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Till lifting up again his sombre eye,
It glanced on Torquil who lean'd faintly by.
« And is it thus? he cried, unhappy boy!
And thee too, thee my madness must destroy..»
He said, and strode to where young Torquil stood,
Yet dabbled with his lately flowing blood;
Seized his hand wistfully, but did not press,
And shrunk as fearful of his own caress;
Enquired into his state; and when he heard
The wound was slighter than he deem'd or fear'd,
A moment's brightness pass'd along his brow,
As much as such a moment would allow.
Yes, »> he exclaim'd, « we are taken in the toîl,
But not a coward or a common spoil;
Dearly they have bought us--dearly still may buy,-
And I must fall; but have you strength to fly?
'Twould be some comfort still, could you survive;
Our dwindled band is now too few to strive.
Oh! for a sole canoe! though but a shell,
To bear you hence to where a hope may dwell!
For me, my lot is what I sought; 'to be,
In life or death, the fearless and the free. »
Even as he spoke, around the promontory,
Which nodded o'er the billows high and hoary,
A dark speck dotted ocean: on it flew
Like to the shadow of a roused sea mew;
Onward it came-and, lo! a second follow'd-
Now seen--now hid-where ocean's vale was hollow'd;
And near, and nearer, till their dusky crew
Presented well-known aspects to the view,
Till on the surf their skimming paddles play,
Buoyant as wings, and flitting through the spray;-
Now perching on the wave's high curl, and now
Dash'd downward in the thundering foam below,
Which flings it broad and boiling, sheet on sheet,
And slings its high flakes, shiver'd into sleet:
But floating still through surf and swell, drew nigh
The barks, like small birds through a lowering sky.
Their art seem'd nature-such the skill to sweep
The wave, of these born playmates of the deep. 182
And who the first that, springing on the strand,
Leap'd like a Nereid from her shell to land,
With dark but brilliant skin, and dewy eye
Shining with love, and hope, and constancy?
Neuha, the fond, the faithful, the adored, *
Her heart on Torquil's like a torrent pour'd;
And smiled, and wept, and near, and nearer clasp'd,
As if to be assured 'twas him she grasp'd;
Shudder'd to see his yet warm wound, and then,
To find it trivial, smiled and wept again.
She was a warrior's daughter, and could bear
Such sights, and feel, and mourn, but not despair.
Her lover lived,-nor foes nor fears could blight
That full-blown moment in its all delight:
Joy trickled in her tears, joy fill'd the sob
That rock'd her heart till almost HEARD to throb;
And paradise was breathing in the sigh
Of nature's child in Nature's ecstasy.
The sterner spirits who beheld that meeting
Were not unmoved; who are, when hearts are greeting?
Even Christian gazed upon the maid and boy
With tearless eye, but yet a gloomy joy
Mix'd with those bitter thoughts the soul arrays
In hopeless visions of our better days,
When all's gone to the rainbow's latest ray.
<< And but for me!» he said, and turn'd away;
Then gazed upon the pair, as in his den
A lion looks upon his cubs again;
And then relapsed into his sullen guise,
As heedless of his further destinies.
But brief their time for good or evil thought;
The billows round the promontory brought
-Alas! who made
The plash of hostile oars—
That sound a dread? All round them seem'd array'd Against them, save the bride of Toobonai:
She, as she caught the first glimpse o'er the bay
Of the arm'd boats which hurried to complete
The remnant's ruin with their flying feet,
Beckon'd the natives round her to their prows,
Embark'd their guests, and launch'd their light canoes;
In one placed Christian and his comrades twain;
But she and Torquil must not part again.
She fix'd him in her own-Away! away!
They clear the breakers, dart along the bay,
And towards a group of islets, such as bear
The sea-bird's nest and seal's surf-hollow'd lair,
They skim the blue tops of the billows; fast
They flew, and fast their fierce pursuers chased.
They gain upon them-now they lose again,-
Again make way and menace o'er the main;
And now the two canoes in chase divide,
And follow different courses o'er the tide,
To baffle the pursuit-Away! away!
As life is on each paddle's flight to-day,
And more than life or lives to Neuha: Love
Freights the frail bark and urges to the cove-
And now the refuge and the foe are nigh-
Yet, yet a moment!-Fly, thou light Ark, fly! 240