Page:Atlantis Arisen.djvu/40

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
32
ATLANTIS ARISEN.

glass. The view is grand; but what charms us most is a miniature landscape reflected in one of the facets of the lantern. It is a complete copy of the northwestern shore of the cape, a hundred times more perfect and beautiful than a painter could make it, with the features of a score of rods concentrated into a picture of a dozen inches in diameter, with the real life, and motion, and atmosphere of nature in it. While you gaze enchanted, the surf creeps up the sandy beach, the sea-birds circle about the rocks, the giant firs move gently in the breeze, shadows flit over the sea, a cloud moves in the sky; in short, it is the loveliest picture your eyes ever rested on.

When we ask the light-keeper, "What do you do when the thick fogs hang over the coast?" he shows us a great bell, which, when the machinery is wound up, tolls, tolls, tolls, solemnly in the darkness, to warn vessels off the coast. "But," he says, "it is not large enough, and cannot be heard any great distance. Vessels usually keep out to sea in a fog, and ring their own bells to warn off other vessels."

Then he shows us, at our request, Peacock Spit, where the United States vessel of that name was wrecked, in 1841; and the South Spit, nearly two miles outside the cape, where the " Shark," another United States vessel, was lost in 1846. The bones of many a gallant sailor and many a noble ship are laid on the sands, not half a dozen miles from the spot where we now stand and look at a tranquil ocean. Nor was it in storms that these shipping disasters happened. It was the treacherous calm that met them on the bar, when the current or the tide carried them upon the sands, where they lay helpless until the flood-tide met the current, and the ship was broken up in the breakers. Pilotage and steam have done away with shipwrecks on the bar.

We are glad to think that it is so. Having exhausted local topics for conversation, we descend the winding stairs, which remind us of those in the "Spider and the Fly," so hard are they to "come down again." How still and warm it is down under the shelter of the earth-works! Descending by the military road, we come out near the life-boat house,—for there is a life-saving station here,—and, being invited, go in to look at it. We find it well furnished for its duties, which evidently