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[160] fancy as many rifle-shots as I pleased. But on rising to the surface all seemed quiet, and even I did not create as much noise as I should have expected. I was now at a safe distance, since the enemy were always chary of showing their boats, and always tried to convince us they had none. What with absorbed attention first, and this submersion afterwards, I had lost all my bearings but the stars, having been long out of sight of my original point of departure. However, the difficulties of the return were nothing; making a slight allowance for the flood-tide, which could not yet have turned, I should soon regain the place I had left. So I struck out freshly against the smooth water, feeling just a little stiffened by the exertion, and with an occasional chill running up the back of the neck, but with no nips from sharks, no nudges from alligators, and not a symptom of fever-and-ague.

Time I could not, of course, measure,--one never can in a novel position; but, after a reasonable amount of swimming, I began to look, with a natural interest, for the pier which I had quitted. I noticed, with some solicitude, that the woods along the friendly shore made one continuous shadow, and that the line of low bushes on the long causeway could scarcely be relieved against them, yet I knew where they ought to be, and the more doubtful I felt about it, the more I put down my doubts, as if they were unreasonable children. One can scarcely conceive of the alteration made in familiar objects by bringing the eye as low as the horizon, especially by night; to distinguish foreshortening is impossible, and every low near object is equivalent to one higher and more remote. Still I had the stars; and soon my eye, more practised, was enabled to select one precise line of bushes as that which marked the causeway, and for which I must direct my course.

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