Part 3 out of 11
"Would you be willing to sing now?" he asked, gently, and in the same
tone of entreaty which he had used before.
Beatrice looked at him for a moment without speaking. Then she raised
her face and looked up at the sky, with a deep abstraction in her eyes,
as though in thought. Her face, usually colorless, now, in the
moonlight, looked like marble; her dark hair hung in peculiar folds over
her brow--an arrangement which was antique in its style, and gave her
the look of a statue of one of the Muses. Her straight, Grecian
features, large eyes, thin lips, and well-rounded chin--all had the same
classic air, and Brandon, as he looked at her, wondered if she knew how
fair she was. She stood for a moment in silence, and then began. It was
a marvelous and a memorable epoch in Brandon's life. The scene around
added its inspiration to the voice of the singer. The ocean spread afar
away before them till the verge of the horizon seemed to blend sea and
sky together. Overhead the dim sky hung, dotted with innumerable stars,
prominent among which, not far above the horizon, gleamed that glorious
constellation, the Southern Cross. Beatrice, who hesitated for a moment
as if to decide upon her song, at last caught her idea from this scene
around her, and began one of the most magnificent of Italian
"I cieli immensi narrano
Del grand' Iddio la gloria."
[Illustration: "SHE GAVE HERSELF ENTIRELY UP TO THE JOY OF SONG."]
Her first notes poured forth with a sweetness and fullness that arrested
the attention of all on board the ship. It was the first time she had
sung, as she afterward said, since Langhetti had left Hong-Kong, and she
gave herself entirely up to the joy of song. Her voice, long silent,
instead of having been injured by the sorrow through which she had
passed, was pure, full, marvelous, and thrilling. A glow like some
divine inspiration passed over the marble beauty of her classic
features; her eyes themselves seemed to speak of all that glory of which
she sang, as the sacred fire of genius flashed from them.
At those wonderful notes, so generous and so penetrating with their
sublime meaning, all on board the ship looked and listened with
amazement. The hands of the steersman held the wheel listlessly.
Brandon's own soul was filled with the fullest effects. He stood
watching her figure, with its inspired lineaments, and thought of the
fabled prodigies of music spoken of in ancient story. He thought of
Orpheus hushing all animated nature to calm by the magic of his song. At
last all thoughts of his own left him, and nothing remained but that
which the song of Beatrice swept over his spirit.
But Beatrice saw nothing and heard nothing except the scene before her,
with its grand inspiration and her own utterance of its praise.
Brandon's own soul was more and more overcome; the divine voice thrilled
over his heart; he shuddered and uttered a low sigh of rapture.
"My God!" he exclaimed as she ended; "I never before heard any thing
like this. I never dreamed of such a thing. Is there on earth another
such a voice as yours? Will I ever again hear any thing like it? Your
song is like a voice from those heavens of which you sing. It is a new
He poured forth these words with passionate impetuosity. Beatrice
"Langhetti used to praise me," she simply rejoined.
"You terrify me," said he.
"Why?" asked Beatrice, in wonder.
"Because your song works upon me like a spell, and all my soul sinks
away, and all my will is weakened to nothingness."
Beatrice looked at him with a mournful smile. "Then you have the true
passion for music," she said, "if this be so. For my part it is the joy
of my life, and I hope to give up all my life to it."
"Do you expect to see Langhetti when you reach England?" asked Brandon,
"I hope so," said she, musingly.
The character of Beatrice unfolded more and more every day, and every
new development excited the wonder of Brandon.
She said once that music was to her like the breath of life, and indeed
it seemed to be; for now, since Brandon had witnessed her powers, he
noticed how all her thoughts took a coloring from this. What most
surprised him was her profound acquirements in the more difficult
branches of the art. It was not merely the case of a great natural gift
of voice. Her whole soul seemed imbued with those subtle influences
which music can most of all bestow. Her whole life seemed to have been
passed in one long intercourse with the greatest works of the greatest
masters. All their works were perfectly well known to her. A marvelous
memory enabled her to have their choicest productions at command; and
Brandon, who in the early part of his life had received a careful
musical education, knew enough about it to estimate rightly the full
extent of the genius of his companion, and to be astonished thereat.
Her mind was also full of stories about the lives, acts, and words of
the great masters. For her they formed the only world with which she
cared to be acquainted, and the only heroes whom she had power to
admire. All this flowed from one profound central feeling--namely, a
deep and all-absorbing love of this most divine art. To her it was more
than art. It was a new faculty to him who possessed it. It was the
highest power of utterance--such utterance as belongs to the angels;
such utterance as, when possessed by man, raises him almost to an
equality with them.
Brandon found out every day some new power in her genius. Now her voice
was unloosed from the bonds which she had placed upon it. She sang, she
said, because it was better than talking. Words were weak--song was all
expression. Nor was it enough for her to take the compositions of
others. Those were infinitely better, she said, than any thing which she
could produce; but each one must have his own native expression; and
there were times when she had to sing from herself. To Brandon this
seemed the most amazing of her powers. In Italy the power of
improvisation is not uncommon, and Englishmen generally imagine that
this is on account of some peculiar quality of the Italian language.
This is not the case. One can improvise in any language; and Brandon
found that Beatrice could do this with the English.
"It is not wonderful," said she, in answer to his expression of
astonishment, "it is not even difficult. There is an art in doing this,
but, when you once know it, you find no trouble. It is rhythmic prose in
a series of lines. Each line must contain a thought. Langhetti found no
difficulty in making rhyming lines, but rhymes are not necessary. This
rhythmic prose is as poetic as any thing can be. All the hymns of the
Greek Church are written on this principle. So are the Te Deum and the
Gloria. So were all the ancient Jewish psalms. The Jews improvised. I
suppose Deborah's song, and perhaps Miriam's, are of this order."
"And you think the art can be learned by every one?"
"No, not by every one. One must have a quick and vivid imagination, and
natural fluency--but these are all. Genius makes all the difference
between what is good and what is bad. Sometimes you have a song of
Miriam that lives while the world lasts, sometimes a poor little song
like one of mine."
"Sing to me about music," said Brandon, suddenly.
Beatrice immediately began an improvisation. But the music to which she
sang was lofty and impressive, and the marvelous sweetness of her voice
produced an indescribable effect. And again, as always when she sang,
the fashion of her face was changed, and she became transfigured before
his eyes. It was the same rhythmic prose of which she had been speaking,
sung according to the mode in which the Gloria is chanted, and divided
into bars of equal time.
Brandon, as always, yielded to the spell of her song. To him it was an
incantation. Her own strains varied to express the changing sentiment,
and at last, as the song ended, it seemed to die away in melodious
melancholy, like the dying strain of the fabled swan.
"Sing on!" he exclaimed, fervently; "I would wish to stand and hear your
A smile of ineffable sweetness came over her face. She looked at him,
and said nothing. Brandon bowed his head, and stood in silence.
Thus ended many of their interviews. Slowly and steadily this young girl
gained over him an ascendency which he felt hourly, and which was so
strong that he did not even struggle against it. Her marvelous genius,
so subtle, so delicate, yet so inventive and quick, amazed him. If he
spoke of this, she attributed every thing to Langhetti. "Could you but
see him," she would say, "I should seem like nothing!"
"Has he such a voice?"
"Oh! he has no voice at all. It is his soul," she would reply. "He
speaks through the violin. But he taught me all that I know. He said my
voice was God's gift. He had a strange theory that the language of
heaven and of the angels was music, and that he who loved it best on
earth made his life and his thoughts most heavenly."
"You must have been fond of such a man."
"Very," said Beatrice, with the utmost simplicity. "Oh, I loved him so
But in this confession, so artlessly made, Brandon saw only a love that
was filial or sisterly. "He was the first one," said Beatrice, "who
showed me the true meaning of life. He exalted his art above all other
arts, and always maintained that it was the purest and best thing which
the world possessed. This consoled him for exile, poverty, and sorrow of
"Was he married?"
Beatrice looked at Brandon with a singular smile. "Married! Langhetti
married! Pardon me; but the idea of Langhetti in domestic life is so
"Why? The greatest musicians have married."
Beatrice looked up to the sky with a strange, serene smile. "Langhetti
has no passion out of art," she said. "As an artist he is all fire, and
vehemence, and enthusiasm. He is aware of all human passions, but only
as an artist. He has only one love, and that is music. This is his idol.
He seems to me himself like a song. But all the raptures which poets and
novelists apply to lovers are felt by him in his music. He wants nothing
while he has this. He thinks the musician's life the highest life. He
says those to whom the revelations of God were committed were musicians.
As David and Isaiah received inspiration to the strains of the harp, so,
he says, have Bach and Mozart, Handel and Haydn, Beethoven and
Mendelssohn. And where, indeed," she continued, in a musing tone, half
soliloquizing, "where, indeed, can man rise so near heaven as when he
listens to the inspired strains of these lofty souls?"
"Langhetti," said Brandon, in a low voice, "does not understand love, or
he would not put music in its place."
"Yes," said Beatrice. "We spoke once about that. He has his own ideas,
which he expressed to me."
"What were they?"
"I will have to say them as he said them," said she. "For on this theme
he had to express himself in music."
Brandon waited in rapt expectation. Beatrice began to sing:
"Fairest of all most fair,
Young Love, how comest thou
Unto the soul?
Still as the evening breeze
Over the starry wave--
The moonlit wave--
"The heart lies motionless;
So still, so sensitive;
Love fans the breeze.
