Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

firmed in his conjecture that the apparition bore a substantial form. Still forward and downward he boldly rushed, till reaching an open area at the bottom, part of which was lighted by the moon, he plainly saw, at the distance of about thirty yards before him, the figure as of a tall man loosely enveloped in a prodigious cloak, gliding along the ground, and apparently making for a small bridge, which at this particular place crossed the drain of the North Loch, and served as a communication with the village called Mutries-Hill. He made directly for the fugitive, thinking to overtake him almost before he could reach the bridge. But what was his surprise, when, in a moment, the flying object vanished from his sight, as if it had sunk into the ground, and left him alone and objectless in his headlong pursuit. It was possible that it had fallen into some concealed well or pit, but this he was never able to discover. Bewildered and confused, he at length returned to the provost's house, and re-entered the apartment of the sick maiden. To his delight and astonishment he found her already in a visible state of convalescence, with a gradually deepening glow of health diffusing itself over her cheek. Whether his courage and fidelity had been the means of scaring away the evil demon, it is impossible to say; but certain it is, that the ravages of the plague began soon afterwards to decline in Edinburgh, and at length died away altogether.

The conclusion of this singular traditionary story bears, that the provost's daughter, being completely restored to health, was married to the foreigner who had saved her life. This seems to have been the result of an affection which they had conceived for each other during the period of her convalescence. The African, becoming joint-heir with his wife of the provost's vast property, abandoned his former piratical life; became, it is said, a douce presbyterian, and settled down for the remainder of his days in Edinburgh. The match turned out exceedingly well; and it is even said, that the foreigner became so assimilated with the people of Edinburgh, to whom he had proved so memorable a benefactor, that he held at one time an office of considerable civic dignity and importance. Certain it is, that he built for his residence a magnificent land near the head of the Canongate, upon the front of which he caused to be erected a statue of the emperor of Barbary, in testimony of the respect he still cherished for his native country; and this memorial yet remains in its original niche, as a subsidiary proof of the verity of the above relation.

DECEMBER.

Where lare the wild flower bloomed, the brown leaf lies;
Not even the snow-drop cheers the dreary plain:
The famished birds forsake each leafless spray,
And flock around the barn-yard's winnowing store.

Season of social mirth! of fireside joys!
I love thy shortened day, when, at its close,
The blazing tapers, on the jovial board,
Dispense o'er every care-forgetting face
Their cheering light, and round the bottle glides;
Now far be banished, from our social ring,
The party wrangle fierce, the argument
Deep, learned, metaphysical, and dull,
Oft dropt, as oft again renewed, endless:
Rather I'd hear stories twice ten times told,
Or vapid joke, filched from Joe Miller's page,
Or tale of ghost, hobgoblin dire, or witch:
Nor would I, with a proud fastidious frown,
Proscribe the laugh-provoking pun: absurd
Though't be, far-fetched, and hard to be discerned,
It serves the purpose, if it shake our sides.
Now let the circling wine inspire the song,
The catch, the glee; or list the melting lays
Of Scotia's pastoral vales,—they ever please.

Loud blows the blast; while, sheltered from its rage,
The social circle feel their joys enhanced.
Ah, little think they of the storm-tossed ship,
Amid the uproar of the winds and waves,
The waves unseen, save by the lightning's glare,
Or cannon's flash, sad signal of distress.
The trembling crew each moment think they feel
The shock of sunken rock ;—at last they strike:
Borne on the blast their dying voices reach,
Faintly, the sea-girt hamlet; help is vain:
The morning light discloses to the view
The mast alternate seen and hid, as sinks
Or heaves the surge. The early village maid
Turns pale, like clouds when o'er the moon they glide;
She thinks of her true love, far, far at sea;
Mournful, the live long day she turns her wheel,
And ever and anon her head she bends,
While with the flax she dries the trickling tear.

James Grahams. A TALE OF THE TIMES OF THE BUCCANEERS.

"Thus said the rover

To his gallant crew,
Up with the black flag-,

Down with the blue;
Fire on the main-top.

Fire on the bow,
Fire on the quarter-deck, Fire down below."

Old Ballad.

"Hist, Ben, hist; we must be hauling close on to it now; and, by the hookey, there's the very cross she spoke of, heaving in sight over those trees; so belay, lad, and bring your hull to anchor astern of that oak,—'twill keep you out of eye shot.".—" Ay, ay, sir; but I hope as how you won't be 'fended if I speak a bit of my mind, 'case, d'ye see, I don't think this here kind of coquetting with the crafts, near so taut a way of doin' it as to bear down and engage at once, and cut the little hooker out; and if she's for openin' fire, why a little lip-salve will soon make her lay-to and obey orders; but, workin'about this way, we may perhaps get hulled by one of those d—d pateraroes, and smite my timbers if I don't fancy that 'bout as much as short allowance."—" No, no, Ben, she must volunteer, no pressing for me; but are you sure the boat's within hail of our fusils?"—" Ay, ay, sir. All right there away a little to the nor'ard, close under the lee of that point."—" Away with you, then, to your berth, and here I go, full sail, on a sentimental tack. Hem! Hem!

"The soft breath of eve hath lull' d into night,
And soon the first blush of the dawning day
Will steep the young world in beautiful light,

And we must be off o'er the billows away.
Like down floats the spray on the ocean's breast,

And the moonlight there has a softer ray
No sound or alarm thy step shall molest,

Then, Lora, love, wake! my bark's in the bay.
Queen thou shalt be of a hundred brave hands!

