Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Stories and Tales >> The Maroon: A Romance of the Carib. >> Page 250

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Page 250

Short Stories | U of South Carolina P | 1974
the sea, which, toward the morning, subsided into calm and slept on,
as if still dreaming of future tempests. And there were voices all
around him of strange animals and wild fowl, sometimes a chirp,
as of an insect, and sometimes the scream of some passionate bird;
and, anon, a great plunge in the waters as if of some mighty beast
leaving its place of sleep upon the land.
It was among the misfortunes of Lopez de Levya that he was no
hero, and all these sounds inspired him with terror. Not less terrible
to him were those wild, deep mysterious eyes of the stars, slowly
passing over him, and looking down, as if to see whether he slept,
in their passage to the deep. Never was night and situation so full
of charm, yet so full of the awful and the terrible. Beautiful, indeed,
surpassingly beautiful and sweet, was the strange wild charm of that
highly spiritual mingling of land and ocean; that small and lovely
islet, just rising above the deep, so thoroughly environed by its
rocking billows, shone upon by that wilderness of stars; breathed
over by that pure zephyr gliding in with perfume and blessing from
the South; and haunted by unknown sounds, from strange creatures
of the sea and sky, who, in a life of perpetual freedom, could never
know the feeling of desolation or of exile.
But the wild romance and the wondrous beauty of the scene, were
lost upon the man who had no higher idea of the possession of the
intellectual nature than such as could be drawn from association with
his fellow. The region, unoccupied by man, however beautiful in itself,
could bring no joy, no peace to the bosom of the exile. Velasquez knew
the real nature of his victim. He well knew that Lopez had no sym-
pathy with the mute existences of sea and sky; of earth and air; and
of those more exquisite essences, which, in such a situation, the imagi-
native nature would have joyed to conjure up from the spiritual
world, he thought only with terror and reluctance. He did fancy that
voices came to him upon the night air; the voices of men and in a
strange, unusual language ;—and he instantly trembled with fears of
the cannibal the anthropophagi, who were supposed, at that period,
to be the only inhabitants of these regions.
But the night passed over in security. He opened his eyes upon
another day, in the solitude of that wild abode, ere yet the sun had
warmed with his gay tints the gray mansions of the East. He opened
his eyes upon the sea and sky as before. The billows were rolling