Farther on, between Aspinwall and Panama, was a great forest over which every morning and evening hung a reddish haze of exhalations—a real tropical forest with its feet in stagnant water, interlaced with lianas and filled with the sound of one sea of gigantic orchids, palms, milk-trees, iron-trees, gum-trees.
Through his field-glass the old man could see not only trees and the broad leaves of bananas, but even legions of monkeys and great marabous and flocks of parrots, rising at times like a rainbow cloud over the forest. Skavinski knew such forests well, for after being wrecked on the Amazon he had wandered whole weeks among similar arches and thickets. He had seen how many dangers and deaths lie concealed under those wonderful and smiling exteriors.
Torpedo fish and swarming with crocodiles
During the nights which he had spent in them he heard close at hand the sepulchral voices of howling monkeys, and the roaring of the jaguars; he saw gigant
From early morning a light eastern breeze brought a confused hum of human life, above which predominated the whistle of steamers. In the afternoon six o’clock came; the movements in the harbor began to cease; the mews hid themselves in the rents of the cliffs; the waves grew feeble and became in some sort lazy; and then on the land, on the sea, and on the tower came a time of stillness unbroken by anything.
The yellow sands from which the waves had fallen back glittered like golden stripes on the width of the waters; the body of the tower was outlined definitely in blue. Floods of sunbeams were poured from the sky on the water and the sands and the cliff. At that time a certain lassitude full of sweetness seized the old man. He felt that the rest which he was enjoying was excellent; and when he thought that it would be continuous nothing was lacking to him.
Men built houses for invalids
Skavinski was intoxicated with his own happiness; and since a
If the infinity of the sea may call out thus, perhaps when a man is growing old, calls come to him, too, from another infinity Still darker and more deeply mysterious; and the more he is wearied by life the dearer are those calls to him. But to hear them quiet is needed.
Besides old age loves to put itself aside, as if with a foreboding of the grave. The lighthouse had become for Skavinski such a half grave. Nothing is more monotonous than life on a beacon-tower. If young people consent to take up this service they leave it after a time. Lighthouse keepers are generally men not young, gloomy, and confined to themselves.
If by chance one of them leaves his lighthouse and goes among men, he walks in the midst of them like a person roused from deep slumber. On the tower there is a lack of minute impressions which in ordinary life teach men to adapt themselves to everything. All that a lighthouse keeper comes in contact with is gigantic an
It is true that such modest happiness was his due; but he was so accustomed to disappointments that he thought of rest as people in general think of something which is beyond reach. He did not dare to hope for it. Meanwhile, unexpectedly, in the course of twelve hours he had gained a position which was as if chosen for him out of all the world.
We are not to wonder, then, that when he lighted his lantern in the evening he became as it were dazed—that he asked himself if that was reality, and he did not dare to answer that it was. But at the same time reality convinced him with incontrovertible proofs; hence hours one after another passed while he was on the balcony. He gazed, and convinced himself. It might seem that he was looking at the sea for the first time in his life.
From the darkness
The lens of the lantern cast into the darkness an enormous triangle of light, beyond which the eye of the old man was lost in the black distance completely,
He believed that some mighty and vengeful hand was pursuing him everywhere, on all lands and waters. He did not like, however, to speak of this; only at times, when someone asked him whose hand that could be, he pointed mysteriously to the Polar Star, and said, “It comes from that place.” In reality his failures were so continuous that they were wonderful, and might easily drive a nail into the head, especially of the man who had experienced them.
Means of salvation
But Skavinski had the patience of an Indian, and that great calm power of resistance which comes from truth of heart. In his time he had received in Hungary a number of bayonet-thrusts because he would not grasp at a stirrup which was shown as means of salvation to him, and cry for quarter. In like manner he did not bend to misfortune. He crept up against the mountain as industriously as an ant. Pushed down a hundred times, he began his journey calmly for the hundred and first time.
