Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Southward Ho! A Spell of Sunshine >> Chapter XV / The Ship of Fire >> Page 342

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Page 342

Novel (Romance) | Redfield | 1854
Transcription 842 SOUTHIWARD 110!
vessel had been fastened, the entrance closed to the hold. Each
seaman stood by his victim, and at a given signal they all struck
together. There was no chance given for struggle�the mur-
derers had planned their crime with terrible deliberation and
consummate skill. A spasmodic throe of some muscular frame
� a faint cry � a slight groan may have escaped the victims
but little more. At least, the poor sleepers below were una-
roused by the event.
The deck cleared of the murdered men, the murderers de-
scended stealthily to the work below. Passing from berth to
berth with the most fiendish coolness, they struck�seldom
twice always fatally men, women, and children ; the old,
the young, the tender and the strong, the young mother and
the poor angel-innocent but lately sent to earth�all perished;
not permitted to struggle, or submitting in despair, incapable of
arresting the objects of the criminals. We may fancy for our-
selves the horror of such a scene. We may imagine some one
or more of the victims awaking under the ill-directed knife
awaking to a vain struggle�unkindly alarming those into con-
sciousness who had no strength for conflict. Perhaps a mother
may have found strength to rise to her knees, imploring mercy
for the dear child of her heart and hope ; �may have been suf-
fered to live sufficiently long to see its death struggle, its wild
contortions, in the grasp of the unrelenting assassin. Art may
not describe such a scene truly, as imagination can hardly con-
ceive it. They perished, one and all�that little family of em-
igrants ; and the murderers, grouped around the treasures which
had damned their hearts into the worst hell of covetousness and
crime, were now busied in the division of their bloody spoils.
How they settled this matter among themselves � what divis-
ion they made of the treasure� and with what temper they
decided upon their future course, must be wholly matter of con-
jecture. Tradition rarely deals with the minor details of her
subject, though sufficiently courageous always in the conception
of leading events.
The story further goes, that, having done the fearful deed
without botching, thoroughly, effectively, suffering neither resis-
tance nor loss�having possessed themselves of all that was
valuable in the ship, as well as among the stores of their vie-