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and the _Marie-Jeanne_ will be the last, to pick up all the brooms
fallen overboard from the other craft."

Gaud laughed also. She was more animated and beautiful than ever, in
her great joy of expectancy.

But the days succeeded one another without result.

She still dressed up every day, and with a joyful look went down to the
harbor to gossip with the other wives. She said that this delay was
but natural: was it not the same event every year? These were such
safe boats, and had such capital sailors.

But when at home alone, at night, a nervous anxious shiver of
apprehension would run through her whole frame.

Was it right to be frightened already? Was there even a single reason
to be so? but she began to tremble at the mere idea of grounds for
being afraid.

The 10th of September came. How swiftly the days flew by!

One morning - a true autumn morning, with cold mist falling over the
earth in the rising sun - she sat under the porch of the chapel of the
shipwrecked mariners, where the widows go to pray; with eyes fixed and
glassy, and throbbing temples tightened as by an iron band.

These sad morning mists had begun two days before; and on this
particular day Gaud had awakened with a still more bitter uneasiness,
caused by the forecast of advancing winter. Why did this day, this
hour, this very moment, seem to her more painful than the preceding?
Often ships are delayed a fortnight; even a month, for that matter.

But surely there was something different about this particular morning;
for she had come to-day for the first time to sit in the porch of this
chapel and read the names of the dead sailors, perished in their prime.

IN MEMORY OF
GAOS YVON
Lost at Sea

NEAR THE NORDEN-FJORD


Like a great shudder, a gust of wind rose from the sea, and at the same
time something fell like rain upon the roof above. It was only the
dead leaves, though; - many were blown in at the porch; the old
wind-tossed trees of the graveyard were losing their foliage in this
rising gale, and winter was marching nearer.

Lost at Sea
NEAR THE NORDEN-FJORD
In the storm of the 4th and 5th of August, 1880

She read mechanically under the arch of the doorway; her eyes sought to
pierce the distance over the sea. That morning it was untraceable
under the gray mist, and a dragging drapery of clouds overhung the
horizon like a mourning veil.

Another gust of wind, and other leaves danced in whirls. A stronger
gust still; as if the western storm which had strewn those dead over
the sea wished to deface the very inscriptions which kept their names
in memory with the living.

Gaud looked with involuntary persistency at an empty space upon the
wall which seemed to yawn expectant. By a terrible impression, she was
pursued by the thought of a fresh slab which might soon perhaps be
placed there, - with another name which she did not even dare think of
in such a spot.

She felt cold, and remained seated on the granite bench, her head
reclining against the stone wall.

NEAR THE NORDEN-FJORD
In the storm of the 4th and 5th of August, 1880
at the age of 23 years
_Requiescat in pace_!


Then Iceland loomed up before her, with its little cemetery lighted up
from below the sea-line by the midnight sun. Suddenly, in the same
empty space on the wall, with horrifying clearness she saw the fresh
slab she was thinking of; a clear white one, with a skull and
crossbones, and in a flash of foresight a name, - the worshiped name of
"Yann Gaos"! Then she suddenly and fearfully drew herself up straight
and stiff, with a hoarse wild cry in her throat like a mad creature.

Outside, the gray mist of the dawn fell over the land, and the dead
leaves were again blown dancingly into the porch.

Steps on the footpath! Somebody was coming? She rose, and quickly
smoothed down her cap and composed her face. Nearer drew the steps.
She assumed the air of one who might be there by chance; for above all,
she did not wish to appear yet like the widow of a shipwrecked mariner.

It happened to be Fante Floury, the wife of the second mate of the
_Léopoldine_. She understood immediately what Gaud was doing there: it
was useless to dissemble with her. At first each woman stood
speechless before the other. They were angry and almost hated each
other for having met holding a like sentiment of apprehension.

"All the men of Tréguier and Saint-Brieuc have been back for a week,"
said Fante at last, in an unfeeling, muffled, half-irritated voice.

She carried a blessed taper in her hand, to offer up a prayer. Gaud
did not wish yet to resort to that extreme resource of despairing
wives. Yet silently she entered the chapel behind Fante, and they
knelt down together side by side like two sisters.

To the _Star of the Sea_ they offered ardent imploring prayers, with
their whole soul in them. A sound of sobbing was alone heard, as their
rapid tears swiftly fell upon the floor. They rose together, more
confident and softened. Fante held up Gaud, who staggered; and taking
her in her arms, kissed her.

