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an old chum and shipmate of his with whom
he had sailed many a long voyage, and some
part of whose wild, varied history he told us
the next evening. What seemed to convince
him more than anything, was the peculiar way
in which the dead man's arm was stowed
away under his headhis old shipmate always
slept so, even in his hammock.

Numerous and strange were the conjectures
and remarks made by officers and men.
Who, and what was he? How long had he
been there? How did he get there? The
general conclusion was, that he was one of
the crew of some vessel wrecked upon the
iceberg itself, of which no vestige

"Yes, like enough," said one of the sailors;
"she run into the ice in the dark, and went
down like a stone, same as we may have done
any time this last six weeks."

"Perhaps he was aloft when she struck,
and got pitched up where he is now."

"As like to be pitched into the moon,"
rejoined another, contemptuously. "Why, that
there precipice is three times as high as the
tauntest mast ever rigged."

"Perhaps, now," suggested a third, "it's
some awful cruel skipper, who's been a hazing
and ill-using of his crew till they couldn't
bear with it no longer, and was drove to mutiny,
and put him ashore there, all alone, to die
by himself, so as they should not have
his blood upon their hands: or maybe he
was a murderer or a Yankee slave-keeper."

"Ah, Bill," growled out a previous speaker;
"you've always got a good word to say for
every one, you have."

It was a very old man who spoke next;
one who was looked up to as a great authority
on all such matters, although he was
usually remarkably taciturn, and would
never enter into an argument. He quietly
deposited his quid in his hat; and, as this
was always done preparatory to his making a
speech, his shipmates waited in silence for
him to begin.

"That there ice-island," he said at last,
"wasn't launched yesterday, nor yet last
year, nor the year before, perhaps; and, by
the looks of him, he's been for a pretty long
cruise in warm latitudeslast summer,
maybeand then come back home for the
winter. If you look away yonderthere
just this side of that high point like a church
steeple, only lower down, there's a place
looks darker than the rest. Now, it's just
there I expect that a great piece has broken
off and drifted away; and I calculate 'twas
lower and more shelving offnot so steep
and rocky-like as it is now. Twas there
that poor chap was cast ashore from ship or
boat. He was trying to make his way up to
the heights to take a look round, and hoist a
signal, when he lay down and went asleep,
and never woke again; only, where he is
now, you see, must have been covered with
snow then, or he couldn't have kept his

Having said thus much, he replaced the
quid in his mouth and spoke no more.

There was no earthly use in waiting
longer, and yet the captain seemed loth to
give the order to fill and bear away.

"If the poor fellow had a spark of life
in him, he would have moved before this,
for it's six or seven hours since we first saw
him. But if he did move, it would only be
to slide down over the precipice, for no living
thing could keep a footing on such a slope as
that. And if there are any more of them
we should have seen them before this time,
although we could never get them off if we

Then pausing suddenly in his walk on the
quarter-deck, he gave an order to get a gun
ready forward, and presently came the

"All ready with the gun, sir."


In a few seconds the echo of the loud report
resounded from the icy wall; for another
instant all was still, and then came a noise
like a rattling of loud thunder, proceeding
from the centre of the berg.

The danger of our proximity to this vast
object now became more and more apparent,
and all sail was made to get a good offing.
But we had barely proceeded a quarter of a
mile when the same noise was heard again,
only louder, more prolonged, and accompanied
by a rending, crushing sound, the
intensity and nature of which is perfectly
indescribable. The vast island was parting
in the middle, down the course of the deep
valley before mentioned; and slowly and
majestically the eastern half rolled over into
the sea, upheaving what had been its base, in
which were imbedded huge masses of rock
covered with long sea-weed. The other part
still remained erect, but was swaying to-and-fro,
as if it also must capsize. This convulsion
caused less foam and turmoil than might
have been supposed, but raised a wave of
such tremendous magnitude, that when it
reached our ship she seemed about to be
overwhelmed by a rolling mountain of water
higher than our mast-heads. The good ship
rose upon its crest, and before again sinking
into the hollow, we saw the man upon the
icebergstill in the same postureglide
swiftly down the slippery inclineshoot
over the edge of the precipice, and plunge
into the raging surf.

A sensation of inexpressible relief was
experienced by all: it had seemed so dreadful
to sail away and leave him there, unburied
and alone; now, at any rate, we had seen
the last of him.