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concluded, Rose and Jack commenced a hurried examina tion of the spot.
A few minutes sufficed to give our adventurers a tolerably accurate notion of the general features of the place on which they had landed. It was a considerable portion of the reef that was usually above water, and which had even some fragments of soil, or sand, on which was a stinted growth of bushes. Of these last, however, there were very few, nor were there many spots of the sand. Drift-wood and sea-weed were lodged in considerable quantities about its margin, and, in places, piles of both had been tossed upon the rock itself, by the billows of former gales of wind. Nor was it long before Jack discovered a turtle that had been up to a hillock of sand, probably to deposit its eggs. There was enough of the sportsman in Jack, notwithstanding the business he was on, to turn this animal; though with what object, he might have been puzzled himself to say. This exploit effected, Jack followed Rose as fast as his short legs would permit, our heroine pressing forward eagerly, though almost without hope, in order to ascertain if Mulford were there.
"I am afraid this is not the rock," said Rose, nearly breathless with her own haste, when Jack had overtaken her. "I see nothing of him, and we have passed over most of the place."
Very true, Miss Rose," answered her companion, who was in a good humour on account of his capture of the turtle; "but there are other rocks besides this. Ha! what was that, yonder," pointing with a finger, 'here, more toward the brig. As I'm a sinner, there was a flashing, as of fire."
"If a fire, it must be that made by Harry. Let us go to the spot at once."
Jack led the way, and, sure enough, he soon reached a place where the embers of what had been a considerable body of fire, were smouldering on the rock. The wind had probably caused some brand to kindle momentarily, which was the object that had caught Tier's eye. No doubt any longer remained of their having found the very place where the mate had cooked his supper, and lighted his beacon, though he himself was not near it. Around these embers
were all the signs of Mulford's having made the meal, of which Jack had seen the preparations. A portion of the turtle, much the greater part of it, indeed, lay in its shell; and piles of wood and sea-weed, both dry, had been placed at hand, ready for use. A ship's topgallant-yard, with most of its rope attached, lay with a charred end near the fire, or where the fire had been, the wood having burned until the flames went out for want of contact with other fuel. There were many pieces of boards of pitch-pine in the adjacent heap, and two or three beautiful planks of the same wood, entire. In short, from the character and quantity of the materials of this nature that had thus been heaped together, Jack gave it as his opinion that some vessel, freighted with lumber, had been wrecked to windward, and that the adjacent rocks had been receiving the tribute of her cargo. Wrecks are of very, very frequent occurrence on the Florida Reef; and there are always moments when such gleanings are to be made in some part of it or other.
"I see no better way to give a call to the mate, Miss Rose, than to throw some of this dry weed, and some of this lumber on the fire," said Jack, after he had rummaged about the place sufficiently to become master of its condition. "There is plenty of amunition, and here goes for a broadside."
Jack had no great difficulty in effecting his object. In a few minutes he succeeded in obtaining a flame, and then he fed it with such fragments of the brands and boards as were best adapted to his purpose. The flames extended gradually, and by the time Tier had dragged the topgallantyard over the pile, and placed several planks, on their edges, alongside of it, the whole was ready to burst into a blaze. The light was shed athwart the rock for a long distance, and the whole place, which was lately so gloomy and obscure, now became gay, under the bright radiance of a blazing fire.
"There is a beacon-light that might almost be seen on board!" said Jack, exulting in his success. If the mate is anywhere in this latitude, he will soon turn up.”
"I see nothing of him," answered Rose, in a melancholy voice. "Surely, surely, Jack, he cannot have left the rock just as we have come to rescue him!"
Rose and her companion had turned their faces from the fire to look in an opposite direction in quest of him they sought. Unseen by them, a human form advanced swiftly toward the fire, from a point on its other side. It advanced nearer, then hesitated, afterward rushed forward with a tread that caused the two to turn, and at the next moment, Rose was clasped to the heart of Mulford.
I might have pass'd that lovely cheek,
But the sensitive blush that came trembling there,
Who could blame had I loved that face,
THE stories of the respective parties who had thus so strangely met on that barren and isolated rock, were soon told. Harry confirmed all of Jack's statements as to his own proceedings, and Rose had little more to say than to add how much her own affections had led her to risk.in his behalf. In a word, ten minutes made each fully acquainted with the other's movements. Then Tier considerately retired to the boat, under the pretence of minding it, and seeing everything ready for a departure, but as much to allow the lovers the ten or fifteen minutes of uninterrupte discourse that they now enjoyed, as for any other reason.
