Hither the officers had all repaired, while the schooner was in the act of passing the town; and now that, suddenly brought up in the wind's eye, she rode leisurely in the offing, every movement on her decks was plainly discernible with the telescope.
Bennie, standing in the bow, in his sportsman's cap and waterproof, hugging his rod cases to his breast, watched while a heterogeneous fleet of canoes, skiffs, and sailboats came racing out from shore, for the steamer does not land here, but hangs in the offing and lighters its cargo ashore.
It's quite bad enough to be ordered to anchor in such a bay as this with a storm brewing before my eyes, without landing to be laughed at by a stripling who has not strength to carry a beard if he had one, when I ought to be getting an offing for the safety of both body and soul.
And now having cruised in vain for more than a fortnight in quest of the other ships of the squadron, it was resolved to take advantage of the present favourable season and the offing we had made from this terrible coast, and to make the best of our way for the island of Juan Fernandez.* For though our next rendezvous was appointed off the harbour of Baldivia, yet as we had hitherto seen none of our companions at this first rendezvous, it was not to be supposed that any of them would be found at the second; indeed, we had the greatest reason to suspect that all but ourselves had perished.
Once indeed, more than an hour after the gust had reached his own ship, and when the ocean in the offing was clear and calm, he thought he could distinguish, far to seaward, the delicate tracery of a vessel's spars, drawn against the horizon, without any canvas set. But a second look did not assure him of the truth of the conjecture.
One specimen of his methods must serve to illustrate a week of battle, every hour filled with disorder. The brig Truxillo, consort of the Santa Theresa, had appeared in the offing one morning and hung on in chase with all sail set. All day and night the two ships raced, the one to escape, the other to capture the pirates. Next morning there came up a heavy fog. Orders were given to about ship.
By this time a good many of the Earnest Investigators were beginning to join in; and it was just there that the affair began to have certain points of resemblance to a pantomime rally. Everybody seemed to be shouting a good deal and hitting everybody else. It was no place for a man of delicate culture, so I edged towards the door, and drifted out. There was a cab in the offing. I boarded it.
The east point of the bay bore S. 74 E., the west point S. 83 W., and a low, green, woody island, which lies in the offing, N. 35 E. This island, which lies N. by E. 1/2 E. distant three or four leagues from Cape Grafton, I called Green Island. As soon as the ship was brought to an anchor, I went ashore, accompanied by Mr Banks and Dr Solander.
Redgauntlet once more you may stay in the offing for a tide, until you are joined by any person who may remain at Fairladies. After that, there will be a sloop of war on the station, and I need not say your condition will then become perilous.
Then he may be bound to Bastia; in which case he is wise in getting an offing before the zephyr sets in for the afternoon. Let him get a league or two out here more to the northwest, and he can make a straight wake to Bastia, after his siesta is over."