Lo! at his lightest touch,
The myriad ripples rise,
And murmur on.
"And ripples rise to waves,
And waves to rolling seas,
Till, far and wide,
The endless billows roll,
In undulations long,
Her voice died away into a scarce audible tone, which sank into
Brandon's heart, lingering and dying about the last word, with touching
and unutterable melancholy. It was like the lament of one who loved. It
was like the cry of some yearning heart.
In a moment Beatrice looked at Brandon with a swift, bright smile. She
had sung these words as an artist. For a moment Brandon had thought that
she was expressing her own feelings. But the bright smile on her face
contrasted so strongly with the melancholy of her voice that he saw this
was not so.
"Thus," she said, "Langhetti sang about it: and I have never forgotten
The thought came to Brandon, is it not truer than she thinks, that "she
loves him very dearly?" as she said.
"You were born to be an artist," he said, at last.
Beatrice sighed lightly. "That's what I never can be, I am afraid," said
she. "Yet I hope I may be able to gratify my love for it. Art," she
continued, musingly, "is open to women as well as to men; and of all
arts none are so much so as music. The interpretation of great masters
is a blessing to the world. Langhetti used to say that these are the
only ones of modern times that have received heavenly inspiration. They
correspond to the Jewish prophets. He used to declare that the
interpretation of each was of equal importance. To man is given the
interpretation of the one, but to woman is given the interpretation of
much of the other. Why is not my voice, if it is such as he said, and
especially the feeling within me, a Divine call to go forth upon this
mission of interpreting the inspired utterances of the great masters of
"You," she continued, "are a man, and you have a purpose." Brandon
started, but she did not notice it. "You have a purpose in life," she
repeated. "Your intercourse with me will hereafter be but an episode in
the life that is before you. I am a girl, but I too may wish to have a
purpose in life--suited to my powers; and if I am not able to work
toward it I shall not be satisfied."
"How do you know that I have a purpose, as you call it?" asked Brandon,
after a pause.
"By the expression of your face, and your whole manner when you are
alone and subside into yourself," she replied, simply.
"And of what kind?" he continued.
"That I do not seek to know," she replied; "but I know that it must be
deep and all-absorbing. It seems to me to be too stern for Love; you are
not the man to devote yourself to Avarice: possibly it may be Ambition,
yet somehow I do not think so."
"What do you think it is, then?" asked Brandon, in a voice which had
died away, almost to a whisper.
She looked at him earnestly; she looked at him pityingly. She looked at
him also with that sympathy which might be evinced by one's Guardian
Angel, if that Being might by any chance become visible. She leaned
toward him, and spoke low in a voice only audible to him:
"Something stronger than Love, and Avarice, and Ambition," said she.
"There can be only one thing."
"Vengeance!" she said, in a voice of inexpressible mournfulness.
Brandon looked at her wonderingly, not knowing how this young girl could
have divined his thoughts. He long remained silent.
Beatrice folded her hands together, and looked pensively at the sea.
"You are a marvelous being," said Brandon, at length. "Can you tell me
"I might," said she, hesitatingly; "but I am afraid you will think me
"No," said Brandon. "Tell me, for perhaps you are mistaken."
"You will not think me impertinent, then? You will only think that I
said so because you asked me?"
"I entreat you to believe that it is impossible for me to think
otherwise of you than you yourself would wish."
"Shall I say it, then?"
Her voice again sank to a whisper. "Your name is not Wheeler."
Brandon looked at her earnestly. "How did you learn that?"
"By nothing more than observation."
"What is my name?"
"Ah, that is beyond my power to know," said she with a smile. "I have
only discovered what you are not. Now you will not think me a spy, will
you?" she continued, in a pleading voice.
Brandon smiled on her mournfully as she stood looking at him with her
dark eyes upraised.
"A spy!" he repeated. "To me it is the sweetest thought conceivable that
you could take the trouble to notice me sufficiently." He checked
himself suddenly, for Beatrice looked away, and her hands which had been
folded together clutched each other nervously. "It is always flattering
for a gentleman to be the object of a lady's notice," he concluded, in a
Beatrice smiled. "But where," he continued, "could you have gained that
power of divination which you possess; you who have always lived a
secluded life in so remote a place?"
"You did not think that one like me could come out of Hong-Kong, did
you?" said she, laughingly.
"Well, I have seen much of the world; but I have not so much of this
power as you have."
"You might have more if--if--" she hesitated. "Well," she continued,
"they say, you know, that men act by reason, women by intuition."
"Have you any more intuitions?" asked Brandon, earnestly.
"Yes," said she, mournfully.
"Tell me some."
"They will not do to tell," said Beatrice, in the same mournful tone.
"They are painful."
"Tell them at any rate."
"Hint at them."
Beatrice looked at him earnestly. Their eyes met. In hers there was a
glance of anxious inquiry, as though her soul were putting forth a
question by that look which was stronger than words. In his there was a
glance of anxious expectancy, as though his soul were speaking unto
hers, saying: "Tell all; let me know if you suspect that of which I am
afraid to think."
"We have met with ships at sea," she resumed, in low, deliberate tones.
"Sometimes we have caught up with them, we have exchanged signals, we
have sailed in sight of one another for hours or for days, holding
intercourse all the while. At last a new morning has come, and we looked
out over the sea, and the other ship has gone from sight. We have left
it forever. Perhaps we have drifted away, perhaps a storm has parted us,
the end is the same--separation for evermore."
She spoke mournfully, looking away, her voice insensibly took up a
cadence, and the words seemed to fall of themselves into rhythmic pause.
"I understand you," said Brandon, with a more profound mournfulness in
his voice. "You speak like a Sibyl. I pray Heaven that your words may
not be a prophecy."
Beatrice still looked at him, and in her eyes he read pity beyond words;
and sorrow also as deep as that pity.
"Do you read my thoughts as I read yours?" asked Brandon, abruptly.
"Yes," she answered, mournfully.
He turned his face away.
"Did Langhetti teach you this also?" he asked, at last.
"He taught me many things," was the answer.
Day succeeded to day, and week to week. Still the ship went on holding
steadily to her course northward, and every day drawing nearer and
nearer her goal. Storms came--some moderate, some severe; but the ship
escaped them all with no casualties, and with but little delay.
At last they passed the equator, and seemed to have entered the last
stage of their journey.
THE STRUGGLE FOR LIFE.
At length the ship came within the latitude of the Guinea coast.
For some days there had been alternate winds and calms, and the weather
was so fitful and so fickle that no one could tell in one hour what
would happen in the next. All this was at last terminated by a dead,
dense, oppressive calm like those of the Indian Ocean, in which exertion
was almost impossible and breathing difficult. The sky, however, instead
of being clear and bright, as in former calms, was now overspread with
menacing clouds; the sea looked black, and spread out before them on
every side like an illimitable surface of polished ebony. There was
something appalling in the depth and intensity of this calm with such
accompaniments. All felt this influence. Although there was every
temptation to inaction and sleep yet no one yielded to it. The men
looked suspiciously and expectantly at every quarter of the heavens. The
Captain said nothing, but cautiously had all his preparations made for a
storm. Every half hour he anxiously consulted the barometer, and then
cast uneasy glances at the sea and sky.
But the calm which had set in at midnight, and had become confirmed at
dawn, extended itself through the long day. The ship drifted idly,
keeping no course, her yards creaking lazily as she slowly rose and fell
at the movement of the ocean-undulations. Hour after hour passed, and
the day ended, and night came once more.
The Captain did not turn in that night. In anxious expectation he waited
and watched on deck, while all around there was the very blackness of
darkness. Brandon began to see from the Captain's manner that he
expected something far more violent than any thing which the ship had
yet encountered, but, thinking that his presence would be of no
consequence, he retired at the usual hour.
The deep, dense calm continued until nearly midnight. The watchers on
deck still waited in the same anxious expectation, thinking that the
night would bring on the change which they expected.
Almost half an hour before midnight a faint light was seen in the thick
mass of clouds overhead--it was not lightning, but a whitish streak, as
though produced by some movement in the clouds. All looked up in mute
Suddenly a faint puff of wind came from the west, blowing gently for a
few moments, then stopping, and then coming on in a stronger blast. Afar
off, at what seemed like an immeasurable distance, a low, dull roar
arose, a heavy moaning sound, like the menace of the mighty Atlantic,
which was now advancing in wrath upon them.
In the midst of this the whole scene burst forth into dazzling light at
the flash of a vast mass of lightning, which seemed to blaze from every
part of the heavens on every side simultaneously. It threw forth all
things--ship, sea, and sky--into the dazzled eyes of the watchers. They
saw the ebon sky, the black and lustrous sea, the motionless ship. They
saw also, far off to the west, a long line of white which appeared to
extend along the whole horizon.
But the scene darted out of sight instantly, and instantly there fell
the volleying discharge of a tremendous peal of thunder, at whose
reverberations the air and sea and ship all vibrated.
