Billeder på siden

« Who saw

seeing it suddenly drop from the skies markable, but not as if it had been of into his lap.

any real importance. My mother had « Jane," said William, “you seem heard him describe the figure so often, as much pleased as a child with a new that she said she felt as if she had seen toy ; yet the sea is not to be joked it herself. After she had been married with. Though there is only a little for some months, she went with her ripple on it now, I have seen a swell husband to pay her father a visit, bethat frightened the best seaman on fore he should sail on what he intended board; and many a hundred_ay, should be his last voyage. He had many a thousand ships, with all their laid out most of his property in a cargo crews, have gone to the bottom, smooth for the vessel, and expected to make as you may think it atop. I must tell a great deal of money by it. The you some stories of shipwrecks, that evening before he was to sail, he was you may not fancy it all plain sailing, returning from the harbour to the and may be willing to go back home, house he lived in, a mile or two out of away from the surf."

Southport. The way lay along the • You need not,” said Jane; “I sea-side, and it was a beautiful sumheard plenty such stories from my mer evening, with a slight sunny mist mother, and I have not forgotten one spread over the water. After he had of them. Besides, the woman with got clear of the town, he turned round the green hair, who appeared to my to look at the masts of his ship, which grandfather, is dreadful enough." were plain enough to be seen, and he

The woman with the green hair!” noticed an odd movement, with some said William, suddenly.

faint lines in the sunshine, above the that? who told you of it?"

water. It grew clearer and clearer, “ My grandfather saw it twice, and till he saw that it was the woman with my mother told me of it. He used to the green hair. He could have thought make voyages to Holland and Ger- it not an hour since he last saw her, so many, I think, for I remember my exactly was she the same, except that mother showing me the places in our now a weak yellow brightness from

Once he had not long left the sun fell over her grey dress and the port, somewhere abroad, when the pale green hair. She waved her hand fog began to thicken round him, and and looked at him, so that he underthe wind, at the same time, to rise. stood well enough that she warned The sailors wanted him to turn back, him not to go back to the ship. At but he would not, for he was a very first, he owned, he was dreadfully bold and obstinate man. The weather frightened, but as she did not cease grew worse and worse; and at last, her warnings, he turned his head from when he had just refused the advice of her and proceeded on his way. He all on board to go back into harbour, did not dare look back again till he he saw a figure rise out of the water had struck into a path that led down on the side nearest the wind, and float a hollow, so that the sea was hidden in the air against the fog, close to the from him. There was then no apmast. She put out her hands, as if to pearance of the figure. He came push him and his ship back, and he home much changed in his manner, noticed her so well that he could de- and his face and voice were very sad scribe her as he could any of his when he told his wife and daughter friends. She was young and hand what had happened to him. But he some, in a long grey dress, with pale could not afford to give up his voyage; green hair hanging down over her and, besides, he would not have borne neck. My grandfather would not to be laughed at by his friends, as he heed, and that night his ship was must have been had he staid on shore dashed upon the shore, and he lost for such a reason." every thing he had; all his crew were " And what came of it?" drowned, and he was thrown upon My mother never saw him after the beach himself, almost a corpse." the next morning, when he went to

“ Well," said William, “ was that He was washed overboard and all? did he ever see her again : drowned before the eyes of his crew.

Yes. For some years after this I was born three or four months after, he made successful voyages, and he and my mother was so affected by her spoke to his family of the sight he had loss, and by the story of the greenscen as of something straugo and re. haired woman, that she thought the

old map


impression made on her had given me seat, the first thing that struck me was the same kind of features and look as - Well that girl is the likest I ever saw those of the appearance described by to the green-haired woman. Your my grandfather. My hair, indeed, hair even had a little greenish look, has never that I know of been green. though that, perhaps, was from the

