Графични страници
PDF файл

The tongue that framed the order, or the time, no one could tell;

And no one ever questioned, but the people kept it well. And never in man's memory was fisher known to leave The little town of Wexford on the good St. Martin's Eve.

2. Alas! alas for Wexford! once upon that holy day

Came a wondrous shoal of herring to the waters of the Bay.

The fishers and their families stood out upon the beach, And all day watched with wistful eyes the wealth they might not reach.

Such shoal was never seen before, and keen regrets went round

Alas! alas for Wexford! Hark! what is that grating sound?

The boats' keels on the shingle! Mothers! wives! ye well may grieve,

The fishermen of Wexford mean to sail on Martin's Eve!

3. "Oh, stay ye!" cried the women wild. "Stay!" cried the men white-haired;

"And dare ye not to do this thing your fathers never dared.

No man can thrive who tempts the Lord!" "Away!" they cried: "the Lord

Ne'er sent a shoal of fish but as a fisherman's reward." And scoffingly they said, "To-night our nets shall sweep the Bay,

And take the Saint who guards it, should he come across our way!

The keels have touched the water, and the crews are in each boat:

And on St. Martin's Eve the Wexford fishers are afloat!

[ocr errors]

4. The moon is shining coldly on the sea and on the land, On dark faces in the fishing-fleet and pale ones on the strand,

As seaward go the daring boats, and heavenward the cries

Of kneeling wives and mothers with uplifted hands and eyes.

"Oh Holy Virgin! be their guard!" the weeping women cried;

The old men, sad and silent, watched the boats cleave through the tide,

As past the farthest headland, past the lighthouse, in a line

The fishing-fleet went seaward through the phosphorlighted brine.

5. Oh, pray, ye wives and mothers! All your prayers they sorely need

To save them from the wrath they've roused by their rebellious greed.

Oh white-haired men and little babes, and weeping sweethearts, pray

To God to spare the fishermen to-night in Wexford Bay!

6. The boats have reached good offing, and, as out the nets are thrown,

The hearts ashore are chilled to hear the soughing seawind's moan:

Like to a human heart that loved, and hoped for some


To find at last but hatred. so the sea-wind seemed to


But ah! the Wexford fishermen ! their nets did scarcely sink

One inch below the foam, when, lo! the daring boatmen shrink

With sudden awe and whitened lips and glaring eyes


For breast-high, threatening, from the sea uprose a Human Shape!

7. Beyond them,—in the moonlight,-hand upraised and awful mien,

Waving back and pointing landward, breast-high in the sea 'twas seen.

Thrice it waved and thrice it pointed,-then, with clenchéd hand upraised,

The awful shape went down before the fishers as they gazed!

Gleaming whitely through the water, fathoms deep they saw its frown,—

They saw its white hand clenched above it,—sinking slowly down!

And then there was a rushing 'neath the boats, and every soul

Was thrilled with greed; they knew it was the seawardgoing shoal!

3. Defying the dread warning, every face was sternly set, And wildly did they ply the oar, and wildly haul the net. But two boats' crews obeyed the sign,-God-fearing men were they,

They cut their lines and left their nets, and homeward sped away;

But darkly rising sternward did God's wrath in tempest


And they, of all the fishermen, that night escaped the deep.

Oh, wives and mothers, sweethearts, sires! well might ye mourn next day;

For seventy fishers' corpses strewed the shores of Wexford Bay!


John Boyle O'Reilly was born in Ireland in 1844 and died in Boston August 10, 1890. He was a writer of very vigorous prose and of some remarkably sweet poetry. For twenty years prior to his death he was the editor of the Boston Pilot. He was a strict Catholic, a brilliant speaker, a man whose heart beat in sympathy with the helpless and friendless of every creed and clime.

Wexford (1) is a seaboard town in Ireland.

Explain the expression: "seventy fishers' corpses strewed the shores of Wexford Bay " (8).


2. çîr' euit; n. round-about 5. thrift; n. economy.


[blocks in formation]

7. ôrd' nança; n. cannon and other heavy instruments of


8. war' rant; v. declare with


8. fee' sim'ple; n. an absolute right forever; a fee without conditions.

A Military Stratagem. Part I.

1. On the morning that succeeded the night in which Horse Shoe Robinson arrived at Musgrove's, the stout and honest sergeant might have been seen, about eight o'clock, leaving the main road from Ninety Six at the point where that leading to David Ramsay's separated from it, and cautiously urging his way into the deep forest by the more private path into which he had entered.

2. The knowledge that Innis was encamped along the Ennoree, within a short distance of the mill, had compelled him to make an extensive circuit to reach Ramsay's dwelling, whither he was now bent; and he had experienced considerable delay in his morning journey, by finding himself frequently in the neighborhood of small foraging-parties of Tories, whose motions he was obliged to watch for fear of an encounter. He had once already been compelled to use his horse's heels in what he called "fair flight," and once to ensconce himself a full half-hour under cover of the thicket afforded him by a swamp. He now, therefore, according to his own phrase, "dived into the little road that scrambled down through the woods toward Ramsay's, with all his eyes about him, looking out as sharply as a fox on a foggy morning," and, with this circumspection, he was not long in arriving within view of Ramsay's house.

3. Like a practiced soldier, whom frequent frays have taught wisdom, he resolved to reconnoiter before he advanced upon a post that might be in possession of an enemy. He therefore dismounted, fastened his horse in a fence-corner, where a field of corn concealed it from notice, and then stealthily crept forward until he came immediately behind one of the out-houses.

4. The barking of a house-dog brought out a negro boy, to whom Robinson instantly addressed the query:

"Is your master at home?"

"No, sir. He's got his horse, and gone off more than an hour ago."


"Where is your mistress?"


Shelling beans, sir.'

"I didn't ask you," said the sergeant, "what she is doing, but where she is."

« ПредишнаНапред »