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before the throne of mercy, confiding and repentant, pouring out a grateful prayer for the happy close of another day! Unfortunately, however, it is but a form, and one which is every day falling more and more into desuetude, with so many other ceremonies of the Roman faith, which once added to its splendor, or aided its delusions. Still, to imaginative people, who witness it for the first time, it has a deep charm, which can only be dissipated by custom, and the conviction that instead of one of the most beautiful services of religion, the evening sacrifice of grateful hearts, it is but an empty mockery.
LOVE'S LABOR LOST.
A SKETCH OF KEY WEST: BY THE AUTHOR OF THE DRAMA OF 'ANNE BOLEYN.'
READER of migratory habits, for I need ask no other - have you ever, in any of your flights, visited Key West? Probably never; for it is a Marbleheadish sort of a place, that nobody visits, unless impelled by the broom-stick of the wrinkled hag Necessity. The vast majority of our countrymen would be in utter ignorance of the existence of such a spot, were it not for those ominous paragraphs in our daily and weekly chronicles, entitled, Melancholy Shipwreck,' Unfortunate Disaster,' Disputed Salvage,' etc. Indeed, many men of great intelligence are accustomed to consider this jewel imbedded in coral, as a nest of pirates, because it is the abode of 'wreckers;' not reflecting, that although, like the lawyer and doctor, the wrecker lives by the miseries of his fellow men, he may nevertheless be honest. Some individual has made the discovery before us, that there are good and bad men in every profession or business' the lawyer may swindle, the doctor may knowingly prescribe nostrums to make the invalid worse; and the wrecker may beguile a ship to her destruction; and yet we are all willing to trust lawyers when we are in trouble, doctors when we are ill, and the life of the shipwrecked mariner and passenger, as well as his property, is often saved only by the daring and perseverence of the wrecker. Cases of piracy are as rare in the latter profession, as are swindling and murder in the two former. Key West, it must be allowed, is no paradise; but neither is it a pandemonium. The wrecker is the main ingredient in the composition of its society; yet the universal lawyer and doctor are here also; the merchant and the devoted minister of the gospel, too, to modify greatly the roughness which must necessarily exist in a society of sailors.
The town is situated on a small island of the same name, which is one of that Archipelago of sandy and coral islets, formed on that immense submarine reef which makes the whole southern coast of Florida as inapproachable as the crystal den of Beloun the Tartar, except through the mysterious portal of Key West. The island may possibly at present contain a thousand inhabitants, including dogs and swine. Stunted trees, thickly-matted bushes, and gigantic weeds, sufficient to supply a whole convention of Botanic Physicians,' are in this island the sole products of unassisted nature. No one but a native of Cape Cod, or the grand desert of Zahara, can possibly conceive how its soil can be tortured to produce any thing; yet around a few of the neater dwellings, the orange, the lime, and the cocoa, have, by sedulous coaxing, been made to assume a very thrifty appearance. It has been for many years a sort of half-way house, where small craft from the Atlantic towns, bound to ports in the Gulf of Mexico, might stop to procure water, and if grievously short,' might be accommodated, at an extortionate price, with a few handsful of little green, gnurly, ligneous fragments, which the Key Westers facetiously term fire-wood.'
The climate is highly salubrious; at least thus saith the worthy Boniface of the 'city,' who stands prepared to testify to diverse remarkable cures effected on sundry consumptive invalids, by a residence of a single season at his house. For those who are fond of living on fish exclusively, the fare is also excellent, in the opinion of the worthy personage aforesaid; and in truth, a sight of the mammoth turtle taken here, might put the pericardium, epigastrium, heart, liver, and spleen of a London alderman to the execution of cotillions and waltzes of ecstatic delight.
THE sun had yet two hours of his daily journey to complete, and was shedding his softest smiles on the white houses of the town, and the shipping in the harbor. At the end of a pier lay a fore-and-aft schooner, of light and graceful model, on board of which a single individual might be seen, bestriding the tiller. His duck trowsers and Russia shirt, his rusty tarpaulin and the black stump of a pipe that protruded from a face whose combined features strikingly resembled a half-peck of blue-nosed potatoes piled pyramidically, with the largest at the top, bespoke him every inch a sailor. The spirit of the storm had passed harmlessly over his head, but alas! it had settled on his nose. The spirit of the grog-shop had done likewise, only adding deeper, darker, and more Titianic tints to the rubicund proboscis. This individual had just paused a moment, to insert a little finger into the bowl of his pipe, for the purpose of compressing its contents, as he cast his eye up the pier, and saw his well-dressed captain hastily approaching. Instantly the pipe disappeared in the recesses of his spacious pocket, and his ample lips puckered together, in the shape of the nozzle of a dried ox-bladder, for the purpose of modifying certain sounds which he intended to emit in the shape of a long and sentimental whistle. But on the nearer approach of his employer, the employée evidently changed his purpose; for quitting the tiller, he advanced to the main rigging, and stood silently awaiting the expected orders.
Well, Mr. Lircome, still weather for this time of year, eh?' 'Yes, Sir; but I'm thinking it'll breeze by sun-down from Nor' West.'
