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Page:Man Who Laughs (Estes and Lauriat 1869) v1.djvu/128

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THE MAN WHO LAUGHS.

his face and almost simultaneously over the horizon. He continued, in musing tones: "Every minute the fatal hour draws nearer. The will of Heaven is about to be manifested."

The captain again asked himself this question, "Is he a madman?"

"Captain," began the doctor, without taking his eyes off the cloud," have you often crossed the Channel?"

"This is the first time."

"How is that?"

"Master Doctor, my usual cruise is to Ireland. I sail from Fontarabia to Black Harbour, or to the Achill Islands. I go sometimes to Braich-y-Pwll, a point on the Welsh coast. But I always steer outside the Scilly Islands. I do not know this sea at all."

"That's unfortunate. Woe to him who is inexperienced on the ocean! One ought to be familiar with the Channel: the Channel is the Sphinx. Look out for shoals."

"We are in twenty-five fathoms of water here."

"We ought to get into fifty-five fathoms to the west, and avoid even twenty fathoms to the east."

"We'll sound as we get on."

"The Channel is not an ordinary sea. The water rises fifty feet with the spring tides, and twenty-five with neap tides. Here we are in slack water. I thought you looked scared."

"We'll sound to-night."

"To sound you must heave-to, and that you cannot do."

"Why not?"

"On account of the wind."

"We'll try."

"The squall is close upon us."

"We'll sound. Master Doctor."

"You could not even bring-to."