After London eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 251 pages of information about After London.

On the right shore, wooded hills rose from the water like a wall; on the left, it was a perfect plain.  He could see nothing of the merchantman, although he knew that she could not sail here, but must be working through with her sweeps.  Her heavy hull and bluff bow must make the rowing a slow and laborious process; therefore she could not be far ahead, but was concealed by the winding of the strait.  He lowered the sail, as it was now useless, and began to paddle; in a very short time he found the heat under the hills oppressive when thus working.  He had now been afloat between six and seven hours, and must have come fully thirty miles, perhaps rather more than twenty in a straight line, and he felt somewhat weary and cramped from sitting so long in the canoe.

Though he paddled hard he did not seem to make much progress, and at length he recognised that there was a distinct current, which opposed his advance, flowing through the channel from east to west.  If he ceased paddling, he found he drifted slowly back; the long aquatic weeds, too, which he passed, all extended their floating streamers westward.  We did not know of this current till Felix Aquila observed and recorded it.

Tired and hungry (for, full of his voyage, he had taken no refreshments since he started), he resolved to land, rest a little while, and then ascend the hill, and see what he could of the channel.  He soon reached the shore, the strait having narrowed to less than a mile in width, and ran the canoe on the ground by a bush, to which, on getting out, he attached the painter.  The relief of stretching his limbs was so great that it seemed to endow him with fresh strength, and without waiting to eat, he at once climbed the hill.  From the top, the remainder of the strait could be easily distinguished.  But a short distance from where he stood, it bent again, and proceeded due east.

CHAPTER XIV

THE STRAITS

The passage contracted there to little over half a mile, but these narrows did not continue far; the shores, having approached thus near each other, quickly receded, till presently they were at least two miles apart.  The merchant vessel had passed the narrows with the aid of her sweeps, but she moved slowly, and, as it seemed to him, with difficulty.  She was about a mile and a half distant, and near the eastern mouth of the strait.  As Felix watched he saw her square sail again raised, showing that she had reached a spot where the hills ceased to shut off the wind.  Entering the open Lake she altered her course and sailed away to the north-north-east, following the course of the northern mainland.

Looking now eastwards, across the Lake, he saw a vast and beautiful expanse of water, without island or break of any kind, reaching to the horizon.  Northwards and southwards the land fell rapidly away, skirted as usual with islets and shoals, between which and the shore vessels usually voyaged.  He had heard of this open water, and it was his intention to sail out into and explore it, but as the sun now began to decline towards the west, he considered that he had better wait till morning, and so have a whole day before him.  Meantime, he would paddle through the channel, beach the canoe on the islet that stood farthest out, and so start clear on the morrow.

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After London from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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