Spies

But the delusion was short-lived; my voice broke the spell, and perhaps
the consciousness of their idle alarm increased their rage. “Spies!” was
then the outcry, and this dreaded sound brought from beds and tables the
whole band. It was in vain that I attempted to speak; the mob have no
ears, whether in cities or caves, and we were dragged forward to undergo
our examination. Yet what was to be done in the midst of a host of
tongues, all questioning, accusing, and swearing together?

Some were ready to take every star of heaven to witness that we were a
pair of Paphlagonian pilots, and the identical ones hired to run two of
their ships aground, by which the best expedition of the year was undone.
Others knew us to have been in the regular pay of the procurator, and the
means of betraying their last captain to the ax. But the majority honored
us with the character of simple thieves, who had taken advantage of their
absence to plunder the baggage.

The question next arose, “How we could have got in?” and for the first
time the carousers thought of their sentinel. I told them what I had
seen. They poured into his chamber, and their suspicions were fixed in
inexorable reality: “We had murdered him.” The speediest death for us
was now the only consideration. Every man had his proposal, and never
were more curious varieties of escape from this evil world offered to two
wretches already weary of it; but the Arab’s voice carried the point.
“He disliked seeing men tossed into the fire; ropes were too useful, and
the sword was too honorable to be employed on rogues. But as by water we
came, by water we should go.” The sentence was received with a shout; and
amid laughter, furious cries, and threats of vengeance, we were dragged
to the mouth of the cave.

[Sidenote: The Arrival of the Captain]

There was a new scene. The tempest was appalling. The waves burst into
the anchorage in huge heaps, dashing sheets of foam up to its roof.
The wind volleyed in gusts, that took the strongest off their feet;
the galleys at anchor were tossed as if they were so many weeds on the
surface of the water. Lamps and torches were useless, and the only light
was from the funereal gleam of the billows, and the sheets of sulfurous
fire that fell upon the turbulence of ocean beyond. Even the hardy forms
round me were startled, and I took advantage of a furious gust that swung
us all aside, to struggle from their grasp, and seizing a pike, fight
for my life. Jubal seconded me with the boldness that no decay could
exhaust, and setting our backs to the rocks, we for a while baffled our
executioners. But this could not last against such numbers. Our pikes
were broken; we were hemmed in, and finally dragged again to the mouth
of the cavern, that with its foam and the howl of the tumbling billows
looked like the jaws of some huge monster ready for its prey.

Bruised and overpowered, I was on the point of denying my murderers their
last indulgence, and plunging headlong, when a trumpet sounded. The
pirates loosed their hold, and in a few minutes a large galley with all
her oars broken and every sail torn to fragments shot by the mouth of the
cavern. A joyous cry of, “The captain! the captain!” echoed through the
vaults. The galley, disabled by the storm, tacked several times before
she could make the entrance; but at length, by a masterly maneuver,
she was brought round, and darted right in on the top of a mountainous
billow. Before she touched the ground, the captain had leaped into the
arms of the band, who received him with shouts. His quick eye fell upon
us at once, and he demanded fiercely what we were. “Spies and thieves”
was the general reply.

“Spies!” he repeated, looking contemptuously at our
habiliments—“impossible. Thieves, very likely, and very beggarly ones.”

[Sidenote: The Captain’s Story]

I denied both imputations alike. He seemed struck by my words, and said
to the crowd: “Folly! Take them away, if it does not require too much
courage to touch them; and let them be washed and fed for the honor
of hospitality and their own faces. Here, change my clothes and order
supper.”

I attempted to explain how we came.

“Of course—of course,” said the captain, pulling off his dripping
garments and flinging his cloak to one, his cuirass to another, and his
cap to a third. “Your rags would vouch for you in any port on earth.
Or, if you carry on the trade of treachery, you are very ill paid. Why,
Memnon, look at these fellows; would you give a shekel for their souls
and bodies? Not a mite. When I look for spies, I expect to find them
among the prosperous. However, if you turn out to be spies, eat, drink,
and sleep your best to-night, for you shall be hanged to-morrow.”

He hurried onward, and we followed, still in durance. The banquet was
reinstated, and the principal personages of the band gathered round to
hear the adventures of the voyage.

“All has been ill luck,” said the captain, tossing off a bumper. “The old
procurator’s spirit was, I think, abroad either to take care of his plate
or to torment mankind, according to his custom. We were within a boat’s
length of the prize when the wind came right in our teeth. Everything
that could, ran for the harbor; some went on the rocks; some straight to
the bottom; and that we might not follow their example, I put the good
ship before the wind, and never was better pleased than to find myself at
home. Thus you see, comrades, that my history is brief; but then it has
an advantage that history sometimes denies itself—every syllable of it is
true.”

As the light of the lamps fell on him, it struck me that his face was
familiar to my recollection. He was young, but the habits of his life had
given him a premature manhood; his eye flashed and sparkled with Eastern
brilliancy, but his cheek, after the first flush of the banquet, was
pale; and the thinness of a physiognomy naturally masculine and noble,
showed that either care or hardship had lain heavily upon his days. He
had scarcely sat down to the table when, his glance turning where we
stood guarded, he ordered us to be brought before him.

[Sidenote: Salathiel and the Captain]

“I think,” said he, “you came here but a day or two ago. Did you find no
difficulty with our sentinels?”

“Ha!” exclaimed the Arab, “how could I have forgotten that? I left Titus,
or by whatever of his hundred names he chose to be called, on guard,
at his own request, the day I steered for the Nile. He was sick, or
pretended to be so; and as I gave myself but a couple of days for the
voyage, I expected to be back in time to save him from the horrors of his
own company. But the wind said otherwise—the two days were ten; and on
my return we found the wretched fellow a corpse—whether from being taken
ill and unable to help himself, or from the assistance of those worthy
persons here whom we discovered in attendance.”

“On that subject I have no doubt whatever,” interposed the Egyptian;
“those villains murdered him.”

“It is possible,” mused the captain; “but I can not foresee what they
are to get by it. A question that you at least will acknowledge to be of
considerable importance,” said he, with a careless smile at the Egyptian,
whose avarice was proverbial.

The object of satire was stung, and to get rid of the dangerous topic, he
affected wrath and said impetuously:

“Let it be so; let our blood go for nothing; let treachery thrive; let
our throats be at the mercy of every wandering ruffian; and let us have
the consolation that our labors and our sacrifices will be honored with a
sneer.”

