In the Roaring Fifties
105 Pages
English

In the Roaring Fifties

-

Downloading requires you to have access to the YouScribe library
Learn all about the services we offer

Description

The Project Gutenberg EBook of In the Roaring Fifties, by Edward DysonThis eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it,give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online atwww.gutenberg.netTitle: In the Roaring FiftiesAuthor: Edward DysonRelease Date: November 11, 2005 [EBook #17045]Language: English*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK IN THE ROARING FIFTIES ***Produced by Peter O'ConnellIN THE ROARING FIFTIESByEDWARD DYSON 1906ITHE night was bright and cool, and the old East Indiaman moved slowly on the heaving bosom of the ocean, under astrong full moon, like a wind-blown ghost to whose wanderings there had been no beginning and could be no end—sosmall, so helpless she seemed between the two infinities of sea and sky. There was no cloud to break the blue profundityof heaven, no line of horizon, no diversity in the long lazy roll of the green waters to dispel the illusion of an interminableocean. The great crestless waves rose and fell with pulsing monotony, round, smooth and intolerably silent. It was as ifthe undulating sea had been stricken motionless, and the ship was damned to the Sisyphean task of surmounting onemysterious hill that eternally reappeared under her prow, and beyond which she might never pass. Suddenly the ghostfaltered on the crest of a wave, fluttering her rags in the moonlight, possessed with a ...

Subjects

Informations

Published by
Published 08 December 2010
Reads 55
Language English
The Project Gutenberg EBook of In the Roaring Fifties, by Edward Dyson This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.net Title: In the Roaring Fifties Author: Edward Dyson Release Date: November 11, 2005 [EBook #17045] Language: English *** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK IN THE ROARING FIFTIES *** Produced by Peter O'Connell IN THE ROARING FIFTIES By EDWARD DYSON 1906 I THE night was bright and cool, and the old East Indiaman moved slowly on the heaving bosom of the ocean, under a strong full moon, like a wind-blown ghost to whose wanderings there had been no beginning and could be no end—so small, so helpless she seemed between the two infinities of sea and sky. There was no cloud to break the blue profundity of heaven, no line of horizon, no diversity in the long lazy roll of the green waters to dispel the illusion of an interminable ocean. The great crestless waves rose and fell with pulsing monotony, round, smooth and intolerably silent. It was as if the undulating sea had been stricken motionless, and the ship was damned to the Sisyphean task of surmounting one mysterious hill that eternally reappeared under her prow, and beyond which she might never pass. Suddenly the ghost faltered on the crest of a wave, fluttering her rags in the moonlight, possessed with a vague indecision. Shouting and the noise of hurrying feet broke the silence. There was a startling upheaval of men; they swarmed in the rigging, and faces were piled above the larboard bulwarks. A boat dropped from the ship's side, striking the sea with a muffled sound, and was instantly caught into the quaint lifting and falling motion of the Francis Cadman, as the oily-backed waves slid under. Four men in the boat bent smartly to the oars, a fifth stood erect in the prow, peering under his hand over the waste of waters; another at the tiller encouraged the rowers with cordial and well-meant abuse. A hundred people shouted futile directions from the ship. The gravity of the Indian Ocean was disturbed by the babble of dialects. One voice rose above all the rest, sonorous, masterful, cursing the ship into order with a deliberate flow of invective that had the dignity and force of a judgment. The boat drew off rapidly. The men, squarely and firmly seated, bent their heavy shoulders with machine-like movements, and when they threw back their faces the rays of the moon glittered and flashed in their dilated eyes and on their bared teeth. The sailor at the tiller swayed in unison, and grunted encouragement, breaking every now and then into bitter speech, spoken as if in reverent accord with the night and their mission, in a low, pleading tone, much as a patient mother might address a wayward child. 'Lift her, lads—lift her, blast you! Oh, my blighted soul, Ellis! I'd get more square-pullin' out of a starved cat with ten kittens —I would, by thunder! Now, men, all together! Huh! Huh! hub!' The boatswain strained as if tugging a stubborn oar. In the interval of silence that followed all bent attentive ears, but no call came from the sea. The sleek oars dipped into the waves without a sound, and swung noiselessly in the worn rowlocks. The man at the prow remained rigid as a statue, and Coleman resumed his whispered invocation. 'Bend to it, you devils! One! two! three! Morton, don't go to sleep, you swine! Ryan! Tadvers, you herrin'-gutted, boss- eyed son of a barber's ape, are you rowin' or spoonin' up hot soup? Pull, men! Huh! That's a clinker! Huh! Shift her! Huh! May the fiend singe you for a drowsy pack o' sea-cows! Pull!' The men threw every ounce of power into each stroke, the voice of the boatswain blending with their efforts like an intoned benediction, and the treacly sea foamed under the prow into drifted snow which ran merrily in their wake. For a tense moment the boat hung poised upon a high roller, as if about to be projected into the air, and the man in the prow, electrified, threw out an arm with a dramatic gesture. The instincts of the ex-whaler triumphed in that moment of excitement. 'There she blows!' Instantly Coleman fell into a condition of profound agitation; he poured out a lava-flow of vituperation upon the heads of his men; he cursed them for weaklings and waster and hissed phrases shameful to them and discreditable to their parents. The crew increased their stroke. Already the perspiration was streaming from their indurated hides; their wet faces and breasts glistened in the night. Every now and again the look-out, discovering a black spot where the moon's rays splashed a smooth-backed wave with silver, uttered an inarticulate cry that struck the men like a spur, and all the time his pointing hand was a finger-post to the steersman. Meanwhile the object of this chase, a fragile, white-faced girl, had fought with the mammoth waves as with inveterate beasts seeking to stifle her in icy embraces. A mere atom plunged in their depths as in cavernous and boundless darkness, she had struggled with an ocean the whole of the focus of which were leagued against her, possessed all the time with a foolish and trivial remembrance of child hood, the vision of a little gray kitten, with a weight about its neck, striving to beat its way up through clear waters, sending out tiny bubbles of crystal that danced in mockery of its dying. On the surface she was swung across seeming great distances, till a strong arm out of the night and the vastness of things seized her, and the tension of the struggle passed from her limbs, leaving a sense of appeasement as sweet as sleep. She heard a man's voice directing her, and obeyed without understanding. Now the sea supported her like a soft and pleasant bed, she had no fear and little consciousness. A few stern words buzzed in her head like bees—'Sink your arms! Don't try to breathe when we're under! Keep your mouth shut!' They were very absurd: they could have nothing to do with her; but she had heard them somewhere, and she obeyed. The man lay well back in the water, with little more than his chin and lips above the surface, his left hand, twisted in the woman's hair, rested in the nape of her neck, sustaining her with scarcely an effort. An ocean swimmer from his early boyhood, great waters had no terrors for him, and when he found the drowning girl he knew that all would be well, provided the ship's boats were successful in their search. The girl was very tractable: she lay perfectly still. He looked into her pale face; her eyes were wide open, staring