Read CHAPTER IX. of Lost in the Fog, free online book, by James De Mille, on

Awake once more. ­Where are we? ­The giant cliff. ­Out to Sea. ­Anchoring and Drifting. ­The Harbor. ­The Search. ­No Answer. ­Where’s Solomon?

Scarce had the streaks of light greeted Captain Corbet’s eyes, and given him the grateful prospect of another day, when the boys awaked and hurried up on deck.  Their first act was to take a hurried look all around.  The same gloomy and dismal prospect appeared ­black water and thick, impenetrable fog.

“Where are we now, Captain?” asked Bruce.

“Wal, a con-siderable distance down the bay.”

“What are you going to do?”

“Wal ­I’ve about made up my mind whar to go.”


“I’m thinkin of puttin into Quaco.”



“How far is it from here?”

“Not very fur, ’cordin to my calc’lations.  My idée is, that the boat may have drifted down along here and got ashore.  Ef so, he may have made for Quaco, an its jest possible that we may hear about him.”

“Is this the most likely place for a boat to go ashore?”

“Wal, all things considered, a boat is more likely to go ashore on the New Brunswick side, driftin from Petticoat Jack; but at the same time ’tain’t at all certain.  Thar’s ony a ghost of a chance, mind.  I don’t feel over certain about it.”

“Will we get to Quaco this tide?”


“Do you intend to anchor again?”

“Wal, I rayther think I’ll hev to do it.  But we’d ought to get to Quaco by noon, I calc’late.  I’m a thinkin ­Hello!  Good gracious!”

The captain’s sudden exclamation interrupted his words, and made all turn to look at the object that had called it forth.  One glance showed an object which might well have elicited even a stronger expression of amazement and alarm.

Immediately in front of them arose a vast cliff, ­black, rocky, frowning, ­that ascended straight up from the deep water, its summit lost in the thick fog, its base white with the foaming waves that thundered there.  A hoarse roar came up from those breaking waves, which blended fearfully with the whistle of the wind through the rigging, and seemed like the warning sound of some dark, drear fate.  The cliff was close by, and the schooner had been steering straight towards it.  So near was it that it seemed as though one could have easily tossed a biscuit ashore.

But though surprised, Captain Corbet was not in the least confused, and did not lose his presence of mind for a moment.  Putting the helm hard up, he issued the necessary commands in a cool, quiet manner; the vessel went round, and in a few moments the danger was passed.  Yet so close were they, that in wearing round it seemed as though one could almost have jumped from the stern upon the rocky shelves which appeared in the face of the lofty cliff.

Captain Corbet drew a long breath.

“That’s about the nighest scratch I remember ever havin had,” was his remark, as the Antelope went away from the land.  “Cur’ous, too; I don’t see how it happened.  I lost my reckonin a little.  I’m a mile further down than I calc’lated on bein.”

“Do you know that place?” asked Bart.

“Course I know it.”

“It’s lucky for us we didn’t go there at night.”

“Yes, it is rayther lucky; but then there wan’t any danger o’ that, cos, you see, I kep the vessel off by night, an the danger couldn’t hev riz.  I thought we were a mile further up the bay; we’ve been a doin better than I thought for.”

“Shall we be able to get into Quaco any sooner?”

“Wal, not much.”

“I thought from what you said that we were a mile nearer.”

“So we air, but that don’t make any very great difference.”

“Why, we ought to get in all the sooner, I should think.”

“No; not much.”

“Why not?  I don’t understand that.”

“Wal, you see it’s low tide now.”

“The tides again!”

“Yes; it’s allus the tides that you must consider here.  Wal, it’s low tide now, an the tide’s already on the turn, an risin.  We’ve got to anchor.”



“What, again?”

“Yes, agin.  Even so.  Ef we didn’t anchor we’d only be drifted up again, ever so far, an lose all that we’ve ben a gainin.  We’re not more’n a mile above Quaco Harbor, but we can’t fetch it with wind an tide agin us; so we’ve got to put out some distance an anchor.  It’s my firm belief that we’ll be in Quaco by noon.  The next fallin tide will carry us thar as slick as a whistle, an then we can pursue our investigations.”

