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Fire Island

Being the Adventures of Uncertain Naturalists in an Unknown Track

200 pages
Library of Alexandria
No words were spoken then for some time, and every man on board the Planet brig, which after a short stay at Singapore was off on a voyage of discovery along the coast of New Guinea, clung to bulwark, shroud and stay, or sheltered himself the best way he could from the waves which, like the wind, seemed ready to pluck them from their hold. Everything possible in the way of navigation had been done when the frightful storm came on, after scant warning in the way of a falling barometer. Then nothing was left for the unfortunates on board but to hold on and wait for the end of the hurricane as they were swept along swiftly in its course. Three days before, they had been sailing gently within sight of the towering volcanoes of Java. Now, as Mr Rimmer, the chief mate, said, they were “anywhere,” the wind having veered round as if blowing in a vast circle, and all government of the brig being pretty well at an end. Matters had been bad enough while it was daylight. When darkness came on the little hope which had remained was pretty well quenched; and Oliver Lane began to think of the home in England that he might never see again, and of how different the reality of the expedition was from all that he had pictured in his rather vivid imagination. When the trip was planned, and he obtained permission to join it through the influence of his father, a famous naturalist, he saw himself sailing amid glorious islands, with gorgeous tropical foliage hanging over seas of intense blue, glittering like precious stones in the burning sunshine; coral reefs seen through transparent water with their groves of wondrous seaweeds, and fish of brilliant tints flashing their scale armour as they swam here and there. Then, too, his thoughts had run riot over the shore trips among lands where the birds were dazzling in colour, and the insects painted by nature’s hand with hues impossible to describe; but, instead of these delights to one of eager temperament, they had encountered this fearful storm. The captain and man after man had been disabled, and for the rest as they tore onward through the spray, mist and darkness, grim death seemed to be just ahead, for a touch upon one of the many reefs which studded those seas meant instant destruction, since no boat could have been lowered to live.