Page:Colymbia (1873).djvu/26

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COLYMBIA.

mounted by a sort of helmet, made of some shining material, and he wore a pair of spectacles which gave a very droll appearance to his dripping face.

My surprise was no way lessened when this strange head hailed me with a sonorous "Hulloh!" I replied by repeating his salutation. "Hulloh!" I said.

"Who are you, and where do you come from?" said the head.

"I am the only survivor of a dreadful shipwreck," I replied, "and I beg you to help me to get my boat across this reef, that I may come to the land yonder."

"All right, stranger," he replied, and forthwith he clambered up on the reef, and presently stood by my side. His clothing was of the scantiest, consisting only of short trousers, fastened round the waist with a broad and heavy-looking belt, and descending half way down the thigh like the bathing-drawers worn in England.

With his assistance the boat was hauled up the reef and launched on the enclosed water. He refused my offer to get into the boat beside me, but plunged again into the water, and placing himself at the stern commenced to push the boat towards the land, whilst I assisted its progress with the oars. I thought to myself, if this is a fair specimen of the inhabitants of this country they must be uncommonly fond of the water.

I observed that the water over which we now moved was as clear as crystal and of a beautiful blue tint. Looking over the boat's side, I could see far down into the depths below, which seemed to be filled with the strangest and most beautiful growths of corals and marine plants of all shapes and hues.

As we progressed, my friend at the stern was joined by several companions, who came I know not whence,