We returned to the quarter-deck but waited awhile before entering the cabin, that the atmosphere might have time to sweeten. Thickly as the upper works of the vessel were coated I suspected that they would be sieve-like in some places from the circumstance of our finding no water in the cabin. I put my head into the door, fetched a breath, and finding nothing noxious in the atmosphere, exclaimed, ‘We may enter now with safety, I believe.’ The interior lay very clearly revealed. A sunbeam shone through the deck aperture, and the cold, drowned, amazing interior lay bathed in a delicate silver haze of the morning light. I felt a deeper awe as I stood looking about me than any vault in which the dead had been lying for centuries could have inspired. The hue of the walls 佛山桑拿浴服务价格 was that of ashes. It was the ancient living-room of the ship and went the whole width of her, and in length ran from the front of the deck through which we had broken our way to the moulding of the castle-like pink-shaped stern, the planks sloping with a considerable spring or rise. It had been a spacious sea-chamber in its day. There were here and there incrustations in patches of limpet-like shells upon the sides and upper deck; under foot was a deal of sand with dead weeds, no hint of the vegetation that showed without. There were fragments of wreckage here and there which I took to be the remains of the furniture of the place; it had mostly washed aft, as though the vessel had settled by the stern.

Up in a corner on the port side that lay somewhat darksome, on a

line with the door, were a couple of skeletons with their 广州佛山桑拿论坛 arms round each other’s neck. They seemed to stand erect, but in fact they rested with a slight inclination against the scantling of the cabin front. Some slender remains of apparel clung to the ribs and shoulder-bones, and a small scattering of like fragments[326] lay at their feet, as though shaken to the deck with the jarring of the fabric by the volcanic stroke that had uphove her.

‘Hearts my life,’ murmured Finn. ‘What a hobject to come across! Why, they’ve been men!’

‘A man and a woman more like,’ said Cutbill, ‘a-taking a last farewell as the ship goes down.’

‘May I come in, Charles?’ exclaimed Laura, putting her head into the door.

She advanced as she spoke, but her eye instantly caught the embracing skeletons. She stopped dead and recoiled, and stood

staring as if fascinated.

‘Not the fittest sight in the world 佛山夜生活 for you, Laura,’ said I, taking her hand to lead her forth.

‘They were living beings once, Charles!’ she exclaimed, drawing a deep breath, and slightly resisting my gentle drawing of her to the door.

‘Ay, red hearts beat in them, passions thrilled through them, and love would still seem with them. What were they? Husband and wife—father and daughter—or sweethearts going to their grave in an embrace?’

She shuddered and continued to gaze. Ah, my God! the irony of those skeletons’ posture,—the grin of each skull as though in mirthless derision of the endearing, caressing grasp of the long and stirless arms!

‘Oh, Charles!’ exclaimed Laura in a whisper of awe and grief, ‘is love no more than that?’

‘Yes, love is more than that,’ I answered softly, conducting her, now no longer reluctant, to the door; ‘there is a noble saying, 佛山桑拿按摩论坛蒲友 Where we are death is not; where death is we are not. Death is yonder and so love is not. But that love lives, horrible as the symbol of it is—it lives, let us believe! and where it is death is not. Would Lady Monson like to view this sight?’

‘It is a moral to break her heart,’ she answered; ‘she would not come.’

She went towards her sister thoughtfully.

‘There’s nothing here, men,’ said I, returning.

‘Them poor covies’ll frighten the ladies,’ said Dowling, eyeing the skeletons with his head on one side; ‘better turn ’em out of this.’

‘Let them rest,’ said I. ‘The ladies will not choose this cabin now to lie in.’

‘If them bones which are a-hugging one another so fondly to-day could talk,’ said Cutbill, ‘what a yarn they’d spin!’

‘Pooh,’ said I, ‘I’ve had enough of this cabin,’ and with that I walked right out.

The men 佛山桑拿网论坛 followed. It was broiling hot, the sea a vast white gleam tremorlessly circling the island and steeping like quicksilver into the leagues of faint sky; the bronzed brows of the clouds in the west still burned, looming bigger. I prayed heaven there might be[327] wind there. Laura had told her sister of our discovery in the cabin, and when, whilst we sat making a bit of a midday meal, my sweet girl, in a musing, tender way, talked of this shipwreck of a century and a half old as though she would presently speak of that cabin memorial of it so ghastly and yet so touching, Lady Monson imperiously silenced her.

