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But think not, dreamer, to affright
Noon passed – but from his forest track
Alarm was sounded, and a band,
They buried him : the place is lone,
When spring, in green apparel clad,
To make the broad earth glad:
To deck bis grave no flower looks up,
The wild bee to its cup.
their berries blue.
THE CLERK'S YARN.
AN AUTHENTIC TALE OF THE
SEA: IN TWO PARTS.
Eigit bells rang merrily out along the decks of a noble corvette, as she dashed gracefully on her way through the long seas and sparkling waves of the Trades, in her course toward the Virgin Islands, whither she was 'bound on a cruise. A bright sky and a glorious moon were above her; while her white canvass, as it rose pile upon pile, and bellied to the soft, but constant breeze, looked like wreaths of untrodden snow on a mountain's side, in the pale and mellow light.
My watch on deck ! exclaimed the master's mate of the forecastle - a tall, raw-boned Virginian, of the old school of midship
- as he arose, when the first warning stroke of the bell fell on his ear, from three camp-stools, along which he had been stretching himself: it's my watch on deck. Hand me my pea-coat, Collins, and pass a chaw o' tobacco; none of your purser's allowance, 'ither. I must relieve the old soldier' who has been on post all the dog-watch;' and, suiting the action to the word, he ejected a quid from his mouth, that would have shamed in size the largest paper of Lorillard's fine-cut chewing tobacco, and supplied its place with another of equal dimensions. The master's mate adjusted carefully his pea-coat, and his quid, cast a wistful eye on the pile of hammocks which lay at the foot of the steerage-ladder, waiting to be slung for the night, and, raising a foot, was about to mount to the deck, when the form of the captain's clerk, who sat quietly in a corner, perusing the last page of a French novel, caught his eye.
• Come, Mr. Quills,' said he, come on deck, and spend an hour or two with me. You, who get half as much sleep again as one of our ground-tier berths, can easily afford the loss, this glorious night, without any very great sacrifice, ’ither. By-the-by, you promised to relate to me some strange adventure you met with in a merchantman, and I am now ready to listen to it. I should not be surprised, however, if it contains no more serious incident than the capsizing of the coffee-pot, some morning, and the loss of a breakfast thereby; for I never knew a person who had crossed the Atlantic in a packetship, but had seen in a watch all the 'wonders of the deep,' the Psalmist tells us about — such as mountain waves, and the like, with an agreeable sprinkling of mermaids, water-spouts, and seaserpents; while we poor devils, who spend most of our lives at sea, are perfectly content to think a wave as high as my old grandmother's brick barn, quite a wonder in its way. Come along, though, any how; you'll find me
• At your old post, caulking it under the long-bow-chaser,' squeaked out a sucking mid., of some three month's standing, from the inner edge of the mess-table, where he was engaged in scrawling what he termed 'a letter to his mother, which, although but half com
pleted, was already graced with sundry and divers charts of the Black Sea, done in ink.
'Clap a stopper on your red rope, youngster,' retorted the first speaker, or I'll flatten in your head-sheets for you. Uncle Sam must be d - ly troubled with his surplus revenue, to waste it upon such hard bargains as you are -- who, though you have a finger in every one's mess, muster in nobody's watch. Ah! I see you are writing to your mamma : mind and tell her, while you think of it, that the cook of the larboard mess has used for pudding-bags all the night-caps she stoved away so carefully in her dear boy's trunk, to keep its head from the cold ; and that the nasty reefers have docked the tail of the flannel night-gown she made to keep it warm in the West Indies, to make a new suit of rigging for the captain's monkey.'
'I am in a watch,' pouted the youngster; 'I'm in Mr. Brace's watch ; and mother thought it would be cold here, in winter; and 't was sister who put in the night-gown.'
One of her own, perhaps,' rejoined the mate, laughing: if
• I won't allow you to talk so of my mother and sister,' said the middy, bristling up: 'I'll demand gentlemanly satisfaction of you, Sir - I will
*Oh! pray do n't, pet : but since the wind sets so, I'm off — only blessings on the dear old lady's geographical acquirements, any how. Come, Quills.'
I'll follow in a moment,' said the clerk :' where shall I find you ? 'On the top-gallant forecastle, by the fore-mast.' So saying, he mounted the ladder, and disappeared on deck. The clerk soon stowed away the book in his locker, and followed the midshipman.
The night was indeed a lovely one. The seas were sparkling gloriously in the beams of a tropical moon, whose bright rays, streaming through the rigging and spars, chequered the deck in a thousand fantastic forms of light and shade, and glancing upward from the black and polished guns, made her iron battery appear as if cast in molten silver. The constant and fresh breeze of the Trades had lulled every sail to sleep, and they towered aloft against the deep blue sky, till they looked scarcely the size of a pockethankerchief, and heaved and and struggled, like the bosom of some fair girl, as though they would burst the envious bonds that restrained their freer play. A few soft and fleecy clouds, such as are only seen in these bright regions, were chasing each other along the fields of ether, and while they had nothing threatening in their aspect, assumed a thousand ever-varying shapes, which delighted the eye, and rendered the scene less monotonous. Ever and anon, clouds of flying fish, startled by the passing ship, would rise from the bosom of the deep, and flutter away far over the waves, with all the gayety
of landbirds. And at intervals, a dolphin might be marked, tracing his way through the liquid element, with the speed of an arrow, by the long rocket-like train of phosphorescent light which followed in his wake.
