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Swimming Race With A Shark

Swimming Race With A Shark image
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Young gentlemen! young gentlemen! skylurking at tiiis timel For shame disturbing the wholc wardrooml Since you are so wakoful you shall rnuke yourselves useful. You Mr. Falos, go to the mas'ihead, and vvatoh for signáis from the Jamestown. Mr. Soyinour, go ashoro in the seoond cutter for fresh beof; and you, Mr. Burg-es, take charge of th fatigue party and go to the coi"l reof for balast.' 'Not tny turn, sir,' whinad 1. 'Dou't answer me back. sir,' retorted our firet lioutenaot, as kind heartyd n inati and as thorough a sáilor aa ever trod a dock; something of a marlinet withftl, ospoüiaüy with us middies. 'Go out of your turn; then, sir, as punishmont for thia unseomly con duet - and go in futiguo dres?, too, sir - and ba quiek about it, sir!' I said no moro, but Mad Jack, the patronyrnic, vo bestowed on Liou tenant E went back to his stateroom and I proceeded to invest my weary limbs in blue flanuel trowssis, to don a shirt of tha sama material, and to put tny feet into a pair of thin pumps, when I found myself ready for duty. My bolt of sido arins over my shouldor, instead of my waist, and an old Panama hat upon my hoad, oomplated my equipment; and I hastened on deck in time to see poor Fales on his way to th masthead. 'Awny thore, you launch ers atoayP' callud tha boatswuin, and the twenty men tumbled into tho launch anti away we want, slowly and sluggishly. Tho officur on dack called out to me to come on board at gun-firo for braakfast, and warned me that I was rosponsibla fur my men. We landed at a bo'd reach, and the men went to work with a will. The heavy pioces of brilliant white or colored coral, that graw np from the reef like trees, were ruthlesly broken off and lifted iuto the boat. The water on tho reef was from two to four foot deep, and the men were in thti water up to their waists, and I from my low stature was ofteu up to my oock, as I went groping after beautiful specimens of coral. I had leit my cutlass and pistols i u the locker of tho launch, and aa I woro nothing that I fearod to injuro, was enjoying myself in thu lukewaiMi water. As 1 wout poking round, I found tho cascuss of a doad porpoise, that had apparrently buen killed by a sword-ñsh, embayed among the coral ppires. With the help of one of tho men, I pulled of a lump cf barnacles that clung to its belly and pushed it off to tho leeward oi thu ledgo. Then seating mysclf on a dump of broken spires I sat about examining these at my leisure, thinking that I might be able to distinguís! their species, by reason of the long talks with whicïi our kind old surguon had often bored me upon his passion - conchology, The specimens were hardly disengaged from the forein matter about them, whem my attention was attracted by a shoal of shovel-nosed sharks over the body of my dead porpoisc; but they soon sank and the cause of their dispute with them. - Now I was fairly engaged in considering the genius of my crustáceas, having some of them open and waiting the effect of the light on them, wlien, bang, went the gun frorn the ship, and I saw a recall signal flying. Now, though I was ruady enough for breakfast, I wantod about ten more minutes over my uew found pleasuros; so I told the cockswain to get tho men in thoir places and tnake ready to start. It was no sooner said thaa done, for the rascáis were hungry. 'All ruady to shovc off, eir,' eaid Harvey. 'Then shove off, and bo hangod to you,' i responded. 'I will wim off to you' kuowing that I could swim two 'lengths of the boat whila they pulled one, so heavily was she loaded. Green, as he pulled the first stroke, ung out: 'Watch out for sharks, sir?" But as we ali had a contompt for shovelnoses, I paid DO attention tothe caution. So ofl' they went, aiul I went on with my studies, But soon 1 found that I oould do nothing with tho subject. - Like the boat it was too doop for me - so off I starled. The launch was now some hundred yards the start ot me, but I knewthatl could reach it before they had doubled the distanöé, so I wam leisurely along after them. Alle at oncu 'I saw Grcun spoak to th cockswain, Lwho dropped the t'.ller and stood up in the stern sheets, and looked as if to eall me. Then Green pulled his irock, aud they pulled together. What-does tHi'3 mean, Í wondored. All tb ia time the boat had been headud for the ship. Now they changed their oourso, faii'ly hoadiug for the shore, eo that by the forco of the tido they would fairly come across my course. 