صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

The murderer's curse, the dead man's fix'd, still glare,
And fear's and death's cold sweat-they all are there!

On pale, dead men, on burning cheek,
On quick, fierce eyes, brows hot and damp,
On hands that with the warm blood reek,
Shines the dim cabin lamp.

Lee look'd. "They sleep so sound," he, laughing, sa "They 'll scarcely wake for mistress or for maid."

A crash! They've forced the door, and then
One long, long, shrill, and piercing scream
Comes thrilling through the growl of men.
'Tis hers!-O God, redeem

From worse than death thy suffering, helpless child!
That dreadful cry again-sharp, sharp, and wild!

It ceased.-with speed o' th' lightning's flash,
A loose-robed form, with streaming hair,
Shoots by.-A leap-a quick, short splash!
'Tis gone!-There's nothing there!
The waves have swept away the bubbling tide.
Bright-crested waves, how proudly on ye ride!

She's sleeping in her silent cave,
Nor hears the stern, loud roar above,
Or strife of man on land or wave.
Young thing! thy home of love

Thou soon hast reach'd!--Fair, unpolluted thing!
They harm'd thee not!-Was dying suffering?

O, no!-To live when joy was dead;
To go with one, lone, pining thought-
To mournful love thy being wed-
Feeling what death had wrought;

To live the child of wo, yet shed no tear,
Bear kindness, and yet share no joy nor fear;

To look on man, and deem it strange
That he on things of earth should brood,
When all its throng'd and busy range
To thee was solitude-

O, this was bitterness!-Death came and prest
Thy wearied lids, and brought thy sick heart rest.

Why look ye on each other so,

And speak no word ?-Ay, shake the head!
She's gone where ye can never go.

What fear ye from the dead?

They tell no tales; and ye are all true men;

But wash away that blood; then, home again!—

'Tis on your souls; it will not out!
Lee, why so lost? T is not like thee!
Come, where's thy revel, oath, and shout?
"That pale one in the sea!-

I mind not blood.--But she-I cannot tell!
A spirit was 't?-It flash'd like fires of hell!-

"And when it pass'd there was no tread!
It leapt on deck.-Who heard the sound?
I heard none!-Say-what was it fled ?—
Poor girl! And is she drown'd?—

Went down these depths? How dark they look, and cold! She's yonder! stop her!-Now!—there !—hold, man, hold!"

They gazed upon his ghastly face.

"What ails thee, Lee; and why that glare?"

-"Look! ha, 'tis gone, and not a trace!

No, no, she was not there!

Who of you said ye heard her when she fell?

'Twas strange -I'll not be fool'd!-Will no one tell?"

He paused. As soon the wildness past.
Then came the tingling flush of shame.
Remorse and fear are gone as fast.
"The silly thing's to blame

To quit us so. 'Tis plain she loved us not;
Or she'd have staid awhile, and shared my cot."

And then the ribald laugh'd. The jest,
Though old and foul, loud laughter drew.
And words more foul came from the rest
Of that infernal crew.

Note, heaven, their blasphemy, their broken trust!
Lust panders murder--murder panders lust!

Now slowly up they bring the dead
From out that silent, dim-lit room.
No prayer at their quick burial said—
No friend to weep their doom.

The hungry waves have seized them one by one;
And, swallowing in their prey, go roaring on.

Cries Lee, "We must not be betray'd.
'Tis but to add another corse!

Strange words, 't is said, an ass once bray'd.
I'll never trust a horse!

We'll throw him on the waves alive! He'll swim;
For once a horse shall ride--we all ride him."

Such sound to mortal ear ne'er came
As rang far o'er the waters wide.

It shook with fear the stoutest frame--
That horse is on the tide!

As the waves leave, or lift him up, his cry
Comes lower now—and, now, 't is near and high.

And through the swift wave's yesty crown
His scared eyes shoot a fiendish light,
And fear seems wrath. He now sinks down,
Now heaves again to sight,

Then drifts away; yet all that night they hear
Far off that dreadful cry.-But morn is near.

