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Peril A Peace-Maker
A few days passed: the brigantine drifting hither and thither, and
nothing in sight but the sea, when forth again on its stillness rung
Annatoo's domestic alarum. The truce was up. Most egregiously had the
lady infringed it; appropriating to herself various objects
previously disclaimed in favor of Samoa. Besides, forever on the
prowl, she was perpetually going up and down; with untiring energy,
exploring every nook and cranny; carrying off her spoils and
diligently secreting them. Having little idea of feminine
adaptations, she pilfered whatever came handy:--iron hooks, dollars,
bolts, hatchets, and stopping not at balls of marline and sheets of
copper. All this, poor Samoa would have borne with what patience he
might, rather than again renew the war, were it not, that the
audacious dame charged him with peculations upon her own private
stores; though of any such thing he was innocent as the bowsprit.
This insulting impeachment got the better of the poor islander's
philosophy. He keenly resented it. And the consequence was, that
seeing all domineering useless, Annatoo flew off at a tangent;
declaring that, for the future, Samoa might stay by himself; she
would have nothing more to do with him. Save when unavoidable in
managing the brigantine, she would not even speak to him, that she
wouldn't, the monster! She then boldly demanded the forecastle--in
the brig's case, by far the pleasantest end of the ship--for her own
independent suite of apartments. As for hapless Belisarius, he
might do what he pleased in his dark little den of a cabin.
Concerning the division of the spoils, the termagant succeeded in
carrying the day; also, to her quarters, bale after bale of goods,
together with numerous odds and ends, sundry and divers. Moreover,
she laid in a fine stock of edibles, so as, in all respects possible,
to live independent of her spouse.
Unlovely Annatoo! Unfortunate Samoa! Thus did the pair make a divorce
of it; the lady going upon a separate maintenance,--and Belisarius
resuming his bachelor loneliness. In the captain's state room, all
cold and comfortless, he slept; his lady whilome retiring to her
forecastle boudoir; beguiling the hours in saying her pater-nosters,
and tossing over and assorting her ill-gotten trinkets and finery;
like Madame De Maintenon dedicating her last days and nights to
continence and calicoes.
But think you this was the quiet end of their conjugal quarrels? Ah,
no! No end to those feuds, till one or t'other gives up the ghost.
Now, exiled from the nuptial couch, Belisarius bore the hardship
without a murmur. And hero that he was, who knows that he felt not
like a soldier on a furlough? But as for Antonina, she could neither
get along with Belisarius, nor without him. She made advances. But of
what sort? Why, breaking into the cabin and purloining sundry goods
therefrom; in artful hopes of breeding a final reconciliation out of
the temporary outburst that might ensue.
Then followed a sad scene of altercation; interrupted at last by a
sudden loud roaring of the sea. Rushing to the deck, they beheld
themselves sweeping head-foremost toward a shoal making out from a
cluster of low islands, hitherto, by banks of clouds, shrouded from
The helm was instantly shifted; and the yards braced about. But for
several hours, owing to the freshness of the breeze, the set of the
currents, and the irregularity and extent of the shoal, it
seemed doubtful whether they would escape a catastrophe. But Samoa's
seamanship, united to Annatoo's industry, at last prevailed; and the
brigantine was saved.
Of the land where they came so near being wrecked, they knew nothing;
and for that reason, they at once steered away. For after the fatal
events which had overtaken the Parki at the Pearl Shell islands, so
fearful were they of encountering any Islanders, that from the first
they had resolved to keep open sea, shunning every appearance of
land; relying upon being eventually picked up by some passing sail.
Doubtless this resolution proved their salvation. For to the
navigator in these seas, no risk so great, as in approaching the
isles; which mostly are so guarded by outpost reefs, and far out from
their margins environed by perils, that the green flowery field
within, lies like a rose among thorns; and hard to be reached as the
heart of proud maiden. Though once attained, all three--red rose,
bright shore, and soft heart--are full of love, bloom, and all manner
of delights. The Pearl Shell islands excepted.
Besides, in those generally tranquil waters, Samoa's little craft,
though hundreds of miles from land, was very readily managed by
himself and Annatoo. So small was the Parki, that one hand could
brace the main-yard; and a very easy thing it was, even to hoist the
small top-sails; for after their first clumsy attempt to perform that
operation by hand, they invariably led the halyards to the windlass,
and so managed it, with the utmost facility.
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