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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 19.djvu/384

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

of being able to rest himself when tired by floating, a thing of which the animal has no conception. Bridget Money, a poor Irish immigrant, saved her own life and her three children's lives, when the steamer conveying them took lire on Lake Erie, by floating herself, and making them float, which simply consists in lying quite still, with the mouth shut and the head thrown well back in the water. The dog, the horse, the cow, the swine, the deer, and even the cat, all take to the water on occasion, and sustain themselves perfectly without any prior experience whatever. Nothing is less difficult, whether for man or brute, than to tread water, even for the first time. I have done so often, using the feet alone, or the hands alone, or the whole four, many times, with perhaps one of my children on my back. Once I recollect being carried a good way out to sea by the receding tide at Boulogne, but regained the shore without difficulty. A drop of water once passed through the rima of the glottis, and on another occasion I experienced such sudden indisposition that, if I had been unable to float, it must, I think, have gone hard with me.

Men and animals are able to sustain themselves for long distances in the water, and would do so much oftener were they not incapacitated, in regard of the former at least, by sheer terror, as well as complete ignorance of their real powers. Webb's wonderful endurance will never be forgotten. But there are other instances only less remarkable. Some years since, the second mate of a ship fell overboard while in the act of fisting a sail. It was blowing fresh; the time was night, and the place some miles out in the stormy German Ocean. The hardy fellow nevertheless managed to gain the English coast. Brock, with a dozen other pilots, was plying for fares by Yarmouth; and, as the main-sheet was belayed, a sudden puff of wind upset the boat, when presently all perished except Brock himself, who, from four in the afternoon of an October evening to one the next morning, swam thirteen miles before he was able to hail a vessel at anchor in the offing. Animals themselves are capable of swimming immense distances, although unable to rest by the way. A dog recently swam thirty miles in America in order to rejoin his master. A mule and a dog washed overboard during a gale in the Bay of Biscay have been known to make their way to shore. A dog swam ashore with a letter in his mouth at the Cape of Good Hope. The crew of the ship to which the dog belonged all perished, which they need not have done had they only ventured to tread water as the dog did. As a certain ship was laboring heavily in the trough of the sea, it was found needful, in order to lighten the vessel, to throw some troop-horses overboard, which had been taken in at Corunna. The poor things, my informant, a staff-surgeon, told me, when they found themselves abandoned, faced round and swam for miles after the vessel. A man on the east coast of Lincolnshire saved quite a number of lives by swimming out on horseback to vessels in distress. He commonly rode an old gray