+ ~ -
Please report pronunciation problems here. Select and sample other voices. Options Pause Play
Report an Error

Go, dearest widow! to the bay below.
Hold forth the lanthorn, it their course will show;
If they hold on there may be safety yet.
Seeseethey comeoh God! the boat's upset."
Loud screamed the widow and the lanthorn shook;
With steadier fingers Jane the burden took;
And raised it high in air its light to show,
And, anxious hoping, waved it to and fro.
On a long shoreward swell that rushed in might
From the black, weltering distance into light
An upturned keel she sees; with hideous roar
The wave repulsed ejects it on the shore;
And on the fragments, drenched, insensate, cold,
Two human forms still keep their deadly hold.
The lanthorn's light their features gave to view,
But Hope expired to mark their pallid hue.
Prone lay the widow on that fatal sand,
Her dead hand closed upon her son's dead hand.

Within a garden from our street withdrawn,
With twenty feet in front by way of lawn,
Our Doctor's housethree-storied, roofed with slate
Retired, yet public, keeps manorial state.
A gabled stable helps its airs of pride,
The surgery window decks the other side.
Thither hied Jane; in language clear though fast
Summoned his aid, and shoreward quickly passed;
Knocked at some doors, her tale of grief displayed,
And half the village rose to give her aid.

John Dire, the roughest, kindest man alive,
Was sixty years, and owned to forty-five;
A Navy surgeon, thirty years afloat,
The anchor-button still adorned his coat;
M. D. his rank, but little squared his rules
With tedious lessons learned in musty schools;
Sharp and decisive was his word; his hand
Had knife, pill, bolus ever at command;
His language rough, adorned with words so queer
That even our curate sometimes smiled to hear;
Storm-beat his cheeks, as if his days had past
Howling defiance to the northern blast,
Yet warm his feelings, though his words uncouth,
Unchilled by age and generous as in youth.

Meantime the crowd had gathered on the strand,
And round the three the mourning neighbours stand.
"Is there no hope?" said Jane, and felt the skin
Of the drowned youth. "Yes! yet there's warmth
Fly for a blanket; still my parlour fire
Burns clear and bright; but here comes Doctor Dire.'
Back drew the crowd. With careful hand he press'd
The boatman's wrist, and felt within his breast;
Jane drew the widow off, who slowly woke,
And while the leech was silent, no one spoke.
To see the other sufferer next he went,
And uttered various grunts that spoke content.
"Bill Bosford has no watery death to dread,
Give him some grog and put the dog to bed.
Unsling the main-sail of that boat; with care
Lay Snow within—" and then, with threatening air
He bade the crowd gobut I can't say where.
Jane hurried homeward, stirred the iire, and spread
Before its blaze her choicest feather-bed.
When footsteps sounded at her garden gate
She oped the door, and in was borne the weight.
Oh! strange the ease that use and skill supply!
'Neath Dire's quick hand all difficulties fly;
Soon on the cheek a languid colour glows,
Slow beats the pulse; the eyelids half unclose;
With many a muttered oathwhich Heaven forgive!—
The doctor swears at last the boy will live,
Puts to his lips a flask; and, with a strain,
Snow lifts his eyes and gazes first on Jane.
'Let the dog lie," says Dire; "here let him lie;
If you disturb the scoundrel's rest he'll die."
Then sat he down, and to the listening few
Who close and closer round his arm-chair drew,
Told he such tales, as filled them with affright,
Of all his doings after Algiers' fight;
The bones he sawed, the wounds he staunched, the
That filled the cockpit-boards a foot or more;
Such were the sights on board the Bossentore.*
Then changed the theme; and next the surgeon told;
Of ten feet water settling in the hold;
The store-room swampt, while water-logged they lay,
And starving watched the sunset day by day,
Till on the fourth, just when the lots they threw
That doomed the doctor's self to feed the crew,
A sail drew near that food and safety bore.
They watched the ship, that soon lurched wholly
Such the sad ending of the Bossentore!
Delighted listeners looked on him with dread,
As if whole histories in his face they read
So rough, so weather-beat, so gnarled and old,
More wild and awful than the tales he told.
Snow lay asleep; above his breath he bends,
Then turnswith words uncourteousto his friends,
Bids them go home; but speaks with honour due
To watchful Jane, and tells her what to do.
Then, muttering many curses, for display,
Goes homeward, shivering timbers all the way.
His are no curses; even our priest declares
They 're but a topsy-turvey kind of prayers;
A sort of enmity that fires no lead,
But vollies on its starving foeswith bread.

* This is supposed to be the medical pronunciation of the

Jane and the widow watched the youth's repose
And helped him home when earliest morn arose.
His was the farm that close and sheltered lay
'Neath the tall Downs that guard our tiny bay;
A rock-strewn farm, with many a deep ravine,
Where babbling runlets run their course unseen,
Till 'tween split rocks they sparkle into day,
Or soar in jets and noiseless glide away.
Humble the home where widow Snow abode,
But picturesque and lovely from the road;
For climbing creepers hid the mouldering wall,
And clustered roses made amends for all;
A leasehold farm, with such a term to run,
It might outlast, she said, her grandson's son.
By favourite names each little field was known,
And save in name the fields were all her own;
And scarce more pride can fill an emperor's breast,
When countless armies march at his behest,
Than filled poor Widow Snow when she surveyed.
Her twelve fat cows beneath the elm-trees' shade.
But prideunblest with richesis a snare;
And many a grief had Widow Snow to bear.
A farmer she; a pew at church her own;
Yet ne'er aspired to silk or satin gown,
While tradesmen's wives, ev'n nursemaids out of
Rustled in silk and veiled themselves in lace.
But pride had heavier falls; for, as he grew,
The hopes she cherished in her son were few.
Loving to her he was; but idle, wild
He tired of home, and revelled while she toiled;
He scorned the land that filled her heart with pride,
But cast his net; the tireless oar he plied,