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Indeed, he had a right to be proud of his vessel, for she was a beautiful model, and
_"Walked the waters like a thing of life,
And seemed to dare the elements to strife.” In an hour I thought every passenger but myself had retired for the night. Two other beings however still lingered behind-a fair maiden and her lover. They were seated near each other on the aster deck, and conversing in that low and tender tone of voice, which seems to be inseparable from persons standing in the relation they did to each other. I was so situated that without designing to do so, I could not help overhearing the concluding portion of their conversation. "I admit my own Annie,” said the youth that it is time I permitted you to retire to repose; to that sweet rest which ever attends the pure in heart, and from which they always awake with renewed zest for the pleasures and enjoyments of a new day; but still I feel more unwilling than ever I felt to part from you; for strange and overwhelming forebodings have haunted me all day, that this is to be our last meeting in life. In vain have / summoned all my philosophy, to drive away the omenous thought; it keeps constantly recurring, and frights away every ray of hope and peace.” “My dear Charles," replied the maiden, dispel the cloud from your brow. Why should you despond? We are both in health and you cannot doubt my affection. We shall meet again to-morrow, and then let me sce your face radient with smiles.” And she added, while she pressed his hand between both of hers—"There is one above, able and willing to save. In Him put your trust and pray for strength to overcome the sad omen. In a few days we shall reach our home, and then we shall be wedded and part no more while life and being lasts.” The ardent lover kissed the alabaster forehead of his affianced, and attended her to her place of rést. They had indeed as he feared, met and parted—for the last time.
On my way to my birth, I passed through the forward cabin, and there found seated around a table four persons engaged at a game of cards. Two of them I knew to be professed gamblers, for I had seen them before in Mobile, where they had narrowly escaped “lynch law,” for cheating some of the citizens out of a large sum of money. The other two were young men of fortune, just commen. cing their travels, to see the country. All wore the gari and had the appearance of gentlemen. The play at the beginning was for small stakes, and avowedly wholly for amusement, and the novices almost invariably won. But the luck began to change, the spirit of the game had now taken full possession of the young men, and the bets were constantly doubled. The poor dupes seemed all unconscious of foul play, and earnestly insisted on playing for larger and still larger sums, which after much importunity the gamblers with seeming reluctance agreed to, while a cold smile of fiendish trium h glittered in their eyes. The young gentlemen were indulging freely in brandy and champaign, while the gamblers drank nothing but
water. I soon became disgusted with the scene, and left them while engaged in a game upon the result of which each man had staked his thousand dollars! I gained my place of repose and was soon in the land of dreams.
I could not have been in bed more than half an hour, before I was aroused from my slumbers, by a violent concussion, which threw me entirely out of my berth, while my ears were deafened by the screams and cries of men, women and children, in all the agonies of fear and despair. Without taking time to put on half my clothes, I ran upon deck to ascertain the cause of the wild uproar, and found that the starboard boiler had exploded, that the boat was shattered to pieces a mid-ships, while the sea was rushing in and fast sinking her. An ocean grave appeared yawning for us all, for we were thirty miles from land, and the small boats even if they had been in good condition, which they were not, for one of them in spite of every effort to save her sunk immediately upon being placed on the water, would not have contained a fifth part of the persons on board. And there was great danger of overloading them as every one was anxious to be taken into them. I had no fear of immediate death for myself, for in the days of my boyhood, I had learned to float upon the wave for hours, and could swim across my native river, where it was several miles wide. But my alarm for my sister's safety was intense. I sought, found her, and in the midst of the confusion placed her on board one of the boats, which was under the command of the mate. I never saw her more-she was drowned in the attempt to land when the boat reached the shore. The pedlar was among the first to claim passage in one of the boats, and would have obtained it, had it not been for his
boat which was fully in his reach, but the weight of his gold pulled him back, and he fell headlong into the sea, to rise no more until that great day of accounts, when the gold of this world shall be as dross, and when a good deed shall outweigh the wealth of both the Indias. Shortly after the boats had left the wreck, the forward part of the ship overloaded by the weight of the machinary, which rested upon it, separated from the after part, and went suddenly down, carrying with it fifty or sixty human beings, while at the same time the after part rolled over, and washed off all who were clinging to it for support. And now came the most dreadful period of the fatal catastrophe. I found myself in the water, surrounded by a multitude of wailing and drowning wretches in their last agony; and was seized upon by three women at once, in the vain hope that I could save them, and all my efforts seemed unavailing to free' myself from their grasp. In the struggle I found my strength fast tailing me, and could think only of one way to preserve my own life. Horrible alternative! I plunged down deep into the sea, and held my breath, until one by one I felt the hold of the poor women relax, and they all sunk beneath me. I thought then, and still think myself justifiable in the course I adopted for self-preservation, and
retting in thus fred but ong
yet almost nightly in my dreams, the dreadful scene is acted over again; and I awake regretting the fatal necessity which prompted the revolting expedient. After thus freeing myself from the poor women, l arose to the surface, breathed but once, then sank again and swam under the water until I was clear of the drou ping mass of human beings about the wreck, then turned around to look at the scene. The sea was rolling over the dead, and all was fearfully still. Without a hope of ultimate safety I swam out towards the land and fortunately came in contact with a hatch capable of bearing my weight which had floated from the wreck. At this time I could see nothing of the boats or broken ship; but close on my right I observed a spar with a human being hanging upon it. We saw each other at the same time, and made mutual efforts to come together in which we finally succeeded. A piece of rigging was attached to the spar, and with this we fastened the hatch upon it, and secured ourselves from being washed off by the sea. We had been strangers until now, but were to be so no more during life; for votaing is so calculated to create lasting friendship as muiual danger and suffering. We were almost naked, and although it was in ihe midst of summer, from being long in the water so enervated, that the spray of the sea, every time it broke over us, sent a chill of icy coldness to our hearts. When the day appeared, we could see the ravening shark following in our wake, watching the time when we should lose our hold to devour us; and the birds of prey were hovering over unwilling to wait until we should die, before they began their repast.
