In a few minutes the trysails were opened out, the reef points tied, and the sails set, together with the fore topmast staysail. The monsoon was blowing from about south-west by south, so that with the sheets hauled flat aft they were just clean full, the luffs only lifting a little as the ship dived over the heavy seas. The alteration in the course brought the sea much broader on the Serampore's bow, some of the waves, in fact, coming nearer her beam than her bow, but the canvas steadied her greatly. She only shipped half the quantity of water that she had been doing, and although her progress was not greatly accelerated, she went along much more steadily and comfortably than she had done hitherto. As soon as the sails were set and the men piped to dinner, Sinclair came up on the bridge to relieve me.
"What was the council of war about? Did Urquhart tell you?" asked I.
"Oh yes," replied Sinclair; "the captain's determined to try his plan of making the Arabian coast where the wind will help him, and then steaming up along the land to Aden. From what Urquhart said, he wanted to be sure about the coals, as we shall have a considerably longer distance to cover by the new route."
"I hope he hasn't made a mistake," said I; and leaving Mr. Sinclair in charge, I went off to work up the day's reckoning and have my lunch.
For the next five or six days the Serampore was kept on the same course with the same canvas set; and it certainly appeared that the captain's theory was an accurate one, for as we approached the coast of Arabia the monsoon blew rather less fiercely, and favoured our progress a little more, so that the Serampore had been making six and six and a half knots by the log, instead of five and five and a half as she had been making before the course was altered.
On the forenoon of the tenth day from our leaving Bombay the weather cleared up a little just before noon,