Let the natives boast as they will about their splendid climate, they are visited by the most frightful hurricanes. They get the fag-end of the storms that rage over the Antilles; and the fag-end of a storm is like the tail of a whale; it's just the strongest bit of it. I don't think you'll find a sailor listening much to your poets -- your Moores, and your Wallers."

"No doubt you are right, Mr. Curtis," said Andre, smil- ing, "but poets are like proverbs; you can always find one to contradict another. Although Waller and Moore have chosen to sing the praises of the Bermudas, it has been sup- posed that Shakspeare was depicting them in the terrible scenes that are found in 'The Tempest.'"

I may mention that there was not another of our fellow- passengers who took the trouble to come on deck and give a glance at this strange cluster of islands. Miss Herbey, it is true, was making an attempt to join us, but she had barely reached the poop, when Mrs. Kear's languid voice was heard recalling her for some trifling service to her side.

CHAPTER VI THE SARGASSO SEA

OCTOBER 8 to October 13. -- The wind is blowing hard from the northeast, and the Chancellor, under low-reefed top-sail and fore-sail, and laboring against a heavy sea, has been obliged to be brought ahull. The joists and girders all creak again until one's teeth are set on edge. I am the only passenger not remaining below; but I prefer being on deck notwithstanding the driving rain, fine as dust, which penetrates to the very skin. We have been driven along in this fashion for the best part of two days; the "stiffish breeze" has gradually freshened into "a gale"; the top- gallants have been lowered, and, as I write, the wind is blowing with a velocity of fifty or sixty miles an hour. Al- though the Chancellor has many good points, her drift is considerable, and we have been carried far to the south; we can only guess at our precise position, as the cloudy at- mosphere entirely precludes us from taking the sun's alti- tude.

All along, throughout this period, my fellow-passengers are totally ignorant of the extraordinary course that we are taking. England lies to the northeast, yet we are sailing directly southeast, and Robert Curtis owns that he is quite be- wildered; he cannot comprehend why the captain, ever since this northeasterly gale has been blowing, should persist in allowing the ship to drive to the south, instead of tacking to the northwest until she gets into better quarters.

I was alone with Robert Curtis to-day upon the poop, and could not help saying to him, "Curtis, is your captain mad?"

"Perhaps, sir, I might be allowed to ask what YOU think upon that matter," was his cautious reply.

"Well, to say the truth," I answered. "I can hardly tell; but I confess there is every now and then a wandering in his eye, and an odd look on his face that I do not like. Have you ever sailed with him before?"

"No; this is our first voyage together. Again last night I spoke to him about the route we were taking, but he only said he knew all about it, and that it was all right."

"What do Lieutenant Walter and your boatswain think of it all?" I inquired.

"Think; why, they think just the same as I do," replied the mate; "but if the captain chooses to take the ship to China we should obey his orders."

"But surely," I exclaimed, "there must be some limit to your obedience! Suppose the man is actually mad, what then?"

"If he should be mad enough, Mr. Kazallon, to bring the vessel into any real danger, I shall know what to do."

With this assurance I am forced to be content. Matters, however, have taken a different turn to what I bargained for when I took my passage on board the Chancellor. The weather has become worse and worse. As I have already said, the ship under her large low-reefed top-sail and fore stay-sail has been brought ahull, that is to say, she copes directly with the wind, by presenting her broad bows to the sea; and so we go on still drift, drift, continually to the south.

Jules Verne
French Authors
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