PART FIVE: My Sea Adventure
Chapter 24: The Cruise of the Coracle
IT was broad day when I awoke and found myself tossing
at the south-west end of Treasure Island. The sun was
up but was still hid from me behind the great bulk of
the Spy-glass, which on this side descended almost to
the sea in formidable cliffs.
Haulbowline Head and Mizzen-mast Hill were at my elbow,
the hill bare and dark, the head bound with cliffs forty
or fifty feet high and fringed with great masses of fallen
rock. I was scarce a quarter of a mile to seaward, and it
was my first thought to paddle in and land.
That notion was soon given over. Among the fallen
rocks the breakers spouted and bellowed; loud
reverberations, heavy sprays flying and falling,
succeeded one another from second to second; and I saw
myself, if I ventured nearer, dashed to death upon the
rough shore or spending my strength in vain to scale
the beetling crags.
Nor was that all, for crawling together on flat tables of
rock or letting themselves drop into the sea with loud
reports I beheld huge slimy monsters--soft snails, as it
were, of incredible bigness--two or three score of them
together, making the rocks to echo with their barkings.
I have understood since that they were sea lions, and
entirely harmless. But the look of them, added to the
difficulty of the shore and the high running of the
surf, was more than enough to disgust me of that
landing-place. I felt willing rather to starve at sea
than to confront such perils.
In the meantime I had a better chance, as I supposed,
before me. North of Haulbowline Head, the land runs in
a long way, leaving at low tide a long stretch of
yellow sand. To the north of that, again, there comes
another cape--Cape of the Woods, as it was marked upon
the chart--buried in tall green pines, which descended
to the margin of the sea.
I remembered what Silver had said about the current that
sets northward along the whole west coast of Treasure
Island, and seeing from my position that I was already
under its influence, I preferred to leave Haulbowline
Head behind me and reserve my strength for an attempt to
land upon the kindlier-looking Cape of the Woods.