SUSPENDED in the naked air eight thousand feet above New York, I look down and see the city and its inhabitants merged into one. From this height the metropolis is less interesting, and is hardly more noticeable than many tropical ants’ nests which have come under my observation. Circling slowly earthward, I have watched the city split apart into its canon streets, and have finally distinguished the caterpillars which I knew were trains, and the black beetles which must be automobiles. Last, and apparently least, were resolved a multitude of tiny specks, weird beings all hats and legs, which were undoubtedly the makers and owners of these beetles and worms and cañons.
In many similar bird’s-eye views of the city, one phase of activity always amuses and thrills. Circling as low as I dare, bumped and jolted by the surging uprush of invisible spouts of warm air, I head, like a frigate-bird, straight into the teeth of the wind, and hang for a time parallel with the streaming lines of gray and white smoke. Near the margin of the city, where the glittering water reaches long fingers in between the wharves, a crowd of people push, antwise, down to the brink. Many burdened individuals pass and repass over slender bridges or gang-planks, for all the world like leaf-cutting ants transporting their booty over twigs and grass-stems. Then comes a frantic waving of antennæ (or are they handkerchiefs), and finally part of the wharf detaches itself and is slowly separated from the city. Now I can mount higher to a less dangerous altitude, and watch the ship become a drifting leaf, then a floating mote, to vanish at last over the curve of the world.
I cease chuckling into the roar of my motor; my amusement becomes all thrill. The gods shift and change: Yoharneth-Lahai leaves me, and in his place comes Slid, with the hand of Roon beside mine on the wheel. I hasten hangarwards with the gulls which are beating toward their roosting sands of far Long Island beaches.
On some future day, I, in my turn, scurry up a gang-plank laden with my own particular bundles, following days of haste and nights of planning. I go out on the upper deck of the vessel, look upward at a gull, and think of the amusing side of all the fuss of preparation, the farewells, the departure, which sufficient perspective gives. And then I look ahead, out toward the blueblack ocean, and up again to the passing gulls, and the old, yet ever new thrill of travel, of exploration, possesses me. Even if now the thrill is shared by none other, if I must stand alone at the rail watching the bow dip to the first swell outside the harbor, I am yet glad to be one of the ants which has escaped from the turmoil of the great nest, to drift for a while on this tossing leaf.
At the earnest of winter — whether biting frost or flurry of snowflakes — a woodchuck mounts his little moraine of trampled earth, looks about upon the saddening world, disapproves, and descends to his long winter’s sleep. An exact parallel may be observed in the average passenger. As the close perspective of home, of streets, of terrestrial society, slips away, and his timid eyes gaze upon the unwonted sight of a horizon, — a level horizon, unobstructed by any obstacle of man’s devising, — mental and physical activity desert him. He hibernates. He swathes himself, larva-like, in many wrappings, and encases himself in the angular cocoons furnished for the purpose, at one dollar each, by the deck-steward; or he haunts the smoking-room, and under the stimulus of unaccustomed beverages, enters into arguments at levels of intelligence and logic which would hardly tax the powers of Pithecanthropus or a Bushman.
From the moment of sailing I am always impressed with the amusing terrestrial instincts of most human beings. They leave their fellows and the very wharf itself with regret, and no sooner are they surrounded by old ocean than their desires fly ahead to the day of freedom from this transitory aquatic prison. En route, every thought, every worry, every hope is centripetal. The littlenesses of ship-life are magnified to subjects of vital importance; and so perennial and enthusiastic are these discussions, that it seems as if the neighbor’s accent, the daily dessert, the sempiternal post-mortem of the bridge game, the home-life of the stewardess, must contain elements of greatness and goodness. With a few phonograph records, it would not be a difficult matter to dictate in advance a satisfactory part in the average conversation at the captain’s table. The subjects, almost without exception, are capable of prediction, the remarks and points of view may be anticipated.
Occasionally a passenger detaches his mind from the ship and its doings long enough to take note of something happening beyond the rail — some cosmic phenomenon which he indicates with unerring finger as a beautiful sunset; frequently reassuring himself of our recognition by a careful enumeration of his conception of the colors. Or a school of dolphins undulates through two mediums, and is announced, in a commendably Adam-like, but quite inaccurate spirit, as porpoises or young whales. Mercury, setting laggardly in the west, is gilded anew by our informant as a lightship, or some phare off Cape Imagination. We shall draw a veil, or go below, when an ‘average citizen ’ begins to expound the stars and constellations.
