ACROSS THE GREAT BELT
It was the cattle-show week, and Veile was en fête. The quay was crowded with holiday-making peasants in their best clothes, who gazed at the Falcon with open-mouthed surprise when they heard that the little ship had come from England. The harbourmaster, a very aged mariner, who spoke English, stood by our vessel, and delivered lectures on us to all who would listen. He told them that we had sailed all the way from England to visit the fair city of Veile, and that the citizens ought to be very gratified to hear this; that we had timed ourselves to arrive while the fête was in progress; and that he trusted we should be able to commend the well-conditioned cattle at the show. He translated each sentence of his lecture to us as he went on. He was a foolish, garrulous old chap, but it was so pleasing to observe the simple joy and pride he took in acting as our showman that it was impossible to be bored.
Veile is a town of 7,000 inhabitants, and is the centre of a rich agricultural district. It does not appear to carry on much trade as a seaport, so we did not here come across as many English-speaking people as usual, and the natives stood on the quay and stared at us with the same wondering curiosity we had experienced in the inland Dutch towns.
But the old harbour-master was not the only one we met who understood our tongue; a queer young fellow found us out, and afforded us considerable amusement. He was so typical of a certain class of his countrymen that it may be worth while to describe his peculiarities.
This individual, who appeared to be about twenty-four, met Wright in the street, and, seeing that he was an Englishman, accosted him thus, in an exaggerated Yankee accent —
"Stranger, you must be God-dam lonely, I guess, with no one to talk to, so come and have a glass of beer along with me."
Wright complied, but, it seems, soon wearied of the company of his new acquaintance; and, on his return to the yacht, warned me that a great bore had expressed an intention of calling on me. We had just fimshed our dinner when the "great bore" paid me his threatened visit; he was a remarkably free and easy, sans cérémonie young man, and at once made himself quite at home in our cabin. He informed me that he was a native of Veile, but that he had emigrated to the United States when he was sixteen; that he now ran an hotel in the U.S.; that he had a sweetheart in Veile, had come over to marry her, and to take her back with him to the U.S.; that the U.S. was the only country fit for a man to live in. He invariably spoke of his adopted home as the "U.S." and, to believe him, Paradise before the Fall must have been a shabby sort of place in comparison with the least-desirable fragment of the Great Republic. "No man can know what's what" he said to me, "unless he's been in the States. Of course you've been to the U.S., sir?" I was obliged to admit that I had not. "You don't mean that!" he exclaimed in great astonishment, "you seemed smart-like, and to know what's what, so I made sure you had been there."
After a pause he cackled on again.
"Ah, I am so glad I met you! I felt so lonely here; I had no one to talk to; you see they're all God-dam fools here. England or the U.S. for me! I could not live in this hole. My gel's nice enough, but she's a fool, poor thing; she can't help it, being a Dane; however, we'll smarten her up in the U.S."
"You'll be glad to leave Denmark again," I said to this unpatriotic person.
"I guess I will; I have been almighty dull here. I calculate I have been walking up and down this village for two weeks, and not a God-dam soul could I find to talk to until I met you two Britishers."
But did not you say that you belonged here; have you no relations?" I inquired.
"Oh, I've a father and mother and sisters, and that sort of folk, you know, living up in the town there; but I can't get along with them; they ain't been away from home, like me, so they're God-dam fools, and I can't hold conversation with them no how."
"And what do they think of you, do they say that you've improved since you have been away?" put in Wright, with a sarcastic smile, which was quite lost on this young man; no shafts of ridicule could pierce his self-conceit.
"Well, they can't quite make me out," he naïvely replied; "they don't understand Yankee ways, poor souls. They are a slow lot in this old country. The young men here think they can play cards, but I tell them they are God-dam asses; what do they know about poker? These Danes, too, turn over a ten-cent piece a dozen times before they'll part with it. Don't they stare to see this Yankee boy chuck the gold about!"
And so he went on reviling his country, his countrymen, and all their ways. The polite continental custom of taking off one's hat on entering a shop or cafe prevails in Denmark. "Such a nigger-slave trick it is," he exclaimed indignantly; "I tell them that it disgusts an independent free-born American. It makes me feel sick to see it, and I won't take my hat off to no one; so that poor old stay-at-home fool, my father — what can he know about things? — pitched into me the other day, and told me I was a bad-mannered pig."
Wright and myself burst out laughing at this; but this serene young man, far from taking offence, joined in, no doubt under the impression that his father's folly was the object of our merriment.
