To enter the dark recesses of the place without a light she knew would be impossible as well as useless, and she had no means of procuring a light. Besides, even if she had, what good could come of her exploration? The next impulse was to hasten back to the settlement at full speed and guide a party to the place; but, was it likely that the savage would remain long in the cave? This question suggested her former idea of the possible existence of another outlet; and as she thought upon Alice being now utterly beyond her reach, she covered her face with her hands and burst into tears. After a short time she began to pray. Then, as the minutes flew past, and her hopes sank lower and lower, she commenced—like many a child of Adam who thinks himself considerably wiser than a black girl—to murmur at her hard lot. This she did in an audible voice, having become forgetful of, as well as indifferent to, the chances of discovery.
“Oh! w’at for was me born?” she inquired, somewhat viciously; and not being able, apparently, to answer this question, she proceeded to comment in a wildly sarcastic tone on the impropriety of her having been brought into existence at all.
“Me should be dead. Wat’s de use o’life w’en ums nothin’ to live for? Alice gone! Darling Alice! Oh, dear! Me wish I wasn’t never had been born; yes, me do! Don’t care for meself! Wouldn’t give nuffin for meself! Only fit to tend Missy Alice! Not fit for nuffin else. And now Alice gone—whar’ to’ nobody nose an’ nobody care, ’xcept Poopy, who’s not worth a brass button!”
Having given utterance to this last expression, which she had acquired from her friend Corrie, the poor girl began to howl in order to relieve her insupportable feelings.
It was at this point in our story that Master Corrie, and his companion the Grampus, having traced the before-mentioned footprints for a considerable distance, became cognizant of sundry unearthly sounds, on hearing which, never having heard anything like them before, these wanderers stood still in attitudes of breathless attention, and gazed at each other with looks of indescribable amazement, not altogether unmixed with a dash of consternation.
A GHOST—A TERRIBLE COMBAT ENDING IN A DREADFUL PLUNGE.
“Corrie,” said Jo Bumpus, solemnly, with a troubled expression on his grave face, “I’ve heer’d a many a cry in this life, both ashore and afloat; but, since I was half as long as a marlinespike, I’ve never heerd the likes o’ that there screech nowhere.”
At any other time the boy would have expressed a doubt as to the possibility of the Grampus having, at any period of his existence, been so short as “half the length of a marlinespike;” but, being very imaginative by nature, and having been encouraged to believe in ghosts by education, he was too frightened to be funny. With a face that might very well have passed for that of a ghost, and a very pale ghost too, he said, in a tremulous voice: