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of restless uneasiness ; for from early morn till night he was obliged to be engaged in exercises in which his heart had no share. Often did he wish that the Sabbath was over; and often did he wonder who could have invented such a dull, hateful thing as a catechism. Permit me here to remark, that it was not the custom then for parents and teachers to speak to the understanding of children, by taking pains to render the truth intelligible to their weak capacities; but to ply their memory with dry doctrinal statements, which only served, in the most of cases, to burden their minds, without improving their judgments, or exciting in their hearts one degree of interest. When young Beechhill was about fourteen of
age he had a strong desire to see a fair. He had frequently listened with rapturous delight to a neighbouring farmer's son's account of various and heart-stirring exhibitions to be seen there ; so he resolved to have his wishes gratified, come what might. It chanced that one was to be held the following week, in a town not far distant; and as he suspected that his father would object to the scheme, he determined to say nothing on the subject to his parents till his design should be accomplished. Accordingly, the better to effect his purpose, he secreted the key of the house-door on the night preceding the fair; and with the first streak of morning, when all, as he supposed, were fast asleep, he stole from his chamber, and ventnred to turn the lock. It creaked, and he stopped, for his heart beat thick, and his hand shook with terror; but the next moment he summoned resolution, and succeeded in undoing the lock,—though not till he had awakened his father, who, believing the house to have been broken into by thieves, sprang out of bed, just in time to secure and punish his rebellious son.
From this period young Beechhill meditated a final escape from his father's house ; but he kept the secret to himself, till, having' accompanied his mother to Leith, for seabathing, he one morning disappeared, leaving the following note on the parlour table
“My dear mother,-When you receive this I shall be
1 have long had a desire to visit strange places, and to become acquainted with new things; and I thought if I proposed going abroad, my father would not consent to my wishes. Do not put yourself about on my account. Though I begin my voyage as a common sailor, I am led to expect promotion very soon. At all events I have taken the step, and it cannot now be retraced. Your affectionate son,
E. B.” It were useless to attempt to describe the feelings of the mother on this trying occasion. She was absolutely stupified with grief, the excess of which threw her into a lingering disorder, which soon terminated her existence, As for the bereaved and disconsolate father, his sorrow. which was at first violent, sunk down at length into a settled melancholy, which ate out the soul of life's best enjoyments, and rendered duty and even life itself burdensome. Could children understand the feelings which crowd into a parent's heart at the thought of their errors, they would be more inclined than they often are to sacrifice their will for the comfort of their father and mother. What is pleasure bought with the tears and the groans of those whom God and nature have commanded us to obey and honour ? Even faults ought to be silently borne with from parents, and the humours and caprices of the old pitied and tolerated by the young and inexperienced; for they know not, nor can understand, the anxiety which has caused them.
Farmer Beechhill having at length learned the name of the vessel in which his son had sailed, wrote to Edward, but received no answer. In the meantime years rolled on, but brought no tidings of the runaway; till, one evening, in the depth of winter, as the icicles hung from the windows, and the drift fell so thick that one could scarcely see a yard before him, a loud knocking came to the door. Not one of the servants heard it; for though the storm raged without, they felt not its fury, and so were all busy as the bee, and cheerful as the lark. The knocking continued, and at length reached the ear of farmer Beechhill,
who sat alone in his little parlour, with his Bible open before him, and his dog reposing at his feet. 66 This is not a night for a human creature to be exposed,” muttered the farmer, as he hastily snatched up a candle, and directed his steps towards the door. It proved to be a shipwrecked sailor, hungry and half naked, and shivering with cold. He told his tale in an artless and touching manner, and begged a morsel of food, and lodging for the night. “Have the poor fellow in,” said the farmer to some of the servants who were now in attendance. “ Take him to the fire, and let him be warmed and fed.” “Perhaps," he added,--and the big tears fell as he spake," he, too, has a father."
