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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Wing-and-wing: Le Feu-follet - Chapter 11
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The Wing-and-wing: Le Feu-follet - Chapter 11 Post by :twinhorizons Category :Long Stories Author :James Fenimore Cooper Date :May 2012 Read :3134

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The Wing-and-wing: Le Feu-follet - Chapter 11

CHAPTER XI

"The human mind, that lofty thing,
The palace and the throne,
Where reason sits, a sceptred king,
And breathes his judgment tone;
Oh! I who with silent step shall trace
The borders of that haunted place,
Nor in his weakness own,
That mystery and marvel bind
That lofty thing--the human mind!"

ANONYMOUS.


It is unnecessary to dwell on the glories of the Mediterranean. They are familiar to every traveler, and books have again and again laid them before the imaginations of readers of all countries and ages. Still, there are lights and shades peculiar to every picture, and this of ours has some of its own that merit a passing notice. A sunset, in midsummer, can add to the graces of almost any scene. Such was the hour when Raoul anchored; and Ghita, who had come on deck, now that the chase was over and the danger was thought to be past, fancied she had never seen her own Italy or the blue Mediterranean more lovely.

The shadows of the mountains were cast far upon the sea, long ere the sun had actually gone down, throwing the witchery of eventide over the whole of the eastern coast, some time before it came to grace its western. Corsica and Sardinia resemble vast fragments of the Alps, which have fallen into the sea by some accident of nature, where they stand in sight of their native beds, resembling, as it might be, outposts to those great walls of Europe. Their mountains have the same formations, the same white peaks, for no small portion of the year at least, and their sides the same mysterious and riven aspect. In addition, however, to their other charms, they have one that is wanting in most of Switzerland, though traces of it are to be found in Savoy and on the southern side of the Alps; they have that strange admixture of the soft and the severe, of the sublime and beautiful, that so peculiarly characterize the witchery of Italian nature. Such was now the aspect of all visible from the deck of le Feu-Follet. The sea, with its dark-blue tint, was losing every trace of the western wind, and was becoming glassy and tranquil; the mountains on the other side were solemn and grand, just showing their ragged outlines along a sky glowing with "the pomp that shuts the day"; while the nearer valleys and narrow plains were mysterious, yet soft, under the deep shadows they cast. Pianosa lay nearly opposite, distant some twenty miles, rising out of the water like a beacon; Elba was visible to the northeast, a gloomy confused pile of mountain at that hour; and Ghita once or twice thought she could trace on the coast of the main the dim outline of her own hill, Monte Argentaro; though the distance, some sixty or seventy miles, rendered this improbable. Outside, too, lay the frigate, riding on the glassy surface of the sea, her sails furled, her yards squared, everything about her cared for and in its place, until she formed a faultless picture of nautical symmetry and naval propriety. There are all sorts of men in a marine, as well as in civil life; these taking things as they come, content to perform their duties in the most quiet manner, while others again have some such liking for their vessels as the dandy has for his own person, and are never happy unless embellishing them. The truth in this, as in most other matters, lies in a medium; the officer who thinks too much of the appearance of his vessel, seldom having mind enough to be stow due attention on the great objects for which she was constructed and is sailed; while, on the other hand, he who is altogether indifferent to these appearances is usually thinking of things foreign to his duty and his profession; if, indeed, he thinks at all. Cuffe was near the just medium, Inclining a little too much, perhaps, to the naval dandy. The Proserpine, thanks to the builders of Toulon, was thought to be the handsomest model then afloat in the Mediterranean, and, like an established beauty, all who belonged to her were fond of decorating her and of showing her fine proportions to advantage. As she now lay at single anchor just out of gun-shot from his own berth, Raoul could not avoid gazing at her with envy, and a bitter feeling passed through his mind when he recalled the chances of fortune and of birth, which deprived him of the hope of ever rising to the command of such a frigate, but which doomed him, seemingly, to the fate of a privateersman for life.