Now the sky lightened again, and suddenly, as the ship lay there, a vast
ball of fire issued from the black clouds immediately overhead,
descending like the lightning straight downward, till all at once it
struck the main truck. With a roar louder than that of the recent
thunder it exploded; fast sheets of fire flashed out into the air, and a
stream of light passed down the entire mast, shattering it as a tree is
shattered when the lightning strikes it. The whole ship was shaken to
its centre. The deck all around the mast was shattered to splinters, and
along its extent and around its base a burst of vivid flame started into
Wild confusion followed. At once all the sailors were ordered up, and
began to extinguish the fires, and to cut away the shattered mast. The
blows of the axes resounded through the ship. The rigging was severed;
the mast, already shattered, needed but a few blows to loosen its last
But suddenly, and furiously, and irresistibly it seemed as though the
whole tempest which they had so long expected was at last let loose upon
them. There was a low moan, and, while they were yet trying to get rid
of the mast, a tremendous squall struck the ship. It yielded and turned
far over to that awful blow. The men started back from their work. The
next instant a flash of lightning came, and toward the west, close over
them, rose a long, white wall of foam. It was the van-guard of the
storm, seen shortly before from afar, which was now upon them, ready to
fall on their devoted heads.
Not a word was spoken. No order came from the Captain. The men awaited
some word. There came none. Then the waters, which thus rose up like a
heap before them, struck the ship with all the accumulated fury of that
resistless onset, and hurled their utmost weight upon her as she lay
The ship, already reeling far over at the stroke of the storm, now, at
this new onset, yielded utterly, and rolled far over on her beam-ends.
The awful billows dashed over and over her, sweeping her in their fury
from end to end. The men clung helplessly to whatever rigging lay
nearest, seeking only in that first moment of dread to prevent
themselves from being washed away, and waiting for some order from the
Captain, and wondering while they waited.
At the first peal of thunder Brandon had started up. He had lain down in
his clothes, in order to be prepared for any emergency. He called Cato.
The Hindu was at hand. "Cato, keep close to me whatever happens, for you
will be needed." "Yes, Sahib." He then hurried to Beatrice's room and
knocked. It was opened at once. She came forth with her pale, serene
face, and looked at him.
"I did not lie down," said she. "I knew that there would be something
frightful. But I am not afraid. At any rate," she added, "I know I will
not be deserted."
Brandon said nothing, but held out to her an India-rubber life-
preserver. "What is this for?" "For you. I wish you to put it on. It may
not be needed, but it is best to have it on." "And what will you do?"
"I--oh! I can swim, you know. But you don't know how to fasten it. Will
you allow me to do so?" She raised her arms. He passed the belt around
her waist, encircling her almost in his arms while doing so, and his
hand, which had boldly grasped the head of the "dweller in the wreck,"
now trembled as he fastened the belt around that delicate and slender
But scarcely had this been completed when the squall struck the ship,
and the waves followed till the vessel was thrown far over on her side;
and Brandon seizing Beatrice in one arm, clung with the other to the
edge of the skylight, and thus kept himself upright.
He rested now for a moment. "I must go on deck," he said. "I do not wish
you to leave me," was her answer. Nothing more was said. Brandon at once
lifted her with one arm as though she were a child and clambered along,
grasping such fixtures as afforded any thing to which he could cling;
and thus, with hands and feet, groped his way to the door of the cabin,
which was on the windward side. There were two doors, and between them
was a seat.
"This," said he, "is the safest place for you. Can you hold on for a
short time? If I take you on deck you will be exposed to the waves."
"I will do whatever you say," she replied; and clinging to the arm of
the almost perpendicular seat, she was able to sustain herself there
amidst the tossing and swaying of the ship.
Brandon then clambered out on deck. The ship lay far over. The waves
came leaping upon her in successive surges. All around the sea was
glistening with phosphorescent lustre, and when at times the lightning
flashed forth it lighted up the scene, and showed the ocean stirred up
to fiercest commotion. It seemed as though cataracts of water were
rushing over the doomed ship, which now lay helpless, and at the mercy
of the billows. The force of the wind was tremendous, exceeding any
thing that Brandon had ever witnessed before.
What most surprised him now was the inaction of the ship's company. Why
was not something being done? Where was the Captain?
He called out his name; there was no response. He called after the mate;
there was no answer. Instantly he conjectured that in the first fierce
onset of the storm both Captain and mate had been swept away. How many
more of that gallant company of brave fellows had perished he knew not.
The hour was a perilous and a critical one. He himself determined to
take the lead.
Through the midst of the storm, with its tumult and its fury, there came
a voice as full and clear as a trumpet-peal, which roused all the
sailors, and inspired them once more with hope. "Cut away the masts!"
The men obeyed, without caring who gave the order. It was the command
which each man had been expecting, and which he knew was the thing that
should be done. At once they sprang to their work. The main-mast had
already been cut loose. Some went to the fore-mast, others to the
mizzen. The vast waves rolled on; the sailors guarded as best they could
against the rush of each wave, and then sprang in the intervals to their
work. It was perilous in the highest degree, but each man felt that his
own life and the lives of all the others depended upon the
accomplishment of this work, and this nerved the arm of each to the
At last it was done. The last strand of rigging had been cut away. The
ship, disencumbered, slowly righted, and at last rode upright.
But her situation was still dangerous. She lay in the trough of the sea,
and the gigantic waves, as they rolled up, still beat upon her with all
their concentrated energies. Helpless, and now altogether at the mercy
of the waves, the only hope left those on board lay in the strength of
the ship herself.
None of the officers were left. As the ship righted Brandon thought that
some of them might make their appearance, but none came. The Captain,
the mate, and the second mate, all had gone. Perhaps all of them, as
they stood on the quarter-deck, had been swept away simultaneously.
Nothing could now be done but to wait. Morning at last came to the
anxious watchers. It brought no hope. Far and wide the sea raged with
all its waves. The wind blew with undiminished and irresistible
violence. The ship, still in the trough of the sea, heaved and plunged
in the overwhelming waves, which howled madly around and leaped over her
like wolves eager for their prey. The wind was too fierce to permit even
an attempt to rig a jury-mast.
The ship was also deeply laden, and this contributed to her peril. Had
her cargo been smaller she would have been more buoyant; but her full
cargo, added to her dangerous position as she lay at the mercy of the
waves, made all hope of escape dark indeed.
Another night succeeded. It was a night of equal horror. The men stood
watching anxiously for some sign of abatement in the storm, but none
came. Sea and sky frowned over them darkly, and all the powers which
they controlled were let loose unrestrained.
Another day and night came and went. Had not the _Falcon_ been a
ship of unusual strength she would have yielded before this to the
storm. As it was, she began to show signs of giving way to the
tremendous hammering to which she had been exposed, and her heavy
Australian cargo bore her down. On the morning of the third day Brandon
saw that she was deeper in the water, and suspected a leak. He ordered
the pumps to be sounded. It was as he feared. There were four feet of
water in the hold.
The men went to work at the pumps and worked by relays. Amidst the rush
of the waves over the ship it was difficult to work advantageously, but
they toiled on. Still, in spite of their efforts, the leak seemed to
have increased, for the water did not lessen. With their utmost exertion
they could do little more than hold their own.
It was plain that this sort of thing could not last. Already three
nights and three days of incessant toil and anxiety, in which no one had
slept, had produced their natural effects. The men had become faint and
weary. But the brave fellows never murmured; they did every thing which
Brandon ordered, and worked uncomplainingly.
Thus, through the third day, they labored on, and into the fourth night.
That night the storm seemed to have reached its climax, if, indeed, any
climax could be found to a storm which at the very outset had burst upon
them with such appalling suddenness and fury, and had sustained itself
all along with such unremitting energy. But on that night it was worse
for those on board, since the ship which had resisted so long began to
exhibit signs of yielding, her planks and timbers so severely assailed
began to give way, and through the gaping seams the ocean waters
permeated, till the ocean, like some beleaguering army, failing in
direct assault, began to succeed by opening secret mines to the very
heart of the besieged ship.
On the morning of the fourth day all hands were exhausted from night-
long work, and there were ten feet of water in the hold.
It now became evident that the ship was doomed. Brandon at once began to
take measures for the safety of the men.
On that memorable day of the calm previous to the outbreak of the storm,
the Captain had told Brandon that they were about five hundred miles to
the westward of the coast of Senegambia. He could not form any idea of
the distance which the ship had drifted during the progress of the
storm, but justly considered that whatever progress she had made had
been toward the land. Their prospects in that direction, if they could
only reach it, were not hopeless. Sierra Leone and Liberia were there;
and if they struck the coast any where about they might make their way
to either of those places.
But the question was how to get there. There was only one way, and that
was by taking to the boats. This was a desperate undertaking, but it was
the only way of escape now left.
There were three boats on board--viz., the long-boat, the cutter, and
the gig. These were the only hope now left them. By venturing in these
there would be a chance of escape.
On the morning of the fourth day, when it was found that the water was
increasing, Brandon called the men together and stated this to them. He
then told them that it would be necessary to divide themselves so that a
sufficient number should go in each boat. He offered to give up to them
the two larger boats, and take the gig for himself, his servant, and the
To this the men assented with great readiness. Some of them urged him to
go in the larger boat, and even offered to exchange with him; but
They then prepared for their desperate venture. All the provisions and
water that could be needed were put on board of each boat. Firearms were
not forgotten. Arrangements were made for a long and arduous voyage. The
men still worked at the pumps; and though the water gained on them, yet
time was gained for completing these important preparations.
About mid-day all was ready. Fifteen feet of water were in the hold. The
ship could not last much longer. There was no time to lose.
But how could the boats be put out? How could they live in such a sea?
This was the question to be decided.
