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宝岛(Treasure Island) 二十四 小艇巡航

双击单词可弹出解释框  时间:2010-07-16 21:14  作者:

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 rocks 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.

There was a great, smooth swell upon the sea. The wind blowing steady and gentle from the south, there was no contrariety between that and the current, and the billows rose and fell unbroken.

Had it been otherwise, I must long ago have perished; but as it was, it is surprising how easily and securely my little and light boat could ride. Often, as I still lay at the bottom, and kept no more than an eye above the gunwale, I would see a big blue summit heaving close above me; yet the coracle would but bounce a little, dance as if on springs, and subside on the other side into the trough as lightly as a bird.

I began after a little to grow very bold, and sat up to try my skill at paddling. But even a small change in the disposition of the weight will produce violent changes in the behaviour of a coracle. And I had hardly moved before the boat, giving up at once her gentle dancing movement, ran straight down a slope of water so steep that it made me giddy, and struck her nose, with a spout of spray, deep into the side of the next wave.

I was drenched and terrified, and fell instantly back into my old position, whereupon the coracle seemed to find her head again, and led me as softly as before among the billows. It was plain she was not to be interfered with, and at that rate, since I could in no way influence her course, what hope had I left of reaching land?

I began to be horribly frightened, but I kept my head, for all that. First, moving with all care, I gradually baled out the coracle with my sea-cap; then getting my eye once more above the gunwale, I set myself to study how it was she managed to slip so quietly through the rollers.

I found each wave, instead of the big, smooth glossy mountain it looks from shore, or from a vessel's deck, was for all the world like any range of hills on the dry land, full of peaks and smooth places and valleys. The coracle, left to herself, turning from side to side, threaded, so to speak, her way through these lower parts, and avoided the steep slopes and higher, toppling summits of the wave.

`Well, now,' thought I to myself, `it is plain I must lie where I am, and not disturb the balance; but it is plain, also, that I can put the paddle over the side, and from time to time, in smooth places, give her a shove or two towards land.' No sooner thought upon than done. There I lay on my elbows, in the most trying attitude, and every now and again gave a weak stroke or two to turn her head to shore.

It was very tiring, and slow work, yet I did visibly gain ground; and, as we drew near the Cape of the Woods, though I saw I must infallibly miss that point, I had still made some hundred yards of easting. I was, indeed, close in. I could see the cool, green tree-tops swaying together in the breeze, and I felt sure I should make the next promontory without fail.

It was high time, for I now began to be tortured with thirst. The glow of the sun from above, its thousandfold reflection from the waves, the seawater that fell and dried upon me caking my very lips with salt, combined to make my throat burn and my brain ache. The sight of the trees so near at hand had almost made me sick with longing; but the current had soon carried me past the point; and, as the next reach of sea opened out, I beheld a sight that changed the nature of my thoughts.

Right in front of me, not half a mile away, I beheld the Hispaniola under sail. I made sure, of course, that I should be taken; but I was so distressed for want of water, that I scarce knew whether to be glad or sorry at the thought; and long before I had come to a conclusion, surprise had taken entire possession of my mind, and I could do nothing but stare and wonder.

The Hispaniola was under her main-sail and two jibs, and the beautiful white canvas shone in the sun like snow or silver, When I first sighted her, all her sails were drawing; she was lying a course about north-west; and I presumed the men on board were going round the island on their way back to the anchorage. Presently she began to fetch more and more to the westward, so that I thought they had sighted me and were going about in chase. At last, however, she fell right into the wind's eye, was taken dead aback, and stood there a while helpless, with her sails shivering.

`Clumsy fellows,' said I; `they must still be drunk as owls.' And I thought how Captain Smollett would have set them skipping.

Meanwhile, the schooner gradually fell off, and filled again upon another tack, sailed swiftly for a minute or so, and brought up once more dead in the wind's eye. Again and again was this repeated. To and fro, up and down, north, south, east, and west, the Hispaniola sailed by swoops and dashes, and at each repetition ended as she had begun, with idly-flapping canvas. It became plain to me that nobody was steering. And, if so, where were the men? Either they were dead drunk, or had deserted her, I thought, and perhaps if I could get on board, I might return the vessel to her captain.

