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not, as has been asserted, to seek refuge from the storm, but to feed on the refuse particles which the cook now and then throws overboard, or on the floating substances which the motion of the ship may bring to the surface. It is a pleasing sight to see them crowd up close under the stern, with confiding fearlessness, their sooty wings extended horizontally, and their tiny web-feet put down to feel the water while they pick up the minute atoms of food of which they are in search. They seem to have the power of dispensing with sleep for very long intervals. Wilson, one of the most accurate observers, has recorded a fact in illustration of this: “In firing at these birds, a quill feather was broken in each wing of an individual, and hung fluttering in the wind, which rendered it so conspicuous among the rest, that it was known to all on board; this bird, notwithstanding the inconvenience, continued with us for nearly a week, during which time we sailed a distance of more than four hundred miles.” It is stated that these birds are never known to alight on any part of the ship, or its rigging. Is it not a pity that such interesting little creatures should become the object of a meaningless superstition? The persuasion that they are, in some mysterious way, connected with the creation of storms, is so prevalent among seamen, that these birds are objects of general dislikenay, hatred—and the sailors will occasionally give vent to execrations against these “ devil's imps," as they call them, when a gale happens to follow, or be accompanied by, their visits.
No inconsiderable degree of interest was experienced when we arrived in sight of any of the islands which lie in the track of vessels to Australia. We passed the beautiful island of Madeira, and close by the Canary Islands, on one of which stands the lofty peak of Teneriffe. Further on we sighted the little Island of Ascension, from which large supplies of turtle are obtained; and still further on we caught a glimpse of the lonely rock of St. Helena, where the Emperor Napoleon spent the closing years of his eventful life. When we were nearing any of these places, every one anxiously strained his eyes towards that part of the horizon which was pointed out. By-and-by the shout of “Land ho!” would strike upon every ear with the effect of an electric shock; every eye was instantly on the alert; but we landsmen looked long in the direction of the seaman's finger before we could satisfy ourselves that we were gazing on anything more than evanescent cloud. “Now," we said confidently, “now we can see it." Meanwhile the ship would rush on before a cheerful breeze, we would go below to breakfast, and on our return to deck, there would be no longer room for doubt, for there, straight before us, would lie the land high and blue above the water.
We had not been many days at sea before we began to observe that the sun daily attained a more elevated position at noon, while the polestar nightly drew nearer and nearer to the horizon, distinctly telling us of our rapid progress southward. We soon also got within the influence of those never-failing assistants to our progress, the “ Trade Winds,”—and it is as well always to be prepared for the approach to their vicinity, as our first notification of their proximity was the sudden upsetting of everything movable in the ship, ourselves included. Propelled cheerily on our course by these beneficent winds, we soon reached the tropics; every day at noon we saw the sun reaching to a higher and a higher point, until it appeared directly above our heads. The wind gradually became lighter until we arrived at the calm latitudes, where we lay for two long weeks without making any progress. The captain and the crew whistled for wind with as much perseverance as though they had never been disappointed, and every one watched anxiously for the least breathings of a breeze. Nothing can exceed the tantalizing tedium of this condition; our wearied
eyes gazed intently on the glistening sea, and eagerly watched the slightest ruffling of its mirror-like surface; but on glancing at the feather vane on the ship's quarter, our hopes faded as we perceived it hanging motionless upon its staff. A still more delicate test was then resorted to—a hot coal was thrown overboard, and we all anxiously watched the little cloud of white steam to see if there was a trace of any side motion in the ship; but no! the vapour ascended perpendicularly till it dispersed in air. Now and then the polished surface of the ocean suddenly changed into a blue ripple. Expectation became strong, for there was no doubt of the reality of the motion; but, before the sails could feel the breeze, it had died away again; the air was as still, and the sea as glassy, as before. Not a cloud intercepted the fierce burning rays of the sun, which poured down directly on our heads. The decks became burning hot to the feet; the melting pitch boiled up from the seams; the tar continually dropped from the rigging; the masts and booms displayed gaping cracks; and the flukes of the anchors were too hot to be touched. In vain we sought refuge beneath the sails which hung lazily from the yards, for so perpendicular were the fiery beams at noon-day, that scarcely a shadow was thrown anywhere, and even that little was constantly shifting from the change of the vessel's position in the swell.
Yet, though day after day rolled on and left us still in the same position, there were many things to beguile the weariness of the time. The gorgeous beauty of the setting sun almost made amends for his unmitigated heat by day. As his orb approached the western horizon, the clouds, which had been absent during the day, began to form in that quarter of the heavens, and, as he sank, to assume hues of the richest purple, gorgeously edged with gold, — now hiding his disc, now allowing him to flash out his softened effulgence through crimson openings, till he set beneath the mountain-like clouds that seemed to lie heavily upon the surface of the sea. Then the whole array began to take the appearance of a lovely landscape, the clouds forming land, and the open sky seeming like calm water. Sometimes, we fancied we saw the long capes and bold promontories of a broken and picturesque coast, deeply indented with bays and creeks, and fringed with groups of islands; at other times silvery lakes, studded with little wooded islets, appeared, embosomed in mountains, or surrounded by gentle slopes, here and there clothed with umbrageous woods; and often such an appearance of reality had these fleeting scenes, that it was difficult, after