The schooner now held on her course for about a mile away from the shore, and then came to anchor.  The boys had for a moment lost sight of this unpleasant necessity, and had forgotten that they had been using up the hours of the ebb tide while asleep.  There was no help for it, however, and they found, to their disgust, another day of fog, and of inaction.

Time passed, and breakfast came.  Solomon now had the satisfaction of seeing them eat more, and gave manifest signs of that satisfaction by the twinkle of his eye and the lustre of his ebony brow.  After this the time passed on slowly and heavily; but at length eleven o’clock came, and passed, and in a short time they were once more under way.

“We’re going to Quaco now ­arn’t we?” asked Phil.

“Yes; right straight on into Quaco Harbor, fair an squar.”

“I don’t see how it’s possible for you to know so perfectly where you are.”

“Young sir, there ain’t a nook, nor a corner, nor a hole, nor a stun, in all the outlinin an configoortion of this here bay but what’s mapped out an laid down all c’rect in this here brain.  I’d undertake to navigate these waters from year’s end to year’s end, ef I was never to see the sun at all, an even ef I was to be perpetooly surrounded by all the fogs that ever riz.  Yea, verily, and moreover, not only this here bay, but the hull coast all along to Bosting.  Why, I’m at home here on the rollin biller.  I’m the man for Mount Desert, an Quoddy Head, an Grand Manan, an all other places that air ticklish to the ginrality of seafarin men.  Why, young sir, you see before you, in the humble an unassumin person of the aged Corbet, a livin, muvin, and sea-goin edition of Blunt’s Coast Pilot, revised and improved to a precious sight better condition than it’s ever possible for them fellers in Bosting to get out.  By Blunt’s Coast Pilot, young sir, I allude to a celebrated book, as big as a pork bar’l, that every skipper has in his locker, to guide him on his wanderin way ­ony me.  I don’t have no call to use sech, being myself a edition of useful information techin all coastin matters.”

The Antelope now proceeded quickly on her way.  Several miles were traversed.

“Now, boys, look sharp,” said the captain; “you’ll soon see the settlement.”

They looked sharp.

For a few moments they went onward through the water, and at length there was visible just before them what seemed like a dark cloud extending all along.  A few minutes further progress made the dark cloud still darker, and, advancing further, the dark cloud finally disclosed itself as a line of coast.  It was close by them, and, even while they were recognizing it as land, they saw before them the outline of a wharf.

“Good agin!” cried the captain.  “I didn’t come to the wharf I wanted, but this here’ll do as well as any other, an I don’t know but what it’ll do better.  Here we air, boys.  Stand by thar, mate, to let fall the jib.”

On they went, and in a few minutes more the Antelope wore round, and her side just grazed the wharf.  The mate jumped ashore, lines were secured, and the Antelope lay in safety.

“An now, boys, we may all go ashore, an see if we can hear anything about the boat.”

With these words Captain Corbet stepped upon the wharf, followed by all the boys, and they all went up together, till they found themselves on a road.  There they saw a shop, and into this they entered.  No time was to be lost; the captain at once told his story, and asked his question.

The answer was soon made.

Nothing whatever was known there about any boat.  Two or three schooners had arrived within two days, and the shopkeeper had seen the skippers, but they had not mentioned any boat.  No boat had drifted ashore anywhere near, nor had any strange lad arrived at the settlement.

This intelligence depressed them all.

“Wal, wal,” said the captain, “I didn’t have much hopes; it’s jest as I feared; but, at the same time, I’ll ask further.  An first and foremost I’ll go an see them schooners.”

He then went off with the boys in search of the schooners just mentioned.  These were found without difficulty.  One had come from up the bay, another from St. John, and a third from Eastport.  None of them had encountered anything like a drilling boat.  The one from up the bay afforded them the greatest puzzle.  She must have come down the very night of Tom’s accident.  If he did drift down the bay in his boat, he must have been not very far from the schooner.  In clear weather he could not have escaped notice; but the skipper had seen nothing, and heard nothing.  He had to beat down against the wind, and anchor when the tide was rising; but, though he thus traversed so great an extent of water, nothing whatever attracted his attention.

“This sets me thinkin,” said the captain, “that, perhaps, he mayn’t have drifted down at all.  He may have run ashore up thar.  Thar’s a chance of it, an we must all try to think of that, and cheer up, as long as we can.”