Nature had intended Raoul Yvard for a much higher destiny than that which apparently awaited his career. He had come into active life with none of the advantages that accompany the accidents of birth, and at a moment in the history of his great nation when its morals and its religious sentiments had become unsettled by the violent reaction which was throwing off the abuses of centuries. They who imagine, however, that France, as a whole, was guilty of the gross excesses that disfigured her struggles for liberty know little of the great mass of moral feeling that endured through all the abominations of the times, and mistake the crimes of a few desperate leaders and the exaggerations of misguided impulses for a radical and universal depravity. The France of the Reign of Terror, even, has little more to answer for than the compliance which makes bodies of men the instruments of the enthusiastic, the designing, and the active--our own country often tolerating error that differs only in the degree, under the same blind submission to combinations and impulses; this very degree, to, depending more on the accidents of history and natural causes than any agencies which are to be imputed to the one party as a fault, or to the other as a merit. It was with Raoul as it had been with his country--each was the creature of circumstances; and if the man had some of the faults, he had also most of the merits of his nation and his age. The looseness on the subject of religion, which was his principal defect in the eyes of Ghita, but which could scarcely fail to be a material one with a girl educated and disposed as was the case with our heroine, was the error of the day, and with Raoul it was at least sincere; a circumstance that rendered him, with one so truly pious as the gentle being he loved, the subject of a holy interest, which, in itself, almost rivalled the natural tenderness of her sex, in behalf of the object of her affections.

While the short engagement with the boats lasted, and during the few minutes he was under the fire of the frigate, Raoul had been himself; the excitement of actual war always nerving him to deeds worthy of his command and the high name he had acquired; but throughout the remainder of the day he had felt little disposed to strife. The chase, once assured that his spars were likely to stand, gave him little concern; and now that he was at anchor within the shallow water, he felt much as the traveler who has found a comfortable inn after the fatigue of a hard day's ride. When Ithuel suggested the possibility of a night-attack in boats, he laughingly reminded the American that "the burnt child dreads the fire," and gave himself no great concern in the matter. Still no proper precaution was neglected. Raoul was in the habit of exacting much of his men in moments of necessity; but at all other times he was as indulgent as a kind father among obedient and respectful children. This quality and the never-varying constancy and coolness that he displayed in danger was the secret of his great influence with them; every seaman under his orders feeling certain that no severe duty was required at his hands without a corresponding necessity for it.

On the present occasion, when the people of le Feu-Follet had supped, they were indulged in their customary dance, and the romantic songs of Provence were heard on the forecastle. A light-hearted gayety prevailed, that wanted only the presence of woman to make the scene resemble the evening amusement of some hamlet on the coast. Nor was the sex absent in the sentiment of the hour or wholly so in person. The songs were full of chivalrous gallantry, and Ghita listened, equally touched and amused. She sat on the taffrail, with her uncle standing at her side, while Raoul paced the quarter-deck, stopping, in his turn, to utter some thought or wish, to ears that were always attentive. At length the song and the dance ended, and all but the few who were ordered to remain on watch descended to their hammocks. The change was as sudden as it was striking. The solemn, breathing stillness of a star-lit night succeeded to the light laugh, melodious song, and spirited merriment of a set of men whose constitutional gayety seemed to be restrained by a species of native refinement that is unknown to the mariners of other regions, and who, unnurtured as they might be deemed, in some respects, seldom or never offended against the proprieties, as is so common with the mariners of the boasted Anglo-Saxon race. By this time the cool air from the mountains began to descend, and, floating over the heated sea, it formed a light land-breeze that blew in an exactly contrary direction to that which, about the same hour, came off from the adjacent continent. There was no moon, but the night could not be called dark. Myriads of stars gleamed out from the fathomless firmament, filling the atmosphere with a light that served to render objects sufficiently distinct, while it left them clad in a semi-obscurity that suited the witchery of the scene and the hour. Raoul felt the influence of all these circumstances in an unusual degree. It disposed him to more sobriety of thought than always attended his leisure moments, and he took a seat on the taffrail near Ghita, while her uncle went below to his knees and his prayers.

