Dracula (Chapter 7, page 1 of 11)


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Chapter 7

From a correspondent.

Whitby.

One of the greatest and suddenest storms on record has just been
experienced here, with results both strange and unique. The weather
had been somewhat sultry, but not to any degree uncommon in the
month of August. Saturday evening was as fine as was ever known,
and the great body of holiday-makers laid out yesterday for visits
to Mulgrave Woods, Robin Hood's Bay, Rig Mill, Runswick, Staithes,
and the various trips in the neighborhood of Whitby. The steamers
Emma and Scarborough made trips up and down the coast, and there was
an unusual amount of 'tripping' both to and from Whitby. The day
was unusually fine till the afternoon, when some of the gossips who
frequent the East Cliff churchyard, and from the commanding eminence
watch the wide sweep of sea visible to the north and east, called
attention to a sudden show of 'mares tails' high in the sky to the
northwest. The wind was then blowing from the south-west in the
mild degree which in barometrical language is ranked 'No. 2, light
breeze.' The coastguard on duty at once made report, and one old fisherman,
who for more than half a century has kept watch on weather signs
from the East Cliff, foretold in an emphatic manner the coming of a
sudden storm. The approach of sunset was so very beautiful, so
grand in its masses of splendidly coloured clouds, that there was
quite an assemblage on the walk along the cliff in the old
churchyard to enjoy the beauty. Before the sun dipped below the
black mass of Kettleness, standing boldly athwart the western sky,
its downward way was marked by myriad clouds of every sunset colour,
flame, purple, pink, green, violet, and all the tints of gold, with
here and there masses not large, but of seemingly absolute
blackness, in all sorts of shapes, as well outlined as colossal
silhouettes. The experience was not lost on the painters, and
doubtless some of the sketches of the 'Prelude to the Great Storm'
will grace the R. A and R. I. walls in May next.

More than one captain made up his mind then and there that his
'cobble' or his 'mule', as they term the different classes of boats,
would remain in the harbour till the storm had passed. The wind
fell away entirely during the evening, and at midnight there was a
dead calm, a sultry heat, and that prevailing intensity which, on
the approach of thunder, affects persons of a sensitive nature.

There were but few lights in sight at sea, for even the coasting
steamers, which usually hug the shore so closely, kept well to
seaward, and but few fishing boats were in sight. The only sail
noticeable was a foreign schooner with all sails set, which was
seemingly going westwards. The foolhardiness or ignorance of her
officers was a prolific theme for comment whilst she remained in
sight, and efforts were made to signal her to reduce sail in the
face of her danger. Before the night shut down she was seen with
sails idly flapping as she gently rolled on the undulating swell of
the sea.

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