The Works of Edgar Allan Poe — Volume 1

By Edgar Allan Poe

Page 200

at first, struck with the idea of
our being among breakers; so terrific, beyond the wildest imagination,
was the whirlpool of mountainous and foaming ocean within which we were
engulfed. After a while, I heard the voice of an old Swede, who had
shipped with us at the moment of our leaving port. I hallooed to
him with all my strength, and presently he came reeling aft. We soon
discovered that we were the sole survivors of the accident. All on deck,
with the exception of ourselves, had been swept overboard;--the captain
and mates must have perished as they slept, for the cabins were deluged
with water. Without assistance, we could expect to do little for the
security of the ship, and our exertions were at first paralyzed by the
momentary expectation of going down. Our cable had, of course, parted
like pack-thread, at the first breath of the hurricane, or we should
have been instantaneously overwhelmed. We scudded with frightful
velocity before the sea, and the water made clear breaches over us. The
frame-work of our stern was shattered excessively, and, in almost every
respect, we had received considerable injury; but to our extreme Joy we
found the pumps unchoked, and that we had made no great shifting of
our ballast. The main fury of the blast had already blown over, and we
apprehended little danger from the violence of the wind; but we looked
forward to its total cessation with dismay; well believing, that, in our
shattered condition, we should inevitably perish in the tremendous swell
which would ensue. But this very just apprehension seemed by no means
likely to be soon verified. For five entire days and nights--during
which our only subsistence was a small quantity of jaggeree, procured
with great difficulty from the forecastle--the hulk flew at a rate
defying computation, before rapidly succeeding flaws of wind, which,
without equalling the first violence of the Simoom, were still more
terrific than any tempest I had before encountered. Our course for the
first four days was, with trifling variations, S.E. and by S.; and we
must have run down the coast of New Holland.--On the fifth day the cold
became extreme, although the wind had hauled round a point more to the
northward.--The sun arose with a sickly yellow lustre, and clambered a
very few degrees above the horizon--emitting no decisive light.--There
were no clouds apparent, yet the wind was upon the increase, and blew
with a fitful and unsteady fury. About noon, as nearly as we could
guess, our attention was again arrested by the appearance of the sun.
It gave out no

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(*14) The orchis, scabius and valisneria.