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首页 » 经典英文小说 » Treasure Of The Seas » Chapter 26
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Chapter 26
A hard Pull.—Wind and Tide.—Bennie’s “Idee.”—Jolly under creditable Circumstances.—The Triple Promontory.—The Advance of the Fog.—The Line of Cliff.—The foaming Sea.—The slow Passage of the Hours.—The Strait of Minas.—Land at Last.—Bennie triumphant.

THE tide was coming up; some time had elapsed since the Antelope had sunk, and it had sufficed for the ebb of the tide and its return to its flood. The wind also was light, and as they sought to get out of Scott’s Bay, they had the tide against them, and very little wind to favor them. At first they moved rather along the line of the shore than away from it, and though they lost sight of the figures on the beach, they did not therefore make any very great progress.

Scott’s Bay is enclosed in a circle of land formed by the Nova Scotia coast, which here rises high above the Bay of Fundy, and throws out a long, circling arm, terminating in a rugged, storm-beaten, and sea-worn crag, known as Cape Split. It was necessary to double this cape, and then go up the Strait of Minas to Parrsboro’, which place was at the head of the strait, inside Minas Basin, and rig opposite Cape Blomidon. In order to do this, either the wind or the tide ought to favor the navigator; but, unfortunately, on the present occasion, they were not thus favored.

“I had an idee,” said Bennie, after a long silence, “I had an idee that the wind would come up a leetle stronger out here, but it don’t seem to; an now I’ve a notion that it’s goin to turn. If so we’ll be delayed, but still you’ll be landed in Parrsboro’ time enough to catch the steamer. Only you may have to be longer gettin thar than you counted on.”

“O, we don’t care. Only get us there in time for the steamer, and we won’t complain.”

“Wal, it’s best to make up one’s mind for the wust, you know. The wind may change, an then we may be out half the night, or even all night. But, at any rate, I’ll put you through.”

“You needn’t think about any inconvenience to us. We’re only too grateful to you for putting yourself out so much, and none of us would care whether we were out all night or not. We’ve learned to rough it during the last two or three weeks.”

Bennie now diverted his gaze to the surrounding sea, and kept his eyes fixed upon it for a long time in silence, while the boys chatted together in the light-hearted manner peculiar to those who feel quite comfortable, and have no particular aversion even to a moderate amount of discomfort. Yet Bennie did not seem altogether at ease. There was a slight frown on his noble brow, and he did not show that genial disposition which generally distinguished him.

The wind was light and fitful. At first it had been favorable, but before long it changed. It did not grow stronger, indeed; yet still, though it continued light, the fact that it was acting against them made their prospects worse, and justified Bennie’s fears that they might be out all night. The distance was not great, being not more than fifteen miles or so; but their course was in such a direction that the opposition of wind and tide might delay them to a very uncomfortable extent. The spur of the coast line, which terminated in Cape Split, as has been said, and formed the bay, ran for about five miles, and this distance it was necessary to traverse before they could go up the Strait of Minas.

“I think, boys,” said Bennie, at last, “we’d best try the oars, for a while at least. We may save a tide. I don’t know, but at any rate we’d best try an see; for, you see, we’ve got the wind agin us now,—what thar is of it,—an thar’s no knowin how much wuss it may grow. If we could ony git around, that pint afore the tide turned, we might save ourselves from spendin the night aboard. I did hope that the wind might favor us; but it’s changed since we started, an now I see we’d best prepar for the wust.”

“All right!” cried Bruce, cheerily: “we’re in for anything. We can pull as long as you like.”

Upon this the boys took the oars which were in the boat, and began to row. There were four oars. Bennie lowered the sail, and took the stroke oar, Bruce and Arthur took the next oars, and Bart the bow oar. They rowed in this way for about an hour, and then they changed, Arthur taking the stroke oar, Tom and Phil the next oars, and Pat the bow oar. Bruce soon relieved Arthur, and thus they rowed along.

