The Adventures of Louis de Rougemont

The Adventures of Louis de Rougemont


A few minutes later her keel came into violent contact with a coral reef, and as she grated slowly over it, the poor thing seemed to shiver from stem to stern.The shock was so severe that I was thrown heavily to the deck.Bruno could make nothing whatever of it, so he found relief in doleful howls.While the vessel remained stuck on the rocks, I was looking out anxiously from the rigging, when, without a moment's warning, a gigantic wave came toppling and crashing overboard from the stern, overwhelming me in the general destruction that followed.I was dashed with tremendous force on to the deck, and when I picked myself up, bruised and bleeding, the first thing I was conscious of was a deathly stillness, which filled me with vague amazement, considering that but a few moments before my ears had been filled with the roar and crash of the breakers.And I could see that the storm was still raging with great fury, although not a sound reached my ears.

Gradually the horrible truth dawned upon me--I WAS STONE DEAF! The blow on the head from the great wave had completely deprived me of all sense of hearing.How depressed I felt when I realised this awful fact no one can imagine.Nevertheless, things were not altogether hopeless, for next morning I felt a sudden crack in my left ear, and immediately afterwards I heard once more the dull roar of the surf, the whistling of the wind, and the barking of my affectionate dog.My right ear, however, was permanently injured, and to this day I am decidedly deaf in that organ.I was just beginning to think that we had passed over the most serious part of the danger, when to my utter despair I again heard that hideous grating sound, and knew she had struck upon another reef.She stuck there for a time, but was again forced on, and presently floated in deep water.The pitiless reefs were now plainly visible on all sides, and some distance away I could see what appeared to be nothing more than a little sandbank rising a few feet above the waters of the lagoon.

While I was watching and waiting for developments the deck of the vessel suddenly started, and she began rapidly to settle down by the stern.Fortunately, however, at that point the water was not excessively deep.When I saw that nothing could save the ship, and that her deck was all but flush with the water, I loosened several of the fittings, as well as some spars, casks, and chests, in the hope that they might drift to land and perhaps be of service to me afterwards.I remained on board as long as I possibly could, trying to build a raft with which to get some things ashore, but Ihadn't time to finish it.

Up and up came the inexorable water, and at last, signalling to Bruno to follow me, I leaped into the sea and commenced to swim towards the sandbank.Of course, all the boats had been lost when the pearling fleet disappeared.The sea was still very rough, and as the tide was against us, I found it extremely exhausting work.

The dog seemed to understand that I was finding it a dreadful strain, for he swam immediately in front of me, and kept turning round again and again as though to see if I were following safely.

By dint of tremendous struggling I managed to get close up to the shore, but found it utterly impossible to climb up and land.Every time I essayed to plant my legs on the beach, the irresistible backwash swept me down, rolling me head over heels, and in my exhausted condition this filled me with despair.On one occasion this backwash sent me spinning into deep water again, and I am sure I should have been drowned had not my brave dog come to my rescue and seized me by my hair--which, I should have explained, I had always worn long from the days of my childhood.Well, my dog tugged and tugged at me until he had got me half-way through the breakers, nor did this exertion seem to cause him much trouble in swimming.

Louis de Rougemont