It was a strange scene that now offered on the rock. By this time the fire was burning not only brightly, but fiercely, shedding its bright light far and near. Under its most brilliant rays stood Harry and Rose, both smiling and happy, delighted in their meeting, and, for the moment, forgetful of all but their present felicity. Never, indeed, had Rose appeared more lovely than under these circumstances.
Her face was radiant with those feelings which had so recently changed from despair to delight-a condition that is ever most propitious to beauty; and charms that always appeared feminine and soft, now seemed elevated to a bright benignancy that might best be likened to our fancied images of angels. The mild, beaming, serene and intelligent blue eyes, the cheeks flushed with happiness, the smiles that came so easily, and were so replete with tenderness, and the rich hair, deranged by the breeze, and moistened by the air of the sea, each and all, perhaps, borrowed some additional lustre from the peculiar light under which they were exhibited. As for Harry, happiness had thrown all the disadvantages of exposure, want of dress, and a face that had not felt the razor for six-and-thirty hours, into the back-ground. When he left the wreck, he had cast aside his cap and his light summer jacket, in order that they might not encumber him in swimming, but both had been recovered when he returned with the boat to take off his friends. In his ordinary sea attire, then, he now stood, holding Rose's two hands in front of the fire, every garment clean and white as the waters of the ocean could make them, but all betray ing some of the signs of his recent trials. His fine countenance was full of the love he bore for the intrepid and devoted girl who had risked so much in his behalf; and a painter might have wished to preserve the expression of ardent, manly admiration which glowed in his face, answer. ing to the gentle sympathy and womanly tenderness it met in that of Rose.
The back-ground of this picture was the wide, even surface of the coral reef, with its exterior setting of the dark and gloomy sea. On the side of the channel, however, appeared the boat, already winded, with Biddy still on the rock, looking kindly at the lovers by the fire, while Jack was holding the painter, beginning to manifest a little impatience at the delay.
They'll stay there an hour, holding each other's hands, and looking into each other's faces," half grumbled the little, rotund, assistant-steward, anxious .o be on his way back to the brig, "unless a body gives 'em a call. Captain Spike will be in no very good humour to receive you and
me on board ag'in, if he should find out what sort of a trip we've been making hereaway."
"Let 'em alone-let 'em alone, Jacky," answered the good-natured and kind-hearted Irish woman. "It's happy they bees, jist now, and it does my eyes good to look at 'em."
"Ay, they're happy enough, now; I only hope it may last."
"Last! what should help its lasting? Miss Rose is so good, and so handsome—and she's a fortin', too; and the mate so nice a young man. Think of the likes of them, Jack, wantin' the blessed gift of wather, and all within one day and two nights. Sure it's Providence that takes care of, and not we ourselves! Kings on their thrones is n't as happy as them at this moment."
"Men's willians!" growled Jack; " and more fools women for trustin' 'em."
"Not sich a nice young man as our mate, Jacky; no, not he. Now the mate of the ship I came from Liverpool in, this time ten years agone, he was a villain. He grudged us our potaties, and our own bread; and he grudged us every dhrap of swate wather that went into our mouths. Call him a villain, if you will, Jack; but niver call the likes of Mr. Mulford by so hard a name."
"I wish him well, and nothing else; and for that very reason must put a stop to his looking so fondly into that young woman's face. Time wont stand still, Biddy, to suit the wishes of lovers; and Stephen Spike is a man not to be trifled with. Halloo, there, maty! It's high time to think of getting under way."
At this summons both Harry and Rose started, becoming aware of the precious moments they were losing. Carrying a large portion of the turtle, the former moved toward the craft, in which all were seated in less than three minutes, with the sail loose, and the boat in motion. For a few moments the mate was so much occupied with Rose, that he did not advert to the course; but one of his experience could not long be misled on such a point, and he turned suddenly to Tier, who was steering, to remonstrate. 66 you 've got the
"How's this, Jack!" cried Mulford; boat's head the wrong way."