He turned to the crowd waiting round us. “Brave comrades,” exclaimed he,
“henceforth understand that you are at every dagger’s mercy; that if you
are left behind, you may be assassinated with impunity, as, if you are
taken out upon our foolish expeditions, your lives may be flung away upon
the whims and follies of would-be heroes.”

The crowd, fickle and inflamed by wine, gave a huzza for the “sailor’s
friend.” The Egyptian encouraged, and having a load of gall upon his
memory, made the desperate venture of at once disowning the authority of
the captain, and ordering in his own name that we should be delivered
over to execution.

[Sidenote: Salathiel Shows a Letter]

The captain listened without a word, but his hand was on his simitar, and
his cheek burned, as he fixed his eyes on the livid accuser.

The crowd pressed closer upon us, and I saw the dagger pointed at my
breast, when I recollected the letter. I gave it to the captain, who read
it in silence, and then, with the utmost composure, desired it to be
handed over to the Egyptian.

“Comrades,” said he, “I have to apologize for a breach of the confidence
that should always subsist between men of honor. I have here accidentally
read a letter which the cipher shows to have been intended for our
trusty friend Memnon; but since the subject is no longer confined to
himself, he will doubtless feel no objection to indulging us all with the
correspondence.”

The band thronged round the table; expectation sat on every face,
and its various expression in the crowded circle of those strong
physiognomies—the keen, the wondering, the angry, the contemptuous, the
convinced, the triumphant—would have made an incomparable study for a
painter. The Egyptian took the letter with a trembling hand and read the
fatal words.

“The fleet will be off the northern promontory by midnight. You will
light a signal, and be ready to conduct the troops into the cavern.”

The reader let the fatal despatch fall from his hands.

An outcry of wrath rose on all sides, and the traitor was on the point of
being sacrificed when the young Idumean generously started forward.

“It is known, I believe, to every man here,” said he, “that I dislike
and distrust Memnon as much as any being on earth. I know him to be base
and cruel, and therefore hate him. I have long suspected him of being
connected with transactions that nothing but the madness of avarice could
venture upon, and nothing but death atone. But he must not perish without
a trial. Till inquiry is made, the man who strikes him must strike
through me.”

[Sidenote: The Egyptian’s Treachery]

He placed himself before the culprit, who now taking courage, long
and dexterously insisted that the letter was a forgery, invented by
“assassins and those who employed assassins.”

The tide of popular wisdom is easily turned; opinion was now raging
against me, and the Egyptian stood a fair chance of seeing his reputation
cleared in my blood.

“Come,” said the captain, rising, “as we are not likely to gain much
information from the living, let us see whether the dead can give us any:
lead on, prisoners.”

I led the way to the recess. The dead man lay untouched; but in the
interval the features had returned, as is often the case in death, to the
expression of former years. I uttered an exclamation; he was the domestic
who had betrayed me to the procurator.

“Conscience!” cried the Egyptian.

“Conscience!” echoed the crowd.

The captain turned to me. “Did either you or your companion commit
this murder? I will have no long stories. I know that this fellow was
a villain, and if he had lived until my return, he should have fed the
crows within the next twelve hours. One word—yes or no?”

I answered firmly.

“I believe you,” said the captain. He took the hand of the corpse, and
called to the Egyptian. “Take this hand, and swear that you know nothing
of the treason. But, ha! what have we here?”

As he lifted the arm, the sleeve of the tunic gave way, and a slip
of papyrus fell on the bed. He caught it up, and exclaiming, “What!
to-night? pernicious villain!” turned to the astonished band.

“Comrades, there is treachery among us. We are sold—sold by that accursed
Egyptian. Strip the slave, and fling him into the dungeon until I return;
no, he shall come with us in chains. Call up the men. Every galley must
put to sea instantly, if we would not be burned in our beds.”

[Sidenote: Preparing for the Escape]

The trumpets sounded through the cavern, and rapid preparations were
made for obeying this unexpected command. The fires blazed again; arms
and armor rang; men were mustered, and the galleys swung out from their
moorings, in the midst of tumult and volleys of execrations against the
treachery that “could not wait, at least, for daylight and fair weather.”

“And now,” said the captain, “I think that it is time for me to sup. Sit
down, and let us hear over our wine what story the prisoners have to
tell.”

I briefly stated our escape from the dungeon.

“It may be a lie; yet the thing hangs not badly together. Your wardrobe
speaks prodigiously in favor of your veracity. Ho, Ben Ali! see that the
avenue into the warehouse is stopped up. We must have no visits from the
garrison of the tower.”

He had soon a group of listeners round the table.

“As I was lying off and on, waiting to catch that galley, a correspondent
on shore let me partly into the secret of that Egyptian dog’s dealings.
Rich as the knave was—and how he came by his money, Tartarus only
knows—Roman gold had charms for him still. In fact, he had been carrying
on a very handsome trade in information during the last six months, which
may best account for the escape of two fleets from Byzantium, and not
less for the present safety of the procurator’s plate, which, however, I
hope, by the blessing of Neptune, to see before another week shining upon
this table.”

Then, turning to me, he laughingly said: “Tho I should not trust you for
pilotage, your discovery was of use. That an attack upon us was intended
I was aware; but the how and the when were the difficulty. The time of
the attack was announced in the papyrus, and but for the storm we should
probably be now doing other things than supping.”

“The sea is going down already, and the wind has changed,” said the Arab.
“We can haul off the shore without loss of time.”

“Then the sooner the better. We must seal up the Romans in their port, or
if they venture out on such a night, give them sound reason for wishing
that they had stayed at home. Their galleys, if good for nothing else,
will do to burn.”

[Sidenote: The Company of the Free-Traders]

This bold determination was received with a general cheer; the crews
drank to the glory of their expedition, and all rushed toward the
galleys, which, crowded with men, lay tossing at the edge of the arch.

I followed, and demanded what was to be our fate.

“What will you have?”

“Anything but abandonment here. Let us take the chances of your voyage,
and be set on shore at the first place you touch.”

“And sell our secret to the best bidder? No. But I have no time to
make terms with you now. One word for all; ragged as you both are,
you are strong, and your faces would do no great discredit to our
profession. You probably think this no very striking compliment,” said
he, laughing. “However, I have taken a whim to have you with us and
offer you promotion. Will you take service with the noble company of the
Free-trade?”

Jubal was rashly indignant; I checked him, and merely answered that I had
purposes of extreme exigency which prevented my accepting his offer.

“Ha, morality!” exclaimed he, “you will not be seen with rogues like us?”
He laughed aloud. “Why, man, if you will not live, eat, drink, travel,
and die with rogues, where upon earth can you expect to live or die? The
difference between us and the world is that we do the thing without the
additional vice of hypocrisy.”