Every footfall in the lugger had now ceased. Ithuel was posted on a knight-head, where he sat watching his old enemy, the Proserpine; the proximity of that ship not allowing him to sleep. Two experienced seamen, who alone formed the regular anchor-watch, as it is termed, were stationed apart, in order to prevent conversation; one on the starboard cathead, and the other in the main rigging; both keeping vigilant ward over the tranquil sea and the different objects that floated on its placid bosom. In that retired spot these objects were necessarily few, embracing the frigate, the lugger, and three coasters, the latter of which had all been boarded before the night set in, by the Proserpine, and after short detentions dismissed. One of these coasters lay about half-way between the two hostile vessels, at anchor, having come-to, after making some fruitless efforts to get to the northward, by means of the expiring west wind. Although the light land-breeze would now have sufficed to carry her a knot or two through the water, she preferred maintaining her position and giving her people a good night's rest to getting under way. The situation of this felucca and the circumstance that she had been boarded by the frigate rendered her an object of some distrust with Raoul through the early part of the evening, and he had ordered a vigilant eye to be kept on her; but nothing had been discovered to confirm these suspicions. The movements of her people--the manner in which she brought-up--the quiet that prevailed on board her, and even the lubberly disposition of her spars and rigging, went to satisfy Raoul that she had no man-of-war's men on board her. Still, as she lay less than a mile outside of the lugger though now dead to leeward all that distance, she was to be watched; and one of the seamen, he in the rigging, rarely had his eyes off her a minute at a time. The second coaster was a little to the southward of the frigate, under her canvas, hauling in for the land; doubtless with a view to get as much as possible of the breeze from the mountains, and standing slowly to the south. She had been set by compass an hour before, and all that time had altered her bearings but half a point, though not a league off--a proof how light she had the wind. The third coaster, a small felucca, too, was to the northward; but ever since the land-breeze, if breeze it could be called, had come she had been busy turning slowly up to windward, and seemed disposed either to cross the shoals closer in than the spot where the lugger lay or to enter the Golo. Her shadowy outline was visible, though drawn against the land, moving slowly athwart the lugger's hawse, perhaps half a mile in-shore of her. As there was a current setting out of the river, and all the vessels rode with their heads to the island, Ithuel occasionally turned his head to watch her progress, which was so slow, however, as to produce very little change.

After looking around him several minutes in silence Raoul turned his face upward, and gazed at the stars.

"You probably do not know, Ghita," he said, "the use those stars may be, and are, to us mariners. By their aid, we are enabled to tell where we are, in the midst of the broadest oceans--to know the points of the compass, and to feel at home even when furthest removed from it. The seaman must go far south of the equator, at least, ere he can reach a spot where he does not see the same stars that he beheld from the door of his father's house."

"That is a new thought to me," answered Ghita, quickly, her tender nature at once struck with the feeling and poetry of such an idea; "that is a new thought to me, Raoul, and I wonder you never mentioned it before. It is a great thing to be able to carry home and familiar objects with you when so distant from those you love."

"Did you never hear that lovers have chosen an hour and a star, by gazing at which they might commune together, though separated by oceans and countries."

"That is a question you might put to yourself, Raoul; all I have ever heard of lovers and love having come from your own lips."

"Well, then, I tell it you, and hope that we shall not part again without selecting _our star and _our hour--if, indeed, we ever part more. Though I have forgotten to tell you this, Ghita, it is because you are never absent from my thoughts--no star is necessary to recall Monte Argentaro and the Towers."

If we should say Ghita was not pleased with this, it would be to raise her above an amiable and a natural weakness. Raoul's protestations never fell dead on her heart, and few things were sweeter to her ear than his words as they declared his devotedness and passion. The frankness with which he admitted his delinquencies, and most especially the want of that very religious sentiment which was of so much value in the eyes of his mistress, gave an additional weight to his language when he affirmed his love. Notwithstanding Ghita blushed as she now listened, she did not smile; she rather appeared sad. For near a minute she made no reply; and when she did answer, it was in a low voice, like one who felt and thought intensely.

