The Frozen Deep HTML version
Fifth Scene--The Boat-House
Once more the open sea--the sea whose waters break on the shores of Newfoundland! An
English steamship lies at anchor in the offing. The vessel is plainly visible through the
open doorway of a large boat-house on the shore--one of the buildings attached to a
fishing-station on the coast of the island.
The only person in the boat-house at this moment is a man in the dress of a sailor. He is
seated on a chest, with a piece of cord in his hand, looking out idly at the sea. On the
rough carpenter's table near him lies a strange object to be left in such a place--a woman's
What is the vessel lying at anchor in the offing?
The vessel is the Amazon--dispatched from England to receive the surviving officers and
men of the Arctic Expedition. The meeting has been successfully effected, on the shores
of North America, three days since. But the homeward voyage has been delayed by a
storm which has driven the ship out of her course. Taking advantage, on the third day, of
the first returning calm, the commander of the Amazon has anchored off the coast of
Newfoundland, and has sent ashore to increase his supplies of water before he sails for
England. The weary passengers have landed for a few hours, to refresh themselves after
the discomforts of the tempest. Among them are the two ladies. The veil left on the table
in the boat-house is Clara's veil.
And who is the man si tting on the chest, with the cord in his hand, looking out idly at the
sea? The man is the only cheerful person in the ship's company. In other words--John
Still reposing on the chest, our friend, who never grumbles, is surprised by the sudden
appearance of a sailor at the boat-house door.
"Look sharp with your work there, John Want!" says the sailor. "Lieutenant Crayford is
just coming in to look after you."
With this warning the messenger disappears again. John Want rises with a groan, turns
the chest up on one end, and begins to fasten the cord round it. The ship's cook is not a
man to look back on his rescue with the feeling of unmitigated satisfaction which
animates his companions in trouble. On the contrary, he is ungratefully disposed to regret
the North Pole.
"If I had only known"--thus runs the train of thought in the mind of John Want--"if I had
only known, before I was rescued, that I was to be brought to this place, I believe I
should have preferred staying at the North Pole. I was very happy keeping up everybody's