* * * * *
The ship’s white sails are all unfurl’d
To the salt breath of the sea;
And never a ship in all the world
Sails on with the wind more free.
For the white sails are white hopes of
The breath of the future blows;
But whither the vessel flies, in truth,
There is no man that knows.
* * * * *
A ROMANCE OF COLONIAL DAYS.
BY FRANCES C. SPARHAWK, Author of “A Lazy Man’s Work.”
[Footnote 1: 1884, by Frances C. Sparhawk.]
ON THE TIDE.
One August evening of the year 1743 a boat lay as if anchored in the beautiful Piscataqua; her sail seemed swung only to show its whiteness in the bright moonlight. Every cord upon it hung lifeless, serving only the purpose of pictured lines, one silvered in the light, the dark shadow of the other traced in clear outlines on the sail. The swash of the waves against the side of the boat was too slight to sway it; the sheet dipped in the water and swung almost imperceptibly, while now and then a few straws floated against it and caught there. The moon, high in the heavens, gave pearly tints to the clouds that floated near it; the pines on the shore flung dark masses against the oaks and maples, or stood as a Rembrandt background for the boughs of the trees on which the moonlight fell, or for some ghostly procession of the white birch trunks. The water, in the shadows as dark and smooth as a Claude Lorraine glass, showed far off in the moonlight faint quivers of its surface here and there, as if the breeze so longed for were coming to the idle boat. But it was too far off, or too faint, for it spent itself before reaching the watchers there, although at the symptoms one of them rose with great show of solemnity, and making a trumpet of his hands, blew vigorously against the sail. But neither these movements nor the concerts of whistling were successful. At last another of the company leaning over the side of the boat busied himself with the sheet.
“I’ll tell you the reason this boat don’t go,” he said, gravely, “the rope was all twisted. I’ve straightened it out, and taken off the straws.”
A burst of laughter greeted him as he turned around his face, still grave, but his dark eyes, roving from one to another, their laughing expression hidden in the shadow, for the moon was behind him.
“What a useful member of society you are, Stephen,” cried Katie Archdale. “I don’t see how we could get on without you.”
“I don’t think we’re getting on with him very fast,” remarked a young gentleman sitting opposite Katie, pointing significantly at a curve of the shore that they had not drifted out of sight of in the last half hour.
“At least he has roused us,” returned the girl, “for I half believe I was sleepy before.”