Wiping their eyes and smoothing their disheveled hair, they brushed off
the salt dust from the flag-stones which had soiled their gowns, and
went away in opposite directions without another word.

This end of September was like another summer, only a little less
lively. The weather was so beautiful that had it not been for the dead
leaves which fell upon the roads, one might have thought that June had
come back again. Husbands and sweethearts had all returned, and
everywhere was the joy of a second springtime of love.

At last, one day, one of the missing ships was signaled. Which one was
it?

The groups of speechless and anxious women had rapidly formed on the
cliff. Gaud, pale and trembling, was there, by the side of her Yann's
father.

"I'm almost sure," said the old fisher, "I'm almost sure it's them. A
red rail and a topsail that clews up, - it's very like them, anyhow.
What do you make it, Gaud?"

"No, it isn't," he went on, with sudden discouragement: "we've made a
mistake again; the boom isn't the same, and ours has a jigger-sail.
Well, well, it isn't our boat this time, it's only the _Marie-Jeanne_.
Never mind, my lass, surely they'll not be long now."

But day followed day, and night succeeded night, with uninterrupted
serenity.

Gaud continued to dress up every day; like a poor crazed woman, always
in fear of being taken for the widow of a shipwrecked sailor, feeling
exasperated when others looked furtively and compassionately at her,
and glancing aside so that she might not meet those glances which froze
her very blood.

She had fallen into the habit of going at the early morning right to
the end of the headland, on the high cliffs of Pors-Even; passing
behind Yann's old home, so as not to be seen by his mother or little
sisters. She went to the extreme point of the Ploubazlanec land, which
is outlined in the shape of a reindeer's horn upon the gray waters of
the Channel, and sat there all day long at the foot of the lonely cross
which rises high above the immense waste of the ocean. There are many
of these crosses hereabout; they are set up on the most advanced cliffs
of the sea-bound land, as if to implore mercy, and to calm that
restless mysterious power which draws men away, never to give them
back, and in preference retains the bravest and noblest.

Around this cross stretches the evergreen waste, strewn with short
rushes. At this great height the sea air was very pure; it scarcely
retained the briny odor of the weeds, but was perfumed with all the
exquisite ripeness of September flowers.

Far away, all the bays and inlets of the coast were firmly outlined,
rising one above another; the land of Brittany terminated in jagged
edges, which spread out far into the tranquil surface.

Near at hand the reefs were numerous; but out beyond, nothing broke its
polished mirror, from which arose a soft caressing ripple, light and
intensified from the depths of its many bays. Its horizon seemed so
calm, and its depths so soft! The great blue sepulchre of many Gaoses
hid its inscrutable mystery; whilst the breezes, faint as human breath,
wafted to and fro the perfume of the stunted gorse, which had bloomed
again in the latest autumn sun.

At regular hours the sea retreated, and great spaces were left
uncovered everywhere, as if the Channel was slowly drying up; then with
the same lazy slowness the waters rose again, and continued their
everlasting coming without any heed of the dead.

At the foot of the cross Gaud remained, surrounded by these tranquil
mysteries, gazing ever before her until the night fell and she could
see no more.

September had passed. The sorrowing wife took scarcely any
nourishment, and could no longer sleep.

She remained at home now, crouching low with her hands between her
knees, her head thrown back and resting against the wall behind. What
was the good of getting up or going to bed now? When she was
thoroughly exhausted she threw herself, dressed, upon her bed.
Otherwise she remained in the same position, chilled and benumbed; in
her quiescent state, only her teeth chattered with the cold; she had
that continual impression of a band of iron round her brows; her cheeks
looked wasted; her mouth was dry, with a feverish taste, and at times a
painful hoarse cry rose from her throat and was repeated in spasms,
whilst her head beat backwards against the granite wall. Or else she
called Yann by his name in a low, tender voice, as if he were quite
close to her; whispering words of love to her.

Sometimes she occupied her brain with thoughts of quite insignificant
things; for instance, she amused herself by watching the shadow of the
china Virgin lengthen slowly over the high woodwork of the bed, as the
sun went down. And then the agonized thoughts returned more horribly;
and her wailing cry broke out again as she beat her head against the
wall.

