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醉夢浮生

sometimes a long way out


Taking the pilot at his word, I determine to spend the entire night on the bridge, in order to see all that is to be seen of the intricate navigation hereabouts. And what a picture I have before me!

The western sky, as the sunset fades, gradually fills with a wonderful afterglow. The sea is flecked with the most delicate salmon and pink streaks, which again gradually merge themselves into the deepest of French greys as the darkness thickens dermes .

Sometimes we are close in shore.,  but never for a moment is the voyage without interest and variety.

Presently a few stars begin to twinkle dimly, the side lights appear, the look-out stations himself forrard, while the sound of a piano, with a warm glow of lamp-light, comes from the saloon aft. Pulling on a thick coat, the pilot falls to pacing the bridge, remarking that it is necessary for him to have all his wits about him. Occasionally he draws up alongside me to point out something of interest in the great barren cliff line along which we are steering. But. these conversations become fewer and farther between as the night advances. So hour after hour goes by, the look-out man keeping the tally, until at last I begin to feel drowsy enough to contemplate retiring. This, however, my host will not permit; he bids me keep awake for something that will presently occur hong kong business registration .

Shortly before midnight we round Cape Granville and enter Temple Bay. By this time the wind has risen, and with it the sea; our boat begins to roll ponderously. The pilot is evidently on the look-out for something. Presently he points out to me a tiny speck of light ahead, which gradually grows larger until, by one bell, we are slowing down abreast of the Piper Island light-ship, one of the loneliest situations along this lonely coast. And what a dramatic picture it presents: a dark night, thick driving clouds, an angry sea, frowning cliffs, a straining, pitching light-ship, and a lamp-studded mail-boat. A sailing-boat puts off to us, and our whistle advises her to be quick. She belongs to a beche-de-mer boat in the vicinity, and is manned by black Gins. The sea breaks over her many times a minute, ducking everybody on board. One moment she rides high on the crest of a wave, the next she is wallowing deep down in the trough of the sea. It is a difficult business to get her alongside, but eventually she manages to come close enough to catch the mail-bags; the next instant the sea has swept her past us, out into the black night again.

What a strange thing life aboard a light-ship in this desolate region must be! On one side almost unknown country, with tribes of hostile blacks; on the other, the pitiless thunder of the Barrier Reef. It must be strange to have no interest in life save the passing of the mail-boats, and no knowledge of what is happening in the world save what can be gleaned from letters and week-old papers; yet men are found to undertake it, and for a miserable pittance, of which it will take years of constant thrift to save even enough to retire, in the most modest fashion reenex, upon.
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