The second storm.
On the fourth night succeeding the perilous position of the Janson off Cape Antoine, the brig was making about seven knots, current of the gulf included. The sun had set beneath heavy radiant clouds, which rolled up like masses of inflamed matter, reflecting in a thousand mellow shades, and again spreading their gorgeous shadows upon the rippled surface of the ocean, making the picture serene and grand.
As darkness quickly followed, these beautiful transparencies of a West-India horizon gradually changed into murky-looking monitors, spreading gloom in the sombre perspective. The moon was in its second quarter, and was rising on the earth. The mist gathered thicker and thicker as she ascended, until at length she became totally obscured. The Captain sat upon the companion-way, anxiously watching the sudden change that was going on overhead; and, without speaking to any one, rose, took a glance at the compass, and then went forward to the lookout, charging him to keep a sharp watch, as they were not only in a dangerous channel, but in the track of vessels bound into and out of the gulf. After this, he returned amidship, where the little miniature salt we have described before lay, with his face downward, upon the main-hatch, and ordering him to bring the lead-line, he went to leeward and took a cast; and after paying out about twenty-five fathoms without sounding, hauled aboard again. The wind was southward and light. As soon as he had examined the lead he walked aft and ordered the sheets eased and the vessel headed two points farther off. This done, he went below, and shaking his barometer several times, found it had begun to fall very fast. Taking down his coast-chart, he consulted it very studiously for nearly half an hour, laying off an angle with a pair of dividers and scale, with mathematical minuteness; after which he pricked his course along the surface to a given point. This was intended as his course.
“Where do you make her, Captain?” said the mate, as he lay in his berth.
“We must be off the Capes—we must keep a sharp look out for them reefs. They are so deceptive that we’ll be on to them before we know it. There’s no telling by sounding. We may get forty fathoms one minute and strike the next. I’ve heard old West-India coasters say the white water was the best warning,” replied the Captain.