All the hours of the day passed; and all the hours of evening, and of
night; and then the hours of the morning. When she reckoned the time
he ought to have been back, she was seized with a still greater terror;
she wished to forget all dates and the very names of the days.

Generally, there is some information concerning the wrecks off Iceland;
those who return have seen the tragedy from afar, or else have found
some wreckage or bodies, or have an indication to guess the rest. But
of the _Léopoldine_ nothing had been seen, and nothing was known. The
_Marie-Jeanne_ men - the last to have seen it on the 2d of August - said
that she was to have gone on fishing farther towards the north; and
beyond that the secret was unfathomable.

Waiting, always waiting, and knowing nothing! When would the time come
when she need wait no longer? She did not even know that; and now she
almost wished that it might be soon. Oh! if he were dead, let them at
least have pity enough to tell her so!

Oh to see her darling, as he was at this very moment, - that is, what
was left of him! If only the much-implored Virgin, or some other
power, would do her the blessing to show her by second-sight her
beloved! either living and working hard to return a rich man, or else
as a corpse surrendered by the sea, so that she might at least know a
certainty.

Sometimes she was seized with the thought of a ship appearing suddenly
upon the horizon: the _Léopoldine_ hastening home. Then she would
suddenly make an instinctive movement to rise, and rush to look out at
the ocean, to see whether it were true.

But she would fall back. Alas! where was this _Léopoldine_ now? Where
could she be? Out afar, at that awful distance of Iceland, - forsaken,
crushed, and lost.

All ended by a never-fading vision appearing to her, - an empty,
sea-tossed wreck, slowly and gently rocked by the silent gray and
rose-streaked sea; almost with soft mockery, in the midst of the vast
calm of deadened waters.

Two o'clock in the morning.

It was at night especially that she kept attentive to approaching
footsteps; at the slightest rumor or unaccustomed noise her temples
vibrated: by dint of being strained to outward things, they had become
fearfully sensitive.

Two o'clock in the morning. On this night as on others, with her hands
clasped and her eyes wide open in the dark, she listened to the wind
sweeping in never-ending tumult over the heath.

Suddenly a man's footsteps hurried along the path! At this hour who
would pass now? She drew herself up, stirred to the very soul, her
heart ceasing to beat.

Some one stopped before the door, and came up the small stone steps.

He! - O God! - he! Some one had knocked, - it could be no other than he!
She was up now, barefooted; she, so feeble for the last few days, had
sprung up as nimbly as a kitten, with her arms outstretched to wind
round her darling. Of course the _Léopoldine_ had arrived at night,
and anchored in Pors-Even Bay, and he had rushed home; she arranged all
this in her mind with the swiftness of lightning. She tore the flesh
off her fingers in her excitement to draw the bolt, which had stuck.

"Eh?"

She slowly moved backward, as if crushed, her head falling on her
bosom. Her beautiful insane dream was over. She could just grasp that
it was not her husband, her Yann, and that nothing of him, substantial
or spiritual, had passed through the air; she felt plunged again into
her deep abyss, to the lowest depths of her terrible despair.

Poor Fantec - for it was he - stammered many excuses: his wife was very
ill, and their child was choking in its cot, suddenly attacked with a
malignant sore throat; so he had run over to beg for assistance on the
road to fetch the doctor from Paimpol.

What did all this matter to her? She had gone mad in her own distress,
and could give no thoughts to the troubles of others. Huddled on a
bench, she remained before him with fixed glazed eyes, like a dead
woman's; without listening to him, or even answering at random or
looking at him. What to her was the speech the man was making?

He understood it all, and guessed why the door had been opened so
quickly to him; and feeling pity for the pain he had unwittingly
caused, he stammered out an excuse.

"Just so: he never ought to have disturbed her - her in particular."

"I!" ejaculated Gaud quickly, "why should I not be disturbed
particularly, Fantec?"

Life had suddenly come back to her; for she did not wish to appear in
despair before others. Besides, she pitied him now; she dressed to
accompany him, and found the strength to go and see to his little child.

At four o'clock in the morning, when she returned to throw herself on
the bed, sleep subdued her, for she was tired out. But that moment of
excessive joy had left an impression on her mind, which in spite of all
was permanent; she awoke soon with a shudder, rising a little and
partially recollecting - she knew not what. News had come to her about
her Yann. In the midst of her confusion of ideas, she sought rapidly
in her mind what it could be; but there was nothing save Fantec's
interruption.

