With the rising sun came another rain-squall, and the foremast went over the side, although Martin Newman with his men had done their best to save it. But Lucy, being a man of energy, soon rigged a jury-mast out of its wreck, and set to work to cut-in his whales. Three days later the Shawnee stood away for Apia Harbour in Samoa.
At this moment a thick rain-squall came up, concealing the fleets one from another for three quarters of an hour. Their admiral had doubtless recognised, from the change of wind, and from the direction of the enemy when last visible, that an encounter could not be avoided.
And from the dockhead, in the fuddle of a rain-squall, we were waving a handkerchief, probably to the wrong man, till the vessel went out where all was one rain, river, mud, and sky, and the future. It is afterwards that so strange an ending to a brief journey from a City station is seen to have had more in it than the time-table, hurriedly scanned, gave away.
"Before sunset a thick rain-squall passed over the two boats, which were far astern, and that was the last I saw of them for a time. Next day I sat steering my cockle-shell my first command with nothing but water and sky around me. I did sight in the afternoon the upper sails of a ship far away, but said nothing, and my men did not notice her.
A small, dark blot of cloud, slowly forming on the horizon, carried the threat of a rain-squall, and it was this they were discussing when Captain Dettmar, coming from aft and about to go below, glanced at them with sudden suspicion. He paused, his face working spasmodically. Then he spoke: "You are talking about me." His voice was hoarse, and there was an excited vibration in it.
"You asked," said the scientist, speaking in the hurricane wing, as quietly as he had on the verandah, and paying absolutely no heed to the moaning and praying of the negroes huddled in the darkest corner, "what makes a hurricane whirl. Yet, in the heavens, you can see the skies a-twist!" A second rain-squall struck.
Far away a sea would burst into a sheet of foam, and the others would follow suit as at a signal, till Harvey's eyes swam with the vision of interlacing whites and grays. Four or five Mother Carey's chickens stormed round in circles, shrieking as they swept past the bows. A rain-squall or two strayed aimlessly over the hopeless waste, ran down 'wind and back again, and melted away.
The mizzen-mast went bodily overboard in one black rain-squall because they were too short-handed to get sail off it in time, but they found that the vessel sailed almost as well as a brig, and was much easier for a weak crew to manage. All hands got covered with salt-water boils. All hands, with the exception of Kettle who remained, as usual, neat grew gaunt, bearded, dirty, and unkempt.
As he smoked he watched the abrupt misting of the stars by a rain-squall that made to windward or to where windward might vaguely be configured. While he gauged the minutes ere he must order Tambi below with the phonograph and records, he noted the bush-girl gazing at him in dumb fear.
Once, in a rain-squall, I lost sight of him altogether; got him faintly again, but had enough to do with my own tiller not to want to be peering through the scud after a runaway pilot. I was all right so far, but we were fast approaching the worst part of the whole passage, where the Hohenhörn bank blocks the road, and the channel divides.