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A cry from my companions made me turn my head. The barque's sails were shivering as she luffed up* to the wind. Directly after a boat was seen to be lowered, and being quickly manned, it pulled towards us. Then indeed our hearts rose in our bosoms, and we shouted with joy. Still we paddled on, and the boat seemed flying towards us. She was quite close to us, when, in our joy, we waved our paddles above our heads, and gave way to another shout.
" Hallo," exclaimed a voice from the boat; “hallo, mates, we didn't see you."
Luckily, however, they had seen a signal which we had left fluttering on the iceberg, although they had overlooked us. The surgeon of the ship never having before seen an iceberg, was gazing at it with his glass, and was the first to notice our handkerchiefs; and not being able to make out what they were, he had directed them to the captain's attention. This led to the search.
We were hoisted on board, unable to help ourselves, and were received by the captain, officers, and crew with the greatest kindness and attention.
Scarcely had our feet touched the deck of the barque, than a strong breeze sprang up, which sent her at the rate of some seven knotst an hour through the water, far away from the iceberg. Before, however, she had run out of sight of that floating island, the glittering summits were seen to lean forward, and, with a crash which could be heard by us at so great a distance, to fall prostrate in the water.
Peter The Whaler.
* Luffed up, broached to, i. e., the sails eased of their wind for
purpose of altering the course. + Knot, nautical mile=15.
THE MERCHANT VESSEL.
We had a tedious passage from America, and were already forty-eight days out when we sighted Cape Clear. It had been blowing quite heavily for several days, and we had made good progress, even under the short canvas we dared to show to it.
Our barque was stiffer than ordinary, on account of having an unusual quantity of ballast* under the cotton. And to this fortunate circumstance we in all probability owed our lives and the safety of the ship.
We had just furled our sails for the purpose of lying-to † all night, when one of the seamen descried a light upon the lee bow. The mate was aloft instantly, to convince himself that we were not deceived. Sure enough there was the light — Cape Clear Light, as we all knew it to be — plainly visible at a distance of not more than twelve or thirteen miles.
We had now the choice before us, either to turn about before the wind, and run around the southern point of Ireland, by which we might be delayed a week or more; or to carry sail, and force her past the point, when we would have a fair wind into Liverpool, and be safely moored in the docks in thirty-six hours.
The captain and mate talked for a few minutes, when orders were given to loose the sails, and prepare to face the risk.
“She must weather that light, boys," said the captain,
* Ballast, stones or other heavy material laid at the bottom of a ship, to steady it.
of Lying-to, stopping — by means of a counterbalancing disposition of the sails.
| Lee bow, that defended from the wind; in the case of a ship's head pointing as above, it is to the left.
coming forward to give us a pull at the ropes; “ she must weather it, if we give her whole topsails.”
We put the sail on her, and as she filled and gathered headway through the sea, it seemed as though every stick must go out of her, so heavily did everything appear strained. The vessel lay fairly over on her side, and the gale scarcely allowed her to lift her head at all. The motion was that of a continual scudding * plunge, as though going deeper and deeper all the time. The vast billows rolled under her, and as she dived down into the trough of the seas, it seemed sometimes as though she were never to rise.
The best helmsman was sent to the wheel, and all hands remained upon deck, keeping the bearings of the light steadily in view. Our progress, owing to the exceedingly heavy sea, was but slow.
After an hour's sailing the light was a little farther aft f, but it was also much nearer,
showing that we were drifting very fast down upon it.
At ten o'clock the light seemed fearfully plain, almost casting its glare upon our deck. The gale seemed increasing in fury, the clouds flew wildly across the moon, and the storm-wind shrieked through the creaking cordage.
Eleven o'clock came, and the light looked as though almost hung over our heads.
At twelve o'clock the light was now almost alongside, but we seemed to be drifting upon it too fast for escape.
“ Unless the wind favors us, lads, another half-hour will find us in the breakers," said the skipper ţ, who had come forward, perhaps to take a last look at his crew.
“Well, sir, we've done all we can, and the rest is with
* Scudding, precipitate, headlong.
† Aft, towards the after, or stern-part, i. e., the light rather more to the left.
# Skipper, master or captain of a merchant vessel.
God," said an old tar, resignedly. “It's a windy night, and if the old craft once gets into the breakers, a very few minutes will make an end of all.”
Now the wind favored us a little : it was evidently changing — probably affected by the land, which could not have been more than half a mile distant.
We could distinguish the dull, deafening roar of the surf as it broke
which stands the lighthouse. We could already feel the tremendous sweep of the sea toward the rocks. We were on the edge of the fatal ground-swell*, from which, if we once got in it, no power on earth could bring us out again.
The wind continued to shift t; and also moderated fast, as we drew more under the land. At last, by half-past two we were steering our course up Channel, with whole topsails set. The sun rose next morning bright and clear; the gale of the preceding night had calmed down to a gentle breeze; and the sea had died away. going along quickly before the wind, with the “Head of Kinsale" on our larboard bow. I
On the evening of the next day we came to anchor in the Mersey.
* Ground-swell, the swell or roll of billows near the shore or in shallow water. + Shift, veer; change direction.
Larboard bow, left (to one looking towards the prow).
ALEXANDER SELKIRK ; OR, ROBINSON CRUSOE. The name of Robinson Crusoe, or Alexander Selkirk, is familiar to all, from the fact of his having lived long alone in the island of Juan Fernandez. I had the pleasure, frequently, of conversing with the man soon after his arrival in England. As he is a man of good sense, it was a matter of great curiosity to hear him give an account of that long solitude. When we consider how painful absence from company for the space of but one evening is to the generality of mankind, we may have a notion how fearful a necessary and constant solitude was to a man, bred a sailor, and ever accustomed to eat, drink, and sleep in fellowship and company
He was put ashore* from a leaky vessel, with the captain of which he had had a difference; and he chose rather to take his fate in this place than in a crazy vessel, under a disagreeable commander. His portion was a sea-chest, his wearing clothes and bedding, a firelock, a pound of gunpowder, a large quantity of bullets, a flint and steel, a few pounds of tobacco, a hatchet, a knife, a kettle, a Bible and other books, and a dog.
As provisions he had only the quantity of two meals. As the island abounded only in wild goats, cats, and rats, he thought it most probable that he should find more immediate and easy relief by gathering shell-fish on the shore, than by seeking game with his gun. He accordingly secured great quantities, and, subsequently, found abundance of turtle, whose flesh is extremely delicious, and of which he frequently ate very plentifully, till it grew disagreeable to his stomach, except in the form of jellies. The necessities of hunger and thirst were his greatest * Put on shore. Sometime about the year 1660.