A storm had been lowering all day over the harbor of Boston, heaping the horizon with vast leaden embankments of heavy vapor, and shrouding the hills with dense floating fog that clung around them in waves and masses like draperies sweeping around some old monastic ruin. As the night approached, a sharp wind came up from the east, accompanied by a drifting rain that cut through the fog like a storm of silver shot. The force of the tempest swept this away only to reveal the harbor in wild turmoil, its waters heaving shoreward filled with muttering thunders from the far off ocean, and each hill reverberating hoarsely to their impetuous charge against its foundations.
It was a terrible hour for any unfortunate wayfarer who dared to be abroad. The streets of the town were almost empty, and the wharves utterly deserted save by a half dozen poor fishermen, who struggled to keep their boats from being dashed to pieces against the timbers to which they were chained. But the turbid waves leaped around and over them, tearing the cables from their hold and beating the little crafts to atoms or hurling them away like nutshells in the stormy riot.
As the day wore on, even these poor fishermen retreated indoors, leaving their little property to the tempest, and both earth and ocean were given up to the storm. But on the heights which look seaward stood two men thrown together even in that tempest into a strange and what seemed an almost unnatural companionship; for in age, character, and appearance each was a direct contrast to the other.
The storm beat heavily on them both, and though one from his age, and the other from an education which had been almost effeminate, seemed unlikely to brave a tempest like that without an important motive, it would have been impossible for either of these men to have told what brought them on the heights that boisterous day.
The old man had reached the hill first, and stood with his face to the storm, looking out upon the turbulent waste of ocean with an anxious, almost wild gaze, as if he were expecting some object long desired and watched for to rise out of that leaden distance, and reward his steady encounter of the elements.