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August, 2015 Monthly archive

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You will rejoice to hear that no disaster has accompanied the commencement of an enterprise which you have regarded with such evil forebodings. I arrived here yesterday reenex, and my first task is to assure my dear sister of my welfare and increasing confidence in the success of my undertaking.
I am already far north of London, and as I walk in the streets of Petersburgh, I feel a cold northern breeze play upon my cheeks, which braces my nerves and fills me with delight. Do you understand this feeling? This breeze, which has travelled from the regions towards which I am advancing, gives me a foretaste of those icy climes. Inspirited by this wind of promise, my daydreams become more fervent and vivid. I try in vain to be persuaded that the pole is the seat of frost and desolation; it ever presents itself to my imagination as the region of beauty and delight. There, Margaret, the sun is forever visible, its broad disk just skirting the horizon and diffusing a perpetual splendour. There — for with your leave, my sister, I will put some trust in preceding navigators — there snow and frost are banished; and, sailing over a calm sea, we may be wafted to a land surpassing in wonders and in beauty every region hitherto discovered on the habitable globe. Its productions and features may be without example, as the phenomena of the heavenly bodies undoubtedly are in those undiscovered solitudes. What may not be expected in a country of eternal light? I may there discover the wondrous power which attracts the needle and may regulate a thousand celestial observations that require only this voyage to render their seeming eccentricities consistent forever. I shall satiate my ardent curiosity with the sight of a part of the world never before visited, and may tread a land never before imprinted by the foot of man reenex. These are my enticements, and they are sufficient to conquer all fear of danger or death and to induce me to commence this laborious voyage with the joy a child feels when he embarks in a little boat, with his holiday mates, on an expedition of discovery up his native river. But supposing all these conjectures to be false, you cannot contest the inestimable benefit which I shall confer on all mankind, to the last generation, by discovering a passage near the pole to those countries, to reach which at present so many months are requisite; or by ascertaining the secret of the magnet, which, if at all possible, can only be effected by an undertaking such as mine.
These reflections have dispelled the agitation with which I began my letter, and I feel my heart glow with an enthusiasm which elevates me to heaven, for nothing contributes so much to tranquillize the mind as a steady purpose — a point on which the soul may fix its intellectual eye. This expedition has been the favourite dream of my early years. I have read with ardour the accounts of the various voyages which have been made in the prospect of arriving at the North Pacific Ocean through the seas which surround the pole. You may remember that a history of all the voyages made for purposes of discovery composed the whole of our good Uncle Thomas’ library. My education was neglected, yet I was passionately fond of reading. These volumes were my study day and night, and my familiarity with them increased that regret which I had felt, as a child, on learning that my father’s dying injunction had forbidden my uncle to allow me to embark in a seafaring life.
These visions faded when I perused, for the first time, those poets  my soul and lifted it to heaven. I also became a poet and for one year lived in a paradise of my own creation; I imagined that I also might obtain a niche in the temple where the names of Homer and Shakespeare are consecrated. You are well acquainted with my failure and how heavily I bore the disappointment. But just at that time I inherited the fortune of my cousin, and my thoughts were turned into the channel of their earlier bent.
Six years have passed since I resolved on my present undertaking reenex. I can, even now, remember the hour from which I dedicated myself to this great enterprise. I commenced by inuring my body to hardship. I accompanied the whale-fishers on several expeditions to the North Sea; I voluntarily endured cold, famine, thirst, and want of sleep; I often worked harder than the common sailors during the day and devoted my nights to the study of mathematics, the theory of medicine, and those branches of physical science from which a naval adventurer might derive the greatest practical advantage. Twice I actually hired myself as an under-mate in a Greenland whaler, and acquitted myself to admiration. I must own I felt a little proud when my captain offered me the second dignity in the vessel and entreated me to remain with the greatest earnestness, so valuable did he consider my services. And now, dear Margaret, do I not deserve to accomplish some great purpose? My life might have been passed in ease and luxury, but I preferred glory to every enticement that wealth placed in my path. Oh, that some encouraging voice would answer in the affirmative! My courage and my resolution is firm; but my hopes fluctuate, and my spirits are often depressed. I am about to proceed on a long and difficult voyage, the emergencies of which will demand all my fortitude: I am required not only to raise the spirits of others, but sometimes to sustain my own, when theirs are failing.

