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PAGE 4

Sindbad On Burrator
by [?]

“Though the hunger had been gnawing and griping me for hours, yet– dog-tired as I was–I curled myself at the bottom of the boat and slept, and dreamed I was on board ship again and in my hammock. A sort of booming in my ears awoke me. Looking up I saw daylight around–clear morning light and blue sky–and right overhead, as it were, a great cliff standing against the blue. And there in the face of day O’Hara sat on the thwart, tugging like mad, now cricking his neck almost to stare up at the cliff, and now grinning down at me in silly triumph.

“With that I caught at the meaning of the sound in my ears. ‘You infernal fool!’ I shouted, staggering up and making to snatch the paddle from him. ‘Get her nose round to it and back her!’ For it was the noise of breaking water.

“But I was too late. Our boat, I must tell you, was a sort of Dutch pram, about twelve feet long and narrowing at the bows, which stood well out of water; handy enough for beaching, but not to be taken through breakers, by reason of its sitting low in the stern. O’Hara, as I yelled at him, pulled his starboard paddle and brought her (for these prams spin round easily) almost broadside on to a tall comber. As we slid up the side of it and hung there, I had a glimpse of a steep clean fissure straight through the wall of rock ahead; and in that instant O’Hara sprawled his arms and toppled overboard. The boat and I went by him with a rush. I saw a hand and wrist lifted above the foam, but when I looked back for them they were gone–gone as I shot over the bar and through the cleft into smooth water. I shouted and pulled back to the edge of the breakers; but he was gone, and I never saw him again.

“I suppose it was ten minutes before I took heart to look about me. I was floating on a lake of the bluest water I ever set eyes on, and as calm as a pond except by the entrance where the spent waves, after tumbling over the bar, spread themselves in long ripples, widening and widening until the edge of them melted and they were gone. The banks of the lake rose sheer from its edge, or so steeply that I saw no way of climbing them–walls you might call them, a good hundred feet high, and widening gradually towards the top, but in a circle as regular as ever you could draw with a pair of compasses. Any fool could see what had happened–that here was the crater of a dead volcano, one side of which had been broken into by the sea; but the beauty of it, sir, coming on top of my weakness, fairly made me cry. For the walls at the top were fringed with palms and jungle trees, and hung with creepers like curtains that trailed over the face of the cliff and down among the ferns by the shore. I leaned over the boat and stared into the water. It was clear, clear–you’ve no notion how clear; but no bottom could I see. It seemed to sink right through and into the sea on the other side of the world!

“Well, all this was mighty pretty, but it didn’t tell me where to find a meal; so I baled out the boat and paddled along the eastern edge of the lake searching the cliffs for a path, and after an hour or so I hit on what looked to me like a foot-track, zig-zagging up through the creepers and across the face of the rock. I determined to try it, made the boat fast to a clump of fern, slung O’Hara’s cornet on to my side-belt and began to climb.