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We seemed about equally divided on the point, nobody sayin' nothin' about the young chap what had just preached.
On the Wednesday night there was to be a Church Meeting to settle about electin' one on 'em; but none of us knowed when we separated that Sunday night how wery soon our choice was to be made.
I reckon that Sunday night will never be forgotten, mister, so long as this 'ere place has got a boat on the water, or a house on the shore; the night of the great storm, we call it, when the Spanish “San Pedro ” went to pieces.
I 'ad a look out to sea accordin' to custom afore I turned in, and I see a wessel in the offing, which I made out to be a London-bound ship I didn't much like the look of things, and I said a bit of a prayer for all poor chaps afloat and in danger that night.
Well, sir, an old sailor like me always sleeps with one eye open, so when the winds began to gather strong, and the waves to tumble and roll, and dash agin the jetty there, I woke up. By-and-by the wind got higher and higher, rattlin' the winder-panes, shriekin' and 'owlin'. and the sound of the risin' waves got louder and louder. All of a sudden I thought of that ship I had seen passing, and out I jumped from my bunk into my clothes, clapped on a sou’-wester, and made for the beach.
Heaven save us, what a night it was! You see the black rock out there, sir? Well, you've never seen that covered since you've been 'ere, I know, and you might stop for years and never see it covered; but that night the great black waves were beatin' right over the top, and bang across the jetty. The sky was just as black as ink, and the wind blowin' at last fit to wake the dead. By-and-by, crack, blaze, crack went the lightnin', and boom, boom, boom, followed the thunder, the awful sound pealin' above our heads, and seemin' to roll away over that dreadful sea. Almost all the men and women in the place were on the beach, and even little chil'len ’ad crept
away from home, and were clingin' to their mothers' gowns.
The first flash had showed us an awful sight-a ship, part of 'er riggin' all entangled on 'er deck, driftin' straight on for the rocks. Nought on earth could help 'er—there she was-a noble, handsome craft, drivin' right askore, drivin' fast and sure into the jaws of death! Only the Hand of God itself put out from Heaven could keep 'er off. The women and chil’len were weepin'—weepin' for brave men to die, for sailors' wives to be made widows, and sailors' little ones made orphans that night; and many a man's true heart, as we stood there grimly silent, was wild with sorrow at its own helplessness.
Just as another flash of lightnin' lit up the scene, she struck with a great shiverin' shock; wild cries from the wreck were borne to the shore, and the women shuddered and fell on their knees, while from man to man went the question: “ Can we do nothing—nothing to help them now?” But what could we do? We hadn't got no lifeboat then, sir, or no rockets or such-like apparatus, and we knowed that none of our boats could live in a sea like that; while as to swimming off to the wreck-no wonder that even brave hearts quailed a bit, though a rope 'ad been fetched and was lying handy. All at once I heard a noise behind and turns round. A lot of lanterns had been lit, and I could see everything pretty plainly. Clingin' together in the background was still the women and chil’len, between them and us was two of the parsons -the poetical one on 'is knees, and tother one, 'is hat blown clean away and 'is bumps all wisible, was 'oldin' on tight to a jetty post, and giving went to the doctrine that it was God Almighty's will the poor fellows in the wreck should perish. As I said afore, every bale man in the place seemed on the beach; but I didn't see the young preacher chap of that evenin', as I found afterwards had gone to a farm a little way up country. But just as I was thinkin' of 'im I see 'im comin', makin' with quick, hasty strides towards the water. With a light spring he jumps down on to the beach and straight on, 'is mouth set firm and steady, and 'is face all glowin' with a light
which wasn't on it in the pulpit-straight on, lookin’ neither to port nor starboard, but straight for'ard.
" Stand aside, women!”
Calm and cool he orders them, and to right and left they scatter.
Straight on he comes—past the poetical parson on 'is knees, and the doctrinal one a-'anging to the jetty poston to where we men was standin'—and then off he flings 'is bat and coat and boots, and takes 'old of the rope; as though in a moment he understands all. “Lads, bear a hand!”
But now we crowd round ’im, crying, “You shall not
With 'is own hands he fixes on the rope to 'is body, wavin' us off as we press round 'im, and then givin' one look towards the wreck, and one look-bright and quick -up to heaven, he takes a step back, and then: “Stand aside, lads !”
With a great rush everybody presses for’ard to the water's edge, and with bated breath and strainin' eyes we watch the strugglin' swimmer. Beaten, buffeted, bruised, tossed hither and thither-can he ever reach the ship? To us on shore it seems impossible. But God Himself, sir, must have filled that brave young man with strength for 'is daring deed—for see! strugglin' hard, though not 80 strongly as at first, for 'is limbs must be all numb and weary now, and per’aps even 'is heart is giving waysee; he is getting a little nearer Nearer still0 God support 'im! Still nearer, still a little nearer; and the poor foreign fellows on the "San Pedro " are crowdin' over the side, cheerin' 'im on with wild and thankful cries.
But we on shore are silent still, for our hearts are too full for word or shout. But at last we break that silence -break it with a shout ! can almost hear yet—such a “ Hurrah !” as I never heard afore or since—for at last the swimmer has reached the ship and a great wave flings 'im almost on board; and we make out many hands stretched forth to help ’im over the ship's side. The women were cryin' for joy now—aye, and many a rough
fisher-chap drawed 'is sleeve across ’is eyes to brush away tears he need never ha' been ashamed of.
Well, sir, every man on that wessel, which turned out to be a London-bound Spaniard, was saved. One arter another they come ashore, and such a set-out I never did see, for blest if they didn't want to kiss and 'ug us as though we 'ad all been a parcel of women together.
Bruised and pale, with blood still a-tricklin' from a great gash in 'is head, where he must ha' struck the rocks, at last there came ashore young Parson Brown, and men, women, and chil'len, all eager to see 'is face or touch 'is hand, crowded round him.
“Lads,” says old Cockles, “I can't say much, but what 1 do say is"—and he takes old tight o' young Brown's hand. God bless Our Minister!"
“Hooroar! God bless Our Minister!
“ Hooroar !" I yells, and then, dreadful excited, I walks up to the Reverend Halgernon Sydney Crackles, and I says: “Poetry he blowed! Hooroar!"
Just then I caught sight o' that there Tubbs. He also were labourin' under dreadful emotion, 'is little fat body a-heavin', and puffin' and tremblin'. All of a sudden he starts for’ard, pantin', and makin' straight for poor Duster, he shakes 'is little fist in the gentl’man's face, and hollers
“ Doctrine be blowed!" “God bless Our Minister, Hooroar!” That was the way we elected a parson that time, sir.
From “Queer Fish' by kind permission of the Author.
THE DREAM OF EUGENE ARAM.
BY THOMAS HOOD.
'Twas in the prime of summer time,
An evening calm and cool,
Came bounding out of school:
Like troutlets in a pool.
Away they sped with gamesome miuds,
And souls untouched by sin;
They drave the wickets in:
Over the town of Lynn.
And shouted as they ran-
As only boyhood can :
A melancholy man!
To catch heaven's blessed breeze;
And his bosom ill at ease : So he leaned his head on his hands, and read
The book between his knees! Leaf after leaf he turned it o'er,
Nor ever glanced aside;
In the golden eventide:
And pale, and leaden-eyed.
With a fast and fervent grasp
And fixed the brazen hasp:
the mead, then down the mead,
That pored upon a book!