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A Red Wallflower by Susan Warner

And air as soft as May at Seaforth


'Lisbon, _Christmas Day_, 1813. 'MY DEAR LITTLE ESTHER,--If you think a voyage over the sea is in anything like a journey by land, you are mistaken. The only one thing in which they are alike, is that in both ways you _get on_. But wheels go smoothly, even over a jolty road; and waves do nothing but toss you. It was just one succession of rollings and pitchings from the time we left New Bedford till we got sight of the coast of Portugal. The wind blew all the time _almost_ a gale, rising at different points of our passage to the full desert of the name. One violent storm we had; and all the rest of the voyage we were pitching about at such a rate that we had to fight for our meals; tables were broken, and coffee and chocolate poured about with a reckless disregard of economy. For about halt the way it rained persistently; so altogether you may suppose, Queen Esther, that my first experience has not made me in love with the sea. But it wasn't bad, after all. The wind drove us along, that was one comfort; and it would have driven us along much faster, if our sails had been good for anything; but they were a rotten set, a match for the crew, who were a rascally band of Portuguese. However, we drove along, as I said, seeing nobody to speak to all the way except ourselves; not a sail in sight nearer than eight or ten miles off.

'Well, the 23rd we sighted land, to everybody's great joy, you may suppose. The wind fell, and that night was one of the

most beautiful and delicious you can imagine. A smooth sea without a ripple, a clear sky without a cloud, stars shining down quietly, and air as soft as May at Seaforth. I stood on deck half the night, enjoying, and thinking of five hundred thousand things one after another. Now that I was almost setting my foot on a new world, my life, past and future, seemed to rise up and confront me; and I looked at it and took counsel with it, as it were. Seaforth on one side, and Oxford on the other; the question was, what should William Pitt be between them? The question never looked so big to me before. Somehow, I believe, the utter perfection of the night suggested to me the idea of perfection generally; what a mortal may come to when at his best. Such a view of nature as I was having puts one out of conceit, I believe, with whatever is out of order, unseemly, or untrue, or what for any reason misses the end of its existence. _Then_ rose the question, what is the end of existence?--but I did not mean to give you my moralizings, Queen Esther; I have drifted into it. I can tell you, though, that my moralizing got a sharp emphasis the next day.

'I turned in at last, leaving the world of air and water a very image of peace. I slept rather late, I suppose; was awakened by the hoarse voice of the captain calling all hands on deck, in a manner that showed me there must be urgent cause. I tumbled up as soon as possible. What do you think I saw?

'The morning was as fair as the night had been. The sea was smooth, the sun shining brilliantly. I suppose the colonel would tell you, that seas may be _too_ smooth; anyhow I saw the fact now. There had been not wind enough during the night to make our sails of any use; a current had caught us, and we had been drifting, drifting, till now it appeared we were drifting straight on to a line of rocks which we could see at a little distance; made known both to eye and ear: to the former by a line of white where the waves broke upon the rocks, and to the latter by the thundering noise the breakers made. Now you know, where waves break, a ship would stand very little chance of holding together; but what were we to do? The only thing possible we did,--let out our anchors; but the question was, would they hold? They did hold, but none too soon; for we


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