There was a monument on the quay, near the yacht, dedicated to the brave Danes who fell in the war of 1864.
"What is that?" I asked our friend.
"I guess I don't know," he replied; "I think it's something to do with a little fight — a war, these Danes call it — which once came off here. God-dam idiots! they don't know anything about wars, I reckon. I guess, now, that civil war in the U.S. was something like a war."
This youth, who, in his own estimation, was so almighty 'cute, had passed through England on his way home, and he told us a simple tale about his adventures in a train which caused the tears to run down our eyes in streams. I wish I could remember his exact words, and describe the innocence of his manner: "There were two men in the carriage with me," he said, "and one brought out a pack of cards, and taught the other a game I had never seen in America. It's done like this: A man turns down three cards, and the other bets which of them is the knave. I saw the man who was betting win a lot of money; then he nudged me, and, while the other wasn't looking, he made a scratch with his thumb-nail on the back of the knave, and winked at me. I had been smartened up in the States, and I saw his meaning at once. The cards were turned down again, and we both saw the marked knave, and we each put a sovereign on it, and of course we won. Then the other man went mad, and swore against his God-dam luck, and put his cards in his pocket, saying he wouldn't play any more as he had lost all his money."
"So you went away a pound to the good," I said.
"No, I did not; for, you see, the man who had won the money chaffed the other, and said he was afraid to play with such a cute Yankee as I was; and for a long time the man wouldn't play, but at last we bullied him so that he said, 'God-damme! to show that it ain't because I'm afraid, I will play once more. I've got no more money, but here is my gold watch and chain; it's worth a hundred guineas; now, if you'll stake fifty pounds against it, why, demme, here goes to try my luck; but, mind you, win or lose, this will be the last time. I suppose you would like me to lose my very trowsers to you.' So I put on all I had in my pocket, twenty pounds, and the other chap put on the rest."
"And you won the watch," said Wright, maliciously
"No; and I can't understand how it was, nor could the other chap. I could have staked my bottom dollar that we had backed the marked card; but we could not have done so, for, when the card was turned up, it was not the knave. We must have been darned careless not to have made quite sure of that marked card before we put the money on. And the other chap kept his word, and wouldn't play any more."
Wright and I could not now restrain our laughter, and this innocent young American citizen looked from one to the other of us with a puzzled expression, not being able to see where the joke came in. I could not resist the temptation of enlightening him on the subject, and when I told him that the three-card trick was a very ancient British trap to catch gulls with, and explained to him that the man who had marked the knave was the accomplice of the other, his cock-a-hoop manner suddenly vanished, his cheeks turned scarlet, and, terribly humiliated, he seized his hat, said in a mild voice, "I must now say good night to you; they will be waiting supper for me at home," and slunk off. He certainly had proved the reverse of a bore; with his beautifully unconscious humour, he was the most amusing person we came across on this voyage.
This youth was but an extreme example of a very large class. I have observed that many foreigners, especially Scandinavians, after having passed a few years in the States, altogether out-yankee the most outrageous of Yanks, and render themselves as ridiculous in the eyes of the genuine Americans as they make themselves astonishing and disgusting to their own people on their return home, by their foolish arrogance and ignorant contempt for all belonging to the fatherland. I should like to have heard what the poor old man and woman, who had brought this renegade Dane into the world, thought of him. What an extraordinary conception, too, they must have formed of the Anglo-Saxon from their son's report; what an ill-mannered lot of savages they must consider the British and their transatlantic cousins! I have met some Englishmen, who, after a residence in America, put on a similar affectation, and revile what they are pleased to call the rotten old country; but, out of the vast number of British abroad, only a foolish few do this; whereas, of the Danes and other foreigners, a large proportion are inclined to this weakness.
On the afternoon of my arrival I ascended a steep hill that overhung the town on the north side. From here the view over the winding fiord and its forest-clad capes was simply magnificent. The great sheet of water, clear as crystal, and so revealing what lay beneath, assumed various colours, from brown or darkest green, where the bottom was overgrown with weeds, to emerald green or turquoise blue, where it flowed over rocks and sands. Bur fairer even than the majestic fiord was the vast scene that stretched before me into a hazy distance when I looked over the town, inland. Veile lies at the end of a long valley which is bordered by hills of bold outline, covered with forests; but the vale itself, which is broad and level, consists of a gigantic pasture, a beautiful prairie, whose vivid green is in strong contrast to the dark colours of the woods that surround it. The port and the picturesque scattered little town, with its avenue-bordered white high-roads radiating from it, formed a foreground to this extensive and delightful landscape.