O, hadst thou known what deeds were done,
When thou wast shining far away,
Wouldst thou let fall, calm-coming sun,
Thy warm and silent ray?

The good are in their graves; thou canst not cheer
Their dark, cold mansions.

Sin alone is here.

"The deed 's complete! The gold is ours!
There, wash away that bloody stain!
Pray who'd refuse what fortune showers?
Now, lads, we 'll lot our gain.

Must fairly share, you know, what's fairly got!
A truly good night's work! Who'll say 'twas not?"

There's song, and oath, and gaming deep-
Hot words, and laughter-mad carouse:
There's nought of prayer, and little sleep.
The devil keeps the house!

"Lee cheats!" cried Jack.--Lee struck him to the heart. "That's foul!" one mutter'd~"Fool! you take your part !—

"The fewer heirs the richer, man!

Hold forth thy palm, and keep thy prate!
Our life, we read, is but a span.

What matters, soon or late?

Death comes ! "--Ón shore, and ask'd how many died? "That sickness swept near half," said Lee, and sigh'd.

Within our bay, one stormy night,

The isle's men saw boats make for shore,
With here and there a dancing light

That flash'd on man and oar.

When hail'd, the rowing stopt, and all was dark. "Ha! lantern work! We'll home!--They're playing shark!"

Next day, at noon, towards the town,
All stared and wonder'd much to see,
Matt and his men come strolling down.
The boys shout, "Here comes Lee!"

"Thy ship, good Lee?" "Not many leagues from shore Our ship by chance took fire."-They learnt no more.

He and his crew were flush of gold.
“You did not lose your cargo, then?
-“Learn where all's fairly bought and sold,
Heaven prospers those true men.

Forsake your evil ways, as we forsook
Our ways of sin, and honest courses took!

"Wouldst see my log-book? fairly writ,
With pen of steel, and ink like blood!
-How lightly doth the conscience sit!
Learn, truth's the only good."

And thus, with flout, and cold and impious jeer,
He fled repentance, if he 'scaped not fear.

Remorse and fear he drowns in drink.
"Cone, pass the bowl, my jolly crew!
It thicks the blood to mope and think.
-Here's merry days, though few!"
And then he quaffs.--So riot reigns within;
So brawl and laughter shake that house of sin.

Matt lords it now throughout the isle.

His and falls heavier than before.

[blocks in formation]

All dread alike his frown or smile.

None come within his door,

Save those who dipp'd their hands in blood with him; Save those who laugh'd to see the white horse swim.

"To night's our anniversary;

And, mind me, lads, we'll have it kept
With royal state and special glee!

Better with those who slept

Their sleep that night, had he be now, who slinks! And health and wealth to him who bravely drinks!"

The words they spoke, we may not speak.
The tales they told, we may not tell.

Mere mortal man, forbear to seek

The secrets of that hell!

Their shouts grow loud. T is near mid hour of night. What means upon the water that red light?

Not bigger than a star it seems:
And, now, t is like the blood y moon:
And, now, it shoots in hairy streams
Its light!--T will reach us soon!

A ship! and all on fire!-hull, yards and mast!
Her sheets are sheets of flame!-She's nearing fast!

And now she rides, upright and still,
Shedding a wild and lurid light
Around the cove, on inland hill,

Waking the gloom of night.

All breathes of terror! Men in dumb amaze
Gaze on each other 'neath the horrid blaze.

It scares the sea-birds from their nests.
They dart and wheel with deaf'ning screams;
Now dark, and now their wings and breasts
Flash back disastrous gleams.

O, sin, what hast thou done on this fair earth?
The world, O man, is wailing o'er thy birth.

And what comes up above that wave,
So ghastly white?—a spectral head!—
A horse's head!—(May heaven save
Those looking on the dead,—

« السابقةمتابعة »