‘Our position is one of horror!’ she exclaimed; ‘do not aggravate it.’

The men, defying the heat, went to work when they had done eating, to search for the main hatch that they might explore the hold. I observed that Finn laboured with vigour. In short the four of them had convinced themselves that there was grand purchase to come at inside this ancient galleon, and they thirsted for a view of the contents of her. I was without their power of sustained labour, was enfeebled by the tingling and roasting of the atmosphere; my sight was pained, too, by the fierce glare on the unsheltered decks; so I plainly told them that I could help them no more for the present, and with that threw myself down on the sail beside the chest on which Laura was seated, and talked with her and sometimes with Lady Monson, though the latter’s manner continued as uninviting as can well be imagined.

However, some hope was excited in me by the spectacle of the slowly growing brass-bright brows of cloud in the west. There was a look of thunder in the rounds of their massive folds, and in any case they promised some sort of change of weather, whilst they soothed the eye by the break they made in the dizzy, winding horizon, and the bald and dazzling stare of the wide heavens brimming with light, which seemed rather to rise from the white metallic mirror of the breathless sea than to gush from the sun that hung almost directly over our heads.

It took the men three hours to find and clear the hatch, and then uproot it. The square of it then lay dark in the deck, and Laura and I went to peer down into it along with the others who leant over it with pale or purple faces. The daylight shone full down and disclosed what at the first glance seemed no more to me than masses of rugged, capriciously heaped piles of shells, with the black gleam of water between, and much delicate festooning of seaweed drooping from the upper deck and from the side, suggesting a sort of gorgeous arras with the intermingling of red and green and grey. One could not see far fore or aft owing to the intervention of the edges of the hatch, but what little of the interior was visible discovered a vegetable growth as astonishing as that which glorified the decks; huge fans, plants exactly resembling the human hand, as though some Titan had fallen prone with lifted arms, bunches of crimson fibre, with other plants indescribable in shape and colour of a prodigious variety, though the growths were mainly from the ceiling, or upon the bends where the sides of the galleon rounded to her keel.

‘All them heaps’ll signify cargo,’ said Dowling.


‘No doubt,’ said I; ‘but how is it to be got at?’

‘Mr. Monson, sir,’ exclaimed Finn, ‘you’re a scholar, and will know more about the likes of such craft as this than us plain sailor-men. What does your honour think? Was this vessel a plate ship?’

‘I wish I could tell you all you want to know,’ I replied. ‘She was unquestionably a galleon in her day, and a great vessel as tonnage then went—seven hundred tons; what d’ye think, Finn?’

‘Every ounce of it, sir. Look at her beam.’

‘Well, here is a ship that was bound to or from some South American port. She’s too far afield for considerations of the Spanish Main and the towns of the Panama coast. Was treasure carried to or from the cities of the eastern American seaboard? I cannot say. But if she was from round the Horn—which I don’t think likely, for the Manilla galleons clung to the Pacific, and transhipments came to old Spain by way of the Cape—then I should say there may be treasure aboard of her.’

‘Well, I’m going to overhaul her, if I’m here for a twelvemonth,’ cried Dowling.

‘So says I,’ exclaimed Head.

‘Would she float, I wonder,’ said Cutbill, ‘when the water’s gone out of her?’

‘I’ll offer no opinion on that,’ said I, laughing. ‘I hope I may not be on board should it come to a trial.’

‘If she was full up with cargo it must have wasted a vast,’ remarked Head.

‘Where did these here Spaniards keep their bullion?’ exclaimed Finn, stroking down his long cheek-bones.

‘Why down aft under the capt’n’s cabin. They was leary old chaps; they wouldn’t stow it forrads or amidships,’ exclaimed Cutbill.

‘All the water will have run out of her by to-morrow morning, I allow,’ said Finn; ‘but there’s no sarching of her with it up over a man’s head.’

‘I wish this deck were sheltered,’ said Laura. ‘What a glorious 佛山桑拿经理 scene! I could look at it for hours. But the sun pains me.’