I felt an irresistible desire to ascend and explore this great valley; for the farther one looked up it the less cultivated and more wild it appeared to be, till at last, far away on the horizon, I could see that low bare sand-hills took the place of the wooded heights and black moorland of the verdant prairie. This seemed to be the gate-way to some mysterious and inhospitable inner region, even as are those fair valleys I had seen on the African coast, which, at first giving promise of such rich country beyond, lead only to the black gorges of the Atlas and the wastes of the Sahara. And so, too, will the traveller who follows one of these deep valleys, which, descending from the heart of Jutland, open into the fiords on the east coast, soon find himself in one of the most desolate tracts of Europe. He who has only seen the beech-clad hills and rich pastures of the Baltic coast is likely to form an exaggerated idea of the fertility of the Cimbrian peninsula; for there runs all down the middle of the peninsula, like a backbone, a broad strip of barren country, a great plain, or rather steppe, of dark heath, almost treeless, with here and there morasses, sandy wastes, and drifting sand-hills; here a hard stratum, called the Ahl, a conglomeration of sand and iron, exists a little distance below the surface of the soil, causing great obstruction to the growth of vegetation. This district slopes towards the west, where it joins the equally inhospitable land that borders the North Sea; a sandy wilderness for the most part, swept constantly by the bitter and plant-killing north-westerly winds. Thus the smiling country, along which I had been coasting, where the rich vegetation overflows hill and dale to the water's edge, is but the delusive face of the true Jutland; a narrow strip of fertility bordering and concealing the inner desert.
The view from this hill-top excited my curiosity, and I wished to see something of that desolate country beyond; so, instead of sailing the next morning, I left the yacht in port, and started on a long walk up the broad valley of the Veileaa and across the hills that bounded it. It was a glorious, sunny, windy day; one of those that make the little there is of the Danish summer so agreeable. I followed the valley for some way, then turned off into the woods, and reached the village of Jellinge, where I saw two mighty barrows rising high above the houses, which my guide-book told me were the burial-places of two ancient pagans — King Gorm of Denmark and his queen Thyra Danebod. In the church-yard, too, I was shown two well-preserved and beautifully carved Runic stones. The whole of this neighbourhood abounds in relics of the pre-Christian days, and is highly interesting to the archaeologist.
After leaving Jellinge I still proceeded westward. The country gradually lost its fertile appearance, and at last I found myself on a lonely road crossing the bleak Jutland heath. It was almost impossible to face the strong wind that was howling and sweeping over this great treeless expanse. It certainly looked as desolate a region as any I have ever seen — sands, heather, and bog stretching to the horizon, and no sign of human life, save an occasional shepherd, clad in sheepskins, minding his wiry-looking flock.
I did not return to the yacht until late in the evening, having found my walk a most interesting one; it enabled me to form a good idea of the various features of this country from the bleak Ahl to the fertile shores of the fiords; from Runic stones to medieval castles and modern country seats.
The next day being Sunday, the yacht remained in port. I put some provisions in the dinghy, and set out on a cruise down the fiord. First I sailed to the fishing-village of Tirsbaek on the north shore, which lies at the foot of a little valley, and is surrounded by magnificent woods. Then I crossed the fiord to Munkebjerg, the favourite pleasure-ground of the citizens of Veile, and celebrated throughout all Denmark for its beautiful scenery. Here the steep hills, cloven into picturesque defiles, are densely clothed with the beech-trees that flourish so well on this sheltered eastern coast; and from the bathing-station on the shore a labyrinth of zig-zag paths leads to the summit of a dome-shaped hill, where a restaurant stands on a natural terrace, and overlooks a splendid scene. In the summer months a little steamer — called the Falken by the way, a namesake of our own — runs between Veile and Munkebjerg. On this fine Sunday she made several voyages, and landed a large number of excursionists on the wooden pier by the bathing-place. The whole of Veile seemed to be taking a holiday on the water. Many small open pleasure-boats were sailing on the fiord, some on hire, and others which were evidently private yachts; all were rigged in the same fashion—two sprit-sails and a jib; and some had top-sails above the sprite. They were clumsily-built craft, and sailed very badly; my little dinghy, with her small sail, could have beaten the largest of them, especially when it came to turning to windward.
