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The RE was an old and quiet man, And by the fire sate he ; “And now,” he said, “to you I'll tell A dismal thing, which once befel In a ship upon the sea.
“”Tis five-and-fifty years gone by,
“She was a trim, stout-timbered ship,
“ For forty days, like a winged thing,
She went before the gale,
Turn'd helm, or alter'd sail.
“ She was a laden argosy
Of wealth from the Spanish main, And the treasure hoards of a Portuguese.
Returning home again.
“ An old and silent man was he,
And his face was yellow and lean ; In the golden lands of Mexico
A miner he had been.
“ His body was wasted, bent, and bowed
And amid his gold he lay; Amid iron chests that were bound with brass
And he watched them night and day.
“ No word he spoke to any on board,
And his step was heavy and slow; And all men deemed that an evil life
He had led in Mexico.
“ But list ye me-on the lone high seas,
As the ship went smoothly on,
I sate on the deck alone;
A sound like a dying groan.
“ I started to my feet, and, lo!
The captain stood by me;
And dropped it in the sea.
“ I heard it drop into the sea,
With a heavy, splashing sound,
As he quickly turned him round;
“ But I saw his white and palsied lips,
And the stare of his ghastly eye, When he turned in hurried haste away,
Yet he had no power to fly; He was chained to the deck with his heavy guilt,
And the blood that was not dry.
« « 'Twas a cursed thing,' said I, - to kill
That old man in his sleep! And the plagues of the storm will come from him,
Ten thousand fathoms deep!
" • And the plagues of the storm will follow us,
For Heaven his groans hath heard ! Still the captain's eye was fixed on me,
But he answer'd never a word.
“ And he slowly lifted his bloody hand,
His aching eyes to shade; But the blood that was wet did freeze his soul,
And he shrinked like one afraid.
“ And even then—that very hour
The wind dropped, and a spell Was on the ship,—was on the sea ; And we lay for weeks, how wearily,
Where the old man's body fell.
“ I told no one within the ship
That horrid deed of sin ;
And punishment begin.
“ And when they spoke of the murdered man,
And the El Dorado hoard,
And had fallen overboard.
“ But I, alone, and the murderer,
That dreadful thing did know,
" And many days, and many more
Came on, and lagging sped ;
Were dark, like molten lead.
“ And not a breeze came, east or west,
And burning was the sky;
Of the air so hot and dry.
" Oh me! there was a smell of death
Hung round us night and day;
Where the old man's body lay.
" In his cabin, alone, the captain kept,
And he bolted fast the door;
And wish'd that the calm was o'er.
“ The captain's son was on board with us,
A fair child, seven years old,
And a spirit kind and bold.
“ I loved the child,—and I took his hand,
And made him kneel, and pray That the crime, for which the calm was sent,
Might be purged clean away.
“ For I thought that God would hear his prayer,
And set the vessel free;
Upon that charnel sea.
“ Yet I told him not wherefore he prayed,
Nor why the calm was sent ;
To a soul so innocent.
" At length I saw a little cloud
Arise in that sky of flame ;
“And we saw the sea beneath its track
“And all around, 'twixt sky and sea,
“I knew it was that fierce death calm
“There was a yell in the gathering winds,
“He seized each rope with a madman's haste,
“And away they went, like autumn leaves
“The men to spars and splintered boards
“And 'mid the creaking timber's din,
“There was a curse in the wind that blew,