Come, let's go aft.' stepped aft to the
So I think, and that's why I'm here now. So saying, the captain jumped on board, and taffrail, observing, as he walked along: You 've noticed that fellow outside, Mr. Lircome?'
Ay, the brig;' I've been watching her all the afternoon: her colors is sot for a pilot.'
And the pilot, you know, has left his post, on a visit to Cow-Keys. Bill, my boy, what's the use of ceremony? Our business has been dull lately, eh?
'Have n't made a single picaillon since the Belshazzur stove her bottom, Sir.'
Ha, ha! that was well done, and turned out well, notwithstanding the backing and filling of the lawyers and owners. I can't but thank you over and over again for that job, Bill; it's kept me and my family in trim ever since. By the did you save any of your share of
Not a stiver, Sir. I'm no miser, thanks to a considerate daddy, that helped me to spend all my first wages in a genteel way. But I would n't run such a risk again for the little I got then. It would n't hardly pay for the hemp collar that I like to have got.'
Why, you got a thousand dollars, and with a little prudence, you might have saved enough to have purchased a vessel, and begun on your own hook.'
'Saved! ay, but that's part of the business I never learned. I must make it all at a slap, or I shall never be better than mate.'
'My dear fellow, save me that brig, and this schooner shall be yours! Yes, I mean it, and I'll pay any extra wages that may be necessary to insure the secrecy of the crew: one good haul will make me independent, and I'll retire from business. Come, what say?'
The mate took a short turn on the quarter-deck, thrust both hands into his pockets, then stopped suddenly, and having, by a masterly display of muscular power, succeeded in evolving his huge quid from one cheek to the other, turned to the captain, and replied:
'Its a hanging business; but I'll try it.'
Enough; I know you'll succeed: but mind ye, I'm to know nothing of it. The risk is your own, and so is the schooner, if you succeed. Is the crew ready?'
'They will be, at fifteen minutes' warning.'
'Well, be out with the first of the breeze: have your canvass ready for the white streak, and douse your top-masts. But
trust you, Bill?'
True as a die, Sir, and never say die, neither.' 'Well, good-bye, and good luck to you!'
THE last blush of parting day was fading upon the waters, as the swift schooner shot along the shore, and passed close under the light at the south-west end of the Key. The top-masts were lowered away, and in a few minutes more, by dint of a few strokes of the hammer, the black schooner presented a plain white streak from bends to counter. The breeze continued to freshen, and the graceful vessel, soon emerging from the harbor, bowed and danced swan-like upon the waves of the Gulf. The brig's light shone distinctly off Sand-Key, as she stood on a westerly tack. The schooner at first stood away to the south-east, to avoid being seen; but when well out, she turned her head westward, and stood on in the wake of the brig. An hour's beating brought the vessels within hail. A loud Boo-oo!' from both speaking-trumpets was followed by the query from Bill : 'Do you want a pilot?'
Yes where have you been all day?' 'To Cow-Keys—just got back. What's your cargo?' 'Assorted-for Mobile. Can I get in to-night?' 'Yes; follow me. How much do you draw?' 'Eleven feet but you'd better come aboard.'
'No, no; tack when I tack, and you'll clear every thing. Hard a-lee, aboard the brig!'
'Hard a-lee, Sir!'
Blocks and cordage rattled, sailors yelled, yards whirled, and the
vessels came round together. For fifteen minutes the brig walked the waters, and then a heavy thump, and a harsh grating sound, announced that she had struck!
'Up helm! Halloo, pilot! we're on the reef! Bear a hand here!' A suppressed but distinct laugh from the forecastle of the schooner was the only reply to the disastrous intelligence from the brig.
WELL, Bill, is she safe?' inquired the captain, as he leaped on
'Safe as a bug in a rug, Sir!'
'Where did you lay her?'
'On the south-east edge, off Sand-Key.'
'Did she thump well?'
'Beautiful! She 's on as far as her fore-mast, and a hole in her botI'll bet the drinks of it.'
tom as big as my hand!
'Good! What cargo?'
'Good ag'in! I'll sleep aboard to-night. We must be down at peep of day, for it looks breezy: but she 'll stay, won't she?'
It'll take a harrycane to blow her off, Sir.'
It did look breezy, and it did breeze, and the 'harrycane' came; and when day broke, Bill mounted the rigging to report to the captain, who stood in the companion-way, gazing upward with intense anxiety. Not a word from Bill!
'What! don't you see her?' inquired the captain, in a tone of intense anxiety.
Yes I see her.'
• Where away
About ten miles off, Sir, standing west by no'th-hull all down, Sir!'
Parents and teachers are requested to take notice how the ardent spirit of inquiry may be damped in youth, by a too sudden shock. The captain dashed his hat upon the deck, and gave vent to sundry expletives, which tended to the condemnation of his own eyes and soul; but the desire for farther information seemed to have utterly deserted him. It was a pursuit of knowledge under difficulties.' He asked not another question, but hastened away to the nearest grog-shop to alleviate his sorrows. Bill watched the captain till he disappeared, and then slowly descended the rigging, muttering to himself several times, with very distinct and diverse intonations, That's what I call LOVE'S LABOR LOST!'