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22. They went carelessly on amid the rain of ashes, sand, and fiery scintillations," gazing vacantly on the fearful and ever varying appearance of the atmosphere, murky, black, livid, blazing, the sudden rising of lofty pillars of flame, the upward curling of ten thousand columns of smoke, and their majestic roll in dense, dingy, lurid, or party-colored clouds.
23. During the progress of the descending stream, it would often fall into some fissure, and forcing itself into apertures and under massive rocks, and even hillocks and extended plats of ground, and lifting them from their ancient beds, bear them, with all their superincumbent mass of soil and trees, on its viscous and livid bosom, like a raft on the water. When the fused mass was sluggish, it had a gory appearance, like clotted blood, and when it was active, it resembled fresh and clotted blood mingled and thrown into violent agitation.
24. Sometimes the flowing lava would find a subterranean gallery, diverging at right angles from the main channel, and pressing into it would flow off unobserved, till meeting with some obstruction in its dark passage, when, by its expansive force, it would raise the crust of the earth into a dome-like hill of fifteen or twenty feet in height, and then, bursting this shell, pour itself out in a fiery torrent around.
25. A man who was standing at a considerable distance from the main stream, and intensely gazing on the absorbing scene before him, found himself suddenly raised to the height of ten or fifteen feet above the common level around him, and he had but just time to escape from his dangerous position when the earth opened where he had stood, and a stream of fire gushed out.
a Scintilla'tion; sparks, or the act of emitting sparks
A SCENE AT SEA.
1. THE Active, a sloop of war, had been lying all day becalined, in mid ocean, and was rolling and pitching about in a heavy ground swell, which was the only trace left of the gale she had lately encountered. The sky was of as tender and serene a blue as if it had never been deformed with clouds; and the atmosphere was bland and pleasant. To a true sailor there are few circumstances more annoying than a perfect calm.
2. On the afternoon in question, this feeling of restlessness at the continuance of the calm was not confined to the crew of the Active. Her commander had been nearly all day on deck, walking to and fro, on the starboard side, with quick, impatient strides, or now stepping into one gangway, and now into the other, and casting anxious and searching looks into all quarters of the heavens, as if it were of the utmost consequence that a breeze should spring up and enable him to pursue his way.
3. But notwithstanding his impatience, and the urgency of his mission, whatever it was, the Active continued to roll heavily about at the sport of the big round billows, which swelled up and spread and tumbled over so lazily, that their glassy surfaces were not broken by a ripple. The sun went down clear, but red and fiery; and the sky, though its blue faded to a duskier tint, still remained unflecked by a single cloud. "We shall have a dull and lazy night of it, Vangs," said the
4. The person he addressed stood on the heel of the bowsprit, with his arms folded on his breast, and his gaze fixed intently on the western horizon, from which the daylight had so completely faded, that it required a practised and keen eye
a Starboard side; the right hand side of the ship. b Bow'sprit; a boom or mast which projects over the stem of a ship.
to discern where the sky and water met. He did not turn his head, nor withdraw his eyes from the spot they rested on, as he said, in a low tone, "We shall have work enough before morning."
5. “Turn your eye in that direction, Mr. Garnet. Do you not see a faint belt of light, no broader than my finger, that streaks the sky where the sun went down? It is not daylight, for I watched that all fade away, and the last glimmer of it was gone before that dim, brassy streak began to show itself. And carry your eye in a straight line above it; do you not mark how thick and lead-like the air looks?
6. "There is that there," said the old man, “which will try what stuff these sticks are made of before the morning breaks." "Is there, then, really any prospect of wind?" asked the midshipman. "Let it come butt-end foremost, if it chooses, and the sooner the better," said young Burton, laughing.
7. The old quarter-master turned a grave and thoughtful look on the round face of the lively boy, and seemed meditating an answer that might repress what probably struck him as untimely mirth; but even while he was in the act of speaking, the tempest he had predicted burst in sudden fury upon the vessel.
8. The first indication those below had of its approach was the wild rushing sound of the gust, which broke upon their ears like the roar of a volcano. The heaving and rolling of the ship ceased all at once, as if the waves had been subdued and chained down by the force of a mighty pressure.
