seeming strangely out of place, and sometimes just reaching with my foot a soft tremulous shoal which gave scarce the shadow of a support, though even that shadow rested my feet.
At one of these moments of stillness it suddenly occurred to my perception (what nothing but this slight contact could have assured me, in the darkness) that I was in a powerful current, and that this current set the wrong way
. Instantly a flood of new intelligence came.
Either I had unconsciously turned and was rapidly nearing the Rebel
shore,--a suspicion which a glance at the stars corrected,--or else it was the tide itself which had turned, and which was sweeping me down the river with all its force, and was also sucking away at every moment the narrowing water from that treacherous expanse of mud out of whose horrible miry embrace I had lately helped to rescue a shipwrecked crew.
Either alternative was rather formidable.
I can distinctly remember that for about one half-minute the whole vast universe appeared to swim in the same watery uncertainty in which I floated.
I began to doubt everything, to distrust the stars, the line of low bushes for which I was wearily striving, the very land on which they grew, if such visionary things could be rooted anywhere.
Doubts trembled in my mind like the weltering water, and that awful sensation of having one's feet unsupported, which benumbs the spent swimmer's heart, seemed to clutch at mine, though not yet to enter it. I was more absorbed in that singular sensation of nightmare, such as one may feel equally when lost by land or by water, as if one's own position were all right, but the place looked for had somehow been preternaturally abolished out of the universe.
At best, might not a man in