Adventures in Southern Seas eBook

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

The attentions shown us by these remarkable birds, however, soon caused us considerable inconvenience.  They crowded upon us in such numbers that it was difficult to force our way through them, either farther on to the island or back to the boat.  Some of them stood four feet high, and although they made no attempt to molest us, the bulk of their bodies (the ones at the back pressing upon those in front) made it difficult to push by.  It was like passing along a densely-crowded thoroughfare.  So numerous became the penguins that Hartog ordered a return to the boat.  We did not like to kill these birds, as they appeared harmless, and the trust they showed in us was surprising.  When we came to the landing place we found it covered with small fur-coated seals, who also showed no fear of us, and made no attempt to escape when we approached them.  The skins of these creatures we knew to be rare and of value, so we were impelled to slaughter some of them for their fur coats, and also to give us a supply of fresh meat; but their large brown eyes looked at us so sorrowfully when we attacked them that we had not the heart to kill more than was necessary for our immediate needs.  It was too much like murder.

The penguins followed us down to the landing-place, until it was full to overflowing.  Some of the birds pushed the others into the water in their eagerness to witness the killing of the seals, which they appeared to be discussing with much interest.

A breeze springing up, we returned to the ship, and toward evening, still steering northward, the floating island was lost to view.

We were now in better spirits than heretofore.  We had filled our water tanks from the ice floes, and supplied ourselves with sufficient fresh seal meat to last until we came to a warmer climate, to begin again our search for the Island of Gems.  The men we had with us upon this voyage were a better class than were the crew of the “Endraght”, and we had no fear of mutiny.  There were grumblings occasionally at the length of the voyage, but these vanished at each fresh adventure.  Sailors, as a rule, are easily led, and if there is no evil influence at work among them they seldom incline to mutiny when they know that the safety of all depends upon discipline and obedience to the captain’s orders.

CHAPTER XIV

AN OLD ACQUAINTANCE

Most of the islands we visited on our return to the South Seas we found to be inhabited.  But some, although well-wooded, and possessing a luxuriant vegetation, were unoccupied except by sea-fowl.  It was toward one of these islands we now directed our course in order to fill our water tanks, when we observed a solitary figure upon the beach whose hair and beard hung down in a tangled mass upon his chest and shoulders, while the skins of some small fur-coated animal, roughly sewn together, made him a covering for his body unlike

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Adventures in Southern Seas from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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