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there braced all my nerves taut again: so that
I was quite well when he brought me back,
and tolerably sensible, and sat down cheerfully
to the sewing I had neglected so long, and
which must be done so nicely, because, I said,
that if a little girl came, and her mother were
to die, this sewing would be kept for her to
see, and I wanted every stitch to be a moral
lesson to her.

So the mocking-bird used to pour out a flood
of music through the little rooms, into which
there always poured a flood of sunshine, only
half barred out by the pink and purple morning-
glories: and the Skye, that Bert brought home
from an English schooner one day, with his
yellow eyes looking out like coals of fire from
his tawny shag, used to bark at the bird; and
my great St. Bernard, sent over from home,
used to silence him with his big paw; and the
little cat used to put up her back at the three;
and I sat there with my sewing and my singing
and my neighbours and my dumb family no,
they weren't dumb, by any means all at once
metamorphosed into the happiest little house-
keeper this side the meridian. Bert came and
went, too, a good deal oftener than before-
for perhaps he had come to question whether
he did not owe other duties to his family than
the mere providing of the means to live, and
whether it was just the square thing to take a
young girl out from the bustle and cheer of a
great family and shut her up all by herself in
a cage; and he was good and kind beyond
comparison, so that I learned by heart the
meaning of the promise "to cherish" in the
marriage ceremony.

But, of course, this couldn't last long. It
would have been Eden out of date, and was
heaping up the happiness of a long life into
these few months. I was aware of that; I knew
that either I was going to die or a change must
come, since so much bliss was never meant for
mortals, who must content themselves with
snatches, and judge from a little what a great
aeal means; and I had been on the watch for
the change some days before the horrid windy
morning when Bert went to take the British



steamer A ssyrla down the bay on her way to
Liverpool.

That was a good job, as jobs go, in itself;
and he said, in bidding me good-by, that he
should try and be up the next day, unless busi-
ness was so brisk that it seemed throwing
money away to leave, and it was not to be done
inside the law, moreover. The wind blew a
tornado that night, and the water dashed over
the sea-wall in scuds; but it had blown a great
many tornadoes, and nothing had happened to
Bert, and I never dreamed of regarding it.
And I heard from one of the men next day
that there was hardly a vessel telegraphed; so
I knew he would be along presently, and I
had made up my mind to have him carve me
out a bracket from an old cigar-box to hang
at the head of my bed, and I was looking for-
ward to a real happy evening, with him at
work opposite me, and the snapping wood-fire
again between us, for we were now in the cool
October nights; so I set myself at work, and
made the nicest little supper ready scrod, as
brown outside and as white inside as a cocoa-
nut is, and cold turkey deviled with the East
Indian sauce that the captain of the Bewjal
sent me, and a charlotte russe that I had learned
how to make myself, with our own little Muscat
grapes whipped into it, and a cup of chocolate
that was as rich as nectar. And the scrod grew
brown and grew black and turned to a chip,
and the deviled turkey sizzled and sizzled away
to saw-dust, and the chocolate skimmed all
over with a coat of cold oil at last, and the
very dog grew tired of watching, and no Bert
came; and [ ate the charlotte russe myself,
and went to bed.

And the next day no Bert, and the next day,
and a week passed without him, and then all
at once I remembered the tornado and the
water whipping the sea-wall, and I began to
be seriously uneasy. Began to be! I was, I
had been! I swept the bay, with that glass in
my room, day and night, I might say, but no
sign of Bert or Bert's boat could I see.

At length, one day, I thought I did make
out the boat: but the little signal which it was
arranged between him and me should always
be visible when he was on board I could no-
where discover, and, of course, I was wild with
my fancies: Bert was lost, he had been drowned
in returning from the Assyria, he had been
knocked overboard, his canoe had filled, and
he had gone down like lead with all his heavy
gear on: and I was working myself into agonies
and was almost down sick, when who should
appear but Will Davenant, swinging his surtout
over his shoulders by the sleeves, and coming



10



A PILOT'S WIFE.



in as though he were sent. As I looked up in
his face I noticed that he was pale and grave,
and felt he had bad news for me beforehand.

"Well, Bert's gone this time," said he.

It gave me such a turn! If I ever have a
stroke I shall feel no worse. I only wonder I
didn't drop on the spot. But my will is stout,
and that held out to hear the worst.

