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how they got their Books 240
Maternal Solicitude of & Bear
courager of Talent
Street Scenes in London
Once upon a Time
16 Waste Lands in England
ELIZA COOK'S POEMS.
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hush ! Why, Annie, Harry will never
come to. STORM AND REST.
dny." A LEADEN clond hung like a heavy canopy over the “He will, mother! IIe said he'd come--he said the broad sky—so heavy and so dense, that even the great Valentine would be sure to sail last night. Oh, mother, I wind which was bowing the strongest trees, and lashing must go! If he should come, and anything happen to the sea into boiling hills of foam, could not stir it; but him, with me not therestill threatening, scowling, of this same unchangeable “ Annie, Annie, you're a foolish woman !
You're a leaden hue it spread immoveable, as far as the eye could greater coward than I ever was. Why, what kind of a reach. It was an October day; bleak and chill, with sailor's wife do you think you'll make if you go on this not even the last saddest lingerings of summer. The way before you're ever married at all? I'd be ashamed fallen yellow leaves remaining, for the wild wind seemed that Harry should see your pale, frightened face now!” to have swept them up in its arms, leaving the bare she said, laughing to cover her own anxiety. country even unnaturally bare, and desolate, and cold. A faint wintry smile passed across Annie's lips, too,
Through the narrow streets of a seaport town, on the but it vanished in a moment. east coast, round sharp corners, and in at opened doors, Oh, mother, isn't it natural to be frightened ?" she the wind was sweeping, driving in its headlong course all said, “ when we haven't met these two months and more ; things before it, dashing away the heavy rain which and to think of him coming home in such a storm as poured in dull torrents from those dark clouds, or catch- this? I don't know what's the matter with me," she ing it upwards for an instant only to fling it back again exclaimed hurriedly; "I feel so strange, as if something with greater force upon the swimming pavements. Even -Oh, mother, hark — there's nine o'clock striking-1 in the town on such a day, few would venture out : in must go. It'll be an hour till I get to the tower, and the country round it would seem almost like madness to surely there'll be some news of the boat before then. attempt it, for wind and rain were ploughing the earth Mother, dear," and she bent down over the sick woman together, and over the whole extent of cultivated hill again. “Mother, dear, you won't cross me?” ground, spreading for miles along the coast, the mad "I won't, dear; take your own way--though it's a huurricane was raging.
wild day for man or woman to be out—but we're all Yet there was one, and she bnt a young girl, who, defy- wilful enough when we'rc in love, Annie. So God bless ing rain and storm, heedless of the wild blast, insensible you, dear, and send you back with good news, and a to the bitter cold, had set out alone upon this dreary lightened heart.” morning from her cottage on the hill. And what is that “ Please God,” poor Annie murmured ; then kissing takes Annie Morton out on such a day as this? What the pale face tenderly, she went. is it that has thus blanched Annie Morton's cheek, and It was a wild day, indeed, for a woman to be out, but dulled her light, elastic step, and stolen the lustre of her Annie never paused or hesitated. Wrapped closely in bright blue eye, changing its merry laughter into this her woollen cloak, with its hood drawn round her face, wild look of fear ?
she left the cottage on the hill side, and set boldly to “Mother, the thought haunts me like a dream! Oh, breast the stormy wind, which, beating in her face, dismother, let me go down to the harbour, for I can't rest puted with her every step she took. On she went, for thinking of him!” and half an hour ago, poor Annie scarcely feeling the dashing rain around her, heeding so had started suddenly up from her seat in the cottage little on her own account the fury of the storm. On she window, and, half sobbing out these words, had flung went, straining her eyes in vain to catch the outline of a herself upon her bed-rid mother's neck, and burst into sail upon the great, wide, misty, foaming sea beneath hysteric tears.
her. So long each minute appeared — so slow the pro“ You foolish child, you've been sitting looking out at gress that she made : cach step that she advanced her that window till all sorts of fancies have come into your hcart seemed to beat higher-to grow more sick beneath head,” Mrs. Morton answered her, stroking the girl's its fear and hope. brown curls softly, and speaking in the half-caressing, But at length a sobbing cry of agony burst from her ; half-soothing tone one nses to a child. “Hush, dear, for suddenly, breaking from the mist, she saw a vessel
making for the pier-making for it with terrible difficulty, for each wave on whose crest it rose, instead of bearing it forwards, seemed only to crush it further back: yet still it bore on, hidden one moment, but rising again and again, still fighting desperately, unflinchingly, for the battle was for life or death.
Breathless, Annie rushed along the slippery, streaming roads--her cloak no longer wrapped around her, but fly. ing open to the wind; her hands convulsively stretched out ; her cheek as pale as death ; her tearless eyes fixed where she knew, though now as she came nearer to the town she could no longer see it, that the sea lay; for a passionate fear that she could not conquer had taken hold upon her--a sudden spasm of terrora wild, fearful conviction that the vessel struggling to gain the port was her lover's ship.
Wild as her figure was when she rushed upon the quay, no one heeded for there were figures as wild, and hearts as despairing gathered there before her; and even the cry which burst from her as she sprang into the crowd, scarcely caused an eye to turn upon her, for the air around was being rent with women's cries. The vessel had gained the pier, and had struck upon it, and gone down with her crew, One man was struggling in the water still—struggling and crying out for help-the voice rose even above the raging of the sea, and there was no help there. They stood and gazed upon him till he sank, like people frozen with horror.
