Adventures in Southern Seas eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 208 pages of information about Adventures in Southern Seas.

So that some record of this remarkable combat might be preserved, I set down upon paper a description of it, intending to deposit it among the public archives on my return home.  I had read that such leviathans existed, and had been seen by early Phoenician mariners, though I had always regarded their existence more in the light of fable titan fact.

And now, a breeze springing up, we were once more enabled to continue our voyage.  Some of the crew were anxious to return home in order to spend their share of the Spanish money found on Cortes’ island, but Hartog would not consent to such a proposal.  He had set his heart upon finding the Island of Gems, of the existence of which he was firmly convinced, though our chances of finding it among the numerous islands of the South Seas appeared remote.  The captain, however, would have his way, and a course was set accordingly.  We were soon again among the islands, where we found the people more intelligent than those upon the continent of New Holland.  Their language, although consisting of many dialects, possessed some universal key words, of which, by this time, I had acquired a knowledge which enabled me to make myself understood of the various tribes of savages we met with, and to understand also their meaning when they wanted to convey it to us.  To this I attributed the friendly reception which, on the whole, was given to us.  Attacks upon strangers, made by these savages, are not so much from any natural hostility towards them as from an inability to understand that they intend no harm—­consequently I was generally able to establish friendly intercourse between us and the tribes we visited.  Besides this, our ship possessed such a powerful armament that, if molested, we had no fear but that we would be able to protect ourselves.

We made many inquiries from the savages concerning the Island of Gems, but none seemed to have heard of it.

CHAPTER XIII

THE FLOATING ISLAND

Soon after leaving the islands of the South Seas we encountered heavy weather, a tempest, the worst we had experienced, driving us before it to the south.  The storm lasted for more than a week without abatement, and during this time we covered many leagues of sea.  Owing to the sun being obscured, it was impossible to ascertain our whereabouts, but Hartog reckoned we had passed through the Straits set down on an early chart as named after Le Maire.  But for skilful handling we would have lost our ship, so prolonged was the gale, and when, at length, the weather moderated, we found that much damage had been done to our rigging and deck-gear.  This made it necessary for us to effect repairs, and while so engaged we continued to run before the wind to the south.  As we proceeded, the cold became intense, while the wind gradually decreased.  One morning, at sunrise, a snow-covered land rose before our astonished eyes.  The sun

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Adventures in Southern Seas from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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