The ship lay as before in the trough of the sea. On the windward side
the waves came rushing up, beating upon and sweeping over her. On the
leeward the water was calmer, but the waves tossed and raged angrily
Only twenty were left out of the ship's company. The rest were all
missing. Of these, fourteen were to go in the long-boat, and six in the
cutter. Brandon, Beatrice, and Cato were to take the gig.
The sailors put the gig out first. The light boat floated buoyantly on
the waters. Cato leaped into her, and she was fastened by a long line to
the ship. The nimble Hindu, trained for a lifetime to encounter the
giant surges of the Malabar coast, managed the little boat with
marvelous dexterity--avoiding the sweep of the waves which dashed
around, and keeping sufficiently under the lee to escape the rougher
waves, yet not so much so as to be hurled against the vessel.
Then the sailors put out the long-boat. This was a difficult
undertaking, but it was successfully accomplished, and the men were all
on board at last. Instantly they prepared to row away.
At that moment a wilder wave came pouring over the ship. It was as
though the ocean, enraged at the escape of these men, had made a final
effort to grasp its prey. Before the boat with its living freight had
got rid of the vessel, the sweep of this gigantic wave, which had passed
completely over the ship, struck it where it lay. Brandon turned away
his eyes involuntarily.
There was a wild shriek--the next moment the black outline of the long-
boat, bottom upward, was seen amidst the foaming billows.
The men who waited to launch the cutter were at first paralyzed by this
tragedy, but there was no time to lose. Death threatened them behind as
well as before; behind, death was certain; before, there was still a
chance. They launched the cutter in desperation. The six men succeeded
in getting into her, and in rowing out at some distance. As wave after
wave rose and fell she disappeared from view, and then reappeared, till
at last Brandon thought that she at least was safe.
Then he raised his hand and made a peculiar signal to Cato.
The Hindu understood it. Brandon had given him his directions before;
now was the time. The roll of the waves [illegible] up was for the
present less dangerous.
Beatrice, who during the whole storm had been calm, and had quietly done
whatever Brandon told her, was now waiting at the cabin-door in
obedience to his directions.
As soon as Brandon had made the signal he hurried to the cabin-door and
assisted Beatrice to the quarter-deck. Cato rowed his boat close up to
the ship, and was waiting for a chance to come within reach. The waves
were still more moderate. It was the opportunity for which Cato had been
watching so long. He held his oars poised, and, as a sudden swell of a
wave rose near the ship, he forced his boat so that it came close beside
it, rising high on the crest of the swell.
As the wave rose, Brandon also had watched his opportunity as well as
the action of Cato. It was the moment too for which he had been
watching. In an instant, and without a word, he caught Beatrice in his
arms, raised her high in the air, poised himself for a moment on the
edge of the quarter-deck, and sprang forward into the boat. His foot
rested firmly on the seat where it struck. He set Beatrice down, and
with a knife severed the line which connected the boat with the ship.
Then seizing an oar he began to row with all his strength. Cato had the
bow oar. The next wave came, and its sweep, communicating itself to the
water, rolled on, dashing against the ship and moving under it, rising
up high, lifting the boat with it, and bearing it along. But the boat
was now under command, and the two rowers held it so that while it was
able to avoid the dash of the water, it could yet gain from it all the
momentum that could be given.
Brandon handled the oar with a dexterity equal to that of the Hindu, and
under such management, which was at once strong and skillful, the boat
skimmed lightly over the crests of the rolling waves, and passed out
into the sea beyond. There the great surges came sweeping on, rising
high behind the boat, each wave seeming about to crush the little bark
in its resistless grasp, but notwithstanding the threat the boat seemed
always able by some good luck to avoid the impending danger, for as each
wave came forward the boat would rise up till it was on a level with
the crest, and the flood of waters would sweep on underneath, bearing it
After nearly half an hour's anxious and careful rowing Brandon looked
all about to find the cutter. It was nowhere to be seen. Again and again
he looked for it, seeking in all directions. But he discovered no sign
of it on the raging waters, and at last he could no longer doubt that
the cutter also, like long-boat, had perished in the sea.
All day long they rowed before the wind and wave--not strongly, but
lightly, so as to husband their strength. Night came, when Brandon and
Cato took turns at the oars--not over-exerting themselves, but seeking
chiefly to keep the boat's head in proper direction, and to evade the
rush of the waves. This last was their constant danger, and it required
the utmost skill and the most incessant watchfulness to do so.
[Illustration: "WITHOUT A WORD HE CAUGHT BEATRICE IN HIS ARMS." ETC.]
All this time Beatrice sat in the stern, with a heavy oil-cloth coat
around her, which Brandon directed her to put on, saying nothing, but
seeing every thing with her watchful, vigilant eyes.
"Are you afraid?" said Brandon once, just after they had evaded an
"No!" was the reply, in a calm, sweet voice; "I trust in you."
"I hope your trust may not be vain," replied Brandon.
"You have saved my life so often," said Beatrice, "that my trust in you
has now become a habit."
She smiled faintly as she spoke. There was something in her tone which
sank deep into his soul.
The night passed and morning came.
For the last half of the night the wind had been much less boisterous,
and toward morning the gale had very greatly subsided. Brandon's
foresight had secured a mast and sail on board the gig, and now, as soon
as it could be erected with safety, he put it up, and the little boat
dashed bravely over the waters. The waves had lessened greatly as the
day wore on; they no longer rose in such giant masses, but showed merely
the more common proportions. Brandon and Cato now had an opportunity to
get some rest from their exhaustive labors. Beatrice at last yielded to
Brandon's earnest request, and, finding that the immediate peril had
passed, and that his toil for the present was over, she obtained some
sleep and rest for herself.
For all that day, and all that night, and all the next day, the little
boat sped over the waters, heading due east, so as to reach land
wherever they might find it, in the hope that the land might not be very
far away from the civilized settlements of the coast. The provisions and
water which had been put in the boat formed an ample supply, which would
last for a long time. Brandon shared with Cato in the management of the
boat, not allowing the big man to have more of the labor than himself.
During these days Brandon and Beatrice were of course thrown into a
closer intimacy. At such a time the nature of man or woman becomes most
apparent, and here Beatrice showed a noble calm and a simple trust which
to Brandon was most touching. He knew that she must feel most keenly the
fatigue and the privations of such a life; but her unvarying
cheerfulness was the same as it had been on shipboard. He, too,
exhibited that same constancy and resolution which he had always
evinced, and by his consideration for Cato showed his natural kindness
"How sorry I am that I can do nothing!" Beatrice would say. "You are
killing yourself, and I have to sit idle and gain my safety at your
"The fact that you are yet safe," Brandon would reply, "is enough for
me. As long as I see you sitting there I can work."
"But can I do nothing? It is hard for me to sit idle while you wear out
"You can sing," said Brandon.
"Langhetti's song," he said, and turned his face away.
She sang at once. Her tones rose in marvelous modulations; the words
were not much, but the music with which she clothed them seemed again to
utter forth that longing which Brandon had heard before.
Now, as they passed over the seas, Beatrice sang, and Brandon did not
wish that this life should end. Through the days, as they sailed on, her
voice arose expressive of every changeful feeling, now speaking of
grief, now swelling in sweet strains of hope.
Day thus succeeded to day until the fourth night came, when the wind
died out and a calm spread over the waters.
Brandon, who waked at about two in the morning so as to let Cato sleep,
saw that the wind had ceased, and that another one of those treacherous
calms had come. He at once put out the oars, and, directing Cato to
sleep till he waked him, began to pull.
Beatrice remonstrated. "Do not," said she, in an imploring tone. "You
have already done too much. Why should you kill yourself?"
"The wind has stopped," answered Brandon. "The calm is treacherous, and
no time ought to be lost."
"But wait till you have rested."
"I have been resting for days."
"Why do you not rest during the night and work in the daytime?"
"Because the daytime is so frightfully hot that work will be difficult.
Night is the time to work now."
Brandon kept at his oars, and Beatrice saw that remonstrances were
useless. He rowed steadily until the break of day: then, as day was
dawning, he rested for a while, and looked earnestly toward the east.
A low, dark cloud lay along the eastern horizon, well-defined against
the sky, which now was growing brighter and brighter every hour. Was it
cloud, or was it something else? This was the question that rose in
The sky grew brighter, the scene far and wide opened up before the
gathering light until at last the sun began to appear. Then there was no
longer any doubt. It was LAND.
This he told to Beatrice; and the Hindu, waking at the same time, looked
earnestly toward that shore which they had been striving so long and so
earnestly to reach. It was land, but what land? No doubt it was some
part of the coast of Senegambia, but what one? Along that extensive
coast there were many places where landing might be certain death, or
something worse than death. Savage tribes might dwell there--either
those which were demoralized by dealings with slave-traders, or those
which were flourishing in native barbarism. Yet only one course was now
advisable; namely, to go on till they reached the shore.
It appeared to be about fifty miles away. So Brandon judged, and so it
proved. The land which they had seen was the summit of lofty hills which
were visible from a great distance. They rowed on all that day. The
water was calm and glassy. The sun poured down its most fervid beams,
the air was sultry and oppressive. Beatrice entreated Brandon now to
desist from rowing and wait till the cool of the night, but he was
afraid that a storm might come up suddenly.
"No," he said, "our only hope now is to get near the land, so that if a
storm does come up we may have some place of shelter within reach."
After a day of exhaustive labor the land was at last reached.
High hills, covered with palm-trees, rose before them. There was no
harbor within sight, no river outlet, but a long, uninterrupted extent
of high, wooded shores. Here in the evening they rested on their oars,
and looked earnestly at the shore.
