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Trube <colourman <at> efag.net>
2009-09-02 05:13:04 GMT
She played the air first; then, gaining confidence, she sang the words,
using a Spanish version which had caught her fancy. It was good to see
the flashing eyes and impassioned gestures of the Chilean stewards when
they found that she was singing in their own language. These men, owing
to their acquaintance with the sea and knowledge of the coast, were now
in a state of panic; they would have burst the bonds of discipline on
the least pretext. So, as it chanced, the voice of the English senorita
reached them as the message of an angel, and the spell she cast over
them did not lose its potency during some hours of dangerous toil. Here,
again, was found one of the comparatively trivial incidents which
contributed materially to the working out of a strange drama, because
anything in the nature of a mutinous orgy breaking out in the first part
of that soul-destroying night must have instantly converted the ship
into a blood-bespattered Inferno. Excited applause rewarded the song.
Fired by example, the dapper French Count approached the piano and asked
Elsie if she could play Beranger's "Roi d'Yvetot." She repressed a smile
at his choice, but the chance that presented itself of initiating a
concert on the spur of the moment was too good to be lost, so M. de
Poincilit, in a nice light tenor, told how Il etait un roi d'Yvetot Pen
connu dans l'histoire, Se levant tard, se couchant tot, Dormant fort
bien sans gloire. The Frenchman took the merry monarch seriously, but
the lilting melody pleased everybody except "Mr. Wood." The "Oh, Oh's"
and "Ah, Ah's" of the chorus apparently stirred him to speech. He
strolled from a corner of the saloon to the side of Gray, the American
engineer, and said, with a contemptuous nod towards the singer: "What
rot!" "Not a bit of it. He's all right. Won't _you_ give us a song
next?" If Gray showed the face of a sphinx, so did "Mr. Wood," whose
real name was Tollemache. He bent a little nearer. "Seen the rockets?"
he asked. "No. Are we signaling?" "Every minute. Have counted fifteen."
"You don't say. Things are in a pretty bad shap