Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Southward Ho! A Spell of Sunshine >> Chapter XV / The Ship of Fire >> Page 336

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Page 336

Novel (Romance) | Redfield | 1854
Transcription 336 SOUTHWARD HO
Meanwhile, we will put off the requisition ad Grecas Kal-
cndas. The argument is a good plea for all the states if ad-
missible in the case of one. I doubt its propriety. I am not
prepared to believe in that inspiration which waits upon the
gathering of the audience. But the point needs no discussion.
Go ahead with your story."
My story must excite no expectations. I am no artist, and
shall attempt nothing but a simple sketch �a bare outline of a
legend which our simple people along the seashore, wreckers
and fishermen, have told a thousand times with grave looks and
a most implicit faith. It will add but another chapter to the
vast chronicles of credulity which we possess, and skepticism
will decide against it only as further proof of human supersti-
tions which keep their ground even in the most enlightened
ages. Be it so. The wise man will find much occasion for
thought even where the subject is a vulgar superstition. The
inventive genius may go further, and weave from it some of
those beautiful fictions which need no better staple than the
stuff which dreams are made of which delight us in the fancies
of Comus, and carry us into new creations, and new realms of
exploration in the Tempest and Midsummer Night's Dream."
Thus far the preliminaries. Our raconteur then proceeded
as follows : �
You are then to know that annually, at a regularly-recur-
ring period, the coast of North Carolina, even the very route
over which we voyage now, is visited by a luminous object hav-
ing the exact appearance, at a little distance, of a ship on fire.
This appearance has been seen regularly, according to the tra-
dition, and the fact has been certified by the sworn state-
ments in recent times, of very credible witnesses. They affirm
that nothing can be more distinct than the appearance of this
ship, limned in fire, consuming, yet always unconsumed. She
invariably appears approaching from the east. She speeds
slowly toward the west, nearing the shores always until seem-
ingly about to run aground, when she disappears, for a moment,
only to re-emerge again from the distant east. Thus advancing
perpetually, she appears to grow in bulk to grow more vivid
and distinct as she draws nigh, until, when most perfect to the
eye, and about to enter the harbor--when she flits from sight,