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:--
"M'ama ancor, belta fulgente, Come tu m'amasti allor;-- Ascoltar non dei gente, Solo interroga il tuo cor." ...
--"He sing-a nicee,--mucha bueno!" murmured the fisherman. And then, suddenly,--with a rich and splendid basso that seemed to thrill every fibre of the planking,--Sparicio joined in the song:--