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— exactly the same. At last I rushed upon deck, sent a man below, and took his place. He was glad to go, and l was glad to be where the wind was blowing and everything in commotion.
The next day I told Jamie my dream. He said it was a lucky one, and he hoped it meant two weddings. So I thought no more of it. I was never superstitious: my mother had taught me better.
We had just started for home, but this gale blew us off our course. Soon after, however, the wind shifted to the eastward, and so kept, for the biggest part of the time, until we sighted Boston Lights. Jamie was nearly well. Still he could not walk much. He was quite lame. The skipper thought some of the small bones of the foot were put out. But Jamie did n't seem to care anything about his feet. He was just as gay as a lark, singing all day.
As soon as we caught sight of The Mountains, we ran up our flag. It was about noon, and the skipper calculated on dropping anchor in the channel by sundown, at the farthest. And so we should, but the wind hauled, and we could n't lay our course. Tacking is slow work, especially all in sight of home. About ten o'clock in the evening we made Wimple's Creek. Then we had the tide in our favor, and so drifted into the channel. Our bounty was n't quite out, or we should have gone straight in to the wharf, over everything.
When things were made snug, we pulled ashore in the boat. It being in the night, we went just as we were, in fishermen's rig. 'T was a wet, drizzly, chilly night, so dark we could hardly make out the landing. We coaxed Jamie to stop under a shed while I went for a horse. I was the only one of the crew who lived beyond the meeting-house. But I had so much to think of, was so happy, thinking I was home again, and that everything would be right, that I never minded being alone. Passing by the graveyard made me remember my dream. "Joseph," said I to myself, "you don't dare walk through there!" *T was only
a post-Hi>-.! -mi! fence, and I sprang over, to show myself I dared do it. I felt noways agitated until I found, that, on account of its being so dark, I was stumbling just as-1 had dreamed. I kept on, however; for, by going that way, I could reach home by a short cut. When I got behind the meeting-house I nearly fell down over a heap of earth. My fall started a few stones, and I could hear them drop. Then my courage left me. I shook with fear. I hardly had strength to reach the road. That was the first time it occurred to me that I might not fmd all as I left them.
As I came to dwelling - houses, however, I grew calm again, and even smiled at my foolishness, — or tried to.
Mr. Nathaniel's house came before ours. I saw there was a light in the kitchen, and stepped softly through the back-yard, thinking some one might be sick. The windows were small and high. The curtains were made of house-paper. One of them was not quite let down. I looked in underneath it, and saw two old women sitting by the fire. Something to eat was set out on a table, and the teapot was on the hearth. One stick had broken in two. The smoking brands stood np in the corners. There was just a flicker of flame in the candlestick. It went out .while I was looking. I saw that the old women were dozing. I opened the out side-door softly, and stood in the porch. There was a latch-string to the inner one. As soon as I pulled it the door opened. In my agitation I forgot there was a step np, and so stumbled forward into the room. They both started to their feet, holding on by the pommels of the chairs. They were frightened.
"What are you here for?" I gasped out.
"Watching with the dead!" whispeied one of them.
They looked at each other; they knew me then.
I remember their eyes taming towards the front-room door, of placing my hand on the latch, of standing by a table between the front-windows, of a coffin resting on the white cloth, of people crowding about me,—but nothing more that night. Nothing distinctly for weeks and months. Some confused idea I have of being led about at a funeral, of being told I must sit with the mourners, of the bearers taking off their hats, of being held back from the grave. But a black cloud rests over all. I cannot pierce it. I have no wish to. I can't even tell whether I really took her cold hand in mine, and bid her good-bye, or whether that was one of the terrible dreams which came to me every night. I know that at last I refused to go to bed, but walked all night in the fields and woods.
I believe that insane people always know the feelings and the plans of those about them. I knew they were thinking of taking me to an asylum. I knew, too, that I was the means of Jamie's being sick, and that they tried to keep it from me. I read in their faces, — " Jamie got a fever that wet night at the shore; but don't tell Joseph."
