“That’s well done, Mr. Higgins!” (for such was the man’s name). “Let the hardiest not forget the females who have shown so much fortitude under trying circumstances; let the strong not forget the weak, but all save who can,” returned the mate, as he scanned through the stormy elements ahead, in the hope of catching a glimpse of the point.
Drenched with the briny spray that swept over the little bark, never did woman exhibit fortitude more resolute. Franconia thanked the man for his solicitude, laid her hand nervously upon his arm, and, through the dark, watched his countenance as if her fate was in its changes.
The din and murmur of the surf now rose high above the wail of the sea. Fearful and gloomy, a fretted shore stood out before them, extending from a bold jut on the starboard hand away into the darkness on the left. Beneath it the angry surf beat and lashed against the beach in a sheet of white foam, roaring in dismal cadences.
“Hadn’t you better put her broad on, Mr. Slade?” enquired the young seaman, peering along the line of surf that bordered the shore with its deluging bank.
“Ask no questions!” returned the mate, in a firm voice: “Act to the moment, when she strikes-I will act until then.” At the moment a terrific rumbling broke forth; the din of elements seemed in battle conflict; the little bark, as if by some unforeseen force, swept through the lashing surge, over a high curling wave, and with a fearful crash lay buried in the boiling sand. Agonising shrieks sounded amid the rage of elements; and then fainter and fainter they died away on the wind’s murmurs. Another moment, and the young sailor might have been seen, Franconia’s slender form in his arms, struggling against the devouring surf; but how vain against the fierce monster were his noble efforts! The receding surge swept them far from the shore, and buried them in its folds,—a watery grave received the fair form of one whose life of love had been spotless, just, and holy. The white wave was her winding-sheet,—the wind sang a requiem over her watery grave,—and a just God received her spirit, and enthroned it high among the angels.
Of the twenty-seven who embarked in the little craft, but two gained the beach, where they stood drenched and forlorn, as if contemplating the raging surf that had but a minute before swallowed up their fellow voyagers. The boat had driven on a flat sandy beach some two miles from the point on which stood the cluster of dwellings before described; and from which two bright lights glimmered, like beacons to guide the forlorn mariner. For them, the escaped men-one a passenger, the other a seaman-shaped their course, wet, and sad at heart.
In which is A sad recognition.