Author: Fergus Hume
Release Date: January, 2004 [EBook #4946] [Yes, we are more than one year ahead of schedule] [This file was first posted on April 3, 2002]
Character set encoding: ASCII
*** Start of the project gutenberg EBOOK Madame Midas ***
Produced by Charles Franks and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team.
CAST UP BY THE SEA
A wild bleak-looking coast, with huge water-worn promontories jutting out into the sea, daring the tempestuous fury of the waves, which dashed furiously in sheets of seething foam against the iron rocks. Two of these headlands ran out for a considerable distance, and at the base of each, ragged cruel-looking rocks stretched still further out into the ocean until they entirely disappeared beneath the heaving waste of waters, and only the sudden line of white foam every now and then streaking the dark green waves betrayed their treacherous presence to the idle eye. Between these two headlands there was about half a mile of yellow sandy beach on which the waves rolled with a dull roar, fringing the wet sands with many coloured wreaths of sea-weed and delicate shells. At the back the cliffs rose in a kind of semi-circle, black and precipitous, to the height of about a hundred feet, and flocks of white seagulls who had their nests therein were constantly circling round, or flying seaward with steadily expanded wings and discordant cries. At the top of these inhospitable-looking cliffs a line of pale green betrayed the presence of vegetation, and from thence it spread inland into vast-rolling pastures ending far away at the outskirts of the bush, above which could be seen giant mountains with snow-covered ranges. Over all this strange contrast of savage arid coast and peaceful upland there was a glaring red sky—not the delicate evanescent pink of an ordinary sunset—but a fierce angry crimson which turned the wet sands and dark expanse of ocean into the colour of blood. Far away westward, where the sun—a molten ball of fire—was sinking behind the snow-clad peaks, frowned long lines of gloomy clouds—like prison bars through which the sinking orb glowed fiercely. Rising from the east to the zenith of the sky was a huge black cloud bearing a curious resemblance to a gigantic hand, the long lean fingers of which were stretched threateningly out as if to grasp the land and drag it back into the lurid sea of blood; altogether a cruel, weird-looking scene, fantastic, unreal, and bizarre as one of Dore’s marvellous conceptions. Suddenly on the red waters there appeared a black speck, rising and falling with the restless waves,