Read CHAPTER TWO of Lost in the Forest Wandering Will's Adventures in South America , free online book, by R.M. Ballantyne, on


“A wilful man will have his way.”  That this is a true proverb is almost universally admitted; indeed, there is reason to believe that it is equally true of women as of men; nevertheless, Captain Blathers did not believe it although he was himself a living illustration of its truth.  He laughed at Captain Dall when that worthy warned him of the mutinous intentions of his crew, and when several weeks had passed away without any signs of disaffection appearing, he rallied him a good deal about what he styled his suspicious disposition, and refused to take any steps to guard against surprise.  The consequence was, that when the storm did break, he was utterly unprepared to meet it.

Griffin, the second mate, was the leader of the conspiracy, but so ably did he act his villainous part, that no one suspected him.  He was a tall, powerful, swarthy man, with a handsome but forbidding countenance.

One evening a little before sunset, while the captain was sitting at tea with those who usually messed in the cabin, Griffin looked down the skylight and reported “a sail on the weather bow.”  The captain immediately rose and went on deck.  The moment he appeared he was seized by Griffin.  Captain Blathers was an active and powerful man, and very passionate.  He clenched his fist and struck the second mate a blow on the chest, which caused him to stagger back, but, before he could repeat it, two sailors seized him from behind and held him fast.  The noise of the scuffle at once brought up the first mate, who was followed by Will Osten, Captain Dall, and others, all of whom were seized by the crew and secured as they successively made their appearance.

Resistance was of course offered by each, but in vain, for the thing was promptly and thoroughly carried out.  Four strong men stood at the head of the companion with ropes ready to secure their prisoners, while the greater part of the crew stood close by, armed with pistols and cutlasses.

“It is of no use resisting, Captain Blathers,” said Griffin, when the former was pinioned; “you see we are quite prepared, and thoroughly in earnest.”

The captain looked round, and a glance sufficed to convince him that this was true.  Not a friendly eye met his, because those of the crew who were suspected of being favourable to him, or who could not be safely relied on, had been seized by another party of mutineers at the same time that those in the cabin were captured, and among them were three friends of our hero ­Mr Cupples the mate, Muggins, and Larry O’Hale, seamen belonging to the lost Foam to which Captain Dall had referred while conversing with Will.

For a few seconds Captain Blathers’ face blazed with wrath, and he seemed about to make a desperate attempt to break his bonds, but by a strong effort he restrained himself.

“What do you intend to do?” he asked at length, in a deep, husky voice.

“To take possession of this ship,” replied the second mate, with a slightly sarcastic smile.  “These men have taken a fancy to lead a free, roving life, and to make me their captain, and I am inclined to fall in with their fancy, and to relieve you of the command.”

“Scoundrel!” exclaimed the captain, “say rather that you have misled the men, and that ­”

He checked himself, and then said sternly, “And pray what do you intend to do with me?”

“I shall allow you a boat and provisions, Captain Blathers, for the use of yourself and your friends, and then bid you farewell.  You see we are mercifully inclined, and have no desire to shed your blood.  Ho! there ­ lower one of the quarter boats.”

This order was obeyed with promptitude.  Some provisions were thrown into the boat, and the captain was cast loose and ordered to get into it.  He turned to make a last appeal to the crew, but Griffin presented a pistol at his head and ordered him peremptorily to get into the boat.  It is probable that he would have made another effort, had not two of the men forced him over the side.  Seeing this, Will Osten was so indignant and so anxious to quit the ship, that he stepped forward with alacrity to follow him.

“No, no, my fine young fellow,” said Griffin, thrusting him back, “we want your help as a doctor a little longer.  It may be that you are not inclined to serve us, but we can find a way of compelling you if you’re not.  Come, Mr Dall, be good enough to go next.”

When Captain Dall’s hands were loosed, he shook his fist in the second mate’s face, and said, “Rascal, you’ll swing for this yet; mark my words, you’ll swing for it.”  Having relieved his feelings thus, he went over the side.

While this was going on, Larry O’Hale, Muggins, and Mr Cupples, with several others, were brought to the gangway.  Griffin addressed these before ordering them into the boat.

“My lads,” he said, “I have no objection to your remaining aboard, if you choose to take part with us.”

“I, for one, will have nothing to do with ’e,” said Mr Cupples sternly.

“Then you may go,” said Griffin, with a sneer.  Muggins, who, to use one of his own phrases, looked “as sulky as a bear with a broken head,” made no reply, but Larry O’Hale exclaimed, “Sure, then, what better can I do than take part with yees?  It’s a heavenly raigin o’ the arth this, an good company.  Put me down on the books, Capting Griffin, dear.  I’d niver desart ye in your troubles, ­be no mains.”