All this is only amusing, and with the limited interest in the ship and the trip which the usual passenger permits himself, he still derives an amazing amount of pleasure from it all. It is a wonderful childlike joy, whether of convincingly misnaming stars, enthusiastically playing an atrocious game of shuffle-board, or estimating the ship’s log with methods of cunning mathematical accuracy, but hopeless financial results. All these things I have done, and shall doubtless continue to do on future voyages; but there is an additional joy of striving to break with precedent, to concentrate on the alluring possibilities of new experiences, new discoveries, on board ship.
If the vessel is an oasis in a desert, — or in a ‘waste of waters,’ as is usually announced at table about the second or third day out, — then I am a true Arab, or, to follow more closely the dinner simile, a Jonah of sorts, for my interest is so much more with the said waste, or the things in it and above it, than with my swathed, hibernating fellow mortals.
Precedent on board ship is not easily to be broken, and much depends on the personality of the captain. If he has dipped into little-known places all over the world with which you are familiar, or if you show appreciation of a captain’s point of view, the battle is won. A few remarks about the difficulty of navigation of Nippon’s Inland Sea; a rebuke of some thoughtless idiot at table who hopes for a storm — such things soon draw forth casual inquiries on his side; and when a captain begins to ask questions, the freedom of the chart-room is yours, and your unheardof requests, which only a naturalist could invent or desire, will not fail of fulfillment.
I am off on a voyage of two weeks to British Guiana, and I begin to ponder the solution of my first problem. The vessel ploughs along at a ten-knot rate, through waters teeming with interesting life, and stopping at islands where every moment ashore is of thrilling scientific possibility. By what means can I achieve the impossible and study the life of this great ocean as we slip rapidly through it — an ocean so allencompassing, yet, to a passenger, so inaccessible?
Day after day I scan the surface for momentary glimpses of cetaceans, and the air for passing seabirds. Even the rigging, at certain seasons, is worth watching as a resting-place for migrating birds. The extreme bow is one of the best points of vantage; but the spot of all spots for an observer is the appropriately named crow’s nest, high up on the foremast. You have indeed won the captain over to your bizarre activities when he accords permission to climb the swaying ratlines and heave yourself into that wonderful place. It is tame enough when compared with piloting a plane among the clouds, but it presents an enormous expanse of ocean compared with the humble deck view. Here you can follow the small whales or blackfish down and down long after they have sounded; with your binoculars you can see every detail of the great floating turtles. And when the sun sinks in glory which is terrible in its grandeur, you may let it fill your senses with wordless ecstasy, without fear of interpretive interruption. Save for the other match-stick mast and the spider-web ratlines, the horizon is unbroken.
Many years ago I spent a night in the torch of the Statue of Liberty, and each time I dozed, the twenty-odd inch arch through which the lofty structure swayed awoke me again and again, being changed, behind one’s closed lids, into a single motion, apparently that of a gradually accelerated fall to earth. In the crow’s nest, when the ship is rolling, I can often conjure up the same feeling when my eyes are shut; but now I react to a new stimulus, and instinctively reach for a steering-rod, as the sensation is that of a wing-slip, consequent upon too slow progress of an aeroplane.
Among the luggage which I take on board is always a large, eight-pronged iron grapple, with a long coil of rope. These the stewards eye askance when they place them in my cabin, and hold whispered consultations as to their possible use. It is by no accident or chance that, before the third day, I have won the attention and a certain amount of interest of the captain, and have obtained permission to put his vessel to a novel use.
About the fourth day, from the upper deck or the ship’s bow, I begin to see floating patches of seaweed — gulfweed, or sargasso, as it is called. For the most part, this appears as single stems or in small rounded heads, yellow-brown or olive-green, awash with the surface. But, as we proceed southward, larger masses appear, and with my assistant, I get my crude apparatus ready. We fasten one end of the coil of rope to the rail of the lowest open deck forward, and then I mount the rail, securing a good grip with legs and feet. As a cowboy on a fractious horse gathers the loops of his lariat for the throw, so I estimate my distance and balance myself for the propitious moment.
Now, if not before, the audience gathers. It is flattering to see how quickly my performance will empty the smoking-room, put an end to bridge games, and fill the deck-chairs with deserted, outspread yellow backs. As dangerous rival attractions, I admit only boat-drill and the dinner-gong!
