"Tempest? It is blowing half a gale of wind; that is all."
"Half a gale! Ah, that is the way you always talk to us ladies. Oh,
pray give me my light, and send me a clergyman!"
Dodd took pity, and let her have her light, with a midshipman to watch
it. He even made her a hypocritical promise that, should there be one
grain of danger, he would lie to; but said he must not make a foul wind
of a fair one for a few lurches. The _Agra_ broke plenty of glass and
crockery though with her fair wind and her lee lurches.
Wind down at noon next day, and a dead calm.
At two P.M. the weather cleared; the sun came out high in heaven's
centre; and a balmy breeze from the west.
At six twenty-five, the grand orb set calm and red, and the sea was
gorgeous with miles and miles of great ruby dimples: it was the first
glowing smile of southern latitude. The night stole on so soft, so
clear, so balmy, all were loth to close their eyes on it: the passengers
lingered long on deck, watching the Great Bear dip, and the Southern
Cross rise, and overhead a whole heaven of glorious stars most of us have
never seen, and never shall see in this world. No belching smoke
obscured, no plunging paddles deafened; all was musical; the soft air
sighing among the sails; the phosphorescent water bubbling from the
ship's bows; the murmurs from little knots of men on deck subdued by the
great calm: home seemed near, all danger far; Peace ruled the sea, the
sky, the heart: the ship, making a track of white fire on the deep,
glided gently yet swiftly homeward, urged by snowy sails piled up like
alabaster towers against a violet sky, out of which looked a thousand
eyes of holy tranquil fire. So melted the sweet night away.
Now carmine streaks tinged the eastern sky at the water's edge: and that
water blushed; now the streaks turned orange, and the waves below them
sparkled. Thence splashes of living gold flew and settled on the ship's
white sails, the deck, and the faces; and with no more prologue, being so
near the line, up came majestically a huge, fiery, golden sun, and set
the sea flaming liquid topaz.
Instantly the lookout at the foretop-gallant-masthead hailed the deck