“I bought that chart at Aden the first day we were there, when I expected to navigate the Maud to Bombay; and with it came the blue book, which treats mainly of winds, weather, and currents,” added Scott. “I studied it with reference to this voyage, and I found a paragraph which interested me. I will go to my state-room for the book, if you will permit me to read about ten lines from it to you.”
The captain did not object, and Scott soon returned to the commander’s cabin with the book. The autocrat of the ship was plainly dissatisfied with himself at the failure of his prediction for fine weather, and perhaps he feared that the ambitious young officer intended to instruct him in regard to the situation, though Scott had conducted himself in the most modest and inoffensive manner.
“I don’t wish to be intrusive, Captain Ringgold, but I thought it was possible that you had forgotten this paragraph,” said the young officer, with abundant deference in his tone and manner.
“Probably I never saw it; but read it, Mr. Scott,” replied the commander.
“The weather is generally fine, and the sky clear, with neither squall nor rain, except between Ras Seger and the island of Masira,’” Scott began to read, when the commander interrupted him, and fixed his gaze on the chart, to find the localities mentioned.
“Ras Sajer,” said the captain, placing the point of his pencil on the cape whose name he read. “That must be the one you mention.”
“No doubt of it, sir; and I have noticed that the spelling on the chart and in the books doesn’t agree at all. The island is Massera on my chart.”
“They mean the same locality. Go on, Mr. Scott,” added the captain.
“’And the vicinity of the bay of Kuriyan Muriyan, where the winds and weather are more boisterous and variable than on any other part of the coast,’” continued Scott.
“Where is that bay?” asked the commander.
“It is between the two points mentioned before; but it is Kuria Muria on the chart;” and the captain had the point of his pencil on it by this time.
“We are within three hours’ sail of the longitude of that bay, but a hundred and fifty miles south of it,” said the commander. “The information in the book is quite correct. Is there anything more about it?”
“Yes, sir; a few lines more, and I will read them: ’Respecting Kuriyan Muriyan Bay, Captain S.B. Haines, I.N., remarks that the sudden change of winds, termed by the Arabs Belat, and which blow with great violence for several days, are much dreaded; but what surprised me more than these land winds were the frequent and heavy gales from the S.S.W. during February and March, blowing for six days together.’”
“This gale, for such it appears to be, instead of a mere squall, as I supposed it was at first, has come before it was due by a few days; but it proves that what you have read is entirely correct,” said the commander. “My two voyages in the Arabian Sea took me twenty degrees east of this point, and therefore I had nothing but quiet water. But, Mr. Scott, you have put an old navigator into the shade, and I commend you for the care and skill with which you had prepared yourself for the voyage of the Maud to Bengal.”