페이지 이미지
PDF

rolling of the sea kept it immovable as if stupefied. "Como then !" said the man. It seemed to listen.

Suddenly it jumped towards him. The man escaped the shock.

The struggle began. A struggle unheard of. The fragile wrestling with the invulnerable. The monster of flesh attacking the brazen beast. On one side force, on the other a soul.

All this was passing in a shadow. It was like the indistinct vision of a prodigy.

A soul! a strange thing! one would have thought the cannon had one also, but a soul of hate and rage. This sightless thing seemed to have eyes. The monster appeared to watch the man. There was—one would have thought so at least— cunning in this mass. It also chose its moment. It was a kind of gigantic insect of iron, having, or seeming to have, the will of a demon. At times, this colossal grasshopper would strike the low ceiling of the battery, then fall back on its four wheels like a tiger on its four claws, and commence again to dart upon the man. He, supple, agile, adroit, writhed like an adder in guarding against all these lightning-like movements. He avoided encounters, but the blows he shunned were received by the vessel, and continued to demolish it.'

An end of broken chain had remained hanging to the ear-ronade. One end of it was fastened to the carriage. The other, free, turned desperately around the cannon and exaggerated all its shocks. The chain, multiplying the blows of the ram by its lashings, caused a terrible whirl around the cannon,—an iron whip in a fist of brass—and complicated I he combat.

Yet the man struggled. At times, even, it was the man who attacked the cannon; he crouched along the side, holding his bar and his rope; and the cannon seemed to understand, and, as though divining a snare, fled. The man, formidable, pursued it.

Such things cannot last long. The cannon seemed to say all at once—"Come! there must be an end to this!" and it stopped. Theapproach of the denouement was felt. The cannon, as in suspense, seemed to have, or did have,—because to all it was like a living thing,—a ferocious premeditation. Suddenly, it precipitated itself on the gunner. The gunner drew to one side, let it pass, and called to it, laughing—" Try again." The cannon, as though furious, broke a earronade to larboard; then, seized again by the invisible sling which held it, bounded to starboard towards the man, who escaped. Three carronades sunk down under the pressure of the cannon; then as though blind, and knowing no longer what it was doing, it turned its back to the man, rolled backward and forward, put the stom out of order, and made a breach in the wall of the prow. The man had taken refuge at the foot of the ladder, a few steps from the old man who was present. The gunner held his handspike at rest. The cannon seemed to perceive him, and without taking the trouble to turn around, fell back on the man with the promptness of an axe-stroke. The man if driven against the side was lost. All the crew gave a cry.

[graphic]

But the old passenger, till then immovable, sprang forward, more rapidly than all those wild rapidities. He had seized a bale of false assignats,and,at the risk of being crushed, he had succeeded in throwing it between the wheels of th3 cannon. This decisive and perilous movement could not have been executed with more promptness and precision by a man accustomed to all the manoeuvres of sea gunnery.

The bale had the effect of a plug. A pebble stops a bulk; a branch of a tree diverts an avalanche. The cannon stumbled. The gunner in his turn, taking advantage of this terrible juncture, plunged his iron bar between the spokes of one of the hind wheels. The cannon stopped.

It leaned forward. The man using his bar as a lever, made it rock. The heavy mas:s turned over, with the noise of a bell tumbling down, and the man, rushing headlong, trickling with sweat, attached the slip-knot of the gun-tackle to the bronze neck of the conquered monster.

It was fmished. The man had vanquished. The ant had subdued the mastodon; the pigmy had made a prisoner of the thunderbolt.

—From "Ninety-Three."

[graphic]

THE PILGRIMS AND THE PEAS—Peter Pindar.

There is a knack in doing many a thing,
Which labor cannot to perfection bring:
Therefore, however great in your own eyes,
Pray do not hints from other folks despise:

A fool on something great, at times, may stumble,

And consequently be a good adviser:
On which, forever, your wise men may fumble,

And never be a whit the wiser.

Yes! I advise you, for there's wisdom in't,
Never to be superior to a hint—

The genius of each man, with keenness view—
A spark from this, or t'other, caught,
May kindle, quick as thought,
A glorious bonlire up in you.

A question of you let me beg—

Of famed Columbus and his egg, Pray, have you heard ?" Yes."—Oh! then, if you please I'll give you the two Pilgrims and the Peas.

A TRUE STORY.

A brace of sinners, for no good,
Were ordered to the Virgin Mary's shrine,

Who at Loretto dwelt, in wax, stone, wood,
And in a fair white wig looked wondrous fine.

Fifty long miles had those sad rogues to travel,

With something in their shoes much worse than graveL

In short, their toes so gently to amuse,

The priest had ordered peas into their shoes;—

A nostrum famous in old Popish times
For purifying souls that stunk of crimes,

A sort of apostolic salt,

Which Popish parsons for its powers exalt,
For keeping souls of sinners sweet,
Jutt as our kitchen salt keeps meat.

The knaves set off on the same day,
Peas in their shoes, to go and pray:

But very diff'rent was their speed, I wot:
One of the sinners galloped on,
Swift as a bullet from a gun;

The other limped, as if he had been shot.

One saw the Virgin soon—percari cried— Had his soul white-washed all so clever; www

« 이전계속 »