Imatges de pÓgina
[ocr errors]

near sundown at that season. I went were ever going to get into the Atlantic. to dear old Frank Chaney, - the jolli- May be they had never heard of the est of jolly Englishmen, who was acting Ocean or of the Monthly. Can that be quartermaster-general, — and told him possible ? Frank nodded, and I. He I must have transportation. I can see filled up with more Tunisian, beckoned him and hear him now, as he sat to an orderly, and we walked down to on his barrel head, smoked his vile the landing-jetty to meet them. Tunisian tobacco in his beloved short “ Viva Italia !shouted Frank, as meerschaum, which was left to him they drew near enough to hear. ever since he was at Bonn, as he pre- “ Viva Garibaldi !! " cried the skiptended, a student with Prince Albert. per, as he let his sheet fly and rounded He did not swear, I don't think he to the well-worn stones.

A good voyever did. But he looked perplexed age had they made of it, he and his two enough to swear. And very droll was brown, ragged boys. Large fish and the twinkle of his eye. The truth was, small, pink fish, blue, yellow, orange, that every sort of a thing that would striped fish and mottled, wriggled tosail, and every wretch of a fisherman gether, and fapped their tails in the well that could sail her, had been, as he of the little boat. There were even too knew, and as I knew, sent off that very many to lie there and wriggle. The morning to rendezvous at Carrara, for bottom of the boat was well covered the contingent which we were hoping with them, and, if she had not shipped had slipped through Cavour's pretended waves enough to keep them cool, the neutrality. And here was an order for boy Battista had bailed a plenty on him to furnish me “ transportation" in them. Father and son hurried on shore, exactly the opposite direction.

and Battista on board began to fling “ Do you know of anything, yourself, the scaly fellows out to them. Fred?” said he.

A very small craft it was to double “ Not a coffin,” said I.

all those capes in, run the straits, and “ Did the chief suggest anything?" stretch across the bay. If it had been “ Not a nutshell,” said I.

mine “to make reply,” I should un“ Could not you go by telegraph ?” doubtedly have made this, that I would said Frank, pointing up to the dumb see the quartermaster hanged, and his old semaphore in whose tower he had superiors, before I risked myself in any established himself. “Or has not the such rattletrap. But as, unfortunately, chief got a wishing carpet? Or can't it was mine to go where I was sent, I you ride to Gallipoli ? Here are some merely set the orderly to throwing out excellent white-tailed mules, good fish with the boys, and began to talk enough for Pindar, whom Colvocores- with the father. sis has just brought in from the mon- Queer enough, just at that inoment, astery. Transportation for one!' there came over me the feeling that, as there anything to be brought back ? a graduate of the University, it was my Nitre, powder, lead, junk, hard-tack, duty to put up those red, white, and mules, horses, pigs, polenta, or olla po- blue scaly fellows, who were fopping drida, or other of the stores of war ?” about there so briskly, and send them

No; there was nothing to bring back in alcohol to Agassiz. But there are so except myself. Lucky enough if I came many duties of that kind which one back to tell my own story. And so we neglects in a hard-worked world! As a walked up on the tower deck to take a graduate, it is my duty to send annually look.

to the College Librarian a list of all the Blessed St. Lazarus, chief of Naples graduates who have died in the town I and of beggars ! a little felucca was just live in, with their fathers and mothers' rounding the Horse Head and coming names, and the motives that led them into the bay, wing-wing. The fisher- to College, with anecdotes of their camen in her had no thought that they reer, and the date of their death. There

both capes,

It was

are two thousand three hundred and we were stretching out, under the twiforty-five of them I believe, and I have light, across the little bay. never sent one half - anecdote about No! I spare you the voyage. Sybaone! Such failure in duty made me ris is what we are after, all this time, grimly smile as I omitted to stop and if we can only get there. Very easy it put up these fish in alcohol, and as I would be for me to give you cheap scholplied the unconscious skipper with in- arship from the Æneid, about Palinurus quiries about his boat. “Had she ever and Scylla and Charybdis. Neither been outside ?" “O signor, she had' Scylla nor Charybdis bothered me, been outside this very day. You can

as we passed wing-wing between them not catch tonno till you have passed before a smart north wind. I had a

- least of all such fine fish little Hunter's Virgil with me, and read as that is,” — and he kicked the poor the whole voyage, — and confused Batwretch. Can it be true, as C- says, tista utterly by trying to make him rethat those dying flaps of theirs are ex- member something about Palinuro, of quisite luxury to them, because for the whom he had never heard. first time they have their fill of oxygen? much as I afterwards asked my negro “ Had he ever been beyond Peloro?" waiter at Fort Monroe about General “O yes, signor ; my wife, Caterina, was Washington at Yorktown.

