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down when about to cross the Ström, by way of precaution against the chopping seas. But for this circumstance we should have foundered at once—for we lay entirely buried for some moments.
How my elder brother escaped destruction I cannot say, for I never 5 had an opportunity of ascertaining. For my part, as soon as I had
let the foresail run, I threw myself flat on deck, with my feet against the narrow gunwale of the bow, and with my hands grasping a ringbolt near the foot of the foremast. It was mere instinct
that prompted me to do this—which was undoubtedly the very best 10 thing I could have done for I was too much flurried to think.
“For some moments we were completely deluged, as I say, and all this time I held my breath, and clung to the bolt. When I could stand it no longer I raised myself upon my knees, still keeping hold
with my hands, and thus got my head clear. Presently our little 15 boat gave herself a shake, just as a dog does in coming out of the
water, and thus rid herself, in some measure, of the seas. now trying to get the better of the stupor that had come over me, and to collect my senses so as to see what was to be done, when I
felt somebody grasp my arm. It was my elder brother, and iny 20 heart leaped for joy, for I had made sure that he was overboard
but the next moment all this joy was turned into horror-for he put his mouth close to my ear, and screamed out the word Moskoe-ström!
“No one will ever know what my feelings were at that moment. 25 I shook from head to foot as if I had had the most violent fit of the
ague. I knew what he meant by that one word well enough-I knew what he wished to make me understand. With the wind that now drove us on, we were bound for the whirl of the Ström, and
nothing could save us! 30 "You perceive that in crossing the Ström channel, we always
went a long way up above the whirl, even in the calmest weather, and then had to wait and watch carefully for the slack-but now we were driving right upon the pool itself, and in such a hurricane
as this! "To be sure,' I thought, 'we shall get there just about the 35 slack—there is some little hope in that—but in the next moment
I cursed myself for being so great a fool as to dream of hope at all. I knew very well that we were doomed, had we been ten times a ninety-gun ship.
"By this time the first fury of the tempest had spent itself, or 5 perhaps we did not feel it so much as we scudded before it; but at
all events the seas, which at first had been kept down by the wind, and lay flat and frothing, now got up into absolute mountains. A singular change, too, had come over the heavens. Around in every
direction it was still as black as pitch, but nearly overhead there 10 burst out, all at once, a circular rift of clear sky—as clear as I ever
saw—and of a deep bright blue and through it there blazed forth the full moon with a luster that I never before knew her to wear. She lit up everything about us with the greatest distinctness—but,
oh God, what a scene it was to light up! 15 “I now made one or two attempts to speak to my brother—but,
in some manner which I could not understand, the din had so increased that I could not make him hear a single word, although I screamed at the top of my voice in his ear. Presently he shook
his head, looking as pale as death, and held up one of his fingers, 20 as if to say listen!
“At first I could not make out what he meant-but soon a hideous thought flashed upon me. I dragged my watch from its fob. It was not going. I glanced at its face by the moonlight, and then burst into tears as I flung it far away into the ocean.
It had run 25 down at seven o'clock! We were behind the time of the slack, and the whirl of the Ström was in full fury!
“When a boat is well built, properly trimmed, and not deep laden, the waves in a strong gale, when she is going large, seem
always to slip from beneath her—which appears very strange to a 30 landsman-and this is what is called riding, in sea phrase.
“Well, so far we had ridden the swells very cleverly; but presently a gigantic sea happened to take us right under the counter, and bore us with it as it rose-up-up—as if into the sky. I would
not have believed that any wave could rise so high. And then down 35 we came with a sweep, a slide, and a plunge, that made me feel sick
and dizzy, as if I was falling from some lofty mountain-top in a dream. But while we were up I had thrown a quick glance around —and that one glance was all-sufficient. I saw our exact position
in an instant. The Moskoe-ström whirlpool was about a quarter of 5 a mile dead ahead—but no more like the everyday Moskoe-ström,
than the whirl as you now see it is like a mill-race. If I had not known where we were, and what we had to expect, I should not have recognized the place at all. As it was, I involuntarily closed
my eyes in horror. The lids clenched themselves together as if in a 10 spasm.
