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

Astounding Discovery. ­The whole Party of Explorers overwhelmed. ­Meeting with the Lost. ­Captain Corbet improves the Occasion. ­Conclusion.

At the sound from the Antelope they had all started for the rising ground, to see what it might mean.  None of them had any idea what might be the cause, but all of them felt startled and excited at hearing it under such peculiar circumstances.  Nor was their excitement lessened by the sight that met their eyes as they reached the rising ground and looked towards the schooner.

A change had taken place.  When they had left, Solomon only had remained behind.  But now there were two figures on the deck.  One was amidships.  The schooner was too far away for them to see distinctly, but this one was undoubtedly Solomon; yet his gestures were so extraordinary that it was difficult to identify him.  He it was by whom the blasts on the fog horn were produced.  Standing amidships, he held the fog horn in one hand, and in the other he held a battered old cap which supplied the place of the old straw hat lost at Quaco.  After letting off a series of blasts from the horn, he brandished his cap wildly in the air, and then proceeded to dance a sort of complex double-shuffle, diversified by wild leaps in the air, and accompanied by brandishings of his hat and fresh blasts of the horn.  But if Solomon’s appearance was somewhat bewildering, still more so was that of the other one.  This one stood astern.  Suddenly as they looked they saw him hoist a flag, and, wonder of wonders, a black flag, ­no other, in short, than the well-known flag of the “B.  O. W. C.”  That flag had been mournfully lowered and put away on Tom’s disappearance, but now it was hoisted once more; and as they looked, the new comer hoisted it and lowered it, causing it to rise and fall rapidly before their eyes.

Nor did the wonder end here.  They had taken away the only boat that the schooner possessed in order to come ashore, leaving Solomon alone.  They had noticed no boat whatever as they rowed to land.  But now they saw a boat floating astern of the Antelope, with a small and peculiarly shaped sail, that now was flapping in the breeze.  Evidently this boat belonged to the new comer.  But who was he?  How had he come there?  What was the meaning of those signals with that peculiar flag, and what could be the reason of Solomon’s joy?

They stood dumb with astonishment, confused, and almost afraid to think of the one cause that each one felt to be the real explanation of all this.  Too long had they searched in vain for Tom, ­too often had they sunk from hope to despair, ­too confident and sanguine had they been; and now, at this unexpected sight, in spite of the assurance which it must have given them that this could be no other than Tom, they scarce dared to believe in such great happiness, and were afraid that even this might end in a disappointment like the others.

But, though they stood motionless and mute, the two figures on board the Antelope were neither one nor the other.  Solomon danced more and more madly, and brandished his arms more and more excitedly, and there came forth from his fog horn wilder and still wilder peals, and the flag rose and fell more and more quickly, until at last the spectators on the shore could resist no longer.

“G-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-d ger-ra-a-a-cious!”

This cry burst from Captain Corbet.

It was enough.  The spell was broken.  A wild cry burst forth from the boys, and with loud, long shouts of joy they rushed down the bank, and over the beach, back to their boat.  The captain was as quick as any of them.  In his enthusiasm he forgot his rheumatism.  There was a race, and though he was not even with Bruce and Bart, he kept ahead of Pat, and Arthur, and Phil, and old Wade.


And hurrah again!

Yes, and hurrah over and over; and many were the hurrahs that burst from them as they raced over the rocky beach.

Then to tumble into the boat, one after another, to grasp the oars, to push her off, to head her for the schooner, and to dash through the water on their way back, was but the work of a few minutes.

The row to the schooner was a tedious one to those impatient young hearts.  But as they drew nearer, they feasted their eyes on the figure of the new comer, and the last particle of doubt and fear died away.  First, they recognized the dress ­the familiar red shirt.  Tom had worn a coat and waistcoat ashore at Hillsborough on that eventful day; but on reaching the schooner, he had flung them off, and appeared now in the costume of the “B.  O. W. C.”  This they recognized first, and then his face was revealed ­a face that bore no particular indication of suffering or privation, which seemed certainly more sunburnt than formerly, but no thinner.

Soon they reached the vessel, and clambered up; and then with what shouts and almost shrieks of joy they seized Tom!  With what cries and cheers of delight they welcomed him back again, by turns overwhelming him with questions, and then pouring forth a torrent of description of their own long search!

Captain Corbet stood a little aloof.  His face was not so radiant as the faces of the boys.  His features were twitching, and his hands were clasped tight behind his back.  He stood leaning against the mainmast, his eyes fixed on Tom.  It was thus that he stood when Tom caught sight of him, and rushed up to shake hands.

Captain Corbet grasped Tom’s hand in both of his.  He trembled, and Tom felt that his hands were cold and clammy.

“My dear boys,” he faltered, “let us rejice ­and ­be glad ­for this my son ­that was dead ­is alive agin ­”

A shudder passed through him, and he stopped, and pressed Tom’s hand convulsively.

