« ZurückWeiter »
the trades, and while busy setting up "Tut!' I said, “what's wrong with me, the jib guys forward, one of the tars said, that a pretty girl should unnerve me so “The young lady's up, sir !'
and cause me to suffer this uneasiness? “I looked aft, and at the break of They're all alike, these women, all alike. the poop-let me picture her with my I must conquer this, and have a chat mind's eye as then I saw her, in a with her.' But no! I could not rid common black merino gown, simple and myself of her image ; her eyes haunted free of all outward ornament, high up on There was something about her her throat, small enough I thought for which I could not understand, and yet my big hand to clasp round, which a I felt certain that with one glance she little slip of white wound in the shape had read me through, and knew me, of a collar, with a black snake-brooch careless, unthinking, and unsteady as I coiled in the centre-stood a young girl, It did not strike me then, but I of what age I could scarcely guess, her know now, what gave me such sensafigure, in spite of the black by which it tions. My pride was roused, and I tried was clothed, was so light and graceful, back to get hold of some of my early so youthful and airy-like, and yet her thoughts and feelings before they had pale delicate face so full of thought become blurred and blunted by half-aand expression. From wide, drooping dozen years of a sailor's life. sleeves, fastened at the wrist by a “I had no opportunity of seeing her bracelet as 't were of pure white coral, again for some time, as she remained two small hands, not less white than nearly always in the after cabin, where the wristbands, came shyly out, and I never penetrated. Old Martin sumeheld back bunches of dark hair, while times messed with me and sometimes with large, lustrous, speaking-like eyes with her, and all I could learn from him she looked wonderingly out over the was that Miss Hay was an orphan niece, blue dancing sea, its bubbles of foam as and had taken a strong and unconquerthey leapt to the sky, and sparkled and able liking to get this voyage with him. vanished, seeming to be reflected in I found myself putting numerous questhem. Such eyes !- I fancy now that I tions to old Nurse, (how we use that can reach beyond their outer porch, and word 'old' on board ship, for any one see the heaven that lay deep-hidden in we think of kindly disposition !) but them.
Ursula shook her head much in answer“I find I can hardly describe her pro- ing them, and seemed doubtful as to the perly to you; I am a bad hand at tally- voyage renewing her young mistress's ing women's gear, but, thank heaven! health. She was ever ready and willing it is not her outward form and sem- to dilate on Miss Hay's goodness and blance I love to recall, but the few words gentleness, and to tell how her sweet of truth and beauty I heard from her angel,' as she called her, was lips, that have been to me, throughout fitted for heaven than earth ; to all of my life since, an unceasing, ay, and which I was a curious listener, finding ever increasing source of pleasure. it interesting and making me think,
“Of course I went aft immediately, which I was never given much to, and when she smiled, and spoke my name, seldom indulged in, on any other subject but what came over me I do not know. but ship's duties. Stammering, blushing, and awkward in “ You remember how our last skipper every limb, I could not find a word to used to urge on us, that before coming utter, could not even muster courage, on deck to relieve it, we should get although I wished to ask her if I could ready a subject to employ our thoughts lead her to a seat. You smile! Well, I on, if not engaged in actual duties? myself hardly thought then that I could How, to pass time, we were to imagine be so taken a-back.
a ship in all manner of perilous and unforward to my work again, with a toward circumstances, and find out what
I went away
placed? How, if nothing else offered to Martin would say, 'I'm on deck, Mr. keep the old gentleman from our minds Treweeke, which was a hint he gene(an idle head being the devil's work- rally gave that we might relax the shop), we were to repeat and transpose strictness of our watch, and even go bethe multiplication table, or get by heart low if we liked, until he said, “The the most useful rules from Norie? course is so-and-so, Mr.
and we “I had now found a more fascinating again resumed charge. subject, and began to pass my watches “I began to take advantage of those building air-castles, and holding ima- pauses to have a chat with Miss Hayginary conversations with Miss Hay, slowly overcoming my diffidence, and which I intended she should have the beginning to take pleasure even in hearfull benefit of, when, getting in fine ing her speak. Sometimes I can call weather, it would permit her to appear up particular evenings, and even her more on deck.
