Obrázky stránek
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

11. Here the young man became transported, and the doctor called his domestics, and bade them seize him by the hands and feet, which raised his transport to fury. He cried * Thief! murder !” but at the end of a quarter of an hour he calmed down, explained every thing soberly, and a terrible light began to dawn upon the doctor. He was not. long in discovering that the Countess was a cheat, and had devised the whole scheme for the purpose of securing the jewels.

12. Notwithstanding all the search that could be made, this singular theft, so ingenious, so original, from the scene which took place between the physician and the young man, was never discovered. The pretended Countess had taken care to conceal every trace of herself. The drivers and lackeys were her accomplices; the carriage was hired; and this history remains à monument in the memoirs of jewellers.

LESSON LIX. Fight with a Shark. 1. The following curious description of a conflict with a shark in the vicinity of Calcutta, in India, is related by an eyewitness, and is entitled to perfect credence.

2. “I chanced to be on the spot when this display of coolness and courage took place ; and, had I not witnessed it, I confess I should have been skeptical in believing what, nevertheless, is plain matter of fact. I was walking on the bank of the river, at the time when some up-country boats were delivering their cargoes.

3. “ A considerable number of Coolies were employed on shore in the work, all of whom I observed running away in apparent trepidation from the edge of the water, - returning again, as if eager yet afraid, to approach some object, and again retreating as before. I hastened to the spot to ascertain the matter, when I perceived a huge monster of a shark sailing along, now near the surface of the water, and now sinking down, apparently in pursuit of his prey.

4. “At this moment, a native, on the Choppah roof of one of the boats, with a rope in his hand, which he was slowly coiling up, surveyed the shark's motions with a look

that evidently indicated that he had a serious intention of encountering him in his own element. Holding the rope, on which he made a sort of running knot, in one hand, and stretching out the other arm, as if already in the act of swimming, he stood in an attitude truly picturesque, waiting the reappearance of the shark.

At about six or eight yards from the boat, the animal rose near the surface, when the native instantly plunged in the water, a short distance from the very jaws of the monster.

5. “The shark immediately turned round and swam slowly towards the man, who, in his turn, nothing daunted, struck out the arm that was at liberty, and approached his foe. When within a foot or two of the shark, the native dived beneath him, the animal going down almost at the same instant. The bold assailant in this most frightful contest soon re-appeared on the opposite side of the shark, swimming · fearlessly with the hand he had at liberty, and holding the rope behind his back with the other.

6. “The shark, which had also by this time made his appearance, again immediately swam towards him; and while the animal was apparently in the act of lifting himself over the lower part of the native's body, that he might seize upon his prey, the man, making a strong effort, threw himself up perpendicularly, and went down with his feet foremost, the shark following him so simultaneously, that I was fully impressed with the idea, that they had gone down grappling together.

7. As far as I could judge, they remained nearly twenty seconds out of sight, while I stood in breathless anxiety, and, I may add, horror, waiting the result of this fearful encounter. Suddenly the native made his appearance, holding up both hands over his head, and calling out, with a voice that proclaimed the victory he had won while underneath the wave, “ Tan, - tan!” The people in the boat were all prepared; the rope was instantly drawn tight, and the struggling victim lashing the water in his wrath, was dragged to the shore, and despatched.

8. “When measured, his length was found to be six feet nine inches; his girth, at the greatest, three feet seven inches. The native who achieved this intrepid and dexterous exploit, bore no other marks of his finny enemy than a cut on the left arm, evidently received from coming in con

VIRGINIUS AND HIS DAUGHTER.

131

tact with the tail, or some one of the fins, of the animal. It did not occur to me to ask if this was the first shark fight in which he had been engaged; but, from the preparations and ready assistance he received from his companions in the boats, I should suppose that he has more than once displayed the same courage and dexterity which so much astonished me. The scene was altogether one I shall never forget.”

LESSON LX. Virginius and his Daughter Virginia.

This is taken from a tragedy, the plot of which is laid in ancient Rome. Virginius is a Roman patriot, and has become offended with Icilius, for participating in a public act, unfriendly to the liberties of the people. At the same time he suspects that his daughter loves Icilius: His design is, to learn the truth; which is unwittingly betrayed by Virginia to her father.