Leaving the schooners, the captain now went through the settlement, and made a few inquiries, with no further result.  Nothing had been heard by any one about any drifting boat, and they were at last compelled to see that in Quaco there was no further hope of gaining any information whatever about Tom.

After this, the captain informed the boys that he was going back to the schooner to sleep.

“I haven’t slep a wink,” said he, “sence we left Grand Pre, and that’s more’n human natur can ginrally stand; so now I’m bound to have my sleep out, an prepare for the next trip.  You boys had better emply yourselves in inspectin this here village.”

“When shall we leave Quaco?”

“Wal, I’ll think that over.  I haven’t yet made up my mind as to what’s best to be done next.  One thing seems certain.  There ain’t no use goin out in this fog, an I’ve half a mind to wait here till to-morrow.”


“Yes, ­an then go down to St. John.”

“But what’ll poor Tom be doing?”

“It’s my firm belief that he’s all right,” said Captain Corbet, confidently.  “At any rate, you’d better walk about now, an I’ll try an git some sleep.”

As there was nothing better to be done, the boys did as he proposed, and wandered about the village.  It was about two miles long, with houses scattered at intervals along the single street of which it was composed, with here, and there a ship-yard.  At one end was a long, projecting ledge, with a light-house; at the other there was a romantic valley, through which a stream ran into the bay.  On the other side of this stream were cliffs of sandstone rocks, in which were deep, cavernous hollows, worn by the waves; beyond this, again, was a long line of a precipitous shore, in whose sides were curious shelves, along which it was possible to walk for a great distance, with the sea thundering on the rocks beneath.  At any other time they would have taken an intense enjoyment in a place like this, where there were so many varied scenes; but now their sense of enjoyment was blunted, for they carried in their minds a perpetual anxiety.  None the less, however, did they wander about, penetrating up the valley, exploring the caverns, and traversing the cliffs.

They did not return to the schooner till dusk.  It would not be high tide till midnight, and so they prolonged their excursion purposely, so as to use up the time.  On reaching the schooner they were welcomed by Captain Corbet.

“I declar, boys,” said he, “I’m getting to be a leetle the biggest old fool that ever lived.  It’s all this accident.  It’s onmanned me.  I had a nap for two or three hours, but waked at six, an ever sence I’ve been a worretin an a frettin about youns.  Sence that thar accident, I can’t bar to have you out of my sight, for I fear all the time that you ar gettin into mischief.  An now I’ve been skeart for two mortal hours, a fancyin you all tumblin down from the cliffs, or a strugglin in the waters.”

“O, we can take care of ourselves, captain,” said Bart

“No, you can’t ­not you.  I wouldn’t trust one of you.  I’m getting to be a feeble creetur too, ­so don’t go away agin.”

“Well, I don’t think we’ll have a chance in Quaco.  Arn’t we going to leave to-night?”

“Wal, that thar is jest the pint that I’ve been moosin on.  You see it’s thick; the fog’s as bad as ever.  What’s the use of going out to-night?  Now, ef we wait till to-morrow, it may be clear, an then we can decide what to do.”

At this proposal, the boys were silent for a time.  The experience which they had formed of the bay and its fogs showed them how useless would be any search by night, and the prospect of a clear day, and, possibly, a more favorable wind on the morrow, was very attractive.  The question was debated by all, and considered in all its bearings, and the discussion went on until late, when it was finally decided that it would be, on the whole, the wisest course to wait until the following day.  Not the least influential of the many considerations that occurred was their regard for Captain Corbet.  They saw that he was utterly worn out for want of sleep, and perceived how much he needed one night’s rest.  This finally decided them.

Early on the following morning they were all up, and eager to see if there was any change in the weather.  The first glance around elicited a cry of admiration from all of them.  Above, all was clear and bright.  The sun was shining with dazzling lustre; the sky was of a deep blue, and without a cloud on its whole expanse; while the wide extent of the bay spread out before them, blue like the sky above, which it mirrored, and throwing up its waves to catch the sunlight.  A fresh north wind was blowing, and all the air and all the sea was full of light and joy.

