« 上一頁繼續 »
“Ay, I've touched the fellow's life It must be more than two foot of blubber that stops my iron from reaching the life of any whale that ever sculled the ocean.”“I believe you have saved yourself the trouble of using the bayonet you have rigged for a lance,” said his commander, who entered into the sport with all the ardor of one whose youth had been chiefly passed in such pursuits; “feel your line, Master Coffin; can we haul alongside of our enemy? I like not the course he is steering, as he tows us from the schooner.” “'Tis the creater's way, sir,” said the cockswain; “you know they need the air in their nostrils when they run, the same as a man; but lay hold, boys, and let us haul up to him.” The seamen now seized their whale-line, and slowly drew their boat to within a few feet of the tail of the fish, whose progress became sensibly less rapid as he grew weak with the loss of blood. In a few minutes he stopped running, and appeared to roll uneasily on the water, as if suffering the agony of death. “Shall we pull in and finish him, Tom 7” cried Barnstable; “a few sets from your bayonet would do it.” The cockswain stood examining his game with cool discretion, and replied to this interrogatory, “No, sir, no; he's going into his flurry; there's no occasion for disgracing ourselves by using a soldier's weapon in taking a whale. Starn off, sir, starn off the creater's in his flurry.” The warning of the prudent cockswain was promptly obeyed, and the boat cautiously drew off to a distance, leaving to the animal a clear space while under its dying agonies. From a state of perfect rest, the terrible monster threw its tail on high as when in sport, but its blows were trebled in rapidity and violence, till all was hid from view by a pyramid of foam, that was deeply dyed with blood. The roarings of the fish were like the bellowings of a herd of bulls, and, to one who was ignorant of the fact, it would have appeared as if a thousand monsters were engaged in deadly combat behind the bloody mist that obstructed the view. Gradually these efforts subsided, and, when the discolored water again settled down to the long and regular swell of the ocean, the fish was seen exhausted, and yielding passively to its fate. As life departed, the enormous black mass rolled to one side; and when the white and glistening skin of the belly became apparent, the seamen well knew that their victory was achieved.
THE WRECK OF THE ARIEL. “Go, my boys, go,” said Barnstable, as the moment of dreadful
uncertainty passed; “you have still the whale-boat, and she, at least, will take you nigh the shore; go into her, my boys; God
bless you, God bless you all; you have been faithful and honest fellows, and I believe he will not yet desert you; go, my friends, while there is a lull.” The seamen threw themselves, in a mass of human bodies, into the light vessel, which nearly sunk under the unusual burden; but when they looked around them, Barnstable, and Merry, Dillon, and the cockswain, were yet to be seen on the decks of the Ariel. The former was pacing, in deep and perhaps bitter melancholy, the wet planks of the schooner, while the boy hung, unheeded, on his arm, uttering disregarded petitions to his commander to desert the wreck. Dillon approached the side where the boat lay, again and again; but the threatening countenances of the seamen as often drove him back in despair. Tom had seated himself on the heel of the bowsprit, where he continued, in an attitude of quiet resignation, returning no other answers to the loud and repeated calls of his shipmates, than by waving his hand towards the shore. “Now, hear me,” said the boy, urging his request to tears : “if not for my sake, or for your own sake, Mr. Barnstable, or for the hopes of God's mercy, go into the boat, for the love of my cousin Katherine.” The young lieutenant paused in his troubled walk, and, for a moment, he cast a glance of hesitation at the cliffs; but, at the next instant, his eyes fell on the ruin of his vessel, and he answered,— “Never, boy, never: if my hour has come, I will not shrink from my fate.” “Listen to the men, dear sir: the boat will be swamped alongside the wreck, and their cry is, that without you they will not let her go.” Barnstable motioned to the boat, to bid the boy enter it, and •urned away in silence. “Well,” said Merry, with firmness, “if it be right that a lieutenant shall stay by the wreck, it must also be right for a midshipman. Shove off: neither Mr. Barnstable nor myself will quit ..he vessel.” “Boy, your life has been intrusted to my keeping, and at my hands will it be required,” said his commander, lifting the struggling youth, and tossing him into the arms of the seamen. “Away with ye, and God be with you: there is more weight in you now than can go safe to land.” Still, the seamen hesitated; for they perceived the cockswain moving, with a steady tread, along the deck, and they hoped he had relented, and would yet persuade the lieutenant to join his crew. But Tom, imitating the example of his commander, seized the latter, suddenly, in his powerful grasp, and threw him over the bulwarks with an irresistible force. At the same moment, he cast the fast of the boat from the pin that held it, and, lifting his broad hands high into the air, his voice was heard in the tempest. “God's will be done with me !” he cried. “I saw the first timber of the Ariel laid, and shall live just long enough to see it turn out of her bottom; after which I wish to live no longer.” But his shipmates were swept far beyond the sounds of his voice before half these words were uttered. All command of the boat was rendered impossible, by the numbers it contained, as well as the raging of the surf; and, as it rose on the white crest of a wave, Tom saw his beloved little craft for the last time: it fell into a trough of the sea, and in a few moments more its fragments were ground into splinters on the adjacent rocks. The cockswain still remained where he had cast off the rope, and beheld the numerous heads and arms that appeared rising, at short intervals, on the waves; some making powerful and well-directed efforts to gain the sands, that were becoming visible as the tide fell, and others wildly tossed in the frantic movements of helpless despair. The honest old seaman gave a cry of joy, as he saw Barnstable issue from the surf, bearing the form of Merry in safety to the sands, where, one by one, several seamen soon appeared also, dripping and exhausted. Many others of the crew were carried, in a similar manner, to places of safety; though, as Tom returned to his seat on the bowsprit, he could not conceal from his reluctant eyes the lifeless forms that were, in other spots, driven against the rocks, with a fury that soon left them but few of the outward vestiges of humanity. Dillon and the cockswain were now the sole occupants of their dreadful station. The former stood, in a kind of stupid despair, a witness of the scene we have related ; but, as his curdled blood began again to flow more warmly through his heart, he crept close to the side of Tom, with that sort of selfish feeling that makes even hopeless misery more tolerable, when endured in participation with another. “When the tide falls,” he said, in a voice that betrayed the agony of fear, though his words expressed the renewal of hope, “we shall be able to walk to land.” “There was One, and only One, to whose feet the waters were the same as a dry deck,” returned the cockswain; “and none but such as have this power will ever be able to walk from these rocks to the sands.” The old seaman paused, and, turning his eyes, which exhibited a mingled expression of disgust and compassion, on his companion, he added, with reverence, “Had you thought more of him in fair weather, your case would be less to be pitied in this tempest l’ “Do you still think there is much danger?” asked Dillon.
