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However, one by one they straggled in at last and took shelter under the tent,
cold scared, and streaming with water; but to have company in misery seemed
something to be grateful for. They could not talk, the old sail flapped so
furiously, even if the other noises would have allowed them. The tempest rose
higher and higher, and presently the sail tore loose from its fastenings and went
winging away on the blast. The boys seized each others’ hands and fled, with
many tumblings and bruises, to the shelter of a great oak that stood upon the
river bank. Now the battle was at its highest. Under the ceaseless conflagration
of lightning that flamed in the skies, everything below stood out in clean-cut and
shadowless distinctness: the bending trees, the billowy river, white with foam,
the driving spray of spumeflakes, the dim outlines of the high bluffs on the other
side, glimpsed through the drifting cloud-rack and the slanting veil of rain.
Every little while some giant tree yielded the fight and fell crashing through the
younger growth; and the unflagging thunder-peals came now in ear-splitting
explosive bursts, keen and sharp, and unspeakably appalling. The storm
culminated in one matchless effort that seemed likely to tear the island to pieces,
burn it up, drown it to the tree-tops, blow it away, and deafen every creature in
it, all at one and the same moment. It was a wild night for homeless young heads
to be out in.

But at last the battle was done, and the forces retired with weaker and weaker
threatenings and grumblings, and peace resumed her sway. The boys went back
to camp, a good deal a wed; but they found there was still something to be
thankful for, because the great sycamore, the shelter of their beds, was a ruin
now, blasted by the lightnings, and they were not under it when the catastrophe

Everything in camp was drenched, the camp-fire as well; for they were but
heedless lads, like their generation, and had made no provision against rain.
Here was matter for dismay, for they were soaked through and chilled. They
were eloquent in their distress; but they presently discovered that the fire had
eaten so far up under the great log it had been built against, (where it curved
upward and separated itself from the ground,) that a hand-breadth or so of it
had escaped wetting; so they patiently wrought until, with shreds and bark
gathered from the under sides of sheltered logs, they coaxed the fire to burn
again. Then they piled on great dead boughs till they had a roaring furnace and
were glad-hearted once more. They dried their boiled ham and had a feast, and
after that they sat by the fire and expanded and glorified their midnight
adventure until morning, for there was not a dry spot to sleep on, anywhere

As the sun began to steal in upon the boys, drowsiness came over them and they
went out on the sand-bar and lay down to sleep. They got scorched out by and
by, and drearily set about getting breakfast. After the meal they felt rusty, and
stiff-jointed, and a little homesick once more. Tom saw the signs, and fell to
cheering up the pirates as well as he could. But they cared nothing for marbles,
or circus, or swimming, or anything. He reminded them of the imposing secret,

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