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DOLPHINS AND FLYING FISHES. “Shortly after observing a cluster of flying-fish rise out of the water, we discovered two or three dolphins ranging past the ship in all their beauty, and watched with some anxiety to see one of those aquatic chases of which our friends, the Indiamen, had been telling such wonderful stories. We had not long to wait, for the ship, in her progress through the water, soon put up another shoal of these little things, which, as the others had done, took their flight directly windward. A large dolphin, which bad been keeping company with us abreast of the weather gangway, at the depth of two or three fathoms, and, as usual, glistening most beautifully in the sun, no sooner detected our poor dear little friends take wing than he turned his head towards them and, darting to the surface, leaped from the water with a velocity little short, as it seemed, of a cannon-ball. But, although the impetus with which he shot himself into the air gave him an initial velocity greatly exceeding that of the flying-fish, the start which his fated prey had got enabled them to keep ahead of him for a considerable time.
“The length of the dolphin's first spring could not be less than ten yards, and after he fell we could see him gliding like lightning through the water for a moment, when he again rose and shot forwards with considerably greater velocity than at first, and, of course, to a still greater distance.
In this manner the merciless pursuer seemed to stride along with fearful rapidity, whilst his brilliant coat sparkled and flashed in the sun quite splendidly.
“The group of wretched flying-fish, thus hotly pursued, at length dropped into the sea; but we were rejoiced to observe that they merely touched the top
of the swell, and scarcely sank in it; at least, they instantly set off again in a fresh and more vigorous flight. It was particularly interesting to observe that the direction they now took was quite different from the one in which they had set out, implying but too obviously that they had detected their fierce enemy, who was following them with giant steps on the waves, and now gaining rapidly upon them.
“ The greedy dolphin, however, was fully as quicksighted as the flying-fish which were trying to elude him, for whenever they varied their flight in the smallest degree, he lost, not the tenth part of a second in shaping his course, so as to cut off the chase; whilst they, in a manner really not unlike that of the bare, doubled more than once on their pursuer. But it was soon too plainly to be seen that the strength and confidence of the flying-fish were fast ebbing. Their flights became shorter and shorter, and their course more flutteriug and uncertain, while the enormous leaps of the dolphin appeared to grow more vigorous at each bound. Eventually, indeed, we could see, or fancied we could see, that this skilful sea-sportsman arranged all his springs with such an assurance of success that he contrived to fall at the end of each just under the very spot on which the exhausted flying-fish were about to drop. Sometimes this catastrophe took place at too great a distance for us to see from the deck exactly what happened; but on our mounting high into the rigging, we may be said to have been in at the death, for then we could discover that the unfortunate little creatures, one after another, either popped right into the dolphin's jaws as they lighted on the water, or were snapped up instantly afterwards.
CAPTAIN B. HALL.
SPELLINGS IN THIS BOOK.
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reasoning instrument depressed perspiration improbable character Tuesday thoroughly responsible society previous occasion averred assertion attendance incessantly decorated phalanx harpooner exhaustion Esquimaux fugitives attached invariably crescent carcases generous proceedings judgment
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