"Gone?" I gasped. "Lost? My Bert?"

"Oh, pooh! nonsense! "he returned. "No-
thing of the kind. I'm a stupid. Gone to
Liverpool! "

To Liverpool! Well, you may suppose what
a difference that was! All the blood in my
body had been gathering round my heart till
I was as white as a sheet, and now it was all
plunging up my face, that I was hiding with
both hands as red as any rose. Bert gone to
Liverpool, and without ever telling me! He
had run away and left me! You see I had
read so many novels. The whole world Avas
reeling round me in a great noisy whirl, and
it was all of a sudden that I grew conscious of
Will Davenant's putting me into a chair and
sprinkling water on me, and heard him saying
to himself: "Dear me! This is rough on her,
and no mistake. Look here now, Sady. Listen
a moment," I could hear him exclaiming.
"It's only for three weeks. He'll be back in
a jiffy. Can't you hear? Don't you under-
stand? The Assyria couldn't set him down
in that hurricane blowing great guns; and so
she had to take him on, and send him over
next steamer. It's been done before, don't
you see? At least that's what our reckoning
is "

"Oh, Will, then you're not certain, after
all!" I cried.

"Certain as anything can be on such slippery
stuff as water. Why, it's nothing out of the
common course. Old Captain Johnson once
was carried round Cape Horn in that way,
and his family had worn out their mourning
for him before the news reached them. We'd
have had letters from Bert, only, as luck would
have it, the Assyria's on the line that doesn't
touch at Halifax. One week's gone," said
Will, beginning to stride about the floor.
"Come now, you lock up, and run over to your
mother's; and in a fortnight you'll see somebody
heave in sight, and put out one of his great
paws to sweep you back again."

"Oh no, no!" I sobbed. "I'll stay here
and wait for him here, where I saw him last.
Perhaps he'll never come! oh! perhaps he'll
never come!"

"Come! I don't know what's to hinder his
coming," said Will, "unless they kill him with



kindness. The captain '11 have him at his
table; there won't be anything in the ship too
good for him; best of every thing at his command;
champagne just running down his throat; all
the pretty women asking him about the
weather '

"Oh, Will!"

"Fact! You see now! And when he gets
to Liverpool those British pilots will take him
in hand, and they'll treat him so well, that I'll
dare swear, he'll never be able to tell you what
the house he stops at looks like. Perhaps,
then, he won't come home next steamer, the
very next," said that cunning fellow, trying to
stave off my anxiety, if, indeed, things should
prove to be worse than he fancied they were,
and Bert didn't come home next steamer, nor
ever afterward. "A man isn't treated like
a prince more than once in his life, and he
couldn't be blamed much if he made the most
of that once; now could he?"

"I don't know anything about that!" I
cried: " I know Bert will be back in the next
steamer if he's alive."

"Of course he will ! of course he will ! Keep
your craft sharp by the wind, Sady, and he'll
hail you before you know it," said Will.

And so lie did. Exactly a fortnight from
that day. I had been rambling round the
house like an uneasy spirit, never still in one
place five minutes at a time, neither sleeping
nor eating, and finding no peace except when
Will Davenant, or some other of Bert's friends,
came in and talked the matter over, nor then,
either; and mother, who had left everything to
come and stay with me, declared I would lose
my wits unless I practised some sort of self-
control; when, one day, after I had seen the
great steamer come ploughing up the bay, and
had vowed that Bert must be in her, as I had
concerning every steamer arriving since Will
Davenant's first call, and then had given him
up at last because he hadn't the wings of the
dove, and was plunged in unmitigated despair,
all of a sudden in he walks, as large as life,
and takes ine in his arms and kisses me, while
I faint dead away.

Well, that was very delightful I was such
a selfish little wretch, and I don't say that I'm
any better now to think that Bert cared so
much to be home, to relieve my anxiety, and,
maybe, his own, that he didn't even wait for
another steamer on that same line, but caught
one that was leaving the very day they made
port, and was back again on American shores
without having stepped on British soil. Not
that Bert wouldn't have cared for it, you know;
wouldn't have made the European tour, as they



A PILOT'S WIFE.