Apropos of craft, the Falcon was moored by the starting-place of a quaint ferry-boat, which plied between Veile and some neighbouring village on the shore of the weed-grown bay I have described. This boat was of considerable size, and was capable of carrying a large number of passengers. She was very shallow, and was propelled by great paddle-wheels which two men turned with a crank, while the skipper, a very ancient and impatient person, steered. She seemed well adapted for her purpose; she skimmed over the surface of the shallows at a good speed, and was not impeded by the entanglement of weeds as any other boat would have been.
On my return to Veile in the evening I found that some other English-speaking people had found us out, and were standing on the quay talking to Wright. These proved to be an old sea-captain, his wife, and little girl. They had been settled for ten years in New Zealand, and had come home on a holiday to see the old people. The child, who had been born in the colony, spoke no Danish, but English only. I found that the captain, though he liked New Zealand well enough, and was making money there, loved his own country better, and intended, when he had acquired a competence, to pass the remainder of his life at Veile. He was thus of a different way of thinking from our young friend from the States. Is it that the Great Republic is so infinitely superior to a slower-going British colony? or, is it that the unpatriotic youth is an ass, and this sturdy sea-captain a wise man, who, "in spite of all temptation, &c.," remains what he was born, and insists on believing that his native land is far the best of any?
And now we had to leave the eastern shore of Jutland, which had so far protected us from the fury of the north-west wind, and to cross the open Kattegat to the coast of Sweden, a voyage which, unless our luck was to be much better than it had been hitherto, was likely to bring us some tumbling about and anxiety.
The weather had been magnificent during the two days we had passed at Veile, but, of course, when we turned out on the morning of Monday, August 1st, and prepared to start, things looked bad again. The glass was falling, the sky was stormy of appearance, and the wind was cold and blowing from the dreaded quarter again — north-west. However, we got under way at 7 a.m., as the chart showed me that for the first forty miles of the journey we should never be far from some port or sheltered anchorage under the lee of one of the islands.
The wind was nearly aft, so we soon left the red roofs of Veile behind us, and ran past the forests which were now swaying wildly, and groaning beneath the freshening breeze. Hard squalls rushed down upon us from the mouths of the ravines, throwing the yacht on her beam ends, and driving her through the hissing water at a merry rate. It was a splendid day for a sail on the sheltered fiord; but, as we approached the open sea, and saw the steep, white-capped waves ahead of us, we felt some disinclination to scudding away to leeward from the protection of the mainland.
We reached the mouth of the fiord, and were abreast of Rosenvold Point; so I had now to decide whether to run on into the Kattegat, or adopt some more prudent course. I was still in doubt, when the weather very opportunely settled the question by showing us clearly what were its intentions. Above the hills to windward there rose suddenly a dark mass of vapour, with a menace in its speed and wild shapes that was not to be disregarded. We took in the mizen, and scandalized the main-sail; no sooner had we done so than the squall was on us, and a pretty stiff one it was, accompanied by cold rain. All having been made snug on board, I went below to consult the chart, and decided to make for the small bay of Sandbierg, which lies to the north of Veile Fiord, and where there is a sheltered anchorage with the wind from north-west. This was not much out of our course, and would bring us twenty miles nearer our destination.
From Rosenvold Point we sailed up the coast with the wind abeam, our lee gunwale under water, at as fast a rate as I have ever seen the little yacht attain, for ten miles, when we came to Biornsknude Point. We rounded this rocky, wedge-shaped cape, giving it a wide berth; for a dangerous shoal extends from it some way out to sea, and then we opened out the rougher waters of Sandbierg Bay. We tacked into it, making very little progress, as usual, against the choppy sea; the Falcon is a very good sea-boat, but I should certainly not like to have to claw off a leeshore with her in a gale of wind, and I had always to take this failing of hers into account when cruising on these coasts. Sandbierg Bay did not look particularly inviting on this stormy, rainy day; its shores were flat and desolate, and only a few houses could be seen standing among some trees at its farther end. The mouth of the bay is encumbered by extensive shoals, the limits of which are not indicated by beacons; but we found no difficulty in knowing when it was time to go about, for, rough as the water was, it was still perfectly clear, and we could always see the rocks and sands beneath us, and so estimate the depth with sufficient accuracy.
