A STORY FROM THE SAND-DUNES 713
Two people sprang together into the sea ; in a moment
more, and one of the largest waves that polled towards the
sand-hills threw a body upon the shore. It was a woman,
and appeared quite dead; but some women thought they
discerned signs of life in her, and the stranger was carried
across the sand-hills into the fisherman's hut. How
beautiful and fair she was ! certainly she must be a great
lady. They laid her upon the humble bed that boasted not
a yard of linen ; but there was a woollen coverlet to wrap
her in, and that would keep her warm.
Life returned to her, but she was delirious, and knew
nothing of what had happened or where she was ; and it was
better so, for everything she loved and valued lay buried
in the sea. It was with her ship as with the vessel in the
song of ' The King's Son of England '
Alas ! it was a grief to see
How the gallant ship sank speedily.
Portions of wreck and fragments of wood drifted ashore, she was the only living thing among them all. The wind still drove howling over the coast. For a few moments the strange lady seemed to rest; but she awoke in pain, and cries of anguish and fear came from her lips. She opened her wonderfully beautiful eyes, and spoke a few words, but none understood her.
And behold, as a reward for the pain and sorrow she had undergone, she held in her arms a new-born child, the child that was to have rested upon a gorgeous couch, surrounded by silken curtains, in the sumptuous home. It was to have been welcomed with joy to a life rich in all the goods of the earth ; and now Providence had caused it to be born in this humble corner, and not even a kiss did it receive from its mother.
The fisher's wife laid the child upon the mother's bosom, and it rested on a heart that beat no more, for she was dead. The child who was to be nursed by wealth and fortune, was cast into the world, washed by the sea among the sand-hills, to partake the fate and heavy days of the poor. And here again comes into our mind the old song of the English King's son, in which mention is made of the customs prevalent at that time, when knights and squires plundered those who had been saved from shipwreck.