As I look back upon that long gloom, a shadowy remembrance comes to me of standing in the door-way of .1 darkened chamber. A minister in white bands stood at the foot of the bed, performing the marriage - ceremony. I remember Jamie's paleness, and the heavenly look in Mary's face, as she stood at the- budside, holding his right hand in hers. Mother passed her hand over my head, and whispered to me that Mary wanted to take care of him.
One of my fancies was, that a dark bird, like a vulture, constantly pursued me. All day I was trying to escape him, and all the while I slept he was at my pillow.
As I came to myself I found this to be a form given by my excited imagination to a dark thought which would give me no rest. It was the idea that my conduct had been the means of Margaret's death. I never dared question. They said it was fever,—that others died of the tame. If I could but have spoken to her, — could but have seen, once more, the
same old look and smile! This was an ever-present thought.
But I did afterwards. I told her everything. She knows my folly and my grief.
It was in the night-time. I was walking through the woods, on the road to Swampsey Village. Margaret walked beside me for a long way. Just before she left me, she said, —
"Do you hear the surf on the beach?"
I said, "Yes, I hear the surf."
"And what is it saying?"
I listened a moment, then answered,—
"It says, 'Woe! woe! woe I'"
She said, "Listen again."
While I was listening, she disappeared. But a moment afterwards I heard a voice speaking in the midst of the surf's roaring. It was just as plain and distinct as the minister's from the pulpit. It said, "Endure! endure! endure."
I might think that all this, even my seeing Margaret, was only a creation of my disordered mind, were it not for something happening afterwards which proved itself.
One evening, about twilight, I walked through the graveyard, and stood leaning against her tombstone. I soon knew that she was coming, for I heard the ringing sound in the air which always came before her. A moment after, she stood beside me. She placed her hand on my heart, and said, "Joseph, all is right here," — then upon my forehead, and said, "But here all is wrong."
Then she told me there was a ship ready to sail from Boston, and that I must go in her, — said it troubled her that I wasted my life so. She gave me the name of the ship and of the captain, and told me when to go.
I did exactly as she said. And it all came true. When the captain saw me, he started back and exclaimed, —
"What sent you here?"
I said, "An angel."
"And an angel told me you were coming," he replied.
Active work saved me. For years I never dared rest. I shrank back from a leisure hour as from a dark chasm.
The greater part of my life has been passed upon the sea. As I approached middle age, people would joke me upon my single life. They could never know what a painful chord they struck, and I could never tell them. Beautiful girls were pointed out to me. I could not see them. Margaret's face always came between.
This bantering a single man is very common. I often wonder that people dare do it. How does the world know what early disappointment he may be mourning over? Is it anything to laugh about, that he has nobody to love him, — nobody he may call his own, — no home? Seated in your pleasant family-circle, the bright faces about him fade away, and he sees only a vision of what might have been. Yet nobody supposes we have feeling. No mother, dressing up her little boy for a walk, thinks of our noticing how cunning he looks, with the feather in his hat. No mother, weeping over the coffin of her child, dreams that we have pity and sorrow in our hearts for her.
Thus the world shuts us out from all sympathy with its joys or afflictions. But the world does n't know everything,— least of all what is passing in the heart of an old bachelor.
Jamie and Mary are old folks now. He never went to sea after his marriage. Father set him up in a store. I should make it my home with them, but they live at the old place, and 1 am always better away from there.
Mrs. Maylie was right about my noticing children. I like to sit on the stone wall and talk with them. No face comes between theirs and mine, — unless it 'a the little girl's who moved away. Farmer Hill's is a pleasant family. His grandchildren call me Captain Joseph. I humor them almost as much as he does. When huckleberries come, they wonder why I won't let them take that little rough - looking basket that hangs over the looking-glass. 'T is the one Margaret made that night in the hut on The Mountains.
The fields are white with the glittering snow,
But a loud and merry shout I hear,
Ringing and joyous, fresh and clear,
Where a troop of rosy boys at play
Awaken the echoes far away.
They have moulded the snow with hand and spade,
And a strange, misshapen image made:
A Caliban in fiendish guise,
With mouth agape and staring eyes,
And monstrous limbs, that might uphold
The weight that Atlas bore, of old;
Like shapes that our troubled dreams distress,
Ghost-like and grim in their ugliness;
A huge and hideous human form,
Born of the howling wind and storm:
And yet those boyish sculptors glow
With the pride of a Phidias or Angelo.
