Caught In The
Victor Hugo gives the following impressive description of a death in the quicksand off certain coasts of Brittany, or Scotland. He says:--
It sometimes happens that a man traveler or fisherman, walking on the beach at low tide, far from the bank, suddenly notices that for several minutes he has been walking with some difficulty. The strand beneath his feet is like pitch; his soles stick to it; it is sand no longer—it is glue.
The beach is perfectly dry, but at every step he takes, as soon as he lifts his foot the print which it leaves fills with water. The eye, however, has noticed no change; the immense strand is smooth and tranquil; all the sand has the same appearance; nothing distinguishes the surface which is solid from that which is no longer so; the joyous little cloud of sand fleas continue to leap tumultuously over the wayfarer’s feet. The man pursues his way, goes forward, inclines the land, endeavors to get nearer the upland. He is not anxious. Anxious about what? Only he feels somehow as if the weight of his feet increases with every step he takes. Suddenly he sinks in.
He sinks in two or three inches. Decidedly he is not on the right road; he steps to take his bearings. All at once he looks at his feet. They have disappeared. The sand covers them. He draws them out of the sand; he will retrace his steps; he turns back; he sinks in deeper. The sand comes up to his ankles; he pulls himself out and throws himself to the left; the sand is half-leg deep. He throws himself to the right; the sand comes up to his shins. Then he recognizes with unspeakable terror that he is caught in the quicksand, and that he has beneath him a fearful medium in which man can no more walk than the fish can swim. He throws of his load if he has one, lightens himself like a ship in distress; it is already too late; the sand is above his knees. He calls, he waves his hat or his handkerchief; the sand gains on him more and more. If the beach is deserted, if the land is too far off, if there is no help in sight, it is all over.
He is condemned to that appalling burial, long infallible, implacable, and impossible to slacken or to hasten, which endures for hours, which seizes you erect, free, and in full health. And which draws you by the feet, which at every effort that you make, at every shout you utter, drags you a little deeper, sinking you slowly into the earth while you look upon the horizon, the sails of the ships upon the sea, the birds flying and singing, the sunshine and the sky. The victim attempts to sit down, to lie down, to creep; every movement he makes inters him; he straightens up, he sinks in; he feels that he is being swallowed. He howls, implores, cries to the clouds, despairs.
Behold him waist deep in the sand, the sand reaches his breast; he is now only a bust. He raises his arm, utters furious groans, clutches the beach with his nails, would hold by that straw, leans upon his elbows to pull himself out of this soft sheath, sobs frenziedly; the sand rises. The sand reaches his shoulders; the sand reaches his neck; the face alone is visible now. The mouth cries, the sand fills it; silence. The eyes still gaze, the sand shuts them; night. Now the forehead decreases, a little hair flutters above the sand; a hand come to the surface of the beach, move, and shakes, and disappears. It is the earth-drowning man. The earth filled with the ocean becomes a trap. It presents itself like a plain, and opens like a wave.
Could anything more graphically describe the progress of a young man, from the first cup of wine to the last?
Lord, in the silence of the night
Lord, in the turmoil of the day
In time of rapture and delight
In hours of sorrow and dismay
Yea, when my voice is filled of laughter
Yea. When my lips are thinned with pain
For present joy and joy hereafter
Lord I would thank thee once again.
---Elmer James Baily.