“To them that have reason to fear death. Listen Do you hear that hollow noise beneath ye?” “'Tis the wind driving by the vessel.” “'Tis the poor thing herself,” said the affected cockswain, “giving her last groans. The water is breaking up her decks, and, in a few minutes more, the handsomest model that ever cut a wave will be like the chips that fell from her timbers in framing !” “Why, then, did you remain here?” cried Dillon, wildly. “To die in my coffin, if it should be the will of God,” returned Tom. “These waves to me are what the land is to you : I was born on them, and I have always meant that they should be my grave.” “But I–I,” shrieked Dillon, “I am not ready to die —I cannot die l—I will not die l’’ “Poor wretch 1” muttered his companion, “you must go, like the rest of us: when the death-watch is called, none can skulk from the muster.” “I can swim,” Dillon continued, rushing with frantic eagerness to the side of the wreck. “Is there no billet of wood, no rope, that I can take with me?” “None: every thing has been cut away, or carried off by the sea. If ye are about to strive for your life, take with ye a stout heart and a clean conscience, and trust the rest to God!” . “God "echoed Dillon, in the madness of his frenzy: “I know no God there is no God that knows me !” “Peace l’” said the deep tones of the cockswain, in a voice that seemed to speak in the elements; “blasphemer, peace ''' The heavy groaning, produced by the water, in the timbers of the Ariel, at that moment, added its impulse to the raging feelings of Dillon, and he cast himself headlong into the sea. The water, thrown by the rolling of the surf on the beach, was necessarily returned to the ocean, in eddies, in different places, favorable to such an action of the element. Into the edge of one of these counter-currents, that was produced by the very rocks on which the schooner lay, and which the watermen call the “undertow,” Dillon had, unknowingly, thrown his person; and when the waves had driven him a short distance from the wreck, he was met by a stream that his most desperate efforts could not overcome. He was a light and powerful swimmer, and the struggle was hard and protracted. With the shore immediately before his eyes, and at no great distance, he was led, as by a false phantom, to continue his efforts, although they did not advance him a foot. The old seaman, who, at first, had watched his motions with careless indifference, understood the danger of his situation at a glance; and, forgetful of his own fate, he shouted aloud, in a voice that was driven over the struggling victim, to the ears of his shipmates on the sands,
“Sheer to port, and clear the under-tow ! sheer to the southward '''
Dillon heard the sounds, but his faculties were too much obscured by terror to distinguish their object; he, however, blindly yielded to the call, and gradually changed his direction, until his face was once more turned towards the vessel. The current swept him diagonally by the rocks, and he was forced into an eddy, where he had nothing to contend against but the waves, whose violence was much broken by the wreck. In this state he con tinued still to struggle, but with a force that was too much weakened to overcome the resistance he met. Tom looked around him for a rope, but not one presented itself to his hands: all had gone over with the spars, or been swept away by the waves. At this moment of disappointment, his eyes met those of the desperate Dillon. Calm, and inured to horrors, as was the veteran seaman, he involuntarily passed his hand before his brow, as if to exclude the look of despair he encountered; and when, a moment afterwards, he removed the rigid member, he beheld the sinking form of the victim, as it gradually settled in the ocean, still struggling, with regular but impotent strokes of the arms and feet, to gain the wreck, and to preserve an existence that had been so much abused in its hour of allotted probation.
“He will soon know his God, and learn that his God knows
* him l’ murmured the cockswain to himself. As he yet spoke, the
wreck of the Ariel yielded to an overwhelming sea, and, after a universal shudder, her timbers and planks gave way, and were swept towards the cliffs, bearing the body of the simple-hearted cockswain among the ruins.
JAMES A. HILLHOUSE, 1789–1841.
“Hillhouse, whose music, like his themes,
The Hillhouse family held a high social position in Derry, Ireland, and one of the members emigrated to America and settled in Connecticut in 1720. The father of the poet, Hon. James Hillhouse, who died in 1833, filled various offices in his native State, and was for many years a leading member of Congress.
The subject of the present sketch was born in New Haven, on the 26th of