The current was bearing coracle and schooner southward at an equal rate. As for the latter's sailing, it was so wild and intermittent, and she hung each time so long in irons, that she certainly gained nothing, if she did not even lose. If only I dared to sit up and paddle, I made sure that I could overhaul her. The scheme had an air of adventure that inspired me, and the thought of the water-breaker beside the fore companion doubled my growing courage.

Up I got, was welcomed almost instantly by another cloud of spray, but this time stuck to my purpose; and set myself, with all my strength and caution, to paddle after the unsteered Hispaniola. Once I shipped a sea so heavy that I had to stop and bale, with my heart fluttering like a bird; but gradually I got into the way of the thing, and guided my coracle among the waves, with only now and then a blow upon her bows and a dash of foam in my face.

I was now gaining rapidly on the schooner; I could see the brass glisten on the tiller as it banged about; and still no soul appeared upon her decks. I could not choose but suppose she was deserted. If not, the men were lying drunk below, where I might batten them down, perhaps, and do what I chose with the ship.

For some time she had been doing the worst thing possible for me - standing still. She headed nearly due south, yawing, of course, all the time. Each time she fell off her sails partly filled, and these brought her, in a moment, right to the wind again. I have said this was the worst thing possible for me; for helpless as she looked in this situation, with the canvas cracking like cannon, and the blocks trundling and banging on the deck, she still continued to run away from me, not only with the speed of the current, but by the whole amount of her leeway, which was naturally great.

But now, at last, I had my chance. The breeze fell, for some seconds, very low, and the current gradually turning her, the Hispaniola revolved slowly round her centre, and at last presented me her stern, with the cabin window still gaping open, and the lamp over the table still burning on into the day. The main- sail hung drooped like a banner. She was stock-still, but for the current.

For the last little while I had even lost; but now, redoubling my efforts, I began once more to overhaul the chase.

I was not a hundred yards from her when the wind came again in a clap; she filled on the port tack, and was off again, stooping and skimming like a swallow.

My first impulse was one of despair, but my second was towards joy. Round she came, till she was broadside on to me - round still till she had covered a half, and then two-thirds, and then three-quarters of the distance that separated us. I could see the waves boiling white under her forefoot. Immensely tall she looked to me from my low station in the coracle.

And then, of a sudden, I began to comprehend. I had scarce time to think - scarce time to act and save myself. I was on the summit of one swell when the schooner came stooping over the next. The bowsprit was over my head. I sprang to my feet, and leaped, stamping the coracle under water. With one hand I caught the jib-boom, while my foot was lodged between the stay and the brace; and as I still clung there panting, a dull blow told me that the schooner had charged down upon and struck the coracle, and that I was left without retreat on the Hispaniola

我醒来时天已大亮,发现自己已被冲到藏宝岛西南端。太阳已升起,但还是藏在望远镜山这个庞然大物的后面不让我看。这边的山坡几乎伸到海上,形成一堵堵峭壁。

帆索海角和后桅山就在眼前。后桅山是一座深色的秃山,帆索海角被四五十英尺高的峭壁和崩塌的大块岩石所包围。我距离海岸至多只有四分之一英里,所以我首先想到的就是划过去靠岸登陆。

但这个想法很快就被放弃。巨浪不断地拍击着岩石后又被弹了回来,呼啸着形成一股股水柱飞射着;不断地重重地压降下来。我寻思着,如果我贸然靠近的话,不是被大浪拍死在嶙峋的岩石上就是在攀登悬崖峭壁时耗尽精力。

问题不仅于此。我看到许多可怕的、软乎乎的东西,像是奇大无比的软体蜗牛,有的在陡峭的岩壁上爬行,有的则扑通扑通跳进海里。这些怪物大约有五六十只。狂叫声在悬崖之间激荡起阵阵回响。

