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“ Dillon and the cockswain were now the sole occupants of their dreadful station. The former stood, in a kind of stupid despair, a witness of the scene we have related; but as his curdled blood began again to flow more warmly through his heart, he crept close to the side of Tom, with that sort of selfish feeling that makes even hopeless misery more tolerable, when endured in participation with another.
“« When the tide falls,' he said in a voice that betrayed the agony of fear, though his words expressed the renewal of hope, we shall be able to walk to land.'
6. There was one, and only One, to whose feet the waters were the same as a dry deck, returned the cockswain ; • and none but such as have his power will ever be able to walk from these rocks to the sands. The old seaman paused, and turning his eyes, which exhibited a mingled expression of disgust and compassion, on his companion, he added, with reverence,— Had you thought more of him in fair weather, your case would be less to be pitied in this tempest.
“. Do you still think there is much danger ? asked Dillon.
“. To them that have reason to fear death. Listen! do you hear that hollow noise beneath ye ?
«« 'Tis the wind, driving by the vessel !! • "• 'Tis the poor thing herself,' said the affected cockswain, 'giving her last groans. The water is breaking up her decks, and in a few minutes more the handsomest model that ever cut a wave will be like the chips that fell from her timbers in framing !
““Why, then, did you remain here ? cried Dillon, wildly. “To die in my coffin, if it should be the will of God,' returned Tom. "These waves, to me, are what the land is to you; I was born on them, and I have always meant that they should be my grave.
« But I-I, shrieked Dillon, 'I am not ready to die L-I cannot die !—I will not die !
“« Poor wretch ! muttered his companion ; 'you must go, like the rest of us; when the death-watch is called, none can skulk from the muster.
“I can swim,' Dillon continued, rushing, with frantic eagerness, to the side of the wreck. “Is there no billet of wood, no rope, that I can take with me ?
“« None; everything has been cut away or carried off by the sea. If ye are about to strive for your life, take with ye a stout heart and a clean conscience, and trust the rest to God !
“God!' echoed Dillon in the madness of his phrensy; "I know no God! there is no God that knows me !
“Peace !' said the deep tones of the cockswain, in a voice that seemed to speak in the elements ; 'blasphemer, peace !
The heavy groaning, produced by the water in the timbers of the Ariel, at that moment added its impulse to the raging feelings of Dillon, and he cast himself headlong into the sea.
* * * * * * « • Sheer to port, and clear the under-tow! sheer to the south
Dillon heard the sounds, but his faculties were too much obscured by terror to distinguish their object; he, however, blindly yielded to the call, and gradually changed his direction, until his face was once more turned towards the vessel. The current swept him diagonally by the rocks, and he was forced into an eddy, where he had nothing to contend against but the waves, whose violence was much broken by the wreck. In this state he continued still to struggle, but with a force that was too much weakened to overcome the resistance he met. Tom looked around him for a rope, but all had gone over with the spars, or been swept away by the waves. At this moment of disappointment his eyes met those of
the desperate Dillon. Calm, and inured to horrors, as was the veteran seaman, he involuntarily passed his hand before his brow, to exclude the look of despair he encountered; and when, a moment afterwards, he removed the rigid member, he beheld the sinking form of the victim, as it gradually settled in the ocean, still struggling, with regular, but impotent strokes of the arms and feet, to gain the wreck, and to preserve an existence that had been so much abused in its hour of allotted probation. • «• He will soon know his God, and learn that his God knows him ! murmured the cockswain to himself. As he yet spoke, the wreck of the Ariel yielded to an overwhelming sea, and, after a universal shudder, her timbers and planks gave way, and were swept towards the cliffs, bearing the body of the simple-hearted cockswain among the ruins."
We have before alluded to “ the Bravo," where this indomitable wilfulness has perilled the success of the work in question. There is a fine shadow thrown over the following scene, which reminds us of some of the effects produced by the Old Masters. Indeed, authors and painters are fellow artists; one works with words, the other with colors ; one reaches nature through the eye, the other through the ear. The advantage, however, lies with the poet, as his descriptions rouse the eye to an activity as well as the other senses ; for to a reader of the commonest imagination, we doubt if every vivid description does not bring palpably before his vision the scene related.
As a piece of this fine word painting we quote the following.
« The near approaph of the strange gondola now attracted the whole attention of the old man. It came swiftly towards him,
impelled by six strong oars, and his eye turned feverishly in the direction of the fugitive. Jacopo, with a readiness that necessity and long practice rendered nearly instinctive, had taken a direction which blended his wake in a line with one of those bright streaks that the moon drew on the water, and which, by dazzling the eye, effectually concealed the objects within its width. When the fisherman saw that the Bravo had disappeared, he smiled and seemed at ease.
“Aye, let them come here," he said; it will give Jacopo more time. I doubt not the poor fellow hath struck a blow since quitting the palace that the council will not forgive! The sight of gold hath been too strong, and he hath offended those who have so long borne with him. God forgive me, that I have had communion with such a man! but when the heart is heavy, the pity of even a dog will warm our feelings. Few care for me now, or the friendship of such as he could never have been welcome.
“ Antonio ceased, for the gondola of the state came with a rushing noise to the side of his own boat, where it was suddenly stopped by a backward sweep of the oars. The water was still in ebullition, when a form passing into the gondola of the fisherman, the larger boat shot away again to the distance of a few hundred feet, and remained at rest.
“ Antonio witnessed this movement in silent curiosity; but when he saw the gondoliers of the state lying on their oars, he glanced his eye again furtively in the direction of Jacopo, saw that all was safe, and faced his companion with confidence. The brightness of the moon enabled him to distinguish the dress and aspect of a bare-foot Carmelite. The latter seemed more confounded than his companion, by the rapidity of the movement, and the novelty of his situation. Notwithstanding his confusion, however, an evident look of wonder crossed his mortified features when he first beheld the humbled condition, the thin and whitened locks, and the gene
ral air and bearing of the old man with whom he now found himself.
«« Who art thou ?' escaped him, in the impulse of surprise.
“6 Antonio of the Lagunes! A fisherman that owes much to St. Anthony, for favors little deserved.'
“5 And why hath one like thee fallen beneath the senate's displeasure ?
“I am honest and ready to do justice to others. If that offend the great, they are men more to be pitied than envied.'
4. The convicted are always more disposed to believe themselves unfortunate than guilty. The error is fatal, and it should be eradicated from the mind, lest it lead to death.'
“«Go tell this to the patricians. They have need of plain counsel, and a warning from the church.
“My son, there is a pride and anger, and perverse heart in thy replies.
* * * * * * * * * * “ Father," he said, when a long and earnest look was ended, "there can be little harm in speaking truth to one of thy holy office. They have told thee there was a criminal here in the Lagunes, who hath provoked the anger of St. Mark ?
* * * * * * * * * * 6. Thou speakest of another !—thou art not then the criminal they seek ?
“I am a sinner, like all born of woman, reverend Carmelite, but my hand hath never held any other weapon than the good sword with which I struck the infidel. There was one lately here, that I grieve to add, cannot say this !
“. And he is gone ?
“The Carmelite, who had arisen, instantly reseated himself, like one aetuated by a strong impulse.