They rule o'er the waves and the storms of the sen;
Thy word shall unsheathe a hundred keen brands,
The flag of thy empire to guard safe and free.
And I've left my native land,
And I've led mine own true band.
Through the tempest and the wave,
To win thee, or a grave,

Aed our nrehor's (tut, and our sail* arc furl'd,

And safely we ride

On the swelling tide
Of the silvery shores of another world."

'' Jesu Maria, signor, you here! For the love of the Virgin, hist! I ne'er thought to have seen you again. How came you?" "My good ship, Lora, dear, brought me on the wings of love, and the little god took the helm, and piloted us to this haven. Ever since I took you in the St Christopher, my heart has beat truly and fondly for you alone; and when I had to land you, and your old spoil-sport of an uncle, I thought I should have foundered. In the battle and the storm my thoughts still turned to thee, till at last, not being able to keep afloat without Lora for a consort, 1 left merry England, and bore away with every sail for this spot, and here I am, fast moored 'neath thy window. My boat waits on the edge of the shore, and two bells will place us safe on board; so slip your cable, love, with me, and we'll bend every rag for the port of matrimony."—" Alas ! Signor capitano, I know not what to do. My uncle was so hurt ata true son of the church being beat by a heretic Inglese, that he died soon after you so generously landed us, and ever since I've lived with my aunt like a caged bird, and she harasses me night and day to take the veil, but (Mary, mother, forgive me!) the form of an English sailor always flits between me and the cross. Would you always love me, if 1 were to go?"—" Ay would I, Lora, as true as the needle to the pole; and if ever I cease to love you, may I founder and be d—d the next time I set foot on salt water."—" I've half a mind to trust you Heigho! what shall I do?"—" See, love, fasten this rope to the balcony, and I'll be alongside you in the flash of a cutlass. Here, Ben, bear a hand, and stand by the rope. My arms, Lora, will bear you over the rail, and my cockswain will bring you safe to the ground, —so, quick, there's no time to lose. Are you all ready there below, Ben?"—"Ay, ay, sir.".—" Now, Lora, now—"—"Oh! you wretch! you vile, abominable girl!" burst like thunder on the ears of our lovers, and caused the sailor to drop his mistress, while in the act of raising her for their flight. The skipper turned, and close behind him beheld an antiquated dame, evidently on the wrong side of sixty, with every muscle of her face convulsed, and her eyes flashing with the rage and fury of her ardent country. "Our scheme's blown, Lora, dear; but never mind, you shall be mine still in spite of that old tar-barrel. 1 must sheer off instantly; but cheer up, my girl, and leave not this house to-morrow, whatever you may see or hear. Adieu, oldfireship! I'll be quits with you yet before another sun sets." So saying, he dropped from the balcony, and in a few moments our two adventurers were far in the shelter of the wood, holdlug on their way in the direction of the sea, whose long heavy boom could be distinctly heard in the stillness of the night. A half bell might have elapsed, when the skipper and his cockswain issued from the wood, and stood on the edge of the shore. "We must be near where we left the boat, Ben, though the night has fallen so dark I can't make it out at all. Give the signal." As the last sound of the whistle died across the water, the light dip of an oar could be plainly heard, and the gig of the buccaneer shot from under the shade of the rock 'neath which she had been concealed. A few strokes run her head dry on the sand. The sloop was soon gained, and the boat hoisted in. A finer vessel than the Fearless was not at that time afloat. She carried 18 eighteens, and was manned by a crew of a hundred and twenty men. Devoted to their leader, and bred in the lap of danger from their infancy, they laughed at the idea of peril, and dared all at his will.

It will now be necessary to take a short retrospect, in order to render our tale more clear and concise. On the evening of the 15th of April, 1698, the Fearless, commanded by William Belson, one of the most daring and gallant buccaneers of the time, cast anchor of! the mouth of the harbour of St Martha. The year before she had taken the St Christopher on her voyage from Spain to Carthagena. On board were Don Jachieno d'Alverez, and his niece, Donna Lora. The hardy son of the deep was soon the captive of the darkeyed daughter of Spain. Sailors love not as landsmen; with them the gale of passion bursts at once into a blaze, while the others require the cold calculating breath of prudence to fan it into a flame. The soft tale was whispered and heard with pleasure, and Belson soon learned her whole story. Her father and mother had long been dead, and the happy years of her girlhood had been passed under the roof oi her uncle, in the outskirts of the town of St Martha. They were returning from a visit to their relatives in the Old World, when they were taken by the Fearless. Lora vowed she loved him, but would not leave her uncle; he'd been to her as a father. Every landmark of their residence was soon noted in the sailor's log. He swore he'd be there in a twelvemonth. The time came for their parting, and they were landed near St Leon, and the Spaniard was thunderstruck at the heretic buccaneer's refusal of a ransom. He had never heard of such a thing before, and it haunted him as a mystery till the day of his death. Belson returned to England rich enough to have lain up in dock, if he had wished it, but the thought of Lora sent him from his native land once more across the wave; and the events we have above described took place. One word more, and our tale—"quite true, I assure you, sweet miss or ma

« AnteriorContinuar »