The labor at the oars, far from being unpleasant, served to beguile the time. Those who were not rowing sang songs to enliven the labor of the rowers. Bennie was anxious to row all the time, but after the first hour he was not allowed to row any more, the boys declaring that it was enough for him to come with them, and that it was no more than fair that they should work their own way.

As they went, the wind increased somewhat, and, as the tide was strong, the two powers combined to oppose their progress. They therefore did not make the headway which was desirable, and after one hour of steady pulling they did not find themselves more than half way to Cape Split. Still, they did not become discouraged, but rowed bravely on, making the change above mentioned, and anticipating a turn for the better when once they had doubled the cape.

At length they reached the cape. More than two hours of hard rowing had been required to bring them there, and on reaching this place they saw Bennie’s face still covered with gloom and anxiety. What that might mean, they did not at first know; but they soon found out. At first, however, they were too much taken up with their own thoughts, and the natural pride which they felt at having attained the aim of so long and anxious an endeavor, to notice particularly any expression which Bennie’s face might assume. Besides, there was something in the scene before them which was sufficiently grand to engross all their thoughts.

Among the freaks of nature, so called, few are more extraordinary, and at the same time more impressive and sublime, than that which is afforded by this Cape Split. The whole northern shore of Nova Scotia, which borders on the Bay of Fundy, consists of a high ridge, known as the North Mountain. With one or two great chasms, like that at the entrance into Annapolis Basin, it runs along until it arrives at the Basin of Minas, where it terminates at the sublime promontory of Blomidon. Yet it hardly terminates here. Rather it may be said to turn about and seek once more to invade the water, which, for so many miles, it has defied; and thus turning, it advances for some miles into the Bay of Fundy, forming thus, by this encircling arm, Scott’s Bay, and finally terminating in Cape Split. Here, where the tides are highest, and the rush of the waters strongest, Cape Split arises,—wild, rough, worn by the sea, and scarred by the storm,—a triple series of gigantic peaks that advance into the profoundest depths of the Bav of Fundy, whose waters, at every ebb and flow of their tremendous tides, roll, and foam, and boil, and seethe about the base of the torn promontory. The cliffs of Blomidon rise precipitously, and Blomidon itself is the centre of attraction in the scenery of a vast circuit of country; but Blomidon itself, to a near observer, shows less wildness of outline and less of picturesque grandeur, than that which is revealed in the terrific outline of Cape Split. Taken in connection with all the surrounding landscape as its centre and heart, Blomidon is undoubtedly superior; but taken by itself alone, without any adjuncts save sea and sky, it is Cape Split that the artist would choose to portray upon the canvas, or the lover of the picturesque and the sublime to feast his eyes upon.

This, then, was the point which they had reached, and they saw before them a series of giant rocks towering aloft from the depths of the sea hundreds of feet into the air,—black, rough, without a trace of vegetation, thrusting their sharp pinnacles into the sky, while thousands of sea-gulls screamed about their summits, and myriads of sea-waves beat about their bases. There the tide rolled, and the ocean currents streamed to and fro, and the billows of the sea kept up perpetual war, assailing the flinty rock, and slowly wearing away, as they had been doing through the ages, atom by atom and fragment by fragment, the forms of these mighty bulwarks of the land.

This was the scene upon which they gazed as they reached Cape Split and prepared to enter into the Strait of Minas. But Bennie’s brow was dark, and Bennie’s brow was gloomy, and there were thoughts in Bennie’s mind which had no connection with any grandeur of scenery or beauty of landscape. For Bennie was thinking of the practical, and not of the picturesque; and so it was that the question of reaching Parrsboro’ was of far more importance to him than the glories and the grandeur and all the sublime attractions of Cape Split.

“Tell you what it is, boys,” said he, after a long and thoughtful silence, “we’ve missed it, an we’ve got to look sharp, or else we’ll miss it agen.”

“Missed it? Missed what?”

“What? Why, everything.”

“Everything. What do you mean?”

“Wal, it’s this con-founded tide.”

“What about it?”