11



call it, with as good a relish as the best; wouldn't
have liked to stand inside the old cathedrals,
and see the sunbeams swimming up aloft in
the roof, and the doves flying in and out and
building their little indifferent nests in the
carvings made by fingers dust a thousand years
ago; wouldn't have liked to look at the great
paintings, as if he were in a vision; to have
walked through the old halls were history
happened for you mustn't take it for granted
that my Bert is an ignoramus because he earns
his livelihood in hard work and exposure. I
don't know the more finished gentleman than
he, if you want the truth. There is an educa-
tion better than books, and you can't learn at
colleges all my Bert knows. Latin and Greek
I grant you, and you're welcome for the use
of dead men's tongues, who did no good with
them while they had them, and heathen bar-
barians at that, I've never been able to see;
but whatever can be gained by the knowledge
of men and of the round earth and sea and
sky, the best learning that the world affords,
my Bert has at his fingers' tips. A man can't
bring into port a great French or British
steamer, commanded by some captain next to
a nobleman; or a man-of-war, commanded,
maybe, by a nobleman himself, with all his
courtly breeding, and a mind rich with the
advantages of generations; or one of our own
line-of-battle ships, with an old hero on the
quarter-deck; or a merchantman from the East
Indies; a fruiter from the Levant, with Portu-
guese and Greeks before the mast; a South
American, with hides and horns; a whaler from
the pole; a little schooner, creeping up the
coast with lime can't meet familiarly, as pilots
do; welcomed with opened arms, and told by
many a captain that they would rather see
him than their wives all these different sorts,
without getting at the core of countries and
races in a way that is like a liberal education.
And Bert had always said that, if ever he was
rich, we'd take passage for the other side, and
for Vesuvius, and the Midnight Sun, and the
Catacombs, and the Inquisition, and the Pyra-
mids, and I don't know what all. But there!
there's no hope of a pilot's being rich. I tell
Bert that if ever they get rid of the laws that
restrain them now, so that each pilot can ask
his own price, and a ship in a gale refusing it,
he can tell her to get in the best way she can,
till she calls him back at any price, why, then
he won't expose himself to being drowned and
his children to being orphaned for a beggarly
twenty or fifty dollars; but the great merchant
princes, that own the ships and cargoes, will
have to open their purses, and a pilot maybe



as well off as his neighbours. But Bert says
that, once change those laws, decent men would
leave the calling, pilotage would be piracy, the
bay would be swarming with sharks and
wreckers, and he would sooner turn long-
shoreman and sweep a crossing.

But all this has nothing to do with Bert's
return; and as I was saying, there was nobody
inside of that horizon happicv than I that day.

But it was that day. Two or three days
afterward, when the bright edge of relief and
gratitude and pleasure had worn down the
least in the world, I began, of course or el*e
it wouldn't have been I to question a little,
to worry, and wonder why it happened that
Bert couldn't leave the steamer just that time,
when he'd weathered so many worse gales;
and all at once it leaked out, I don't know
how or where, that Will Davenant's cousin
Kate was aboard that steamer, just married to
a rich old fellow who was doing the fashionable
thing and taking her abroad. She was a bold
and handsome hussy, always making eyes at
Bert. And Bert hadn't mentioned her; and
Will hadn't mentioned her it never occurred
to me that Will hadn't known of it, or that
Bert hadn't seen her once all the way across
and so I put two and two together, and wrought
myself up to a frenzy, and there was an end of
happiness. For from conjecture I crept to
suspicion, and from suspicion I flew to cer-
tainty, and from certainty to desperation. I
went about my work slipshod, and glowering
like a wild woman, and the dishes were half
cooked, and the floors half swept and everything
was rough with dust: the tins and the silver
were tarnished and unsecured, the little wood-
fire was never lit in welcome at night, and the
whole house was just as gloomy and cheerless
as I felt myself; so that it must have made Bert
groan to set his foot inside the door, and he
would hardly have been to blame if he had
slipped back to Liverpool, and had his merry-
making with the warm-hearted men over there,
after all.

