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Dead Men Tell No Tales E. W. Hornung

Chapter V My Reward

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But I did not know it then as I do now - and how the lines eluded me! I seemed to see them in the book, yet I could not read the words!

    "Water, water, everywhere,
    Nor any drop to drink."

That, of course, came first (incorrectly); and it reminded me of my thirst, which the blood of the fowls had so very partially appeased. I see now that it is lucky I could recall but little more. Experience is less terrible than realization, and that poem makes me realize what I went through as memory cannot. It has verses which would have driven me mad. On the other hand, the exhaustive mental search for them distracted my thoughts until the stars were back in the sky; and now I had a new occupation, saying to myself all the poetry I could remember, especially that of the sea; for I was a bookish fellow even then. But I never was anything of a scholar. It is odd therefore, that the one apposite passage which recurred to me in its entirety was in hexameters and pentameters

    Me miserum, quanti montes volvuntur aquarum!
    Jam jam tacturos sidera summa putes.
    Quantae diducto subsidunt aequore valles!
    Jam jam tacturas Tartara nigra putes.
    Quocunque adspicio, nihil est nisi pontus et aether;
    Fluctibus hic tumidis, nubibus ille minax....

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More there was of it in my head; but this much was an accurate statement of my case; and yet less so now (I was thankful to reflect) than in the morning, when every wave was indeed a mountain, and its trough a Tartarus. I had learnt the lines at school; nay, they had formed my very earliest piece of Latin repetition. And how sharply I saw the room I said them in, the man I said them to, ever since my friend! I figured him even now hearing Ovid rep., the same passage in the same room. And I lay saying it on a hen-coop in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean!

At last I fell into a deep sleep, a long unconscious holiday of the soul, undefiled by any dream.

They say that our dreaming is done as we slowly wake; then was I out of the way of it that night, for a sudden violent rocking awoke me in one horrid instant. I made it worse by the way I started to a sitting posture. I had shipped some water. I was shipping more. Yet all around the sea was glassy; whence then the commotion? As my ship came trim again, and I saw that my hour was not yet, the cause occurred to me; and my heart turned so sick that it was minutes before I had the courage to test my theory.

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Dead Men Tell No Tales
E. W. Hornung

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