PART FOUR: The Stockade
Chapter 17: Narrative Continued by the Doctor: The Jolly-boat's Last Trip
THIS fifth trip was quite different from any of the
others. In the first place, the little gallipot of a
boat that we were in was gravely overloaded. Five
grown men, and three of them--Trelawney, Redruth, and
the captain--over six feet high, was already more than
she was meant to carry. Add to that the powder, pork,
and bread-bags. The gunwale was lipping astern.
Several times we shipped a little water, and my
breeches and the tails of my coat were all soaking wet
before we had gone a hundred yards.
The captain made us trim the boat, and we got her
to lie a little more evenly. All the same, we were
afraid to breathe.
In the second place, the ebb was now making--a strong
rippling current running westward through the basin,
and then south'ard and seaward down the straits by
which we had entered in the morning. Even the ripples
were a danger to our overloaded craft, but the worst of
it was that we were swept out of our true course and
away from our proper landing-place behind the point.
If we let the current have its way we should come
ashore beside the gigs, where the pirates might appear
at any moment.
"I cannot keep her head for the stockade, sir," said I
to the captain. I was steering, while he and Redruth,
two fresh men, were at the oars. "The tide keeps
washing her down. Could you pull a little stronger?"
"Not without swamping the boat," said he. "You must
bear up, sir, if you please--bear up until you see
I tried and found by experiment that the tide kept sweeping
us westward until I had laid her head due east, or just
about right angles to the way we ought to go.
"We'll never get ashore at this rate," said I.
"If it's the only course that we can lie, sir, we must
even lie it," returned the captain. "We must keep
upstream. You see, sir," he went on, "if once we dropped
to leeward of the landing-place, it's hard to say where we
should get ashore, besides the chance of being boarded by
the gigs; whereas, the way we go the current must slacken,
and then we can dodge back along the shore."