The bold fellows who waited round us felt for the honor of their calling,
and but for their awe of the captain we had stood slight chance of escape.

“A pike might let a little light into their understandings,” said one.

“If they will not follow on the deck, they should swim at the stern,”
said another.

“The hermits should be sent back to their dungeon,” said a third.

The boat was now run up on the sand.

[Sidenote: The Captain’s Calling]

“Get in,” said the captain. “I have taken it into my head to convince
you by fact of the honor, dignity, and primitiveness of our profession,
which is, in the first place, the oldest, for it was the original
employment of all human hands; in the next place, the most universal,
for it is the principle of all trades, pursuits, and professions, from
the Emperor on his throne down through the doctor, the lawyer, and the
merchant, to the very sediment of society.”

A loud laugh echoed through the cavern.

While he was arranging his corselet and weapons round him, the captain
proceeded: “The Free-trade is the essence of the virtues. For example,
I meet a merchantman loaded with goods—for what is the cargo meant? To
purchase slaves; to tear fathers from their families—husbands from their
wives; to burn villages, and bribe savages to murder each other. I strip
the hold; the slave-market is at an end, and none suffer but fellows who
ought to have been hanged long ago.”

The captain’s doctrine was more popular than ever.

[Sidenote: On Board the Galleys]

“I see, comrades,” said the captain, “that tho truth is persuasive, your
huzza is not for me, but for fact. We find a young rake ranging the world
with more money than brains, sowing sedition among the fair rivals for
the honor of sharing his purse; running away with daughters; gambling
greater fools than himself out of their fortunes; in short, playing the
profligate in all shapes. He drops into our hands, and we strip him to
the last penny. What is the consequence? We make him virtuous on the
spot. The profligate becomes a model of penitence; the root of all his
ills has been unearthed; the prodigal is saving; the bacchanal temperate;
the seducer lives in the innocence of a babe; the gambler never touches
a die. We have broken the mainspring of his vices—money; disarmed the
soft deceiver of his spell—money; checked the infection of the gambler’s
example by cutting off the source of the disease—money; or if nothing can
teach him common sense, our dungeon will at least keep him out of harm’s
way. We meet a rich old rogue,” continued he, “on his voyage between the
islands. What is he going to do? To marry some young creature who has
a young lover, perhaps a dozen. The marriage would break her heart and
raise a little rebellion in the island. We capture the old Cupid, strip
him of his coin, and he is a Cupid no more; fathers and mothers abhor
him at once; the young lover has his bride and the old one his lesson;
the one gets his love and the other his experience; and both have to
thank the gallant crew of the _Scorpion_, which may Neptune long keep
above water.”

A joyous shout and the waving of caps and swords hailed the captain’s
display. “The Free-trade forever!” was cheered in all directions.

“And now, my heroes of salt water, noble brothers of the Nereids, sons of
the starlight, here I make libation to fortune.”

He poured a part of his cup into the wave, and drank to the general
health with the remainder.

“Happiness to all! Let our work to-night be what it will, I know, my
heroes, that it will be handsomely done. The enemy may call us names, but
you will answer them by proofs that, whatever we may be, we are neither
slaves nor dastards. If I catch the insolent commander of the Roman
fleet, I will teach him a lesson in morals that he never knew before. He
shall flog, fleece, and torture no more. I will turn the hard-hearted
tyrant into tenderness from top to toe. His treatment of the crew of the
_Hyæna_ was infamous; and, by Jupiter! what I owe him shall be discharged
in full. Now on board, and may Neptune take care of you!”

The trumpets flourished, the people cheered, the boats pushed off, the
galleys hoisted every sail, and in a moment we found ourselves rushing
through the water under the wildest canopy of heaven.

We stretched out far to sea, for the double purpose of falling by
surprise upon the Roman squadron and of avoiding the shoals. The wind
lulled at intervals so much that we had recourse to our oars; it would
then burst down with a violence that all but hurled us out of the water.
I now saw more of the captain, and was witness to the extraordinary
activity and skill of this singular young man. Never was there a more
expert seaman. For every change of sea or wind he had a new expedient;
and when the hearts of the stoutest sank, he took the helm into his hands
and carried us through the chaos of foam, whirlwind, and lightning with
the vigor of one born to sport with the storm.

As I was gazing over the vessel’s side at the phosphoric gleams that
danced along the billows, he came up to me.

“I am sorry,” said he, “that we have been compelled to give you so rough
a specimen of our hospitality, and this is not altogether a summer sea,
but you saw how the matter stood. The enemy would have been upon us, and
the whole advantage of our staying at home would be to have our throats
cut in company.”

Odd and rambling as his style was, there was something in his manner
and voice that had struck me before, even in the boisterousness of the
convivial crowd. But now, in the solitary sea, there was a melancholy
sweetness in his tones that made me start with sad recollection. Yet,
when by the lightning I attempted to discover in his features any clue to
memory, and saw but the tall figure wrapped in the sailor’s cloak, the
hair streaming over his face in the spray, and every line of his powerful
physiognomy at its full stretch in the agitation of the time, the thought
vanished again.

[Sidenote: His Request]

“I hinted,” said he, after an interval of silence, “at your taking chance
with us. If you will, you may. But the hint was thrown out merely to draw
off the fellows about me, and you are at full liberty to forget it.”

“It is impossible to join you,” was my answer; “my life is due to my
country.”

“Oh, for that matter, so is mine, and due a long time ago; my only wonder
is, how I have evaded payment till now. But I am a man of few words. I
have taken a sort of liking to you, and would wish to have a few such at
hand. The world calls me pirate, and the majority, of course, carries the
question. For its opinion I do not care a cup of water; a bubble would
weigh as heavily with me as the rambling, giddy, vulgar judgment of a
world in which the first of talents is knavery. I never knew a man fail
who brought to market prostitution of mind enough to make him a tool,
vice enough to despise everything but gain, and cunning enough to keep
himself out of the hands of the magistrate till opulence enabled him to
corrupt the law or authority to defy it. But let that pass. The point
between us is, will you take service with us?”

“No! I feel the strongest gratitude for the manliness and the generosity
of your protection. You saved our lives, and our only hope of revisiting
Judea in freedom is through you. But, young man, I have a great cause in
hand. I have risked everything for it. Family, wealth, rank, life, are my
stake; and I look upon every hour given to other things as so far a fraud
upon my country.”