"Those stars may well have a higher office," she said. "Look at them, Raoul;--count them we cannot, for they seem to start out of the depths of heaven, one after another, as the eye rests upon the space, until they mock our efforts at calculation. We see they are there in thousands, and may well believe they are in myriads. Now thou hast been taught, else couldst thou never be a navigator, that those stars are worlds like our own, or suns with worlds sailing around them; how is it possible to see and know this without believing in a God and feeling the insignificance of our being?"

"I do not deny that there is a power to govern all this, Ghita--but I maintain that it is a principle; not a being, in our shape and form; and that it is the reason of things, rather than a deity."

"Who has said that God is a being in our shape and form, Raoul? None know that--- none _can know it; none _say it who reverence and worship him as they ought!"

"Do not your priests say that man has been created in his image? and is not this creating him in his form and likeness?"

"Nay, not so, dear Raoul, but in the image of his spirit--that man hath a soul which partakes, though in a small degree, of the imperishable essence of God; and thus far doth he exist in his image. More than this, none have presumed to say. But what a being, to be the master of all those bright worlds!"

"Ghita, thou know'st my way of thinking on these matters, and thou also know'st that I would not wound thy gentle spirit by a single word that could grieve thee."

"Nay, Raoul, it is _not thy way of _thinking_, but thy fashion of _talking_, that makes the difference between us. No one who _thinks can ever doubt the existence of a being superior to all of earth and of the universe; and who is Creator and Master of all."

"Of a _principle_, if thou wilt, Ghita; but of a _being_, I ask for the proof. That a mighty principle exists, to set all these planets in motion--to create all these stars, and to plant all these suns in space, I never doubted; it would be to question a fact which stands day and night before my eyes; but to suppose a _being capable of producing all these things is to believe in beings I never saw."

"And why not as well suppose that it is a being that does all this, Raoul, as suppose it what you call a principle?"

"Because I see principles beyond my understanding at work all around me: in yonder heavy frigate, groaning under her load of artillery, which floats on this thin water; in the trees of the land that lies so near us; in the animals, which are born and die; the fishes, the birds, and the human beings. But I see no being--know no being, that is able to do all this."

"That is because thou know'st not God! He is the creator of the principles of which thou speak'st, and is greater than thy principles themselves."

"It is easy to say this, Ghita--but hard to prove. I take the acorn and put it in the ground; in due time it comes up a plant; in the course of years, it becomes a tree. Now, all this depends on a certain mysterious principle, which is unknown to me, but which I am sure exists, for I can cause it myself to produce its fruits, by merely opening the earth and laying the seed in its bosom. Nay, I can do more--so well do I understand this principle, to a certain extent at least, that, by choosing the season and the soil, I can hasten or retard the growth of the plant, and, in a manner, fashion the tree."

"True, Raoul, _to a certain extent thou canst; and it is precisely because thou hast been created after the image of God. The little resemblance thou enjoyest to that mighty Being enables thee to do this much more than the beasts of the field: wert thou his equal, thou couldst create that principle of which thou speakest, and which, in thy blindness, thou mistakest for his master."

This was said with more feeling than Ghita had ever before manifested, in their frequent discourses on this subject, and with a solemnity of tone that startled her listener. Ghita had no philosophy, in the common acceptation of the term, while Raoul fancied he had much, under the limitations of a deficient education; and yet the strong religious sentiment of the girl so quickened her faculties that he had often been made to wonder why she had seemingly the best of the argument, on a subject in which he flattered himself with being so strong.

"I rather think, Ghita, we scarcely understand each other," answered Raoul. "I pretend not to see any more than is permitted to man; or, rather, more than his powers can comprehend; but this proves nothing, as the elephant understands more than the horse, and the horse more than the fish. There is a principle which pervades everything which we call Nature; and this it is which has produced these whirling worlds and all the mysteries of creation. One of its laws is, that nothing it produces shall comprehend its secrets."

"You have only to fancy your principle a spirit, a being with mind, Raoul, to have the Christian's God. Why not believe in him as easily as you believe in your unknown principle, as you call it? You know that you exist--that you can build a lugger--can reason on the sun and stars, so as to find your way across the widest ocean, by means of your mind; and why not suppose that some superior being exists who can do even more than this? Your principles can be thwarted even by yourself--the seed can be deprived of its power to grow--the tree destroyed; and, if principles can thus be destroyed, some accident may one day destroy creation by destroying its principle. I fear to speak to you of revelation, Raoul, for I know you mock it!"