Virginia. Well, Father ; what 's your will ?

Virginius. I wished to see you,
To ask you.of your tasks, - how go they on,
And what your masters say of you,

what last
You did. I hope you never play
The truant ?

Virg. The truant ! No, indeed, Virginius.
V. I am sure you do not, kiss me!
Virg. O! my father,
I am so happy, when you 're kind to me!

V. You are so happy when I'm kind to you !
Am I not always kind? I never spoke
An
angry

word to you in all my life,
Virginia ! You are happy when I 'm kind !
That's strange; and makes me think you have some reason
To fear I may be otherwise than kind.
Is 't so, my girl ?

Virg. Indeed! I did not know What I was saying to you !

V. Why! that 's worse And worse ! What! when you said your father's kindness Made

you so happy, am I to believe You were not thinking of him ?

Virg. I

V. Go fetch ine
The latest task you did. (She goes.)
It is enough.
Her artless speech, like crystal, shows the thing
'T would hide, but only covers. "T is enough!
She loves, and fears her father may condemn.

Virg. (Reëntering with a painting.)
Here, Sir!

V. What's this?

Virg. "T is Homer's history
Of great Achilles, parting from Briseis.

V. You have done it well. The coloring is good.
The figure 's well designed. 'T is very well !
Whose face is this you ’ve given to Achilles ?

Virg. Whose face?

V. I've seen this face! Tut! Tut! I know it As well as I do my own; yet, can't bethink me Whose face it is!:

Virg. You mean Achilles' face!

V. Did I not say so ? 'T is the very face
Of No! No! Not of him. There 's too much youth
And comeliness; and too much fire, to suit
The face of Lucius Dentatus.

Virg. O!
You surely never took it for his face !

V. Why, no; for now I look again, I'd swear
You lost the copy, ere you drew the head;
And, to requite Achilles for the want
Of his own face, contrived to borrow one
From Lucius Icilius.
(Here Dentatus enters, and, after some conversation, he and

Virginius retire.)
Virg. How is it with my heart?

I feel as one
That has lost every thing, and just before
Had nothing left to wish for! He will cast
Icilius off! I never told it yet ;
But take from me, thou gentle air, the secret,
And ever after breathe more balmy sweet,
I love Icilius !

CAPTURE OF A WHALE.

133

[ocr errors]

LESSON LXI. Capture of a Whale. 1. A few long and vigorous strokes run the boat of the whaleman directly up to the broadside of the whale, with its bows pointing towards one of the fins, which was at times, as the animal yielded sluggishly to the action of the waves, exposed to view. The cockswain poised his harpoon with much precision, and then darted it from him with a violence that buried the iron in the body of their foe. The instant the blow was made, Long 'Tom shouted with singular earnestness, Starn all !

2. “Stern all !” echoed Barnstable; when the obedient seamen, by united efforts, forced the boat in a backward direction, beyond the reach of any blow from their formidable antagonist. The alarmed animal, however, meditated no such resistance ; ignorant of his own power, and of the insignificance of his enemies, he sought refuge in flight. One moment of stupid surprise succeeded the entrance of the iron, when he cast his huge tail into the air with a violence that threw the sea around him into increased commotion, and then disappeared-with the quickness of lightning, amid a cloud of foam.

3. “Snub him!” shouted Barnstable; “ hold on, Tom; he rises already." “Ay, ay, Sir," replied the composed cockswain, seizing the line which was running out of the boat with a velocity that rendered such a maneuvre rather hazard.ous, and causing it to yield more gradually round the loggerhead, that was placed in the bows of the boat for that purpose. Presently the line stretched forward, and, rising to the surface with tremulous vibrations, it indicated the direction in which the animal might be expected to reappear.

4. Barnstable had cast the bows of the boat towards that point, before the terrified and wounded victim rose once more to the surface, whose time was, however, no longer wasted in his sports, but who cast the waters aside as he forced his way, with prodigious velocity, along their surface. The boat was dragged violently in his wake, and cut through the billows. with a terrific rapidity, that at moments seemed to bury the slight fabric in the ocean. When Long Tom beheld his victim throwing his spouts on high again, he pointed with

« PředchozíPokračovat »