Tales and Novels — Volume 07
"How the wind is rising!" said Rosamond.—"God help the poor people at sea to-night!"
Her brother Godfrey smiled.—"One would think," said he, "that she had an argosy of lovers at sea, uninsured."
"You gentlemen," replied Rosamond, "imagine that ladies are always thinking of lovers."
"Not always," said Godfrey; "only when they show themselves particularly disposed to humanity."
"My humanity, on the present occasion, cannot even be suspected," said
Rosamond; "for you know, alas! that I have no lover at sea or land."
"But a shipwreck might bless the lucky shore with some rich waif," said
"Waifs and strays belong to the lady of the manor," said Rosamond; "and I have no claim to them."
"My mother would, I dare say, make over her right to you," said Godfrey.
"But that would do me no good," said Rosamond; "for here is Caroline, with superior claims of every sort, and with that most undisputed of all the rights of woman—beauty."
"True: but Caroline would never accept of stray hearts," said Godfrey. "See how her lip curls with pride at the bare imagination!"
"Pride never curled Caroline's lip," cried Rosamond: "besides, pride is very becoming to a woman. No woman can be good for much without it, can she, mother?"
"Before you fly off, Rosamond, to my mother as to an ally, whom you are sure I cannot resist," said Godfrey, "settle first whether you mean to defend Caroline upon the ground of her having or not having pride."
A fresh gust of wind rose at this moment, and Rosamond listened to it anxiously.
"Seriously, Godfrey," said she, "do you remember the ship-wrecks last winter?"
As she spoke, Rosamond went to one of the windows, and opened the shutter.
Her sister Caroline followed, and they looked out in silence.
"I see a light to the left of the beacon," said Caroline.—"I never saw a light there before—What can it mean?"
"Only some fishermen," said Godfrey.
"But, brother, it is quite a storm," persisted Rosamond.
"Only equinoctial gales, my dear."
"Only equinoctial gales! But to drowning people it would be no comfort that they were shipwrecked only by equinoctial gales. There! there! what do you think of that blast?" cried Rosamond; "is not there some danger now?"
"Godfrey will not allow it," said Mrs. Percy: "he is a soldier, and it is his trade not to know fear."
"Show him a certain danger," cried Mr. Percy, looking up from a letter he was writing,—"show him a certain danger, and he will feel fear as much as the greatest coward of you all. Ha! upon my word, it is an ugly night," continued he, going to the window.
"Oh, my dear father!" cried Rosamond, "did you see that light—out at sea?—There! there!—to the left."
"To the east—I see it."
"Hark! did you hear?"
"Minute guns!" said Caroline.
There was a dead silence instantly.—Every body listened.—Guns were heard again.—The signal of some vessel in distress. The sound seemed near the shore.—Mr. Percy and Godfrey hastened immediately to the coast.—Their servants and some people from the neighbouring village, whom they summoned, quickly followed....