Open main menu

Page:Man Who Laughs (Estes and Lauriat 1869) v1.djvu/148

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
120
THE MAN WHO LAUGHS.

They bound him to the tiller. While they were fastening him he laughed, and shouted,—

"Bellow, old hurdy-gurdy! bellow! I've seen your equal off Cape Machichaco!"

And when secured, he clutched the helm with that strange hilarity which danger awakens, crying out,—

"All goes well, my lads! Long live our Lady of Buglose! Let us steer west."

An enormous wave came down abeam, and dashed against the vessel's side. There is always in storms a tiger-like wave, a billow fierce and decisive, which after attaining a certain height creeps horizontally over the surface of the waters for a time, then rises, roars, rages, and falling on the distressed vessel tears it limb from limb. A cloud of foam covered the entire deck of the "Matutina." A loud noise was heard above the confusion of darkness and waters. When the spray cleared off, and the stern again rose to view, the captain and the helm had disappeared. Both had been swept away. The helm and the man they had but just secured to it had passed with the wave into the hissing turmoil of the hurricane.

The chief of the band, gazing intently into the darkness, shouted: "Te burlas de nosotros?"

To this defiant exclamation there followed another cry: "Let go the anchor! Save the captain!"

They rushed to the capstan and let go the anchor. Hookers carry but one. In this case the anchor reached the bottom, but only to be lost; the bottom was of the hardest rock. The billows were raging with resistless force. The cable snapped like a thread; the anchor lay at the bottom of the sea. At the cutwater there remained only the cable end protruding from the hawse-hole. From this moment the hooker became a wreck. The "Matutina" was irrevocably disabled. The vessel,