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CHAPTER XX

THE SOUNDINGS OF THE SUSQUEHANNA

Well, lieutenant, and our soundings?”

“I think, sir, that the operation is nearing its completion,” replied Lieutenant Bronsfield. “But who would have thought of finding such a depth so near in shore, and only 200 miles from the American coast?”

“Certainly, Bronsfield, there is a great depression,” said Captain Blomsberry. “In this spot there is a submarine valley worn by Humboldt’s current, which skirts the coast of America as far as the Straits of Magellan.”

“These great depths,” continued the lieutenant, “are not favorable for laying telegraphic cables. A level bottom, like that supporting the American cable between Valentia and Newfoundland, is much better.”

“I agree with you, Bronsfield. With your permission, lieutenant, where are we now?”

“Sir, at this moment we have 3,508 fathoms of line out, and the ball which draws the sounding lead has not yet touched the bottom; for if so, it would have come up of itself.”

“Brook’s apparatus is very ingenious,” said Captain Blomsberry; “it gives us very exact soundings.”

“Touch!” cried at this moment one of the men at the forewheel, who was superintending the operation.

The captain and the lieutenant mounted the quarterdeck.

“What depth have we?” asked the captain.

“Three thousand six hundred and twenty-seven fathoms,” replied the lieutenant, entering it in his notebook.

“Well, Bronsfield,” said the captain, “I will take down the result. Now haul in the sounding line. It will be the work of some hours. In that time the engineer can light the furnaces, and we shall be ready to start as soon as you have finished. It is ten o’clock, and with your permission, lieutenant, I will turn in.”

“Do so, sir; do so!” replied the lieutenant obligingly.

The captain of the Susquehanna, as brave a man as need be, and the humble servant of his officers, returned to his cabin, took a brandy-grog, which earned for the steward no end of praise, and turned in, not without having complimented his servant upon his making beds, and slept a peaceful sleep.

It was then ten at night. The eleventh day of the month of December was drawing to a close in a magnificent night.

The Susquehanna, a corvette of 500 horse-power, of the United States navy, was occupied in taking soundings in the Pacific Ocean about 200 miles off the American coast, following that long peninsula which stretches down the coast of Mexico.

The wind had dropped by degrees. There was no disturbance in the air. The pennant hung motionless from the maintop-gallant- mast truck.

Captain Jonathan Blomsberry (cousin-german of Colonel Blomsberry, one of the most ardent supporters of the Gun Club, who

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