Adventures in Southern Seas eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 245 pages of information about Adventures in Southern Seas.

For some weeks after getting free from the kelp we experienced fine weather, with favourable winds and a smooth sea, when, almost without warning, a storm broke upon us with hurricane force.  All hands were ordered to shorten sail, no easy task in the fury of a gale.  As chief officer I took command in the fore part of the vessel, while Hartog issued his orders aft.  The sea ran so high, often breaking over the bows and swamping the decks, that I ordered the men to attach themselves by lifelines to the foremast, and I also secured myself in the same way.  As sometimes happens at sea in the heart of a storm, a succession of rollers followed each other, making it impossible to do more than hang on until they pass, and during one of these intervals I observed Van Luck, whose presence I had forgotten in the hurry of the moment, standing by the foremast with a knife in his hand.  I was powerless to reach him from where I stood, and a moment later the lifeline which held me to the foremast was severed, when, despite a desperate effort which I made to retain my hold, I was swept into the sea.

For a time, which seemed to me an eternity, I was under water, but when I rose to the surface I could see the ship at some distance from me, fighting her way through the storm.  I was almost suffocated by the spray which continually blew over me, and the heavy sea boots which I wore, filling with water, threatened to drag me down.  I had given myself up for lost, when I noticed a spar floating near, which must have been washed overboard with me, and, making an effort, I succeeded in laying hold of it, so that I managed to keep afloat.  Thus holding to the spar and swimming, sometimes with one hand and sometimes with the other, I kept my head above water until my feet touched ground, when I waded upon the shore of an island, where I fell down exhausted, and for the time lost consciousness.

When I came to myself it was almost dark.  I had fortunately been carried by a current upon the leeside of the island, so that I was protected from the wind and sea, but my limbs felt numb and cold, while the blood coursed feebly in my veins.  I felt too weary to move, and presently I fell asleep, from which I awoke, as I judged, about midnight, much refreshed.

I was now once more haunted by the thought of being marooned in a strange country, so that I remained awake, bemoaning my fate and blaming myself for not having taken better precautions against such a mishap.  These reflections led me so far that I began to form a project against my life, but the dawn dissipated my gloomy ideas, when I made up my mind to trust to Providence, which had protected me through so many perils.

I then mounted the high land to scan the horizon, but no sign of the ship could I see, so I knew myself to be again a castaway.  The island appeared to be one of considerable size, very fertile and well watered.  The verdure inland was unusually luxuriant, even for the tropics.  From the centre of the island rose a mountain, with a smoke-cloud banging upon it, which proved it to be an active volcano.

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Adventures in Southern Seas from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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