Great Sea Stories eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 385 pages of information about Great Sea Stories.
every bough had lowered its own living cord, to take fresh hold of the foul soil below); the web of roots, which stretched away inland till it was lost in the shades of evening—­all seemed one horrid complicated trap for him and his; and even where, here and there, he passed the mouth of a lagoon, there was no opening, no relief—­nothing but the dark ring of mangroves.  Wailing sadly, sad-colored mangrove-hens ran off across the mud into the dreary dark.  The hoarse night-raven, hid among the roots, startled the voyagers with a sudden shout, and then all was again silent as a grave.  The loathy alligators lounging in the slime lifted their horny eyelids lazily, and leered upon him as he passed with stupid savageness.  Lines of tall herons stood dimly in the growing gloom, like white fantastic ghosts, watching the passage of the doomed boat.  All was foul, sullen, weird as witches’ dream.  If Amyas had seen a crew of skeletons glide down the stream behind him, with Satan standing at the helm, he would scarcely have been surprised.  What fitter craft could haunt that Stygian flood?



We continued our cruise along the coast, until we had run down into the Bay of Arcason, where we captured two or three vessels, and obliged many more to run on shore.  And here we had an instance showing how very important it is that the captain of a man-of-war should be a good sailor, and have his ship in such discipline as to be strictly obeyed by his ship’s company.  I heard the officers unanimously assert, after the danger was over, that nothing but the presence of mind which was shown by Captain Savage could have saved the ship and her crew.  We had chased a convoy of vessels to the bottom of the bay:  the wind was very fresh when we hauled off, after running them on shore; and the surf on the beach even at that time was so great, that they were certain to go to pieces before they could be got afloat again.  We were obliged to double-reef the topsails as soon as we hauled to the wind, and the weather looked very threatening.  In an hour afterwards, the whole sky was covered with one black cloud, which sank so low as nearly to touch our mast-heads, and a tremendous sea, which appeared to have risen up almost by magic, rolled in upon us, setting the vessel on a dead lee shore.  As the night closed in, it blew a dreadful gale, and the ship was nearly buried with the press of canvas which she was obliged to carry:  for had we sea-room, we should have been lying-to under storm staysails; but we were forced to carry on at all risks, that we might claw off shore.  The sea broke over us as we lay in the trough, deluging us with water from the forecastle, aft, to the binnacles; and very often as the ship descended with a plunge, it was with such force that I really thought she would divide in half with the violence of the shock. 

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Great Sea Stories from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.