William was long silent, and at last shade of the old thorn-tree above you. he said, “ Jane, I must tell you what I have never since been able to get it I am thinking of. I heard this story out of my head that you and she are told by an old sailor of Southport, somehow sisters, though I never saw who said he had sailed in the ship, two sisters so much alike. the master of which was lost as you Jane laughed, not very heartily, have just related, though I had no and owned it was strange tbat he as notion that he was your grandfather. well as her mother should have noticed But I have seen the green-haired wo- the likeness. “ But you spoke," she man twice myself. I was in the Me- said, “ of seeing this figure twice. diterranean, and was the mate keep- How did it happen the second time?" ing watch on deck. The night was " Oh! that was much less remarkcloudy, but every now and then we able. My old captain made my forhad a good glimpse of moonshine. tune by promoting me to be a mate, The moon, however, was hidden when and getting me some education. Soon I happened to be looking towards the afterwards he gave up the ship, and as larboard bow, and I saw, right abreast he was walking home from the town, of the foremast, hanging against the I went half-a-mile or so with him to clouds, the sort of figure you spoke of, bid him good by ; I was thanking him with her green hair falling about her. for his kindness, when he said he Her body and dress seemed much the wanted no thanks, but he would be colour of the clouds behind, so that I glad if I would promise him one thing, could not make out her shape, but and this was, ibat if ever, by any just then a flash of moonshine came, chance, he went to sea again, I would and I saw her as plain as I see you. sail with him. I was looking up in She seemed, as you said, to be signing his face, and was saying, Yes, when I to us to change our course. I called saw over his shoulder, above a clump one of the seamen to try if he could of trees on the top of the down where notice any thing in the direction in it looks along the sea, the same figure which I saw her, but at the moment of the green-haired woman.

It was of his turning his head she disappear bright sunshine, and I saw her quite ed. I tried to think no more of it, plainly. She was frowning and inakand an hour after a Greek pirate ing signs to me as if to prevent me came up and boarded us with a dozen from promising ; but I was not to be men ; we had to fight for it hand to stopped so easily, and I gave the old hand, and lost three lives before we man my word I would go with him got rid of the scoundrels, and I got immediately on his letting me know, a wound in my shoulder that I feel unless I should have taken a berth in even yet. Now, it is strange that the another ship beforehand." course the figure signed to us to steer, “ And world you go now, that you would, as we found the next day, have are married ?taken us clear away from the pirate - To be sure I would-I must. into the midst of the British squadron Why, what harm should happen to of men-of-war. But there is some- you when I am away? And we should thing more curious than this. You be all the better pleased with each say your mother thought you had other on my return after a four or five taken after the build of the figure from months' voyage. But I don't think her hearing it spoken of by her father; there is much chance of it, for the old now, when I saw you the first time man has made his fortune, and is not that morning up yonder at the lover's likely to spend it.”


