vasling thought, contrary to
the captain’s opinion, that the coast of Iceland
should be explored; but Penellan observed that, at
the time of the catastrophe, the gale came from the
west; which, while it gave hope that the unfortunates
had not been forced towards the gulf of the Maelstrom,
gave ground for supposing that they might have been
thrown on the Norwegian coast.
It was determined, then, that this
coast should be followed as closely as possible, so
as to recognize any traces of them that might appear.
The day after sailing, Jean Cornbutte,
intent upon a map, was absorbed in reflection, when
a small hand touched his shoulder, and a soft voice
said in his ear,
“Have good courage, uncle.”
He turned, and was stupefied. Marie embraced
“Marie, my daughter, on board!” he cried.
“The wife may well go in search
of her husband, when the father embarks to save his
“Unhappy Marie! How wilt
thou support our fatigues! Dost thou know that
thy presence may be injurious to our search?”
“No, uncle, for I am strong.”
“Who knows whither we shall
be forced to go, Marie? Look at this map.
We are approaching places dangerous even for us sailors,
hardened though we are to the difficulties of the sea.
And thou, frail child?”
“But, uncle, I come from a family
of sailors. I am used to stories of combats and
tempests. I am with you and my old friend Penellan!”
“Penellan! It was he who concealed you
“Yes, uncle; but only when he
saw that I was determined to come without his help.”
“Penellan!” cried Jean.
“It is not possible to undo
what you have done, Penellan; but remember that you
are responsible for Marie’s life.”
“Rest easy, captain,”
replied Penellan. “The little one has force
and courage, and will be our guardian angel. And
then, captain, you know it is my theory, that all
in this world happens for the best.”
The young girl was installed in a
cabin, which the sailors soon got ready for her, and
which they made as comfortable as possible.
A week later the “Jeune-Hardie”
stopped at the Feroe Islands, but the most minute
search was fruitless. Mo wreck, or fragments of
a ship had come upon these coasts. Even the news
of the event was quite unknown. The brig resumed
its voyage, after a stay of ten days, about the 10th
of June. The sea was calm, and the winds were
favourable. The ship sped rapidly towards the
Norwegian coast, which it explored without better
Jean Cornbutte determined to proceed
to Bodoe. Perhaps he would there learn the name
of the shipwrecked schooner to succour which Louis
and the sailors had sacrificed themselves.
On the 30th of June the brig cast
anchor in that port.
The authorities of Bodoe gave Jean
Cornbutte a bottle found on the coast, which contained
a document bearing these words:
“This 26th April, on board the
‘Frooeern,’ after being accosted by the
long-boat of the ‘Jeune-Hardie,’ we were
drawn by the currents towards the ice. God have
pity on us!”
Jean Cornbutte’s first impulse
was to thank Heaven. He thought himself on his
son’s track. The “Frooeern”
was a Norwegian sloop of which there had been no news,
but which had evidently been drawn northward.
Not a day was to be lost. The
“Jeune-Hardie” was at once put in condition
to brave the perils of the polar seas. Fidele
Misonne, the carpenter, carefully examined her, and
assured himself that her solid construction might
resist the shock of the ice-masses.
Penellan, who had already engaged
in whale-fishing in the arctic waters, took care that
woollen and fur coverings, many sealskin moccassins,
and wood for the making of sledges with which to cross
the ice-fields were put on board. The amount of
provisions was increased, and spirits and charcoal
were added; for it might be that they would have to
winter at some point on the Greenland coast.
They also procured, with much difficulty and at a high
price, a quantity of lemons, for preventing or curing
the scurvy, that terrible disease which decimates
crews in the icy regions. The ship’s hold
was filled with salt meat, biscuits, brandy, &c.,
as the steward’s room no longer sufficed.
They provided themselves, moreover, with a large quantity
of “pemmican,” an Indian preparation which
concentrates a great deal of nutrition within a small
By order of the captain, some saws
were put on board for cutting the ice-fields, as well
as picks and wedges for separating them. The
captain determined to procure some dogs for drawing
the sledges on the Greenland coast.
The whole crew was engaged in these
preparations, and displayed great activity. The
sailors Aupic, Gervique, and Gradlin zealously obeyed
Penellan’s orders; and he admonished them not
to accustom themselves to woollen garments, though
the temperature in this latitude, situated just beyond
the polar circle, was very low.
Penellan, though he said nothing,
narrowly watched every action of Andre Vasling.
This man was Dutch by birth, came from no one knew
whither, but was at least a good sailor, having made
two voyages on board the “Jeune-Hardie”.
Penellan would not as yet accuse him of anything,
unless it was that he kept near Marie too constantly,
but he did not let him out of his sight.
Thanks to the energy of the crew,
the brig was equipped by the 16th of July, a fortnight
after its arrival at Bodoe. It was then the favourable
season for attempting explorations in the Arctic Seas.
The thaw had been going on for two months, and the
search might be carried farther north. The “Jeune-Hardie”
set sail, and directed her way towards Cape Brewster,
on the eastern coast of Greenland, near the 70th degree