After a voyage of seventy-four days, the "Pilgrim" had stranded
Too Long; Didn't ReadThus, after a voyage of seventy-four days, the "Pilgrim" had stranded. Mrs. Weldon and her fellow-voyagers joined in thanksgiving to the kind Providence that had brought them ashore, not upon one of the solitary islands of Polynesia, but upon a solid continent, from almost any part of which there would be no difficulty in getting home.
The ship was totally lost. She was lying in the surf a hopeless wreck, and few must be the hours that would elapse before she would be broken up in scattered fragments; it was impossible to save her. Notwithstanding that Dick Sands bewailed the loss of a valuable ship and her cargo to the owner, he had the satisfaction of knowing that he had been instrumental in saving what was far more precious, the lives of the owner's wife and son.
It was impossible to do more than hazard a conjecture as to the part of the South American coast on which the "Pilgrim" had been cast. Dick imagined that it must be somewhere on the coast of Peru; after sighting Easter Island, he knew that the united action of the equatorial current and the brisk wind must have had the effect of driving the schooner far northward, and he formed his conclusion accordingly. Be the true position, however, what it might, it was all important that it should be accurately ascertained as soon as possible. If it were really in Peru, he would not be long in finding his way to one of the numerous ports and villages that lie along the coast.
But the shore here was quite a desert. A narrow strip of beach, strewn with boulders, was enclosed by a cliff of no great height, in which, at irregular intervals, deep funnels appeared as chasms in the rock. Here and there a gentle slope led to the top.
About a quarter of a mile to the north was the mouth of a little river which had not been visible from the sea. Its banks were overhung by a number of "rhizophora," a species of mangrove entirely distinct from that indigenous to India. It was soon ascertained that the summit of the cliff was clothed by a dense forest, extending far away in undulations of verdure to the mountains in the background. Had Cousin Benedict been a botanist, he could not have failed to find a new and interesting field for his researches; there were lofty baobabs (to which an extraordinary longevity has often been erroneously ascribed), with bark resembling Egyptian syenite; there were white pines, tamarinds, pepper-plants of peculiar species, and numerous other plants unfamiliar to the eye of a native of the North; but, strange to say, there was not a single specimen of the extensive family of palms, of which more than a thousand varieties are scattered in profusion in so many quarters of the globe.