I heard him sigh. There was silence on both sides for a while, and he
paced the deck; then suddenly returning, laid his hand on my shoulder.

“I am convinced of your honor,” said he, “and far be it from me to betray
a man who has indeed a purpose worthy of manhood into our broken and
unhappy—aye, let the word come out, infamous career. But you tell me that
I have been of some use to you; I now demand the return. You have refused
to take service with me. Let me take service with you!”

[Sidenote: The Presence of the Roman Fleet]

I stared at him. He smiled sadly, and said: “You will not associate with
one stained like me. Aye, for me there is no repentance! Yet, why shall
the world”—and his voice was full of anguish—“why shall an ungenerous and
misjudging world be suffered to keep forever at a distance those whom it
has first betrayed?” His emotion got the better of him, and his voice
sank. He again approached me. “I am weary of this kind of life. Not that
I have reason to complain of the men about me, nor that I dislike the
chances of the sea; but that I feel the desire to be something better—to
redeem myself out of the number of the dishonored; to do something which,
whether I live or die, will satisfy me that I was not meant to be—the
outcast that I am.”

“Then join us, if you will,” said I. “Our cause demands the bold; and
the noblest spirit that ever dwelt in man would find its finest field in
the deliverance of our land, the land of holiness and glory. But can you
leave all that you have round you here?”

“Not without a struggle. I have an infinite delight in this wild kind of
existence. I love the strong excitement of hazard; I love the perpetual
bustle of our career; I love even the capriciousness of wind and wave.
I have wealth in return for its perils; and no man knows what enjoyment
is but he who knows it through the fatigue of a sailor’s life. All the
banquets of Epicureanism are not half so delicious as even the simplest
meal to his hunger, nor the softest bed of luxury half so refreshing
as the bare deck to his weariness. But I must break up those habits;
and whether beggar, slave, or soldier obtaining the distinction of a
soldier’s success, I am determined on trying my chance among mankind.”

A sheet of lightning at this instant covered the whole horizon with blue
flame, and a huge ball of fire springing from the cloud, after a long
flight over the waters split upon the shore. The keenness of the seaman’s
eye saw what had escaped mine.

“That was a lucky sea-light for us,” said he. “The Romans are lying under
yonder promontory, driven to take shelter by the gale, of course; but for
that fire-ball they would have escaped me.”

[Sidenote: Salathiel Gives the Order]

All the crew were now summoned on deck; signals were made to the other
galleys; the little fleet brought into close order; pikes, torches, and
combustibles of all kinds gathered upon the poop; the sails furled, and
with muffled oars we glided down upon the enemy. The Roman squadron, with
that precaution which was the essential of its matchless discipline, was
drawn up in order of battle, tho it could have had no expectation of
being attacked on such a night. But the roar of the gale buried every
other sound, and we stole round the promontory unheard.

The short period of this silent navigation was one of the keenest
anxiety. All but those necessary for the working of the vessel were lying
on their faces; not a limb was moved, and like a galley of the dead we
floated on, filled with destruction. We were yet at some distance from
the twinkling lights that showed the prefect’s trireme when, on glancing
round, I perceived a dark object on the water, and pointed it out to the
captain.

“Some lurking spy,” said he, “who was born to pay for his knowledge.”

With a sailor’s promptitude he caught up a lamp and swung it overboard.
It fell beside the object, a small boat, as black as the waves themselves.

“Now for the sentinel,” were his words, as he plunged into the sea. The
act was as rapid as the words. I heard a struggle, a groan, and the boat
floated empty beside me on the next billow.

But there was no time to wait for his return. We were within an oar’s
length of the anchorage. To communicate the probable loss of their
captain (and what could human struggle do among the mountainous waves of
that sea?) might be to dispirit the crew and ruin the enterprise. I took
the command upon myself, and gave the word to fall on.

[Sidenote: The Suddenness of Mutiny]

A storm of fire, as strange to the enemy as if it had risen from the
bottom of the sea, was instantly poured on the advanced ships. The
surprise was complete. The crews, exhausted by the night, were chiefly
asleep. The troops on board were helpless, on decks covered with spray,
and among shrouds and sails falling down in burning fragments on their
heads. Our shouts gave them the idea of being attacked by overwhelming
numbers, and after a short dispute we cleared the whole outer line of
every sailor and soldier. The whole was soon a pile of flame, a sea
volcano that lighted sky, sea, and shore.

Yet only half our work was done. The enemy were now fully awake, and
no man could despise Roman preparation. I ordered a fire galley to
run in between the leading ships; but she was caught half-way by a
chain, and turned round, scattering flame among ourselves. The boats
were then lowered, and our most desperate fellows sent to cut out or
board. But the crowded decks drove them back, and the Roman pike was an
over-match for our short falchions. For a while we were forced to content
ourselves with the distant exchange of lances and arrows. The affair now
became critical. The enemy were still three times our force; they were
unmooring, and our only chance of destroying them was at anchor. I called
the crew forward and proposed that we should run the galley close on the
prefect’s ship, set them both on fire, and in the confusion carry the
remaining vessels. But sailors, if as bold, are as capricious as their
element. Our partial repulse had already disheartened them. I was met by
clamors for the captain. The clamors rose into open charges that I had,
to get the command, thrown him overboard.

I was alone. Jubal, worn out with fatigue and illness, was lying at
my feet, more requiring defense than able to afford it. The crowd was
growing furious against the stranger. I felt that all depended on the
moment, and leaped from the poop into the midst of the mutineers.

“Fools,” I exclaimed, “what could I get by making away with your captain?
I have no wish for your command. I have no want of your help. I disdain
you: bold as lions over the table; tame as sheep on the deck; I leave you
to be butchered by the Romans. Let the brave follow me, if such there be
among you.”

[Sidenote: The Monarch of a War Galley]

A shallop that had just returned with the defeated boarders, lay by
the galley’s side. I seized a torch. Eight or ten, roused by my taunts,
followed me into the boat. We pulled right for the Roman center. Every
man had a torch in one hand and an oar in the other. We shot along the
waters, a flying mass of flame; and while both fleets were gazing on
us in astonishment, rushed under the stern of the commander’s trireme.
The fire soon rolled up her tarry sides and ran along the cordage. But
the defense was desperate, and lances rained upon us. Half of us were
disabled in the first discharge; the shallop was battered with huge
stones, and I felt that she was sinking.

“One trial more, brave comrades, one glorious trial more! The boat must
go down, and unless we would go along with it, we must board.”