'Ilalloo,' thinks I - 'they'or off for the shore and bound for a-day's run. Oh: it I wera only in the boat wouldn't I break their heads with tho tiller!' I shouted to them to keep tlieir courso or I'd fix'om. Harvey shouted back to mo in a voica that eounded tremulous, taunting me with slow swirnrning. I answcred without losing a stroko that I would show 'orn what I could do: and, indood I was doing rny best. Now iíárvey stood up in the sternsheets, with a long boathook m his hand harpoon fashion, now reuowing his slow swiiuming, and darnning the mon ibr slow pulüng, though they wera bending their oars as I never saw them bent boforo. I coul Jn't answër without nbating my spsed, so I contented myselí with bearing down on tbeir quarter; &nd the courso they wero pulling now holped mu. Green now droppod his oar in tho wator and his head out oí sight, and beforo I could wonder at it, sprang on the thwart with one of my pistols in each hand and eackèd "them. Harvoy, Greon and the men wero all shouüug at onoe,but what they sáid I could not undorétand. Their manner terrified mo; I feared they had boon drinking, and that they were determinad to get to the shore, though it were over my body; and this feel'ng increased as I ittW the threatening inannor in which Harvuy brandtabed his boathook. My first thought was to swim the othor way, but I coukln't reaoh the shore. 'i'll presa on to the boat,' I thought, 'they'll not dare to strike me,' and so with my lust iemaining energv, i daebed on. But ti.x or ciyht fathoms separated ino from the boat when a Hhnultanooiis cry broko from the men; some dropped iheir oars; ono coverod his l'ace vvith his hands; Groen fired a pistol, as I thought, at my huad. I screatned and triod to dive, but I was too weak. Bang, wout tho other pistol but still I wa3 ur.hurt. Now old Harvey poised tho sharp-pronged boatbook, and dartod it fair at my head, with all tho dexterity ho had gained as a wbaler but it did not hit me. It might as well, for I was complutoly exhausted; and now, with one thought of horne, and ono glance at hcaven I fonud rnysell sinkicg. Bnt I was now quito üoLii' tho boat, and old Harvoy, stietching out his iull length, ulmost seizod rno by the huir Of the head, thrusting me undar the water. I thought I was a 'goner;' but the old fellow kept his hold and dragged ma to the boat, and then, laying hold oí my trousers by tho suat, and a littlo more, raised my body with a forcé that, at the Baine time nuarly scalped and unseated ine,into the boat as though I was another atone to oomplete the load, and thtn siuking upon the thwart, burst into tears. Tliis singular actioi!, and a tremendeous threshing aloug.side, me. I iooked over, and then I saw the Key to tha behavior of the meu and ot Harvey's dosire to make me swhn taster. It was a twenty-foot, hammerheaded, white-nosed. sburk, tho 'man oater,' on his baok, and bleeding from two open wouuds, with the boat book transfised in his white belly. The sense of the past danger was too mtioh for me. For tho first tinas in my life I faiuted. When I rocovored my soases I was in my hammook, undor the hand.s of tho assistant surgeou; for the surgeon having found u lump of crusiacua tuoked in my bosom, had dosertod me for bis favorita. Bnt I rallied quiokly, and was about my dutios the next day, and beloro that vvas ablo to pour out my gfatituc! to tho noble follows, whoso judicious conduct as well as active exeftions bad saved me from a horr.ble (Joath. But I fult tho efl'ect of rny hoist from tho water lor Btjveral days, not being ablo to comb my hair or even to sit down without p:ün. Mad Jaok sent me a big pot of coffoo tlio ; oxt inoriiing, and put tno on the black-list for a nook as punishment for not recovering the boat-hook which rny friend the hammer-head had swam off with in his belly.