"It got wind in the forecastle that something wild, unearthly, hellish, was aloft, and the watch below turned out, too restless to sleep, and all through those hours of darkness the sailors walked the decks in groups, again and again staring up at the foretopmast cross-trees, where the mysterious bulk of blackness sate, squatted, or hung motionless, like some brooding fiend, or incarnation of ill-luck, sinking by force of meditation its curses not loud, but deep, into the bottom of the very hold itself.
And now there came an episode which lives in history two centuries after that scene of carnage on the decks of the stranded brig. It has preserved the name of a humble lieutenant of the Royal Navy and saved it from the oblivion which is the common lot of most brave men who do and dare when duty beckons. Blackbeard was bleeding from a dozen wounds and yet his activity was unabated.
Once more the hoarse Semitic war-shout, the dark-faced Asiatics dropping upon the decks, the whir of javelins, the scream of dying men, the clash of steel on steel. A frantic charge, but stoutly met. Themistocles was in the thickest mêlée. With his own spear he dashed two Tyrians overboard, as they sprang upon the poop.
He used to find his way into the midshipmen's berth and to make himself quite at home, occupying the space which, as Hemming observed, a better man might fill. Various devices were made to get clear of him. One of the officers had a horn with which he now and then startled the silence of the decks a practice, by-the-bye, rather subversive of discipline.
The British forces, eight hundred in number, dashed forward to capture the two vessels. The "Atlas" fell an easy prey; but the thirteen men of the "Anaconda" fought stoutly until all hope was gone, then, turning their cannon down upon the decks of their own vessel, blew great holes in her bottom, and escaped to the shore.
They rowed down in the midst of moored boats, whose long oblique cables grazed lightly against the bottom of the boat. The din of the town gradually grew distant; the rolling of carriages, the tumult of voices, the yelping of dogs on the decks of vessels. She took off her bonnet, and they landed on their island. They sat down in the low-ceilinged room of a tavern, at whose door hung black nets.
It designates the dark, glutinous substance which is scraped off the back of the Greenland or right whale, and much of which covers the decks of those inferior souls who hunt that ignoble Leviathan. Nippers. Strictly this word is not indigenous to the whale's vocabulary. But as applied by whalemen, it becomes so.
This can't be anything else." The yacht glided under the bows of two huge warships, with officers in white, on awninged decks, and steamed into a long canal-like stretch of water, only to wind out again presently into a second mountain-ringed bay.
The huge breakers had kept on steadily thundering at the side of the steamer, rising over her and crashing down on her decks with the greatest regularity; but now, as the old sailor spoke and turned towards the insensible boy, it seemed as if a billow greater than any which had come before rolled up and broke short on the reef, with the result that the immense bank of water seemed to plunge under the broad side of the steamer, lifting her, and once more they were borne on the summit of the wave with a rush onward.
There was no moon, and a velvety blackness stretched about the ship on every side, broken here and there by a faint phosphorescent gleam as a wave reared and broke. The schooner still rose and plunged from the aftermath of the storm, and the slipperiness of the wet decks made the footing insecure. The captain was fearful that Ruth might have a fall, and after a while urged her to go below.