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or three heavy shot are also sewn up at the feet, to ensure a rapid sinking. The grating is used as a kind of bier, on which this mummylike receptacle for mortality is placed, and that with the body is launched generally over the ship's side. The grating is afterwards, when the funeral service has been completed, hauled again on board by means of the rope attached to it.
The body on the grating, covered with the ensign, was, at the direction of the mate, made ready for launching overboard, the whole of the ship's company clustering round, and one of the seamen holding the lanthorn, Gavel prepared to read the funeral service. Hats were taken off.
“ Axing your pardon, Mr. Gavel,” began one of the men, “but it seems to me as if you had sewn up all poor Wilson's bed clothes, it is so bulky like. Now, as he didn't die of no fever—and my whole kit was washed overboard last gale, I'm willing to pay a fair price for his'n, and you can stop it out of my wages."
Jugurtha grinned, and the mate merely said, “Silence, do not disturb the service."
“ Had you not better, Mr. Gavel,” remarked the boatswain, “send for the captain? Sarve him right, I think, to be made stand by the man he murdered.”
“He is near enough,” said Gavel, hurriedly and with a slight shudder. “Let me have no more interruption. You man at the wheel, there, John Cousins, mind the ship’s head, and keep your ears open.”
Three times did Gavel begin, and, at each attempt, his voice was, as if in wrath, blown back upon his lips, and, at last, he was obliged to turn his face from the corpse, and thus standing to proceed. This omen, this apparent anger of Him to whom the hurricane is but as a servant, appalled not Gavel. Verily was he a man of strong nerve, or he was more than an enthusiast.
In a loud, clear, and sonorous voice, that the winds could not overcome, he began, “I am the resurrection and the life, saith the Lord,'” &c. &c., still keeping with the left hand a firm hold of the bier, whilst, with his right, he held the prayer-book. There was a savage solemnity about the scene, that did not elevate, but made the heart tremble. The officiating priest, for so, for the moment, must we call this untamed seaman, seemed to be actuated by a spirit of defiance, as much as by a feeling of piety; and there was a scowl of gratified revenge, or of some passion as evil, upon his countenance. That it was dangerous even then and there to cross him, was made manifest by an interruption, that, on any other occasion, would have appeared ludicrous.
The disappointed sailor, who had wished to inherit the bedding that he supposed was tacked up with the body of the steward, cried out in a reproachful manner, when Gavel read aloud, “ We brought nothing into this world, and it is certain that we can carry nothing out,"_" Then why does Williams walk off with his blankets and bed?"
The hand that held on the bier was dashed, in an instant, by this man of fierce passions, into the face of the interrupter, whilst he exclaimed, “ Silence, reprobate scoffer.”
As the seaman fell to the earth with the blow, he muttered a dreadful imprecation, and a strange and stifled groan was heard, but no one knew from whence it proceeded.
After this, Gavel resumed the book, and read on. The gale was increasing momentarily, but it seemed to make no impression upon the stern officiator. He read more loudly and more sternly. A horror began to creep over us all. Methought, at times, that the corpse under the union jack had a motion not produced by the plunging and rolling of the vessel. I endeavoured to repel the horrible idea that seized me. It was in vain. My suspicions increased every moment. I knew not how to act.
Gavel read on.
It was now a perfect storm, yet he seemed to be trying his strength against it. His voice became shrill, and still mastered the rushing of the mighty winds. Twice had I laid my hand upon his arm, and besought him to forbear. I might as well have addressed the tempest that was hurrying us to destruction. He was labouring-labouring did I say ? revelling under the influence of a superstitious excitement. Nothing but sudden death could have stopped him.
He read on.
Another hand had quietly stepped to the wheel to assist the man at the helm-for the brig was bounding, plunging, and reeling-but to all this Gavel seemed impassible, imperturbable. The service drew to conclusion-1 was in a perfect agony of dread. The cold perspiration stood upon my brow. I felt, I knew not why, that I was assisting at some horrible, some unnatural sacrifice. Several times was I upon the point of laying my hands upon the swaddled corpse to relieve the crushing burthen of my suspicions ; but when the cruel mate came to that part that finishes the ceremony, and read, “ We therefore commit their bodies to the deep," the truth, in all its horror, flashed upon me, and I caught at Gavel's throat, and exclaimed, “ Atrocious murderer! Men, haul the bodies on board."
But Gavel was too quick for me, he thrust the grating over the stern, and the plash of the descending bodies to their cold deep grave, was hardly heard amidst the lashings of the water that boiled under the counter of the vessel.
“ Man of cruel superstitions ! what hast thou done ?"
He replied collectedly, almost calmly, “ There is one more Jonah for the whale—I have buried the quick and the dead. He had the consolations of religion—he had Christian burial. There is now safety for us all the winds will shortly cease. Hands, up foresail."
“ Deluded murderer !" said I, petrified with horror. But he heard me not-he went forward to assist in reducing the only sail we had upon the vessel. In the attempt it was split into shreds. The next moment the sea rushed over us, and swept away the wheel, the two men who were steering, and the binnacle, and the brig broached to. Before these damages were commented on, our jurymasts were over the sides. We were again a wreck. All that is so awfully magnificent in a storm came down, as in vengeance, upon us. There was the battering hail, and the nimble-tongued lightning, that voiced the anger of the heavens in the stunning thunders--and the wind-O that wind !--it appeared as if it was able to have lifted us out of the water, had we not, as I fancied, been heavy with a load of sin-burdened with the weight of a double homicide.
