The Ebb-tide Runs

ThecoracleasIhadamplereasontoknowbeforeIwasdonewithherwasaverysafeboatforapersonofmyheightandweight,bothbuoyantandcleverinasea-way;butshewasthemostcross-grained,lop-sidedcrafttomanage.Doasyoupleased,shealwaysmademoreleewaythananythingelse,andturningroundandroundwasthemanoeuvreshewasbestat.EvenBenGunnhimselfhasadmittedthatshewas“queertohandletillyouknewherway.”

CertainlyIdidnotknowherway.SheturnedineverydirectionbuttheoneIwasboundtogo;themostpartofthetimewewerebroadsideon,andIamverysureInevershouldhavemadetheshipatallbutforthetide.Bygoodfortune,paddleasIpleased,thetidewasstillsweepingmedown;andtherelaytheHispaniolarightinthefairway,hardlytobemissed.

Firstsheloomedbeforemelikeablotofsomethingyetblackerthandarkness,thenhersparsandhullbegantotakeshape,andthenextmoment,asitseemed(for,thefartherIwent,thebriskergrewthecurrentoftheebb),Iwasalongsideofherhawserandhadlaidhold.

Thehawserwasastautasabowstring,andthecurrentsostrongshepulleduponheranchor.Allroundthehull,intheblackness,theripplingcurrentbubbledandchatteredlikealittlemountainstream.Onecutwithmysea-gullyandtheHispaniolawouldgohummingdownthetide.

Sofarsogood,butitnextoccurredtomyrecollectionthatatauthawser,suddenlycut,isathingasdangerousasakickinghorse.Tentoone,ifIweresofoolhardyastocuttheHispaniolafromheranchor,Iandthecoraclewouldbeknockedcleanoutofthewater.

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