Page:A chambermaid's diary.djvu/113

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107
A CHAMBERMAID'S DIARY.

were hastening to the pier, where the groaning of the boats could be heard. But they could not stay on the breakwater because of the strong wind, and especially because of the waves, which, beating against the stone embankment, swept it from end to end, with the noise of a cannonnade. My mother took the path … "Oh! Holy Virgin! Oh! Our Jesus!"— took the path that winds around the estuary to the lighthouse. Everything was black on land, and on the sea, which was black also, could be seen, from time to time, in the distance, by the rays from the light-house, the white breaking of enormous waves. In spite of the shocks … "Oh! Holy Virgin! Oh! Our Jesus!" … in spite of the shocks and in a way lulled by them, in spite of the wind and in a way stunned by it, I went to sleep in my mother's arms. I awoke in a low room, and I saw, among sombre backs, gloomy faces, and waving arms,—I saw, on a camp bed, lighted by two tallow candles, a great corpse … "Oh! Holy Virgin! Oh! Our Jesus!" … a frightful corpse, long and naked, perfectly rigid, the face crushed, the limbs streaked with bleeding gashes and covered with black and blue spots. It was my father.

I see him still. His hair was glued to his skull, and filled with a mass of sea-weed that made a sort of crown. Men were bending over him, rubbing his skin with warm flannels and forcing air into