For the second time she fell back into her terrible abyss, nothing
changed in her morbid, hopeless waiting.

Yet in that short, hopeful moment, she had felt him so near to her that
it was as if his spirit had floated over the sea unto her, - what is
called a foretoken (_pressigne_) in Breton land; and she listened still
more attentively to the steps outside, trusting that some one might
come to her to speak of him.

Just as the day broke, Yann's father entered. He took off his cap, and
pushed back his splendid white locks, which were in curls like Yann's,
sat down by Gaud's bedside.

His heart ached heavily too; for Yann, his tall, handsome Yann, was his
first-born, his favorite and his pride: but he did not despair yet. He
comforted Gaud in his own blunt, affectionate way. To begin with,
those who had last returned from Iceland spoke of the increasing dense
fogs, which might well have delayed the vessel; and then too an idea
struck him, - they might possibly have stopped at the distant Faroe
Islands on their homeward course, whence letters were so long in
traveling. This had happened to him once forty years ago, and his own
poor dead and gone mother had had a mass said for his soul. The
_Léopoldine_ was such a good boat, - next to new, - and her crew were
such able-bodied seamen.

Granny Moan stood by them shaking her head: the distress of her
granddaughter had almost given her back her own strength and reason.
She tidied up the place, glancing from time to time at the faded
portrait of Sylvestre, which hung upon the granite wall with its anchor
emblems and mourning-wreath of black bead-work. Ever since the sea had
robbed her of her own last offspring, she believed no longer in safe
returns; she only prayed through fear, bearing Heaven a grudge in the
bottom of her heart.

But Gaud listened eagerly to these consoling reasonings; her large
sunken eyes looked with deep tenderness out upon this old sire, who so
much resembled her beloved one; merely to have him near her was like a
hostage against death having taken the younger Gaos; and she felt
reassured, nearer to her Yann. Her tears fell softly and silently, and
she repeated again her passionate prayers to the Star of the Sea.

A delay out at those Islands to repair damages was a very likely event.
She rose and brushed her hair, and then dressed as if she might fairly
expect him. All then was not lost, if a seaman, his own father, did
not yet despair. And for a few days she resumed looking out for him
again.

Autumn at last arrived, - a late autumn too, - its gloomy evenings making
all things appear dark in the old cottage; and all the land looked
sombre too.

The very daylight seemed a sort of twilight; immeasurable clouds,
passing slowly overhead, darkened the whole country at broad noon. The
wind blew constantly with the sound of a great cathedral organ at a
distance, but playing profane, despairing dirges; at other times the
noise came close to the door, like the howling of wild beasts.

She had grown pale, - aye, blanched, - and bent more than ever; as if old
age had already touched her with its featherless wing. Often did she
finger the wedding clothes of her Yann, folding them and unfolding them
again and again like some maniac, - especially one of his blue woolen
jerseys which still had preserved his shape: when she threw it gently
on the table, it fell with the shoulders and chest well defined; so she
placed it by itself in a shelf of their wardrobe, and left it there, so
that it might forever rest unaltered.

Every night the cold mists sank upon the land, as she gazed over the
depressing heath through her little window, and watched the thin puffs
of white smoke arise from the chimneys of other cottages scattered here
and there on all sides. There the husbands had returned, like
wandering birds driven home by the frost. Before their blazing hearths
the evenings passed, cozy and warm; for the springtime of love had
begun again in this land of North Sea fishermen.

Still clinging to the thought of those islands where he might perhaps
have lingered, she was buoyed up by a kind hope, and expected him home
any day.

* * * * * *

But he never returned. One August night, out off gloomy Iceland,
mingled with the furious clamor of the sea, his wedding with the sea
was performed. It had been his nurse; it had rocked him in his
babyhood and had afterwards made him big and strong; then, in his
superb manhood, it had taken him back again for itself alone.
Profoundest mystery had surrounded this unhallowed union. While it
went on, dark curtains hung pall-like over it as if to conceal the
ceremony, and the ghoul howled in an awful, deafening voice to stifle
his cries. He, thinking of Gaud, his sole, darling wife, had battled
with giant strength against this deathly rival, until he at last
surrendered, with a deep death-cry like the roar of a dying bull,
through a mouth already filled with water; and his arms were stretched
apart and stiffened forever.