"Not when it comes from _thy lips, dearest. I may not _believe_, but I never _mock at what thou utterest and reverencest."

"I could thank thee for this, Raoul, but I feel it would be taking to myself a homage that ought to be paid elsewhere. But here is my guitar, and I am sorry to say that the hymn to the Virgin has not been sung on board this lugger to-night; thou canst not think how sweet is a hymn sung upon the waters. I heard the crew that is anchored toward the frigate, singing that hymn, while thy men were at their light Provencal songs in praise of woman's beauty, instead of joining in praise of their Creator."

"Thou mean'st to sing thy hymn, Ghita, else the guitar would not have been mentioned?"

"Raoul, I do. I have ever found thy soul the softest after holy music. Who knows but the mercy of God may one day touch it through the notes of this very hymn!"

Ghita paused a moment, and then her light fingers passed over the strings of her guitar in a solemn symphony; after which came the sweet strains of "Ave Maria," in a voice and melody that might, in sooth, have touched a heart of stone. Ghita, a Neapolitan by birth, had all her country's love for music; and she had caught some of the science that seems to pervade nations in that part of the world. Nature had endowed her with one of the most touching voices of her sex; one less powerful than mellow and sweet; and she never used it in a religious office without its becoming tremulous and eloquent with feeling. While she was now singing this well-known hymn, a holy hope pervaded her moral system, that, in some miraculous manner, she might become the agent of turning Raoul to the love and worship of God; and the feeling communicated itself to her execution. Never before had she sung so well; as a proof of which Ithuel left his knight-head and came aft to listen, while the two French mariners on watch temporarily forgot their duty, in entranced attention.

"If anything could make me a believer, Ghita," murmured Raoul, when the last strain had died on the lips of his beloved, "it would be to listen to thy melody! What now, Monsieur Etooell! are you, too, a lover of holy music?"

"This is rare singing, Captain Rule; but we have different business on hand. If you will step to the other end of the lugger, you can take a look at the craft that has been crawling along, in-shore of us, for the last three hours--there is something about her that is unnat'ral; she seems to be dropping down nearer to us, while she has no motion through the water. The last circumstance I hold to be unnat'ral with a vessel that has all sail set and in this breeze."

Raoul pressed the hand of Ghita, and whispered her to go below, as he was fearful the air of the night might injure her. He then went forward, where he could command as good a view of the felucca in-shore, as the obscurity of the hour permitted; and he felt a little uneasiness, when he found how near she had got to the lugger. When he last noted her position, this vessel was quite half a mile distant, and appeared to be crossing the bows of le Feu-Follet, with sufficient wind to have carried her a mile ahead in the interval; yet could he not perceive that she had advanced as far, in that direction, as she had drifted down upon the lugger the while.

"Have you been examining her long?" he demanded of the New Hampshire man.

"Ever since she has seemed to stand still; which is now some twenty minutes. She is dull, I suppose, for she has been several hours getting along a league; and there is now air enough for such a craft to go three knots to the hour. Her coming down upon us is easily accounted for, there being a considerable current out of this river, as you may see by the ripple at our own cut-water; but I find nothing to keep her from going ahead at the same time. I set her by the light you see, here, in the wake of the nearest mountain, at least a quarter of an hour since, and she has not advanced five times her own length since."

"'Tis nothing but a Corsican coaster, after all, Etooell: I hardly think the English would risk our canister again, for the pleasure of being beaten off in another attempt to board!"

"They're a spiteful set, aboard the frigate; and the Lord only knows! See, here is a good heavy night air, and that felucca is not a cable's length from us; set her by the jib-stay, and judge for yourself how slowly she goes ahead! _That it is which nonplusses _me!_"

Raoul did as the other desired, and after a short trial he found that the coaster had no perceptible motion ahead, while it was certain she was drifting down with the current directly athwart the lugger's hawse. This satisfied him that she must have drags astern; a circumstance that at once denoted a hostile intention. The enemy was probably on board the felucca, in force; and it was incumbent on him to make immediate preparations for defence.