words. One, when taking an altitude of “And that glorious time came at last! Procyon (your naming it to-night struck - when the night was only a softened the chord that revived all these memocontinuance of the day, and for whole ries), and she was leaning over the taffdays we had but to tauten a tack or rail, well wrapt-up, while the old man sheet, while the Buda, no clipper, seemed and Ursula chatted on the lee-wheel to put her best foot forward, and enjoy gratings. the steadiness of the weather as much "Taking a star, Mr. Treweeke ?' she as we ourselves did.
asked. When she ventured on deck, I “Yes, ma'am,' I said, 'to find the would summon up all my boldness to latitude.' ask her if she were better.'. Hesita- "Ah ! she continued, 'is it not tingly, and looking straight into mine strange, the practical use we make of with her large black eyes, she would stars, those other worlds, perhaps, with reply, 'I shall be better, Mr. Treweeke.' more glorious intelligences than ours !
“When?' I always felt inclined to We take a star, as you call it, and it tells ask-her tone seeming to lead me to do us where we are on this little globe ; so; but I could only hang back and while no friend at home has the remotest mutter some commonplaces about the knowledge of our position, although, voyage and the weather.
perhaps, thinking of us with tearful eyes “What was about her that I should and beating hearts, and this you get so have been so awed and awkward in her simply.' Then she went on, in a low presence? She was younger than I, sweet tone, telling half to herself, half and yet I felt a superiority of soul in to me, how they were as stepping stones, her when she spoke, and was aware of a by whose aid, through faith and love, we diffidence and respect in myself as if I could go on and on until in imagination were listening to one whose years claimed we reached the footstool of the Eternal, attention and silence. So different was and, laying bare our hearts, ask humbly she from all the women I had met in for peace and pardon, and for that assisformer years, that when she came near, tance and comfort without which our a shyness and half-dread seized me, and human impulses would drag us to a I could have run away from her pre- gloomy despair. sence, as in the days of childhood I “On me, who had looked on stars as remembered having done, on the ap- mere guide-posts in the heaven to assist proach of a stranger lady, hiding my us on our voyages, and who had found it head in my mother's lap.
a difficulty and trouble to learn the "She got better, perceptibly better, names of the few I knew, the effect even to a rose-flush on her cheeks, in was singular, and was like a vision of the tropical weather, and came oftener another world passing before me. When on deck.
I look back, I wonder most at the im"If not employed by ship's duties, Old perceptible manner in which a change
was wrought in my mind. I remember and laying it by in my heart, although no startling dawn, no sudden emerging at this moment they seem to fit and from light to darkness; but a growing float shadowily and dimly over the sea conviction must have been gradually of memory—a sad undertone in all I laying, hold of me that life and this could not fathom then, but which gave world were altogether different, and them a double beauty and interest when more beautiful than I had imagined, I found out its cause. and that my past had been a sad mis- “When we commenced running down take, which it would take all the future our easting to the southward we had got granted me to redeem, if I had only as far as 40° latitude, but finding the strength to manage it. I even thought weather rough and boisterous, made our at one time it would be better to leave
way up again to 37°, expecting to find off a sea-life to escape from the tempta- it better; but even there we had a bad tions surrounding it; but that was a fool- time of it, and Miss Hay was altogether ish thought, I soon decided, and saw confined to her cabin.
The old man clearly that the sea offered as many had requested me to go down and sit opportunities of doing work nobly as the with them. For awhile I delayed, but land.
