Cousin Peregrine’s Wonder Stories: Waves of the Great South Seas (Founded on Fact.)
“Very likely the man who drew it had been nearly drowned by one himself.”
“Very likely nothing of the sort!”
“How could he draw it if he hadn’t seen it?”
“Why, they always do. Look at Uncle Alfred, he drew a splendid picture of a shipwreck. Don’t you remember his doing it at the dining-room table, and James coming in to lay the cloth, and he would have a bit of the table left clear for him, because he was in the middle of putting in the drowning men, and wanted to get them in before luncheon? And Uncle Herbert wrote a beautiful poem to it, and they were both put into a real magazine. And Uncle Alfred and Uncle Herbert never were in shipwrecks. So there!”
“Well, Uncle Alfred drew it very well, and he made very big waves. So there!”
“Ah, but he didn’t make waves like a great wall. He did it very naturally, and he draws a great deal better than those rubbishy old pictures in Father’s Robinson Crusoe.”
“Well, I don’t care. The Bible says that when the Children of Israel went through the Red Sea the waters were a wall to them on their right hand and on their left. And I believe they were great waves like the wave in Robinson Crusoe, only they weren’t allowed to fall down till Pharaoh and his host came, and then they washed them all away.”
“But that’s a miracle. I don’t believe there are waves like that now.”
“I believe there are in other countries. Uncle Alfred’s shipwreck was only an English shipwreck, with waves like the waves at the seaside.”
“Let’s ask Cousin Peregrine. He’s been in foreign countries, and he’s been at sea.”
The point in dispute between Maggie and her brother was this:–The nursery copy of Robinson Crusoe was an old one which had belonged to their father, with very rough old wood-cuts, one of which represented Robinson Crusoe cowering under a huge wave, which towered far above his head, and threatened to overwhelm him. This wave Maggie had declared to be unnatural and impossible, whilst the adventure-book young gentleman clung to and defended an illustration which had helped him so vividly to realize the sea-perils of his hero.
It was the day following that of Cousin Peregrine’s arrival, and when evening arrived the two children carried the book down with them to dessert, and attacked Cousin Peregrine simultaneously.
“Cousin Peregrine, you’ve been at sea: isn’t that an impossible wave?”
“Cousin Peregrine, you’ve been at sea: aren’t there sometimes waves like that in foreign places?”
“It’s not very cleverly drawn,” said Cousin Peregrine, examining the wood-cut; “but making allowance for that, I have seen waves not at all unlike this one.”
“There!” cried the young gentleman triumphantly. “Maggie laughed at it, and said it was like a wall.”
“Some waves are very like walls, but those are surf-waves, as they are called, that is, waves which break upon a shore. The waves I am thinking of just now are more like mountains–translucent blackish-blue mountains–mountains that look as if they were made of bottle-green glass, like the glass mountain in the fairy tale, or shining mountains of phosphorescent light–meeting you as if, they would overwhelm you, passing under you, and tossing you like the old woman in the blanket, and then running away behind you as you go to meet another. Every wave with a little running white crest on its ridge; though not quite such a curling frill as this one has which is engulfing poor Robinson Crusoe. But his is a surf-wave, of course. Those I am speaking of are waves in mid-ocean.”
“Not as tall as a man, Cousin Peregrine?”
“As tall as many men piled one upon another, Maggie.”
“It certainly is very funny that the children should choose this subject to tease you about tonight, Peregrine,” said Mamma.