Then he gave a great gasp, and, “Thar, thar,” he murmured, “it’s too much!  I’m onmanned.  I’ve suffered ­an agonized ­an this ­air ­too much!”

And with these words he burst into tears.

Then he dropped Tom’s hand, and retreated into the cabin, where he remained for a long time, but at last reappeared, restored to calmness, and with a smile of sweet and inexpressible peace wreathing his venerable countenance.

By this time the boys had told Tom all about their long search; and when Captain Corbet reappeared, Tom had completed the story of his adventures, and had just reached that part, in his wanderings, where he had left the island, and found himself drifting down the bay.  As that was the point at which Tom was last lost sight of in these pages, his story may be given here in his own words.

“Yes,” said he, “you see I found myself drifting down.  There was no help for it.  The wind was slight, and the tide was strong.  I was swept down into a fog bank, and lost sight of Île Haute altogether.  Well, it didn’t matter very much, and I wasn’t a bit anxious.  I knew that the tide would turn soon, and then I’d come up, and fetch the land somewhere; so I waited patiently.  At last, after about ­well, nearly an hour, the tide must have turned, and I drifted back, and there was wind enough to give me quite a lift; and so all of a sudden I shot out of the fog, and saw Île Haute before me.  I was coming in such a way that my course lay on the south side of the island, and in a short time I came in sight of the schooner.  I tell you what it is, I nearly went into fits ­I knew her at once.  A little farther on, and I saw you all cutting like mad over the beach to my camp.  I was going to put after you at first; but the fact is, I hated the island so that I couldn’t bear to touch it again, and so I concluded I’d go on board and signal.  So I came up alongside, and got on board.  Solomon was down below; so I just stepped forward, and put my head over the hatchway, and spoke to him.  I declare I thought he’d explode.  He didn’t think I was a ghost at all.  It wasn’t fear, you know ­it was nothing but delight, and all that sort of thing, you know.  Well, you know, then we went to work signaling to you, and he took the fog horn, and I went to the flag, and so it was.”

“I don’t know how we happened not to see your boat,” said Bruce.

“O, that’s easy enough to account for,” said Tom.  “I was hid by the east point of the island.  I didn’t see the schooner till I got round, and you must have been just getting ashore at that time.”

During all this time Solomon had been wandering about in a mysterious manner; now diving below into the hold, and rattling the pots and pans; again emerging upon deck, and standing to listen to Tom and look at him.  His face shone like a polished boot; there was a grin on his face that showed every tooth in his head, and his little twinkling black beads of eyes shone, and sparkled, and rolled about till the winking black pupils were eclipsed by the whites.  At times he would stand still, and whisper solemnly and mysteriously to himself, and then, without a moment’s warning, he would bring his hands down on his thighs, and burst into a loud, long, obstreperous, and deafening peal of uncontrollable laughter.

“Solomon,” said Tom, at last, “Solomon, my son, won’t you burst if you go on so?  I’m afraid you may.”

At this Solomon went off again, and dived into the hold.  But in a minute or two he was back again, and giggling, and glancing, and whispering to himself, as before.  Solomon and Captain Corbet thus had each a different way of exhibiting the same emotion, for the feeling that was thus variously displayed was nothing but the purest and most unfeigned joy.

“See yah, Mas’r Tom ­and chil’n all,” said Solomon, at last.  “Ise gwine to pose dat we all go an tend to sometin ob de fust portance.  Hyah’s Mas’r Tom habn’t had notin to eat more’n a mont; an hyah’s de res ob de blubbed breddern ob de Bee see double what been a fastin since dey riz at free clock dis shinin and spicious morn.  Dis yah’s great an shinin casium, an should be honnad by great and strorny stivities.  Now, dar ain’t no stivity dat can begin to hole a can’l to a good dinna, or suppa, or sometin in de eatin line.  So Ise gwine to pose to honna de cobbery ob de Probable Son by a rale olé-fashioned, stunnin breakfuss.  Don’t be fraid dar’ll be any ficiency hyah.  I got tings aboard dat I ben a savin for dis spicious an lightful cobbery.  Ben no eatin in dis vessel ebber sence de loss chile took his parter an drifted off.  Couldn’t get no pusson to tetch nuffin.  Got ’em all now; an so, blubbed breddern, let’s sem’l once more, an olé Solomon’ll now ficiate in de pressive pacity ob Gran Pandledrum.  An I pose dat we rect a tent on de sho oh dis yah island, and hab de banket come off in fust chop style.”

“The island!” cried Tom, in horror.  “What! the island?  Breakfast on the island?  What a horrible proposal!  Look here, captain.  Can’t we get away from this?”

“Get away from this?” repeated the captain, in mild surprise.

“Yes,” said Tom.  “You see, the fact is, when a fellow’s gone through what I have, he isn’t over fond of the place where he’s had that to go through.  And so this island is a horrible place to me, and I can’t feel comfortable till I get away out of sight of it.  Breakfast!  Why, the very thought of eating is abominable as long as that island is in sight.”