后来我才知道那怪物是海狮,根本不会伤人。但是它们的怪样子,加上陡峭的海岸和喷射的海浪使我畏惧得不敢再登陆。我宁愿在海上饿死也不愿冒此风险。

此时,有一个我认为比较好的办法摆在我面前,帆索海角北面的陆地上随着海水的退潮应露出一长条黄沙滩来。在沙滩以北又是另一个岬角——正是地图上标注的森林岬角,它被岸边的高大而郁郁苍苍的松林所掩盖着。

我还记得西尔弗曾经提起过,在藏宝岛的整个西海岸有一股向北的海流。从我所处的位置上看,我已经受其影响了,我决定抛下帆索海角,保持体力准备向看起来温顺得多的森林岬角靠近。

海面上泛起大片大片涟漪。从南方吹拂过来的风柔和而有力,它与海流的方向一致,因此海浪一起一伏,平稳而有节奏。

要不是这样的话,我早就被海浪吞没了,但是即便如此,我这艘小得可怜的木舟能够如此轻易地闯过一道道难关也是够令人惊叹一阵子的了。我躺在船底,睁开一只眼睛从船边向上望去,常常看到一个蓝色巨浪耸立在我的头顶,小艇纵身一跃滑向浪涡处,像装上了弹簧一般。

不久我变得非常大胆,坐起来试着划桨。但只要重心稍有变动,对小船的航行就会产生严重的影响。我刚挪动一下身子,小船就一反先前轻柔的舞姿,顺着海浪的坡面陡然坠落,使我眼花缘乱,紧接着船头猛地扎人下一个浪头,溅起许多浪花来。

我浑身湿透,惊恐万分,急忙躺回老地方,小艇似乎又恢复常态,带着我在海浪中温柔地前行,像先前一样。显然,划桨只能妨碍它的前进。既然我无法调整它的航向,我又怎能妄想着让它靠岸呢?

虽然这一惊非同小可,但我头脑仍然很清醒。我先是小心翼翼地用水手帽舀出小艇内的水,然后再一次从船边向上望,看看它何以能够在海浪中如此平稳地滑行。

我发现每个浪头从岸上或大船甲板上看起来都像座平整光滑的大山,实际上却像陆地上起伏的丘陵,既有山峰又有平地和山谷。小艇从一个浪头滑向另一个浪头时专挑低回的地方,避开浪峰和波尖,这样才会转过来扭过去穿梭自如。

“看起来,”我思量着,“很显然我必须老老实实躺在原处,不能破坏船的平衡。然而我也可以把桨伸出艇边,不时地在平浪处向岸边划两下。”主意已定,立刻行动。我用胳膊肘支撑住身体,以极其别扭的方式试着躺下来,不时轻轻地划上一两下。渐渐使船头朝向陆地。

这样做起来非常累,非常慢,但是效果显著。当我靠近森林岬角时,虽然我看得出我已经错过了在那里靠岸,我还是向东划了几百码。实际上我已靠近陆地,看得见被风吹得偏向一边的绿盈盈的树梢,心想一定不能错过下一个岬角。

现在正需要找一个阴凉处靠岸,因为我已口干舌燥。火辣辣的太阳光经波浪一反射发出千倍的光热;溅到脸上的海水蒸发后形成盐分很渍嘴。这一切的一切使我喉干如焚,头痛欲裂。近在飓尺的树林可望而不可即,使我更加难以忍受这种煎熬,但潮流很快把我冲过了岬角。当下一片海面出现后,我看到的景观使我改变了原来的想法。

就在我正前方不到半英里处,我看见伊斯班袅拉号正在航行,我坚信他们当然要把我抓住。但我实在口渴难忍,几乎不晓得这是喜是忧,就在我还未来得及下结论的当儿,我已惊愕得不知如何是好,睁大眼睛呆呆地望着。

