Although the position taken up by the Serampore was somewhat sheltered from the force of the monsoon by a projecting point of land, still there was a heavy swell in the little bight or bay where she was, which broke upon the rocky and barren shores around her with an incessant roar and clouds of spray. The swell lifted her stern again and again, causing her to strike heavily as each succeeding wave swept under her. At last with a final heavy bumping crash which carried away her after spars, she settled down upon the rocks, which were afterwards found to be the end of a reef stretching out from the land, partially visible above water at certain times of the tide.
The sudden and untimely death of Captain Skeed spread a feeling of consternation and horror through the ship, and aggravated the anxiety which the passengers felt at their situation.
Mr. Urquhart, of course, had to take the direction of affairs, and when he met the passengers at dinner he had a difficult task before him.
The ship appeared to be now fixed firmly upon the rocks at her stern, and her anchor kept her from moving in any direction. The water could be heard rushing in through the damaged plates at the stern, and in order to prevent her sinking altogether when the water filled her forward, Mr. Urquhart caused the after part of the ship to be blocked up with an old sail against the leaky places, and spare iron plates and boards wedged against it to keep the water back.
Mr. Urquhart had not been in the saloon a minute before he was assailed with questions.
"Can you tell us whereabouts we are, Mr. Urquhart? What part of the coast are we upon?" asked Professor Spiller.