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There was a dark gloom in my lonely chamber, when I at length returned to it; but I was tired now, and, getting into bed again, fell into the depths of sleep until broad day; when I was aroused at eight or nine o'clock by some one knocking or calling at my door.
“ What is the matter ?” “A wreck! close by!" “ What wreck ?”
“A schooner from Spain or Portugal, laden with fruit and wine. Make haste, sir, if you want to see her! It's thought down on the beach she'll go to pieces every moment."
I wrapped myself in my clothes as quickly as I could, and ran into the street, where numbers of people were before me, all running in one direction, to the beach. I ran the same way, outstripping a good many, and soon came facing the wild sea. Every appearance it had before presented bore the expression of being swelled ; and the height to which the breakers rose and bore one another down, and rolled in, in interminable hosts, was most appalling.
In the difficulty of hearing anything but wind and waves, and in the crowd, and the unspeakable confusion, and my first breathless efforts to stand against the weather, I was so confused that I looked out to sea for the wreck, and saw nothing but the foaming heads of the great waves.
A boatman laid a hand upon my arm, and pointed. Then I saw it, close in upon us.
One mast was broken short off, six or eight feet from the deck, and lay over the side, entangled in a maze of sail and rigging; and all that ruin, as the ship rolled and beat,—which she did with a violence quite inconceivable,
-beat the side as if it would stave it in. Some efforts were being made to cut this portion of the wreck
away ; for, as the ship, which was broadside on, turned toward us in her rolling, I plainly descried her people at work with axes—especially one active figure, with long curling hair. But a great cry, audible even above the wind and water, rose from the shore; the sea, sweeping over the wreck, made a clean breach, and carried men, spars, casks, planks, bulwarks, heaps of such toys, into the boiling surge.
The second mast was yet standing, with the rags of a sail, and a wild confusion of broken cordage, flapping to and fro. The ship had struck once, the same boatman said, and then lifted in, and struck again. I understood him to add that she was parting amidships. As he spoke, there was another great cry of pity from the beach. Four men arose with the wreck out of the deep, clinging to the rigging of the remaining mast ; uppermost, the active figure with the curling hair.
There was a bell on board ; and as the ship rolled and dashed, this bell rang; and its sound, the knell of those unhappy men, was borne toward us on the wind. Again we lost her, and again she rose. Two of the four men were gone.
I noticed that some new sensation moved the people on the beach, and I saw them part, and Ham come breaking through them to the front.
Instantly I ran to him, for I divined that he meant to wade off with the rope. I held him back with both arms; and implored the men not to listen to him, not to let him stir from that sand.
Another cry arose, and we saw the cruel sail, with blow on blow, beat off the lower of the two men, and
fly up in triumph round the active figure left alone upon the mast. Against such a sight, and against such determination as that of the calmly desperate man, who was already accustomed to lead half the people present, I might as hopefully have entreated the wind.
I was swept away to some distance, where the people around me made me stay; urging, as I confusedly perceived, that he was bent on going, with help or without, and that I should endanger the precautions for his safety by troubling those with whom they rested. I saw hurry on the beach, and men running with ropes, and penetrating into a circle of figures that hid him
Then I saw him standing alone, in a seaman's frock and trousers, a rope in his hand, another round his body, and several of the best men holding to the latter.
The wreck was breaking up. I saw that she was parting in the middle, and that the life of the solitary man upon the mast hung by a thread.
He had a singular red cap on, not like a sailor's cap, but of a finer color; and as the few planks between him and destruction rolled and bulged, and as his death-knell rung, he was seen by all of us to wave this cap. I saw him do it now, and thought I was going distracted, when his action brought an old remembrance to my mind of a once dear friend, the once dear friend, Steerforth.
Ham watched the sea until there was a great retiring wave; when he dashed in after it, and in a moment was buffeting with the water, rising with the hills, falling with the valleys, lost beneath the foam,-borne in toward the shore, borne on toward the ship.
At length he neared the wreck. He was so near, that
with one more of his vigorous strokes he would be clinging to it, when a high, green, vast hill-side of water moving on shoreward from beyond the ship, he seemed to leap up into it with a mighty bound,--and the ship was gone!
They drew him to my very feet, insensible, dead. He was carried to the nearest house, and every means of restoration was tried; but he had been beaten to death by the great wave, and his generous heart was stilled forever.
As I sat beside the bed, when hope was abandoned, and all was done, a fisherman who had known me when Emily and I were children, and ever since, whispered my name at the door.
“Sir, you will come over yonder ?” !
The old remembrance that had been recalled to me was in his look, and I asked him, “Has a body come ashore ?"
He answered nothing. But he led me to the shore. And on that part of it where she and I had looked for shells, two children,-on that part of it where some lighter fragments of the old boat blown down last night had been scattered by the wind,-among the ruins of the home he had wronged, -I saw him lying with his head upon his I had often seen him lie at school.
THE SWEETEST PICTURE.
That hang on memory's wall,
That seemeth the best of all; Nor for its gnarled oaks olden,
Dark with the mistletoe ; Nor for the violets golden
That sprinkle the vale below; Nor for the milk-white lilies
That lean from the fragrant hedge ; Nor for the vines on the upland,
Where the bright red berries rest; Nor the pink, nor the pale, sweet cowslips,
It seemed to me the best. I once had a little brother
With eyes that were dark and deep In the lap of that olden forest
He lieth in peace asleep.
Free as the winds that blow,
The summers of long ago.
And one of the autumn days
little brother A bed of the yellow leaves. Sweetly his pale arms folded
My neck in sweet embrace
Silently covered his face ;