We had before received a warning to keep at a respectful distance from such reefs whenever we could; but sometimes, unable to help ourselves, we were compelled to pass unpleasantly near. Night and day we kept a vigilant look-out. Sometimes, indeed, at night Harry thought it prudent to heave to, rather than attempt running on when the chart showed us that coral banks abounded ahead.
Having passed the greater part of last winter in Florida, where I was especially occupied in studying the coral reefs, I had the best opportunity in the world for prosecuting my embryological researches upon the stony corals.
A fact communicated to me by the son of my friend Mr. Duivenboden of Ternate, would show that, in accordance with these peculiarities of structure, it possesses the power of flying long distances. Mr. D. established an oil factory on a small coral island, a hundred miles north of New Guinea, with no intervening land.
Then, too, his despairing thoughts would keep getting the mastery, and asking him what he was going to do when he reached the bay and found that there was nothing visible but the charred hull of the ship, and that his friends were gone. At last, though, he could feel that he was nearing the black ridge; the sand began to change from its yellow and white coral look, and became dashed with black.
The obstinacy of hatred was being gradually overcome by the superior pertinacity of zeal in a good cause, and the invariable practice so incomprehensible to the savage mind of returning good for evil; the result was, that the Sabbath bell still sent its tinkling sound over the verdant slopes above Sandy Cove, and the hymn of praise still arose, morning and evening, from the little church, which, composed partly of wood, partly of coral rock, had been erected under the eye, and, to a large extent, by the hands of the missionary.
Presently he had come quite close to her, and as he was helped towards her with tottering steps, he dug the dealer in the ribs and said, kissing the back of his hand, and winking his great eyes: "I know I know! It is not easily forgotten. Ivory and red coral!"
Roque drives briskly at first, a slight breeze refreshes us, and we think the road better than is usual. But wait a bit, and we come to what seems an unworked quarry of coral rock, with no perceptible way over it, and Roque still goes on, slowly indeed, but without stop or remark. The strong horses climb the rough and slippery rocks, dragging the strong volante after them.
It was just a squib in the shipping news, but Neils Halvorsen read it with amazement and joy: The power schooner Maggie II arrived this morning, ten days from the Friendly Islands. The little schooner came into port with her hold bursting with the most valuable cargo that has entered Honolulu in many years. It consists for the most part of black coral.
On examining the bottom, it was found that a great sharp rock had pierced a hole in her timbers, such as must inevitably have sent her to the bottom in spite of pumps and sails, had it not been that the piece of coral had broken off and remained firmly fixed in the vessel's side, thus itself filling up the greater part of the hole it had caused.
The glossy darkness of the clove plantations enhances the paler tints of the prevailing foliage, and the virginal tints of the sylvan scenery indicate a climate of perpetual spring. Thatched roofs, and walls of plaited palm-leaf, stand among white-washed cottages of coral concrete, for low houses, or slight material, afford comparative security against collapse by earthquake.
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