Brandon conjectured that they were somewhat to the north of Sierra
Leone, and did not think that they could be to the south. At any rate, a
southeasterly course was the surest one for them, for they would reach
either Sierra Leone or Liberia. The distance which they might have to go
was, however, totally uncertain to him.
So they turned the boat's head southeast, and moved in a line parallel
with the general line of the shore. That shore varied in its features as
they passed along: sometimes depressed into low, wide savannas: at
others, rising into a rolling country, with hills of moderate height,
behind which appeared the summits of lofty mountains, empurpled by
It was evening when they first saw the land, and then they went on
without pausing. It was arranged that they should row alternately, as
moderately as possible, so as to husband their strength. Cato rowed for
the first part of that night, then Brandon rowed till morning. On the
following day Cato took the oars again.
It was now just a week since the wreck, and for the last two days there
had not been a breath of wind in the air, nor the faintest ripple on
that burning water. To use even the slightest exertion in such torrid
heat was almost impossible. Even to sit still under that blighting sun,
with the reflected glare from the dead, dark sea around, was painful.
Beatrice redoubled her entreaties to Brandon that he should rest. She
wished to have her mantle spread over their heads as a kind of canopy,
or fix the sail in some way and float idly through the hottest part of
the day. But Brandon insisted that he felt no evil effects as yet; and
promised when he did feel such to do as she said.
At last they discovered that their water was almost out, and it was
necessary to get a fresh supply. It was the afternoon of the seventh
day. Brandon had been rowing ever since midday. Beatrice had wound her
mantle about his head in the style of an Eastern turban so as to protect
him from the sun's rays. Looking out for some place along the shore
where they might obtain water, they saw an opening in the line of coast
where two hills arose to a height of several hundred feet. Toward this
Stimulated by the prospect of setting foot on shore Brandon rowed
somewhat more vigorously than usual; and in about an hour the boat
entered a beautiful little cove shut in between two hills, which formed
the outlet of a river. Far up its winding course could be traced by the
trees along its borders. The hills rose on each side with a steep slope,
and were covered with palms. The front of the harbor was shut in from
the sea by a beautiful little wooded island. Here Brandon rowed the boat
into this cove; and its prow grated against the pebbles of the beach.
Beatrice had uttered many exclamations of delight at the beauty of this
scene. At length, surprised at Brandon's silence, she cried,
"Why do you not say something? Surely this is a Paradise after the sea!"
She looked up with an enthusiastic smile.
He had risen to his feet. A strange, vacant expression was in his eyes.
He made a step forward as if to land. His unsteady foot trembled. He
reeled, and stretched out his arms like some one groping in the dark.
Beatrice shrieked and sprang forward. Too late: for the next moment he
fell headlong into the water.
THE BADINAGE OF OLD FRIENDS.
The town of Holby is on the coast of Pembroke. It has a small harbour,
with a light-house, and the town itself contains a few thousand people,
most of them belonging to the poorer class. The chief house in the town
stands on a rising ground a little outside, looking toward the water.
Its size and situation render it the most conspicuous object in the
This house, from its appearance, must have been built more than a
century before. It belonged to an old family which had become extinct,
and now was occupied by a new owner, who had given it another name. This
new owner was William Thornton, Esq., solicitor, who had an office in
Holby, and who, though very wealthy, still attended to his business with
undiminished application. The house had been originally purchased by the
father of the present occupant, Henry Thornton, a well-known lawyer in
these parts, who had settled here originally a poor young man, but had
finally grown gray and rich in his adopted home. He had bought the place
when it was exposed for sale, with the intention of founding a new seat
for his own family, and had given it the name of Thornton Grange.
Generations of care and tasteful culture had made Thornton Grange one of
the most beautiful places in the county. All around were wide parks
dotted with ponds and clumps of trees. An avenue of elms led up to the
door. A well-kept lawn was in front, and behind was an extensive grove.
Every thing spoke of wealth and elegance.
On an afternoon in February a gentleman in clerical dress walked up the
avenue, rang at the door, and entering he gave his name to the servant
as the Rev. Courtenay Despard. He was the new Rector of Holby, and had
only been there one week.
He entered the drawing-room, sat down upon one of the many lounging
chairs with which it was filled, and waited. He did not have to wait
long. A rapid step was soon heard descending the stairs, and in a few
minutes a lady entered. She came in with a bright smile of welcome on
her face, and greeted him with much warmth.
Mrs. Thornton was very striking in her appearance. A clear olive
complexion and large, dark hazel eyes marked Southern blood. Her hair
was black, wavy, and exceedingly luxuriant. Her mouth was small, her
hands and feet delicately shaped, and her figure slender and elegant.
Her whole air had that indefinable grace which is the sign of high-
breeding; to this there was added exceeding loveliness, with great
animation of face and elegance of manner. She was a perfect lady, yet
not of the English stamp; for her looks and manner had not that cold and
phlegmatic air which England fosters. She looked rather like some
Italian beauty--like those which enchant us as they smile from the walls
of the picture-galleries of Italy.
"I am so glad you have come!" said she. "It is so stupid here, and I
expected you an hour ago."
"Oh, if I had only known that!" said Despard. "For, do you know, I have
been dying of ennui."
"I hope that I may be the means of dispelling it."
"As surely so as the sun disperses the clouds."
"You are never at a loss for a compliment."
"Never when I am with you."
These few words were spoken with a smile by each, and a slightly
melodramatic gesture, as though each was conscious of a little
"You must be glad to get to your old home," she resumed. "You lived here
fifteen, no, sixteen years, you know."
"So it was. I was sixteen when you left."
"Never to see you again till I came back," said Despard, with some
mournfulness, looking at the floor.
"And since then all has changed."
"But I have not," rejoined Despard, in the same tone.
Mrs. Thornton said nothing for a moment.
"By-the-way, I've been reading such a nice book," she resumed. "It has
just come out, and is making a sensation. It would suit you, I know."
"What is it?"
She rose and lifted a book from the table, which she handed to him. He
took it, and read the title out loud.
A strange expression passed over his face. He looked at her, holding the
book out at arms'-length with feigned consternation.
"And do you have the heart to recommend this book to me, Mrs. Thornton?"
"Why, it's religious. Religious books are my terror. How could I
possibly open a book like this?"
"You are mistaken," she said. "It is an ordinary novel, and for the sake
of your peace of mind I assure you that there is not a particle of
religion in it. But why should you look with such repugnance upon it?
The expression of your face is simply horror."
"Pietistic books have been the bane of my life. The emotional, the
rhapsodical, the meditative style of book, in which one garrulously
addresses one's soul from beginning to end, is simply torture to me. You
see religion is a different thing. The rhapsody may do for the
Tabernacle people, but thoughtful men and women need something
"I am so delighted to hear such sentiments from a clergyman! They
entirely accord with my own. Still I must own that your horror struck me
as novel, to say the least of it."
"Would you like me to try to proselytize you?"
"You may try if you wish. I am open to conviction; but the Church of all
the ages, the Apostolic, the Catholic, has a strong hold on me."
"You need not fear that I will ever try to loosen it. I only wish that I
may see your face in Trinity Church every Sunday."
"That happiness shall be yours," answered Mrs. Thornton. "As there is no
Catholic church here, I will give you the honor of my presence at
"If that is the case it will be a place of worship to me."
He smiled away the extravagance of this last remark, and she only shook
"That is a compliment, but it is awfully profane."
"Not profanity; say rather justifiable idolatry."
"Really, I feel overcome; I do not know what to say. At any rate, I hope
you will like the book; I know you will find it pleasant."
"Any thing that comes from you could not be otherwise," said Despard.
"At the same time it is not my habit to read novels singly."
"Singly! Why how else can one read them?"
"I always read several at a time."
Mrs. Thornton laughed at the whimsical idea.
"You see," said Despard, "one must keep up with the literature of the
day. I used to read each book as it came out, but at last found satiety.
The best novel palls. For my own comfort I had to invent a new plan to
stimulate my interest. I will tell you about it. I take ten at a time,
spread them on the table in front of me, and read each chapter in
"Isn't that a little confusing?"
"Not at all," said Despard, gravely. "Practice enables one to keep all
"But what is the good of it?"
"This," replied Despard; "you see in each novel there are certain
situations. Perhaps on an average there may be forty each. Interesting
characters also may average ten each. Thrilling scenes twenty each.
Overwhelming catastrophes fifteen each. Now by reading novels singly the
effect of all this is weakened, for you only have the work of each in
its divided, isolated state, but where you read according to my plan you
have the aggregate of all these effects in one combined--that is to say,
in ten books which I read at once I have two hundred thrilling scenes,
one hundred and fifty overwhelming catastrophes, one hundred interesting
characters, and four hundred situations of absorbing fascination. Do you
not see what an advantage there is in my plan? By following this rule I
have been able to stimulate a somewhat faded appetite, and to keep
abreast of the literature of the day."
"What an admirable plan! And do you read all books in that way? Why, one
could write ten novels at a time on the same principle, and if so he
ought to write very much better."
"I think I will try it some day. At present I am busily engaged with a
learned treatise on the Symbolical Nature of the Mosaic Economy, and--"
"The--what?" cried Mrs. Thornton, breathlessly. "What was that?"
"The Symbolical Nature of the Mosaic Economy," said Despard, placidly.
