The Skipper laughed. “Sir Shark is ten times so strong as any man, let him be of the best, my friend; but he has not the strength of head, you understand; that makes the difference. And you, could you do that, too? Could you keep yourself from fear, when the sea-creatures come about you, if you should ever be a sailor? What think you?”
The child pondered.
“I think I could!” he said at last.
“I never saw any such things, of course, but I’m not afraid of anything that I know about, here on shore. There was a snake,” he went on, lowering his voice, “last summer there was a snake that lived in a hole by the school-house, and he was a poison snake, an adder. One day he crept out of his hole and came into the school-house, and scared them all ’most to death. The teacher fainted away, and all the children got up into a corner on the table, and the snake had the whole floor to himself. But it looked funny to see them all that way over a little beast that wasn’t more than two foot long; so I thought about it, and then I went to the wood-box (we were burning brushwood then) and got a stick with a little fork at the end, and I came up quick behind the snake, and clapped that down over his neck, so he couldn’t turn his head round, and then I took another stick and killed him. That’s only a little thing, but I wasn’t afraid at all, and I thought perhaps it would show whether I would be good for anything when there were real things to be afraid of.”
The Skipper nodded in his pleasant, understanding way. “I think so, too, Colorado,” he said. “I think so, too! That was like my boy Rento, but not like Franci. Franci dies every time he see a snake, and come to life only to find out if somebody else is killed. See, my son, how beautiful the moon on the water! Let us look for a few moments, to take the beauty into us, and then I must send my little friend to his bed, that nothing harmful comes to him.”
So they sat hand in hand for awhile, gazing their fill, saying nothing; there was the same look in the two faces, so widely different. The little boy, with his clear brow, his blue eyes limpid as a mountain pool, shining with the heavens reflected in them; the dark Spaniard (if he were a Spaniard!) with lines of sadness, shadows of thought and of bitter experience, making his bronze face still darker; what was there alike in these two, who had come together from the ends of the earth? The thought was one, in both hearts, and the look of it shone in the eyes of both as they sat in the moonlight white and clear. What was the thought? Look into the face of your child as it kneels to pray at close of day! Look into the face of any good and true man when he is lifted above the things of to-day, and sees the beauty and the mystery, and hears the eternal voices sounding!
“’Morning, evening, noon and
Praise God!’ sang Theocrite.”