伊斯班袅拉号扯着主帆和两张三角帆,美丽的白帆在阳光下银光闪闪,洁白如雪。我第一眼看到它的时候,所有的帆都张着。它正朝着西北方航行。我猜想船上的人可能想绕过小岛转回锚地。然而现在它开始愈来愈向西偏,因此我以为他们发现了我,追来要抓住我。可是,最终它却转向风吹来的方向,转过船头处于逆风状态,无助地停泊在那儿,船帆不住地颤抖。

“一群笨蛋!”我自言自语,“他们一定醉得像死猪。”我心想斯莫列特船长定会好好教训这群混蛋。

这时,大船逐渐偏向下风处,重新张开一张帆转向另一边,快速地航行一分钟左右,接着又转向风吹来的方向,无法前进。这样周而复始地转了几次。伊斯班袅拉号前前后后、东西南北横冲直撞。每次大转弯过后又恢复原状,只是船帆劈里啪啦地空飘一阵,我渐渐觉察到原来船上没有人驾驶。那么,人都哪儿去了呢?他们或是醉得像死人一般,或是已离开大船,我思量着,如果我能登上大船的话,我可能会使它重新回到船长手中。

潮流以同样的速度带着大船和小艇向南滑行。但大船的航行让人摸不清头绪,每次在风口处都停好长一段时间,即使是没有倒退一步,也无甚进展。我若是也坐起来划船的话定能追得上它。这个想法的惊险成分刺激着我,再想到前升降口旁放置的淡水桶,我就更加信心百倍。

我刚坐起来,几乎立刻又被溅得一身水,但这次我下定决心,竭尽全力地、同时又极其谨慎地朝着无人驾驶的伊斯班袅拉号划去。有一次一个大浪冲过来使小艇积了许多水,使我不得不停下来,心里焦急得像揣着小兔子似地往外舀水。但我已逐渐习惯了,能够划着小艇在波浪中上下滑行,只是偶尔有点水从船头泼过来,溅起一股飞沫喷在我脸上。

现在我快速地靠近大船,可以看到舵柄的铜管被撞?e@

有一段时间大船对我来说糟糕透了——它不再打转了。船头几乎朝向正南方,当然不时略有偏差。它每次偏离,风就鼓起部分船帆,这样就又立刻使它对准风向。我刚才说对我来说糟糕透了是因为伊斯班袅拉号尽管看起来处于寸步难行的境地,船帆劈里啪啦地像放炮,滑车在甲板上滚来滚去,乒乓直响;但它不光是以潮流的速度继续往北移动,还加上了很大的风压,因此漂得极快,我怎么也赶不上他。

但我终于得到了机会。有那么一段时间,风速慢下来,几乎感受不到。伊斯班袅拉号在潮流旋转的带动下慢慢又开始打转,终于让我看到了船尾。船舱的窗子依旧大开着,挂在桌子上的那盏灯仍然点着。主帆像一面旗子耷拉着。要不是借着潮流的带动,船定会停滞不前。

刚才有一阵儿我几乎已经看不见它;现在我加倍努力,再次向它猛追过去。

我距离它不足一百码,风又猛地刮起来。船帆鼓满风向左舷一转又滑行起来,像燕子般掠过水面。

我先是感到一阵失望,继而又转忧为喜。伊斯班袅拉号掉转船头,把它的一面船身靠近我,直到把小艇和大船的距离缩短为一半、三分之一、四分之一。我已经看到波浪在船的龙头下翻腾的浪花。我从小艇上仰望大船,它显得异常高大。

这时我才突然意识到事情的不妙。我已来不及考虑,也来不及采取措施保护自己。当大船越过一个浪头时,小艇正处在另一个浪头上。船头倾斜的桅杆正好在我的头顶上方。我纵身一跃,小艇被踩人水中。我一只手攀住三角帆,一只脚夹在绳索和转帆索的缝隙中。就在我提心吊胆悬在那里的时候,一下不易被察觉的撞击提醒我:大船已把小艇撞沉了。我的退路已被切断,只能留在伊斯班袅拉号上了


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