Open main menu

Page:Man Who Laughs (Estes and Lauriat 1869) v1.djvu/145

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
117
THE CHARGE CONFIDED TO A RAGING SEA.

Wherefore? For this reason: you hear the bell because the wind brings the sound to you. The wind is blowing from the northwest, and the rocks of Alderney lie to the east of us. You hear the bell only because you are between the buoy and the breakers. It is upon those rocks that the wind is driving you. You are on the wrong side of the buoy. If you were on the right side, you would be out at sea on a safe course, and you would not hear the bell; the wind would not convey the sound to you,—you might pass close to the buoy without knowing it. We are out of our course. That bell is shipwreck sounding the tocsin. Listen!"

As the doctor spoke, the bell, soothed by a lull of the storm, rang out slowly, stroke by stroke; and its dismal voice seemed to testify to the truth of the old man's words. It was perhaps their death-knell. All listened breathlessly,—now to the voice, now to the bell.