Page images
PDF
EPUB
[merged small][ocr errors]

Now they wax, and now they dwindle,
Whirling with the whirling spindle.
Twist ye, twine ye ! even so,
Mingle human bliss and woe.

Ere our translator, or rather our free imitator, thad arranged these stanzas in his head, and while he was yet hammering out a rhyme for spindle, the task of the sybil was accomplished, or her wool was expended. She took the spindle, poy charged with her labours, and, undoing the thread gradually, measured it, by cast: ing it over her elbow, and bringing each loop round between her fore finger and thumb. When she had measured it out, she muttered to herself-"A hank, but not a haill ane-the-full years o'the three score and ten, but thrice broken, and

an

thrice to oop, (i. e. unite); he'll be a lucky lad an he win through wirt."

Our hero was about to speak to the prophetess, when a voice, hoarse as the waves with which it mingled, halloo'd twice, and with increasing impatience “ Meg, Meg Merrilies :-Gypsey-hage tousand deyvils !".

“I am coming, I am coming, Captain," answered Meg, and in a moment or two the impatient Commander whom she addressed made his appearance from the broken part of the ruins. -,

He was apparently a seafaring man, rather under the middle size, and with a countenance bronzed by a thousand conflicts with the north-east wind. His frame was prodigiously muscular, strong, and thick-set; so that it seemed as if a man of much greater height would have been an inadequate match in any close personal conflict. He was hard-favoured, and, which was worse, his face bore nothing of the insouciance, the careless frolicsome jollity

and vacant curiosity of a sailor on shore. These qualities, perhaps, as much as any others, contribute to the high populari. ty of our seamen, and the general good inclination which our society expresses towards them. Their gallantry, courage, and hardihood are qualities which excite reverence, and perhaps rather humble pacific landsmen in their presence; and neither respect, nor a sense of humiliation, are feelings easily combined with a familiar fondness towards those who inspire them. But the boyish frolics, the exulting high spirits, the unreflecting mirth of a-sailor when enjoying himself on shore, temper the more formidable points of his character. There was nothing like these in this man's face; on the contrary, a surly and even savage scowl appeared to darken features which would have been harsh and unpleasant under any expression or modification. “Where are you, Mother Deyvilson ?” said he, with somewhat of a foreign accent, though speaking perfectly

good English. “ Donner and blitzen ! we have been staying this half hour, Come, bless the good ship and the voyage, and be cursed to ye for a hag of Satan!", .. :- At this moment he noticed Mannering, who, from the position which he had taken to watch Meg Merrilies's incantations, had the appearance of some one who was con cealing himself, being half hidden by the buttress behind which he stood. The captain, for such he stiled himself, made a sudden and startled pause, and thrust his right hand into his bosom betyeen his jacket and waistcoat, as if to draw some Weapon. "What cheer, brothers you seem on the outlook eh?" .

Ere Mannering, somewhat struck by the man's gesture and insolent tone of voice, had made any answer, the gypsey emerged from her vault and joined the stranger. He questioned her in an under tone, look. ing at Mannering." A shark alongside ;

eh?”

She answered in the same tone of under dialogue, using the canting language ofher tribe-"Cut ben whids, and stow thema gentry koye of the ken.”

The fellow's cloudy visage cleared up. «. The top of the morning to you, sir; I find you are a visitor of my friend-Mr Bertram-I beg pardon, but I took you for another sort of a person."..

Mannorings replied, “Andi you; sir, I presume, are the master of that-vessel in the bay ???::::.. .." Aye, aye, sir; I am Captain Dirk Hatteraiek, of the Yungfrauw Hagenslaapen, well known on this coast; I am not ashamed of iny name, nor oft iny vessel, nor of my cargo netiherifór that mattery"

“I dare-say you leave no-reasong sir;":

“Tousend donner-no; I'm -all-in the way of fair trade-Just loaded yonder-at Douglas; - in the Isle of Man-neatconiacreal hyson and souchong-Mechlin lace, if you want any-We bumped ashorea hundred- kegs last night.”. ..

"Really, sir, I am only a traveller, and

« PreviousContinue »