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to be sure, rendered it a little uncertain how near they were running to the rocks, but, on the whole, Jack assured Rose he had no great difficulty in getting along.
"These trades are almost as good as compasses," he said, " and the rocks are better, if we can keep close aboard them without going on to them. I do not know the exact distance of the spot we seek from the brig, but I judged it to be about two leagues, as I looked at it from aloft. Now, this boat will travel them two leagues in an hour, with this breeze and in smooth water."
"I wish you had seen the fire again before we left the brig," said Rose, too anxious for the result not to feel uneasiness on some account or other.
"The mate is asleep, and the fire has burned down; that's the explanation. Besides, fuel is not too plenty on a place like that Mr. Mulford inhabits just now. As we get near the spot, I shall look out for embers, which may sarve as a light-house, or beacon, to guide us into port."
"Mr. Mulford will be charmed to see us, now that we take him wather!" exclaimed Biddy. "Wather is a blessed thing, and it's hard will be the heart that does not fale gratitude for a plenty of swate wather."
"The maty has plenty of food and water where he is," said Jack. "I'll answer for both them sarcumstances. saw him turn a turtle as plain as if I had been at his elbow, and I saw him drinking at a hole in the rock, as heartily as a boy ever pulled at a gimblet-hole in a molasses hogshead."
"But the distance was so great, Jack, I should hardly think you could have distinguished objects so small."
"I went by the motions altogether. I saw the man, and I saw the movements, and I knowed what the last meant It's true I could n't swear to the turtle, though I saw some thing on the rock that I knowed, by the way in which it was handled, must be a turtle. Then I saw the mate kneel, and put his head low, and then I knowed he was drinking." "Perhaps he prayed," said Rose, solemnly.
"Not he. Sailors is n't so apt to pray, Miss Rose; not as apt as they ought to be. Women for prayers, and men for work. Mr. Mulford is no worse than many others, but I doubt if he be much given to that.”
To this Rose made no answer, but Biddy took the matter up, and, as the boat went briskly ahead, she pursued the subject.
Then more is the shame for him," said the Irish woman, "and Miss Rose, and missus, and even I prayin' for him, all as if he was our own brudder. It's seldom I ask anything for a heretic, but I could not forget a fine young man like Mr. Mulford, and Miss Rose so partial to him, and he in so bad a way. He ought to be ashamed to make his brags that he is too proud to pray."
Harry has made no such wicked boast," put in Rose, mildly; "nor do we know that he has not prayed for us, as well as for himself. It may all be a mistake of Jack's, you know."
"Yes," added Jack, coolly, “it may be a mistake, a'ter all, for I was lookin' at the maty six miles off, and through a spy-glass. No one can be sure of anything at such a distance. So overlook the matter, my good Biddy, and carry Mr. Mulford the nice things you've mustered in that basket, all the same as if he was pope."
"This is a subject we had better drop," Rose quietly observed.
"Anything to oblige you, Miss Rose, though religion is a matter it would do me no harm to talk about once and awhile. It's many a long year since I've had time and opportunity to bring my thoughts to dwell on holy things. Ever since I left my mother's side, I've been a wanderer in my mind, as much as in my body."
"Poor Jack! I understand and feel for your sufferings; but a better time will come, when you may return to the habits of your youth, and to the observances of your church."
"I don't know that, Miss Rose; I don't know that," answered Tier, placing the elbow of his short arm on the seemingly shorter leg, and bending his head so low as to lean his face on the palm of the hand, an attitude in which he appeared to be suffering keenly through his recollections. "Childhood and innocence never come back to us in this world. What the grave may do, we shall all learn in time."
"Innocence can return to all with repentance, Jack; and the heart that prompts you to do acts as generous as
this you are now engaged in, must contain some good seed yet."