But Bert had married me for better or worse,
and, though it was pretty much all worse, he
was determined to make the best of it; and so
he believed that this was all due to my weak
nerves and ill health which it wasn't, but
only to a life of indulgence, and selfishness,
and waywardness bearing fruit and he hum-
oured me, and waited on me, and was gentler
with me than ever mother was in all her lite.
For mother came in one day, and found the
plates not washed, and the fire gone out, and
me sitting down at heel, sulking and wretched,
with my hair uncombed, and no collar on; and



12



A PILOT'S WIFE.



she declared on the spot that patience had had
its perfect work with me, that all I needed was
a good sound shaking, and if I wasn't too old
to behave in that way, I wasn't too old to have
it, and she had half the mind to give it to me;
and such conduct, she said, had driven better
men than Bert to drink. She was ashamed to
own me for a child of hers, and I'd only have
myself to thank if he went to the bad altogether.
And up I flared, and said, if it wasn't gone to
the bad already to have been chasing across
the Atlantic after Kate Davenant, I should
like to know what it was. I suppose the fact
is that I must have been a little crazy. And
just as mother turned round with the dishcloth
suspended, and her mouth wide open, Bert,
who had come in unnoticed in the high words,
and had heard those high words, pushed open
the door, and stood before me.

I shall never forget how Bert looked that
moment. His face was as white and set as a
dead man's. It would have looked like a dead
man's if the awful living eyes hadn't been
blazing out of it like two fires so dark and
terrible that I cowered.

"Say that again, Sady," said he.

And my heart bubbling up with anger at
the tone, I said it again, and more of it too.

"I swear to you that this is the first I ever
knew of her being on the steamer," said Bert
then, in a great, grand voice that of itself
seemed to wake me from my evil mood as if it
had been a nightmare, though doubtless it was
fear, calling the blood away from my brain,
that waked me. He returned to my mother.
"Take care of her," he said; "take good care
of her. I must get down the harbour before
the weather thickens. Maybe I shall never
come up again. I hope I never shall!"
With that he paused and hesitated, and took
a step forward and toward me; but Heaven
only knows what imp of perversity caught my
shoulder and twisted me round and away, and
in a moment the door was closed gently, as
Bert did everything in the house, and he was
gone. And then you may imagine that chaos
reigned in that room for an hour, with peni-
tence and self-reproach and fear, and cries and
sobs and hysterics, and sal volatile and hot
shrub; and mother left off scolding and hushed
me, and bathed my face, and combed my hair,
afraid lest I'd do myself a mischief; and
finally, as she couldn't stay, Nanny being
threatened with the croup, and Neddy being
just vaccinated and taking tremendously,
she tied on my cloak and furs, and took a
basket of things out of the bureau drawer, and
locked up the doors, and slipped the key under



the stone, and hailed a car at the head of the
street, arid shoved me in, and carried me off
to her own house all in a vague, wild, cloudy
state of mind, where nothing seemed to be real
but a dull and universal ache, which, whether
it belonged to my body or my soul, I had not
wit enough to know. "I'm going to die," I
said, looking out at the purple, leaden after-
noon, and the dreary branches bending in the
damp and bitter wind that soughed up the
street openings like the cry of lost souls. "I'm
going to die," I said. ''I've begun already.
My mind's all dim and dying first." So at
last we reached the place, just as the first snow-
flakes began falling out of that cold and desolate
sky, and mother got me into the house. What
a busy bustling little body she was then! I
can hardly realize it wheti I see her sitting
there now, so gray-haired and white and silent,
and watching Netty's twins as they tumble
together on the floor, just like the cool of the
day. And presently I was tucked up warm
in bed, and falling ofFinto strange, wild dreams,
and waking out of them in terror every now
and then.

And that night my baby was born. It was
a furious storm outside as midnight drew on;
hardly less furious within, as, in pauses of pain,
I thought of Bert his boat lying too far out
in the bay, with the gale and the sleet fierce
enough to cut the eyes out of his head if he
looked to windward, or maybe run down with-
out the hearing of a cry, by some great steamer
in that weather, too thick with the driving snow
to see a light or your own length ahead; or
else dragging her anchor somewhere, parting
cable and drifting on the rocks: and I remem-
bered the wreck on Norman's Woe, where the
spouting water leaped round the sailor lashed
in the shrouds till he was encased and sealed
in a mass of frozen ice, and a spar swinging
round with a lurch of the wreck snapped him
in two like a dead branch ; and I thought, in
swift succession, of all the horrid chances of
those dark winter seas, till my brain was raging
with heat, and all my words were delirious.