At twelve o'clock we came to an anchor close under the shore, opposite a little wooden jetty. Before us was a treeless expanse of country; about a hundred yards from the water's edge stood what appeared to be a railway-station, in front of which was brought up an engine with a train of cattle-trucks. This sign of civilization surprised me, for, according to my charts and maps, there was no railway or village anywhere in the neighbourhood. There was only one other house in sight, a large red-brick building, which was ugly enough and deserted enough to be a railway company's hotel. But not a single human being was to be seen on the shore, and not a craft of any description, save our own, was in the bay. We had, in all conscience, found a quiet anchorage this time, and here we were not likely to be disturbed at day-break, as we had been while lying in the harbour at Veile; for there, each morning, the paddle ferry-boat used to bring across the weedy bay successive cargoes of cackling market-women, and disembark them on the quay just above our heads, where they would stand and discuss us shrilly until it was time for them to commence their business.
I pulled off in the dinghy, and landed on this desolate shore in the hope of coming across some of the natives, but no one could I find; the railway-station was deserted, and the railway-hotel was as yet a delusive shell. I tried the door, and found it locked, and, peering through the window, I discovered that the building was unfurnished and unoccupied. So, balked of my anticipated conversation with the fair barmaid of this lonely terminus, I took a walk along the seashore, which would have looked pretty had the sun been shining and the rain been absent. There was but a narrow margin of pebbly beach, and up to this came a lovely carpet of soft grass and many flowers — thyme, harebells, yellow snapdragons, and others. After a while I reached some sand-hills, where I saw several rabbits dodging about among the tough sea-grass. These I stalked, and attempted to kill with stones, a healthy sport, but one which is so monotonously unsuccessful that I soon wearied of it, and returned to the jetty where I had left the dinghy. As I approached I, to my delight, at last perceived a human being; this was but a small specimen of the natives, a boy, who was standing on the pier, gazing down at my dinghy with so profound an interest that he was not aware of my approach till I was close upon him; then, suddenly seeing me, a look of horror came to his face, and, with a shriek, he fled precipitantly from the terrible foreigner. My experiences on the shores of Sandbierg Bay havmg thus proved somewhat dispiriting, I returned on board, and indulged in a short swim round the vessel; short, firstly, because the water was cold after the rain, and secondly, because it swarmed with huge jelly fish of brilliant hues, which had to be carefully dodged, for some of the medusæ of the Baltic inflict very painful stings, and will occasionally produce serious illness.
I had despaired of holding any intercourse with the natives, but, just as we had finished dinner, I perceived a man pulling off to us in a boat from the further end of the bay. He came alongside, and, without ceremony, threw up his painter, and stepped on deck He was a pale and anxious-looking youth. After glancing quickly from Wright to myself he came to the conclusion that I was the skipper, and, drawing from his breast a coloured official envelope, crumpled and worn as if with much handling, he presented it to me with a bow.
We could not speak, or understand each other's tongues, but we got along somehow, and the conversation that took place was more or less as follows. "What is this?" I asked in English.
"I am the telegraph clerk, and I have brought you this telegram, captain," he replied in Danish.
"Oh, that is not possible; I expect no telegram here."
"It is for you, captain," he said positively. "Yours is the only vessel in port; read the inscription."
I tried to decipher the address, and it appeared to be, "To the captain of the vessel which will come to Sandbierg Bay." I shook my head again. Then he became very voluble, almost angry, and I understood him to say that the evidence of the telegram being intended for me was conclusive, as, not only was mine the only vessel now in the bay, but that there had been no other in the memory of man, and that the message had been awaiting me here for a great number of years. Patiently I endeavoured to explain to him that when I had sailed that morning I had no intention of visiting Sandbierg, that I had not even then heard of the existence of such a place, and that, consequently, it was impossible that anyone could have telegraphed to me here He seemed, at last, to grasp the force of this reasoning, for he thrust the telegram back in his breast, sighed deeply, and looked wistfully round the horizon as if in search of the mysterious vessel that had been so long expected, and never came. This telegram seemed to be a terrible weight on this poor young fellow's mind; the whole object of his life was evidently to rid himself of it; he was like a second Vanderdecken. I gave him some refreshment to keep the cold out, and said a few hopeful words to him in English, on which he seemed somewhat happier, and, getting into his dinghy, he pulled off to the shore, where he is still, no doubt, lying in wait to carry that undelivered document on board any rare vessel that may visit this weird and deserted bay.