My whole object is, of course, to secure as much as possible of the sargasso-weed, together with its strange inhabitants; and to this end I have tramped the decks of steamers with the patience of the pedestrian of Chillon. I have learned the exact portion of the ship where the strain is the least, and where the water, out-flung from the bow, is redrawn most closely to the vessel’s side. I have had over-heavy grapples dragged from my hand, and have barely escaped following the lost instrument. I have seen too-light irons skip along the surface, touching only the high spots of the waves. As one drops one’s aerial bomb well in advance of the object aimed at, so I have had to learn to adjust the advance of my cast to the speed of the ship.
I make throw after throw in vain, and my audience is beginning to jeer and to threaten to return to the unfinished no trumps, or the final chapter of ‘The Lure of Love.’ Near the waterlevel as I am, I can yet see ahead a big ‘slick’ of golden brown, and I wait. But the bow dips farther and farther away, and I almost give up hope. Then I look up appealingly to the bridge and catch a twinkle in the captain’s eye. Even as I look, he motions to the wheelman, and the second succeeding dip of the bow slews it nearer the aquatic golden field. Still more it swings to starboard, and at last crashes down into the very heart of the dense mass of weed. The frothing water alongside is thick with the tangle of floating vegetation, and it is impossible to miss. I throw and lean far over, dragging the grapple until its arms are packed full. Then, with all my strength I draw up, hand over hand, leaning far out so that it will not bang against the side, and dump the dripping mass on the deck. My helper instantly frees the prongs, and I make a second cast and get another rich haul before the last of the field of weed drifts astern and tarnishes the emerald foam of the propeller-churned wake.
For a few minutes there is wild excitement. My audience dances and shouts with enthusiasm from the upper rails, members of the crew appear and help me pursue agile crabs and flopping fish about the deck. Even the surly old mate roars down news of another batch of weed ahead, and I curb my curiosity and again mount my precarious roost.
In the course of several days I acquire a wonderful sunburn, considerable accuracy in flinging my octodont, and finally a series of tumblers of very interesting specimens, which furnish me with many new facts, and my fellow passengers with the means to kill much of that embarrassing concomitant of ocean voyages — time.
An amazing amount of fiction and nonsense has been written about the sargasso-weed, but the truth is actually more unbelievable. Though we see it in such immense patches, and although for days the ocean may be flecked with the scattered heads of the weed, yet it is no more at home in mid-ocean, than the falling leaves in autumn may claim as their place of abode the breeze which whirls them about, or the moss upon which at last they come to rest. Along the coast of Central America the sargasso-weed grows, clinging, as is the way with seaweeds, to coral and rock and shell, and flowering and fruiting after its lowly fashion. The berry-like bladders with which the stems are strung are filled with gas, and enable the plants to maintain their position regardless of the state of the tide. Vast quantities are torn away by the waves and drift out to sea, and these stray masses are what we see on every trip south, which, caught in the great midocean eddy, form the so-called Sargasso Sea.
Just as the unfailing fall of dead leaves has brought about a forest-loving clique of brown and russet-colored small folk, — frogs, crickets, lizards, and birds, which spend much of their life hiding beneath or living upon the brown dead leaves, — so this neverending drift of weed has evolved about it a little world of life, a microcosmos of great intimacy, striving by imitation of frond and berry and color to avoid some of the host of enemies forever on the lookout.
It is possible to place a bit of weed in a tumbler of salt water, and have a dozen people examine it without seeing anything but a yellowish-brown frond, with many long, narrow leaves and a number of berry-like structures. Here and there are patches of shiny ivorywhite shells — tiny whorls glued closely to the surface of the leaves. Yet on this same small piece of weed there may be several good-sized crabs, slug-like creatures, shrimps, and a fish two or three inches in length. Until they move, the eye is powerless to detach them. No two are alike: the little frog-fish is mottled and striped, with many small flabby filaments, and apparently ragged fins, with curious hand-like fore limbs which clutch the fronds closely; the pipe-fish and sea-horses are draped and ragged, and splashed with yellow and brown; the slugs are simply flaccid stems or leaves, and the crabs are beyond belief, living bits of weed. Some are clear yellow, others are mottled, others again have white enameled spots like the small masses of tiny shells. The little shrimps are mere ghosts of life, transparent, yielding to every movement of the water — altogether marvelous. Then there are other beings, blue like the sea, white like the foam, or translucent bits of disembodied organs. This is all absorbingly wonderful; but the unreality of this little world’s existence, the remembrance of its instability, is always present, and the tragedy of the immediate future looms large.