The scene around was in every respect magnificent.  The tide was low, and the broad beach, which now was uncovered by the waters, spread afar to the right and left in a long crescent that extended for miles.  On its lower extremity it was terminated by a ledge of black rocks, with the light-house before spoken of, while its upper end was bounded by cavernous cliffs of red sandstone, which were crowned with tufted trees.  Behind them were the white houses of the village, straggling irregularly on the borders of the long road, with here and there the unfinished fabric of some huge ship; while in the background were wooded hills and green sloping fields.  Out on the bay a grander scene appeared.  Far down arose a white wall, which marked the place where the fog clouds were sullenly retreating; immediately opposite, and forty miles away over the water, arose the long line of the Nova Scotia coast, which bounded the horizon; while far up arose Cape Chignecto, and beside it towered up the dark form of a lonely island, which they knew, in spite of the evident distortion of its shape, to be no other than Île Haute.

The wondrous effects which can be produced by the atmosphere were never more visible to their eyes than now.  The coast of Nova Scotia rose high in the air, dark in color, apparently only half its actual distance away, while the summit of that coast seemed as level as a table.  It seemed like some vast structure which had been raised out of the water during the night by some magic power.  Île Haute arose to an extraordinary height, its summit perfectly level, its sides perfectly perpendicular, and its color a dark purple hue.  Nor was Cape Chignecto less changed.  The rugged cliff arose with magnified proportions to a majestic height, and took upon itself the same sombre color, which pervaded the whole of the opposite coast.

Another discussion was now begun as to their best plan of action.  After talking it all over, it was finally decided to go to St. John.  There they would have a better opportunity of hearing about Tom; and there, too, if they did hear, they could send messages to him, or receive them from him.  So it was decided to leave at about eleven o’clock, without waiting for high tide; for, as the wind was fair, they could go on without difficulty.  After coming to this conclusion, and learning that the tide would not be high enough to float the schooner until eleven, they all took breakfast, and stimulated by the exhilarating atmosphere and the bright sunshine, they dispersed down the village towards the light-house.

By ten o’clock they were back again.  The tide was not yet up, and they waited patiently.

“By the way, captain,” asked Bart, “what’s become of Solomon?”

“Solomon?  O, he took a basket an went off on a kine o’ foragin tower.”


“Yes.  He said he’d go along the shore, and hunt for lobsters.”

“The shore?  What shore?”

“Why, away up thar,” said the captain, pointing towards the headland at the upper end of the village.

“How long since?”

“Wal, jest arter breakfast.  It must hev ben afore seven.”

“It’s strange that he hasn’t got back.”

“Yes; he’d ought to be back by this time.”

“He can’t get any lobsters now; the tide is too high.”

“That’s a fact.”

They waited half an hour.  The rising tide already touched the Antelope’s keel.

“Solomon ought to be back,” cried Bart, starting up.

“That’s so,” said Captain Corbet.

“I’m afraid something’s happened.  He’s been gone too long.  Two hours were enough.”

The boys all looked at one another with anxious faces.

“If he went up that shore,” said Bart, “he may have got caught by the tide.  It’s a very dangerous place for anybody ­let alone an old man like him.”

“Wal, he did go up thar; he said partic’lar that he wanted to find somethin of a relish, an would hunt up thar.  He said, too, he’d be back by nine.”

“I’m certain something’s happened,” cried Bart, more anxiously than before.  “If he’s gone up there, he’s been caught by the tide.”

Captain Corbet stared, and looked uneasy.

“Wal, I must say, that thar’s not onlikely.  It’s a bad place, a dreadful bad place, ­an him an old man, ­a dreadful bad place.  He’d be down here by this time, ef he was alive.”

“I won’t wait any longer,” cried Bart.  “I must go and see.  Come along, boys.  Don’t let’s leave poor old Solomon in danger.  Depend upon it, he’s caught up there somewhere.”

“Wal, I think you’re right,” said Captain Corbet, “an I’ll go too.  But ef we do go, we’d better go with some preparations.”

“Preparations?  What kind of preparations?”

“O, ony a rope or two,” said Captain Corbet; and taking a coil of rope over his arm, he stepped ashore, and all the boys hurried after him.

“I feel kine o’ safer with a kile o’ rope, ­bein a seafarin man,” he remarked.  “Give a seafarin man a rope, an he’ll go anywhar an do anythin.  He’s like a spider onto a web.”