Page:Colymbia (1873).djvu/25

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19
A VOYAGE AND ITS END.

discover no gap in the rocky barrier. After spending some time in this search, I resolved to give it up and try to get my boat across a part of the barrier where it seemed lowest.

I was rather astonished that there was no sign of human life on the waters in the inland sea, not a mast of a ship, nor even a boat or canoe of any description. I could not detect any buildings on the land; but the dense forest that clothed it might well conceal larger buildings than any likely to be reared by savages. The absence of shipping and sailing craft of every kind gave me an idea that the land was uninhabited.

However, I resolved to penetrate if possible into the inner sea, if necessary by dragging my boat across the barrier, supposing the rising tide should not enable me to pass over it.

Half an hour more of steady rowing brought the bow of my boat on to the reef. No sooner did the keel grate against the sunken coral than I was startled by a loud barking. Hastily turning to see whence the noise proceeded, I was astonished to observe a large seal floundering along the reef towards me. The ferocious aspect of the brute alarmed me, and I was about to shove off again to avoid its attack, when I perceived that it was tethered to the rock by a chain which was attached to a metal collar round its neck, and that in spite of its frantic efforts it could not come within some yards of my boat.

It continued to bark violently, and I had scarcely time to wonder at the strange phenomenon of a tethered seal, when a new cause of astonishment presented itself.

From the still clear water of the enclosed sea a man's head suddenly emerged. The head was sur-