"And is the title all your own?"
"All my own."
"Then pray don't write the book. The title is enough. Publish that, and
see if it does not of itself by its own extraordinary merits bring you
"I've been thinking seriously of doing so," said Despard, "and I don't
know but that I may follow your advice. It will save some trouble, and
perhaps amount to just as much in the end."
"And do you often have such brilliant fancies?"
"No, frankly, not often. I consider that title the one great idea of my
"But do not dwell too much upon that," said Mrs. Thornton, in a warning
voice. "It might make you conceited."
"Do you think so?" rejoined the other, with a shudder. "Do you really
think so? I hope not. At any rate I hope you do not like conceited
"Am I conceited?"
"No. I like you," replied Mrs. Thornton, with a slight bow and a wave of
the hand, which she accompanied with a smile.
"And I like you," said Despard, in the same tone.
"You could not do less."
"This," said Despard, with an air of thoughtful seriousness, "is a
solemn occasion. After such a tender confession from each of us what
remains to be done? What is it that the novels lay down?"
"I'm sure," returned Mrs. Thornton, with the same assumed solemnity, "it
is not for me to say. You must make the proposition."
"We cannot do any thing less than fly together."
"I should think not"
"And not only where, but how? By rail, by steamboat, or by canal? A
canal strikes me as the best mode of flight. It is secluded."
"Free from observation," said Despard.
"Quiet," rejoined Mrs. Thornton.
"And, best of all, hitherto untried."
"Yes, its novelty is undeniable."
"So much so," said Mrs. Thornton, "that it overwhelms one. It is a
bright, original idea, and in these days of commonplace is it not
creditable? The idea is mine, Sir, and I will match it with your--what?
--your Symbolical Nature of the Mosaic Cosmogony."
"But Cosmogony is better. Allow me to suggest it by way of a change."
"It must be so, since you say it; but I have a weakness for the word
Economy. It is derived from the Greek--"
"Greek!" exclaimed Mrs. Thornton, raising her hands. "You surely are not
going to be so ungenerous as to quote Greek! Am I not a lady? Will you
be so base as to take me at a disadvantage in that way?"
"I am thoroughly ashamed of myself, and you may consider that a tacit
apology is going on within my mind whenever I see you."
"You are forgiven," said Mrs. Thornton.
"I can not conceive how I could have so far forgotten myself. I do not
usually speak Greek to ladies. I consider it my duty to make myself
agreeable. And you have no idea how agreeable I can make myself, if I
"I? I have no idea? Is it you who say that, and to me?" exclaimed Mrs.
Thornton, in that slight melodramatic tone which she had employed thus
far, somewhat exaggerated. "After what I told you--of my feelings?"
"I see I shall have to devote all the rest of my life to making
"No. Do not make apologies. Avoid your besetting sins. Otherwise, fond
as I am of you"--and she spoke with exaggerated solemnity--"I must
regard you as a failure."
The conversation went on uninterruptedly in this style for some time. It
appeared to suit each of them. Despard's face, naturally grave, assisted
him toward maintaining the mock-serious tone which he chose to adopt;
and Mrs. Thornton's peculiar style of face gave her the same advantage.
It pleased each to express for the other an exaggerated sentiment of
regard. They considered it banter and badinage. How far it was safe was
another thing. But they had known one another years before, and were
only resuming the manner of earlier times.
Yet, after all, was it safe for the grave Rector of Holby to adopt the
inflated style of a troubadour in addressing the Lady of Thornton
Grange? Neither of them thought of it. They simply improved the shining
hour after this fashion, until at length the conversation was
interrupted by the opening of folding-doors, and the entrance of a
servant who announced--dinner.
On entering the dining-room Despard was greeted with respectful
formality by the master of the house. He was a man of about forty, with
the professional air of the lawyer about him, and an abstracted
expression of face, such as usually belongs to one who is deeply
engrossed in the cares of business. His tone, in spite of its
friendliness, was naturally stiff, and was in marked contrast to the
warmth of Mrs. Thornton's greeting.
"How do you like your new quarters?" he asked, as they sat down.
"Very well," said Despard. "It is more my home, you know, than any other
place. I lived there so many years as school-boy with Mr. Carson that it
seems natural to take up my station there as home."
Mr. Thornton relapsed into his abstraction while Despard was speaking,
who directed the remainder of his conversation to Mrs. Thornton.
It was light, idle chat, in the same tone as that in which they had
before indulged. Once or twice, at some unusually extravagant remark,
Mr. Thornton looked up in perplexity, which was not lessened on seeing
their perfect gravity.
They had a long discussion as to the meaning of the phrase "the day
after to-morrow." Despard asserted that it meant the same as eternal
duration, and insisted that it must be so, since when to-morrow came the
day after it was still coming, and when that came there was still the
day after. He supported his theory with so much earnestness that
Thornton, after listening for a while, took the trouble to go heavily
and at length into the whole question, and conclude it triumphantly
Then the subject of politics came up, and a probable war with France was
considered. Despard professed to take no interest in the subject, since,
even if an invasion took place, clergymen could do nothing. They were
exempt from military duty in common with gaugers. The mention of this
brought on a long discussion as to the spelling of the word gauger.
Despard asserted that nobody knew how it was spelled, and that, from the
necessities of human nature, it was simply impossible to tell whether it
was _gauger_ or _guager_. This brought out Thornton again, who
mentioned several law papers in which the word had been correctly
written by his clerks. Despard challenged him on this, and, because
Thornton had to confess that he had not examined the word, dictionary in
hand, he claimed a victory over him.
Thornton, at this, looked away, with the smile of a man who is talking
unintelligible things to a child.
Then followed a long conversation between Despard and Mrs. Thornton
about religion, art, music, and a miscellaneous assemblage of other
things, which lasted for a long time. At length he rose to go. Mrs.
Thornton went to a side-table and took up a book.
"Here," said she, "is the little book you lent me; I ought to have sent
it, but I thought you would come for it."
"And so I will," said he, "some day."
"Come for it to-morrow."
"Will you be at home?"
[Illustration: "MRS. THORNTON, WALKING TO THE WINDOW, LOOKED OUT."]
"Then of course I'll come. And now I must tear myself away. Good-night!"
On the following day, at about two o'clock, Despard called again. Mrs.
Thornton had been writing, and the desk was strewn with papers.
"I know I am disturbing you," said he, after the usual greetings. "I see
that you are writing, so I will not stay but a moment. I have come, you
know, after that little book."
"Indeed, you are not disturbing me at all. I have been trying to
continue a letter which I began to my brother a month ago. There is no
hurry about it."
"And how is Paolo?"
"I have not heard for some time. I ought to hear soon. He went to
America last summer, and I have not had a word from him since. My letter
is of no importance, I assure you, and now, since you are here, you
shall not go. Indeed, I only touched it a minute ago. I have been
looking at some pictures till I am so begrimed and inundated with dust
that I feel as though I had been resolved into my original element."
And she held up her hands with a pretty gesture of horror.
Despard looked at her for a moment as she stood in her bright beauty
before him. A sudden expression of pain flashed over his face, succeeded
by his usual smile.
"Dust never before took so fair a form," he said, and sat down, looking
on the floor.
"For unfailing power of compliment, for an unending supply of neat and
pretty speeches, commend me to the Rev. Courtenay Despard."
"Yet, singularly enough, no one else ever dreamed that of me."
"You were always so."
"With you." "In the old days."
"Now lost forever."
Their voices sank low and expressive of a deep melancholy. A silence
followed. Despard at last, with a sudden effort, began talking in his
usual extravagant strain about badgers till at last Mrs. Thornton began
to laugh, and the radiancy of their spirits was restored. "Strange,"
said he, taking up a prayer-book with a peculiar binding, on which there
was a curiously intertwisted figure in gilt. "That pattern has been in
my thoughts and dreams for a week."
"Why, I saw it in your hands last Sunday, and my eyes were drawn to it
till its whole figure seemed to stamp itself on my mind. See! I can
trace it from memory." And, taking his cane, he traced the curiously
involved figure on the carpet.
"And were your thoughts fixed on nothing better than that?"
"I was engaged in worship," was the reply, with marked emphasis.
"I must take another book next time."
"Do not. You will only force me to study another pattern."
Mrs. Thornton laughed lightly, and Despard looked at her with a smile.
"I'm afraid your thoughts wander," she said, lightly, "as mine do. There
is no excuse for you. There is for me. For you know I'm like Naaman; I
have to bow my head in the temple of Baal. After all," she continued, in
a more serious voice, "I suppose I shall be able some day to worship
before my own altar, for, do you know, I expect to end my days in a
"For the purpose of perfect religious seclusion."
Despard looked at her earnestly for a moment. Then his usual smile broke
"Wherever you go let me know, and I'll take up my abode outside the
walls and come and look at you every day through the grating."
"And would that be a help to a religious life?"
"Perhaps not; but I'll tell you what would be a help. Be a Sister of
Charity. I'll be a Paulist. I'll devote myself to the sick. Then you and
I can go together; and when you are tired I can assist you. I think that
idea is much better than yours."
"Oh, very much, indeed!" said Mrs. Thornton, with a strange, sad look.
"I remember a boy and girl who once used to go hand in hand over yonder
shore, and--" He stopped suddenly, and then hastily added, "and now it
would be very sad, and therefore very absurd, in one of them to bring up
Mrs. Thornton suddenly rose, and, walking to the window, looked out. "I
wonder if it will rain to-day!" she said, in a sweet voice, full of a
"There are very dark clouds about," returned Despard, mournfully.