A convulsive grasp was laid upon an officer's arm who stood amongst the crowd, looking anxiously through his glass out to sea, and a stifled voice asked,
“Was that the Valentine?"
The tone was so full of agony that, attracted by it, he turned round, and looking in the speaker's face answered kindly.
“ The Valentine! No, my girl; there are no tidings of the Valentine yet.”
Her hand still held her arm : he felt the thrill that ran through her whole frame as he spoke.
“Not the Valentine? - not come yet !--Oh, my God!" she cried.
Her voice rang through the air, sounding so strangely in its hysterical joy, amidst the bitter cries of sorrow that were rising all around, that even the mourners turned, with half-reproachful looks, to gaze on her.
"My poor girl, you had better go and take shelter somewhere,” the same officer said again, good naturedly. “The Valentine mayn't be in for hours yet—not until the storm's over, perhaps.” “But she is due, sir ” Annie exclaimed.
Due P-why, yes—but in weather such as this we can't expect a vessel to be in at her ordinary time. Come, come, my girl, don't be putting a sad face upon it again ; go away home, and keep up a good heart," and he turned from her, and re-adjusted his glass.
With her head bowed down upon her bosom, Annie turned too, and deaf to the voices of distress around her, like one walking in a dream; she threaded her way through the anxious crowd. No one noticed her, no one spoke to her; all eyes were stretched across the sea, all hearts were full, watching for those who might never come to them again. And still, wilder and wilder, the storm raged, higher and higher the frantic sea foamed up; still heavier and darker hung the leaden clouds-still thicker grew the misty veil that lay upon the water.
Where no human voices reached her, away from the harbour, on the bleak cold shore, Annie sat down to wait. The wind blew roughly over her, the heavy rain beat on her face, but she wrapped her cloak around her, and did not heed them : she heeded nothing but the boiling waves that were dashing at her feet, their spray sometimes leaping over her ; covering her face then, as their thunder burst npon her, she would break into bitter
sobs, wringing her hands, and calling out aloud in her distress. But no voice came to answer her, save the relentless, cruel, tempest voice, which shrieked, wilder and still wilder round her, as the weary minutes passed.
Hour after hour, and no single speck on the misty ocean anywhere to tell her that there still was hope: no sign of sail or ship as far as the eye could see. Her heart was sick within her; her strength was failing, her faith was gone : she lay down upon the cold, wet beach, too wretched even to weep--too feeble even to pray. She lay shivering, for the damp, penetrating cold was creeping like ice, nearer and nearer to her heart, seeming to deaden every feeling in her--wrapping her in a misty dreaminess-leaving her only the dull, intuitive conciousness alone that she was utterly desolate and miserable.
What sound is that which breaks the sea's great roar-low, heavy, booming, deep, slow rolling over sea and land? Up, Annie, and look out !
Starting as if by magic from her trance, she springs up from the ground-her cheek on fire-her arms fling upwards in the air, crying aloud, as though her feeble voice's answer could be heard-her eyes far straining seawards—but in vain-in vain !-upon the shrouded water still no vessel can be seen. Again that sound, deep wailing with the wild wind's roar-low-moaning on the white sea-crests ; again and again still, at measured intervals, throughout a long, long hour.
And she stands through it all immoveable, in an agony that words cannot speak a life-suspense in which the brain beats almost to bursting.
But it is broken at last. Suddenly, rolling back like a white curtain, the mist clears from the sea, and shows her the thing she seeks—a mastless ship, tossing upon the waters helplessly, like a toy in a great giant's grasp.
She gives one cry that rends the air ; then back along the shore she rushes with frantic speed, as though her efforts were to save the ship-back to the harbour where the other boat had sunk. The quay was alive again with people-with pale-faced men and women, some rushing wildly up and down, calling each one to save their husbands, brothers, fathers ; some standing, silent, and still ; their blanched lips pressed together--their hands clasped tightly, watching as though fascinated, each movement of the doomed ship; some weeping loudly ; some looking idly on, some few calm and self-possessed, taking council together what was to be done.
"They can't get men enough to man the life-boat,” some one near Annie said. Well, it's no wonder-I wouldn't
go out in a quieter sea than this." “No boat could reach her," another answered; "it would be throwing life away to try it."
“Ay, I think so. She must shift for herself - ten to one she'll strike upon the pier like the Minerva, this morning," the first man said again.
“ But the Valentine's a tighter-built boat than ever the Minerva was," the other returned; "she'll stand a stouter shock than what sent the Minerva down."
“Not she, man—why, she's more than half a wreck already," was the half-careless, half-contemptuous answer. “ If she takes the pier, she'll be at the bottom in five minutes' time afterwards--trust my word for that.”
Standing by their side, Annje heard the words. No one to man the life-boat! no one to make one effort to save the crew !--no one, amongst all who stood there! She gazed wildly round her; the same officer who had spoken kindly to her in the morning, was standing with a group of gentlemen near.
She was beside him in a moment, her hand grasping his arm again. "The life-boat !--the life-boat!" she cried. «Will no
save them? Oh, go to them-go to them !-will nothing be done! Look I look! - they are sinking!