“ Never herself from Messina,”.

and on great

heard of him, sir, — was he in the saints' days they had gone there often. Regular army?” So Battista thought Poor fellow, his great saint's day sealed Palinuro must have fished in the Italian his fate. I nodded to Frank, --- Frank fleet, with which the Sicilian boatmen nodded to me,

- and Frank blandly in- were not well acquainted. Messina formed him that, by order of General made no objections to us. Perhaps, if Garibaldi, he would take the gentle- the sloop of war which lay there had man at once on board, pass the strait known who was lying in the boat under with him, " and then go where he tells her guns, I might not be writing these

words to-day. Battista went ashore, got The Southern Italian has the reputa- lemons, macaroni, hard bread, polenta, tion, derived from Tom Moore, of being for themselves, the Giornale di Messia coward. When I used to speak at na for me, and more Tunisian ; and, school,

not to lose that splendid breeze, we “Ay, down to the dust with them, slaves as they

cracked on all day, passed Reggio,

hugged the shore bravely, though it stamping my foot at “dust,” I certain- was rough, ran close under those ly thought they were a very mean crew. cliffs which are the very end of the But I dare say that Neapolitan school- Apennines, — will it shock the modest boys have some similar school piece reader if I say the very toe-nails of the about the risings of Tom Moore's Italian foot ? — hauled more and more countrymen, which certainly have not eastward, made Spartivento blue in been much more successful than the the distance, made it purple, made it poor little Neapolitan revolution which brown, made it green, still running he was pleased to satirize. Somehow admirably, ten knots an hour we or other, Victor Emanuel is, at this must have got between four and five hour, king of Naples. Coward or not, that afternoon, - and by the time the this fine fellow of a fisherman did not lighthouse at Spartivento was well flinch. It is my private opinion that he ablaze we were abreast of it, and might was not nearly as much afraid of the begin to haul more northward, so that, enterprise as I was. I made this ob- though we had a long course before us, servation at the moment with some we should at last be sailing almost disatisfaction, sent Frank's man up to rectly towards our voyage's end, Gallimy lodgings with a note ordering my poli. own traps sent down, and in an hour At that moment as in any sea often


are !"

happens, if you come out from the more had rebelled and were drifting westland-locked channel into the larger bodyward, — and so it seemed; or this of water — the wind appeared to change. steady southwest gale was giving out ; Really, I suppose, we came into the or, as I said before, we had come into steady southwest wind which had prob- the sweep of a current even stronger, ally been drawing all day up toward pouring from the Levantine shores of the Adriatic. In two hours more we the Mediterranean full up the Gulf made the lighthouse of Stilo, and I was of Tarentum. Not ten minutes after then tired enough to crawl down into the skipper spoke, it was clear enough the fearfully smelling little cuddy, and, to both of us that the boat must go wrapping Battista's heavy storm-jacket about, whether we wanted to or not, round my feet, I caught some sort of and we waked the other boy, to send sleep.