It was of no use their putting the little
flannel bundle up on the pillow beside me and
bidding me look at it; it was of no use the four
pattering night-gowned imps, all waked and
peeping in, at the risk of squills and opodeldoc,
whispering and on tip-toe, wondering how it
came there through all that storm, chuckling
over a queer little sneeze that plainly told that
it took cold in coming, and which the ridicu-
lous morsel gave with as much self-possession
as if the whole atmosphere belonged to it, and
scampering off to bed again with their happy



A PILOT'S WIFE.



tongues subdued only till they were half out of
hearing, and already quarrelling as to whether
Neddy and Nanny were as much aunts and
uncles as Natty and Netty; it was of no use
their telling me here was the nicest baby ever
born into this breathing world, and just to look
at these tiny perfect fingers and that atom of
an ear. What could I care for that and such
as that? There were millions of babies in the
world, but there was only one Bert, and I had
driven him out into the whirling white tempest
of that pitiless night; and every screaming
blast, every push of the great shoulder of the
gale against the house, made me start up and
cry out.

But all at once I heard mother saying in an
undertone, as if she had not said it half a dozen
times before, that here was Bert's chin with
all the pluck of it, if ever anything was, and
she shouldn't wonder if the eyes and, without
Availing to hear her finish, it came over me,
like a fresh tide of feeling and thought, that
this was Bert's child after all; and if I never
saw Bert again, yet, perhaps, the boy might
grow up to be like his father; and I don't know
what there was comforting in the idea, but I
turned and laid my cheek down against his,
and began to sink away quietly to sleep. And
they darkened the room, and set the lamp
outside in the next one, where mother went to
busy herself about something or other; and
presently the nurse was nodding, as I found
when suddenly starting wide awake, not having
really lost myself at all. What made me start
wide awake then, with all my senses about me,
as alert as ever I was in my life ? I will tell
you.

The landing of the front stairs opened di-
rectly into the room where I lay; and, as if he
had just come in the door, from off the sea,
there, in his great storm -clothes, stood Bert.

What a white, fixed face it was he wore! Not
the face which I had seen in the afternoon,
but a deathly, ghastly face, that it chilled one's
marrow to look at; and the hair was hanging
wet about it, and around the eyes, that had
an appalling, absent, vacant gaze, such as I
had never seen in Bert's shining, splendid ones.
" Oh, what is it, Bert?" I cried. "Don't be
frightened, dear! It's all over, and I'm very
well, and it's it's a boy. " Then I remembered
how we had parted, and I whispered, half
choked, imploring him to forgive me.

" I went home to find you, Sady," murmured
he, in as hollow a tone as the whistle of the
wind, "and I've been looking for you since,
my darling. And so it's a boy, is it?" And
he came and laid his cold, wet, rough face down



on mine, and on that little velvet cheek beside
mine, and stood erect, and shuddered, and waa
gone gone like the breaking of a bubble.

And with the outcry that I made the nurse
sprang to her feet, and mother came running
in; and they both declared what a pity I had
waked, and what a sweet sleep I must have
been having; and, of course, I had been dream-
ing; what preposterous nonsense to say I hadn't,
for nobody else had seen Bert, as. indeed, where
could he have come from in such a storm ? And
I just as stoutly maintained that they needn't
try and deceive me, and Bert was in the house,
for I had seen him, and they were doing me a
great deal more harm by keeping him away
than if they let him come in again. And then,
as I detected them looking strangely at each
other, I exclaimed again that I had not been
asleep at all, and it was not his ghost that I
had seen, for all their looks, but Bert himself;
and, as they tried to soothe me, and laugh me
out of the notion, and I saw they were in ear-
nest, cold shivers began to rush over me, till
they shook me as I lay. "He is drowned! he
is drowned!" I sung out between my chatter-
ing teeth. "And I have done it. I have de-
stroyed my husband!" And I raised such a
ululu that presently mother took me in hand
again severely, and told me that, whether I
had destroyed my husband or not, I should
certainly destroy my child by allowing myself
to get into this condition; and if 1 didn't hush
up at once, she would go out in the snow her-
self and fetch the doctor again, and give me
a Dover's powder. And then, as the baby be-
gan to cry, she and the nurse made such a
racket between them, with their slishshing and
trotting and patting and stirring and sipping,
that there was nothing for it but that I should
be quiet. And, directly, their voices sounded
miles away; and, thoroughly worn out, I went
to sleep, and never waked till morning, when
the storm had all blown up the coast, and the



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