I leaped forward and clung to the chains. My example was followed. The
boat went down; and this sight, which was just discovered by the livid
flame of the vessel, raised a roar of triumph among the enemy. But to
climb up the tall sides of the trireme was beyond our skill, and we
remained, dashed by the heavy waves as she rose and fell. Our only
alternatives now were to be piked, drowned, or burned. The flames were
already rapidly advancing; showers of sparkles fell upon our heads; the
clamps and ironwork were growing hot to the touch; the smoke was rolling
over us in suffocating volumes. I was giving up all for lost when a
mountainous billow swept the vessel’s head round, and I saw a blaze burst
out from the shore,—the Roman tents were on fire!

Consternation seized the crews, thus attacked on all sides; and uncertain
of the number of the assailants, they began to desert the ships and by
boats or swimming make for the various points of the land. The sight
reanimated me. I climbed up the side of the trireme, torch in hand,
and with my haggard countenance, made still wilder by the wild work of
the night, looked a formidable apparition to men already harassed out
of all courage. They plunged overboard—and I was monarch of the finest
war-galley on the coast of Syria.

[Sidenote: The Conflagration]

But my kingdom was without subjects. None of my own crew had followed me.
I saw the pirate vessels bearing down to complete the destruction of
the fleet, and hailed them, but they all swept far wide of the trireme.
The fire had taken too fast hold of her to make approach safe. I now
began to feel my situation. The first sense of triumph was past, and I
found myself deserted. The deed of devastation, meanwhile, was rapidly
going on. I saw the Roman ships successively boarded, almost without
resistance, and in a blaze. The conflagration rose in sheets and spires
to the heavens, and colored the waters to an immeasurable extent with
the deepest dye of gore. I heard the victorious shouts, and mine rose
spontaneously along with them. In every vessel burned, in every torch
flung, I rejoiced in a new blow to the tyrants of Judea. But my thoughts
were soon fearfully brought home. The fire reached the cables; the
trireme, plunging and tossing like a living creature in its last agony,
burst away from her anchors; the wind was off the shore; a gust, strong
as the blow of a battering-ram, struck her; and on the back of a huge
wave she shot out to sea, a flying pyramid of fire.

Never was man more indifferent to the result than the solitary voyager of
the burning trireme. What had life for me? I gazed round me. The element
of fire reigned supreme. The shore—mountain, vale, and sand—was bright
as day from the blaze of the tents and the floating fragments of the
galleys. The heavens were an arch of angry splendor—every stooping cloud
swept along reddened with the various dyes of the conflagration below.
The sea was a rolling abyss of the fiercest color of slaughter. The
blazing vessels, loosened from the shore, rushed madly before the storm,
sheet and shroud shaking loose abroad like vast wings of flame.

At length all disappeared. The shore faded far into a dim line of light;
the galleys sank or were consumed; the sea grew dark again. But the
trireme, strongly built and of immense size, still fed the flame, and
still shot on through the tempest, that fell on her the more furiously
as she lost the cover of the land. The waves rose to a height that often
baffled the wind, and left me floating in a strange calm between two
black walls of water reaching to the clouds, and on whose smooth sides
the image of the burning vessel was reflected as strongly as in a mirror.
But the ascent to the summit of those fearful barriers again let in the
storm in its rage. The tops of the billows were whirled off in sheets of
foam; the wind tore mast and sail away, and the vessel was dashed forward
like a stone discharged from an engine. I stood on the poop, which the
spray and the wind kept clear of flame, and contemplated, with some
feeling of the fierce grandeur of the spectacle, the fire rolling over
the forward part of the vessel in a thousand shapes and folds.

While I was thus careering along, like the genius of fire upon his
throne, I caught a glimpse of sails scattering in every direction before
me—I had rushed into the middle of one of those small trading-fleets
that coasted annually between the Euxine and the Nile. They flew, as if
pursued by a fiend. But the same wind that bore them, bore me; and their
screams, as the trireme bounded from billow to billow on their track,
were audible even through the roarings of the storm. They gradually
succeeded in spreading themselves so far that the contact with the flame
must be partial. But on one, the largest and most crowded, the trireme
bore inevitably down. The hunted ship tried every mode of escape in vain;
it maneuvered with extraordinary skill; but the pursuer, lightened of
every burden, rushed on like a messenger of vengeance.

[Sidenote: The Sound of a Voice]

I could distinctly see the confusion and misery of the crowd that covered
the deck; men and women kneeling, weeping, fainting, or, in the fierce
riot of despair, struggling for some wretched spoil that a few moments
more must tear from all alike. But among the fearful mingling of sounds,
one voice I suddenly heard that struck to my soul. It alone roused me
from my stern scorn of human suffering. I no longer looked upon those
beings as upon insects, that must be crushed in the revolution of the
great wheel of fate. The heart, the living human heart, palpitated
within me. I rushed to the side of the trireme, and with voice and hand
made signals to the crew to take me on board. But at my call a cry of
agony rang through the vessel. All fled to its farther part, but a few,
who, unable to move, were seen on their knees, and in the attitudes of
preternatural fear, imploring every power of heaven. Shocked by the
consciousness that, even in the hour when mutual hazard softens the heart
of man, I was an object of horror, I shrank back. I heard the voice once
more, and once more resolving to get on board, flung a burning fragment
over the side to help me through the waves.

[Illustration: “The solitary voyager of the burning trireme.”

[_see page 317._

Copyright, 1901, by Funk & Wagnalls Company, N. Y. and London.]

But the time was past. The fragment had scarcely touched the foam when a
sheet of lightning wrapped sea and sky; the flying vessel was gone. My
eye looked but upon the wilderness of waters. The flash was fatal. It had
struck the hold of my trireme, in which was stowed a large freightage
of the bitumen and niter of the desert. A column of flame, white as
silver, rose straight and steadily up to the clouds; and the huge ship,
disparting timber by timber, reeled, heaved, and plunged headlong into
the bosom of the ocean.

[Sidenote: In a Whirlpool]

I rose to the surface from a prodigious depth. I was nearly breathless.
My limbs were wasted with famine and fatigue; but the tossing of the
surges sustained and swept me on. The chill at last benumbed me, and my
limbs were heavy as iron, when a broken mast rolling by entangled me in
its cordage. It drove toward a point of land, round which the current
swept. Strongly netted in the wreck, I was dragged along, sometimes above
the billow, sometimes below. But a violent shock released me, and with a
new terror I felt myself go down. I was engulfed in the whirlpool!

