“With a ship for a dwelling—the tempestuous ocean for a world!—”
“Thy world is my world!—thy home, my home!—thy danger, mine!”
The shout which burst out of the chest of the ‘Skimmer of the Seas’ was one of uncontrollable exultation.
“Thou art mine!” he cried. “Before a tie like this, the claim of such a father is forgotten! Burgher, adieu!—I will deal by thy daughter more honestly than thou didst deal by my benefactor’s child!”
Eudora was lifted from the ground as if her weight had been that of a feather; and, spite of a sudden and impetuous movement of Ludlow and the Patroon, she was borne to the boat. In a moment, the bark was afloat, with the gallant boy tossing his sea-cap upward in triumph. The brigantine, as if conscious of what had passed, wore round like a whirling chariot; and, ere the spectators had recovered from their confusion and wonder, the boat was hanging at the tackles. The free-trader was seen on the poop, with an arm cast about the form of Eudora, waving a hand to the motionless group on the shore, while the still half-unconscious girl of the ocean signed her faint adieus to Alida and her father. The vessel glided through the inlet, and was immediately rocking on the billows of the surf. Then, taking the full weight of the southern breeze, the fine and attenuated spars bent to its force, and the progress of the swift-moving craft was apparent by the bubbling line of its wake.
The day had begun to decline, before Alida and Ludlow quitted the lawn of the Lust in Rust. For the first hour, the dark hull of the brigantine was seen supporting the moving cloud of canvas. Then the low structure vanished, and sail after sail settled into the water, until nothing was visible but a speck of glittering white. It lingered for a minute, and was swallowed in the void.
The nuptials of Ludlow and Alida were touched with a shade of melancholy. Natural affection in one, and professional sympathy in the other, had given them a deep and lasting interest in the fate of the adventurers.
Years passed away, and months were spent at the villa, in which a thousand anxious looks were cast upon the ocean. Each morning, during the early months of summer, did Alida hasten to the windows of her pavilion, in the hope of seeing the vessel of the contraband anchored in the Cove:—but always without success. It never returned;—and though the rebuked and disappointed Alderman caused many secret inquiries to be made along the whole extent of the American coast, he never again heard of the renowned ‘skimmer of the seas’ or of his matchless water-witch.