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know. Now we must all go up to the governor of the Hospital for inspection, and I suppose we shall be kept for some time
so you may run home and tell your mother that I've come back in a perfect good humour, and that it will be her fault if she puts me out — that's all."
“I will, father; and then I'll come to you at the Hospital."
I ran home to communicate the important intelligence to my mother and to Virginia, who had as usual como from school for her dinner. “Mother,” says I out of breath,
think has come back ?" “Come back ?” said she. “ Back ? Not your father?"
Yes,” says I, “my father. I just left him.” My mother turned deadly pale, and dropped the hot iron from her hand, so as to spoil a frilled night-cap belonging to one of her lady customers. She staggered to a chair, and trembled all over. I really believe that had she been aware of his being about to return, she would have quitted Greenwich before his arrival ; but now it was too late. Virginia had run for the salts, as soon as she perceived that her mother was unwell, and as she smelt them she gradually recovered. At last she inquired how my father looked, and what he said.
I told her that he had lost his leg, and had been sent as a pensioner to the Hospital; that he had looked very well, and that he had told me to say that “he was in a perfect good humour, and it would be her fault if she put him out of it; and that if she did
“Well, what then?" inquired my mother,
"Oh! the tail,—that's all.”
At the mention of the tail, my mother very nearly went off in a swoon-her head fell back, and I heard her mutter, “So vulgar! so ungenteel!” However, she recovered herself, and appeared to be for some time in deep thought. At last she rose up, ordared me to fetch something extra for supper,
and recommenced ironing
As soon as I had executed her commission, I went to the Hospital, where I found my father, who with the other men had just been dismissed. He accompanied me to my mother, shook hands with her very goodhumouredly, kissed Virginia, whom he took on his knee, praised the supper, drank only one pot of porter, and then returned to the Hospital, to sleep in the cabin which had been allotted to him in the Warrior's ward, of which Anderson was the boatswain. My mother, although not very gracious, was much subdued, and for a few days everything went on very comfortably; but my mother's temper could not be long restrained. Displeased at something which she considered as very vulgar, she ventured to assail my father as before, concluding her tirade as usual, with There—now you're vexed !"
My father looked at her very sternly—at last he said, “You're just right-I am vexed; and whenever you tell me so in future, I'll prove that it's no lie." He then rose, stumped up stairs to my room, in which he had deposited his sea-chest, and soon made his appearance with the formidable and never-to-be-forgotten tail in his hand. Mistress," said he, as my mother retreated, “you said, “Now you're vexed, to me just now. I ask you again, am I vexed, or am I not?” and my father flourished the tail over his head.
My mother looked at the strange weapon: the remembrance of the past was too painful; she was conquered by her fear.
“Oh, no!" cried she, falling on her knees. “You'ro not vexed-indeed you are not.”
“ You’re quite sure of that?” responded my father authoritatively, as he advanced towards her.
“Oh! yes, yes," cried my mother, trembling; "indeed, you're not."
“ A’n't I in a very good-humour ?" continued my father.
“Yes, you are in the best of humours, and always are so, unless—I aggravate you," replied my mother, whimpering.
“Well !" replied my father, lowering his tail, “I expect we've come to a right understanding at last So now get up and wipe your eyes : but recollect, that whenever you dare to tell me that I'm vexed, I won't be so ungenteel as to contradict you."
Thus was the mastery gained by my father, and never lost. It is true, that sometimes my mother would forget herself, and would get on as far as " There now, you're—" but she would stop there, and correct herself, saying, “No! you're not," and allow her temper to evaporate, by singing one of her usual ditties, as “Hush-a-by, baby, on the tree-top;" but my father never took notice of her singing; and being really a very good-tempered man, my mother's temper gradually became improved.
The return of my father made some alteration in our mode of life. He might, if he had pleased, have lived as an out-pensioner with my mother; but this he would not do. He used to come in almost every evening to see her, and she used to provide for him a pot of porter, which he seldom exceeded ; if he had friends with him, they paid for what they drank. This pot of porter per diem was the only demand made upon my mother for permission to remain separate, and she did not grumble at it. His tobacco he found himself out of the tobacco-money allowed at the Hospital. He had received some pay; which, contrary to his former custom, he had laid by in the charge of one of the lieutenants of the Hospital; for at that time there were no savings banks.
As a married man, my father had the liberty to introduce his wife and children into the Hospital at meal times, to share his allowance with them: this my mother would not listen to, as regarded herself and my sister ; but my father messed in what is called the married men's room, on my account; and instead of buying my own dinner, or applying to my mother for it, I now always took it with my father in the Hospital. In
consequence of my father's admittance as a pensioner, both I and my sister might have been instructed at the Hospital school; but my mother would not permit Virginia to go there, and I found it much more convenient to go to Peter Anderson in the evening, when I had nothing to do. On the whole, we all went on much more comfortably than we did before my father's return.
One evening I was, as usual, with Anderson in his cabin, my father having been drafted into his ward: I could not help asking Anderson bow he liked him. His reply was, “I like your father, Jack, for he is a straightforward, honest, good-tempered man; and, moreover, has a good natural judgment. I think it a great pity that such a man as ho is should be so early in life lost, as it were, to the country. He is a first-rate scaman; and although there are many like him, still there are none to spare. However, if his country loses, he may himself gain, by being so soon called away
from a service of great temptation. The sailor who has fought for his country, Jack, has much to be thankful for when he takes in moorings at Greenwich Hospital. He is well fed, well clothed, tended in sickness, and buried with respect; but all these are nothing, compared with the greatest boon. When I reflect what lives sailors live, how reckless they are, how often they have been on the brink of eternity, and wonderfully preserved, without even a feeling of gratitude to Him who has watched over them, or taking their escapes as warnings-when I consider how they pass their whole lives in excess, intemperance, and, too often, blasphemy, it is indeed a mercy that they are allowed to repose here after such a venturous and careless career—that they have time to reflect upon what has passed-to listen to the words of the Gospel, to hate their former life, and, trusting in God's mercy, to secure their salvation. This is the greatest charity of this institution, and long may it flourish, a blessing to the country which has endowed it, and to the seamen, who are not only provided for in this world, but are prepared in it for the next.”
Such were continually the style of admonitions given