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and I was terribly beaten,—but I could not give up, for so many betted upon my winning; and Ben told me, at the end of every round, that, if I only stood up one more, I should be certain to beat him; and that then I should be Poor Jack for ever! The last inducement stimulated me to immense exertion; we closed and wrestled, and my antagonist was thrown ; and, in consequence of the strain he had before received, he could not stand up any more.
Poor fellow! he was in great pain; he was taken home, and obliged to havo a doctor, and an abscess formed in his side. He was a long while getting well, and when he came out of doors again he was so pale,—I was very sorry for him, and we were always the best friends afterwards, and I gave him many a halfpenny, until I had an opportunity of serving him.
I mention these two fights because they obtained for me a greater reputation than I deserved: this reputation perhaps saved me a great deal more fighting, and obtained me the mastery over the other boys on the beach. Indeed, I became such a favourite with the watermen that they would send the other boys away; and thus did I become, at last, the acknowledged, true, lawful, and legitimate “ Poor Jack of Greenwich."
IN WHICH I TAKE A CRUISE CONTRARY TO THE RECEIVED RULES
OF NAVIGATION-ON MY RETURN FROM A COLD EXPEDITION I MEET WITH A COLD RECEPTION.
As soon as I was fairly in possession of my office, I gained sufficient money to render me almost entirely independent of my mother. Occasionally I procured an old jacket or trousers, or a pair of shoes, at the store of an old woman who dealt in everything that could be imagined ; and if ever I picked up oakum or drifting pieces of wood I used to sell them to old Nanny,—for that was the only name she was known by. My mother, having lost her lodgers by her ill temper and continual quarrelling with her neighbours, had resorted to washing and getting up of fine linen, at which she was very expert, and earned a good deal of money. To do her justice, she was a very industrious woman, and, in some things, very clever,
She was a very good dressmaker, and used to make
gowns and bonnets for the lower classes of people, to whom she gave great satisfaction. She worked very hard for herself and my sister, about whose dress and appearance she was more particular than ever; indeed, she showed as much affection for her as she did illwill towards me. To look at me, with my old trousers tucked up above my knees, my ragged jacket, and weather-beaten сар, , and then to see Virginia, so neatly, and even expensively, dressed, no one could have believed that we were brother and sister. My mother would always try to prevent Virginia froin noticing me if we ever met when she was walking out with her. But my sister appeared to love me moro and more, and, in spite of my mother, as soon as sho saw me would run up to me, patting my dirty jacket with her pretty little hand; and when she did so I felt so proud of her. She grew up handsomer every day, and so sweet in disposition, that my mother could not spoil her.
It was in the autumn that I gained undisputed possession of the office of “ Poor Jack;" and that winter I had an adventure which nearly occasioned my making a vacancy 'for somebody else, and which, the reader will agree with me, was anything but pleasant.
It was in the month of January,—the river was filled with floating ice, for it had frozen hard for several days; and, of course, there were but few people who trusted themselves in wherries,—so that I had little employment, and less profit. One morning, as I was standing on the landing-steps, the breath coming out of my mouth like the steam of a tea-kettle, -rubbing my nose, which was red from the sharpness of the frost,—and looking at the sun, which was just mounting above a bank of clouds, a waterman called to me, and asked me whether I would go down the river with him, as he was engaged to take a mate down to join his ship, which was several miles below Greenwich; and, if so, he would give me sixpence and a breakfast. I had earned little for many days, and, hating to be obliged to my mother, I consented.
In an hour we started; there was no wind,-tho water was smooth, and the sun's rays glittered on thu floating patches of ice, which grated against the sides of the wherry, as we cut through them with our sharp prow. Although we had the tide with us, it was three hours before we gained the ship. The mate paid the fare, and gave us something to drink; and wo passed an hour or more warming ourselves at the caboose, and talking with the seamen. At last a breeze sprung up, and the captain ordered the men to get the ship under weigh. We shoved off, the tide having flowed some time, expecting to be back to Greenwich before dark.
But it clouded over; and a heavy snow-storm came on, so that we could not see in what direction we were pulling; the wind blew very fresh, and it was piercing cold; however, we pulled as hard as we could, not only to get back again, but to keep ourselves from freezing. Unfortunately, we had lost too much time on board of the vessel ; and, what with that and the delay arising from the snow-storm preventing us pulling straight back, the ebb-tide made again before we had gained more than two-thirds of our way. We were now nearly worn out with the severe cold and fatigue, but we pulled hard, keeping as close in-shore as we could. It was necessary, at the end of one reach, to cross over to the other side of the river; and, in so doing, we were driven by the tide against a large buoy, when tho wherry filled and upset in an instant. We both contrived to cling on to her, as she was turned bottom up; and away we were swept down among the drifting ice, the snow-storm still continuing to beat down on our heads. I was nearly frozen before I could climb on the bottom of the wherry; which I at last contrived
to do, but the waterman could only hold on. There we both were, shivering and shaking; the wind piercing through our wet clothes,—the snow beating down on us, and our feet freezing among the drifting iceborne away with the tide towards the mouth of the river--not able to see two yards before us, or likely to be seen by any one, so as to be assisted. too cold to speak, but remained in silence, looking at each other, and with no pleasant forebodings as to our fate. The ice now formed in large masses; the icicles hung from our clothes, and all sense was lost in our extremities. It was now dark as pitch; and so feeble were we that it was with difficulty we could keep in our positions. At last the storm abated, the sky cleared up, and the bright full moon shone in the heavens; but our case appeared hopeless, we felt that before morning we must perish. I tried to say what prayers I had learnt by hearing my sister say them; but my tecth chattered, and I could only think them. At last I perceived a vessel at anchor—the tide was sweeping us past,—we were close to her, and I contrived to cry out;- but there was no reply. Again I screamed, but it was in vain. They were all in their warm beds; while we floated past, freezing to death. My hopes, which had been raised, and which had occasioned my heart to resume its beating, now sank down again, and I gave myself up in despair. 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