As soon as she was left alone, Augusta went back to the cabin, taking Dick with her, and laid down on the berth with a feeling of safety and thankfulness to which she had long been a stranger, where very soon she fell sound asleep.
When Augusta opened her eyes again she became conscious of a violent rolling motion that she could not mistake. They were at sea.
She got up, smoothed her hair, and went on deck, to find that she had slept for many hours, for the sun was setting. She went aft to where Mrs. Thomas was sitting near the wheel with little Dick beside her, and after greeting them, turned to watch the sunset. The sight was a beautiful one enough, for the great waves, driven by the westerly wind, which in these latitudes is nearly always blowing half a gale, were rushing past them wild and free, and the sharp spray of their foaming crests struck upon her forehead like a whip. The sun was setting, and the arrows of the dying light flew fast and far across the billowy bosom of the deep. Fast and far they flew from the stormy glory in the west, lighting up the pale surfaces of cloud, and tinging the grey waters of that majestic sea with a lurid hue of blood. They kissed the bellying sails, and seemed to rest upon the vessel’s lofty trucks, and then travelled on and away, and away, through the great empyrean of space till they broke and vanished upon the horizon’s rounded edge. There behind them—miles behind—Kerguelen Land reared its fierce cliffs against the twilight sky. Clear and desolate they towered in an unutterable solitude, and on their snowy surfaces the sunbeams beat coldly as the warm breath of some human passion beating on Aphrodite’s marble breast.
Augusta gazed upon those drear cliffs that had so nearly proved her monumental pile and shuddered. It was as a hideous dream.
And then the dark and creeping shadows of the night threw their veils around and over them, and they vanished. They were swallowed up in blackness, and she lost sight of them and of the great seas that forever beat and churn about their stony feet; nor except in dreams, did she again set her eyes upon their measureless solitude.
The Night arose in strength and shook a golden dew of stars from the tresses of her streaming clouds, till the wonderful deep heavens sparkled with a myriad gemmy points. The west wind going on his way sung his wild chant amongst the cordage, and rushed among the sails as with a rush of wings. The ship leant over like a maiden shrinking from a kiss, then, shivering, fled away, leaping from billow to billow as they rose and tossed their white arms about her, fain to drag her down and hold her to ocean’s heaving breast.