Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 44.djvu/78

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70
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

of the fig and silk-cotton trees, and the looser, stiffer foliage of the almond, add here and there a bolder touch to the landscape, and the unmistakable cocoa palms, seen from afar, adorn the hillside or wave their feathered crests above the beach.

The town skirts the shore for some distance, covering the slope of a low ridge which lies parallel with it. From the brow of the hill an old fort looks down upon the clustering roofs below, upon the white streets, and the dazzling bluish-emerald waters of the bay. A remote fortress half hidden by mantling shrubbery stands guard on a low bluff to the right, while cottages and fishermen's huts, following the main street eastward, dot the shore for several miles on the opposite side. This picturesque little harbor has a livelier appearance to-day than usual. Dingy sponging boats and leaky-looking fishing craft lie along the wharf and down the bay, or are beached at low tide. There are larger vessels bringing ice from Maine, and the iron-gray sides of an English steamer loom

PSM V44 D078 Head and foot of wilson stormy petrel.jpg

Fig. 1. — Head and Foot of Wilson's Stormy Petrel.

up from yonder low dock, where it now discharges its merchandise fresh from over the sea.

Sailing northeastward, Nassau and its shipping are soon obscured by the long green bar of Hog Island. This is in turn overlapped by similar keys, which gradually fade to green lines and dip under the waves.

For several days the ship speeds on with every sail set. Day and night not a sound is heard but the rustle of waves and the occasional flapping of a sail or sharp report of a rope on the taut canvas. On the sixth day out the sea was nearly calm, like glass, heaving in long, subdued billows, or like a silvered mirror, with slow, undulating tremors spreading far out to the horizon edge.

We noticed that the petrels now rested for the first time on the water after their long journey by wing. These little waifs appear never to alight except in calm weather. Day after day they follow the vessel in search of the stray scraps of greasy food thrown overboard. Now they flit noiselessly alongside, then dash on ahead or fall back astern, and so over the same course again hour