The sea, the gray sea once more, where Yann was gently gliding along its broad, trackless road, that leads the fishermen every year to the Land of Ice.
The day before, when they all had set off to the music of the old hymns, there blew a brisk breeze from the south, and all the ships with their outspread sails had dispersed like so many gulls; but that breeze had suddenly subsided, and speed had diminished; great fog-banks covered the watery surface.
Yann was perhaps quieter than usual. He said that the weather was too calm, and appeared to excite himself, as if he would drive away some care that weighed upon him. But he had nothing to do but be carried serenely in the midst of serene things; only to breathe and let himself live. On looking out, only the deep gray masses around could be seen; on listening, only silence.
Suddenly there was an almost imperceptible rumbling, which came from below, accompanied by a grinding sensation, as when a brake comes hard down on carriage wheels. The Marieceased all movement. They had struck. Where, and on what? Some bank off the English coast probably. For since overnight they had been able to see nothing, with those curtains of mist.
The men ran and rushed about, their bustle contrasting strongly with the sudden rigidity of their ship. How had the Marie come to a stop in that spot? In the midst of that immensity of fluid in this dull weather, seeming to be almost without consistence, she had been seized by some resistless immovable power hidden beneath the waves; she was tight in its grasp, and might perish there.