at last mustered courage to do so. On What a fairy land I created of the these visits I would find her on the remainder of our voyage! With her sofa-bed, the curtain just withdrawn health increasing day by day, I pictured enough to show the pillow and her her delight and surprise on passing into small white face relieved by clusters of the Eastern world, How new life dark hair, talking to old Martin about would come to her in those warm, life and death, the sea and the stars, and sunny, glowing days, when we should the Great God who made all. I would be going through the Straits, the clear have given my rude and tempestuous blue sky above so mingling with the health to have taken away the otherclear blue sea below, dotted with the world tone from her voice and look." lovely white-beached, green-topt islands, “ What's that ?—two bells ? Nothing that at a first glance it seems all a in sight forward there ??' dream ! How I would startle and please “Nothing, sir," replied the men, stopher when the curious Strait-boats, with ping in their to-and-fro walk and gazing heaps of pine apples, oranges, mangos, steadily ahead. and bunches of golden plantains, with “ Two bells !” continued Fred, abtheir netted baskets of fowls and fresh sently. “Yes! it was two bells in my eggs, and chattering monkeys and parro- first watch one night, when Ursula, quets, would come alongside some quiet tapping me on the shoulder, said, “If morning, and she would wake up and you can come to the cabin, do, Mr. gaze with wondering eyes on a new Treweeke.' On going into the after world! How she would smile at the one, old Martin was saying, 'You know, jargon of the natives with their black Mary, you would come to sea, and it's skins and gaudy head-gear! And the very dull and dreary, and not as you homeward passage, what a pleasure trip expected.' I made of it, when, a stay in port hav- "Oh, no!' she said, 'far grander! ing recruited her health, she would be Oh! far grander ! All my life I have more able to enjoy her shipboard life! been dreaming of the sea, even when
“Many more pleasant evenings we had far inland, where in every direction hilltogether, which are among the treasures tops caught the clouds on their wanderstowed away in my inner being. She ings; where little met the eye save would be lying on the skylight perhaps, clumps and rows of dark fir-trees, making propped up with pillows, or, if the ship the land more solid, and the prison-like, rolled, on a sofa-cushion on the deck- shut-in feeling more intense, where the old Ursula watching her like a little only water was a little burn, listening
say, 'I hasten seawards; come with thought we might have done her good, me; my music is sweet and soothing, and got her safely out.' but it is nothing to the great ocean's. My attention was taken up with a Yes! I fancied it sang always—“I go dark wall of black cloudy stuff rising in to the sea ! come with me!” and whom the south-westward, and I commenced had I, dear old uncle, to care for where taking in sail. Do you remember one I slept but you ?'
beginning in the Bay of Bengal in this Come, Polly, don't go on so,' said manner; that night we lost our foreold Martin trying to smile,-'don't.' mast, where, when the clouds broke, we
“But she continued, Yes, Uncle, I saw the moon eclipsed, and said we longed to get near it, to be on it, to be should never forget it ?” far away from all land, and fancied I “I do," said I, “remember it well ; should die so much happier if clear of every man and boy knew fear that night all those trifles, which were miseries to if never before ; but go on describing one in my health, but which I could not
your squall.” help nor avoid meeting. You know, “I will, as near as I can,” he went Ursula, I came to die on the sea, if it on. “ It came slowly towards us with a was His will ! having been often told sough and moaning, such as you hear and knowing well I should not live long when, sitting in doors at home, all ears I feel it is not far-off—it is a wide listen as if to a supernatural voice outgrave, Mr. Treweeke !'
side. The squall struck us at eleven, and “I started at my name, and without from thence till four hours afterwards opening my lips stole away on deck, and we had a perfect battle with wind and made some work to distract my thoughts rain. The wind veered and shifted, and -'Is it possible,' I kept muttering, 'that no sooner had we the yards braced up it is not all a dream ? Can this young on one tack, than everything would be girl be resigned to early death and an aback, and she would be grinding round ocean grave ? No! it could hardly be. on her keel. Before I could get the She dying, and I strong-hearted, and topsails reefed she would sometimes be full of health, living on! No! it could dashing through the water, and like a hardly be.
mad dog scattering foam from her on “I saw very little of her after this,
every side. But
know the kind of only calling at intervals to ask in a low night, and the work it brings.” voice how she was getting on. If she "Go on," I said, interrupting him, heard me, I would hear her asking "go on; I realize it better when you nurse if that was Mr. Treweeke, and I describe minutely." would hasten away trying to stop the Well, then! in a moment,” he conbeating of my heart. The old man and tinued, “it would ll, and she would Ursula were constantly with her, and stagger uprightly, and shiver like a either would come and tell me whenever horse in battle, the sails flapping and she had mentioned my name. I had slatting, the topsail sheets surging in never seen consumption, and would not the yard-arms with a loud snap, the allow myself to think but of her getting lightning playing between the masts, better, and re-appearing on deck in the and cracking like a coach-whip about finer weather coming.
