To the right, below us, the wide, smoky bay was empty. Dominic had kept his word. There was not a chip to be seen around the black rock from which the Tremolino, with her plucky heart crushed at one blow, had slipped off into deep water to her eternal rest.
The possibility of raising Catalonia in the interest of the Rey netto, who had just then crossed the Pyrenees, was much discussed there. The antique city of Massilia had surely never, since the days of the earliest Phoenicians, known an odder set of ship-owners. We met to discuss and settle the plan of operations for each voyage of the Tremolino.
In reality, she was a true balancelle, with two short masts raking forward and two curved yards, each as long as her hull; a true child of the Latin lake, with a spread of two enormous sails resembling the pointed wings on a sea-bird's slender body, and herself, like a bird indeed, skimming rather than sailing the seas. Her name was the Tremolino. How is this to be translated? The Quiverer?
Its swaying had become perceptible. For a moment she remained dazzlingly white, then faded away slowly to nothing in a squall, only to reappear again, nearly black, resembling a post stuck upright against the slaty background of solid cloud. Since first noticed she had not gained on us a foot. "She will never catch the Tremolino," I said exultingly. Dominic did not look at me.
I forgot to mention before that the Tremolino was officially known as a fruit and cork-wood trader. The zealous officer managed to slip a useful piece of paper into Dominic's hand as he went ashore, and a few hours afterwards, being off duty, he returned on board again athirst for drinks and gratitude. He got both as a matter of course.
But for the purposes of a book like "The Mirror of the Sea" all I could make use of was the personal history of the little Tremolino. The present work is not in any sense an attempt to develop a subject lightly touched upon in former years and in connection with quite another kind of love.
Thus by a judicious exercise of tact and asperity we re-established the atmospheric equilibrium of the room long before I left them a little before midnight, now tenderly reconciled, to walk down to the harbour and hail the Tremolino by the usual soft whistle from the edge of the quay. It was our signal, invariably heard by the ever-watchful Dominic, the padrone.
And the Tremolino, in a fierce breeze and in much smoother water, swung on easily under her one sail, with something appallingly careless in the joyous freedom of her motion. Another half-hour went by. I could not stand it any longer. "They will get the poor barky," I stammered out suddenly, almost on the verge of tears. Dominic stirred no more than a carving.
He is content to feel himself a power within the People. But mainly Nostromo is what he is because I received the inspiration for him in my early days from a Mediterranean sailor. Those who have read certain pages of mine will see at once what I mean when I say that Dominic, the padrone of the Tremolino, might under given circumstances have been a Nostromo.
He was perfect. On board the Tremolino, wrapped up in a black caban, the picturesque cloak of Mediterranean seamen, with those massive moustaches and his remorseless eyes set off by the shadow of the deep hood, he looked piratical and monkish and darkly initiated into the most awful mysteries of the sea. Anyway, he was perfect, as Dona Rita had declared.