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The lamp had been lit at the moment of the shock, and shed a dim light as the ship lurched leeward, tumbling cots, tables, chairs, chests and passengers in a heap together; and as the cry came she's sinking ! followed by the shrieks of the passengers, the little Chinese, heretofore mentioned, lay pinned to the lee lockers by a chest jammed against his middle, where he lay kicking and scrabbling like a huge horse fly stuck in a tar barrel, and crying out with a face as red as Lucifer, “Got dam —Got dam —Got dam 'While at the same moment, the tall Jonathan leapt from his birth, and shouted out, ‘Where's my boots? where's my boots?’ as if he could not think of going to the bottom without them. As luck would have it, the captain made his appearance at this moment, saying, ‘the storm was well nigh over.’ The words we had heard from the deck, it seemed, had only referred to the bending of a fresh sail. The effect was electrical. Every one of us, man, woman and child, burst into a laugh, almost as loud as was our former shriek; while the little Chinese swore louder than before, and Jonathan went tumbling up the hatchway, muttering through his long nose, ‘Well, I guess that are thing aint polite nor nothing, no how.’ Poor Jonathan . I pitied him ever afterwards, for he bore the name of Boots to the end of the voyage. I myself sought the deck soon after, and what a scene was before me. Could it be possible the loud storm had so lately been there 2 could it be possible the black sky had been rolling and solding over us? and that the lightning and thunder had been glimmering and surging from it, as if it embosomed all the demons of the universe 2 Where had it gone, then The sky above me was as blue as the eye of beauty, and stainless as the robe of the cherubim. The wind was low and balmy as if breathed from isles of spice and cinnamon, and only sent to us on ministerings of mercy. The moon hung soft and glimmering in the far ether, and around her the stars were gathered and shining in lambent beauty, like so many guardian spirits of the world. The high topped and frothy waves were gone, and in their places lay dimpling in the moon-beams, such only as break on a summer shore, filling the green groves with harmony: Sweeping along in easy undulations, rather in sport as it seemed than otherwise, the light reflected on their curling combs as they heaved to meet it, made them look like banks of topaz emerald and crystal moving by magic ; while the softened feeling, creeping through the heart of the beholder, as this beauty lay before him, and he contrasted it with the scene an hour previous, and the low dashing sound they made came up into his ears, was well calculated to stir the heart, if beauty can do it, and give to it a pulsation and a power of joy, the memory of which is not soon to pass away.
I have, since then, seen lovely scenes; I have admired the stream the cataract and the ocean a thousand times, but have never been so listed up by my feelings as at that moment, or felt with such full force, the harmony there is, between the beautiful in nature, and that which is in the depths of the human soul.
“They talk of love and pleasure—but 'tis all
Reader, this chapter has something darker in it than the last. The scenes just described for you, have rather led me off from the darker picture; and in living over, but in fancy, the three or four days I have described, I have forgotten myself, and wandered into something like happiness. O, when I look back at those days—and what I have told you occurred years since—when I think of the soft and sunny star which at that period seemed rising on my existence, when I think how that voyage, with its inconsiderable variableness, succeeded in charming me off into something like an Elysium of feeling, I could pray for the same hallucination to come over me again, even if it were to be interrupted by the same catastrophe, which tore me from all I loved, and threw me back into the universe of my own unfettered passions. They tell us of happiness in this world. Yes! but it is the lightning lacing and overlacing a thunder-cloud—lovely and destructive; for while we gaze at the beauty, a fire-bolt descends and scathes us. But let me go on. I shall tire you but a moment. Nothing occurred of importance after the events recorded in the last chapter, for two or three days; until, late in the morning of the fourth, we found ourselves skimming lightly through the Bahamas, most of them so low as to look more like banks of fog than any thing else, till close upon them. The waters here were still, and blue, and beautiful; some of the shores looked white, as if thickly strown with sea shells; huge quantities of sea weed now and then obstructed our passage; and the beautiful birds of the tropics came about the ship, circled our masts for a moment, and then slowly betook themselves away. But the wind was fair, and our vessel, being fully rigged again, we soon left the islands behind us. The next morning I was on deck before sunrise—our position was much changed. . We were off the jutting cape, on the east end of Cuba; and though we had no day-light as yet, by the saint glimmer of the moon as she dipped her horn in the ocean, I saw height after height of green and waving groves, rising one above another as regularly as if laid down by the hand of art, and this beautiful scene backed by high and broad precipices, making it more beautiful by contrast, while a low line of white foam was saintly perceptible along the softly winding and indented curvature of the shore.
The East was soon one flood of glory. Far along from north to south, and rising nearly a third of the way to the zenith, a broad sheet of sapphire and gold hung down, and pinned as it seemed by a single star to the blue wall of heaven; and, flashing all over its ample folds, were floating clouds of exceeding beauty, some of them mere spots, dark in the center, and fringed with tassels of silver and chrysophrase, others more ample in their spreading draperies, and painted with all the colors of the rain-bow, while the bright and divergent shafts of light, streaming up from the yet unrisen sun, gave the scene such an imposing grandeur as I till then had never witnessed.
