The stars shone out, one by one, in the firmament, when the king of day had descended. Calmly the night looked down, and undisturbed were Harry’s thoughts, as seated upon the taffrail, old Neptune by his side, he once again breathed the air of liberty. Not that he rejoiced that he was thus freed from him who had kept him in perfect slavery, for he alone had dropped a tear over the uncoffined burial of his persecutor; but his heart was filled with gratitude, as he looked into the peerless night,—gratitude to Him who has given us a soul, that we may admire the works of his hands. As Harry sat musing, turning from the heavenly orbs to their semblance on the bosom of the placid waters, he observed, as it were, a fallen star, mirrored therein, but rousing his dreamy senses, he found it was a small, shining object, floating near them. He drew it from the water; it was a block of wood, in the form of an octagon, highly polished, inlaid with bits of pearl, forming grotesque figures, and thickly studded with some bright mineral, representing stars, which gave it a very handsome appearance.
“Well, if the youngster isn’t picking up moonshine,” remarked Sampson, examining the curiosity. “Some poor fellow designed that for his sweetheart, likely; but I suppose it will make but little difference with her, if she hears he’s among the missing, she can just as well set her colors for another. These bright-winged butterflies go upon the principle that ‘there’s as good fish in the sea as ever was caught.’”
“O, ho, Sampson,” cried the jolly faced mate, who had now taken the captain’s berth, “you are inclined to give the fair ones no quarters. I shouldn’t wonder if they had given you the slip, in some of your cruisings.”
“Well, sir, nothing of that kind, exactly; I never had much notion for shipping under one captain for life.”
“A little frightened, eh?”
“Well, between you and I, I was a little skeery, for fear I should find my mate at the helm.”
“Yes, but you don’t mean to say woman is a craft sailing without a compass, do you? that is, minus a heart?”
“Aye, aye, but it’s hard to get in their wake. I never met but one whole-souled woman in my life, and she has gone—where such as she do go. Ah, that was a hard time! I was the only one saved of two hundred!”
“How was that, Sampson? come, spin us that yarn.”
“Land ho! land ho!” hailed the lookout, and every eye welcomed Manilla, as they ran in for repairs, after cruising about for months without taking a drop of oil. Harry was delighted with the prospect before him, and laying the little curiosity, which would remind him of a sad event in his voyage, away with his bible, he entered upon the duties before him with his whole heart, realizing the visions of his earlier days, and gaining a thorough knowledge of—the life of a sailor boy.