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silent as the grave :-it was high tide,—but, of the proud commercial navy of the neighbouring city, not a single sail appeared, while the dying breeze, which still came in sensible breathings from the distant Downs, raised not a ripple on the glassy bosom of the flood; the water too had lost the silvery gleam that shone faintly on its surface only a few moments before, and changing with the fading light, grew dark almost to blackness, when a solitary boat came suddenly in view.
“ Carema, Love !—these late walkings are not to be advised—the river damps hang heavily on the breath ; our way, too, is lonely! -come, Love, we will return.-Ah! dost thou see that boat?—Whence, and what is she?I will tell thee, that, to the understanding eye, that craft appears a stranger, and one of evil token. Mark, how she shoots to her oars, with leap on leap, as if she felt the pulse of life!
The barks of traffic or of
pleasure speed not so swiftly :-No, the mariners that pull with such precision as if their arms were the according springs of some machine, are trained by force and fear, have started at the boatswain's call, dread blows, and yet delight to deal them."
"Hush!" whispered the young maiden, to whom the old quaker (for such he was) had addressed these somewhat untimely words, for they implied alarm that might be groundless."
"Hush, dearest Sir !"-And securing a firmer grasp of her companion's arm, who cautiously remained at a safe distance from the verge of the cliff, Carema leant boldly over the chasm.
"It sounds again!-a smothered moan, and clearly from the boat; but surely not uttered by either of the four who row so strongly and so eagerly-and yet how strange, for I cannot see a fifth.”
"Odd enough!" replied the worthy Ephraim
Hagglestone," It was certainly a groan ;and yet, as thou observest, it could not be from either of the crew. Ah! now that the boat comes nearer, I do opine I know them well; yea, too well! That sallow fellow in the stern sheets is the old pilot Mat Marlin, the other three are his comrades, and if men. affirm truly, a sorry gang they are, yea, both crew and master. Ever ready in a storm, or in a fog-ready, for themselves' at least, for Mat makes more by wrecks and plunder, than other men by salvage or wages, in the way of honest work. A wild sea-shark that Marlin. No wonder that I mistook his galley for a man-of-war's boat-Mat plies as keenly for self-and-profit' as an Algerine."
Friend Ephraim had visited climes where a broad brim was no superfluity-had counted 'Mother Carey's chickens'-caught a fish in the air!-believed in mermaids and the flying Dutchman; - in fine, in his youthful days Ephraim had made sundry voyages as a super
cargo. He had afterwards been a partner in a West India house, and now that Time had placed his silvery signet on his brow, he had retired on a handsome competency. Yet, still had Ephraim a hankering for all things nautical, and loved the scent of tar, beyond the fragrant hay-field or the Sabæan gale. He had, withal, his oddities, and so have many men not called upon to support the proprieties of the primitive denomination :—did
something smack, something grow to,” as Launcelot Gobo says of his father—yet was he an excellent old soul in the main; cheerful, domestic, and harmless as a robin ; overflowing with heartfelt benevolence, and, withal, curious as a magpie.
That same curiosity, by the bye, (in man or woman,) is a fructifying endowment ; when duly employed, the very touchstone of wisdom ; what had been my Lord Bacon, or the great Napoleon without it?
Ephraim was kind, and curious, and both
qualities were now awakened. The cry of suffering humanity had never thrilled on his ear in vain, and the mystery in which
now involved rendered him doubly eager in the work of investigation. The cottage of the pilot lay within short range of the homeward path, and late as it was, the quaker resolved to make it in his way.
The apprehension which Hagglestone had hinted to his ward, had a more serious foundation than was avowed. The evening damps were indeed rising, and it was growing late ; but more than these, robberies, attended with violence, had recently occurred in the Leigh Woods; and on this very spot they had already loitered all too idly, while Carema indulged the fond enthusiasm of her girlish fancies.
She had watched the sun declining beyond the empurpled mountains of the Cambrian coast, and listened to the drowsy