Still, Raoul was reluctant to disturb his people. Like all firm and cool men, he was averse to the parade of a false alarm; and it seemed so improbable that the lesson of the morning was so soon forgotten, that he could hardly persuade himself to believe his senses. Then the men had been very hard at work throughout the day; and most of them were sleeping the sleep of the weary. On the other hand, every minute brought the coaster nearer, and increased the danger, should the enemy be really in possession of her. Under all the circumstances, he determined, first, to hail; knowing that his crew could be got up in a minute, and that they slept with arms at their sides, under an apprehension that a boat attack might possibly be attempted in the course of the night.

"Felucca, ahoy!" called out the captain of le Feu-Follet, the other craft being too near to render any great effort of the voice necessary; "what felucca is that? and why have you so great a drift?"

"La Bella Corsienne!" was the answer, in a patois, half French, half Italian, as Raoul expected, if all were right. "We are bound into la Padulella, and wish to keep in with the land to hold the breeze the longer. We are no great sailer at the best, and have a drift, because we are just now in the strength of the current.

"At this rate, you will come athwart my hawse. You know I am armed, and cannot suffer that!"

"Ah, Signore, we are friends of the republic, and would not harm you if we could. We hope you will not injure poor mariners like us. We will keep away, if you please, and pass under your stern--"

This proposition was made so suddenly and so unexpectedly that Raoul had not time to object; and had he been disposed to do so, the execution was too prompt to allow him the means. The felucca fell broad off, and came down almost in a direct line for the lugger's bows before the wind and current, moving fast enough now to satisfy all Ithuel's scruples.

"Call all hands to repel boarders!" cried Raoul, springing aft to the capstan and seizing his own arms--"Come up lively, _mes enfans!_--here is treachery!"

These words were hardly uttered before Raoul was back on the heel of the bowsprit, and the most active of his men--some five or six at most--began to show themselves on deck. In that brief space, the felucca had got within eighty yards, when, to the surprise of all in the lugger, she luffed into the wind again and drifted down, until it was apparent that she was foul of the lugger's cable, her stern swinging round directly on the latter's starboard bow. At that instant, or just as the two vessels came in actual contact, and Raoul's men were thronging around him to meet the expected attack, the sound of oars, pulled for life or death, were heard, and flames burst upward from the open hatch of the coaster. Then a boat was dimly seen gliding away in a line with the hull, by the glowing light.

"Un brulot!--un brulot!--a fire-ship!" exclaimed twenty voices together, the horror that mingled in the cries proclaiming the extent of a danger which is, perhaps, the most terrific that seamen can encounter.

But the voice of Raoul Yvard was not among them. The moment his eye caught the first glimpse of the flames he disappeared from the bowsprit. He might have been absent about twenty seconds. Then he was seen on the taffrail of the felucca, with a spare shank-painter, which had been lying on the forecastle, on his shoulder.

"Antoine!--Francois!--Gregoire!"--he called out, in a voice of thunder--"follow me!--the rest clear away the cable and bend a hawser to the better end!"

The people of le Feu-Follet were trained to order and implicit obedience. By this time, too, the lieutenants were among them; and the men set about doing as they had been directed. Raoul himself passed into the felucca, followed by the three men he had selected by name. The adventurers had no difficulty, as yet, in escaping the flames, though by this time they were pouring upward from the hatch in a torrent. As Raoul suspected, his cable had been grappled; and, seizing the rope, he tightened it to a severe strain, securing the in-board part. Then he passed down to the cable himself, directing his companions to hand him the rope-end of the shank-painter, which he fastened to the cable by a jamming hitch. This took half a minute; in half a minute more he was on the felucca's forecastle again. Here the chain was easily passed through a hawse-hole, and a knot tied, with a marlinspike passed through its centre. To pass the fire on the return was now a serious matter; but it was done without injury, Raoul driving his companions before him. No sooner did his foot reach the bows of le Feu-Follet again than he shouted:

"Veer away!--pay out cable, men, if you would save our beautiful lugger from destruction!"

