Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

then dressed as if she might fairly expect him. All then was not lost, if a seaman, his own father, did not yet despair. And for a few days she resumed looking out for him again.

Autumn at last arrived,—a late autumn too,-its gloomy evenings making all things appear dark in the old cottage; and all the land looked sombre too.

The very daylight seemed a sort of twilight; immeasurable clouds, passing slowly overhead, darkened the whole country at broad noon. The wind blew constantly with the sound of a great cathedral organ at a distance, but playing profane, despairing dirges; at other times the noise came close to the door, like the howling of wild beasts.

She had grown pale,-aye, blanched, -and bent more than ever; as if old age had already touched her with its featherless wing. Often did she finger the wedding clothes of her Yann, folding them and unfolding them again and again like some maniac,—especially one of his blue woolen jerseys which still had preserved his shape: when she threw it gently on the table, it fell with the shoulders and chest well defined; so she placed it by itself in a shelf of their wardrobe, and left it there, so that it might forever rest unaltered.

Every night the cold mists sank upon the land, as she gazed over the depressing heath through her little window, and watched the thin puffs of white smoke arise from the chimneys of other cottages scattered here and there on all sides. There the husbands had returned, like wandering birds driven home by the frost. Before their blazing hearths the evenings passed, cozy and warm; for the springtime of love had begun again in this land of North Sea fishermen.

Still clinging to the thought of those islands where he might perhaps have lingered, she was buoyed up by a kind hope, and expected him home any day.

But he never returned. One August night, out off gloomy Iceland, mingled with the furious clamor of the sea, his wedding with the sea was performed. It had been his nurse; it had rocked him in his babyhood and had afterwards made him big and strong; then, in his superb manhood, it had taken him back again for itself alone. Profoundest mystery had surrounded this unhallowed union. While it went on, dark curtains hung pall-like over it as if to conceal the ceremony, and the ghoul howled in an awful, deafening voice to stifle his cries. He, thinking of Gaud, his sole, darling wife, had battled with giant strength against this deathly rival, until he at last surrendered, with a deep death-cry like the roar of a dying bull, through a mouth already filled with water; and his arms were stretched apart and stiffened forever.

All those he had invited in days of old were present at his wedding. All except Sylvestre, who had gone to sleep in the enchanted gardens far, far away, at the other side of the earth.

THE SALVING OF THE YAN-SHAN

From "In Blue Waters,” BY H. DE VERE STACPOOLE

M H E Heart of Ireland was spreading her wings to

the north-west trades, making a good seven knots,

with the coast of California a vague line on the horizon to port and all the blue Pacific before her.

Captain Blood was aft with his mate, Billy Harman, leaning on the rail and watching the foam boosting away from the stern and flowing off in creamy lines on the swirl of the wake. Ginnell, owner and captain of the Heart of Ireland, shanghaied and reduced to deck hand, was forward on the look-out, and one of the coolie crew was at the wheel.

“I'm not given to meeting trouble half-way,” said Blood, shifting his position and leaning with his left arm on the rail, “but it 'pears to me Pat Ginnell is taking his set down a mighty sight too easy. He's got something up his sleeve.”

"So've we,” replied Harman. “What can he do? He laid out to shanghai you, and by gum, he did it. I don't say I didn't let him down crool, playin' into his hands and pretendin' to help and gettin' Captain Mike as a witness, but the fac remains he got you aboard this hooker by foul play, shanghaied you were, and then you turns the tables on him, knocks the stuffin' out of him and turns him into a deck hand. How's he to complain? I'd start back to 'Frisco now and dare him to come ashore with his complaints. We've got his ship, well, that's his fault. He's no legs to stand on, that's “Leavin' aside this little bisness, he's known as a crook from Benicia right to San Jose. The bay stinks with him and his doin's; settin' Chinese sturgeon lines, Captain Mike said he was, and all but nailed, smugglin' and playin' up to the Greeks, and worse. The Bayside's hungry to catch him an' stuff him in the penitentiary, and he hasn't no friends. I'm no saint, I owns it, but I'm a plaster John the Baptis' to Ginnell, and I've got friends, so have you. Well, what are you bothering about?”

truth.

“Oh, I'm not bothering about the law," said Blood, “only about him. I'm going to keep my eye open and not be put asleep by his quiet ways — and I'd advise you to do the same.”

“Trust me," said Harman, “and more especial when we come to longsides with the Yan-Shan."

Now the Yan-Shan had started in life somewhere early in the nineties as a twelve hundred ton cargo boat in the Bullmer line; she had been christened the Robert Bullmer, and her first act when the dog-shores had been knocked away was a bull charge down the launching slip, resulting in the bursting of a hawser, the washing over of a boat and the drowning of two innocent spectators; her next was an attempt to butt the Eddystone over in a fog, and, being unbreakable, she might have succeeded only that she was going dead slow. She drifted out of the Bullmer line on the wash of a law-suit owing to the ramming by her of a Cape boat in Las Palmas harbour; engaged herself in the fruit trade in the service of the Corona Capuella Syndicate, and got on to the Swimmer rocks with a cargo of Jamaica oranges, a broken screw shaft and a blown-off cylinder cover. The ruined cargo, salvage and tow smashed the Syndicate, and the Robert Bullmer found new occupations till the See-Yup-See Company of Canton picked her up, and, rechristening, used her

for conveying coffins and coolies to the American seaboard. They had sent her to Valdivia on some business, and on the return from the southern port to 'Frisco she had, true to her instincts and helped by a gale, run on San Juan, a scrap of an island north of the Channel Islands of the California coast. Every soul had been lost with the exception of two Chinese coolies, who, drifting on a raft, had been picked up and brought to San Francisco.

She had a general cargo and twenty thousand dollars in gold coin on board, but the coolies bad declared her to be a total wreck, said, in fact, when they had last sighted her she was going to pieces.

That was the yarn Harman heard through Clancy, with the intimation that the wreck was not worth two dollars, let alone the expenses of a salvage ship.

The story had eaten into Harman's mind; he knew San Juan better than any man in 'Frisco, and he considered that a ship once ashore there would stick; then Ginnell turned up, and the luminous idea of inducing Ginnell to shanghai Blood so that Blood might with his, Harman's, assistance shanghai Ginnell and use the Heart of Ireland for the picking of the Yan-Shan's pocket, entered his mind.

“It's just when we come alongside the Yan-Shan we may find our worst bother,” said Blood.

“Which way?" asked Harman.

“Well, they're pretty sure to send some sort of a wrecking expedition to try and salve some of the cargo, let alone those dollars."

“See here," said Harman, “I had the news from Clancy that morning, and it had only just come to 'Frisco, it wasn't an hour old; we put the cap on Ginnell and were out of the Golden Gate before sundown same day. A wrecking ship would take all of two days to get her legs under her, supposing anyone bought the wreck, so we

« ForrigeFortsæt »