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And I shut the beauty from my sight,
From the bright air faded the warmth and light,
Then I heard the far-off rote resound,
And a subtle sense of Thought profound
And like a voice eternal spake
That wondrous rhythm, and 'Peace, be still!'
Life's rapture and life's ill,
And wait. At last all shall be clear.'
The long, low, mellow music rose
With infinite repose.
Sighing, I climbed the lighthouse stair,
Half forgetting my grief and pain;
I lit the lamps again."
Homeward bound from the group of islands, the talk of the voyagers so runs on matters connected with the history of the group, that for some time the swift progress of the yacht is not noticed. One questions if Captain John Smith, on his way along the coast in 1614, erected the pile of stones on Appledore. Another refers to the day when the population of the islands was much larger than at the present time; and the inhabitants, who were then engaged in the fishing business, were sufficiently enterprising to be connected with ships from Spain and other foreign countries in commercial relations. Still another tells a tale of the wreck of a Spanish ship on one of the reefs of the Shoals: which is followed by a fellow for his story from a companion at his elbow, — namely, that a ship from Spain, many years ago, was wrecked on Andrews' Point, between Dick's Dream and Chapin's Gully; that before she wholly went to pieces one of her masts fell over her bow upon the shore, so that all her crew were saved from the waves by passing over it to dry and substantial footing; and that, at intervals, since the ship was wrecked, villagers visiting the place of the disaster have there picked up Spanish silver dollars, which were very much worn from long tossing to and fro on the ledge beneath the furious breakers. Then is related by one, who never omits on fit occasions to mix the humorous with the grave, the story of the preacher who, in the olden time, once discoursing to the Isles of Shoals congregation, so aroused one of his hearers through the force of nautical speech, as to get from him such a response as he would have given a skipper on board a fisherman. The preacher was representing the case of the sinners before him as that of sailors on board a vessel in a storm. The picture was drawn with a bold hand. Torrents poured, and whirlwinds churned the sea. There seemed no space between the next ascent upon a billow and destruction upon an unyielding and merciless reef. At this point of imminent ruin, "What shall we do ? what shall we do?" cried the minister. Jack, who had weathered many a storm, and had not so long been an Isles of Shoals man without learning what would be the chance for life in the stress and strait so powerfully brought home to him, promptly answered, " Histe for's'il and jib, and scud for Squam, sir."
The moon rises, and the "multitudinous " waves turn to silver before her luminous disk; and the headland, toward which the yacht advances unerringly, lifts itself more and more above the sea, presenting its line of points and coves to the impartial ray spreading over sea and land from the earth's serene and constant satellite. At midnight, her precious freight being fanned by cool breezes, and cheered by the welcome of waves tapping the wharves and the hulls of sloops and schooners in the harbor, the stanch little craft arrives at her buoy, there to lie through the night in repose. The voyagers, too, thankful for the pleasures of the day without alloy, are soon in their places of rest. "All good is from above."
The distance to Straitsmouth Island being but three miles, and, after doubling Straitsmouth, to Thatcher's Island but two miles more, the whole course is under the eye of the village. Gliding out of the harbor, the yacht careens to the wind pressing her sails, and then onward shoots over the waves toward Straitsmouth lighthouse, as an arrow goes to its mark. The swift sailing is exhilarating. A few rods from the landing place in the Gut the sails are lowered and the anchor dropped. Then the shore is reached in a dory ; and the lighthouse at the other and outer end of the island, by a third of a mile walk. The view from the lantern, and the ramble from point to point, though mainly not differing from views and rambles on the bare heads and bluffs of the Cape across the narrow channel, are yet curious and strange in a degree, for being connected with an insulated spot. The island is so small that on any part of it, and which ever way the observer turns, the waves of the great sea are present in awful upheavings and dashings, or in gentle swirls among the rocks covered with kelp and moss, and in the stealthy creeping of the rising, and in the almost silent stealing away, of the falling tide. Here with the cleanness of rock and turf, with the wholesomeness of the air, and with the sense of boundless relationship, and of life without end, the heart sings understandingly "The Spell of the Sea: " —
"With moon and stars, at morn and eve,
In sunny wind or shower,
Willi joyous spells of power!
Oh, it is well sick men should go
Unto the royal sea;
Of its infinity.
My mother taught me how to love
The mystery of the sea;
Like a man's deep voice to me.
Then in my soul dim thoughts awoke,
She helped to set them free;
Though viewless, yet could be.
In gentle moods I love the hills,
Because they bound my spirit;
Immortal souls inherit."