But as they reached at last the first of the broad bright lakes, the heat lifted, the breeze leaped up, the loose sail flapped and filled; and, bending graciously as a skater, the old San Marco began to shoot in a straight line over the blue flood. Then, while the boy sat at the tiller, Sparicio lighted his tiny charcoal furnace below, and prepared a simple meal,--delicious yellow macaroni, flavored with goats' cheese; some fried fish, that smelled appetizingly; and rich black coffee, of Oriental fragrance and thickness. Julien ate a little, and lay down to sleep again. This time his rest was undisturbed by the mosquitoes; and when he woke, in the cooling evening, he felt almost refreshed. The San Marco was flying into Barataria Bay. Already the lantern in the lighthouse tower had begun to glow like a little moon; and right on the rim of the sea, a vast and vermilion sun seemed to rest his chin. Gray pelicans came flapping around the mast;--sea-birds sped hurtling by, their white bosoms rose-flushed by the western glow ... Again Sparicio's little furnace was at work,--more fish, more macaroni, more black coffee; also a square-shouldered bottle of gin made its appearance. Julien ate less sparingly at this second meal; and smoked a long time on deck with Sparicio, who suddenly became very good-humored, and chatted volubly in bad Spanish, and in much worse English. Then while the boy took a few hours' sleep, the Doctor helped delightedly in maneuvering the little vessel. He had been a good yachtsman in other years; and Sparicio declared he would make a good fisherman. By midnight the San Marco began to run with a long, swinging gait;--she had reached deep water. Julien slept soundly; the steady rocking of the sloop seemed to soothe his nerves.
--"After all, " he thought to himself, as he rose from his little bunk next morning,--"something like this is just what I needed." ... The pleasant scent of hot coffee greeted him;--Carmelo was handing him the tin cup containing it, down through the hatchway. After drinking it he felt really hungry;--he ate more macaroni than he had ever eaten before. Then, while Sparicio slept, he aided Carmelo; and during the middle of the day he rested again. He had not had so much uninterrupted repose for many a week. He fancied he could feel himself getting strong. At supper-time it seemed to him he could not get enough to eat,--although there was plenty for everybody.
All day long there had been exactly the same wave-crease distorting the white shadow of the San Marco's sail upon the blue water;--all day long they had been skimming over the liquid level of a world so jewel-blue that the low green ribbon-strips of marsh land, the far-off fleeing lines of pine-yellow sand beach, seemed flaws or breaks in the perfected color of the universe;--all day long had the cloudless sky revealed through all its exquisite transparency that inexpressible tenderness which no painter and no poet can ever reimage,--that unutterable sweetness which no art of man may ever shadow forth, and which none may ever comprehend,--though we feel it to be in some strange way akin to the luminous and unspeakable charm that makes us wonder at the eyes of a woman when she loves.
Evening came; and the great dominant celestial tone deepened;--the circling horizon filled with ghostly tints,--spectral greens and grays, and pearl-lights and fish-colors ... Carmelo, as he crouched at the tiller, was singing, in a low, clear alto, some tristful little melody. Over the sea, behind them, lay, black-stretching, a long low arm of island-shore;--before them flamed the splendor of sun-death; they were sailing into a mighty glory,--into a vast and awful light of gold.
Shading his vision with his fingers, Sparicio pointed to the long lean limb of land from which they were fleeing, and said to La Brierre:--
--"Look-a, Doct-a! Last-a Islan'!"
Julien knew it;--he only nodded his head in reply, and looked the other way,--into the glory of God. Then, wishing to divert the fisherman's attention to another theme, he asked what was Carmelo singing. Sparicio at once shouted to the lad:--
--"Ha! ... ho! Carmelo!--Santu diavulu! ... Sing-a loud-a! Doct-a lik-a! Sing-a! sing!" .... "He sing-a nicee,"--added the boatman, with his peculiar dark smile. And then Carmelo sang, loud and clearly, the song he had been singing before,--one of those artless Mediterranean ballads, full of caressing vowel-sounds, and young passion, and melancholy beauty:--