CHAPTER 4Sinking slowly down with a feeling of drowsiness stealing away my senses, I was suddenly awakened by my body coming to an abrupt stop and resting upon some hard substance. My first impression was that I had collided with some huge sea-monster and was about to be devoured. So placing my hands and feet firmly upon it I sprang upward with all the force I could command in an effort to get out of its reach, but to my great surprise my head and half of my body shot out of the water into the air above and down I came again square upon my feet with a jolt that caused my teeth to rattle. And there I stood with my head and shoulders out of the water while my lungs inhaled long draughts of pure fresh air. I was too astonished to think and too weak to move, so I just stood there motionless until I had regained my equilibrium. I could never forget how sweet life seemed to me at that time. For a long time I remained standing there without giving a thought as to what I was resting upon, and when I did direct my attention to the question I was incapable of forming a satisfactory solution to the mystery. According to the charts there was no land in that part of the ocean. Could it be a whale, I wondered? The more I thought of it the more perplexed I became.
The night was very dark and I could see nothing about me in any direction, so I concluded that the only thing to do was to remain standing just where I was until daybreak. It was a long and tedious wait and I suffered much from stiffness and cold, but at last dawn appeared and I anxiously strained my eyes, looking about in every direction.
Then my head nearly burst with a feeling of joyousness, for within two hundred yards of me I discerned the outline of what appeared to be a hill of rocks protruding from the deep, and as the light grew brighter I started to wade slowly towards it.
This was an extremely tiresome undertaking, as the bed upon which I had been resting was very rocky and uneven and I received many bruises before finally reaching its base. My limbs too were thoroughly numb and almost refused to work, but with each step ahead the water became shallower and my progress less arduous.
As I went forward I thought it was by the miraculous hand of God that my life had been saved, for the time being at least. Then, again, it occurred to me, that if it was the hand of the Almighty that saved me, it must have been by His hand also that I was thrown overboard, for if He directed the one act He must have surely directed the other. So why blame the sailors for attempting to take my life if it was Gods will that it should be done?
Reaching the base of the rocks in a feeble condition and staggering like a man under the influence of liquor, I threw myself down and went to sleep just as the sun peeped over the horizon.
Several hours later I awakened with a start to find the burning sun directly overhead and my body dripping with perspiration, my throat parched and all awful feeling of thirst within me. My tongue felt as though it was several inches thick and it seemed as though I would choke immediately for the want of something to drink. Aside from the thirst, however, I felt considerably refreshed and sprang to my feet with my usual agility.
The first thing that attracted my attention as I looked about in a curious manner, was that this strange pile of stone which protruded from the sea, bore evidence of having once been a part of some mammoth building which had apparently been shaken down and now lay in a chaotic heap. Some of the stones were of tremendous size and different in shape and quality from any others I have ever seen. Their designs showed that wonderful skill must have been employed by the workmen who originally cut and fit them into position. The whole mass formed a sort of a ragged hill about one hundred feet in diameter and the highest point about forty feet above the sea level.
In looking about, I discovered to my great delight that among the crevices of the rocks there were many, little places which acted as basins to store up water from the recent rains, and I immediately took advantage of these conditions to quench my thirst and bathe my face and head. This done I began climbing up toward the top of the pile. It took considerable time and patience to make the ascent, as the stones were massed together in a most irregular and precipitous manner. Reaching the highest point, I eagerly scanned the surrounding horizons with the hope of seeing some passing ship, but nothing except sky and water met my gaze.
Seating myself upon the topmost rock, I became buried in the depths of meditation, and as I sat perched up there alone without even a glimpse of a sea-fowl for companionship I felt as if I was the only living thing extant; in fact, I actually imagined myself as being the center and objective point of the universe. God in His great wisdom had flung me there for some purpose or other and was watching my movements to the exclusion of everything else, so I thought. Aye, even the warmth from the rays of the sun had been arranged for my special benefit. How big a little faith will make one feel sometimes.
For several hours I remained in one position, musing over my strange situation and wondering what the final outcome would be. At last, after the sun had gone down and darkness began to encircle me, I decided to look about and find a suitable place to lie down and sleep for the night.
So I began to climb from rock to rock until I had reached the opposite side of the jagged plateau, when suddenly one of the great stones wobbled, I lost my balance and slid down an incline into a sort of a pit. Then my feet struck something which momentarily stopped my unexpected descent, but it proved to be a mere shell, and crashing through it I landed with a violent jolt about ten feet further below.
Although somewhat stunned and a trifle confused by the suddenness of the fall, I quickly regained my equanimity and looking upward I saw a small hole which my body had passed through, the shaggy rocks above, the dark sky and a few stars, but the strangest thing of all was, that the grotto into which I had fallen was as light as day.
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