« AnteriorContinuar »
and Tom, you go with Bessy, and take care of her. But, before you go, give me some 'baccy and the odds and ends."
As soon as Bessy had put the tobacco pipes, some spirits, a rummer and water, on the table, and the spittoon at his feet, she put on her bonnet, and off we set to the doctor's house, about half a mile distant. I
soon on intimate terms with Bessy: there was something so frank and winning about her, such perfect honesty of character, that it was impossible not to like her. We delivered our message, returned home, and, being very tired, I was glad to go to bed. Bessy showed me my room, which was very comfortable; and as soon as I laid my head on the pillow, I was fast asleep.
I was awakened the next morning, by a knocking at the door, by little Bessy: it was broad daylight, and I dressed myself and went down stairs, where I found her very busy, putting everything in order.
"It was I knocked," said little Bessy: "I thought you would like to come and help me.”
“And so I will,” replied I: “what shall I do?"
"Oh, there's plenty to do now that Mrs. Maddox is ill, and you and father are come back-almost too much for a little girl like me. Will you go to the pump and fetch the pails full of water, for they are too heavy for me?”
I did as she wished. “ Anything else, Bessy?" said I.
“Oh yes, plenty. You're very good-natured, Tom, and I'm so glad you're come.”
Bessy and I were fully employed for nearly an hour,
in the front room and kitchen, clearing up and cleaning and preparing for breakfast. All was ready beforo Bramble came down and took a seat in his big chair, close to the breakfast table.
“All ready, father," said little Bessy, going up to Bramble to be kissed. “ Tom has been helping me.”
“All's right," said Bramble: “bring the book, dear."
Bessy brought a large Bible, and read a chapter aloud, then closed it and put it away.
“We can't always do this, Tom," observed Bramble, " when we're knocking about in the Channel : all we can do is to read it when we can. Come now to breakfast.”
When we had finished, I assisted Bessy to put everything away; and then Bramble said to me, “ Anderson tells me you're a good scholar, Tom; but you must now learn what will be of use to me as well as to you. The first thing you must learn, and which you can do on shore, are the points of the compass, to know them at sight and tell them quickly; for you see it's of great importance to a pilot to know exactly how a ship's head is; and the men at the helm, although good seamen and steering well, are not so ready at answering as a pilot wishes, and very often stammer at it-sometimes make mistakes. Now you see, when I'm piloting a vessel, if you stand at the binnacle, watch the compass, and answer me quickly how the ship's head is, you'll be of use to me in a very short time. Go up into my room, and under the bed you will find a compass; bring it down carefully, and I'll give you a lesson at once.” I brought the compass to lim, and Bramble made me write down the whole thirty-two points at full length upon a piece of paper. When I had done so, he told me I must learn them by heart as fast as I could.
I studied them the whole of that day; and in the evening, finding myself perfect, I went up to Bramble and repeated them without one mistake.
“ All's right,” said Bramble. “Now, Tom, give me the paper: if you know them to-night, you ought to know them to-morrow morning. I'll hear if you do, after breakfast.”
I went to bed, was tapped up as before by Bessy, assisted her to clean everything, taking off her hands all the heaviest of the work; indeed, what I have narrated of the first day may be taken as a sample of my life on shore, at Deal. After breakfast I repeated the points of the compass correctly.
“Well, Tom, you have a good memory, that's certain : all the better for you; for pilots carry everything in their heads, as you will find out. Now then, look here;" Bramble took the glass off the top of tho compass box, lifted up the card, and then showed me the needle below, which pointed to the north. He then showed me the north point above, and then the other points, making me repeat them as he put his finger on them. As soon as I understood them, he would put the stem of his pipe to one, and ask mo which it was. When I was perfect with the points, hu explained the half points and quarter points. In two days I had gained them all by heart.
“ And now,” says he, we must try you. This iron skewer is the ship's head, recollect, and I shall stick it