A second day, and a second night passed away, and we were still on our fragile raft, and out of sight of ship or shore. Hunger and thirst were fast doing their office, and we hoped for no relief to our sufferings except in death; of which we for sometime talked calmly and resignedly and then ceased to speak altogether. For the next twelve hours we exchanged not a word; for what topics of conversation remained for us—we were done with the world and the things of the world. We had lost all hope, and nearly the de. sire of living, when early on the morning of the third day we caught a glimpse of the land, apparently within a mile of us; and both simultaneously exclaimed, “we may yet be saved!” for we appear. ed to be nearing it fast, and the breeze was in our favor. It soon however became entirely calm and the tide set us again out to sea, and again we were in despair. About three o'clock in the afternoon a violent thunder storm arose, and the wind blew fiercely directly upon the land. In a few minutes we were dashed ashore among rocks and shells, which greatly bruised and lacerated our flesh. But I knew it not; for I was wholly unconscious of existance, and so remained as I was afterwards told for the next twenty-four hours. When I returned again to life and opened my eyes to the light of day, every object before me appeared red! blood red! and my brain seemed seared as if with a hot iron! Slowly however, every thing regained its natural hue, and in about two weeks I was able to rise and walk across the room. I had been found on the beach with my companion and several other sufferers, by the noble hearted and generous Mr.
R o f North Carolina, living near the coast, and carried to his house, where able physicians, tender nurses, and the best of nourishment were provided for us, and to which we owe our recovery. May he reap his reward in heaven for his kindness. He would receive no reward from us.
It is strange to what a state of emaciation I was reduced, and was still able to survive. In health, my weight is about one hundred and seventy pounds, yet after my arrival at home, and after I had been able to walk for several weeks, I weighed only eighty pounds.
M: narrative draws to a close. I will but briefly notice the fate of a few persons, who were on board the ill fated P , and then make an end of the painful tale. The captain, when I saw and conversed with him on the night of the accident, was keeping his last watch. No one ever saw him after the fatal disaster. The gamblers and their dupes were sitting so immediately in contact with the boiler when it exploded, that they were instantly suffocated by the steam, while in loud and angry controversy, about the result of a game upon which the latter had staked their last dollar. And the victors and the victims, and the gold which they won and lost, all lie together "down in the deep, deep sea.”
The lover realized the worst of his fears. He was among the first who found an ocean grave. The fair, the gentle and confiding Annie, was rescued from the wreck and reached her home; but neither tongue nor pen has power to describe the feelings of the heart-broken maiden. Like one berest of every stay—of every tie to life, she wandered about silent and alone, as if she held neither affinity or consanguinity to human kind. She seemed to have forgotten her nearest and dearest friends. The endearments of sympathy and the overflowings of affection moved her not. She looked upon all persons, and all things with a calm, cold, and vacant eye, as if she saw them not. At last her strength failed her, and she took to her hed. She seemed unconscious of all that was said to her and ceased to speak altogether. The rose left her cheek, but her faultless features, and the transparent whiteness of her cornplexion, were so lovely even in decay, that she appeared like a peerless piece of statuary, fashioned by some master hand, to represent the queen of beauty. Days, weeks, and months passed away, and she still lived on unchanged and seemingly unchanging. Her family and friends resorted to every gentle expedient to arouse her from her stupor, but in vain. At last her sister bethought her of singing to the sufferer, the songs they sang together in their early days. At first she paid no attention, but while her sister was chanting forth, one which spoke of faithful love, of crushed affections, and blighted hopes, she raised her head from her pillow and joined in the music, but not in the words of the song. In a sweet but tremulous voice, and in a wild unearthly strain, she sang of dangers, shipwreck, and the death of her lover, buried deep in the caves of ocean, amid purple flags, and coral groves, where the mermaids were watching and weeping over him. After this she regained gradually her senses, but never more mentioned him, for whom life, alone was dear. In a few days she ceased to exist, and they laid her body in the family vault.
Thus ends the sad history of a fatal catastrophe, in which perished many of the talented, the wealthy, the brave, and the fair, of our land. If for nothing else, I hope my narrative may find favor for its truth; and that those who read it, may ever remember that, “in the midst of life we are in death."
THE SUN TO THE EARTH, ON THE DAWN OF MORNING,
BY THOMAS RAGG.
Let the mountains smile, and the hills look gay,
The beams of the bright returning day,
Put forth their song to the morning breeze,
In forms like the dreamer's phantasies.
With music's sweetest, gladdest sound;
And tell his joy to the heavens around.
Be gladly turned to the Eastern sphere
To see my beams of brilliance near.