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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 536 pages of information about Jack Tier.
The place has sea air, no other water than such as is preserved in cisterns, and no soil, or so little as to render even a head of lettuce a rarity.  Turtle is abundant, and the business of “turtling” forms an occupation additional to that of wrecking.  As might be expected, in such circumstances, a potato is a far more precious thing than a turtle’s egg, and a sack of the tubers would probably be deemed a sufficient remuneration for enough of the materials of callipash and callipee to feed all the aldermen extant.

Of late years, the government of the United States has turned its attention to the capabilities of the Florida Reef, as an advanced naval station; a sort of Downs, or St. Helen’s Roads, for the West Indian seas.  As yet little has been done beyond making the preliminary surveys, but the day is not probably very distant when fleets will lie at anchor among the islets described in our earlier chapters, or garnish the fine waters of Key West.  For a long time it was thought that even frigates would have a difficulty in entering and quitting the port of the latter, but it is said that recent explorations have discovered channels capable of admitting anything that floats.  Still Key West is a town yet in its chrysalis state, possessing the promise rather than the fruition of the prosperous days which are in reserve.  It may be well to add, that it lies a very little north of the 24th degree of latitude, and in a longitude quite five degrees west from Washington.  Until the recent conquests in Mexico it was the most southern possession of the American government, on the eastern side of the continent; Cape St. Lucas, at the extremity of Lower California, however, being two degrees farther south.

It will give the foreign reader a more accurate notion of the character of Key West, if we mention a fact of quite recent occurrence.  A very few weeks after the closing scenes of this tale, the town in question was, in a great measure, washed away!  A hurricane brought in the sea upon all these islands and reefs, water running in swift currents over places that within the memory of man were never before submerged.  The lower part of Key West was converted into a raging sea, and everything in that quarter of the place disappeared.  The foundation being of rock, however, when the ocean retired the island came into view again, and industry and enterprise set to work to repair the injuries.

The government has established a small hospital for seamen at Key West.  Into one of the rooms of the building thus appropriated our narrative must now conduct the reader.  It contained but a single patient, and that was Spike.  He was on his narrow bed, which was to be but the pucursor of a still narrower tenement, the grave.  In the room with the dying man were two females, in one of whom our readers will at once recognize the person of Rose Budd, dressed in deep mourning for her aunt.  At first sight, it is probable that a casual spectator would mistake

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