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Page:Man Who Laughs (Estes and Lauriat 1869) v1.djvu/168

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CHAPTER XVI.


THE PROBLEM SUDDENLY WORKS IN SILENCE.


THE hurricane ended as abruptly as it began. In a minute or two there was no longer sou'-wester or nor'-wester in the air. The fierce clarions of space were mute. The whole of the water-spout had poured from the sky without any sign of diminution, as if it had slided perpendicularly into a gulf beneath. Snow-flakes took the place of hailstones; the snow began to fall slowly. There was no more swell; the sea quieted down.

Such sudden cessations are peculiar to snow-storms. The electric influence exhausted, everything becomes still,—even the sea, which in ordinary storms often remains agitated for a long time. In snow-storms it is not so. There is then no prolonged disturbance in the deep. Like a weary worker it becomes drowsy directly,—thus almost giving the lie to the laws of statics, but not astonishing old seamen, who know that the sea is full of unforeseen surprises. The same phenomenon takes place, although very rarely, in ordinary storms. Thus, in our own time, on the occasion of the memorable hurricane of July 27, 1867, at Jersey the wind, after fourteen hours' fury, suddenly relapsed into a dead calm.

In a few minutes the hooker was floating on sleeping waters. At the same time (for the last phase of these storms resembles the first) the crew could distinguish nothing; all that had been made visible in the convul-