« AnteriorContinuar »
I FOUND my father under the colonnade, and inquired of him if Anderson was there.
“ No, he's not,” replied my father; "he has been sent for by the officers; so stop, Tom, that is, if you can spare a minute for your own father.” “Of course I can,” replied I, taking my seat by him.
Why, you see, boy,” said my father, “ I have but very little of your company ; and I feel it, Tom, I do indeed. I'm not jealous, and I know that Peter Anderson has done more for you than ever I could, for I've no larning to signify; but still, Tom, I am your father, and I don't think Peter, although he may be proud of your turning out so well, can feel exactly for you what a father does. I'm proud enough of you, Heaven knows; and it does hurt me a little when I find that, whenever you come here, it is for Peter Anderson, and it makes me wish sometimes that I had been Peter Anderson instead of
father." “ Indeed, father,” replied I, “ I hope you don't think that I like Anderson better than I do you; but you recollect that I have been accustomed all my life to take his advice.”
“ I know it, boy, I know it. I was serving my country, and doing my duty on board of a king's ship, and you were left here, and therefore lucky it was that you fell in with old Peter; but, Tom, I could not be in two places at the same time, and if I did not do my duty as a father towards you, at all events I was doing my duty to my country."
“ To be sure you were, and it'was of more importance than looking after a brat like me,” replied I, soothingly; for I really
never had the idea that my father could have showed so much feeling.
“ Why, Tom, I can't say that I thought so; for the fact is, I didn't think about it; indeed, I thought about nothing. Sailors afloat have little time to think : they can't think when it's their watch on deck, for they are too busy; nor at their watch below, for they're too tired; nor at meal times, for they must look after their share of the victuals ; indeed, there is not any time to think on board ship, and that's a fact. But, Tom, since I've been laid up here I have thought a good deal ; all is calm and quiet, and one day passes just like the other, and no fear of interruption when one don't wish it; and I have thought a good deal. At first I thought it a hard case to be shoved on the shelf at my age; but I don't think so now ; I'm quite satisfied."
“ I'm glad to hear you say so, father.”
“ Yes, Tom; and then, you see, when I was afloat, I didn't think any good of your mother, and I was glad to keep out of her way; and then I didn't care about my children, for I didn't know them ; but now I've other thoughts, Tom. I don't think your mother so bad, after all: to be sure, she looks down upon me 'cause I'm not genteel; but I suppose I ar'n't, and she has been used to the company of gentlefolks; besides she works hard, and now that I don't annoy her by getting tipsy, as I used to do, at all events she's civil ; and then I never knew what it was to have children until I came here, and found Virginia and you; and I'm proud of you both, and love you both better than any thing on earth ; and, although I may not be so well brought up or so well taught as you both are, still, Tom, I'm your father, and all I can say is, I wish for your sakes I was better than I am."
“ Don't say so, father; you know that Virginia and I are both as fond of you as you are of us.”
“ Well, mayhap you are; I don't say no : you are both good children, and at all events would try to like me; but still I do feel that you can't look up to me exactly; but that's my misfortune, Tom, more than my fault. I haven't larning like Auderson, or gentility like your mother: I've only a true heart to offer to you. You see, Tom, I've said all this because you are always after Anderson ; not but that I like Anderson, for he's a good man, and has been of sarvice to me, and I don't think he would ever say any thing to you that would make you think less of me."
“ No, indeed, father ; on the contrary, I once asked him his opinion about you, and he spoke most highly of you ; and whenever I go to him for advice, he always sends me to you to approve of what he has said."
“Well, he is a good man, and I'm very sorry to have any feeling of envy in me, that's the truth; but still a father must have a father's feelings. Don't let us say anything more about it, Tom; only try next time, when you want advice, whether I can't give it. You can always go to Peter afterwards, and see whether I'm right or wrong."
“I will indeed, my dear father, now I know that you wish it."
I never felt so warm towards my father as after this conversation; there was so much affection towards me, and yet so much humility shown by him, as respected himself, that I was quite touched with it, and I began to think that he really had had occasion to complain, and that I had not treated him with that respect which he deserved.
“Now, Tom, I've something to say to you. When Anderson, Bramble, and I were taking a pipe together last night, Bramble said that he had a letter from the captain of the Indiaman, offering you a berth on board as guinea-pig, or midshipman. He said that he had not shown it to you as yet, because it was of no use, as he was sure you would not accept it. Well, Anderson and I said that at least you ought to know it, and have the refusal; and your mother pricked up her ears and said, that it was much more genteel than being a pilot; so I now put the question to you."
“ Thank you, father; but Bramble was right. I shall not accept of it, although I am much obliged to the captain."
Here my father stopped me. “ First, Tom," said he, we must overhaul the pros and cons, as people call them. Old Anderson weighed them very closely, and now you shall hear them." Here