Page:Colymbia (1873).djvu/20

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14
COLYMBIA.

I perceived that the violence of the storm was sensibly abating; the wind no longer swept over the sea in the same terrific gusts, and the crests of the waves were no longer blown into white foam. I crept forward to the middle of the boat, and, by great exertions, managed to fix the short mast into its socket, and to hoist the small, sail with which it was furnished, resolved to let the wind, which had now moderated to a stiff breeze, carry me as fast as possible away from the scene of death and desolation.

Almost my first idea was to endeavour to ascertain in what direction the boat was hurrying. I found the compass stowed away among the cases and kegs at the bottom of the boat, and I ascertained that I was sailing almost due north.

I ate some food and took a good draught of water, and, feeling refreshed and invigorated, sat down in the stern, with the tiller-lines in my hands, and kept the boat well before the wind.

After the lapse of a few hours, the sea became comparatively calm, the clouds broke, the sun began to shine forth, substituting dazzling brightness for the previous gloom.

For hours I watched my buoyant craft, as it ploughed its way through the blue waters, until the sun began to sink beneath the western horizon, the wind fell completely, and the sail flapped idly against the mast.

Ere night closed in a dead calm prevailed. I took down my useless sail and lay down to repose among its folds, while the clear stars shone above me, and I gradually sank into a deep and dreamless sleep.

I did not awake until the morning rays of the sun were shining in my face. I started up and for a moment was unable to recall where I was. But