The weed along the coast is honest growth, with promise of permanence. The great floating Sargasso Sea is permanent only in appearance; and when finally the big masses drift, with all their lesser attendant freight, into the Gulf Stream, then life becomes a sham. There can be no more fruiting or sustained development of gas-filled berries. No eggs of fish or crabs will hatch, no new generation of sea-horses or mollusks appear among the stems. Bravely the fronds float along; day by day the hundred little lives breathe and feed and cling to their drifting home. But soon the gas-berries decay, and the frond sinks lower and lower; as the current flows northward, and the water becomes colder, the crabs move less rapidly, the fish nibble less eagerly at the bits of passing food. Soon a seahorse lets go and falls slowly downward, to be snapped up at once, or to sink steadily into the eternal dusk and black night of deeper fathoms. Soon the plant follows and, like all its chilled pensioners, dies. The supply from the Sargasso Sea seems unfailing, but one’s sympathies are touched by these little assemblages, so teeming with the hope of life, all doomed by the current which is at once their support, their breath, and their kismet.
But all these creatures, interesting as they are, form but a tithe of the life existing around and beneath the ship. Night after night I lean over the bow and watch the phosphorescence flare and flash beneath the surface, the disturbance of the steamer’s approach springing a myriad of these floating mines, whose explosions, gentler than those of human make, merely vibrate into a splendor of visibility. How to capture these tiny beings which the eye can scarcely resolve is a matter far more difficult than the netting of the seaweed. I try to plan, then give it up, then walk restlessly over the vessel, seeking some method. But, as is often the case, Nature had fairly to force the solution upon me. Thoreau says somewhere, ‘ A trout in the milk is pretty good circumstantial evidence’; and in similar guise I saw the light.
Early one morning I was paddling in my salt-water bath, thinking of the coming week, when I should be able to dive into island harbors from the deck, when I sat up suddenly at the sight of a tiny fish disporting himself with me in the tub. At least I needed no further hint, and as I scooped up the little being, my plan was made. By exhaustive inquiry among the feminine portion of the passengers, I obtained possession of a small square of a very fine-meshed fabric something like bolting-cloth. In the evening, with the assurance of a small monetary liaison with the bathsteward, I tied this bit of cloth over the salt-wat er nozzle, and carefully set the faucet so that a dribble of water trickled forth. In the morning the clothstrainer contained a small blob of grayish jelly. This I dropped into a tumbler and saw the water cloud with an opalescent mist of a myriad motes, and I knew that my plan was successful. No matter how tempestuous the sea, or at what speed the ship throbbed through the water, I would always be able to gather any amount of the wonderful floating life of the ocean — the phosphorescent plankton — for my microscope.
Again, aside from myown edification, I was able to give some thrills to my fellow passengers; and I have had twenty or more lined up for a glimpse at the weird things of the open sea. In spite of my reassurances, there was reported to be less enthusiasm for the daily bath, and much suspicious inspection of the clear ocean tub-water as a result of glimpses of the concentrated cosmos in my tumblers.
I can recall many similar diversions and discoveries of new possibilities of life and action on board ship, but one brings memories of especial delight.
Next to the crow’s nest the bow is, for me, the place of greatest joy — the spot where each moment one’s eyes reach forward into a trackless, unexplored field of view. Long had I pondered the possibility of getting nearer the fascinating bit of unbroken water just ahead. At last a scheme unfolded itself; but not until a following trip, when I had made all preparations, did I venture to ask permission of the captain. For I knew better than to wish to add anything to the responsibility of this official. When he had become used to my eccentric use of the deck and the bath-tubs, I unfolded my new plan, and, thanks to my preparation, met with no opposition. I had a waistcoat made of stout leather straps, with a heavy ring behind to which I attached a strong rope. This, tethered to the rail, in the extreme bow, enabled me to swarm safely down until I reached the flukes of the great anchor. Seating myself comfortably, I lashed my leather straps fast, and was ready for work, with glass or net or camera. Of course this was possible only on comparatively calm days; but when the sea was mirror-like, with only the low, heaving swells bending its surface, and the dying fish flushed before us in schools, then I had days of good sport.