Nor was there a moment to spare. The lugger took the cable that was given her fast enough under the pressure of the current and helped by the breeze; but at first the fire-vessel, already a sheet of flame, her decks having been saturated with tar, seemed disposed to accompany her. To the delight of all in the lugger, however, the stern of the felucca was presently seen to separate from their own bows; and a sheer having been given to le Feu-Follet, by means of the helm, in a few seconds even her bowsprit and jib had cleared the danger. The felucca rode stationary, while the lugger dropped astern fathom after fathom until she lay more than a hundred yards distant from the fiery mass. As a matter of course, while the cable was paid out, the portion to which the lanyard or rope part of the shank-painter was fastened dropped into the water, while the felucca rode by the chain.

These events occupied less than five minutes; and all had been done with a steadiness and promptitude that seemed more like instinct than reason. Raoul's voice was not heard, except in the few orders mentioned; and when, by the glaring light which illuminated all in the lugger and the adjacent water to some distance, nearly to the brightness of noonday, he saw Ghita gazing at the spectacle in awed admiration and terror, he went to her, and spoke as if the whole were merely a brilliant spectacle, devised for their amusement.

"Our girandola is second only to that of St. Peter," he said, smiling. "'Twas a narrow escape, love; but, thanks to thy God, if thou wilt it shall be so, we have received no harm."

"And you have been the agent of his goodness, Raoul; I have witnessed all from this spot. The call to the men brought me on deck; and, oh! how I trembled as I saw you on the flaming mass!"

"It has been cunningly planned on the part of Messieurs les Anglais; but it has signally failed. That coaster has a cargo of tar and naval stores on board; and, capturing her this evening, they have thought to extinguish our lantern by the brighter and fiercer flame of their own. But le Feu-Follet will shine again when their fire is dead!"

"Is there, then, no danger that the brulot will yet come down upon us--she is fearfully near!"

"Not sufficiently so to do us harm; more especially as our sails are damp with dew. Here she cannot come so long as our cable stands; and as that is under water where she lies, it cannot burn. In half an hour there will be little of her left, and we will enjoy the bonfire while it lasts."

And, now the fear of danger was past, it was a sight truly to be enjoyed. Every anxious and curious face in the lugger was to be seen, under that brilliant light, turned toward the glowing mass as the sunflower follows the great source of heat in his track athwart the heavens; while the spars, sails, guns, and even the smallest object on board the lugger started out of the obscurity of night into the brightness of such an illumination, as if composing parts of some brilliant scenic display. But so fierce a flame soon exhausted itself. Ere long the felucca's masts fell, and with them a pyramid of fire. Then the glowing deck tumbled in; and, finally, timber after timber and plank after plank fell, until the conflagration, in a great measure, extinguished itself in the water on which it floated. An hour after the flames appeared little remained but the embers which were glowing in the hold of the wreck.

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The Wing-and-wing: Le Feu-follet - Chapter 12 The Wing-and-wing: Le Feu-follet - Chapter 12

The Wing-and-wing: Le Feu-follet - Chapter 12
CHAPTER XII"A justice of the peace, for the time being, They bow to, but may turn him out next year; They reverence their priest, but, disagreeing In price or creed, dismiss him without fear; They have a natural talent for foreseeing And knowing all things;--and should Park appear From his long tour in Africa, to show The Niger's source, they'd meet him with--We know." HALLECK.Raoul was not mistaken as
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The Wing-and-wing: Le Feu-follet - Chapter 10 The Wing-and-wing: Le Feu-follet - Chapter 10

The Wing-and-wing: Le Feu-follet - Chapter 10
CHAPTER X"Oh! 'tis a thought sublime, that man can force A path upon the waste, can find a way Where all is trackless, and compel the winds, Those freest agents of Almighty power, To lend them untamed wings, and bear him on To distant climes." WARE.The situation of Ghita Caraccioli, on board the lugger, was of the most unpleasant nature during the fierce struggle we have related. Fortunately for her, this struggle was very short, Raoul having
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