It will hardly be believed that man is cruel in these regions—yet he is more blood thirsty. The very blessings of the place have made him a devil—shut up his heart to mercy, torn from it every human sympathy, and steeped him to the lips in crime and murder.
The wind shifting two or three points, the Captain sound it necessary to run in for the island. We had scarcely passed Cape Maize, when a light built felucca darted out from the shore, and bore down upon us. A pirate boat with a dozen men in her, is no pleasant companion at any time—but a craft like that, with thrice that number probably, was much less to be desired. That this was a pirate, we could not doubt, from the mode of his appearance,— and that she was full of men, we could now see by the light of the sun just breaking over the waters. Though some six or eight miles from us, by the help of his glass the Captain discovered she had no heavy arms aboard, and as we had four smart carronades, we could not utterly despair. Every passenger was ordered on deck, the females sent below—Mary excepted, whom I could not tear from my side, though I besought her with all the passion of an almost maddened heart—and the hatches fastened down. Pistols and cutlasses were given to each, the decks cleared, braces laid to the guns, and every thing prepared for action.
For myself } had no fear—a sort of daring joy took possession of me, and I felt as if I could have sought my way through a thousand. But Mary, she was the weight upon me. She would not leave me; and I had to bear the consciousness, that one, dear to me as my life, was as likely to perish by the first shot, as the most reckless and swearing villain of us all. Yet there was something in her eye as little like fear, as the passion I felt in my own bosom—a power was there, a high, and, I may say, a proud resolve to live or die with me, which made me think of Semiramis when she battled for Assyria.
We had the wind, and that was our advantage; and it was our Captain's purpose, either to run the pirate down (for he was not half our bulk though trebling us in men) or cripple him at a distance, and trust to chance and a good vessel to escape. He was coming up on our right, battling with the wind, and of course had to tack often—this was in our favor also. We were gliding lightly under our jib and square sails, and these giving us no trouble, we could strike him as we chose. The pirate either did not suspect our intent, or he thought it too bold for us, for his course lay right athwart our own, and he manifested no disposition to change it. He was now perhaps within three miles of us, and the Captain thinking our shot might reach him, the lee ports were opened, and a gun double shotted thrust out. The pirate tacked at the moment, as not liking it; but his vessel not having the requisite speed, she did not pay off well, and, balancing a moment with his masts in a line with us, he gave us the fairest chance to rake him. The gun at the moment was fired, and as the smoke swept off, we saw the splinters dance up from the pirate's tafferel, as the shot bolted through it, and pitched into the very midst of the crew. • D n him '' growled our Captain— give him another such, and we’ll send them all to the devil' The other gun was run out and fired, and sure enough, the pirate had enough of it. The felucca's foremast went over board like lightning. ‘Now we will meet the villains at their own game! Here mate— drag those two starboard guns over here! Some of you take these and reload, while we ply him again—he shall go to the bottom if I have to go with him—come, bustle !’ Alas, why did we not take the moment and escape. I should have had a brighter story to—but let me proceed. The pirate had cleared his ship of the fallen mast—and, having turned about, with his remaining one he was trying to escape. “Ah, ha, my fine fellow—d n ye but I’ll teach ye how they do these things in old Maine, eh there, take that ' and off went another gun. The Captain was a splendid gunner, and in less than fifteen minutes, the pirate lay unmanageable; as fair a mark as one would wish of a holy-day, and into which with a most murderous certainty, we pitched our shot one after another, till the cannon were so heated we could scarcely handle them. All this time the pirate was as little formidable as a cock-boat. Not a piece in him above a musket, he lay there like a beast caught in the toils, and could not return a blow. Our Captain was like a maniac. It seemed little less than downright murder, to continue the work; but his temper was up, and I doubt whether, even if the flag had been down, which, strange to say, was yet flying, whether he would have desisted. The pirate now got out his long boat, and tried to tow his vessel ashore—I saw one of our shot strike it, and tear it and the poor wretches all to pieces. He had now nothing to do but lay still and bear it, and this he did, until he was evidently sinking.
This put new life into our Captain—he ceased firing and ordered every sail set. The wind came on stiff at the moment, and, with the speed of ten knot, we bore directly for the wreck. With her tiller held by the Captain's own hand, the Swan went over the waves like a bird, the waters roaring at her bows, and behind her a long track of foam.
‘Stand ready all !' shouted the Captain. “Down—down every man look out for the shock!!’
At that moment we struck the pirate right amid ship—the wreck parted with a shock of thunder. A wild howl rose horribly to heaven, and the sea went over them forever.
As the pirate vessel parted, a single shot was given us, and Mary lay weltering in blood upon my bosom.
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Reader, these things happened years ago. I have been alone since then—I can say no more.
DURING A WAKEFUL NIGHT.
Why wilt thou not, with leaden hand,
I've tossed about for six full hours,
For every night, except this one,
Come now shake hands and let's be friends,
That's a fine fellow—now good night,
vo L. i. i. 30