Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Stories and Tales >> The Maroon: A Romance of the Carib. >> Page 251

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Page 251

Short Stories | U of South Carolina P | 1974
slowly away at his feet, in long low courses, but slightly lifted by
the breezes of the dawn. Vainly were his eyes stretched out over the
watery waste, in the pathway of the departed vessel. The vast plain
of ocean spread away before him unbroken by a speck; and when
the sun rushed up visibly into the heavens, and laid bare the whole
bright circumference of the deep, for many a league, undarkened by
an object, then the conviction of his utter loneliness his life of
future loneliness forced itself upon the heart of the wretched
youth; and flinging himself once more upon the earth, he thrust
his fingers into the sands, and cried aloud in the depth of his agony
"Jesu ! it is true!—it is true!—and I am left left by my people,
to perish here alone ! "
We spare his lamentations, his entreaties, as if there were still
some human being at hand, who might afford him relief and con-
solation,—to whom he might appeal for succor and protection. Prayer
he had none. The name of the Deity, of the Savior, and the Virgin,
were sometimes upon his lips; but the utterance was habitual, as he
had been accustomed to employ them in mere idleness and indiffer-
ence. Three days passed in which despair had full possession of his
faculties. In this time he lay crouching upon the beach during the
days, and gazing vacantly in the direction in which the ship had
gone. At night he retreated to higher ground, filled with apprehen-
sions of great monsters of the sea, of the seas themselves; lest,
rising suddenly, endued with a human or a fiendish will, they might
gather round him while he slept, and hurry him off, beyond escape,
to their gloomy abysses. A small clump of trees afforded him the
semblance of a shelter. Here he lay from nightfall to dawn, only
sleeping in the utter exhaustion of nature, and suffering, at all other
times, from every sort of terror. The stars, looking down through
the palm leaves overhead, with their mild, sad aspects, seemed to
him so many mocking and malignant angels exulting in his condition.
The moaning of the sea, and the murmurs of the nightwind, were
all so many voices of terror appointed to deride him in his desolation,
and impress his heart with a sense of unknown dangers. The rush
of great wings occasionally along the shore, or the rustle of smaller
ones in the boughs above him perhaps of creatures as timid as him-
self,—kept him wakeful with constant apprehensions; and, at mo-
ments of the midnight, a terrible bellowing, as of some sea-beast