Page:Colymbia (1873).djvu/18

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COLYMBIA.

through me as I clung on to it with both hands, but, oh, horror I as I pulled at the rope it began to pay itself out over the end of the boat, and my heart sank at the idea that it might be a loose coil of rope, without any attachment to the boat. I well remember the feeling that came over me as I observed yard after yard of the rope slide over the edge of the life-boat. It was not fear nor sadness, but a sort of apathetic indifference that took hold of me, the reaction possibly from the exquisite joy I had experienced a moment before. I made up my mind that the rope was unattached to the boat, and I seemed to be reckoning how long it would be ere I should see the end slip over and bury itself and all my hopes with it in the depths of the sea. I had twisted the end of the rope round my right wrist, and, while watching it glide out of the boat, had left off swimming. Suddenly I felt a jerk at my wrist, and at the same moment the rope left off paying out and became taut.

My hopes at once revived. I saw that the other end was fastened to the boat, and I forthwith commenced to haul myself to the boat, hand over hand. The strain on the rope turned the boat round, so that it now presented only its end in place of its side to the wind. In this position, there was no difficulty in getting up close to it. My hands were soon on the gunwale, and the rolling wave assisted me to tumble right into the boat, at the bottom of which I lay for a few minutes, exhausted by fatigue and excitement.

But I did not lie long. Anxiety about the fate of my companions of the ship made me start up, in order to see if there were other survivors of the wreck besides myself. I scanned every wave as it rose to view with eager eyes. Some hen-coops, cases, spars, and other