Page:Colymbia (1873).djvu/23

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17
A VOYAGE AND ITS END.

heat I had been exposed to ever since the cessation of the storm, was something not to be described. With no possibility of shelter in the open boat, I should have been thoroughly roasted, ready for eating in fact, by my friends the cannibals, by the time I reached their island. The only way in which I could keep myself at all cool was to empty a can of sea water over me every now and then.

The sail, which had served to shelter me a little when there was no prospect of a breeze, was now constantly hoisted in order to catch a chance breath of air. The water all around me looked deliciously inviting, and I would have had no hesitation in springing into it, and taking a long swim in its clear depths, but that sundry ominous pointed membranes, that occasionally showed themselves above the surface, told me that I was followed by one or more gigantic white sharks, which would have been only too happy to welcome me into the water. So I thought that, on the whole, it was safer to take my chance of cannibals on the land, than to trust myself to the tender mercies of the hungry fishes that attended me so closely.

Before the sun set I was able to make out that the land I was approaching so slowly consisted of an archipelago of islands apparently of a volcanic character; as a thin column of smoke ascended from one of the peaks into the clear air and spread out into a soft cloud at a great height in the blue sky. I could see that the lower parts of the land were dark with foliage, and I longed to reach its welcome shade, in which I might obtain shelter from the broiling heat that threatened to shrivel me up in my exposed situation. When the shades of night overtook me I could not sleep, such was my anxiety to hold my

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