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once more dead in the windís 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

The current was bearing coracle and schooner southward at an
equal rate. As for the latterís 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 bail, 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 worse thing possible for

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