our ears, while from the black masses “We had run down our easting, and rolling over our mastheads, peal after were well up for the Strait. Still the peal of thunder grumbled and burst, as weather was variable and squally with if to annihilate a doomed ship. calms, when old Martin said
“ About three in the morning we were night :
in a dead lull; the squall had passed “This is not good for poor Molly; over, and was moving away from us ; she won't last long. I wish I hadn't but it had left an unearthly stillness brought her, Treweeke; but I did it all and silence behind it, around us, and in for the best—all for the best! I the air, a close pent-up feeling as of suf
focation that even now I seem to feel. panionship of a young girl for a few Rolling uneasily from side to side, short months should sink so deeply in now and then a mass of water would my heart, and colour all my future with strike us on the bow or quarter, or any- a hopeful radiance, making me strong where, with the dull, hollow sound of for work, and braced for trouble, firm a wooden hammer, subsiding again with for success, and ready for adversity-that a splash, as if breaking into a thousand even now, telling you all this, I see fragments; fagged and worn out, the angelic wings and hear an angel's voice, crew huddled under the forecastle, and when trying to pierce the thick oceanic a chilliness came over me, not from my cloud that wraps her in the far-off wet clothes—they were warm to the
Eastern sea ! touch—but as if a foreboding or fore- “On board ship, as you know, one shadowing of some disaster. It was cannot retire to a secluded spot and very dark. I held on to the mizen top- indulge either his grief or joy in quiemast back-stay, and tried to see the tude. There is always work to be helmsman, but couldn't. Thinking, done, and, light heart or heavy heart,
go down and see how they are ?' there is no shirking it; it must be and wringing the wet out of my coat- faced. The day of her death and of sleeves, I only shrank and felt cold, the squall, was one of those which, from suddenly cold, when a voice-I turned mixture of actual work with deep and not to see whose, said
sad thought, remains graven on the “ You may take in everything, sir ; memory, although conscious at the time the wind went away with her; we of having done and seen everything as if shall have a quiet day, Mr. Treweeke, in a dream. The squall seemed to have to bury Mary'
dragged all the turbulence of the sea, “Was it all a dream, old fellow ? all and the vapours of the atmosphere, away a dream ?” and, leaning his head on the with it, and left a life-giving warmth capstan, I heard him struggling to re- and vitality in the air as of a May-day press his sobbing.
in childhood. A mere thin veil of “ Are you tired, or shall I go on?” he fleecy clouds rested round the horizon, said, looking up after a long pause. into which the deep blue of the zenith “Not tired," I said,
pray go on.”
faded in till it became grey, and this in He did so, continuing in a kind of turn melted into the silvery surface of reverie.
The wind had died completely “How some days above others, with away, and the throbbing of the ocean's all their minutest events, and even our heart after its night's wrestle with the personal feelings at the moment of their dark spirit that had passed over it, was occurrence, fix themselves on the mind, seen only in long thin black lines that, unconsciously exercising an influence on starting out from the haze, grew firmer our inner life, and through it partly our and more distinct on their approach, outer one! Called up suddenly, in some ever rising and falling, gleaming and out-of-the-way place, by a slight coin- vanishing, until dying away near us cidence of nature perhaps, if nothing they showed on the other side firmer else, the whole of their incidents and and more distinct, retreating and sweeptheir results coming vividly back, the ing, and bound on their long journey good returning with its good, the evil northwards. Every sound jarring on with its evil, that retaining its sway my ear, and acting under some curious mostly which has been most cherished idea that it would be more honourable in the interval. This beautiful night, with death on board, I gave the orders and your mention of Procyon, recalled to haul all the sails up snugly; so stirless all that memorable voyage, and I feel was the air, their flapping and fluttering relief at having told you, what, till now, made it more mournful; and, noting with has been all my own. Why did I merit what a subdued and quiet manner the