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Stories of Mystery edited by Rossiter Johnson
A RAFT THAT NO MAN MADE by ROBERT T.S. LOWELL.
[Footnote 9: To stop.]
I had been so carried along with his story that I had felt as if I were the man on the Ice, myself, and assured him, that, though I could get along pretty well on land, _and could even do something at netting_, I should have been very awkward in his place.
"Wull, Sir, I looked for a lee. ('T would n' ha' been so cold, to say cold, ef it had n' a-blowed so tarrible hard.) First step, I stumbled upon somethun in the snow, seemed soft, like a body! Then I comed all together, hopun an' fearun an' all together. Down I goed upon my knees to un, an' I smoothed away the snow, all tremblun, an' there was a moan, as ef 't was a-livun.
"'O Lard!' I said, 'who's this? Be this one of our men?'
"But how could it? So I scraped the snow away, but 't was easy to see 't was smaller than a man. There was n' no man on that dreadful place but me! Wull, Sir, 't was a poor swile, wi' blood runnun all under; an' I got my cuffs an' sleeves all red wi' it. It looked like a fellow-creatur's blood, a'most, an' I was a lost man, left to die away out there in th' Ice, an' I said, 'Poor thing! poor thing!' an' I did n' mind about the wind, or th' ice, or the schooner goun away from me afore a gale (I _would_ n' mind about 'em), an' a poor lost Christen may show a good turn to a hurt thing, ef 't was on'y a baste. So I smoothed away the snow wi' my cuffs, an' I sid 't was a poor thing wi' her whelp close by her, an' her tongue out, as ef she'd a-died fondlun an' lickun it; an' a great puddle o' blood,--it looked tarrible heartless, when I was so nigh to death, an' was n' hungry. An' then I feeled a stick, an' I thowt, 'It may be a help to me,' an' so I pulled un, an' it would n' come, an' I found she was lyun on it; so I hauled agen, an' when it comed, 't was my gaff the poor baste had got away from me, an' got it under her, an' she was a-lyun on it. Some o' the men, when they was runnun for dear life, must ha' struck 'em, out o' madness like, an' laved 'em to die where they was. 'T was the whelp was n' quite dead. 'Ee 'll think 't was foolish, Sir, but it seemed as though they was somethun to me, an' I'd a-lost the last friendly thing there was.
[Footnote 10: Mittens.]
"I found a big hummock an' sheltered under it, standun on my feet, wi' nawthun to do but think, an' think, an' pray to God; an' so I doned. I could n' help feelun to God then, surely. Nawthun to do, an' no place to go, tull snow cleared away; but jes' drift wi' the great Ice down from the Nothe, away down over the say, a sixty mile a day, mubbe. I was n' a good Christen, an' I could n' help a-thinkun o' home an' she I was troth-plight wi', an' I doubled over myself an' groaned,--I could n' help it; but bumby it comed into me to say my prayers, an' it seemed as thof she was askun me to pray (an' she _was_ good, Sir, al'ays), an' I seemed all opened, somehow, an' I knowed how to pray."