Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Stories and Tales >> The Maroon: A Romance of the Carib. >> Page 231

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Page 231

Short Stories | U of South Carolina P | 1974
Burgos," named after a favorite beauty of old Spain. She had taxed
all the genius of the architect of that day, in her modeling, to do
honor to her namesake. And he had succeeded, so perfectly succeeded,
that the emulous little bark had already acquired a peculiar reputa-
tion, such as that enjoyed by the Baltimore clipper of modern periods,
for exquisite grace of air, and unparalleled fleetness of foot. She was
the pride of the waters, and cleft them, or passed over them, as if
endued with all the consciousness of the young and haughty beauty
whose name had not been taken by her in vain.
Of her deeds, of her peculiar employment, in the western hemi-
sphere, we shall say nothing. At that wild period, we know very well
what was the usual history in the new world, as well upon the ocean as
the land. "No peace beyond the line," was the common proverb of
license among the rovers of all the European nations; and our "Diana
de Burgos" carried within her graceful girdle all the requisite re-
sources for deeds of strength and violence. Her loveliness of model did
not conflict with her capacity for fight, and a single glance upon the
swarthy groups that covered her deck, would satisfy any sceptic, without
farther search, that she had already enjoyed no inconsiderable experi-
ence in the trade of war. Could her polished decks have spoken out,
what revelations of blood and terror might they not have made! But
her past history is nothing to us. It is enough that she still possesses
sufficient materials of interest for a startling and a touching narrative.
At the moment when we ascend her sides in that calm and lovely
day—in that serene and delicious atmosphere with that broad deep
ocean, as smooth as it could well appear, to comport with the neces-
sary degree of animation which, to form a picture, such a prospect
seems to require, and, at the same time to disarm every sense of
danger in the bosom of the most apprehensive we shall find that no
such calm and serenity prevails among her inmates. We discover
them grouped about in small parties along her deck, here leaning
against her masts, there crouched among bulk and cordage variously
placed in different attitudes—a hundred sturdy seamen and soldiers,
speaking little, an occasional word or sentence only but all looking
as if thoroughly informed and anxious in relation to some matter
of evidently increasing interest. The broken sentences to which we
listen—the half-uttered inquiry, the faltering suggestion, have no