« PreviousContinue »
well as to catch enough for several good meals, and to spare. What remained I salted, and found she liked that better than the fresh, after a few days' salting : though she did not so well approve of that I had formerly pickled and dried. As my salt grew very low, though I had used it very sparingly, I now resolved to try making some; and the next summer I effected it.
Thus we spent the remainder of the winter together, till the days began to be light enough for me to walk abroad a little in the middle of them : for I was now under no apprehension of her leaving me; as she had before this time so many opportunities of doing so, but never once attempted it.
When the weather cleared up a little, by the lengthening of daylight, I took courage one afternoon to invite her to walk with me to the lake; but she sweetly excused herself from it whilst there was such a frightful glare of light, as she said ; but, looking out of the door, told me if I would not go out of the wood she would accompany me : so we agreed to take a turn only there. I first went myself over the stile at the door, and thinking it rather too high for her, I took her in my arms and lifted her over. But even when I had her in this manner, I knew not what to make of her clothing, it sat so true and close; but seeing her by a steadier and truer light in the grove, though a heavy gloomy one, than my light had afforded, I begged she would let me know of what silk or other composition her garment was made. She smiled and asked me if mine was not the same under my jacket. “No, lady," says I,“I have nothing but my skin under
clothes.” Why what do you mean ?" replies she, somewhat tartly;“ but indeed I was afraid something was the matter, by that nasty covering you wear, that you might not be seen. Are not you a glumm ?"* “Yes,"
* A man.
says I, “ fair creature.” (Here, though you may conceive she spoke part English, part her own country tongue, and I the same, as we best understood each other, yet I shall give you our discourse word for word in plain English.) “Then," says she, “I am afraid you must have been a very bad
man, and have been crashee, * which I should be very sorry to hear.” I told her I believed we were none of us so good as we might be, but I hoped my faults had not at most exceeded other men's; but I had suffered abundance of hardships in my time, and that at last Providence having settled me in this spot, from whence I had no prospect of ever departing, it was none of the least of its mercies to bring to my knowledge and company the most exquisite piece of all his works in her, which I should acknowledge as long as I lived. She was surprised at this discourse, and asked me (if I did not mean to impose upon her, and was indeed an ingcrashee glummt), why I should tell her I had no prospect of departing from hence ? “ Have not you," says she, the same prospect that I or any other person has of departing? Sir,"' added she," you don't do well, and really I fear you are slit, or you would not wear this nasty cumbersome coat (taking hold of my jacket sleeve), if you were not afraid of showing the signs of a bad life upon your natural clothing."
I could not for my heart imagine what way there was to get out of my dominions; but certainly, thought I, there must be some way or other, or she would not be so peremptory. And as to my jacket, and showing myself in my natural clothing, I profess she made me blush; and, but for the shame, I would have stripped to the skin to have satisfied her. “But, madam," says I, “pray pardon me, for you really are mistaken; I have examined every nook and corner of this new world in which we now are, and can find no possible outlet; nay, even by the same way I came in, I am sure it is impossible to get out again." " Why,” says she," what outlets have you searched for, or what way can you expect out but the way you came in ? and why is that impossible to return by again? If you are not slit, is not the air open to you? will not the sky admit you to patrol in it as well as other people? I tell you, sir, I fear you have been slit for your crimes; and though you have been so good to me that I cannot help loving of you heartily for it, yet, if I thought you had been slit, I would not, nay, could not, stay a moment longer with you; no, though it should break
* Slit;-a punishment inflicted on the wings, or graundee, of criminals. + A man whose wings had not been slit.
heart to leave you!"
I found myself now in a strange quandary, longing to know what she meant by being slit, and had a hundred strange notions in my head whether I was slit or not; for though I knew what the word naturally signified well enough, yet in what manner, or by what figure of speech she applied it to me, I had no idea of. But seeing her look a little angrily upon me,“ Pray, madam," says I," do not be offended if I take the liberty to ask you what you mean by the word crashee, so often repeated by you, for I am an utter stranger to what you mean by it?" Sir," says she, “pray answer me first how came you here ?" Madam,” replied I, “will you please to take a walk to the verge of the wood, and I will show you the very passage ?” “Sir," says she, “ I
perfectly know the range of the rocks all around, and by the least description, without going to see them, can tell from which you descended.” “In truth," said I,“ most charming lady, I descended from no rock at all; nor would I for a thousand worlds attempt what could not be accomplished but by my destruction." “Sir," says she, in some anger, “it is false, and you impose on me." "I declare to you,"
says I,“ madam, what I tell you is strictly true; I never was near the summit of any of the surrounding rocks or anything like it; but as you are not far from the verge of the wood, be so good as to step a little further, and I will show you my entrance in hither."
“ Well” says she, “ now this odious dazzle of light is lessened, I do not care if I do go !
When we came far enough to see the bridge, " There, madam,” says I,“ there is my entrance, where the sea pours into this lake from yonder cavern.” “It is not possible," says she; “ this is another untruth ; and as I see you would deceive me and are not to be believed, farewell, I must be gone. But hold,? says she, “let me ask you one thing more, that is, by what means did you come through that cavern ? you
could not have used to have come over the rock.” 6 Bless me, madam," says I, “ do you think I and my boat could fly? Come over the rock, did you say? No, madam, I sailed from the great sea, the main ocean, in my boat, through that cavern into this
lake here." 6 What do you mean by your boat ?" says she; “you seem to make two things of your boat you say you sailed with, and yourself." "I do so," replied I, "for, madam, I take myself to be good flesh and blood, but my boat is made of wood and other materials."
says 6 and pray where is this boat that is made of wood and other materials ? under your jacket?” “Lord, madam," says I, “ you put me in fear that you were angry, but now I hope you only joke with me; what, put a boat under my jacket! no, madam, my boat is in the lake." “What ! more untruths ?" says she. madam," I replied ; “ if you would be satisfied of what I say, every word of which is as true as that my boat now is in the lake, pray walk with me thither, and make your own eyes judges what sincerity I speak with.” To this she
66 Is it so
6 No, agreed, it growing dusky; but assured me, if I did not give her good satisfaction, I should see her no more.
We arrived at the lake, and going to my wet dock, Now, madam,” says I,“ pray satisfy yourself whether I spake true or not.” She looked at my boat, but could not yet frame a proper notion of it. Says I, “Madam, in this very boat I sailed from the main sea through that very cavern into this lake; and shall at last think myself the happiest of all men, if you continue with me, love me, and credit me; and I promise you I will never deceive you, but think my life happily spent in your service." I found she was hardly content yet to believe what I told her of my boat to be true, until I stepped into it, and pushing from the shore, took my oars in my hand, and sailed along the lake by her as she walked on the shore. At last she seemed so well reconciled to me and my boat, that she desired I would take her in. I immediately did so, and we sailed a good way; and as we returned to my dock, I described to her how I procured the water we drank, and brought it to shore in that vessel.
“Well,” says she, “ I have sailed, as you call it, many a mile in my lifetime, but never in such a thing as this. I own it will serve very well where one has a great many things to carry from place to place; but to be labouring thus at an oar when one intends pleasure in sailing, is, in my mind, a most ridiculous piece of slavery." "Why, pray, madam, how would you have me sail ; for getting into the boat only will not carry us this way or that, without using some force." "But," says she, “pray where did you get this boat, as you call it ?" “ Oh! madam,” says I,“ that is too long and fatal a story to begin upon now; this boat was made many thousand miles from hence, among a people coal black, a quite different sort from us; and when I first