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Mary Bowline
by [?]

CHAPTER I.

“Nautaeque, per omne
Audaces mare qui currunt, hac mente laborum
Sese ferre, senes ut in otia tuta recedunt,
Aiunt.”
HORACE.

Captain Robert Bowline, a retired sea-captain, occupied a snug little farm in the town of B—-, one of the many pleasant villages on the coast of New England. He had followed the sea for many years, acquired considerable property, married, and had a family. When he had attained his forty-fifth year, a relation of his wife died, leaving her heiress to a very handsome estate, part of which was the farm aforesaid. In consequence of this event he was easily persuaded by his wife, whom he tenderly loved, to retire to private life, and leave the “vexed ocean” to be ploughed by those who had their fortunes to make. They retired to their farm, when the first act of the old Triton was to pull down the antique house that had been erected “about the time of the old French war,” and build another more “ship-shape,” and congenial to the taste of a sailor. The dwelling itself was not, indeed, externally different from any other of the snug-looking and rather handsome two-story houses of substantial farmers, etc. in New England; but its internal economy was somewhat nautical, containing numerous “lockers” and “store-rooms.” Its front gate-posts were composed of the two jaw-bones of an enormous whale; the fence was of a most fanciful Chinese pattern; and directly in front of the house was erected that never-failing ornament of a sailor’s dwelling, a tall flag-staff, with cap, cross-trees, and topmast, complete; the last, always being kept “housed,” except upon the 4th of July, 22d of February, etc. At the foot of the flag-staff, “hushed in grim repose,” was an iron six-pounder, mounted upon a ship gun-carriage, ready for service, whenever any national holyday required its voice. The house fronted the sea; a most superb view of which it commanded, but was at the same time screened from its storms in great measure by being flanked by noble old elms, and a fine orchard, which almost entirely surrounded it; while in the rear the ground swelled into a thickly wooded hill of moderate height. The ground in front sloped gently down to the water’s edge, at the distance of half a mile from the house, but to the left gradually rose into a high point, or headland, terminating in a rocky cliff that strode far out into the sea, and formed the harbor.

The family of the old seaman, at the time he took possession of his “shore quarters,” consisted of himself, wife, and daughter Mary–the rest of his children having died young. As we have no particular concern with the events of his life from that period to Mary’s twenty-first year, we shall only observe that during that time he had the misfortune to lose his wife.

Mary Bowline was a young lady, confessedly of the greatest beauty in the little town of B—-, and for many miles round; a trifle above the middle stature, sufficiently so to relieve her figure from the imputation of shortness; or, as she was a little inclined to be “fleshy,” or “embonpoint,” as our refined authors call it, from what is sometimes called “stubbidness;” her eyes were of deep celestial blue; her hair, a dark brown, and her complexion, notwithstanding her continual rambles along the beach in her girlish days, of exquisite purity. Her education, I grieve to say, had been most shamefully neglected; her mother, though a most exemplary woman, both as a Christian and a member of society, had never tied her up in a fashionable corset to improve her figure, nor sent her to a fashionable boarding school to improve her mind; the consequence was that she knew nothing of the piano,–Virgil seems to have had the gift of prophecy with regard to this part of modern education, when he said or sang,