The phantoms, for so they then seemed, were flitting on the other side of the deck, and, with a noiseless celerity, were casting loose the tackles and bands of the boat which swung there.
All at once the out-stretched arm gave a peculiar motion and then remained fixed, while the boat's five oars were seen simultaneously peaked.
As he was studying it out, Starbuck took a long cutting-spade pole, and with his knife slightly split the end, to insert the letter there, and in that way, hand it to the boat, without its coming any closer to the ship.
Captain Mayhew, stand by now to receive it; and taking the fatal missive from Starbuck's hands, he caught it in the slit of the pole, and reached it over towards the boat. But as he did so, the oarsmen expectantly desisted from rowing; the boat drifted a little towards the ship's stern; so that, as if by magic, the letter suddenly ranged along with Gabriel's eager hand.
Hunt was perceived by those in the other boats
, and they hastened to his assistance.
It is no slight matter for two men, particularly when a stiff wind has sprung up, to handle a vessel like the Ghost, steering, keeping look-out for the boats
, and setting or taking in sail; so it devolved upon me to learn, and learn quickly.
I had looped it round slowly and cautiously, and tied it up in the middle, and folded it in two, and laid it down gently at the bottom of the boat
. Harris had lifted it up scientifically, and had put it into George's hand.
There they were, boats
and nets, as on that first Sunday when they had bested us, strung out evenly over the river as far as we could see.
We had, upon the first appearance of the boat
's coming from the ship, considered of separating our prisoners; and we had, indeed, secured them effectually.
Of course I had taken care that the boat
should be ready and everything in order.
Wyeth, as the reader may recollect, launched his bull boat
at the foot of the rapids of the Bighorn, and departed in advance of the parties of Campbell and Captain Bonneville.
"What you're going for is to save life, not to drown your boat
's crew for nothing," he growled severely in my ear.
Allied to the bottom of the river rather than the surface, by reason of the slime and ooze with which it was covered, and its sodden state, this boat
and the two figures in it obviously were doing something that they often did, and were seeking what they often sought.
Light as the task would have been for a strong man to lower the small boat
to the ground, it took Daylight hours.
"Get in, my dears," said the shaggy man; "I'm sure I can manage this boat
as well as any sailor.