Page:1880. A Tramp Abroad.djvu/168

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.
156
A GALE AT SEA.

a country in such beautiful order as Germany exhibits, has a wise practical side to it, too, for it keeps thousands of people in work and bread who would otherwise be idle and mischievous.

As the night shut down, the captain wanted to tie up, but I thought maybe we might make Hirschhorn, so we went on. Presently the sky became overcast, and the captain came aft looking uneasy. He cast his eye aloft, then shook his head, and said it was coming on to blow. My party wanted to land at once,—therefore I wanted to go on. The captain said we ought to shorten sail, anyway, out of common prudence. Consequently the larboard watch was ordered to lay in his pole. It grew quite dark, now, and the wind began to rise. It wailed through the swaying branches of the trees, and swept our decks in fitful gusts. Things were taking on an ugly look. The captain shouted to the steersman on the forward log,—

"How's she heading?"

The answer came faint and hoarse from far forward:

"Nor'-east-and-by-nor',——east by-east, half-east, sir."

"Let her go off a point!"

"Ay-aye, sir!"

"What water have you got?"

"Shoal, sir. Two foot large, on the stabboard, two and a half scant on the labboard!"

"Let her go off another point!"

"Ay-aye, sir!"

"Forward, men, all of you! Lively, now! Stand by to crowd her round the weather corner!"

"Ay-aye, sir!"

Then followed a wild running and trampling and hoarse shouting, but the forms of the men were lost in the darkness and the sounds were distorted and confused by the roaring of the wind through the shingle-bundles. By this time the sea was running inches high, and threatening every moment to engulf the frail bark. Now came the mate hurrying aft, and said, close to the captain's ear, in a low, agitated voice,—