Page:The Fall of Maximilan's Empire.djvu/39

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the little fleet anchored off Vera Cruz, in the person of Lieutenant Weyprecht of the Austrian Navy. He was the navigator of the "Elizabeth" and used often to meet Mr. McGowan on Sacrificios Island, where, with sextants and artificial mercurial horizons; they would take observations to establish the rates of their chronometers.

The visits of the sailing launch to Boca del Rio were a pleasant break in the monotony of life in that barren place. The first thing on reaching head-quarters was to sit down to a generous breakfast (comparatively speaking), which was most acceptable, as the party would have to leave the ship at six in the morning, so as to try to get back before the sea breeze set in, and would generally reach the camp at about ten. General Benavides would always insist that breakfast came first and business afterwards, and it was under the genial influence of subsequent cigars that the mail would be read and matters be discussed.

Pleasant as were those trips, they were not unattended with risk, however, as the bar of the river was a shifting one, and there was always more or less surf on it. On one occasion the launch struck heavily and half filled with water, and it looked for a time as though the occupants would have to swim for it and take their chances with the sharks; fortunately they succeeded in keeping her pointed straight, and crossed the bar with no further damage