The storm, which had threatened to burst over the island at an earlier period of that evening, passed off far to the south. The light breeze which had tempted Captain Montague to weigh anchor soon died away, and before night a profound calm brooded over the deep.
When the breeze fell, Gascoyne went forward, and, seating himself on a forecastle carronade, appeared to fall into a deep reverie. Montague paced the quarter-deck impatiently, glancing from time to time down the skylight at the barometer which hung in the cabin, and at the vane which drooped motionless from the masthead. He acted with the air of a man who was deeply dissatisfied with the existing state of things, and who felt inclined to take the laws of nature into his own hands. Fortunately for nature and himself, he was unable to do this.
Ole Thorwald exhibited a striking contrast to the active, impatient commander of the vessel. That portly individual, having just finished a cigar which the first lieutenant had presented to him on his arrival on board, threw the fag end of it into the sea, and proceeded leisurely to fill a large-headed German pipe, which was the constant companion of his waking hours, and the bowl of which seldom enjoyed a cool moment.
Ole having filled the pipe, lighted it; then leaning over the taffrail, he gazed placidly into the dark waters, which were so perfectly calm that every star in the vault above could be compared with its reflection in the abyss below.
Ole Thorwald, excepting when engaged in actual battle, was phlegmatic, and constitutionally lazy and happy. When enjoying his German pipe he felt impressibly serene, and did not care to be disturbed. He therefore paid no attention to the angry manner of Montague, who brushed past him repeatedly in his hasty perambulations, but continued to gaze downwards and smoke calmly in a state of placid felicity.
“You appear to take things coolly, Mister Thorwald,” said Montague, half in jest, yet with a touch of asperity in his manner.
“I always do” (puff) “when the weather’s not warm.” (Puff, puff.)
“Humph!” ejaculated Montague; “but the weather is warm just now; at least it seems so to me,—so warm that I should not be surprised if a thunder-squall were to burst upon us ere long.”
“Not a pleasant place to be caught in a squall,” returned the other, gazing through the voluminous clouds of smoke which he emitted at several coral reefs, whose ragged edges just rose to the level of the calm sea without breaking its mirror-like surface; “I’ve seen one or two fine vessels caught that way, just here abouts, and go right down in the middle of the breakers.”
Montague smiled, and the commander-in-chief of the Sandy Cove army fired innumerable broadsides from his mouth with redoubled energy.
“That is not a cheering piece of information,” said he, “especially when one has reason to believe that a false man stands at the helm.”