All that afternoon the wind had howled, and the scud driven across the Kattegat; but in the evening it became finer, no doubt in consequence of our refusing to accept Vanderdecken's fatal telegram; had we taken it of him a hurricane would surely have overtaken us. The wind fell altogether, and after a wintry day followed a calm, cloudless, and warm summer's night. Far away seawards we could see the flashing lights on the different islands, and so clear was the atmosphere that, when the moon rose, we could distinguish the shores of Endelave and Aebelo Islands, which had been invisible all day.
We got under way at six o'clock the next morning. Just as we were off the engine attached to the train of cattle-trucks whistled loudly. It sounded like a mocking farewell to the foreign yacht. But we were amazed to see that there were still no signs of life on the shore — no passengers, no officials at the station, not a human being was in sight. I looked through my binoculars, but could not distinguish driver or stoker on that demon engine. Sandbierg Bay was clearly uncanny, and the sooner we were out of its haunted waters the better.
It was a sunny morning with a moderate west-south-west wind. We set all sail, and steered out to sea, towards the island of Endelave, which was about ten miles distant. We reached it in two hours, and sailed close along its southern shore, which was low, and seemed very fertile. From here we made for the larger island of Samso, and doubled Vestborg Point, a rocky headland on its south-west extremity, at twelve o'clock.
And now dark clouds rose suddenly behind us, and the wind shifted to west-north-west, a bad sign. Prudence now suggested that we should bring up under the lee of Samso, and wait there till we saw what the weather was going to do. There was all the more reason for doing this, as, for the next fifty miles of our journey, we should be quite exposed to a north-west wind sweeping across the broad Kattegat, and would have no port to run for; the harbourless bays and rocky reefs of the north of Siaelland presenting only the most dangerous of lee shores.
I hesitated, but referred the matter to our faithful aneroid, which was high and steady, and said, "go on." We accordingly ran before the wind from the safe shelter of Samso, across the mouth of the Great Belt towards the north of the island of Seiero, twenty miles away. When we had sailed half the distance, the weather began to look very menacing; a mass of pitch-black cloud, like a solid wall, was rising along the whole western horizon. I had, by this time, learnt some of the tricks of this eccentric Baltic climate, and knew that the sky had a habit of threatening considerably more than it performed; and that, though violent squalls are very frequent, they last but a short time. Ominous signs that would keep one in port in England must be disregarded on these waters, else one would not get far on one's cruise; and, on the other hand, the finest-looking sky is the most treacherous here, and cannot be relied on.
My barometer had not deceived me, there was no gale of wind about; but a violent thunder-storm overtook us, accompanied by such torrents of rain that the sea, which had been slightly choppy, was completely beaten down. This downpour continued all the afternoon, hiding the land, so that nothing but universal moisture was visible round us.
At five o'clock the sky cleared a little, and we saw a few miles ahead a lonely lighthouse, which I knew must be the one on Seiero Island. The wind now fell light, and we did not reach the north point of the island until after six. As we would find no port if we sailed on, I decided to stay here for the night. We doubled the point, and anchored off its east shore. I knew that this would be a very exposed position should it come on to blow from the north-west, but there was no help for it; there was no secure anchorage between this and Ise Fiord, forty miles away.
Seiero Island is five miles long, but it is very narrow, and its two extremities are like sharp wedges; it runs northwest and south-east, and, therefore, though it affords shelter from other winds, both sides of it are exposed to the most frequent and most dangerous wind of all. Not only this island, but the long, lean promontories that jut out from the north of Siaelland — that of Siaellands Odde for example — also tend in a north-west direction; so that a vessel that is caught by a north-west storm on this coast has no pleasant time of it.
However, the wind was now westerly again, and as long as it held in that quarter we had nothing to fear. We were anchored at some distance from the shore, as rocks and shoals surround the north of the island. In front of us was the stone lighthouse standing on a bare hill. There were no other houses in sight, and no human beings, merely steep downs and rocks that were covered with multitudes of noisy sea-birds, while the heads of seals were to be occasionally seen peering above the water. It was even more lonely an anchorage than that of the previous night, but very far from being so safe an one.
This, after all, proved to be rather an anxious night for us, or, rather, it would have been so had we not gone to sleep and forgotten all about it; for, after dinner, the wind, which had been blowing right off shore, began to gradually edge round to the northward, and when I turned in it was only a little west of north-west, so that the island barely sheltered us. We tumbled about a bit in the lop, which the freshening breeze was rapidly raising, and we could hear the melancholy booming of the seas on the other side of the island. However, the glass was still steady, and we both slept soundly, knowing that if bad weather came on it would very soon wake us, and that it was, therefore, not necessary to set an anchor watch.