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I burst into tears; and, before the tears had rolled half way down my cheeks, they had frozen hard. “ I am indeed · Poor Jack' now,” thought I; “ I shall never see my father or Virginia any more." As I thought so, I saw another vessel ahead of us. I summoned all my strength, and called out long before we floated
The light wind bore my voice down; there was a man on deck, and he heard it; he walked forward, and I perceived him looking over the bows. I hallooed again, to direct his attention to where we were ; for our wherry was so incrusted with ice, that she might have been taken for a larger piece floating by. I saw him turn away, and heard him thump with a handspike on the deck. How
heart bounded! I almost felt warm. As we were passing the vessel, I cried out again and again, and the man answered me
“Ay, ay, hold on for a minute or two, and I'll send for you."
“We are saved," I cried to the waterman ; but he was quite insensible, apparently frozen stiff where he was clinging. In a few minutes I heard the sound of oars, and then they stopped; the boat came quietly alongside, that they might not by the shock throw us off into the water; they dragged us both in, and took us on board, poured a glass of brandy down our throats, stripped off our frozen clothes, chafed our limbs, and put us between the hot blankets which they had just left. As soon as I was in bed, the mate made me drink a tumbler of hot grog, and left me.
I soon fell into a deep sleep, long before they had ceased their attempts to restore vitality to my companion; which at last they did. When I awoke the next morning, I was quite well; and the waterman was also recovering, although not able to leave his hammock. The mate who had had the watch and had saved us, told me that the wherry was safe on board ; and, as the ship was bound up the river, that we had better remain where we were. I narrated our accident ; and my clothes having been dried at the caboose, I dressed myself, and went on deck. My companion, the waterman, did not escape so well; his foot was frost-bitten, and he lost four of his toes, before he recovered. It was singular that he, who was a man grown up, should suffer so much more than I did. I cannot account for it, except
my habit of always being in the water had hardened
me more to the cold. We remained on board two days ; during which we were treated with great kindness.
It was a fine bright morning, when, as the ship was passing the hospital, we shoved the wherry off, and landed at the steps; and, when we jumped out, we were greeted by all who were standing there. We had very naturally been given up for lost. They supposed that we had perished in the snow storm. Old Ben was among those who were standing at the steps, and he walked up with me towards my mother's house.
“I did go to the old woman and break the matter to her in a becoming way, Jack," said Ben; “ but I can't say that she appeared to take it much to heart, and that's the truth. Had it been little Jenny, she'd have cried her out.”
I arrived at Fisher's Alley, and the neighbours looked out; and as I nodded to them, they cried, “Why, here's Jack come back again. Where have you been to, Jack?" This passing from mouth to mouth, at last reached my mother's ears ; she looked out, and saw me and old Ben close to the door. “Here be your son, Misses,” said Ben;
so you may
thank God for his mercy."
But my mother did not appear to be very thankful. She turned round and went in ; I followed her, while Ben was standing at the door in amazement at her not flying to me and kissing me. the contrary, she must have been angry at my return; for she commenced singing
“ Jack and Gill went up the hill
To fetch a pail of water;
And then she broke out — “And where have you been, you goodfor-nothing boy, all this time? putting me to all this useless expense that you have; all my money thrown away for nothing." I looked at the table, and perceived that she had been making a black dress and bonnet, to put little Virginia into mourning; for she never let slip an opportunity to dress out my sister. “Fifteen good shillings thrown away and lost - all by your
coming back. Your sister would have looked so beautiful and interesting in it. Poor child and now she will be disappointed. Never mind, my darling, you may have to wear them soon yet, if he goes on this way.”
Virginia did not seem to mind it at all; she was kissing and patting me, and was delighted to see me again. But my
mother took her by the hand, and catching up the half-made dress and bonnet in her other, walked away up stairs to her room, singing
“ There was an old man who lived under a hill,
And if he's not dead, he lives there still."
“So much for motherly love! Dang it, what's her heart made of?” said a voice. I turned round; it was old Ben, who had been an unobserved spectator of the scene.
IN WHICH I NARRATE WHAT I CONSIDER THE MOST FORTUNATE INCIDENT
IN MY LIFE ; AND BEN THE WHALER CONFIDES TO ME A VERY STRANGE HISTORY
Among the pensioners, there was one with whom I must make the reader acquainted; as he will be an important person in this narrative. His name was Peter Anderson, a north countryman, I believe, from Greenock : he had been gunner's mate in the service for many years; and, having been severely wounded in an action, he had been sent to Greenwich. He was a boatswain in Greenwich Hospital; that is, he had charge of a ward of twenty-five men ; and Ben the Whaler had lately been appointed one of the boatswain's mates under him. He was a very good scholar, and had read a great deal. You could hardly put any question to him, but you would get from him a satisfactory sort of an answer; and he was generally referred to in all points of dispute, especially in matters connected with the service, which he had at his fingers’ ends; and, moreover, he was a very religious, good man. I never