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34. CHAPTER THIRTY-FOURTH.
The Hurricane.--A Forced Departure.--Loss of an Anchor.--Melancholy Reflections.--The Resolution adopted.--The Sand-Storm.--The Buried Caravan.--A Contrary yet Favorable Wind.--The Return southward.--Kennedy at his Post.
At three o'clock in the morning the wind was raging. It beat down with such violence that the Victoria could not stay near the ground without danger. It was thrown almost flat over upon its side, and the reeds chafed the silk so roughly that it seemed as though they would tear it.
"We must be off, Dick," said the doctor; "we cannot remain in this situation."
"But, doctor, what of Joe?"
"I am not likely to abandon him. No, indeed! and should the hurricane carry me a thousand miles to the northward, I will return! But here we are endangering the safety of all."
"Must we go without him?" asked the Scot, with an accent of profound grief.
"And do you think, then," rejoined Ferguson, "that my heart does not bleed like your own? Am I not merely obeying an imperious necessity?"
"I am entirely at your orders," replied the hunter; "let us start!"
But their departure was surrounded with unusual difficulty. The anchor, which had caught very deeply, resisted all their efforts to disengage it; while the balloon, drawing in the opposite direction, increased its tension. Kennedy could not get it free. Besides, in his present position, the manoeuvre had become a very perilous one, for the Victoria threatened to break away before he should be able to get into the car again.
The doctor, unwilling to run such a risk, made his friend get into his place, and resigned himself to the alternative of cutting the anchor-rope. The Victoria made one bound of three hundred feet into the air, and took her route directly northward.
Ferguson had no other choice than to scud before the storm. He folded his arms, and soon became absorbed in his own melancholy reflections.
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