The husband and wife returned in with them until their son was born. a few days from the sea-coast to their Young Richard, for so he was named, inland farm, and time passed on quietly after his maternal grandfather, was a new happiness to both the parents. went with her child to live upon the William, too, had grown tolerably fa- strange and inhospitable shore. For miliar with rural occupations, and was some weeks she would spend hours in pleased with the cultivation of his land. looking over the sea, and watching It was now again midsummer, and the every vessel ; but she grew weary of village, with its fields and trees, looked this habit, and devoted herself to her as beautiful as when Jane set out on son. He was growing into a vigorous her first expedition to the sea. But and lively child, and his likeness to how different were now her feelings! his father perpetually reminded her of It seemed to her as if in 'some myste- the husband she had lost. Her talk rious way she had, in William, mar- with the boy related almost entirely ried the sea itself, and her restless fan to the life and exploits of seamen, and cies were all quieted. But this calm she seemed to devote him from his was not to last. It was a bright July infancy to the task of one day followevening, and William had come in ing and recovering his parent. Nofrom the fields, and was sitting down thing gave her so much pleasure as to to his meal with his wife, who was see him mingle with the fishermen preparing the table, while he danced and their children, and so partly prethe child upon his knee, when the pare himself for his future life. Once, postman came to the door with a indeed, she returned to Meadham for letter, which, from the rarity of the a few days, in order to arrange the occurrence, startled them as if it had affairs of the farm, and took Richard been a gunshot fired into the room. with her. But the delight with which The father turned pale when he he beheld the inland cultivation, the saw the handwriting, and laid the large trees, the green and yellow child on the floor. It was, as he fields, and the comparative comfort expected, a letter from his old cap- and spaciousness of the farm-house, so tain, saying that he had lost his for- alarmed his mother, that she never let tune by an unsuccessful speculation, him return there for more than a few and was now about to embark again hours. Gradually he came to conon a voyage to Brazil, in which he sider the sea as his inevitable destinaclaimed William's promised help as tion, and to share in her superstition chief mate of the ship. He saw at that if he but sailed on a distant once that he must go. Jane spent the voyage, he could not fail to find his evening and most of the night in weep. father. He was about eight years ing, while he endeavoured to explain old when he begged to be allowed to to her his wishes as to her mode of accompany one of the fishermen in his life in his absence, and the measures voyage to Southport (where was the she should take for the management market for his fish) and back to the of the farm, which, with her active fishing village-an expedition which rural habits, did not promise to be a would last in all probability only a very difficult business. The next day. He departed in all the joyousmorning, at day-break, he started ness of childhood, and his mother, who from Meadham, on his way to South- had clothed him in a new dress, like port, and Jane and her child were left that of a full-grown seaman, and not to cheer each other as they might. like that of a fisherman, saw the boat

The autumn and winter passed on, set sail with her son on board, as hapand with the spring she had the hope pily as if he had been going to his of again seeing her husband. But wedding. But while her eyes were not so was it to be. The spring still fixed on it, and before it had brightened into summer,' but William gained twenty yards from the beach, came not with the leaves and crops. she discovered, sitting beside the mast, The summer advanced to maturity, and as it were pushing the child tobut the husband of Jane did not come wards the land, the grey figure of a to reap his harvest. She could no woman with long green hair. She longer endure the sight of Meadham, could not be mistaken ; it was disand as the sea-side cottage was now tinctly visible against the dark red again untenanted, she resolved to sail ; Jane sank back on the shingle, remove thither, as if, in being nearer pointing towards i: with her outthe sea, she should be nearer to Wil- stretched hand. After a long delay, liam. She intrusted her farm to a she found strength to regain her home, labourer on whom she could rely, and and spent the whole day at the window which overlooked the sea, with no change in her determination, for she her eyes fixed on the point of the head- only answered them by requests that land round which the fishing-boat they would leave her to herself. They would first come in sight. It was a at last complied, and she remained clear and glowing evening close upon alone at her open lattice in the deepsunset, when the dark sail crept into ening twilight. Through it was to be view, and looked a spot of blood in seen the line of coast to the right, with the bright and glassy expanse lighted the black ship lying at a quarter of a up by the sun, now setting behind the mile from her, beset with men and down from which Jane had est be- waggons engaged in unloading the held the sea. She now watched the coals. The shore beyond stretched boat that bore her only child-she away in a dark line terminated by the hardly observed any of the other sails headland, round which she had seen that glided over the waters, most of the boat disappear in the morning and them at a greater distance than the again return scarcely two hours ago ; one she eyed so fixedly. Among she fixed her eyes upon the water these was a square rigged vessel co- between this promontory and her, and ming from the north into the bay, saw them far in the night gradually with coals for the neighbouring popu- brighten beneath the moon. It was lation, and pressing on, anxious to after midnight when she discerned, in save the tide for unloading, so as to this trembling radiance, a hazy speck leave the unprotected beach on the hovering above the waves, and as she following morning. Jane knew no- gazed more earnestly, it became the thing of this, but as she continued to woman with the preter-human hair, observe the boat while it drew on, who was again distinctly marked, and and the ship advanced in a converging looking mournfully at her. A dark line, and both were hardly now more mass seemed rolling before her in the than a mile away from her, by some water, and as she and it drew close to mismanagement on both sides, the the shore, the expression of the seaboat was run down. It upset on the woman's face became so piteous, that instant, and Jane could distinguish Jane got up and went to the edge of one of the two men who were in it the water, where, driven at that instant clinging to a rope flung from the on the shingle, lay the body of her son. ship. What became of the other lives She lifted it from the waves, and sat she could not see. But for her the down on the beach with the cold and event was enough. Connected with heavy corpse upon her knees; it was her husband's history, and the appear- dressed in the new blue clothes which ance in the morning, the accidentspoke she had made for him with so much plainly to her mind. After the first pleasure after the model of those worn horror, she sat motionless with stiffen- by his father. The water from them ed eyes, till the ship took the ground, covered her with moisture, over which when, perhaps, with some miserable at last the warm tears fell down, while revival of hope, she ran out of the she felt the dead unresisting limbs house towards it. The first person and looked on the pale face and stashe met was the rescued fisherman, ring eyes. The dark brown hair, inwho shook his head and dropped his deed, still hung about the forehead, hand before she reached him-she sat dripping with the brine, and showing down on the beach, stooped her fore- none of the curls which she had so of head on her knees, and asked him no ten handled. All else seemed changquestions. Before an hour some of the ed, but by long gazing she could still neighbouring women had gathered recognise, in the moonshine, the fair round her. At last one of them ven- boyish features, and lips that never tured to address her, and taking cour- more would smile on her. She could age from her silence, lifted her up in not bear the horny stare of the eyes, her arms ; she made no resistance, and she gently closed the lids before but walked quickly to her home. Only she lifted the body, and walked with on their attempting to lay her on her it to her home. When there, she call. bed she turned fiercely away, and sated for no help of her neighbours, but down at the window from which she laid it on the little grass-plot, while had witnessed the destruction of the she went and struck a light. She again boat.