This novel method of anchor-perching led indirectly to the solution of a very different puzzle. I had been thinking and talking of the congested turmoil of the great city far below the horizon to the north. Looking back on a year in its midst, memory, aroused by present contrasts, registered sham, insincerity, deceit, illusion, veneer, as dominant notes in civilization. In an argument one evening I had held that deceit or illusion was not of necessity evil, nor, when unconsciously self-imposed, even reprehensible.
The next day, I had instanced a very apparent example. Our very knowledge, our mental mastery, leads us to false sensory assertions, which become so universal that they seem apparent truisms. Only by a distinct effort may we summon them to consciousness and correctly place them. It is not without a wrench that we set aside the evidence of our senses, and realize the proof which physics offers. We watch the glorious ‘sunset,’ and to disillusion our minds require to repeat again and again that it is the earth which is heaving upward, the horizon which is eclipsing the sun and the sky of day. I once persuaded a group of passengers to speak only of the evening’s ‘earth-rise,’and in three or four days this term had become reasonable, and had almost lost its strangeness.
One finds numerous examples of these sensory deceits at sea; our senses are at fault in every direction. The wind flutters the fins of the flying fish and we think they actually fly. The tropic sea, under the palest of green skies, is saturated ultramarine, save where the propellers churn it to pea-green, yet in our bath the water is clear and colorless.
My most interesting oceanic illusion was a personal one, a result of memory. I looked about the ship and felt that this at least was wholly sincere; it was made to fulfill every function and it achieved its destiny day by day, finally and completely. I had never sailed on a vessel of this name before, the Yamaro, and yet at certain moments an oblique glance brought a flash of memory, of a familiar hatchway, a rail which fitted snugly under one’s elbows, a stretch of open deck which seemed too much of a known path for these few days’ acquaintance. As I talked with the Trinidad negro lookout on the forward deck, I saw a brass coolie plate roll out of the galley, and I wondered. There were only negroes among the crew. Then one day I donned my leather waistcoat and climbed down to my anchor-flukes, and my mystery was solved. In clear new letters the name of the vessel appeared along the side of the bow above me; but a second glance showed me something else: a palimpset of old corroded sites of four letters, painted out, which once had sent their message to so many inquiring eyes — SEBU.
Long ago, on trips of unalloyed happiness, I had traveled between Colombo and Rangoon on this self-same steamer, which now, caught in some unusual stress of distant demand of war, had with her sister ships been taken from her route in the Far East and settled to her new routine.
So even the ship beneath me was not what she had seemed; and yet her deceit and illusion were harmless, wholly without guile, and I began to wonder whether my unfriendly thoughts of the great city behind me were quite fair.
The carven Wodens and Brünnhildes, who guarded the fortunes of old Viking ships, watched the icy Arctic waters forever cleft beneath them, and felt the sting of flying splinters of ice; the figureheads of Gloucester merchantmen of old, with flying draperies and pious hands, counted the daily and monthly growth of barnacles, and noted the lengthening of the green fronds on the hull below. One day I lay in the great arms of an anchor, beneath a prosaic bow; myself the only figurehead, peering gargoyle-wise over the new-painted steel. Far below, in place of wooden virgin or muscled Neptune, there appeared only four numbers — 2, 3, 4, and 25. Even these, however, yielded to imagination when I remembered that the light cargo which made them visible was due to the need of sugar by soldiers in far-distant trenches.
The great unlovely bow rose and reached forward and settled, until, as I lay face-downward, our speed seemed increased many-fold. And I wondered if the set; wooden expression which always marked the figure-head ladies and gods had not its origin in the hypnotic joy of forever watching the molten cobalt crash into alabaster, this into emerald, then to merge again into the blue, which is a hue born of depth and space and not of pigment. And now I forgot the plunging bow beneath and the schools of toy biplanes, the strange little grasshopper-like fish which burst from the ultramarine, unstained, fullfinned, and banked sharply outward for their brief span of flight. I looked up and saw pale-green shallows, a thread of silver surf, and the rounded mountains of a tropical island. And I frowned with impatience, — something that more reliable figureheads never did, — for the island, burning with interests, With exciting birds, and fascinating people, had been spoiled for me. Force of circumstance had shuffled me inextricably into a pack (I use the simile advisedly) of insufferable tourists. Effeminate men, childish women, and spoiled children diluted or wholly eclipsed every possible scene. The obvious was made blatant, the superficial was imagined subtle, the glories of silent appreciation were shattered by garrulous Nothings. At the thought of such fellow countrymen, I hid my face and strove hard to obliterate the remembrance. Soothed by the rise and thrust of the great ship’s bow, and the intermittent roar of the steel-born breaker beneath, I rested motionless.