9. The vessel stood motionless an instant, as if instinct with life, and cowering in conscious fear of the approaching strife; the tempest then burst upon her, and the stately mass reeled and fell over before it, like a tower struck down by a thunderbolt. The surge was so violent that the ship was thrown almost on her beam-ends, and every thing on board, not secured in the strongest manner, was pitched with great force to the leeward."
■ Lee'ward; on the opposite side to that from which the wind blows.
10. A scene of fearful grandeur was presented. The sky. was of a murky, leaden hue, and appeared to bend over the ship in a nearer and narrower arch, binding the ocean in so small a round, that the eye could trace, through the whole circle, the line where the sickly-looking heaven rested on the sea. The air was thick and heavy; and the water, covered with driving snow-like foam, seemed to be packed and flattened down by the fury of the blast, which scattered its billows into spray as cutting as the sleet of a December storm.
11. The wind howled and screamed through the rigging with an appalling sound, that might be likened to the shrieks and wailings of angry fiends; and the ship fled before the tempest like an affrighted thing, with a velocity that piled. the water in a huge bank around her bows, and sent it off, whirling and sparkling, in lines of dazzling whiteness, soon lost in the general hue of the ocean, which resembled a wild waste of drifting snow.
12. For more than an hour did the Active flee along in this way, like a wild horse foaming and stretching at his utmost speed, driven onward in the van of the tempest, and exposed to its fiercest wrath. At length, the first fury of the gale passed away, and the wind, though still raging tempestuously, swept over her with less appalling force.
13. The ocean, now, as if to revenge itself for its constrained inactivity, roused from its brief repose, and swelled into billows that rolled and chased each other with the wild glee of ransomed demons. Wave upon wave, in multitudinous confusion, came roaring in from astern; and their white crests, leaping, and sparkling, and hissing, formed a striking feature in the scene. The wind, fortunately, issued from the. right point, and drove the Active towards her place of destination.
14. The dun pall of clouds, which, from the commencement of the gale, had totally overspread the heavens, except in the quarter whence the blast proceeded, now began to give way, and a reddish light shone out here and there, in long horizontal streaks, like the glow of expiring coals between the bara of a furnace.
15. Though the first dreadful violence of the storm was somewhat abated, it still raved with too much fierceness and power to admit of any relaxation of vigilance. The com mander himself still retained the trumpet, and every officer stood in silence at his station, clinging to whatever might. assist him to maintain his difficult footing.
16. "Light, ho!" cried the look-out on one of the catheads. "Where away?" demanded the captain. Dead ahead." "What does it look like, and how far off?" shouted the cap, tain in a loud and earnest voice. "A large vessel lying to, under bare poles; starboard your helm, sir, quick, hard a-starboard, or you will fall aboard of her!"
17. This startling intelligence was hardly communicated, before the vessel descried from aloft loomed suddenly into sight from deck through the thick weather to leeward. Her dark and shadowy form seemed to rise up from the ocean, so suddenly did it open to view, as the driving mist was scattered for a moment. She lay right athwart the Active's bows, and almost under her fore-foot, as it seemed, while she pitched into the trough of an enormous sea, and the Active rode on the ridge of the succeeding wave, which curled above the chasm, as if to overwhelm the vessel beneath.
18. "Starboard your helm, quarter-master! hard a-starboard!" cried the commander of the Active, in a tone of startling energy. These orders were promptly obeyed, but: it was too late for them to avail. The wheel, in the hands of four stout and experienced seamen, was forced swiftly round, and the effect of the rudder was assisted by a pull of the starboard braces; but in such a gale, and under bare poles, the helm exerted but little power over the driving and ponderous mass,
19. She had headed off hardly a point from her course, when she was taken up by a prodigious surge, and borne onward with fearful velocity. The catastrophe was now inevitable. In an instant, the two ships fell together, their
a Cat'heads; pieces of timber projecting over the ship's bow. b Helm; the instru ment or apparatus by which a ship is steered.