Page:Colymbia (1873).djvu/19

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deck-lumber were visible, but I saw no one clinging to them, nor could I detect the head of any bold swimmer among those black and hideous waves. The time that had elapsed since the vessel went down (for it had taken me a long time to get to the boat after I had seized on the rope, as the rope was long, and, having stopped swimming while it was paying out, I was separated by its whole length from the boat) would have been sufficient to overwhelm any but a very powerful swimmer; and I knew that few of my companions could swim at all and none of them very well. Had there been any survivor of the wreck in the water at that moment, it would have been utterly impossible for me to reach him, for the wind still continued to impel my boat forward much too powerfully for me to have been able to stay its course, far less to row back to the struggling swimmer, had there been any such.

When I reflected on this, I felt almost relieved that nowhere could I espy a sign of a living being, for I knew that I should have only had to endure the agony of seeing him go down beneath the waves without the power to help him in the slightest degree.

After my fruitless search, I lay down once more exhausted and scarcely thankful that I alone should have been saved whilst all the passengers and crew had accompanied the fine vessel to the bottom of the sea.

How long I lay, worn out and stunned, sensible of nothing but my forlorn and lonely condition, while the boat was tossed up and down amid the vast solitude of the ocean, I know not. But gradually I felt that I must exert myself, if only to get a respite from the sombre thoughts that pursued me.