"It could not have been more than two minutes afterwards until we suddenly felt the waves subside, and were enveloped in foam. The boat made a sharp half turn to larboard, and then shot off in
its new direction like a thunderbolt. At the same moment the roar15 ing noise of the water was completely drowned in a kind of shrill
shriek—such a sound as you might imagine given out by the waterpipes of many thousand steam vessels, letting off their steam all together. We were now in the belt of surf that always surrounds
the whirl; and I thought, of course, that another moment would 20 plunge us into the abyss—down which we could only see indis
tinctly on account of the amazing velocity with which we were borne along. The boat did not seem to sink into the water at all, but to skim like an air-bubble upon the surface of the surge. Her star
board side was next the whirl, and on the larboard arose the world 25 of ocean we had left. It stood like a huge writhing wall between us and the horizon.
"It may appear strange, but now, when we were in the very jaws of the gulf, I felt more composed than when we were only approach
ing it. Having made up my mind to hope no more, I got rid of a 30 great deal of that terror which unmanned me at first. I suppose it was despair that strung my nerves.
"It may look like boasting-but what I tell you is truth–I began to reflect how magnificent a thing it was to die in such a
manner, and how foolish it was in me to think of so paltry a con35 sideration as my own individual life, in view of so wonderful a
manifestation of God's power. I do believe that I blushed with shame when this idea crossed my mind. After a little while I became possessed with the keenest curiosity about the whirl itself.
I positively felt a wish to explore its depths, even at the sacrifice & I was going to make; and my principal grief was that I should never
be able to tell my old companions on shore about the mysteries I should see. These, no doubt, were singular fancies to occupy a man's mind in such extremity—and I have often thought since, that
the revolutions of the boat around the pool might have rendered me 10 a little light-headed.
“There was another circumstance which tended to restore my self-possession; and this was the cessation of the wind, which could not reach us in our present situation-for, as you saw yourself,
the belt of surf is considerably lower than the general bed of the 15 ocean, and this latter now towered above us, a high, black, mountain
ous ridge. If you have never been at sea in a heavy gale, you can form no idea of the confusion of mind occasioned by the wind and spray together. They blind, deafen, and strangle you, and take away all power of action or reflection. But we were now,
in a great 20 measure, rid of these annoyances-just as death-condemned felons
in prisons are allowed petty indulgences, forbidden them while their doom is yet uncertain.
“How often we made the circuit of the belt it is impossible to say.
We careered round and round for perhaps an hour, flying 25 rather than floating, getting gradually more and more into the
middle of the surge, and then nearer and nearer to its horrible inner edge. All this time I had never let go of the ringbolt. My brother was at the stern, holding on to a small empty water-cask which had
been securely lashed under the coop of the counter, and was the only 30 thing on deck that had not been swept overboard when the gale
first took us. As we approached the brink of the pit he let go his hold upon this, and made for the ring, from which, in the agony of his terror, he endeavored to force my hands, as it was not large
. enough to afford us both a secure grasp. I never felt deeper grief 35 than when I saw him attempt this act—although I knew he was a
madman when he did it--a raving maniac through sheer fright. I did not care, however, to contest the point with him. I knew it could make no difference whether either of us held on at all; so I
let him have the bolt, and went astern to the cask. This there was 5 no great difficulty in doing; for the smack flew round steadily
enough, and upon an even keel— only swaying to and fro, with the immense sweeps and swelters of the whirl. Scarcely had I secured myself in my new position, when we gave a wild lurch to starboard,
and rushed headlong into the abyss. I muttered a hurried prayer 10 to God, and thought all was over.
“As I felt the sickening sweep of the descent, I had instinctively tightened my hold upon the barrel, and closed my eyes. For some seconds I dared not open them—while I expected instant destruc
tion, and wondered that I was not already in my death-struggles 15 with the water. But moment after moment elapsed. I still lived.
The sense of falling had ceased ; and the motion of the vessel seemed much as it had been before, while in the belt of foam, with the exception that she now lay more along. I took courage and looked
once again upon the scene. 20 “Never shall I forget the sensations of awe, horror, and admira
tion with which I gazed about me. The boat appeared to be hanging, as if by magic, midway down, upon the interior surface of a funnel vast in circumference, prodigious in depth, and whose per
fectly smooth sides might have been mistaken for ebony, but for 25 the bewildering rapidity with which they spun around, and for the
gleaming and ghastly radiance they shot forth, as the rays of the full moon, from that circular rift amid the clouds which I have already described, streamed in a flood of golden glory along the
black walls, and far away down into the inmost recesses of the 30 abyss.
"At first I was too much confused to observe anything accurately. The general burst of terrific grandeur was all that I beheld. When I recovered myself a little, however, my gaze fell instinctively down
ward. In this direction I was able to obtain an unobstructed view, 35 from the manner in which the smack hung on the inclined surface