As Jack sat and smoked his pipe by the blazing fire, round which the servants were ranged, each engaged with some useful piece of employment, he soon forgot both his past sufferings and his present weariness, and joined the loudest in the song, and the merriest in the laugh. He recounted to his wondering audience the perils he had undergone, the feats he had achieved, and the losses he had sustained. He talked, too, of the different countries he had visited, the various customs he had seen, and the jolly tars with whom he had met and parted. among them all,” he added, “none of them ever left such a blank in the heart of Jack Trivers at parting as Ned Beechhill did. Poor Ned! he was as brave a heart as ever set foot on a ship's deck, or whistled on the top of a mast to the howl of the tempest. But he's moored now. Peace be with his shattered hulk ! “ Ned Beechhill, did you say, young man ?” asked a silver-haired domestic, in the form of an old shepherd, who till this moment had listened with deep interest to the stories of the sailor, without seeming to enjoy either the merriment or the music. “ Had you a comrade of the name of Beechhill ?" “That I had," replied Jack. “He was a native of Scotland, like myself; and out of pure love for our country we soon became cronies. He died on a reef of rocks on which our gallant vessel foundered, and on which those of our ship's company were cast who escaped the fury of the waves. I have in my possession papers of his which, with his dying breath, he charged me to deliver to his father, though poor soul, in the hurry and distress of the moment, he forgot to say, and I to ask, whereabouts his father lived.” “You will not refuse to show the papers you speak of to the master ?" asked old Robin, his breast heaving with conflicting emotions. “Perhaps he may be able to direct you to the lad's father. At least I guess as much."
The sailor made no objections, and rose to accompany Robin. “But wait a little,” added the old man.
" I must break the matter to the old gentleman. Hear ye, sirs, the lad ye speak of is his own, his only child, or I am sorely mistaken. He has long mourned over his lost Edward, and I doubt not the certainty of his death will kill him outright.” So saying, he threw aside his employment and entering the parlour, told his tale in as delicate a way as possible, and then waited in the doorway for an answer. " Eh ?" said the farmer, looking up wistfully, “ did you speak of Edward ? Did you say he was dead ?” “ I know not what Edward it may be,” replied old Robin. “I only thought, sir, that as the two names answered, there could be no harm in looking at the papers addressed to his father.” “Bring the lad in, Robin, bring him in,” repeated the farmer; and as he spoke his frame shook convulsively, and a thick film passed before his eyes, and for a moment interrupted his vision.
"For all sakes,” cried Robin, “ do not be in so much trouble. Perhaps it may not be true. Who knows but the rogue has made the story for the sake of getting charity ? At any rate, if you make yourself both blind and stupid, you will neither see to read the papers, nor be able to comprehend them.” Thus fortified by the shepherd's sage reasoning, 'farmer Beechhill endeavoured to retain both his sight and his understanding ; but no sooner did he discover on one of two letters that were handed to him his own penmanship and sigpature, than both again fled, and he fainted away. It was long before his physician allowed him to peruse
papers of his much mourned, and now for eyer
lost son. He, however, was able to give directions about Jack, who was sent away well provided with both clothes
Farmer Beechhill, as I before said, had written to his son, but received no answer. One of the papers handed to him by the sailor, was his own letter, and the other was Edward's reply, written but a short time before the shipwreck, but which, from various causes, never had been forwarded. It was as follows
My dear father,- I know not in what terms to address myself to you, whom I have so much injured and distressed; but neither my conscience nor my feelings will allow me to remain longer silent. I received your letter containing the mournful tidings of my dear mother's death. She never, you say, recovered the shock of my disappearance. Ah, what a fool I have been! I have been the murderer of her who bore me, and the destroyer of my own prospects. I have been most unfortunate at sea, having twice suffered shipwreck, and both times been stript of every thing, not excepting my body clothes and hammock. It was, it is true, not wealth but liberty that lured me from home; but I have got as little of liberty as of wealth. I have got much hard duty to perform-far at sea, and exposed to every change of weather. But for pride and shame, I would have been with you long ago. These, however, have latterly been made to give way to more powerful feelings; and while I write this, I am on my way to my father's house. No doubt, my dear father, you wish to know what sort of feelings those were, which could influence the determined temper of your unhappy son, to quit for ever a sailor's life, and to endure the scoff of the world in his own neighbourhood. You shall be gratified.
I have spoken of shipwrecks, but these came and went without bringing me to my senses. No sooner was the danger over, and a glass of grog in my power, than I was the same unreflecting mad fool as before. It pleased Almighty God, however, to speak at length to my soul in language too plain to be misunderstood, and too awful to be forgotten. We were making within the warm latitudes,