“Wal, railly, now,” said Captain Corbet, “I shouldn’t wonder if thar was a good deal in that, though I didn’t think of it afore.  Course it’s natral you shouldn’t be over fond of sech, when you’ve had sech an oncommon tough time.  An now, bein’ as thar’s no uthly occasion for the Antelope to be a lingerin’ round this here isle of the ocean, I muve that we histe anchor an resume our vyge.  It’s nigh onto a fortnight sence we fust started for Petticoat Jack, and sence that time we’ve had rare and strikin vycissitoods.  It may jest happen that some on ye may be tired of the briny deep, an may wish no more to see the billers bound and scatter their foamin spray; some on ye likewise may be out o’ sperrits about the fog.  In sech a case, all I got to say is, that this here schooner’ll be very happy to land you at the nighest port, Scott’s Bay, frincense, from which you may work your way by land to your desired haven.  Sorry would I be to part with ye, specially in this here moment of jy; but ef ye’ve got tired of the Antelope, tain’t no more’n’s natral.  Wal, now, ­what d’ye say ­shall we go up to Scott’s Bay, or will ye contenoo on to Petticoat Jack, an accomplitch the riginal vyge as per charter party?”

The boys said nothing, but looked at Tom as though referring the question to him.

“As far as I am concerned,” said Tom, who noticed this reference to him, “it’s a matter of indifference where we go, so long as we go out of sight of this island.  If the rest prefer landing at Scott’s Bay, I’m agreed; at the same time, I’d just as soon go on to Petitcodiac.”

“An what do the rest o’ ye say?” asked the captain, somewhat anxiously.

“For my part,” said Bruce, “I think it’s about the best thing we can do.”

The others all expressed similar sentiments, and Captain Corbet listened to this with evident delight.

“All right,” said he, “and hooray!  Solomon, my aged friend, we will have our breakfast on board, as we glide past them thar historic shores.  Pile on what you have, and make haste.”

In a few minutes more the anchor was up, and the Antelope was under way.

In about half an hour Solomon summoned them below, where he laid before them a breakfast that cast into the shade Tom’s most elaborate meal on the island.  With appetites that seemed to have been growing during the whole period of Tom’s absence, the joyous company sat down to that repast, while Solomon moved around, his eyes glistening, his face shining, his teeth grinning, and his hips moving, as, after his fashion, he whispered little Solomonian pleasantries to his own affectionate heart.  At this repast the boys began a fresh series of questions, and drew from Tom a full, complete, and exhaustive history of his island life, more particularly with regard to his experience in house-building, and housekeeping; and with each one, without exception, it was a matter of sincere regret that it had not been his lot to be Tom’s companion in the boat and on the island.

After breakfast they came up on deck.  The wind had at length changed, as Captain Corbet had prophesied in the morning, and the sky overhead was clear.  Down the bay still might be seen the fog banks, but near at hand all was bright.  Behind them Île Haute was already at a respectful distance, and Cape Chignecto was near.

“My Christian friends,” said Captain Corbet, solemnly, ­“my Christian friends, an dear boys.  Agin we resoom the thread of our eventfool vyge, that was brok of a suddent in so onparld a manner.  Agin we gullide o’er the foamin biller like a arrer shot from a cross-bow, an culleave the briny main.  We have lived, an we have suffered, but now our sufferins seem to be over.  At last we have a fair wind, with a tide to favor us, an we’ll be off Hillsborough before daybreak to-morrer.  An now I ask you all, young sirs, do you feel any regretses over the eventfool past?  I answer, no.  An wan’t I right?  Didn’t I say that that thar lad would onst more show his shinin face amongst us, right side up, with care, in good order an condition, as when shipped on board the Antelope, Corbet master, from Grand Pre, an bound for Petticoat Jack?  Methinks I did.  Hence the vally of a lofty sperrit in the face of difficulties.  An now, young sirs, in after life take warnin by this here vyge.  Never say die.  Don’t give up the ship.  No surrender.  England expects every man to do his dooty.  For him that rises superior to succumstances is terewly great; an by presarvin a magnanumous mind you’ll be able to hold up your heads and smile amid the kerrash of misfortin.  Now look at me.  I affum, solemn, that all the sufferins I’ve suffered have ben for my good; an so this here vyge has eventooated one of the luckiest vyges that you’ve ever had.  An thus,” he concluded, stretching out his venerable hands with the air of one giving a benediction, ­“thus may it be with the vyge of life.  May all its storms end in calms, an funnish matter in the footoor for balmy rettuspect.  Amen!”

It was a close approach to a sermon; and though the words were a little incoherent, yet the tone was solemn, and the intention good.  After this the captain dropped the lofty part of a Mentor, and mingled with the boys as an equal.

This time the voyage passed without any accident.  Before daybreak on the following morning they reached Hillsborough, where Mrs. Watson received them with the utmost joy.  In a few days more the boys had scattered, and Bart arrived home with the story of Tom’s rescue.