The Survivors of the Chancellor HTML version

A Squall
DECEMBER 21. -- No further disturbance has taken place among the men. For a few
hours the fish appeared again, and we caught a great many of them, and stored them away
in an empty barrel. This addition to our stock of pro- visions makes us hope that food, at
least, will not fail us.
Usually the nights in the tropics are cool, but to-day, as the evening drew on, the wonted
freshness did not return, but the air remained stifling and oppressive, while heavy masses
of vapor hung over the water.
There was no moonlight; there would be a new moon at half-past one in the morning, but
the night was singularly dark, except for dazzling flashes of summer lightning that from
time to time illuminated the horizon far and wide. There was, however, no answering roll
of thunder, and the silence of the atmosphere seemed almost awful.
For a couple of hours, in the vain hope of catching a breath of air, Miss Herbey, Andre
Letourneur, and I, sat watching the imposing struggle of the electric vapors. The clouds
appeared like embattled turrets crested with flame, and the very sailors, coarse-minded
men as they were, seemed struck with the grandeur of the spectacle, and re- garded
attentively, though with an anxious eye, the pre- liminary tokens of a coming storm. Until
midnight we kept our seats upon the stern of the raft, while the lightning ever and again
shed around us a livid glare similar to that produced by adding salt to lighted alcohol.
"Are you afraid of a storm. Miss Herbey?" said Andre to the girl.
"No, Mr. Andre, my feelings are always rather those of awe than of fear," she replied. "I
consider a storm one of the sublimest phenomena that we can behold -- don't you think so
"Yes, and especially when the thunder is pealing," he said; "that majestic rolling, far
different to the sharp crash of artillery, rises and falls like the long-drawn notes of the
grandest music, and I can safely say that the tones of the most accomplished artiste have
never moved me like that in- comparable voice of nature."
"Rather a deep bass, though," I said, laughing.
"That may be," he answered; "but I wish we might hear it now, for this silent lightning is
somewhat unexpressive."
"Never mind that, Andre," I said; "enjoy a storm when it comes, if you like, but pray
don't wish for it."
"And why not?" said he; "a storm will bring us wind, you know."