It was a strange scene that now offered on the rock. By this time the fire was burning not only brightly, but fiercely, shedding its bright light far and near. Under its most brilliant rays stood Harry and Rose, both smiling and happy, delighted in their meeting, and, for the moment, forgetful of all but their present felicity. Never, indeed, had Rose appeared more lovely than under these circumstances. Her face was radiant with those feelings which had so recently changed from despair to delight—a condition that is ever most propitious to beauty; and charms that always appeared feminine and soft, now seemed elevated to a bright benignancy that might best be likened to our fancied images of angels. The mild, beaming, serene and intelligent blue eyes, the cheeks flushed with happiness, the smiles that came so easily, and were so replete with tenderness, and the rich hair, deranged by the breeze, and moistened by the air of the sea, each and all, perhaps, borrowed some additional lustre from the peculiar light under which they were exhibited. As for Harry, happiness had thrown all the disadvantages of exposure, want of dress, and a face that had not felt the razor for six-and-thirty hours, into the back-ground. When he left the wreck, he had cast aside his cap and his light summer jacket, in order that they might not encumber him in swimming, but both had been recovered when he returned with the boat to take off his friends. In his ordinary sea attire, then, he now stood, holding Rose’s two hands in front of the fire, every garment clean and white as the waters of the ocean could make them, but all betraying some of the signs of his recent trials. His fine countenance was full of the love he bore for the intrepid and devoted girl who had risked so much in his behalf; and a painter might have wished to preserve the expression of ardent, manly admiration which glowed in his face, answering to the gentle sympathy and womanly tenderness it met in that of Rose.
The back-ground of this picture was the wide, even surface of the coral reef, with its exterior setting of the dark and gloomy sea. On the side of the channel, however, appeared the boat, already winded, with Biddy still on the rock, looking kindly at the lovers by the fire, while Jack was holding the painter, beginning to manifest a little impatience at the delay.
“They’ll stay there an hour, holding each other’s hands, and looking into each other’s faces,” half grumbled the little, rotund, assistant-steward, anxious to be on his way back to the brig, “unless a body gives ’em a call. Captain Spike will be in no very good humour to receive you and me on board ag’in, if he should find out what sort of a trip we’ve been making hereaway.”
“Let ’em alone—let ’em alone, Jacky,” answered the good-natured and kind-hearted Irish woman. “It’s happy they bees, jist now, and it does my eyes good to look at ’em.”
“Ay, they’re happy enough, now; I only hope it may last.”