The storm had spent itself, the sea was calm again, and on its smooth surface tossed empty casks and shattered masts,—the monuments of shipwrecked vessels. The stormy petrels had vanished with the tempest, and the flying fish were now making their clumsy leaps from wave to wave,—a sign of fair weather. A brigantine which had outlived the gale was moving slowly over the almost unrippled surface of the water; all hands were engaged in repairing the damage occasioned by the storm; temporary masts were rigged, sails trimmed, the crew worked fairly hanging in the air; for the ship had heeled far over,—a proof that her ballast had shifted during the tempest.
With the exception of the blows of the carpenter’s hammer, and the creaking of the pumps, nothing was heard save the voice of the captain, who stood leaning against the mainmast trying to ascertain on a chart the place to which he had been driven by the storm. The movements of the needle were scrutinized more and more carefully, while from time to time, the voice of an officer taking soundings, echoed on the air. At last the captain’s finger stopped on a group of islands and he said quietly: “We are off the Ladrones.” At the same moment a sailor on the mast-head shouted: “Land!” Without the slightest change of expression, the captain repeated: “The Ladrones.”