Page:Colymbia (1873).djvu/33

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27
THE ARCHIPELAGO ON THE EQUATOR.

"Nowhere on earth—yonder," pertly replied Billy, intimating by a movement of his head the direction of the sea.

I did not care to question him further, as he was so curt and saucy in his replies, but now walked on in silence, feeling assured that the mystery would soon be explained to me by the person to whom he was leading me. Besides, I felt too much overcome by the sultriness of the air and the annoyance of the flies to pursue my inquiries further at present.

After having sweltered on for about a mile and a half as well as I could, with parched mouth and perspiration dripping from every pore in my body, the forest abruptly terminated, and I found myself on the edge of a beautiful little bay, fringed with fine white coral sand and commanding an extensive view of the inland sea and of several of the other islands enclosed in it. The water was as clear and blue as sapphire. It lay within its enclosing reef as still and motionless as glass, though I could see there was a considerable swell on the ocean outside the reef, for every now and then a column of white foam was thrown up into the air, at different points of the reef, showing where the wave had broken on the encircling barrier.

Sea-birds of all kinds were wheeling in swift and mazy flight over the inland sea, but chiefly about the surrounding reef, where I could see clouds of them rising and falling, and swaying hither and thither, like midges on a summer evening at home.

The circumference of the bay was skirted all round by the same dense tangle of forest as that I had passed through, and the contrast of the dark trees, the white line of sand, and the blue water, with the cloudless