He was in truth like a ship whose masts, ropes, and sails had been broken and rent by a tempest, and cast from the clouds to the bottom of the sea—a ship on which the tempest had hurled waves and spat foam, but which still wound its way to the harbor. The pictures of that storm passed quickly through his mind as he compared it with the calm future now beginning.
A part of his wonderful adventures he had related to Falconbridge; he had not mentioned, however, thousands of other incidents. It had been his misfortune that as often as he pitched his tent and fixed his fireplace to Settle down permanently, some wind tore out the stakes of his tent, whirled away the fire, and bore him on toward destruction.
Almost every occupation
Looking now from the balcony of the tower at the illuminated waves, he remembered everything through which he had passed. He had campaigned in the four parts of the world, and in wandering had tried almost every occupation. L
Falconbridge took the paper and began to read.
“H’m! Skavinski? Is that your name? H’m! Two flags captured in a bayonet attack. You were a gallant soldier.”
“I am able to be a conscientious lighthouse keeper.”
It is necessary to ascend the tower a number of times daily. Have you sound legs?”
“I crossed the plains on foot.” (The immense steppes between the East and California are called “the plains.”)
“Do you know sea service?”
“I served three years on a whaler.”
“You have tried various occupations.”
“The only one I have not known is quiet.”
“Why is that?”
The old man shrugged his shoulders. “Such is my fate.”
”Still,you seem to me too old for a lighthouse keeper.” tt “Sir,” exclaimed the candidate Suddenly in a voice of emotion, “I am greatly wearied, knocked about. I have passed thro
The task of finding a new keeper fell to the United States consul living in Panama, and this task was no small one: first, because it was absolutely necessary to find a man within twelve hours; second, the man must be unusually conscientious—it was not possible, of course, to take the first comer at random; finally, there was an utter lack of candidates.
Life on a tower is uncommonly difficult, and by no means enticing to people of the South, who love idleness and the freedom of vagrant life.
That lighthouse keeper is almost a prisoner. He cannot leave his rocky island except on Sundays. A boat from Aspinwall brings him provisions and water once a day, and returns immediately; on the whole island, one acre in area, there is no inhabitant.
The keeper lives in the lighthouse; he keeps it in order. During the day he gives signals by displaying flags of various colors to indicate changes of the barometer; in the evening he lights the lantern.
Polish literature begins a thousand years ago, but until towards the middle of the last century there is very little prose fiction, and probably no single short story of outstanding merit.
The history of Po- v land is so strikingly dramatic and her political vicissitudes so many and so varied that it is scarcely to be wondered at that the Poles failed to develop narrative fiction. One of the greatest Polish writers was Adam Mickiewicz (1798-1843), and though he wrote very little fiction he was largely instrumental in establishing a literary tradition.
With the novels of Mme. Orgaszo and Sienkiewicz Polish literature entered a new and very productive age. During the past two generations the short story has been assiduously developed by a dozen writers of exceptional talent. Prus and Szymanski, Orzeszkowa, Sienkiewicz and Zeromski have utilized the form for the expression of their deepest convictions. Among the later wri
in those miniature houses there was a gradual animation, and the reappearance
of life that seemed to have slept for ages behind closed doors, awaiting only
the coming of the pale young man with the accordion. Behind the windows there
was laughter on the faces j of young girls with their white headdresses
decorated with quaint spirals sticking out like antennae.
the pretty girls of Veere were there behind their lace curtains, with mouths
agape like roses in ; a cloud of bees. Seeing them thus emerge out of the deep
shadows and come, with fresh complexions, to their windows, I imagined these 1
homes to be real dolls’ houses brought to life by enchantment—the houses of all
the dolls of Veere, with their lovely bare arms tanned by the salt air, their
great bulged skirts, their little colored heads and eyes tinted like the sea.
the musician went here and there through the streets, his wild airs j changing
to sad and plaintive strains that brought tear