There was a great battle at sea. Once could hear nothing but the roars of the big guns. The air was filled with black smoke. The water was strewn with broken masts and pieces of timber, which the canon balls had knocked from the ships. Many men had been killed, and many more had been wounded.
The flagship had taken fire. The flames were breakin’ out from below. The deck was ablaze. The men who were left alive made haste to launch a small boat. The leaped into it, and rowed swiftly away. Any other place was safer now than on board of the burning ship. There was powder in the hold.
But the captain’s son. Young Casablanca, still stood upon the deck. The flames were almost all around him now but he would not stir from his post. His father had bidden him stand there, and he had been taught always to obey. He trusted in his father’s word, and believed that when the right time came, he would tell him to go.
He saw the men leap into the boat. He heard them call to him to come. He shook his head.
“When father bids me, I will go”, he said.
And now, the flames were leaping up the masts. The sails were all ablaze. The fire blew hot upon his cheek. It scorched his hair. It was before him, behind all around him.
“Oh Father,” he cried, “may I not go now? The men have all left the ship. Is it not the time that we, too, should leave it?”
He did not know that his father was lying in the burning cabin below, that a cannon ball had struck him at the very beginning of the fight. He listened to hear his answer.
“Speak louder, Father,” he cried, “I cannot hear what you say”.
Above the roaring of the flames, above the crashing of the falling spars, above the booming of the guns, he fancied that his father’s voice came faintly to him through the scorching air.
“I am here, Father. Speak once again,” he gasped.
A great flash of light fills the air; clouds of smoke shoot quickly upward to the sky and —
Oh, what a terrific sound. Louder than thunder, louder than the roar of all guns. The air quivers: the see itself trembles; the sky is black. The blazing ship is seen no more. There was powder in the hold.
Category: Declamation Pieces