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had been found on the beach about a month previous, some forty yards from where we lay. The hands and feet, miserably contracted, and corrugated into deep folds at every joint, yet swollen to twice their proper size, had been bleached as white as pieces of alumed sheepskin, and where the head should have been, there existed only a sad mass of decay. I had examined the body, as young people are apt to do, a great deal too curiously for my peace; and though I had never done the poor nameless seaman any harm, I could not have suffered more from him during that melancholy night had I been his murderer. Sleeping or waking, he was continually before me. Every time I dropped into a dose, he would come stalking up the beach, from the spot where he had lain, with his stiff white fingers, that stuck out like eagle's toes, and his pale, broken pulp of a head, and attempt to strike me; and then I would awaken with a start, cling to my companion, and remember that the drowned sailor had lain festering among the identical bunches of sea-weed that still rotted on the beach not a stone-cast away.
The near neighbourhood of a score of living bandits, would have inspired less horror than the recollection of that one dead
Towards midnight the sky cleared, and the wind fell, and the moon in her last quarter rose red as a mass of heated iron out of the sea. We crept down in the uncertain light, over the rough slippery crags, to ascertain whether the tide had not fallen sufficiently far to yield us a passage, but we found the waves chafing among the rocks, just where the tide-line had rested twelve hours before, and a full fathom of sea enclasping the base of the promontory. A glimmering idea
of the real nature of our situation at length crossed
It was not imprisonment for a tide, to which we had consigned ourselves; it was imprisonment for a week. There was little comfort in the thought, arising, as it did, amid the chills and terrors of a dreary midnight, and I looked wistfully on the sea as our only path of escape. There was a vessel crossing the wake of the moon at the time, scarce half a mile from the shore, and assisted by my companion, I began to shout at the top of my lungs, in the hope of being heard by the sailors. We saw her dim bulk falling slowly athwart the red glittering belt of light that had rendered her visible, and then disappearing in the murky blackness; and just as we lost sight of her for ever, we could hear an indistinct sound mingling with the dash of the waves—the shout, in reply, of the startled helmsman. The vessel, as we afterwards learned, was a large stone-lighter, deeply laden, and unfurnished with a boat; nor were her crew at all sure that it would have been safe to attend to the midnight voice from amid the rocks, even had they the means of communication with the shore. We waited on and on, however, now shouting by turns, and now shouting together, but there was no second reply; and at length losing hope, we groped our way back to our comfortless bed, just as the tide had again turned on the beach, and the waves began to roll upwards, higher and higher at every dash.
As the moon rose and brightened, the dead seaman became less troublesome, and I had succeeded in dropping as soundly asleep as my companion, when we were both aroused by a loud shout. We started up, and again crept downwards among the crags to the shore, and as we reached the sea, the shout was repeated. It was that of at least a dozen harsh voices united. There was a brief pause, followed by another shout, and then two boats, strongly manned, shot round the western promontory, and shouted yet again. The whole town had been alarmed by the intelligence that two little boys had straggled away in the morning to the rocks of the southern Sutor, and had not found their way back. The precipices had been a scene of frightful accidents from time immemorial, and it was at once inferred that one other sad accident had been added to the number. True, there were cases remembered of people having been tide-bound, in the Doocot caves, and not much worse in consequence, but as the caves were inaccessible even during neaps, we could not, it said, possibly be in them; and the sole remaining ground of hope was, that as had happened once before, only one of the two had been killed, and that the survivor was lingering among the rocks, afraid to come home. And in this belief, when the moon rose, and the surf fell, the two boats had been fitted out. It was late in the morning ere we reached Cromarty, but a crowd on the beach awaited our arrival; and there were anxious-looking lights glancing in the windows, thick and manifold ; nay, such was the interest elicited, that some enormously bad verse, in which the writer described the incident a few days after, became popular enough to be handed about in manuscript, and read at tea-parties by the élite of the town.
Across the window-pane