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Stories of Mystery edited by Rossiter Johnson


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Stories of Mystery edited by Rossiter Johnson

While the words were coming tenderly from the weather-beaten fisherman, I could not help being moved, and glanced over toward the daughter's seat; but she was gone, and, turning round, I saw her going quietly, almost stealthily, and very quickly, _toward the cove_.

The father gave no heed to her leaving, but went on with his tale:--

"Then the wind began to fall down, an' the snow knocked off altogether, an' the sun comed out; an' I sid th' Ice, field-ice an' icebargs, an' every one of 'em flashun up as ef they'd kendled up a bonfire, but no sign of a schooner! no sign of a schooner! nor no sign o' man's douns, but on'y ice, every way, high an' low, an' some places black water, in-among; an' on'y the poor swiles bawlun all over, an' I standun amongst 'em.

"While I was lookun out, I sid a great icebarg (they calls 'em) a quarter of a mile away, or thereabouts, standun up,--one end a twenty fathom out o' water, an' about a forty fathom across, wi' hills like, an' houses,--an' then, jest as ef 'e was alive an' had tooked a notion in 'e'sself, seemunly, all of a sudden 'e rared up, an' turned over an' over, wi' a tarrible thunderun noise, an' comed right on, breakun everything an' throwun up great seas; 't was frightsome for a lone body away out among 'em! I stood an' looked at un, but then agen I thowt I may jes' so well be goun to thick ice an' over Noofundland-ways a piece, so well as I could. So I said my bit of a prayer, an' told Un I could n' help myself; an' I made my confession how bad I'd been, an' I was sorry, an ef 'E 'd be so pitiful an' forgive me; an' ef I mus' loss my life, ef 'E 'd be so good as make me a good Christen first,--an' make _they_ happy, in course.

"So then I started; an' first I goed to where my gaff was, by the mother-swile an' her whelp. There was swiles every two or three yards a'most, old uns an' young uns, all round everywhere; an' I feeled shamed in a manner: but I got my gaff, an' cleaned un, an' then, in God's name, I took the big swile, that was dead by its dead whelp, an' hauled it away, where the t' other poor things could n' si' me, an' I sculped[11] it, an' took the pelt;--for I thowt I'd wear un, now the poor dead thing did n' want to make oose of un no more,--an' partly becase 't was sech a lovun thing. An' so I set out, walkun this way for a spurt, an' then t' other way, keepun up mostly a Nor-norwest, so well as I could: sometimes away round th' open, an' more times round a lump of ice, an' more times, agen, off from one an' on to another, every minute. I did n' feel hungry, for I drinked fresh water off th' ice. No schooner! no schooner!

[Footnote 11: Skinned.]

"Bumby the sun was goun down: 't was slow work feelun my way along, an' I did n' want to look about; but then agen I thowt God 'ad made it to be sid; an' so I come to, an' turned all round, an' looked; an' surely it seemed like another world, someway, 't was so beautiful,--yellow, an' different sorts o' red, like the sky itself in a manner, an' flashun like glass. So then it comed night; an' I thowt I should n' go to bed, an' I may forget my prayers, an' so I'd, mubbe, best say 'em right away; an' so I doned: 'Lighten our darkness,' and others we was oosed to say; an' it comed into my mind, the Lard said to Saint Peter, 'Why did n' 'ee have faith?' when there was nawthun on the water for un to go on; an' I had ice under foot,--'t was but frozen water, but 't was frozen,--an' I thanked Un.