Come hither and listen to me, my son,
And a lesson of life I 'll read thereon.
You have made a man of the snow-bank there;
He stands up yet in the frosty air:
Go out from your home, so bright and warm,
And throw yourself on his frozen form;
Wind him around with your soft caress;
Tenderly up to his bosom press;
Ask him for sympathy, love, and cheer;
Plead for yourself with prayer and tear;
Tell him you hope and dream and grieve;
Beg him to comfort and relieve:
The form that you press will be icy cold;
A frozen heart to your breast you hold,
That turns into stone the tears you weep;
And the chill of his touch through your soul will creep.
So over the field of life are spread
Men who have hearts as cold and dead, —
Who nothing of sympathy know, nor love, —
To whom your prayers would as fruitless prove
As those that you now might go and say
To the grim snow-man that you made to-day.
But soon the soft and gentle spring
And where the hearts now frozen stand,
THE GOLD-FIELDS OF NOVA SCOTIA.
It will probably be thought a startling statement, by the good people of our staid Northern metropolis, — certainly by those of them whose attention has not been called to the recent developments on this subject, — that within thirty-six hours' travel from their own doors, by conveyance as safe and even luxurious as any in the world, there exist veins of auriferous quartz, practically inexhaustible in extent, teeming throughout with virgin gold of a standard of almost absolute purity, and yielding a return to the labors of the scientific miner, rivalling, if not fairly surpassing, in their comparative results, the richest deposits of California, Colorado, and Australia.
But then, if one has a startling fact to toll, why is it not best to tell it out, all at once, and in a startling manner? If the house-maid of our modest menage should on a sudden discover that Aladdin's lamp had come home from the auction-room among some chance purchases of her mistress, and that the slave or genie thereof was actually standing in the middle of our own kitchen-floor at the moment, and grumbling audibly at lack of employment in fetching home diamonds and such like delicacies by the bale for the whole household, could we reasonably expect the girl to announce the fact, in the parlor above, in the same tone in which she ordinarily states that the butcher has called for his orders? 2Esop, in his very first fable, (as arranged by good Archdeacon Croxall,) has inculcated but a mean opinion of the cock who forbore to crow lustily when he turned up a jewel of surpassing richness, in the course of his ordinary scratching, and under his own very beak; why, then, should we render ourselves liable to the same depreciatory moral? Something, at least, must be pardoned to the certaminu gaudia of this new-found contest with the secrets of Nature, — and though the fact we have stated be a startling one, the statements and authorities
which go to support it will, perhaps, in the end, surprise us still more. We shall give them, at any rate, in such a form as "to challenge investigation and to defy scrutiny." How far they will bear out our sensational opening paragraph, then, the readers of the "Atlantic" cannot choose but judge.
But* let us hasten, in the very outset, to warn the individual gold-hunter that he, at least, will get no crumb of comfort from these pages. That the precious metal is there, — to use Dr. Johnson's expression, "the potentiality of growing rich beyond the dreams of avarice," — no one, we think, after reading what we have now to offer, will be inclined to deny. But it is to be sought successfully, as we shall show, only by the expenditure of capital, and under the direction of science and the most experienced skill. The solitary adventurer may tickle the stern ribs of Acadia with his paltry hoe »nd pick in vain, — she will laugh for him and such as he with no sign of a golden harvest. Failure and vexation, disappointment, loss, and ruin, will be again, as they have already been, his only reward. With this full disclaimer, therefore, at the commencement of our remarks, we trust that we shall, at least, have no sin of enticement laid at our door. If any one chooses to go there and try it on his own individual responsibility, and in the face of this energetic protest and solemn warning, it must surely be no further affair of ours.
The authorities, official, statistical, and scientific, from which our knowledge of the Gold-Fields of Nova Scotia is mainly derived, are as follows: —
1. Report of a Personal Inspection of the Gold - Fields of Nova Scotia, in the Consecutive Order in which they were visited. Made by Lord Mulgrave to His Grace the Duke of Newcastle, and dated at Government House, Halifax, N. S., 21st June, 1862.