Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Southward Ho! A Spell of Sunshine >> Chapter XV / The Ship of Fire >> Page 339

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Novel (Romance) | Redfield | 1854
Transcription DISAPPOINTMENT. 339
Carolina, stretched its slight barriers across their western horizon,
and the cry of ' land' sounded in their ears, they rose from the
deeps of despondency into an extremity of joy. They were in
ecstasies of hope, and, in their madness of heart, they forgot that
prudence which had hitherto kept them humble and cautious.
Seeing the shores so nigh, growing momently nearer, the great
trees, the verdant shrubs, the quiet nooks and sheltering places
for which their fancies had so long yearned, they felt that all
danger, all doubt and delay was at an end, and all reserve and
secretiveness were forgotten. They prepared to leave their
gloomy prison-ship, and to taste the virgin freedom of the shores.
Each began to gather up his stores, and to separate his little
stock of worldly goods, from the common mass. They gathered
their bales and boxes from below. They strapped and un-
strapped them ; and grouped themselves upon the decks, waiting
to see the anchor dropped, and to dart into the boats which were
to carry them ashore.
Thus men for ever cheat themselves with their hopes, and
the impatience of a single moment, will undo the work of years.
<< They were destined to disappointment. To their surprise,
the ship was suddenly hauled off from land. The sails were
backed. The shores receded from sight. They could not land
that day. The captain had his reasons. They were in danger-
ous soundings. There were treacherous currents. The insidi-
ous rocks were about to work them disaster. It was necessary
that they should seek a more accessible region in which to effect
their progress to the desired haven. These were the grounds
for the movement which baffled their anticipations at the moment
of seeming certainty.
" The last feather, it is said, breaks the camel's back. It is
the last drop of bitter poured in the cup already full of bitter-
ness. I can not say that our poor Palatines were utterly broken
down by their disappointments ; but it is very sure that they
felt as wretched that night, as they receded from the land so
freshly won, as if they were required to begin their voyage
anew. Of course, the pretexts of the master were wholly false.
He had made his port. He had reached his true destination.
Had run his proper course, and might have landed all his Pala-
tines that very night. That he did not, was due to their owls