“Why, you see,” said Bennie, scratching his grizzled head, “I thought we might git round the cape in time to catch the flood tide, and if so, it would carry us straight up to Parrsboro’; but, un-fort’nately, we’ve jest missed it. We’ve took so much time in gittin here that we’ve lost the flood. The tide’s now on the ebb, an it’s clear agin us. What’s wuss, it runs down tremenjus, an it’ll be a leetle hard for us to git up anyhow; an, what’s wusser, thar’s goin to be a fog.”

“A fog!”

“Yes, a fog, an no mistake. See thar,”—and Bennie pointed down the bay,—“see thar. The wind’s ben a shiftin an’s finally settled into a son-wester, an thar’s the fog a drawin in all round us, an before another half hour we’ll be all shut in, an won’t be able to see the other end of the boat. What’s wuss still, the fog is goin to be a reglar settled fog, an may last a fortnight, an the ony thing that I can see in our favor jest now is, that the wind is fair for us; but, unfortinately, the wind don’t seem to promise to be strong enough to carry us up agin the tide.”

“What! Can’t we get to Parrsboro’ in time for the steamer at all?”

“The steamer? O, yes, no doubt about that. But what I’m afeard on is, that we’ll be all night about it.”

“O, well, that can’t be helped. We can stand it. We’ve had worse things than this to stand of late, and this is mere child’s play.”

“Child’s play? Wal, I don’t know about that altogether,” said Bennie. “For my part, I don’t seem to see how goin’ without sleep’s child’s play, as you call it; but still I’m glad all the same that you look on it in this way; I am railly.”

“O, you needn’t give any thought to us. We’re old stagers. We’ve been shipwrecked and we’ve lived on desert islands. We’ve risked our lives a dozen times in a dozen days. Fellows that have been cast ashore on Anticosti and on Sable Island, can’t be frightened at anything that you can mention.”

“After my life on Ile Haute out there,” said Tom, looking at the dim form of Ile Haute, which was even then being enveloped in the gathering fog, “I think this is mere child’s play.”

“And after my adventures in the woods,” said Phil, “I’m ready for anything.”

“Pat and I,” said Bart, “have known all the bitterness of death, and have felt what it is to be buried alive.”

“An meself,” said Pat, “by the same token, have known what it is to bathe in the leper wather, so I have; an what’s fog to that?”

“Well,” said Arthur, “I’ve had my turn off Anticosti in the boat, Tom and I.”

“And I,” said Bruce, “have had my turn at the Five Islands; so you see you’ve got to do with a lot of fellows that don’t care a rush for fogs and tides, and all that sort of thing.”

“Wal, young fellers,” said Bennie, “I knock under, I cave in. I won’t say anything more. You’re all the right sort, an are ready for anything. So come along; an here goes for Parrsboro’. You’ve got to be up all night; but arter all, you’ve got wraps and rugs, an bread an butter, an pie, an can keep yourselves warm, an can have enough to eat,—so what’s the odds, as long as you’re happy? I ain’t a croaker, I ain’t, but go in for bein cheerful, an if you ain’t goin to knock under, why I ain’t, an so let’s be jolly an move on.”

Saying this, Bennie hoisted his sail once more. The wind was light, but fair, and the only question now was, whether that wind would be strong enough to carry the boat against the tide. As to the tide, that was certainly sufficiently strong, but unfortunately it was unfavorable. The tide had turned, and was running down the Strait of Minas, up which they wished to go. The tide was thus adverse, and in addition to this was the fog.

The fog!

Yes, the fog, the dreaded, the baleful fog, was coming on. Already Ile Haute was concealed from view. Soon the opposite shore would be veiled. Worse than all, the night was coming on. With fog and darkness united, their way would be uncertain indeed.

Fortunately for them, the way was a straight one, and the wind, though not very strong, and though opposed by the tide, was yet fair. This much was in their favor.

And so they spread their sails. And the wind filled the sails, and the boat went on. The tide was against them, but still the boat advanced. Some progress, at last, was made. Hour after hour passed, and still they went on. Bennie seemed to be quite encouraged. At last they came to a wide beach.

“Hurrah!” said Bennie, “we’re here at last. This is the place, lads. We’re at Parrsboro’! Hurrah!”


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