him forward, before we accepted the But not for very long. I struck my necessity. Half asleep, he got up, watch at three in the morning. And courteously declined my effort to help the air was so unworthy of that name, him by me as he crossed the boat, - it was such a thick paste, seeming to stepped round on the gunwale behind me more like a mixture of tar and oil me as I sat, and then, either in a and fresh fish and decayed fish and lurch or in some misstep, caught his bilge-water than air itself, — that I voted foot in the tiller as his father held it three morning, and crawled up into the firm, and pitched down directly behind clear starlight, - how wonderful it was, Battista himself, and, as I thought, and the fresh wet breeze that washed into the sea. I sprang to leeward my face so cheerily ! - and I bade Bat- to throw something after him, and tista take his turn below, while I found him in the sea indeed, but hangwould lie there and mind the helm. If ing by both hands to the gunwale, - if he had done what I proposed, I safe enough, and in a minute, with suppose I should not be writing these Battista's help and mine, on board lines ; but his father, good fellow, said : again. I remember how pleased I “No, signor, not yet. We leave the was that his father did not swear at shore now for the broad bay, you see ; him, but only laughed prettily, and and if the wind haul southward, we may bade him be quick, and step forward ; need to go on the other tack. We will and then, turning to the helm, which all stay here, till we see what the deep- he had left free for the moment, he sea wind may be.” So we lay there, hum- did not swear indeed, but he did cry ming, singing, and telling stories, still “Santa Madre!” when he found there this rampant southwest wind behind, as no tiller there. The boy's foot if all the powers of the Mediterranean had fairly wrenched it, not only from meant to favor my mission to Gallipoli. his father's hand, but from the rudderThe boat was now running straight be- head, — and it was gone ! fore it. We stretched out bravely into We held the old fellow firmly by his the gulf; but, before the wind, it was feet and legs, as he lay over the stern astonishing how easily the lugger ran. of the boat, head down, examining the He said to me at last, however, that on condition of the rudder-head. The that course we were running to leeward report was not favorable. I renewed of our object; but that it was the best the investigation myself in the same point for his boat, and if the wind held, uncomfortable attitude. The phosphohe would keep on so an hour longer, rescence of the sea was but an unsteady and trust to the land breeze in the light, but light enough there was to morning to run down the opposite shore reveal what daylight made hardly more of the bay.

certain, that the wrench which had “ If” again.

The wind did not been given to the rotten old fixtures, keep on. Either the pole-star, and shaky enough at best, had split the the dipper, and all the rest of them, head of the rudder, so that the pintle


you have.

hung but loosely in its bed, and that him, and his brothers and his cousins, there was nothing available for us to never to be lured to make a voyage rig a jury-tiller on. This discovery, as there, and never to run for those coves, it became more and more clear to each though schools of golden fish should of us four in succession, abated suc- lead the way. It was not till this mocessively the volleys of advice which ment, that, trying to make him look we were offering, and sent us back to

upon the map, I read myself there the our more quiet “ Santa Madres” or to words, at the mouth of the Crathis meditations on “what was next to best." River, “Sybaris Ruine."

Meanwhile the boat was flying, un- Surely enough, this howling Eurocder the sail she had before, straight be- lydon — for Euroclydon it now was fore the wind, up the Gulf of Tarentum. was bearing me and mine directly

If you cannot have what you like, it to Sybaris ! is best, in a finite world, to like what And here was this devout old fisher

And while the old man man confirming the words of Smith's brought up from the cuddy his wretched Dictionary, when it said that nobody and worthless stock of staves, rope

had been there and returned, for genends, and bits of iron, and contemplated eration upon generation. them ruefully, as if asking them which At a dozen knots an hour, as things would like to assume the shape of a were, I was going to Sybaris ! Nor rudder-head and tiller, if his fairy was I many hours from it. For at that godmother would appear on the top moment we cannot have been more of the mast for a moment, I was ply- than five-and-thirty miles from the ing the boys with questions, - what beach, where, in less than four hours, would happen to us if we held on at Euroclydon flung us on shore. this tearing rate, and rushed up the The memory of the old green settees, bay to the head thereof. The boys and of Hutchinson and Wheeler and knew no more than they knew of Pa- the other Latin-school boys, sustained linuro. Far enough, indeed, were we me beneath the calamity which imfrom their parish. The old man at pended. Nor do I think at heart the last laid down the bit of brass which boys felt so bad as their father about he had saved from some old waif, the djins and the devils, the powers and listened to me as I pointed out to of the earth and the powers of the air. them on my map the course we were Is there, perhaps, in the youthful mind, making, and, without answering me a rather a passion for “ seeing the folly” word, fell on his knees and broke into of life a little in that direction ? None most voluble

prayer, — only inter- the less did we join him in rigging out rupted by sobs of undisguised agony. the longest sweep we had aft, lashing The boys were almost as much sur- it tight under the little rail which we had prised as I was. And as he prayed been leaning on, and trying gentle exand sobbed, the boat rushed on! periments, how far this extemporized