Every sensation was horribly vivid. I had the full consciousness of life
and of the unfathomable depth into which I was descending. I heard the
roar and rushing of the waters round me; the holding of my breath was
torture; I strained, struggled, tossed out my arms, and grasped madly
around, as if to catch something that might retard my hideous descent.
My eyes were open. I never was less stunned by shock or fear. The solid
darkness, the suffocation, the furious whirl of the eddy that spun me
round its huge circle like an atom of sand—every sense of drowning—passed
through my shattered frame with an individual and successive pang. I at
last touched something, whether living or dead, fish or stone, I know
not; but the impulse changed my direction, and I was darted up to the
surface in a little bay sheltered by hills.

The storm had gone with the rapidity of the south. The sun burned bright
and broad above my head; the pleasant breath of groves and flowery
perfumes came on the waters; a distant sound of sweet voices lingered on
the air. Like one roused from a frightful dream, I could scarcely believe
that this was reality. But the rolling waters behind gave me sudden
evidence. A billow, the last messenger of the storm, burst into the
little bay, filled it to the brim with foam, and tossed me far forward.
It rolled back, dragging with it the sedge and pebbles of the beach. I
grasped the trunk of an olive, rough and firm as the rock itself. The
retiring waves left me; I felt my way some paces among the trees, cast
myself down, and, worn out with fatigue, had scarcely reached their shade
when I fainted.

[Sidenote: A Quiet Spot]

I awoke in the decline of the day, as I could perceive by the yellow and
orange hues that colored the thick branches above me. I was lying in a
delicious recess, crowded with fruit-trees; my bed was the turf, but it
was soft as down; a solitary nightingale above my head was sending forth
snatches of that melody which night prolongs into the very voice of
sweetness and sorrow; and a balmy air from the wild thyme and blossoms of
the rose breathed soothingly even to the mind.

I had been thrown on one of the little isles that lie off Anthædon, a
portion of the Philistine territory before it was won by our hero the
Maccabee. The commerce which once filled the arm of the sea near Gaza had
perished in the change of masters, and silence and seclusion reigned in a
spot formerly echoing with the tumult of merchant and mariner. The little
isle, the favorite retreat of the opulent Greek and Syrian traders in the
overpowering heats of summer, and cultivated with the lavish expenditure
of commercial wealth, now gave no proof of its ever having felt the foot
of man, but in the spontaneous exuberance of flowers, once brought from
every region of the East and West, and the exquisite fruits that still
glowed on its slopes and dells.

[Sidenote: A Refuge]

In all things else Nature had resumed her rights; the gilded pavilions,
the temples of Parian and Numidian stone, were in ruins, and buried under
a carpet of roses and myrtles. The statues left but here and there a
remnant of themselves, a lovely relic, wreathed over in fantastic spirals
by the clematis and other climbing plants. The sculptured fountain let
its waters loose over the ground, and the guardian genius that hung in
marble beauty over the spring had long since resigned his charge and lay
mutilated and discolored with the air and the dew. But the spring still
gushed, bounding bright between the gray fissures of the cliff, and
marking its course through the plain by the richer mazes of green.

To me, who was as weary of existence as ever was galley-slave, this spot
of quiet loveliness had a tenfold power. My mind, like my body, longed
for rest.

Through life I had walked in a thorny path; my ambition had winged
a tempestuous atmosphere. Useless hazards, wild projects, bitter
sufferings, were my portion. Those feelings in which alone I could be
said to live had all been made inlets of pain. The love which nature and
justice won from me to my family was perpetually thwarted by a chain of
circumstances that made me a wretched, helpless, and solitary man. What
then could I do better than abandon the idle hope of finding happiness
among mankind; break off the trial, which must be prolonged only to my
evil; and elude the fate that destined me to be an exile in the world?
Yes, I would no longer be a man of suffering, in the presence of its
happiness; a wretch stripped of an actual purpose, or a solid hope, in
the midst of its activity and triumph; the abhorred example of a career
miserable with defeated pursuit, and tantalized with expectations vain as
the ripple on the stream!

In this stern resolve, gathering courage from despair—as the criminal
on the scaffold scoffs at the world that rejects him—I determined to
exclude recollection. The spot round me was henceforth to fill up the
whole measure of my thoughts. Wife, children, friends, country, to me
must exist no more. I imaged them in the tomb; I talked with them as
shadows, as the graceful and lovely existences of ages past,—as hallowed
memorials; but labored to divest them of the individual features that
cling to the soul.

[Sidenote: On the Shores of the Mediterranean]

Lest this mystic repose should be disturbed by any of the sights of
living man, I withdrew deeper into the shades which first sheltered me.
It was enough for me that there was a canopy of leaves above to shield
my limbs from the casual visitations of a sky whose sapphire looked
scarcely capable of a stain, and that the turf was soft for my couch.
Fruits sufficient to tempt the most luxurious taste were falling round
me, and the waters of the bright rivulet, scooped in the rind of citron
and orange, were a draft that the epicure might envy. I was still utterly
ignorant on what shore of the Mediterranean I was thrown, further than
that the sun rose behind my bower and threw his western luster on the
waveless expanse of sea that spread before it to the round horizon.

But no man can be a philosopher against nature. With my strength the
desire for exertion returned. My most voluptuous rest became irksome.
Memory would not be restrained; the floodgates of thought opened once
more, and to resist the passion for the world, I was driven to the
drudgery of the hands. I gathered wood for the winter’s fuel, in the
midst of days when the sun poured fire from the heavens; I attempted to
build a hut, beside grottoes that a hermit would love; I trained trees
and cultivated flowers where the soil threw out all that was rich in both
with exhaustless prodigality.

Yet no expedient would appease the passion for the absorbing business
of the world. My bower lost its enchantment; the delight of lying on
beds of violet, and with my eyes fixed on the heavens, wandering away
in rich illusion, palled upon me; the colors of the vision had grown
dim. I no longer saw shapes of beauty winging their way through the
celestial azure; I heard no harmonies of spirits on the midnight winds; I
followed no longer the sun, rushing on his golden chariot-wheels to lands
unstained by human step, or plunged with him at eve into the depths and
ranged the secret wonders of ocean.

