« AnteriorContinuar »
which the first lieutenant was coming on board, and then Jack thought it time to haul in his line; but, just at that moment, there was a jerk; and Jack, who knew that a fish was at the bait, could not for the life of him pull up his line-for, you see, he was a fisherman heart and soul; so Jack trusted to Providence and the first lieutenant's going down below as soon as he camo on deck.
“Now, you see, the ship was lying at the time 'cross the tide, the wind blowing against the current: the starboard side (being to leeward, as to the wind, but to windward, as to the tide) had been cleared away and manned for the boat, and Jack made sure that the first lieutenant would pull to that side; but he was mistaken. Whether it was that the first lieutenant wished to have a look round the ship or not, I do not know, but he pulled across the bows, and went round the stern, passing the larboard side: as he passed, Jack shrunk under the lee of the dead eyes and lanyards, hoping he might not be seen ; but the first lieutenant, having the clear horizon on the other side, perceived the line which Jack had half-hauled up, and, having an eye like a cat, makes out Jack also.
“I see you, sir-I see you, Mr. Jervis, fishing again, Very well,' cried the first lieutenant, from the stern-sheets of the boat, as he passed by. “You've your duty to do, and I've got mine.' "That's as gool as two dozen to-morrow morning at muster,' thought Jack, who cursed his luck, and, in & very melancholy mood, began to haul up his line, which, as soon as he had been discovered, he had let go down to the bottom again. Now, it so happened that, as Old Duty went ep the other side, his foot slipped ; and how it was I can't tell, for they say he wasn't the least groggy, but down he fell, between the boat's gunnel and the ship's side, just like a deep-sea lead, and disappeared. There being so few men on deck, there was not much of a bustle-there was a dive or two for him with the boathook, but all in vain-Old Duty was gone.
“ In the mean time, Jack on the other side was slowly hauling up his line; but he had not got it half way up when he felt a heavy strain, and he thought that a large conger eel had followed the bait up, as they do sometimes, and he hauled and hauled with all his might. At last, who should he bring to the surface of the water but Old Duty, who had been sucked under the ship's bottom by the tide, and had been hooked by Jack as he was pulling up! When Jack saw it was the first lieutenant, as he told me, his first idea was to let him down again; but that was only for a moment. The words of the first lieutenant still rang in his cars, You've your duty to do, and I've got mine'-s0 Jack did his duty. He hollows out that he had caught Old Duty; and the boat shifted round and took him on board. The old fellow was quite senseless; but, as he had been but a short time in the water, he was put to bed, and resuscitated by the surgeon. The next morning he was all just as if nothing had happened, walking the deck with his right hand in his breast, and his spy-glass under his left arm, as usual.
“Well, we all told Jack that he was safe this time, but Jack seemed to think otherwise. He shook hi bead — and now you 'll learn who was right.
“When the boys were all mustered next morning, toying a line, and holding out their paws, the first lieutenant turns round, and says, “Jervis, you were fishing last night, against my orders.' 'Yes, sir,' said Jervis, 'and I catched a first lieutenant;' for Jack had a good deal of fun in him. “Yes, sir, and
fishes they are sometimes,' replies Old Duty ; but you forget that you have also catched two dozen. You have your duty to do, and I've got mine.'
“Well, as you may suppose, there were many of us looking abaft, just to see what would take place, and were not a little astonished at the idea of his rewarding Jack with two dozen for saving his life; however, of course, wo were mum. Jack was tied up; and the first lieutenant whispered a word into the ear of his master-at-arms, who again whispered to Williams, the boatswain's mate; and the effect of that whisper was, that the cat was laid on so lightly that Jack hardly felt it so lightly, indeed, that the first lieutenant walked away aft, that he might not appear to be a party in the consarn, and Jack was cast off without having half a tear in either eye, when Old Duty went
up to him.
You fished last night against orders, and therefore you have received your punishment. You saved my life last night, and therefore it is my duty to reward you. I could not let you off this punishment, as it would be making the King pay you for me, instead of my paying you myself. I'm not a rich man, but here's ten guineas for your purse, and here's my gold watch. Spend the first usefully, and keep the other; — and observe, Jack Jervis, if ever you are again caught fishing in harbour, you will as surely get two dozen for your pains. You've your duty to do, and I've got mine.'”
"Well, messmate, that's a queer story altogether, and queerer fellows in it. I wouldn't have minded sailing with that Old Duty. Suppose we drink his health.”
“ With all my heart; for you're right, old chap: when we knows what we are to expect, we're always ready to meet it; but some officers I've sailed with shift about like a dog-vane, and there's no knowing how to meet them. I recollect — but I say, Jack, suppose you turn in
your eyes are winking and blinking like an owl's in the sunshine. You're tired, boy, 60 go to bed. We sha'n't tell any more yarns to-night."
I was very tired, indeed, and could not keep my eyes open any longer; so I went up-stairs, and was asleep almost as soon as I laid
N WHICH MY MOTHER GIVES MY FATHER A SCRIPTURAL LESSOX
- MY FATHER'S GRIEF AT PARTING WITH AN OLD FRIEND HE EXPOSTULATES WITH MY MOTHER, AND QUITS THE HOUSE, I woke early the next morning; for the whole night I had been restless, and dreaming of the unusual occurrences of the day before. It was just daylight, and I was recalling what had passed, and wondering what had become of my father, when I heard a noise in my mother's room. I listened, — the door opened, and she went down stairs.
This surprised me; and being conscious, even at my age, of the vindictive temper shown by my mother upon overy occasion, and anxious to know where my father was,
I could not remain in bed; I put on my trousers, and crept softly down stairs without my shoes. The door of the front room was ajar, and I looked in. The light was dimly peering through the window which pointed to the alley; the table was covered with the empty pipes, tobacco, and large pools of beer and liquor which had been spilt on it; the sofa was empty, and my father, who evidently had become deeply intoxicated the night before, was lying on the sanded floor with his face downwards; my mother, in her short dressinggown and flannel petticoat, was standing over him, her teeth set, her fists clenched, and arms raised, with a dire expression of revenge in her countenance. I thought at the time that I never saw her look so ugly- I may say, so horrid ; even now, her expression at that moment is not effaced from my memory. After a few minutes, she knelt down, and put her ear close to his head, as if to ascertain whether he was in a sound sleep; she then took a knife from off the table, felt the edge, looked at my prostrate father, and raised it. I would have screamed, but my tongue was glued to my lips with horror. She appeared to reflect; and, after a time, laid the knife down on the table, put the palm of her hand up to her forehead, and then a smile gleamed over her moody features. “Yes, if he murders me - but they will be better," muttered she at last. She went to the cupboard, took out a large pair of scissors, and, kneeling down by my father, commenced sovering his long pigtail from his head. My father was too sound asleep to be roused: in a minute tho