"I hope there will not be a storm," she rejoined, with the same sadness.
Her hands were held tightly together. "Some things will perish if a
"Let us pray that there may be calm and peace," said Despard.
She turned and looked at him for a moment. Strange that these two should
pass so quickly from gayety to gloom! Their eyes met, and each read in
the face of the other sadness beyond words.
Despard did not go back to the Grange for some days. About a week had
passed since the scenes narrated in the preceding chapter when one
morning, having finished his breakfast, he went into his library and sat
down at the table to write. A litter of papers lay all around. The walls
were covered with shelves, filled with books. The table was piled high
with ponderous tomes. Manuscripts were strewn around, and books were
scattered on the floor. Yet, amidst all this disorder, some order was
apparent, for many of these books lay open in certain places, and others
were arranged so as to be within reach.
Several sheets of paper, covered with writing, lay before him, headed,
"The Byzantine Poets." The books were all in Greek. It was the library
of a hard-working student.
Very different was the Despard of the library from the Despard who had
visited the Grange. A stern and thoughtful expression was read in his
face, and his eyes had an abstraction which would have done credit to
Mr. Thornton himself.
Taking his seat at the table, he remained for a while leaning his head
on his hand in deep thought. Then he took up a pen and drew a piece of
paper before him to try it. He began to draw upon it the same figure
which he had marked with his cane on Mrs. Thornton's carpet. He traced
this figure over and over, until at last the whole sheet was covered.
Suddenly he flung down the pen, and, taking up the paper, leaned back in
his chair with a melancholy face. "What a poor, weak thing I am!" he
muttered at last, and let the paper fall to the floor. He leaned his
head on his hand, then resumed his pen and began to make some idle
marks. At length he began to draw.
Under the fine and delicate strokes of his pen, which were as neat and
as exquisite as the most subtle touches of an engraving, a picture
gradually rose to view. It was a sea-side scene. The place was Holby
Beach. In the distance was the light-house; and on one side a
promontory, which protected the harbor. Upon the shore, looking out
toward the sea, was a beautiful girl, of about sixteen years of age,
whose features, as they grew beneath his tender touches, were those of
Mrs. Thornton. Then beside her there gradually rose another figure, a
youth of about eighteen, with smooth face and clustering locks, who
looked exactly like what the Rev. Courtenay Despard might have been some
seven or eight years before. His left arm was around her waist, her arm
was thrown up till it touched his shoulder, and his right hand held
hers. Her head leaned against him, and both of them, with a subdued
expression of perfect happiness, tinged with a certain pensive sadness,
were looking out upon the setting sun.
As soon as he finished he looked at the sketch, and then, with a sudden
impulse, tore it into a thousand small fragments. He drew the written
manuscript before him with a long and deep-drawn sigh, and began writing
with great rapidity upon the subject of the Byzantine Poets. He had just
written the following words:
"The Anacreontic hymns of John Damascenus form a marked contrast to--"
when the sentence was interrupted by a knock at the door. "Come in!" It
was the servant with letters from the post-office. Despard put down his
pen gravely, and the man laid two letters on the table. He waited till
the servant had departed, then seizing one of them, a small one,
addressed in a lady's hand, he pressed it vehemently to his lips and
tore it open.
It was as follows:
[Illustration: "BOTH WERE LOOKING OUT UPON THE SETTING SUN."]
"DEAR MR. DESPARD,--I suppose I may _never_ expect to see you
again. Yet I must see you, for yesterday I received a very long letter
from Paolo of so singular a character that you will have to explain it
to me. I shall expect you this afternoon, and till then, I remain,
"THORNTON GRANGE, Friday."
Despard read this letter a score of times, and placed it reverently in
an inner drawer of his desk. He then opened the other, and read as
"HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA, January 12, 1847.
"MY DEAR COURTENAY,--I was very glad to hear of your appointment as
Rector of Holby, your old home, and hope that by this time you are fully
established in the old Rectory, where you spent so many years. I was
there often enough in poor old Carson's days to know that it was a fine
"You will see by this that I am in Halifax, Nova Scotia. My regiment was
ordered off here last November, and I am just beginning to feel settled.
It is not so cold here as it was in Quebec. There is capital moose
hunting up the country. I don't admire my accommodations much; but it is
not a bad little town, considering all things. The people are pleasant,
and there is some stir and gayety occasionally.
"Not long before leaving Quebec, who do you think turned up? No less a
person than Paolo Langhetti, who in the course of his wanderings came
out there. He had known some extraordinary adventures on his voyage out;
and these are the immediate cause of this letter.
"He took passage early in June last in the ship _Tecumseh_, from
Liverpool for Quebec. It was an emigrant ship, and crammed with
passengers. You have heard all about the horrors of that middle passage,
which occurred last year, when those infernal Liverpool merchants, for
the sake of patting a few additional pounds in their pockets, sent so
many thousands to destruction.
"The _Tecumseh_ was one of these. It was crammed with emigrants.
You know Langhetti's extraordinary pluck, and his queer way of devoting
himself for others. Well, what did he do but this: as soon as the ship-
fever broke out he left the cabin and took up his abode in the steerage
with the sick emigrants. He is very quiet about this, and merely says
that he helped to nurse the sick. I know what that means.
"The mortality was terrific. Of all the ships that came to Quebec on
that fatal summer the _Tecumseh_ showed the largest record of
deaths. On reaching the quarantine station Langhetti at once insisted on
continuing his attendance on the sick. Hands were scarce, and his offer
was eagerly accepted. He staid down there ever so long till the worst of
the sickness was over.
"Among the passengers on the _Tecumseh_ were three who belonged to
the superior class. Their names were Brandon. He took a deep interest in
them. They suffered very much from sickness both during the voyage and
at quarantine. The name at once attracted him, being one well known both
to him and to us. At last they all died, or were supposed to have died,
at the quarantine station. Langhetti, however, found that one of them
was only in a 'trance state,' and his efforts for resuscitation were
successful. This one was a young girl of not more than sixteen years of
age. After her restoration he left the quarantine bringing her with him,
and came up to the city. Here he lived for a month or so, until at last
he heard of me and came to see me.
"Of course I was delighted to see him, for I always thought him the
noblest fellow that ever breathed, though most undoubtedly cranky if not
crazy. I told him we were going to Halifax, and as he had no settled
plan I made him come here with me.
"The girl remained for a long time in a state of mental torpor, as
though her brain had been affected by disease, but the journey here had
a beneficial effect on her, and during her stay she has steadily
improved. About a week ago Langhetti ventured to ask her all about
"What will you say when I tell you that she is the daughter of poor
Ralph Brandon, of Brandon Hall, your father's friend, whose wretched
fate has made us all so miserable. You know nothing of this, of course;
but where was Thornton? Why did not he do something to prevent this
horror, this unutterable calamity? Good God! what suffering there is in
"Now, Courtenay, I come to the point. This poor Edith Brandon, still
half-dead from her grief, has been able to tell us that she has still a
relative living. Her eldest brother Louis went to Australia many years
ago. A few weeks before her father's death he wrote to his son telling
him everything, and imploring him to come home. She thinks that her
brother must be in England by this time.
"I want you to hunt up Louis Brandon. Spare no trouble. In the name of
God, and by the memory of your father, whose most intimate friend was
this poor old Brandon, I entreat you to search after Louis Brandon till
you find him, and let him know the fate of his friends. I think if she
could see him the joy of meeting one relative would restore her to
"My boy, I know I have said enough. Your own heart will impel you to do
all that can be done for the sake of this poor young girl. You can find
out the best ways of learning information. You had better go up at once
to London and make arrangements for finding Brandon. Write me soon, and
let me know.
"Your affectionate uncle,
Despard read this letter over and over. Then he put it in his pocket,
and walked up and down the room in deep thought. Then he took out Mrs.
Thornton's note and studied it for a long time. So the hours passed
away, until at length two o'clock came and he set out for Thornton
On entering the drawing-room, Mrs. Thornton was there.
"So you have come at last," said she, as they shook hands.
"As if I would not come ten times a day if I could," was the answer, in
an impetuous voice.
"Still there is no reason why you should persistently avoid the Grange."
"What would you say if I followed my own impulse, and came here every
"I would say, Good-morning, Sir. Still, now that you are here, you must
"I will stay, whether I must or not."
"Have you recovered from the effect of my prayer-book yet?"
"No, nor ever will I. You brought the same one last Sunday."
"That was in order to weaken the effect. Familiarity breeds contempt,
"Then all I can say is, that contempt has very extraordinary
manifestations. Among other strange things, it makes me cover my paper
with that pattern when I ought to be writing on the Mosaic Economy."
"Cosmogony, you mean."
"Well, then, Cosmogony."
"Cosmogony is such a delicious word! It has been the hope of my life to
be able to introduce it in a conversation. There is only one other word
that compares with it."
"What is it?"
"I am afraid to pronounce it."
"Try, at any rate."
"Idiosyncrasy," said Mrs. Thornton. "For five or six years I have been
on the look-out for an opportunity to use that word, and thus far I have
been unsuccessful. I fear that if the opportunity did occur I would call
it 'idiocracy.' In fact, I know I would."
"And what would be the difference? Your motive would be right, and it is
to motives that we must look, not acts."