[Sidenote: The Island Prison]

Labor in its turn grew irksome. I began to reproach myself for the vulgar
existence which occupied only the inferior portion of my nature; living
only for food, sleep, and shelter, what was I better than the seals
that basked on the shore at my feet? Night, too—that mysterious rest,
interposed for purposes of such varied beneficence: to cool the brain,
fevered by the bustle of the day; to soften mutual hostility, by a pause
to which all alike must yield; to remind our forgetful nature, by a
perpetual semblance, of the time when all things must pass away, and be
silent, and sleep; to sit in judgment on our hearts, and by a decision
which no hypocrisy can disguise, anticipate the punishment of the
villain, as it gives the man of virtue the foretaste of his reward—night
began to exert its old influence over me; and with the strongest
determination to think no more of what had been, I closed my eyes but
to let in the past. I might have said that my true sleep was during the
labors of the day, and my waking when I lay, with my senses sealed, upon
my bed of leaves.

It is impossible to shut up the mind, and I at last abandoned the
struggle. The spell of indolence once broken, I became as restless as
an eagle in a cage. My first object was to discover on what corner of
the land I was thrown. Nothing could be briefer than the circuit of my
island, and nothing less explanatory. It was one of those little alluvial
spots that grow round the first rock that catches the vegetation swept
down by rivers. Ages had gone by, while reed was bound to reed and one
bed of clay laid upon another. The ocean had thrown up its sands on the
shore; the winds had sown tree and herb on the naked sides of the tall
rock; the tree had drawn the cloud, and from its roots let loose the
spring. Cities and empires had perished while this little island was
forming into loveliness. Thus nature perpetually builds, while decay does
its work with the pomp of man. From the shore I saw but a long line of
yellow sand across a broad belt of blue waters. No sight on earth could
less attract the eye or be less indicative of man.

[Sidenote: Unanswered Signals]

Yet within that sandy barrier what wild and wondrous acts might be doing,
and to be done! My mind, with a pinion that no sorrow or bondage could
tame, passed over the desert, and saw the battle, the siege, the bloody
sedition, the long and heart-broken banishment, the fierce conflict
of passions irrestrainable as the tempest, the melancholy ruin of my
country by a judgment powerful as fate, and dreary and returnless as the
grave! But the waters between me and that shore were an obstacle that
no vigor of imagination could overcome. I was too feeble to attempt the
passage by swimming. The opposite coast appeared to be uninhabited,
and the few fishing-boats that passed lazily along this lifeless coast
evidently shunned the island, as I conceived, from some hidden shoal.
I felt myself a prisoner, and the thought irritated me. That ancient
disturbance of my mind, which rendered it so keenly excitable, was born
again; I felt its coming, and knew that my only resource was to escape
from this circumscribing paradise that had become my dungeon. Day after
day I paced the shore, awaking the echoes with my useless shouts, as each
distant sail glided along close to the sandy line that was now to me the
unattainable path of happiness. I made signals from the hill, but I might
as well have summoned the vultures to stop as they flew screaming above
my head to feed on the relics of the Syrian caravans.

What trifles can sometimes stand between man and enjoyment! Wisdom would
have thanked Heaven for the hope of escaping the miseries of life in the
little enchanted round, guarded by that entrenchment of waters, filled
with every production that could delight the sense, and giving to the
spirit, weary of all that the world could offer, the gentle retirement
in which it could gather its remaining strength and make its peace with
Heaven.

I was lying during a fiery noon on the edge of the island, looking toward
the opposite coast, the only object on which I could now bear to look,
when, in the stillness of the hour, I heard a strange mingling of distant
sounds, yet so totally indistinct that, after long listening, I could
conjecture it to be nothing but the rising of the surge. It died away.
But it haunted me: I heard it in fancy. It followed me in the morn, the
noon, and the twilight; in the hour of toil and in the hour when earth
and heaven were soft and silent as an infant’s sleep—when the very spirit
of tranquillity seemed to be folding his dewy wings over the world.

Wearied more with thought than with the daily toil that I imposed on
myself for its cure, I had one night wandered to the shore, and lain down
under the shelter of those thick woven boughs that scarcely let in the
glimpses of the moon. The memory of all whom later chances brought in
my path passed before me—the fate of my gallant kinsmen in Masada, of
the wily Ishmaelite, of the pirate captain, of that unhappy crew whose
danger was my involuntary deed, of my family scattered upon the face of
the world. Arcturus, bending toward the horizon, told me that it was
already midnight, when my reverie was broken by the same sounds that had
once disturbed my day. But they now came full and distinct. I heard the
crashing of heavy axles along the road, the measured tramp of cavalry,
the calls of the clarion and trumpet. They seemed beside me. I started
from my sand, but all around was still. I gazed across the waters; they
were lying, like another sky, reflecting star for star with the blue
immensity above—but on them was no living thing.

[Sidenote: Salathiel Leaves His Shelter]

I had heard of phantom armies traversing the air, but the sky was serene
as crystal. I climbed the hill, upon whose summit I recollected to have
seen the ruins of an altar; gathered the weeds, and lighted them for a
beacon. The flame threw a wide and ruddy reflection on the waters and
the sky. I watched by it until morn. But the sound had died as rapidly
as it rose; and when, with the first pearly tinge of the east, the coast
shaped itself beneath my eye, I saw with bitter disappointment but the
same solitary shore. The idea of another day of suspense was intolerable;
I returned to my place of refuge; gave it that glance of mingled feeling,
without which perhaps no man leaves the shelter which he is never to see
again; collected a few fruits for my sustenance, if I should reach the
desert; and with a resolution to perish, if it so pleased Providence, but
not to return, plunged into the sea.

The channel was even broader than I had calculated by the eye. My limbs
were still enfeebled, but my determination was strength. I was swept
by the current far from the opposite curve of the shore; yet its force
spared mine, and after a long struggle I felt the ground under my feet.
I was overjoyed, tho never was scene less fitted for joy. To the utmost
verge of the view spread the sands, a sullen herbless waste, glowing like
a sheet of brass in the almost vertical sun.

But I was on land! I had accomplished my purpose. Hope, the power of
exertion, the chances of glorious future life, were before me. I was
no longer a prisoner, within the borders of a spot which, for all the
objects of manly existence, might as well have been my grave.

I journeyed on by sun and star in that direction which, to the Jew, is
an instinct—to Jerusalem. Yet what fearful reverses, in this time of
confusion, might not have occurred even there! What certainty could I
have of being spared the bitterest losses, when sorrow and slaughter
reigned through the land? Was I to be protected from the storm, that fell
with such promiscuous fury upon all? I, too, the marked, the victim, the
example to mankind! I looked wistfully back to the isle—that isle of
oblivion.