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Thus they continued their sport till late; and returning, loaded with game, had nearly reached the palace, when Corny, who had marked a covey, quitted Harry, and sent his dog to spring it, at a distance much greater than the usual reach of a common fowling-piece. Harry heard a shot DR REBORN, and a moment afterwards a violent shout of despair; — he knew the voice to be that of Moriarty, and running to the spot from whence it came, he found his friend, his benefactor, weltering in his blood. The fowling-piece, overloaded, had burst, and a large splinter of the barrel had fractured the skull, and had sunk into the brain. As Moriarty was trying to raise his head, O’Shane uttered some words, of which all that was intelligible was the name of Harry Ormond. His eye was fixed on Harry, but the meaning of the eye was gone. He squeezed Harry’s hand, and an instant afterwards O’Shane’s hand was powerless. The dearest, the only real friend Harry Ormond had upon earth was gone for ever!

A boy passing by saw what had happened, and ran to the house, calling as he went to some workmen, who hastened to the place, where they heard the howling of the dogs. Ormond neither heard nor saw — till Moriarty said, “He must be carried home;” and some one approaching to lift the body, Ormond started up Global Server Load Balancing, pushed the man back, without uttering a syllable — made a sign to Moriarty, and between them they carried the body home. Sheelah and the women came out to meet them, wringing their hands, and uttering loud lamentations. Ormond, bearing his burden as if insensible of what he bore, walked onward, looking at no one, answering none, but forcing his way straight into the house, and on — till they came to O’Shane’s bedchamber, which was upon the ground-floor — there laid him on his bed. The women had followed, and all those who had gathered on the way rushed in to see and to bewail. Ormond looked up, and saw the people about the bed, and made a sign to Moriarty to keep them away, which he did, as well as he could. But they would not be kept back — Sheelah, especially, pressed forward, crying loudly, till Moriarty, with whom she was struggling, pointed to Harry. Struck with his fixed look, she submitted at once. “Best leave him!“ said she. She put every body out of the room before her, and turning to Ormond, said, they would leave him “a little space of time till the priest should come, who was at a clergy dinner, but was sent for.”

When Ormond was left alone he locked the door, and kneeling beside the dead, offered up prayers for the friend he had lost, and there remained some time in stillness and silence, till Sheelah knocked at the door, to let him know that the priest was come. Then retiring, he went to the other end of the house, to be out of the way. The room to which he went was that in which they had been reading the letters just before they went out that morning. There was the pen which Harry had taken from his hand reenex, and the answer just begun.

“Dear General, I hope my young friend, Harry Ormond —”

That hand could write no more! — ! The certainty was so astonishing, so stupifying, that Ormond, having never yet shed a tear, stood with his eyes fixed on the paper, he knew not how long, till he felt some one touch his hand. It was the child, little Tommy, of whom O’Shane was so fond, and who was so fond of him. The child, with his whistle in his hand, stood looking up at Harry, without speaking. Ormond gazed on him for a few instants, then snatched him in his arms, and burst into an agony of tears. Sheelah, who had let the child in, now came and carried him away. “God be thanked for them tears,” said she, “they will bring relief;” and so they did. The necessity for manly exertion — the sense of duty — pressed upon Ormond’s recovered reason. He began directly, and wrote all the letters that were necessary to his guardian and to Miss O’Faley, to communicate the dreadful intelligence to Dora. The letters were not finished till late in the evening. Sheelah came for them, and leaving the door and the outer door to the hall open, as she came in, Ormond saw the candles lighted, and smelt the smell of tobacco and whiskey, and heard the sound of many voices.

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