After some further badinage, Mrs. Thornton drew a letter from her
"Here," said she, gravely, "is Paolo's letter. Read it, and tell me what
you think of it."
Despard took the letter and began to read, while Mrs. Thornton, sitting
opposite to him, watched his face.
The letter was in Italian, and was accompanied by a large and closely-
written manuscript of many pages.
"HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA, January 2, 1847.
"MY SWEETEST LITTLE SISTER,--I send you my diary, as I promised you, my
Teresella, and you will see all my adventures. Take care of yourself, be
happy, and let us hope that we may see one another soon. I am well,
through the mercy of the good God, and hope to continue so. There is no
such thing as music in this place, but I have found an organ where I can
play. My Cremona is uninjured, though it has passed through hard times--
it sends a note of love to my Teresina. Remember your Paolo to the just
and upright Thornton, whom you love. May God bless my little sister's
husband, and fill his heart with love for the sweetest of children!
"Read this manuscript carefully, Teresuola mia dolcissima, and pray for
the souls of those unhappy ones who perished by the pestilence."
JOURNAL OF PAOLO LANGHETTI.
Liverpool, June 2, 1840.--I promised you, my Teresina, to keep a diary
of all my wanderings, and now I begin, not knowing whether it will be
worth reading or not, but knowing this: that my corellina will read it
all with equal interest, whether it be trivial or important.
I have taken passage in the ship _Tecumseh_ from Liverpool to
Quebec. I have embarked in her for no better reason than this, that she
is the first that will sail, and I am impatient. The first New York ship
does not leave for a fortnight. A fortnight in Liverpool! Horror!
I have been on board to secure my room. I am told that there is a large
number of emigrants. It is a pity, but it can not be helped. All ships
have emigrants now. Ireland is being evacuated. There will soon be no
peasants to till the soil. What enormous misery must be in that most
wretched of countries! Is Italy worse? Yes, far worse; for Italy has a
past to contrast with the present, whereas Ireland has no past.
At Sea, June 4.--We are many miles out in the Irish Channel. There are
six hundred emigrants on board--men, women, and children. I am told that
most of these are from Ireland, unhappy Ireland! Some are from England,
and are going to seek their fortune in America. As I look on them I
think, My God! what misery there is in this world! And yet what can I do
to alleviate it? I am helpless. Let the world suffer. All will be right
June 10.--Six hundred passengers! They are all crowded together in a
manner that is frightful to me. Comfort is out of the question; the
direst distress is every where present; the poor wretches only try to
escape suffering. During storms they are shut in; there is little
ventilation; and the horror that reigns in that hold will not let me
either eat or sleep. I have remonstrated with the captain, but without
effect. He told me that he could do nothing. The owners of the ship put
them on board, and he was employed to take them to their proper
destination. My God! what will become of them?
June 15.--There have been a few days of fine weather. The wretched
emigrants have all been on deck. Among them I noticed three who, from
their appearance, belonged to a different class. There was a lady with a
young man and a young girl, who were evidently her children. The lady
has once been beautiful, and still bears the traces of that beauty,
though her face indicates the extreme of sadness. The son is a man of
magnificent appearance, though as yet not full-grown. The daughter is
more lovely than any being whom I have ever seen. She is different from
my Bicetta. Bice is Grecian, with a face like that of a marble statue,
and a soul of purely classic mould. Bice is serene. She reminds me of
Artemis. Bice is an artist to her inmost heart. Bice I love as I love
you, my Teresina, and I never expect to meet with one who can so
interpret my ideas with so divine a voice. But this girl is more
spiritual. Bice is classic, this one is medieval. Bice is a goddess,
this one a saint. Bice is Artemis, or one of the Muses; this one is Holy
Agnes or Saint Cecilia. There is in that sweet and holy face the same
depth of devotion which our painters portray on the face of the Madonna.
This little family group stand amidst all the other passengers,
separated by the wide gulf of superior rank, for they are manifestly
from among the upper classes, but still more so by the solemn isolation
of grief. It is touching to see the love of the mother for her children,
and the love of the children for their mother. How can I satisfy the
longings which I feel to express to them my sympathy?
June 21.--I have at length gained my desire. I have become acquainted
with that little group. I went up to them this morning in obedience to a
resistless impulse, and with the most tender sympathy that I could
express; and, with many apologies, offered the young man a bottle of
wine for his mother. He took it gratefully and frankly. He met me half-
way in my advances. The poor lady looked at me with speechless
gratitude, as though kindness and sympathy were unknown to her. "God
will reward you, Sir," she said, in a tremulous voice, "for your
sympathy with the miserable."
"Dear Madame," said I, "I wish no other reward than the consciousness
that I may have alleviated your distress."
My heart bled for these poor creatures. Cast down from a life which must
have once been one of luxury, they were now in the foulest of places,
the hold of an emigrant ship. I went back to the captain to see if I
could not do something in their behalf. I wished to give up my room to
them. He said I could do so if I wished, but that there was no room left
in the cabin. Had there been I would have hired one and insisted on
their going there.
I went to see the lady, and made this proposal as delicately as I could.
There were two berths in my room. I urged her and her daughter to take
them. At first they both refused most positively, with tears of
gratitude. But I would not be so put off. To the mother I portrayed the
situation of the daughter in that den of horror; to the daughter I
pointed out the condition of the mother; to the son I showed the
position of his mother and sister, and thus I worked upon the holiest
feelings of their hearts. For myself I assured them that I could get a
place among the sailors in the forecastle, and that I preferred doing
so. By such means as these I moved them to consent. They did so with an
expression of thankfulness that brought tears to my eyes.
"Dear Madame," said I, "you will break my heart if you talk so. Take the
room and say nothing. I have been a wanderer for years, and can live any
It was not till then that I found out their names. I told them mine.
They looked at one another in astonishment. "Langhetti?" said the
"Did you ever live in Holby?"
"Yes. My father was organist in Trinity Church, and I and my sister
lived there some years. She lives there still."
"My God!" was her ejaculation.
"Why?" I asked, with eager curiosity. "What do you know about Holby, and
She looked at me with solemn earnestness. "I," said she, "am the wife,
and these are the children of one who was your father's friend. He who
was my husband, and the father of these children, was Ralph Brandon, of
I stood for a moment stupefied. Then I burst into tears. Then I embraced
them all, and said I know not what of pity and sympathy and affection.
My God! to think of such a fate as this awaiting the family of Ralph
Brandon. Did you know this, oh, Teresina? If so, why did you keep it
secret? But no--you could not have known it. If you had this would not
They took my room in the cabin--the dear ones--Mrs. Brandon and the
sweet Edith. The son Frank and I stay together among the emigrants. Here
I am now, and I write this as the sun is getting low, and the uproar of
all these hundreds is sounding in my ears.
June 30.--There is a panic in the ship. The dread pestilence known as
"ship-fever" has appeared. This disease is the terror of emigrant ships.
Surely there was never any vessel so well adapted to be the prey of the
pestilence as this of ours! I have lived for ten days among the steerage
passengers, and have witnessed their misery. Is God just? Can he look
down unmoved upon scenes like these? Now that the disease has come,
where will it stop?
July 3.--The disease is spreading. Fifteen are prostrate. Three have
July 10.--Thirty deaths have occurred, and fifty are sick. I am
assisting to nurse them.
July 15.--Thirty-four deaths since my last. One hundred and thirty are
sick. I will labor here if I have to die for it.
July 18.--If this is my last entry let this diary be sent to Mrs.
Thornton, care of William Thornton, Holby, Pembroke, England--(the above
entry was written in English, the remainder was all in Italian, as
before). More than two hundred are sick. Frank Brandon is down. I am
afraid to let his mother know it. I am working night and day. In three
days there have been forty-seven deaths. The crew are demoralized and
July 23.--Shall I survive these horrors? More than fifty new deaths have
occurred. The disease has spread among the sailors. Two are dead, and
seven are sick. Horror prevails. Frank Brandon is recovering slowly.
Mrs. Brandon does not know that he has been sick. We send word that we
are afraid to come for fear of communicating the disease to her and to
July 27.--More than half of the sailors are sick. Eleven dead. Sixty-
seven passengers dead since last report. Frank Brandon almost well, and
helping me in my work.
July 30.--Nearly all the sailors more or less sick--five new deaths
among them. Ship almost unmanageable. In the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Talk
of putting into some port. Seventy passengers dead.
August 2.--Worse yet. Disease has spread into the cabin. Three cabin
passengers dead. God have mercy upon poor Mrs. Brandon and sweet Edith!
All the steerage passengers, with a few exceptions, prostrate. Frank
Brandon is weak but helps me. I work night and day. The ship is like a
floating pest-house. Forty new deaths since last report.
August 7.--Drifting along, I know not how, up the St. Lawrence. The
weather calm, and two or three sailors able to manage the ship. Captain
and mate both dead. Ten cabin passengers dead. Three more sailors dead.
Only thirty-two steerage passengers dead since last report, but nearly
all are sick. Hardly any one to attend to them.
August 10.--Mrs. Brandon and Edith both sick. Frank prostrate again. God
in heaven, have mercy!
August 15.--Mrs. Brandon and Edith very low. Frank better.
August 16.--Quarantine Station, Gosse Island. I feel the fever in my
veins. If I die, farewell, sweetest sister.
December 28, Halifax, Nova Scotia.--More than four months have elapsed
since my last entry, and during the interval marvelous things have
occurred. These I will now try to recall as I best can.