lifted the burthen and laid it on her The women found they could make own bed, in which her boy had always slept. She took off the clothes, wash talk as became their condition. Jane ed away the sand and salt, stretched learned that her husband's vessel had him, as if in sleep, where he had been been wrecked on the coast of South used to lie, and then threw herself be- America; that he and one or two side the senseless clay, and pressed it others had escaped, but had been long to her bosom. Passionate grief, and detained in the interior, partly by the floods of tears followed, and then again whites, partly among the Indians; had she lay exhausted and helpless, till made several unsuccessful attempts to her returning strength broke out reach Europe, and only now, after anew in bursts of misery ; at last she eight years' absence, had arrived in was motionless as the corpse itself, and England in a vessel from Monte Vi. almost equally lifeless. And while deo. He had landed at Southport, in this state, with her moveless arms and hastened to the fishing village, hanging round the body, a stranger, which was hardly out of his road to in the first grey of the dawn, entered Meadham, and where he expected to the house, the door of which was un- hear some intelligence of his wife and fastened, and saw by the sickly expir. child. ing light, the spectacle of the mother The corpse was borne in its coffin and her dead child. At first he start- on the shoulders of the fishermen along ed and shuddered, but soon began to the path to Meadham, for the cartgaze steadily on the pair, till, gather- road went many miles round. William ing conviction, he exclaimed, “ Jane, and Jane walked together behind the Jane, can this be you?”

bearers up the down, and past the She raised herself slowly and si- lover's seat where they had first met, lently in the bed from beside her child, and along the whole track on which and looked at the speaker. A minute that summer morning she had been passed before she cried aloud, “ Wil- supported by his arm while returning liam, I have killed our boy."

to her father's house. His hair was indeed William, returned a broken now grey, but hers was white as and haggard man.

They spent the following hours in such melancholy

It was


« ForrigeFortsæt »