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Page:The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero) - Volume 5.djvu/670

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[CANTO IV.
THE ISLAND.

(A hollow archway by the sun unseen,
Save through the billows' glassy veil of green,
In some transparent ocean holiday,
When all the finny people are at play,)
Wiped with her hair the brine from Torquil's eyes,
And clapped her hands with joy at his surprise;
Led him to where the rock appeared to jut,
And form a something like a Triton's hut;130
For all was darkness for a space, till day,
Through clefts above let in a sobered ray;
As in some old cathedral's glimmering aisle
The dusty monuments from light recoil,
Thus sadly in their refuge submarine
The vault drew half her shadow from the scene.


    opening in the rock, and rose into the cavern. The light was sufficient, after remaining about five minutes, to show objects with some little distinctness; ... Nevertheless, as it was desirable to have a stronger light, Mariner dived out again, and, priming his pistol, tied plenty of gnatoo tight round it, and wrapped the whole up in a plantain-leaf: he directed an attendant to bring a torch in the same way. Thus prepared, he re-entered the cavern, unwrapped the gnatoo, fired it by the flash of the powder, and lighted the torch. "The place was now illuminated tolerably well.... It appeared (by guess) to be about forty feet wide in the main part, but it branched off, on one side, in two narrower portions. The medium height seemed also about forty feet. The roof was hung with stalactites in a very curious way, resembling, upon a cursory view, the Gothic arches and ornaments of an old church." According to one of the matabooles present, the entire family of a certain chief had, in former times, been condemned to death for conspiring against a rival tyrant—the chief to be taken out to sea and drowned, the rest of the family to be massacred. One of the chief's daughters was a beautiful girl, to whom the youth who discovered the cave was attached. "He had long been enamoured of this young maiden, but had never dared to make her acquainted with the soft emotions of his heart, knowing that she was betrothed to a chief of higher rank and greater power, but now, ... no time was to be lost; he flew to her abode ... declared himself her deliverer if she would trust to his honour.... Soon her consenting hand was clasped in his: the shades of evening favoured their escape ... till her lover had brought a small canoe to a lonely part of the beach. In this they speedily embarked.... They soon arrived at the rock, he leaped into the water, and she, instructed by him, followed close after; they rose into the cavern, and rested from their fatigue, partaking of some refreshments which he had brought there for himself...." Here she remained, visited from time to time by her more fortunate Leander, until he was enabled to carry her off to the Fiji islands, where they dwelt till the death of the tyrant, when they returned to Vavaoo, "and lived long in peace and happiness."]