There was a slight laugh at this, and Larry was graciously cast loose, and permitted to remain.  Both Will Osten and Muggins gazed at him, however, in amazement, for they had supposed that their comrade would rather have taken his chance in the captain’s boat.  Suddenly an intelligent gleam shot athwart the rough visage of Muggins, and he said ­

“Of coorse I’ll remain too.  It would be madness for an old salt like me to go paddlin’ about the ocean in a cockleshell of a boat when he has the chance of sailin’ in a good ship.  Put me down too, capting.  I’m game for anything a’most, from pitch an’ toss to manslaughter.”

So Muggins was added to the ship’s company, and poor Mr Cupples went over the side with a face almost as long as his thin body, because of what he deemed the depravity and desertion of his old shipmates.  Several of the ship’s crew, who refused to join, also went into the boat, which was then cast loose, and dropped rapidly astern.

The whole of this exciting scene passed so quickly, that it was only when the boat was far away, like a speck on the sea, that Will Osten realised the fact that he had actually said farewell, perhaps for over, to his late comrades.  But he had not much time given him for reflection, for the new captain, after changing the course of the ship, and making a few arrangements to suit the altered state of affairs, ordered him to go forward and do duty as a common seaman, telling him that he did not intend to have any land-lubbers or idlers aboard, and that he would be called to do doctor’s work when his services should be required.

That night our hero contrived to hold a whispering interview, in a dark corner of the forecastle, with his friends Larry O’Hale and Muggins.  He found that the former had resolved to join the crew in order to be near himself; that Muggins had joined, because of his desire to share the fortunes of Larry; and that both had made up their minds to effect their escape on the first favourable opportunity.

“Now, ye see, boys,” said Larry, “this is how it is ­”

“Don’t open your bread-basket hatch so wide,” growled Muggins, “else you’ll be overheerd ­that’s wot it is.”

“This is how it is,” repeated Larry, “not bein’ fish, nor gulls, nor say sarpints, we haven’t the ghost of a chance of gettin’ away from this ship till we’re close to land, an’ even then we wont have much chance if it’s suspected that we want to escape.  What then? ­why, let us from this hour agree to give each other the cowld shoulder, and go at our work as if we liked it.”

“You’re right, Larry,” said Will.  “If they see us much together, they’ll naturally suspect that we are plotting, so ­”

At this point a voice growled from an adjacent hammock ­

“Avast spinnin’ yarns there, will ’e!”

“Ay, it’s that sea-cook, Larry O’Hale,” cried Muggins aloud; “he was always over fond o’ talking.”

Larry, who at the first sound had slipped away to his hammock, shouted from under the blankets, “Ye spalpeen, it’s no more me than yersilf; sure I’d have been draimin’ of ould Ireland if ye ­hadn’t ­(snore) me grandmother ­(yawn) or the pig ­”

A prolonged snore terminated this sentence, and Muggins turned into his hammock, while Will Osten rose, with a quiet laugh, and went on deck.

One morning, some weeks after the conversation just related, our hero was leaning over the bulwarks near the fore-chains, watching the play of the clear waves as the ship glided quietly but swiftly through them before a light breeze.  Will was in a meditative frame of mind, and had stood there gazing dreamily down for nearly half an hour, when his elbow was touched by the man named Bunco, who had long before recovered from his exposure in the canoe.

Will was a little surprised, for he had not had much intercourse with the man, and could not comprehend the confidential and peculiar look and tone, with which he now addressed him.

“Mister Os’en,” he said, in a low voice, after a few preliminary words, “you be tink of escape?”

Will was startled:  “Why do you think so?” he asked, in some alarm.

“Ha!” said the man, with a broad grin, “me keep eyes in head ­me doos ­ not in pocket.  Ho! ho!  Yis, me see an’ hear berry well Muggins go too if hims can ­and Larry O’Hale, ho yis.  Now, me go too!”

“You too?”

“Yis.  You save me life; me know dis here part ob the univarse, ­bin bornded an’ riz here.  Not far off from de land to-day.  You let me go too, an’ me show you how you kin do ­”

At this point Bunco was interrupted by a shout of “Land ho!” from the look-out at the masthead.

“Where away?” cried Griffin.

“On the lee-bow, sir.”

Instantly all eyes and glasses were turned in the direction indicated, where, in a short time, a blue line, like a low cloud, was faintly seen on the far-off horizon.