Page:Colymbia (1873).djvu/24

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18
COLYMBIA.

frail vessel to the right course, and my dread of losing the chance of a passing breath of wind.

All night long I sat with the tiller-lines in my hands, straining my eyes into the gloom. An occasional glow from the burning crater served to cheer me and to keep my boat in the proper direction.

When at last the sun arose above the eastern horizon, I was gratified to observe that I had made some progress during the night, and I was enabled to perceive that I was gradually approaching a beautiful group of islands, with bold outlines of lofty hills and a luxuriant vegetation extending almost to their summits.

As no breath of air was stirring, I lowered my useless sail, and taking the oars in my hands, I began to row with all my might. Though a good oarsman, I could not keep up the exertion long, as the boat was large and the heat of the sun overpowering. However, with occasional spurts and long rests between, I managed to make some way, and every hour brought me perceptibly nearer to my destination. By noon I found myself so near the main island, that I could distinguish the shapes of the trees that fringed the water's edge.

I now also perceived that a reef of rocks, just peering above the water, ran round the island at some miles' distance from the shore; and as I approached this I found that it formed a complete barrier to my farther progress. I skirted it at some distance in order to find an opening through which I might gain access to the inner waters. There were at uncertain intervals on the reef small patches of higher rock on which clumps of palm trees grew, but I could