"If Jack will go to a praste and just confess, when he can find a father, it will do his sowl good," said Biddy, who was touched by the mental suffering of the strange little being at her side,
But the necessity of managing the boat soon compelled its coxswain to raise his head, and to attend to his duty. The wind sometimes came in puffs, and at such moments Jack saw that the large sail of the light-house boat required watching, a circumstance that induced him to shake off his melancholy, and give his mind more exclusively to the business before him. As for Rose, she sympathised deeply with Jack Tier, for she knew his history, his origin, the story of his youth, and the well-grounded causes of his contrition and regrets. From her, Jack had concealed nothing, the gentle commiseration of one like Rose being a balm to wounds that had bled for long and bitter years. The great poet of our language, and the greatest that ever lived, perhaps, short of the inspired writers of the Old Testament, and old Homer and Dante, has well reminded us that the "little beetle," in yielding its breath, can "feel a pang as great as when a giant dies." Thus is it, too, in morals. A basement, and misery, and poverty, and sin, may, and all do, contribute to lower the tone of our moral existence; but the principle that has been planted by nature, can be eradicated by nature only. It exists as long as we exist; and if dormant for a time, under the pressure of circumstances, it merely lies, in the moral system, like the acorn, or the chestnut, in the ground, waiting its time and season to sprout, and bud, and blossom. Should that time never arrive, it is not because the seed is not there, but because it is neglected. Thus was it with the singular being of whose feelings we have just spoken. The germ of goodness had been implanted early in him, and was nursed with tenderness and care, until, self-willed, and governed by passion, he had thrown off the connections of youth and childhood, to connect himself with Spike-a connection that had left him what he was. Before closing our legend, we shall have occasion to explain it. "We have run our hour, Miss Rose," resumed Jack.
breaking a continued silence, during which the boat had passed through a long line of water; we have run our hour, and ought to be near the rock we are in search of. But the morning is so dark that I fear we shall have difficulty in finding it. It will never do to run past it, and we must haul closer into the reef, and shorten sail, that we may be sartain to make no such mistake."
Rose begged her companion to omit no precaution, as it would be dreadful to fail in their search, after incurring so much risk in their own persons.
Harry may be sleeping on the sea-weed of which you spoke," she added, "and the danger of passing him will be much increased in such a case. What a gloomy and frightful spot is this, in which to abandon a human being! I fear, Jack, that we have come faster than we have supposed, and may already have passed the rock."
"I hope not, Miss Rose-it seemed to me a good two leagues to the place where I saw him, and the boat is fast that will run two leagues in an hour."
"We do not know the time, Jack, and are obliged to guess at that as well as at the distance. How very dark it is!"
Dark, in one sense, it was not, though Rose's apprehensions, doubtless, induced her to magnify every evil. The clouds certainly lessened the light of the moon; but there was still enough of the last to enable one to see surrounding objects; and most especially to render distinct the character of the solitude that reigned over the place.
The proximity of the reef, which formed a weather shore to the boat, prevented anything like a swell on the water, notwithstanding the steadiness and strength of the breeze, which had now blown for near twenty-four hours. The same wind, in open water, would have raised sea enough to cause a ship to pitch, or roll; whereas, the light-house boat, placed where she was, scarce rose and fell under the undulations of the channel through which she was glancing.
"This is a good boat, and a fast boat too," observed Jack Tier, after he had luffed up several minutes, in order to make sure of his proximity to the reef; " and it might carry us all safe enough to Key West, or certainly back to
the Dry Tortugas, was we inclined to try our hands at either."
"I cannot quit my aunt," said Rose, quickly, will not even think of any such thing."
66 So we
"No, 't would never do to abandon the missus," Biddy," and she on the wrack wid us, and falin' the want of wather as much as ourselves."
"We three have sartainly gone through much in company," returned Jack," and it ought to make us friends for life."
"I trust it will, Jack; I hope, when we return to New York, to see you among us, anchored, as you would call it, for the rest of your days under my aunt's roof, or under my own, should I ever have one."
"No, Miss Rose, my business is with the Swash and her captain. I shall stick by both, now I've found 'em again, until they once more desart me. A man's duty is his duty, and a woman's duty is her duty."
"You same to like the brig and her captain, Jack Tier," observed Biddy, "and there's no use in gainsaying such a likin'. What will come to pass, must come to pass. Cap. tain Spike is a mighty great sailor, anyway."
"He's a willian!" muttered Jack.
"There!" cried Rose, almost breathless, "there is a rock above the water, surely. Do not fly by it so swiftly, Jack, but let us stop and examine it."
"There is a rock, sure enough, and a large piece it is," answered Tier. "We will go alongside of it, and see what Biddy shall be boat-keeper, while you and I, Miss Rose, explore."
it is made of.
Jack had thrown the boat into the wind, and was shooting close alongside of the reef, even while speaking. The party found no difficulty in landing; the margin of the rock admitting the boat to lie close alongside of it, and its surface being even and dry. Jack had brailed the sail, and he brought the painter ashore, and fastened it securely to a fragment of stone, that made a very sufficient anchor. In addition to this precaution, a lazy painter was put into Biddy's hands, and she was directed not to let go of it while her companions were absent. These arrangements