Page:Yule Logs.djvu/228

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212
"BY DEFAULT OF THE ENGINEER"

it means. The best description of it I can give in a few words is, a lengthened duration of a south-west gale in the English Channel, with thick weather and a temperature of about seventy-five or eighty degrees.

On the fourth day out, I was keeping the forenoon watch as usual, and had left the bridge for a moment or two to compare the standard with the binnacle compasses, and as I passed the saloon companion, which had a hood over it facing aft, I saw Miss Reed with one of her sister's little girls standing at the top of the ladder. Of course I lifted my cap and wished her good-morning.

"Do you think we shall have any better weather soon, Mr. Hardy?" she asked. "I've been watching those great seas shoot up under the stern of the ship, and they do look so cruel and savage that it positively frightens one."

"I'm afraid there's not much chance of any real improvement till we get to Aden," said I; "but there's nothing that you need be frightened about, for the old ship is as sound as a bell, and is fighting her way on as well as we could expect under the circumstances."

"My sister's a very poor sailor," said she, "and I don't believe she'd have come if she had thought it was going to be anything like this."

I had taken a step aft towards the binnacle, remembering that I was in charge of the deck, and that talking to passengers on duty was not exactly in harmony with the Company's regulations, when the Serampore, after making a moderate dive, encountered an unusually heavy sea, which threw her nose up into the air, as it were, and Miss Reed, having for the moment relaxed her hold upon the companion-rail, was, with the child, shot out upon the deck as if she had been flung by a gigantic catapult. The child was rolling towards the rail, where there was only a slight netting, which, if it parted, as being old it very likely might with her weight, would leave nothing between