[Sidenote: The Robber Camp]

While I was pacing the sand that actually scorched my feet, I heard a
cry, and saw on a low range of sand-hills, at some distance, a figure
making violent gestures. Friend or enemy, at least here was man, and I
did not deeply care for the consequences, even of meeting man in his
worst shape. Hunger and thirst might be more formidable enemies in the
end; and I advanced toward the half-naked savage, who, however, ran from
me, crying out louder than ever. I dragged my weary limbs after him,
and at length reached the edge of a little dell in which stood a circle
of tents. I had fallen among the robbers of the desert, but there was
evident confusion in this fragment of a tribe. The camels were in the act
of being loaded; men and women were gathering their household matters
with the haste of terror; and dogs, sheep, camels, and children set up
their voices in a general clamor.

Dreading that I might lose my only chance of refreshment and guidance, I
cried out with all my might, and hastened down toward them; but the sight
of me raised a universal scream, and every living thing took flight,
the horsemen of the colony gallantly leading the way, with a speed that
soon left the pedestrians far in the rear. But their invader conquered
only for food. I entered the first of the deserted tents, and indulged
myself with a full feast of bread, dry and rough as the sand on which it
was baked, and of water, only less bitter than that through which I had
swum. Still, all luxury is relative. To me they were both delicious, and
I thanked at once the good fortune which had provided so prodigally for
those withered monarchs of the sands, and had invested my raggedness with
the salutary terror that gave me the fruits of triumph without the toil.

[Sidenote: A Girl’s Appearance]

At the close of my feast, I uttered a few customary words of
thanksgiving. A cry of joy rang in my ears; I looked round; saw, to my
surprise, a bale of carpets walk forward from a corner of the tent, and
heard a Jewish tongue imploring for life and freedom. I rapidly developed
the speaker, and from this repulsive overture came forth one of the
loveliest young females that I had ever seen. Her story was soon told.
She was the granddaughter of Ananus,[41] the late high priest, one of
the most distinguished of his nation for every lofty quality; but he
had fallen on evil days. His resistance to faction sharpened the dagger
against him, and he perished in one of the merciless feuds of the city.
His only descendant was now before me; she had been sent to claim the
protection of her relatives in the south of Judea. But her escort was
dispersed by an attack of the Arabs, and in the division of the spoil
the sheik of this little encampment obtained her as his share. The
robber merchant was on his way to Cæsarea to sell his prize to the Roman
governor, when my arrival put his caravan to the rout. To my inquiry
into the cause of this singular success, the fair girl answered that the
Arabs had taken me for a supernatural visitant, “probably come to claim
some account of their proceedings in the late expedition.” They had been
first startled by the blaze in the island, which by a tradition of the
desert was said to be the dwelling of forbidden beings. My passage of the
channel was seen, and increased the wonder; my daring to appear alone,
among men whom mankind shunned, completed the belief of my more than
mortal prowess, and the Arabs’ courage abandoned a contest in which “the
least that could happen to them was to be swept into the surge, or tossed
piecemeal upon the winds.”

[Sidenote: The Sheik’s Shekels]

To prevent the effects of their returning intrepidity, no time was to
be lost in our escape. But the sun, which would have scorched anything
but a lizard or a Bedouin to death, kept us prisoners until evening. We
were actively employed in the mean time. The plunder of the horde was
examined, with the curiosity that makes one of the indefeasible qualities
of the fair in all climates; and the young Jewess had not been an inmate
of the tent, nor possessed the brightest eyes among the daughters of
women, for nothing. With an air between play and revenge, she hunted
out every recess in which even the art of Arab thievery could dispose
of its produce; and at length rooted up from a hole in the very darkest
corner of the tent that precious deposit for which the sheik would have
sacrificed all mankind, and even the last hair of his beard—a bag of
shekels. She danced with exultation as she poured the shining contents on
the ground before me.

“If ever Arab regretted his capture,” said she, “this most unlucky
of sheiks shall have cause. But I shall teach him at least one
virtue—repentance to the last hour of his life. I think that I see him at
this moment frightened into a philosopher, and wishing from the bottom of
his soul that he had, for once, resisted the temptation of his trade.”

“But what will you do with the money, my pretty teacher of virtue to
Arabs?”

“Give it to my preserver,” said she, advancing, with a look suddenly
changed from sportiveness to blushing timidity; “give it to him who was
sent by Providence to rescue a daughter of Israel from the hands of the
heathen.”

In the emotion of gratitude to me there was mingled a loftier feeling,
never so lovely as in youth and woman; she threw up a single glance to
heaven, and a tear of piety filled her sparkling eye.

“But, temptress and teacher at once,” said I, “by what right am I to
seize on the sheik’s treasury? May it not diminish my supernatural
dignity with the tribe to be known as a plunderer?”

“Ha!” said she, with a rosy smile; “who is to betray you but your
accomplice? Besides, money is reputation and innocence, wisdom and
virtue, all over the world.”

Touching, with the tip of one slender finger, my arm as it lay folded on
my bosom, she waved the other hand, in attitudes of untaught persuasion.

[Sidenote: A Maiden’s Philosophy]

“Is it not true,” pleaded the pretty creature, “that next to a crime
of our own is the being a party to the crime of others? Now, for what
conceivable purpose could the Arab have collected this money? Not for
food or clothing; for he can eat thistles with his own camel, and nature
has furnished him with clothing as she has furnished the bear. The haik
is only an encumbrance to his impenetrable skin. What, then, can he do
with money but mischief, fit out new expeditions, and capture other
fair maidens, who can not hope to find spirits, good or bad, for their
protectors? If we leave him the means of evil, what is it but doing
the evil ourselves? So,” concluded this resistless pleader, carefully
gathering up the spoil and putting it into my hands, “I have gained my
cause, and have now only to thank my most impartial judge for his patient
hearing.”

There is a magic in woman. No man, not utterly degraded, can listen
without delight to the accents of her guileless heart. Beauty, too, has
a natural power over the mind, and it is right that this should be.
All that overcomes selfishness—the besetting sin of the world—is an
instrument of good. Beauty is but melody of a higher kind, and both alike
soften the troubled and hard nature of man. Even if we looked on lovely
woman but as on a rose, an exquisite production of the summer hours of
life, it would be idle to deny her influence in making even those summer
hours sweeter. But as the companion of the mind, as the very model of a
friendship that no chance can shake, as the pleasant sharer of the heart
of heart, the being to whom man returns after the tumult of the day, like
the worshiper to a secret shrine, to revive his nobler tastes and virtues
at a source pure from the evil of the external world, where shall we find
her equal, or what must be our feelings toward the mighty Disposer of
earth, and all that inhabit it, but of admiration and gratitude for that
disposal which thus combines our fondest happiness with our purest virtue?