The Nanshan was on her way from the south to Fuzhou, with Chinese workers on board, returning to their home villages in the province of Fujian. The morning had been fine, for there was no wind. The heat was close.

Observing the fall of the barometer, Captain MacWhirr thought, "There's some dirty weather knocking about. "  He lifted his eyes to the sky.  "What's up?"  Jukes, the engineer, asked.  "It looks as if a typhoon is coming on," said the Captain.

"Whatever there might be," said Jukes, "we are moving straight into it."  "A storm is a storm, Mr Jukes," answered the Captain, " and a full-powered steamship has got to face it."

I must have been asleep.  What was that loud noise? Wind?  Why had I not been called?  "Came on like this,"  shouted Jukes, "five minutes ago... all of a sudden. "  The storm grew stronger and huge waves swept over the ship.  It was unbelievable how much water came down on the ship.  Something told Captain Macwhirr that the Nanshan was lost.  "She's done for," he said to himself.  This weather
was simply impossible. They were all on the bridge when the full force of the hurricane struck the ship. "Will she live through this?"  "Ship...may...through this... all right yet," the Captain shouted.  "Do you think she may?" Jukes screamed. But the wind swallowed the reply, and Jukes heard only one word, spoken with geat energy "..Always..."

This was their work – to move the ship over the high sea and into the very eye of the wind. Captain MacWhirr saw a white tower of water, so high that he couldn't believe his eyes, advancing towards
them. It raced to meet the ship. The Nanshan jumped. With a tearing crash, tons of water fell upon the deck, as though the ship passed under a waterfall. "Another one like this, and that's the last of her,"
cried the Captain.

"Seems as if the wind had dropped, Sir." There was no wind, not a breath. The unexpected silence made Jukes feel uncomfortable.  "We have done it, Sir," he whispered.  "Wind fell all at once."

"The trouble's not over yet," said Captain MacWhirr, half aloud.  He went to the bridge. There was no light there; he struck a match, and held out the little flame towards the barometer. It stood very low - incredibly low. There was no mistake. It was the lowest reading he had ever seen in his life. The worst was to come yet!

He listened for the first sounds of returning wind. Not yet. "It will come very sudden," said Captain MacWhirr, " and from over there, I think. "  A minute passed.

"What's that? A puff of wind?"  The roar of the winds drew near fast. The hurricane, with its power to sink ships and to destroy strong walls, had found this little ship in its path. Before the second storm fell on his ship, Captain MacWhirr swore, "I wouldn't like to lose her."...

(Senior English for China  Student's Book 2A  Unit 10  INTEGRATING SKILLS  Reading)


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