When at last I roused, it was with a start at the alt ered scene. It seemed as if my thought — Buddha-powerful — had actually wrought the magic of widespread change. The alabaster breaker was there, but oxidized, dulled; the cobalt had become gray-black, and by the self-same alchemy the emerald shallows were reset with a mosaic of age-dimmed jade. Most of all was the island changed. From strand to cloudcapped peak, the tone was purple. In high lights it toned to dull silver-gray; in the shadows it deadened to utter black. Rugged and sheer Mont Pelee drew upwards, its head in cloud, its feet in the sea — the shadow-gray sea. My eye strove to penetrate the cloud, and picked from its heart a thread of black among the gray lava, which, dropping downward, enlarged to a ribbon and then to a gully. In ugly angles and sharp, unreasonable bends, it zigzaged down the shoulder of the great cinderous mountain. Before I realized it, my gully became a gorge and ended at the edge of the dark waters, as black and as mysterious as it had begun.
Idly I lay and watched the silver shuttle of breakers weaving the warp of the rising tide along the whole length of shore. This seemed the only bit of land in the whole world. Was it the first — or the last — to appear above the waters? It might have been either; until, suddenly I saw a movement among what I had taken for huge, crater-spewed boulders, but which I now knew for the weathered remains of houses. From between two walls of this city of the dead came slowly into view the last human being in the world — or so the surroundings suggested. Yet a second glance belied this, for her mission was fraught with hope. Even at this distance I could discern her stately carriage, swinging and free, her black countenance, and her heavy burden. At the very edge of the water she stopped, lifted down the basket piled with black volcanic debris, and emptied it. She stood up, looked steadily out at the passing steamer, and vanished among the shadows of the ruins.
It was startlingly like the first grain of sand which an ant brings out after a passing heel has crushed its nest. But, however vivid the simile, the dominant thought was hope. At least one ant had faith in a new ant-nest of the future, and the sombre picture of the negress, her basket of black lava poured into the equally black waters, was suddenly framed in high relief by the thought of a new St. Pierre. The great mountain still rumbled and smoked. One at least believed in a home in its very shadows.
But the end was not yet. The island had been for me unhappily visited; its passing had been a sudden, wonderfully dynamic vision. And now I shut my eyes again to strive to interpret and to fix indelibly in mind this vision and all the network of thoughts it wove. Again the roar from below and the gentle rise and forward surge calmed and rested me. And the thought of the unhappy morning had become dim and carried no resentment.
Ten minutes later I looked up, and again found all changed — no ruthless, startling shift of values, but a subtle, all-wonderful transformation. Pelee should still have loomed high; the craters and gullies were but a short distance away, and indeed all were faintly discernible. A faint veil of azure had intervened. There was no wind; it had neither drifted in from the sea, nor frayed from the edges of the dense cloud which enveloped the peak. So evanescent, so delicate, was this stillborn haze, that the crater cloud was only softened, not eclipsed. From the strong sweep and stroke and virile outline of a Brangwyn, or the gnomesque possibilities of a Rackham, the great mountain softened to the ethereal aircastle of a Parrish. Between winks, as imperceptibly as the coming of twilight to a cloudless sky, the vision changed to a veritable Isle of Death. This seemed too evanescent, too ethereally fragile to endure, and yet for moment after moment it held and held; and then the mountain, — which was yet but the shadow of the mountain,
— this itself dissolved, and over the gently heaving sea were neither lavaflows nor cinders, gorges nor ruins, but only a faint pearly-white mist, translucent, permeable, floating soltly between sea and sky. Martinique had vanished
— had dissolved; there was no longer any land above the waters.
Dusk settled quickly, and the vision remained unbroken. All my sensory reflections with the world seemed inverted. My actual contact with the island had passed into happy forgetfullness; the coastal vision was more vivid and real; and now, the essence of memory, the vital, tangible retrospect, was forever bound up in the final vanishing, the very evaporation of this island, lapped by the sea, — the sea which to-morrow’s sun would fill with the glorious hue of sapphires, — the sapphires of Kashmir.