Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Southward Ho! A Spell of Sunshine >> Chapter XVII / How the Bilious Orator Essayed >> Page 383

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Page 383

Novel (Romance) | Redfield | 1854
Transcription FAIRY REGIONS. 383
existence of any such throughout our land. Their absence on
the Atlantic would not, perhaps, be so greatly felt, if men were
not always most easily taken by the bald outline, the mere sur-
face, the simply salient and externally imposing. There is
much in the scenery along our coast which, closely examined,
would, by its exquisite delicacy and nice variety of detail, quite
as much attract the mere explorer as the artist. One of the
peculiarities of this region, as distinguished from the northern
coasts, is the presence of the numerous beautiful islets, that
seem to guard our shores and cities from the wave. Roving in
boat or steamer along these islets, or among them, they appeal
to a moral instinct, the exercise of which puts a thousand genial
fancies into activity. They rise up suddenly around you, like
gems from out the sea ; fairy abodes at least ; sometimes green
in shrub, and vine, and tree, to the very lips of ocean; and
again, spread out, a sandy plain, glittering with myriads of dia-
mond sparks, garlanded with myriads of fantastic shells, and
seeming, for all the world, particularly when seen by the
moonlight�to have been devised and chosen as favorite places
for the sports of Oberon and Titania, of Puck and Little John,
the capricious Loline and the tricksy Anatilla. Southward as
you go, they spread away, diamonds or emeralds, till they con-
duct you to the great waters of the Mississippi. They grow in
size and lose in beauty as you advance northwardly. But they
still constitute a remarkable feature of our whole coast ; and to
him who spreads sail among them at moonlight, especially in
the more southwardly points, they compel the thought of all the
beings recognised by the old system of pneumatology. The
terrors of Cape Hatteras might well make it to be supposed a
region of mischief, upheaved from the sea, by races of ungentler
beings than such as harbor in those little sand-dunes which lie
so smilingly in the moonlight, with the sea moving between them
in such placid currents. At Hatteras, we may supposes, the ma-
licious elves, the grim Brownies, the savage Kobolds inhabit
demon tribes that lie waiting, in malignant watch for the uncon-
scious bark�slyly slipping beneath the wave, seizing without
noise upon the prow of the vessel, and drawing her into the
insidious currents, and upon the sands of the treacherous islet. The fancy that peoples the innocent islets, which wreck no ves-