Santa Madre, San Giovanni, and rudder might bring the boat round to Sant'Antonio, - we needed all their the wind. Nonsense the whole. By help, if it were only to keep him qui- that time Euroclydon was on us, so et; and when at last he rose from his that I would never have tried to put knees, and came to himself enough to her about if we had had the best gear I tend the sheets a little, I asked, as ever handled, and our experiments only modestly as I could, what put this succeeded far enough to show that we keen edge on his grief or his devotions. were as utterly powerless as men could Then came such stories of hobgoblins, be. Meanwhile day was just beginning witches, devils, giants, elves, and fairies, to break. I soothed the old man with at this head of the bay ! — no man ever such devout expressions as heretic returned who landed there; his fa- might venture. I tried to turn him ther and his father's father had charged from the coming evil to the present necessity. I counselled with him ties, varying as the waves did on which whether it might not be safer to take we rose and fell so easily. As she in sail and drift along. But from this forged on, it was clear at last that to he dissented. Time enough to take in some wanderers, at least, Sybaris had sail when we knew what shore we were some hospitality. A long, low spit coming to. He had no kedge or grap- made out into the sea, with never a ple or cord, indeed, that would pretend house on it, but brown with stormto hold this boat against this gale. worn shrubs, above the line of which We would beach her, if it pleased the were the stone-pines and chestnuts Virgin ; and if we could not, - shaking which had first given character to the his head, — why, that would please the shore. Hard for us, if we had been Virgin, too.

flung on the outside of this spit. But And so Euroclydon hurried us on to we were not. Else I had not been Sybaris.

writing here to-day. We passed it by The sun rose, O how magnificently! fifty nom clear. Of course under Is there anywhere to see sunrise like its lee was our harbor. Battista let go the Mediterranean? And if one may the halyards in a moment, and the wet not be on the top of Katahdin, is there sails came rattling down. The old any place for sunrise like the very man, the boy, Battista, and I seized the level of the sea ? Already the Cala- best sweeps he had left. Two of us at brian mountains of our western hori- each, working on the same side, we zon were gray against the sky. One or brought her head round as fast as she another of us was forward all the time, would bear it in that fearful sea. Inch trying to make out by what slopes the by inch we wrought along to the hills descended to the sea. Was it smoother water, and breathed free at cliff of basalt, or was it reedy swamp, last, as we came under the partial prothat was to receive us. I insisted at tection of the friendly shore. last on his reducing sail. For I felt Battista and his brother then hauled sure that he was driving on under a up the sail enough to give such sort of fatality which made him dare headway to the boat as we thought the worst. I was wholly right, for the our sweeps would control. And we boat now rose easier on the water, and crept along the shore for an hour, seewas much more dry.

ing nothing but reeds, and now and Perhaps the wind flagged a little then a distant buffalo, when at last a as the sun rose. At all events, he very hard knock on a rock the boy took courage, which I had never lost. ahead had not seen under water startI made his boy find us some oranges. ed the planks so that we knew that I made them laugh by eating their cold was dangerous play; and, without more polenta with them. I even made him solicitation, the old man beached the confess, when I called him aft and sent boat in a little cove where the reeds Battista forward, that the shore we gave place for a trickling stream. I were nearing looked low.

For we

told them they might land or not, as were near enough now to see stone they pleased. I would go ashore and pines and chestnut-trees. Did any get assistance or information. The old body see the towers of Sybaris ? man clearly thought I was going to ask

Not a tower ! But, on the other my assistance from the father of lies hand, not a gnome, witch, Norna's himself. But he was resigned to my Head, or other intimation of the under- will,—said he would wait for my return. world. The shore looked like many I stripped, and waded ashore with my other Italian shores. It looked not clothes upon my head, dressed as very unlike what we Yankees call salt- quickly as I could, and pushed up from marsh. At all events, we should not the beach to the low upland. break our heads against a wall! Nor Clearly enough I was in a civilized will I draw out the story of our anxie- country. Not that there was a gallows,

« AnteriorContinua »