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Stories of Mystery edited by Rossiter Johnson
A RAFT THAT NO MAN MADE by ROBERT T.S. LOWELL.
"After a bit, I got up to look out where most swiles was, for company, while I was livun: an' the first look struck me a'most like a bullet! There I sid a sail! _'T was_ a sail, an' 't was like heaven openun, an' God settun her down there. About three mile away she was, to nothe'ard, in th' Ice.
"I could ha' sid, at first look, what schooner 't was; but I did n' want to look hard at her. I kep' my peace, a spurt, an' then I runned an' bawled out, 'Glory be to God!' an' then I stopped, an' made proper thanks to Un. An' there she was, same as ef I'd a-walked off from her an hour ago! It felt so long as ef I'd been livun years, an' they would n' know me, sca'ce. Somehow, I did n' think I could come up wi' her.
"I started, in the name o' God wi' all my might, an' went, an' went,--'t was a five mile, wi' goun round,--an' got her, thank God! 'T was n' the Baccaloue (I sid that long before), 't was t' other schooner, the Sparrow, repairun damages they'd got day before. So that kep' 'em there, an' I'd a-been took from one an' brought to t' other.
"I could n' do a hand's turn tull we got into the Bay agen,--I was so clear beat out. The Sparrow kep' her men, an' fotch home about thirty-eight hundred swiles, an' a poor man off th' Ice: but they, poor fellows, that I went out wi' never comed no more: an' I never went agen.
"I kept the skin o' the poor baste, Sir: that's 'e on my cap."
When the planter had fairly finished his tale, it was a little while before I could teach my eyes to see the things about me in their places. The slow-going sail, outside, I at first saw as the schooner that brought away the lost man from the Ice; the green of the earth would not, at first, show itself through the white with which the fancy covered it; and at first I could not quite feel that the ground was fast under my feet. I even mistook one of my own men (the sight of whom was to warn me that I was wanted elsewhere) for one of the crew of the schooner Sparrow of a generation ago.
I got the tale and its scene gathered away, presently, inside my mind, and shook myself into a present association with surrounding things, and took my leave. I went away the more gratified that I had a chance of lifting my cap to a matron, dark-haired and comely (who, I was sure, at a glance, had once been the maiden of Benjie Westham's "troth-plight"), and receiving a handsome courtesy in return.
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