To the uninitiated, words are powerless to reveal the torments of the imprisoned in a modern steel inquisition, rocking and pitching at the mercy of mighty torrents in a mid-ocean cyclone. Mephistopheles, seeking severest punishment for the damned, displayed tenderness in not adopting the super-heated and sooted pits where stokers in storms at sea are forced to labor and suffer.
All that terrible second day and night at sea, the Harrises and others tossed back and forth in their unstable berths, some suffering with chills and others with burning heat. Some, Mrs. Harris and daughter among them, lay for hours more dead than alive, their wills and muscles utterly powerless to reach needed and much coveted blankets.
The dining saloon was deserted except by a few old sea-travelers. Before dinner, Leo ventured above and for a moment put his head outside. The gale blowing a hundred miles an hour hit him with the force of a club. When he went below to see Alfonso, his face was pale, and his voice trembled as he said, “Harris, before morning we shall all sink to the bottom of the Atlantic with the ‘Majestic’ for our tomb.” Half undressed, Leo dropped again into his berth where he spent a miserable night.
Few persons find life enjoyable in a great storm at sea, for the discomfitures of mind and body are many. The ship’s officers and crew are always concerned about the welfare of the passengers and the safety of steamer and cargo.
True, Leo, with the instincts of an artist, had stood for hours on the deck, partially sheltered by a smoke-stack, to study wave motions and the ever-changing effects of the ocean. Never before had he known its sublimity. When the sea was wildest and the deck was wave-swept, he in his safe retreat made sketches of waves and their combinations which he hoped sometime to reproduce on canvas. At other times, conscious of storm dangers in mid-ocean, Leo’s conscience troubled him. For a year he had been much in love with a pretty Italian girl, daughter of an official, long in the service of the Italian government at the port of New York.
Rosie Ricci was fifteen years old when she first met Leo. Dressed in white, she entered an exhibition of water colors on W. 10th street with her mother one May morning, as Leo had finished hanging a delicate marine view sketched down the Narrows.
Glances only between Leo and Rosie were exchanged, but each formed the resolution sometime, if possible, to know the other. Rosie’s father had died when she was only fourteen years old, and existence for Mrs. Ricci and her little family had been a struggle. For the last year, a happy change had come in their condition. A letter had been received from a rich senator by Mrs. Ricci, which was couched in the tenderest language. The senator explained in his letter that at a musicale, given on Fifth Avenue, he had heard a Rosie Ricci sing a simple song that revived memories of an early day. This fact, coupled with Rosie’s charming simplicity and vivacity of manner, fixed her name in his mind; later he was reading the New York Tribune, and the name Ricci arrested his attention.