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首页 » 儿童英文小说 » The Castaways » Chapter Nineteen. An uneasy Night.
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Chapter Nineteen. An uneasy Night.
Long with the agonising pain—for the sensations they experienced were exceedingly painful—there was confusion in their thoughts, and wandering in their speech. The feeling was somewhat to that of sea-sickness in its worst form; and they felt that reckless indifference to death so characteristic of the sufferer from this very common, but not the less painful, complaint. Had the sea, seething and surging against the beach so near them, broken beyond its boundaries, and swept over the spot where they lay, not one of them, in all probability, would have stirred hand or foot to remove themselves out of its reach. Drowning—death in any form—would at that moment have seemed preferable to the tortures they were enduring.

They did not lie still. At times one or another would get up and stray from under the tree. But the nausea continued, accompanied by the horrid retching; their heads swam, their steps tottered, and staggering back, they would fling themselves down despairingly, hoping, almost praying, for death to put an end to their agonies. It was likely soon to do so.

During all, Captain Redwood showed that he was thinking less of himself than his children. Willingly would he have lain down and died, could that have secured their surviving him. But it was a fate that threatened all alike. On this account, he was wishing that either he or one of his comrades, Murtagh or Saloo, might outlive the young people long enough to give them the rites of sepulture. He could not bear the thought that the bodies of his two beautiful children were to be left above ground, on the desolate shore, their flesh to be torn from them by the teeth of ravenous beasts or the beaks of predatory birds—their bones to whiten and moulder under the sun and storms of the tropics.

Despite the pain he was himself enduring, he secretly communicated his wishes to Murtagh and the Malay, imploring them to obey what might be almost deemed a dying request.

Parting speeches were from time to time exchanged in the muttered tones of despair. Prayers were said aloud, unitedly, and by all of them silently in their own hearts.

After this, Captain Redwood lay resignedly, his children, one on each side of him, nestling within his arms, their heads pillowed upon his breast close together. They also held one another by the hand, joined in affectionate embrace across the breast of their father. Not many words were spoken between them; only, now and then, some low murmurs, which betokened the terrible pain they felt, and the fortitude both showed in enduring it.

Now and then, too, their father spoke to them. At first he had essayed to cheer them with words of encouragement; but as time passed, these seemed to sound hollow in their ears as well as his own, and he changed them to speeches enjoining resignation, and words that told of the “Better Land”. He reminded them that their mother was there, and they should all soon join her. They would go to her together; and how happy this would be after their toils and sufferings; after so many perils and fatigues, it would be but pleasure to find rest in heaven.

In this way he tried to win their thoughts from dwelling on the terrors of death, every moment growing darker and seeming nearer.

The fire burned down, smouldered, and went out. No one had thought of replenishing it with fuel. Though there were faggots enough collected not far off, the toil of bringing them forward seemed too much for their wasted strength and deadened energies. Fire could be of no service to them now. It had done them no good while ablaze; and since it had gone out, they cared not to renew it. If they were to die, their last moments could scarcely be more bitter in darkness than in light.

Still Captain Redwood wished for light. He wished for it, so that he might once more look upon the faces of his two sweet suffering pets, before the pallor of death should overspread them. He would perhaps have made an effort to rekindle the fire, or requested one of the others to do it; but just then, on turning his eyes to the east, he saw a greyish streak glimmering above the line of the sea-horizon. He knew it was the herald of coming day; and he knew, moreover, that, in the latitude they were in, the day itself would not linger long behind.

“Thank God!” was the exclamation that came from his lips, low muttered, but in fervent emphasis. “Thank God, I shall see them once more! Better their lives should not go out in the darkness.”

As he spoke the words, and as if to gratify him, the streak on the eastern sky seemed rapidly to grow broader and brighter, its colour of pale grey changing to golden yellow; and soon after, the upper limb of the glorious tropical sun showed itself over the smooth surface of the Celebes Sea.

As his cheering rays touched the trees of the forest, then eyes were first turned upon one another, and then in different directions. Those of Captain Redwood rested upon the faces of his children, now truly overspread with the wan pallor of what seemed to be rapidly approaching death.

Murtagh gazed wistfully out upon the ocean, as if wishing himself once more upon it, and no doubt thinking of that green isle far away beyond it; while Saloo’s glance was turned upward—not toward the heavens, but as if he was contemplating some object among the leaves of the tree overhead.

All at once the expression upon his countenance took a change—remarkable as it was sudden. From the look of sullen despair, which but the moment before might have been seen gleaming out of the sunken orbits of his eyes, his glance seemed to change to one of joy, almost with the quickness of the lightning’s flash.

Simultaneous with the change, he sprang up from his reclining position, uttering as he did so an exclamation in the Malayan tongue, which his companions guessed to be some formula of address to the Deity, from its ending with the word “Allah.”

“De gleat God be thank!” he continued, returning to his “pigeon English,” so that the others might understand. “We all be save. Buld no poison. We no die yet. Come away, cappen,” he continued, bending down, and seizing the children by the hands. Then raising both on their feet, he quickly added, “Come all away. Unda de tlee death. Out yonda we findee life. Come away—way.”

Without waiting for the consent either of them or their father, he led—indeed, almost dragged—Helen and Henry from under the shadow of the tree and out toward the open sea-beach.

Though Captain Redwood did not clearly comprehend the object of Saloo’s sudden action, nor Murtagh comprehend it at all, both rose to their feet, and followed with tottering steps.

Not until they had got out upon the open ground, and sat down upon the sand, with the fresh sea-breeze fanning their fevered brows, did Saloo give an explanation of his apparently eccentric behaviour.

He did so by pointing to the tree under which they had passed the night, and pronouncing only the one word—“Upas.”


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