* You are sentimental to-night, Mr. Tackle,' said the clerk to the master's mate, who had not perceived his approach, and was leaning
against the forward-swifter of the fore-rigging, gazing ahead, apparently wrapped in deep thought.
Devilish little sentiment in me, Mr. Quills ; though my subject was tasty enough, for that matter: I was thinking if that d key, sitting out there on the sprit-sail yard, which played such a cursed trick with my best jacket other day, was nly a roast goose, well stuffed with potatoes and onions, he and I would soon be on better terms than we are at present. We had pea-soup, you know, for dinner to day, and it's only slops at best ; and though I swallowed the standing part of a gallon of it, I feel as empty now as a sailor's purse after a week's cruise ashore.'
Why, Tackle, in case such a metamorphose should befall the poor monkey, I myself would not object to join your mess, as I do n't relish pea-soup, and made but a slight dinner on it. But I think I heard you give the girls at C- a touch of sentiment when we lay there, fitting for sea.'
• Ay, ay, one 's forced to that now and then. Why, they expect it, as a matter of course ; and after a cruise in the Tropics, if one could not tell them of spicy breezes, and orange groves, they 'd set him down for a green-horn. Now, for my part, though I spun them a yarn, as long as a main-top bowline, about orange groves, full of lovely nymphs, and such boltherdash, I never saw but one grove of the kind, during all my cruising in the West Indies; and the fair damsel it contained was none other than a nigger wench, baking cassaba bread on an old rusty griddle. She, too, was such a blasted fright, that the first luff's dog, which I had along with me, barked himself into a fit of the croup, at the mere sight of her. I have always thought, however, that the little blue-eyed girl we both admired so much, was quizzing me; for when I found myself hove short, and so tailed on a quotation, she set up a giggle at it.'
• What was it, pray ?' • Why,' said I, as the poet says of the arrival of Columbus in the West Indies,
when woods of palm, And orange groves, and fields of balm,
Blew o'er the Haytien seas.' The devil
did! How the deuce could groves and trees blow over the seas ?'
So thought I, unless it might be in a hurricane; so I corrected myself, and said, “I mean the leaves from the trees, of course, Miss ;' but she smiled at that, too; and as there was nothing else to give her but the roots, I stoppered at that, and hauled in for the supper table.' • My dear fellow, the words are :
"When the land wind from woods of palm,
Blew o'er the Haytien seas.''
I've no notion of being laughed at every time I foul my hawse, or shiver a little in the wind. But now for the yarn. Who
has the look-out? - ah! I see it is you, Smith. Run down, my good fellow, into the steerage, and bring up a couple of camp-stools. We can sit here, Quills, in the wake of the fore-mast, out of sight of the officer of the deck. Keep a bright look-out, Smith,' said the mate, when the stools were brought, and the companions seated, and if you see the officer coming forward, let me know it.'
Ay, ay, Sir,' was the rejoinder; 'I 'll keep an eye on him, and a bright look-out ahead, too.'
• Now, Quills, commence your yarn.'
• I had been,' began the clerk, for some three or four years in a counting-house, in New-York, when, one morning, I was called into my employer's private office, by the senior partner of the house, and informed that they were about loading a vessel with arms and munitions of war for the patriots of South America ; and as the service required a trustworthy and experienced manager, they had concluded to appoint me supercargo, in case I was willing to accept the berth. I had often listened, with the greatest attention and delight, to romantic stories of the sea, which the masters and mates in my employer's service were in the habit of recounting, and bad long anxiously looked forward to the period when my lucky stars would present such an opportunity for gratifying my ardent desire to see the world. As you may imagine, I embraced the offer without hesitation, and set about preparing myself for the voyage.
• The vessel destined for the business, was a whacking brig, that had been built during the war, for a privateer, and pierced originally for eighteen guns.
With great length and breadth of beam, she was remarkably sharp; bad long raking masts, and a low hull; and sailed so fast, that, to use an expression of her captain, it was necessary to heave her to, now and then, to cool the rudder irons.' In those days, the West Indies swarmed with pirates; and as our cargo was valuable, we were armed with six guns, and carried a crew of eighteen men, to meet any attack those desperate marauders might make upon us.
Our destination was the island of Curacoa, where the patriot privateers were in the habit of rendezvousing, to replenish their stores and sell their prizes. In the course of a week, we were loaded, and had sailed. Although miserably sea-sick, for the first two or three days, I shall never forget the emotions of awe and delight with which I was filled by the tumbling, boundless, and lonely
• Here,' thought I, ‘man is indeed free. Here are no bounds, no walls, no enclosures, to restrain him. No lords of the soil are here, to claim territory and to exclude his neighbors — no roads, no paths, to mark the route. No one is in the way of another; there is ample room and space for all.'
We were running rapidly on our course, and had entered far into the latitude of the West India islands, when early one mo
morning, the cry of · Wreck, ho !' from a man who had been sent aloft, on the top-gallant yard, to overhaul some of the steering sail gear, attracted the attention of every one, fore and aft, even to the old black cook, who issued from the galley, with a pan of ham and eggs in his hand, and became so absorbed in the interest of the scene, that some of the tars, possessed of more appetite than curiosity, lightened the dish of its savory contents, and afforded us a hearty laugh at poor Cuffee's