The discomfited mate crept aft to me. He looked abject, haggard, dismayed. No longer had he the high expression of an awarder of vengeance-he was the trembling felon.
« God forgive me,” he exclaimed in his agony, “how Satan hath misled me! "At that moment I could not restrain the bitterness of my reproaches. I placed my mouth close to his ear, and shouted into it, “ Is this the calm you have purchased for us, O man of iniquity? Where are we now to look for safety-with the black wave that is sporting with the dead body of your murdered captain ? And how murdered ? May it not be remembered against you in the fatal day! Why do you crouch here?—for you, repentance is too late :-prayer is useless. Do you see that dark bounding wave that has just passed over your forecastle, sweeping with it, with as little remorse, as if they were so much sea-weed, the half of your crew to the angry deeps ? —this is the safety that you have purchased with the price of blood : it is the third wave, is it not, James Gavel—the third, that you sailors think so destructive? Well, there is the second, and, behold, how smooth your decks are! Do you not tremble for the third ? murderer-speak !"
« Spare me."
“ Up, man, and show some of your boasted seamanship : where is now your craft of practice ? Has your brain no expedient, your heart no fibre? Has your right hand forgot its cunning? Oh, yes I on your knees then, and meet your death like a felon ; for we shall all perish, all-all-all—for the MURDERER IS STILL ON BOARD."
To these almost insane invectives the shivering wretch replied not, but contracted himself into as small a space as possible, trembling excessively. I was strangely situated; crouched down under what little remained of the weather side of the quarter-deck bulwark, Bounder, the Newfoundland dog, on one side, the grinning negro, Jugurtha, on the other, whilst the utterly prostrated mate lay rolled up at our feet. The dog from time to time looked up piteously, and licked my face and hands, and the black was the very personification of a stoic.
The third swell came. For an instant, I perceived a curling white canopy high over the heads of this wretched group, and the next, we were far, far to leeward in the open and dreary sea, and a little dispersed from each other. At that period I could not swim. Jugurtha was soon beside me, and the faithful Bounder too. The waves were huge and monstrous, but they did not break, excepting when they met with resistance, for they were heaving in the exact direction of the wind. I never once lost my perceptions; they were, instead of being confused by the dangers and horrors around me, painfully distinct. Bounder swam nobly. I merely placed my left hand upon his back, and I was sufficiently supported. Jugurtha swam buoyantly on my right. We endeavoured to turn and face the brig, from which we had been washed. We did so at length, notwithstanding the violence of the spray: but she was no more; or, if she existed, the few yards of distance that we had been swept from her were, in the darkness, sufficient to hide her from our view.
I now despaired for the first time. I gave one thought to my unknown parents and sister, and addressed myself to prayer. After this, I felt considerably calmed and almost resigned. . I even dared, without repining, to contemplate the agonies of a prolonged death, and felt no inclination to hasten it by plunging, at once, beneath the waters.
But a temporary relief was at hand. Through the obscurity the long-boat that was, with ourselves, washed off the booms came drifting towards us. Jugurtha struck out manfully; the excellent dog rivalled him, and the black first, and then myself and Bounder, were soon securely seated in it.
After a little while we heard a human voice, and on looking over the stern, I discovered James Gavel hanging on by the ruddergudgeon.
“ Ardent Troughton,” said he, “ shake hands with me;—you have proved yourself a better man than I--God bless you—pray for me -sometimes think of the poor deluded sinner, who sinned through ignorance more than hardness of heart :-you have my mother's address.”
“Come on board,” said I, endeavouring to haul him in by the hand that grasped mine firmly.
“ Never : one murderer shall not again endanger two precious lives."
“ As you hope for redemption, beware of suicide.”
“ I will, I do-God bless you-I will hope, and I will swim to the last. Remember Alfred Gavel, and your promise to his mother.” Then, with a plunge, he wrenched his hand from my grasp, boldly turned his face from the boat, and struck out in the direction where the vessel, or some remnants of her, might be supposed still to exist.
In a few seconds, he was lost to my view. As my sobs involuntarily burst forth at the nobleness of this self-sacrifice, I could not help confessing, that, in the self-devoted visionary all the best requisites of a hero were concentrated, and ruined by a senseless superstition and an impious and degrading notion of a beneficent Deity.
He was never heard of more.
(To be continued.)
THE LOVED ONE THAT SLEEPS FAR AWAY!
BY MRS. CRAWFORD.
WHEN the golden sun sinks to his rest,
And the night breeze around me is springing ;
And the sweet bird of sorrow is singing ;
No friend ever wept o'er the sod,
Where thine ashes, my brother! are lying;
On the green sward that pillow'd thee dying;
Albuera! thou field of the dead !
Dark, dark is the page of thy story:
Than ere washed the red laurels of glory!
They dug him a grave-his own bands,
And slowly and tenderly bore him,
And the tears of the heroes fell o'er him,
Oh! when I last stood in the room,
Where his sweet voice so often had sounded,
Those woods, where in boyhood he bounded,
For freshly he rose to my view,
Our beautiful, brave, and light-hearted ;
Over spirits, that now are departed,