“Now grasp the ropes I have given you!” cried Wilder, breathless with his eagerness to speak.
His words were smothered by the rushing and gurgling of waters. The vessel made a plunge like a dying whale; and, raising its stern high into the air, glided into the depths of the sea, like the leviathan seeking his secret places. The motionless boat was lifted with the ship, until it stood in an attitude fearfully approaching to the perpendicular. As the wreck descended, the bows of the launch met the element, burying themselves nearly to filling; but, buoyant and light, it rose again, and, struck powerfully on the stern by the settling mass, the little ark shot ahead, as though it had been driven by the hand of man. Still, as the water rushed into the vortex, every thing within its influence yielded to the suction; and, at the next instant, the launch was seen darting down the declivity, as if eager to follow the vast machine, of which it had so long formed a dependant, through the same gaping whirlpool, to the bottom. Then it rose, rocking, to the surface; and, for a moment, was tossed and whirled like a bubble circling in the eddies of a pool. After which, the ocean moaned, and slept again; the moon-beams playing across its treacherous bosom, sweetly and calm, as the rays are seen to quiver on a lake that is embedded in sheltering mountains.
day, some sailor’s wife,
The masters of some merchant, and the merchant,
Have just our theme of woe.”—Tempest.
“We are safe!” said Wilder, who had stood, amid the violence of the struggle, with his person firmly braced against a mast, steadily watching the manner of their escape. “Thus far, at least, are we safe; for which may Heaven alone be praised, since no art of mine could avail us a feather.”
The females had buried their faces in the folds of the vestments and clothes on which they were sitting; nor did even the governess raise her countenance until twice assured by her companion that the imminency of the risk was past. Another minute went by, during which Mrs Wyllys and Gertrude were rendering their thanksgivings, in a manner and in words less equivocal than the expression which had just broken from the lips of the young seaman. When this grateful duty was performed, they stood erect, as if emboldened, by the offering, to look their situation more steadily in the face.
On every side lay the seemingly illimitable waste of waters. To them, their small and frail tenement was the world. So long as the ship, sinking and dangerous as she was, remained beneath them, there had appeared to be a barrier between their existence and the ocean. But one minute had deprived them of even this failing support, and they now found themselves cast upon the sea in a vessel that might be likened to one of the bubbles of the element. Gertrude felt, at that instant, as though she would have given half her hopes in life for the mere sight of that vast and nearly untenanted Continent which stretched for so many thousands of miles along the west, and kept the world of waters to their limits.