« AnteriorContinuar »
long account of the capture of the privateer, and the conduct of Bramble and of me spoken of in the highest terms. This he read aloud to my mother and Virginia. I watched my sister: the tears filled her eyes as she listened ; and when Mr. W'ilson had done, her arms were round my neck, and her smiles were mixed with her tears, and sometimes she would laugh as she cried. Oh! how I loved her then, for I felt how dearly she loved me ; even my mother appeared gratified, although she said nothing, but continued to repair the lace veil upon which she had been employed. That evening I went with Virginia to call upon Mrs. St. Felix, taking with me the presents I had laid aside for her. She welcomed me as usual, and accepted what I brought for her without hesitation and with many thanks.
“ Well, Mr. Tom,” said she, “ I'll just put away all your nice little remembrances, and then I'll tell you that I've heard all about your behaviour in the fight with the privateer ; and I've no doubt but that, if you continue to go on as you've begun, you will one day have a leg the less, as your father has before you."
“I hope not,” replied I: “two legs are better than one.”
“Yes, when you want to run away, that's true. I see now why you're so anxious to save your legs."
“But, Mrs. St. Felix, if it had not been for that good spy-glass you gave me, I never should have discovered the privateer, and we should not have been prepared for her.”
“ Well, that's fortunate : it didn't prove a glass too much, any how, or you'd have seen double. I suppose, then, all these pretty things are my share of the prize money."
“No, they are no value, except to prove to you that Poor Jack has not forgotten your kindness, and never will."
“ That I believe: and believing that, I suppose you have not forgotten old Nanny."
“ No; but I have not seen her yet. I intend to go to-morrow; but I have something for the doctor. He is not at home, will you give it to him?"
“Certainly, you know I am as good as a mother to him.”
“ That's a foolish idea that's in many people's heads, Tom, which I'll thank you to contradict. I never intend to change my name."
“Don't make too sure," replied I; and I added at a venture, (why, I know not, but I had formed the idea in my mind that St. Felix was not her proper name,)“ you may change it yet for your real name.” “ Tom, Tom !” cried the widow, “what do you mean ? ”
Nothing," replied I; “I was only joking." “Well then, don't talk such nonsense, or I shall send you out of the shop.”
I had, however, it appeared, struck upon a chord which jarred, and all the spirits of Mrs. St. Felix vanished at once. So Virginia and I wished her a good evening, and returned home.
SOME LITTLE DIFFERENCE IN THE PROCEEDS OF THIS CHAPTER, AND MY
FORMER COPPER FOR POOR JACK, YOUR HONOUR.”.
On our arrival at my mother's, I found a letter from Branıble, stating that he would be at Greenwich in two days, and, further, informing me that the Honourable Company had been pleased, in consequence of the report made of our good behaviour, to award to him the sum of two hundred pounds, and to me the sum of one hundred pounds, as a remuneration for our assistance in the capture of the privateer.
This was news indeed. One hundred pounds! I never thought that I should possess such a sum in my life. One hundred pounds! what should I do with it? My mother was astonished, and then fell into a very grave mood. Virginia was pleased, but appeared to care less about it than I thought she would have done. My father came in as usual with Ben the Whaler, and I read the letter.
“ Why, Tom, that's about as much prize-money as I have made in all my sarvice," said my father, “ and you've been afloat only four months. Come, missis, send for some beer, and let us drink Tom's health, and success to him. God bless you, my boy; the papers say you deserved it, and that's better than your getting it. I'm proud of you; I am indeed, my boy: your father's proud of you, Tom,” — and here my father showed more emotion than ever I witnessed in him before; however, he put his lips to the porter pot, and when he had drained it nearly to the bottom, he had quite recovered himscif.
Well, Tom," said Ben, after he had finished the small modi. cum of beer left him by my father, “and what do you mean to do with all that money?"
“ I'm sure I don't know — I have no want of it - I have every thing I wish for.”
" Come, missis," said my father, “ we must have another pot, for I drank deep, and Ben has been shared out.” My mother very graciously sent for another pot of porter, which, with the newspaper, occupied Ben and my father till it was time for us to break up and go to bed.
The next morning when I went down I found Virginia alone, my mother having returned to her room.
“ Tom," said she, “ what do you think my mother said to me when we were going to bed last night?”
“ Tell me."
“She said, “Tom says he don't know what to do with his money. I only wish I had it; I would turn it into three times the sum in three years, and have a better home for you, my dear.'”
“ Did she say how ?”
· Yes, I asked her how ; she said that she should take a new house with a shop up the town, and set up as a milliner, with apprentices; that, as soon as she was fairly employed, she should give up getting up fine linen, and only take in laces to wash and mend, which was a very profitable business.”
“ Well,” says I, “ Virginia, my mother is a hard-working woman, and a clever woman, and I dare say she would do very well, and, as she says she would have a better home for you, I think I shall let her have the money; but I won't say so yet. I must talk about it to Peter Anderson, and if he don't say no, she shall have it with pleasure."
“ That will be very kind of you, Tom; and I hope mother will feel it, for you don't owe her much.”
“ Never mind that; after breakfast I'll see Peter Anderson : don't say a word about it till I come back.”
At breakfast-time my mother still appeared to be very thoughtful: the fact was, that the idea of what advantage the money would be had taken possession of her mind; and perhaps she thought that there was no chance of obtaining it. Perhaps she felt that, had she treated me better, she would have had it without difficulty - it was impossible to say exactly. .
After breakfast I walked with Virginia to her school; and then set off to Anderson, to whom I immediately imparted what had taken place. His answer was decided
“ I think, Jack, you can't do better; but, at the same time, let us go to your father and hear his opinion.”
My father coincided with Anderson and me; and he added, “I tell you what, your mother is not parfect exactly — though I say it, as shouldn't say it — but still she does work hard — and she will work hard — she has paid my little girl's schooling out of her own arnings; and, moreover, she has found me one pot of pofter at least, every night, which has made me very comfortable Now I've still a matter of forty pounds in the lieutenant's hands; I'll add it to Tom's hundred pounds, and then she will have a fair start. What d'ye think, Peter?"
“ I think you are both right; and, Tom — you are doing your duty.”
I knew what Anderson meant. I thanked him for his advice; and my father and I went to my mother's house. I requested my father to stand spokesman, which he did, ending by telling my mother, that my hundred pounds and his forty pounds were very much at her sarvice, and good luck to her. Virginia's eyes glistened as she took me by the hand. My mother replied,
Very well, if we pleased, she would do her best for us all." The answer was hardly gracious; but I watched her countenance, and saw she was moved. Her thin lips quivered, as she turned
away and went up stairs, which she did immediately after her reply. In about half an hour, during which I was laughing with Virginia, my mother came down stairs in her shawl and bonnet.
“Tom," said she, in a kind manner, “ will you walk with Virginia to school this afternoon, as I am going to have some conversation with Mr. Wilson ?”
The alteration in her tone of voice to me was immediately perceived by Virginia.
“ You are a dear good Tom,” said she, kissing me, as soon as my mother had left the house.
As soon as I had left Virginia at school, I went to call upon old Nanny, whom I found quite brisk and lively, sorting old keys and rusty hinges.