All those he had invited in days of old were present at his wedding.
All except Sylvestre, who had gone to sleep in the enchanted gardens
far, far away, at the other side of the earth.




THE SALVING OF THE YAN-SHAN

From "In Blue Waters," BY H. DE VERE STACKPOOLE


I

The _Heart of Ireland_ was spreading her wings to the north-west
trades, making a good seven knots, with the coast of California a vague
line on the horizon to port and all the blue Pacific before her.

Captain Blood was aft with his mate, Billy Harman, leaning on the rail
and watching the foam boosting away from the stern and flowing off in
creamy lines on the swirl of the wake. Ginnell, owner and captain of
the _Heart of Ireland_, shanghaied and reduced to deck hand, was
forward on the look-out, and one of the coolie crew was at the wheel.

"I'm not given to meeting trouble half-way," said Blood, shifting his
position and leaning with his left arm on the rail, "but it 'pears to
me Pat Ginnell is taking his set down a mighty sight too easy. He's
got something up his sleeve."

"So've we," replied Harman. "What can he do? He laid out to shanghai
you, and by gum, he did it. I don't say I didn't let him down crool,
playin' into his hands and pretendin' to help and gettin' Captain Mike
as a witness, but the fac' remains he got you aboard this hooker by
foul play, shanghaied you were, and then you turns the tables on him,
knocks the stuffin' out of him and turns him into a deck hand. How's
he to complain? I'd start back to 'Frisco now and dare him to come
ashore with his complaints. We've got his ship, well, that's his
fault. He's no legs to stand on, that's truth.

"Leavin' aside this little bisness, he's known as a crook from Benicia
right to San Jose. The bay stinks with him and his doin's; settin'
Chinese sturgeon lines, Captain Mike said he was, and all but nailed,
smugglin' and playin' up to the Greeks, and worse. The Bayside's
hungry to catch him an' stuff him in the penitentiary, and he hasn't no
friends. I'm no saint, I owns it, but I'm a plaster John the Baptis'
to Ginnell, and I've got friends, so have you. Well, what are you
bothering about?"

"Oh, I'm not bothering about the law," said Blood, "only about him.
I'm going to keep my eye open and not be put asleep by his quiet
ways - and I'd advise you to do the same."

"Trust me," said Harman, "and more especial when we come to longsides
with the _Yan-Shan_."

Now the _Yan-Shan_ had started in life somewhere early in the nineties
as a twelve hundred ton cargo boat in the Bullmer line; she had been
christened the _Robert Bullmer_, and her first act when the dog-shores
had been knocked away was a bull charge down the launching slip,
resulting in the bursting of a hawser, the washing over of a boat and
the drowning of two innocent spectators; her next was an attempt to
butt the Eddystone over in a fog, and, being unbreakable, she might
have succeeded only that she was going dead slow. She drifted out of
the Bullmer line on the wash of a law-suit owing to the ramming by her
of a Cape boat in Las Palmas harbour; engaged herself in the fruit
trade in the service of the Corona Capuella Syndicate, and got on to
the Swimmer rocks with a cargo of Jamaica oranges, a broken screw shaft
and a blown-off cylinder cover. The ruined cargo, salvage and tow
smashed the Syndicate, and the _Robert Bullmer_ found new occupations
till the See-Yup-See Company of Canton picked her up, and,
rechristening, used her for conveying coffins and coolies to the
American seaboard. They had sent her to Valdivia on some business, and
on the return from the southern port to 'Frisco she had, true to her
instincts and helped by a gale, run on San Juan, a scrap of an island
north of the Channel Islands of the California coast. Every soul had
been lost with the exception of two Chinese coolies, who, drifting on a
raft, had been picked up and brought to San Francisco.

She had a general cargo and twenty thousand dollars in gold coin on
board, but the coolies had declared her to be a total wreck, said, in
fact, when they had last sighted her she was going to pieces.

That was the yarn Harman heard through Clancy, with the intimation that
the wreck was not worth two dollars, let alone the expenses of a
salvage ship.

The story had eaten into Harman's mind; he knew San Juan better than
any man in 'Frisco, and he considered that a ship once ashore there


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