« AnteriorContinuar »
Well, father, that's a good story to the point; but I do not see that I ever have any chance of being a post captain."
“Don't seem much like it, certainly; but you've a good chance of being a pilot."
“Yes, that I certainly have ; and a pilot is always respected, go on board what ship he may."
“ To be sure he is; because he is supposed to have more knowledge than any one on board."
“ Then I am contented, father, with the prospect of being respectable; so there's an end of that business, cxcept that I must write and thank the captain for his kindness."
“ Just so, Tom; do you dine with me?”
“No, father. I promised to meet Bramble at the Jolly Sailors. We are going up to Mr. Wilson's."
“Ay, about the farm he wants to buy. Well, the clock is striking, so good-bye till this evening.”
I must explain to the reader that Mr. Wilson, having heard of Bramble's intention to purchase the farm, very kindly interfered. He had a son who was a solicitor at Dover, and he recommended Bramble not to appear personally, but let his son manage the affair for him, which he promised should be done without expense. The next morning Bramble and I took our leave and quitted Greenwich, taking the coach to Dover; for Bramble, having a good deal of money in his pocket, thought it better to do so than to wait till he could take a ship down the river. On our arrival at Dover, we called upon Mr. Wilson's son, who had already made inquiries, and eventually obtained the farm for Bramble for two hundred pounds less than be
expected to give for it, and, very handsomely, only charged him for the stamps of the conveyance. When we arrived at Deal, we found Mrs. Maddox quite recovered, and sitting with little Bessy in the parlour below. After Mrs. Maddox and Bessy went upstairs to bed, Bramble said to me, as he knocked the ashes out of his pipe,
“Tom, I've got this farm for Bessy for two hundred pounds less than I expected to give for it; now, I've been thinking about this two hundred pounds, which I consider, in a manner, as her property; and what d'ye think I mean to do with it?-I'll tell you—I'll give her education as well as money. This sum will keep her at a good school for a matter of four years, and I've made up my mind that she shall go. I don't like to part with her, that's certain ; but it's for her goodso all's right-don't you think so ?”
“I do indeed, father,” replied I. "I shall miss her as much as you do; but, as you say, it's all right; and I'm very glad that you
have so decided.”
IN WHICH THERE IS A HOP, SKIP, ASD A JUMP.
LIFE has often, and with great truth, been compared to a river. In infancy a little rill, gradually increasing to the pure and limpid brook, which winds throngb flowery meads, "giving a gentle kiss to every ridge it overtaketh in its pilgrimage.” Next it increases in its volume and its power, now rushing rapidly, now moving along in deep and tranquil water, until it swells into a bold stream, coursing its way over the shallows, dashing through the impeding rocks, descending in rapids swift as thought, or pouring its boiling water over the cataract. And thus does it vary its velocity, its appearanco, and its course, until it swells into a broad expanse, gradually checking its career as it approaches, and at last mingles with the Ocean of Eternity. I have been led into this somewhat trite metaphor to account to the reader for the contents of this chapter. As in the river, after many miles of chequered and boisterous career, you will find that its waters will for some time flow in a smooth and tranquil course as almost to render
unconscious of the never-ceasing stream; so, in the life of man, after an eventful and adventurous career, it will be found that for a time he is permitted to glide gently and quietly along, as if a respite were given to his feelings preparatory to fresh scenes of excitement. Such was the case with me for some time. I had now been under Bramble's tuition for more than a year and a half, and was consequently between fifteen and sixteen years old. The years from 1800 to the end of 1804 were of this description in my stream of life, unmarked by any peculiar or stirring events worthy of occupying the attention of my readers. It is therefore my inten. tion, in this chapter, to play the part of the chorus in the old plays, and sum up the events in a few words, 80 as not to break the chain of history, at the same time that I sball prepare my readers for what subsequently took place.
I will first speak of myself. Up to the age of nineteen I continued my career under the care of Bramble; we seldom remained long on shore, for neither Bramblo nor I found home so agreeable since little Bessy had been sent to school, and Mrs. Maddox, assisted by a little girl, had charge of the house ; indeed, Bramble appeared resolved to make all the money he could, that he might the sooner be able to give up his profession. Mrs. Maddox I have spoken little of, because I had seen but little of her: now that she was down stairs, I will not say I saw, but I certainly heard too much of her, for she never ceased talking; not that she talked loud or screamed out : on the contrary, she was of a mild, amiable temper, but could not hold her tongue. If she could not find any one to talk to, she would talk to any thing ; if she was making the fire, she would apostrophise the sticks for not burning properly. I watched her one morning as she was kneeling down before the grate :
“Now, stick, you must go in," said she; “it's no use your resisting, and, what's more, you must burn, and burn quickly too, d'ye hear, or the kettle won't boil in time for breakfast. Bo quick, you little fellor -burn away and light the others, there's a good boy." Here she knocked down the tongs. “Tongs, be quiet, how dare you
make that noise ?" Then, as she replaced them,“ Stand up, sir, in your place until you are wanted. Now, poker, your turn's coming, we must have a stir directly. Bless me, smoke, what's the matter with you now ? can't you go up the chimney? You can't pretend to say the wind blows you down this fine morning, so none of your vagarics. Now, fender, it's your turn - stand still till I give you a bit of a rub. There, now you're all right. Table, you want your face washed—your master has spilt his grog last night, there now, you look as handsome as ever. Well, old chair, how are you this morning? You're older than I am, I reckon, and yet you're stouter on your legs. Why, candle, are you burning all this while? Why didn't
tell me?--I would have put you out long ago. Come now, don't be making a smell here-send it up the chimney."
Thus would she talk to everything. We only had two animals in the house-a cat and a canary bird : of course they were not neglected; but, somehow or another, the cat appeared to get tired of it, for it would rise, and very gently walk into the back kitchen; and as for the manary bird, like all other canary birds, as soon as he was talked to, he would begin to sing, and that so loud, that Mrs. Maddox was beaten out of the field. Bramble bore with her very well ; but, at the same time, he did not like it: he once said to me, “ Well, if Bessy were at Deal, I think I would take a short spell now; but as for that poor good old soul, whose tongue is hung on the middle, and works at both ends, she docs tire one, and that's the truth.” But she really was a good-natured, kind creature, ready to oblige in everything: and I believe that she thought that she was amusing you, when she talked on in this way. Unfortunately she had no anecdote, for she had & very
bad memory, and therefore there was nothing to be gained from her. By way of amusing me, she used to say, “Now, Tom, sit down here, and I'll tell you all about my bad leg.” And then she would commenco with the first symptoms, the degrees of pain, the various plasters, bandages, and poultices, which had been